The Rise of the Poverty-Stricken Mega-City

Mumbai is among the world’s largest, and poorest, . Image © Flickr User Cactus Bones; Licensed via Creative Commons

In this article on the Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida delves into recent research by Edward Glaeser, the author of Triumph of the City, which investigates the emergence in recent decades of mega-cities in developing nations. Though cities have long been connected to prosperity he points out that in these new cities, residents remain poor. The answer it seems is linked to our globalized economy, as well as the under prepared governments in these countries. However Glaeser and Florida don’t see this as a reason for panic, or to abandon urbanization, but rather to ensure that urbanization is supported more effectively by government. You can read the full article here.

Could Facebook Help Us Understand Urban Migration?

China plans to move 250 Million citizens into by 2025. Could help them in this endeavor?. Image © Flickr CC User Wenjie Zhang

According to this article on QuartzFacebook is now so widely-used (providing readily available information about the hometowns of millions – or even billions – of people) that it can help researchers analyze migration patterns and trends. Find out more here.

Design: A Long Term Preventative Medicine

City’s High Line. Image © Iwan Baan

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism has produced a new report examining urban health in eight of the USA’s largest cities, which has been translated into a collection of meaningful findings for architects, designers, and urban planners. With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas – a statistic which is projected to grow to 70% by 2050 – the report hinges around the theory that “massive urbanization can negatively affect human and environmental health in unique ways” and that, in many cases, these affects can be addressed by architects and designers by the way we create within and build upon our cities.

Winka Dubbeldam: “My Ideal City” of the Future

Courtesy of Archi-tectonics

Winka Dubbeldam believes there is power in the people. 

As a public intellectual, she has invested her efforts in researching the concept of “bottom-up” and “systems” design at academic institutions like Columbia, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania – where she now serves as chair of the department of architecture. As principal of the -based firm, Archi-Tectonics, she demonstrates how these concepts work in both theory and practice.

In between the consistent cadence of client meetings and academic functions, Winka has been vocal about the of cities, traveling overseas and giving TED Talks. Her most recent project revolves around a bilingual website, Mi Ciudad Ideal (My Ideal City), which has led her to Bogotá, Colombia where she is leading efforts to crowdsource and document the opinions of hundreds of thousands of urban residents in hopes to better understand what makes the “Ideal City.” ArchDaily recently caught up with Winka to discuss the project’s foundation and how it works.

What Will Be Mandela’s Spatial Legacy?

Rendering for Greenpoint Stadium. Image Courtesy of http://bensnewgreenpointstadium.webs.com/

From the window of an airplane it’s all too plain that apartheid has been deeply written into the South African landscape. Even the smallest town appears as two distinct towns. One features a spacious grid of tree-lined streets and comfortable houses surrounded by lawns. The other, its shriveled twin, some distance away but connected by a well-traveled road, consists of a much tighter grid of dirt roads lined with shacks. Trees are a rarity, lawns non-existent. This doubling pattern appears no matter the size of the population: here, the white town; over there, the black township. — Lisa Findley, “Red & Gold: A Tale of Two Apartheid Museums.”

There are few systems of government that relied so heavily upon the delineations of space than the Apartheid government of (1948-1994). Aggressively wielding theories of Modernism and racial superiority, ’s urban planners didn’t just enforce Apartheid, they embedded it into every city – making it a daily, degrading experience for ’s marginalized citizens.

When Nelson Mandela and his party, the African National Congress, were democratically elected to power in 1994, they recognized that one of the most important ways of diminishing Apartheid’s legacy would be spatial: to integrate the white towns and the black townships, and revive those “shriveled twin[s].”

As we remember Mandela – undoubtedly the most important man in South Africa’s history – and ponder his legacy, we must also consider his spatial legacy. It is in the physical, spatial dimensions of South Africa’s towns and that we can truly see Apartheid’s endurance, and consider: to what extent have Mandela’s words of reconciliation and righteous integration, truly been given form?

SHoP Architects Selected for Design of Iconic Site in Downtown Detroit

© Rock Ventures LLC

One of Detroit’s most prominent vacant sites is slated to become one of its most iconic buildings. SHoP Architects will partner with -based Hamilton Anderson Associates to transform the site formerly occupied by Hudson’s Department Store. Located at Grand River and Gratiot in the city’s Central Business District, the two-acre site has remained a scar in the urban landscape since the implosion of the Hudson’s building in 1998.

HAO Makes Counter-Proposal To “Save” Sugar Factory from Development in Brooklyn

Courtesy of HAO

HAO, together with community group, Williamsburg Independent People, hope to save the historic site and halt the current masterplan by SHoP Architects which proposes an additional 2,200 luxury apartments along the East River waterfront in Brooklyn, New York

HAO’s counter proposal seeks to adaptively reuse the existing factory buildings, including the iconic Civil War-era Domino Sugar Refinery — which has defiantly held its ground amidst heavy redevelopment in surrounding areas. Not unlike SHoP’s proposal, HAO aims to regenerate these spaces into a “world-class cultural destination” that combines public and private programs. 

100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas

Courtesy of BMW Guggenheim Lab

The BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile think-tank focused on the study of urban life, has returned to New York City for its homecoming currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum till January 5, 2014. After two years of research and touring Berlin and Mumbai, the lab aims to present major urban themes in art, architecture, education, science, sustainability and technology.”100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas” is a compilation of definitions of the most pressing issues in urban centers today, contextualized to reflect how different cities interpret them. Architects, planners and students take note: From street facades to bailouts, gentrification to trash mapping, this resource archives years of discussion into one user-friendly interface. Explore the glossary, here.

Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Audi to Develop Pilot Project for BosWash: Shareway 2030

© Höweler+Yoon Architecture

Last year interdisciplinary architecture firm Höweler + Yoon Architecture was announced the winners of the Audi Urