New York City’s Midtown East will be facing a rezoning in the near future, bringing a dozen office towers into the already crowded neighborhood. To help the Bloomberg Administration address the issues that may arise with this move, the city has hired sustainable real estate development firm, Jonathan Rose Co.; Dutch Urban Planning firm, Gehl Architects; and the global civil engineering firm, Skanska. The different firms will be working to develop the streetscape to be known as the East Midtown Public Realm Vision Plan, which is scheduled for release later this year.
Russia has madly, passionately (and not a little blindly) fallen in love. And, as with any love affair worth its salt, this one will have its fair share of consequences when the honeymoon ends.
The object of Russia’s affection? The good, old-fashioned automobile.
It started fast and has only gotten faster. In 2005, Russia’s auto industry grew 14%; in 2006, 36%; and, in 2007, a whopping 67% – an exponential growth that attracted foreign investors, particularly after 2009, when the country welcomed companies like GM & Ford with open arms. Today, the ninth largest economy in the world is the seventh-largest car market, positioned to surpass Germany as the largest in Europe by 2014.
Nowhere is this love affair more evident, more woven into the city itself, than in Moscow. The city has a reputation (perhaps rivaled only by Beijing’s) for traffic, pollution, and downright hostility to pedestrians. And, ironically, because of its epic congestion, the city continues to expand its highways and parking spaces.
We’ve heard that story before, and we know how it ends – for that matter, so does Moscow. But passion, by nature, is blind – and stopping a love affair in its tracks is far from easy.
Bike sharing has become a staple for urban commuting in city’s all over the world. Since its reintroduction into urban culture in the 1990s, it has taken on many forms. Today it is being optimized to serve dense cities to help alleviate traffic congestion, provide people with more transportation options, and to encourage a healthy way of commuting. An article by the Earth Policy Institute by Janet Larsen marks the exponential progress of bike-sharing programs, noting innovative solutions in cities across the world that make the programs safer, more accessible and more streamlined.
Join us after the break for more.
Meagan Durlak and James Frankis, both students studying Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons New School for Design, have developed a mobile mapping tool to unveil the true dynamics of informal slum communities, as revealed by Metropolis Magazine.
The system, called Mark, is being tested in the Heliopolis favela of Sao Paulo, Brazil, after which the duo hope it will be “scalable and adaptable” enough to be applied to other informal settlements all over the world. The SMS-based tool is designed not only to provide information about the settlements to external organizations, but also to be a sharing platform for the residents who become cartographers of their own neighborhood.
Read about the motivation behind the Mark project after the break
As cities become more conscious of their environmental and social impact, smart growth has become a ubiquitous umbrella term for a slew of principles to which designers and planners are encouraged to adhere. NewUrbanism.org has distributed 10 points that serve as guides to development that are similar to both AIA’s Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and New York City’s Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design. Planners all appear to be on the same page in regards to the nature of future development. But as Brittany Leigh Foster of Renew Lehigh Valley points out, these points tend to be vague; they tell us “what” but they do not tell us “how”. 10 Rules for Smarter Smart Growth by Bill Adams of UrbDeZine San Diego enumerates how to achieve the various design goals and principles that these various guides encourage.
Despite the romantic notion about cities that develop organically have a rich diversity of form and function, we cannot overlook the deadly side effects of negligent city planning. As Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star points out, last month’s tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas is a grim reminder that planning has a time and place and its ultimate utility resides in the initiative to protect residents and make for healthier communities. The tangle of bureaucracy associated with planning, zoning and land use regulations can give any architect or developer a massive headache. In some cases, the laws are so restricting that diverging from bulk regulations becomes very limiting.
Although necessary, power plants are typically an eyesore that don’t attract much positive attention. As Thomas Heatherwick put it, “we are ashamed of how we generate our energy.” Breaking the mold, a proposal by architecture firm AZPA (Alejandro Zaera-Polo Arquitectura) plans to transform a German power plant into a densely-forested “green mountain”, which will in turn be a landmark public space for a town.
Read more after the break…
Stretching beyond the natural constraints of Presqu’ile de Caen and into the neighboring towns of Mondeville and Hérouville Saint Clair, MVRDV’s competition-winning vision will transform 600ha of industrial brown fields into a collection of gardens punctuated by a mosaic of urban settlements. This ambition, titled ‘La Grande Mosaique’, is strongly based on respect for the existing structures and defined by small scale interventions that will result in a large scale structure vision for Greater Caen.
The proposal was selected from three submittals by the public development agency SPLA for being, as Caen Mayor Philippe Duron describes, the “most impressive plan”. It was commended by the jury for its “fresh view” on urbanism.
The American Planning Association has released its list of 2013 National Planning Awards winners that exhibit the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value. Among the recipients are regional plans that seek to revitalize post-industrial cities, plans to preserve and rehabilitate native settlements, restore blighted communities, reassess planning and zoning in major cities, develop environmental conservation programs, regenerate access to our natural topography and develop guidelines and regulations for more sustainable approaches to building. The projects are diverse and span a significant realm of urban reclamation and development.
Join us after the break for a look at some of this year’s recipients.
With a vision to create the “workplace of the future”, developer Danica Pension has teamed up with Henning Larsen Architects, COWI and Alectia to design a state-of-the-art, yet modest Microsoft headquarters in the new urban district of Lyngby, Copenhagen. Unlike many of the recent corporate headquarters making headlines in Silicon Valley, this Danish complex is unique for it’s central urban site and primary goal of serving the community.
Most parking is free – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a high cost. A recent podcast from Freakonomics Radio (which you can listen to at the end of this article) examined parking in US cities, investigating the “cost of parking not paid for by drivers” – a cost paid not just by the government, but by the environment – due to congestion and pollution caused by people searching for kerbside parking. For example, in a 15 block area of Los Angeles the distance traveled by drivers looking for parking is equivalent to one trip across the USA per day.
One potential solution which they discuss is a San Francisco project called SF Park, which makes use of sensor technology to measure the demand for parking in certain areas of the city and adjust price according to demand. In theory, this would create a small number of empty spaces on each block and dramatically reduce the time that many drivers spend cruising for parking spaces.
Though the idea is certainly an intelligent approach to the problem of kerbside parking, unsurprisingly all this talk of supply, demand and pricing sounds very much like an economist’s answer to a problem. But what can designers do to help the situation?
Perhaps, from the designer’s point of view, the real problem with kerbside parking and surface lots is that they are always seen as a provision “coupled with” a building or area of the city. There have been a number of attempts by architects – some successful and some tragically flawed – to make parking spaces less of a rupture in a city’s fabric and more of a destination in themselves. Could these point to another way?
Read about 3 examples of parking’s past, and one of its potential future, after the break…
In 2011, UN-HABITAT and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) signed a 5-year cooperative agreement to aspire to raise international awareness of the importance of public space in cities, to foster a lively exchange of ideas among partners and to educate a new generation of planners, designers, community activists and other civic leaders about the benefits of what they call the “Placemaking methodology.” Their partnership is helping to advance the development of cities where people of all income groups, social classes and ages can live safely, happily and in economic security and in order to reach these ambitious goals, the duo recently released 10 informative steps that cities and communities can take to improve the quality of their public spaces.
To find out what these steps are, read on!
In “How (Not) to Host the Olympics,” I suggest that, when it comes to Olympic Planning, there is one Golden Rule: “The best thing to do if you’re bidding for the Olympics, Is to Not Get the Olympics.”
However, a recent article from The Atlantic Cities’ Emily Badger takes that claim to question.
Badger follows up in Chicago, a city that bid – hard – for the 2016 Olympics (which will take place in Rio de Janeiro). As she puts it: “We often ask what Olympic cities really get in return for all the money, energy, and construction chaos invested in hosting the world’s largest sporting event. But the story of cities that vie for but never win the Games raises a different question.
‘What does putting together a bid that is unsuccessful leave you?’”
Danish architecture firm, BIG - led by Bjarke Ingels – has been announced as the winner of an international invited competition for the design of Europa City, a 800,000 square meter cultural, recreational and retail development in Triangle de Gonesse, France. Combining city development with an open landscape, Europa City creates a dynamic center of activity for visitors and residents, appealing to the variety of functions of city life. Europa City is situated along the route from Charles de Gaule Airport to Paris and has a wide range of programs that is part of a larger initiative to attract international tourism into the northern parts of Paris.
More on the project after the break…
In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area.
The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties.
More after the break…
Chicago is set to be the next U.S. city to park-ify on one of its abandoned rail-lines. First proposed back in 1997, the 2.7 mile, 13-acre Bloomingdale Trail and Park is proposed for a stretch of abandoned railway trestle dating from 1910, which has been lying unused since the turn of the century. And, even though it is already being compared to New-York’s High Line, the planners are adamant that the park will be an entirely different animal to its New York cousin.
Read more about Chicago’s unique proposal after the break…
“The architect has to continue doing what he or she has done for the last 5,000 years, which is to make objects of great beauty, which uplift the spirits of whoever commissions them or occupies them or sees them. But, increasingly, [the architect] has to take on two other things, which is: to make things in such a way that they are part of an environmental whole; but also to be much more conscious of what the social impacts are of the decisions the architect may make. [...] The architect, unless they want to wipe themselves out and become aesthetes, has to deal with these big issues.” – Ricky Burdett
As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, there lies an important question ahead of us. There can be no doubt that cities will grow, but how can we make sure that they grow sustainably and – what’s more – equitably?
To get to the bottom of these important questions, we spoke with Ricky Burdett, a professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics (where he directs the program LSE Cities), the author of The Endless City, and one of the world’s leading experts in urban planning. Not only was he the Chief Advisor of Architecture and Urbanism at the London 2012 Olympics, but he is also a founder of the Urban Age Project, an interdisciplinary investigation into the future of cities. We caught up with Burdett while he was in Chile, invited by CREO Antofagasta to advise on the development of Chile’s sprawled-out city of Antofagasta.
Burdett had so much to share about his varied experiences that we’ve decided to split this AD Interview into two. Part I (above) covers Burdett’s conception of what architecture is/should be; the London Olympics; and his strong opinion on the state of architecture in England today.
The second part of this interview, which you can see after the break, explores Burdett’s work studying urban environments – including the Urban Age project; the secrets to sustainable, equitable growth (for more on Burdett’s take on this, read Jared Green’s article “The Rise of the Endless City“); and how architects and policy makers must work together if we are to design cities that serve the greater social and environmental good.
East Moline, Illinois, will soon have an all new, highly developed waterfront mixed use area that will include park space, retail and commercial areas and luxury apartments along its Mississippi River front. The $150 million development will be a host to 300 apartment units, senior citizen housing, condominiums, storage facilities, a sports recreational center, medical facilities along with a variety of amenities that includes neighborhood retail shops, food courts, banks, pharmacies and restaurants, hotels and a central park with a band shell. At over 3.5 million square feet, Fountainhead Quad Cities - developed by Beitler Real Estate Services with James DeStefano of LVD Architecture as the master planner – will bring new residents to the area while attracting the thousands of motorists that pass through the region today.
More after the break.
“The rapid expansion of airport-linked commercial facilities is making today’s air gateways anchors of 21st century metropolitan development where distant travelers and locals alike can conduct business, exchange knowledge, shop, eat, sleep, and be entertained without going more than 15 minutes from the airport. This functional and spatial evolution is transforming many city airports into airport cities.” - Dr. John Kasarda
Major international airports have developed over time into key nodes in global production and enterprise systems through speed, agility and connectivity. These transportation hubs are able to dramatically stimulate local economies by attracting a wide range of aviation-related businesses to their peripheries and resulting in what John Kasarda, a US academic who studies and advises governments on city planning issues, has dubbed the “Aerotropolis.” The Aerotropolis, like any other traditional city, consists of a central core with rings of development permeating outwards; unlike a traditional city, however, the city’s core is an airport and all neighboring development supports and is supported in turn by the airport industry. Several airports around the globe have organically evolved into these airport-dependent communities, generating huge economic profits and creating thousands of jobs, but what Kasarda is arguing for is a more organized and purposeful approach to the development of these Aerotropolises – what he believes to be the future model of a successful city.
Read on for more on the Aerotropolis vision.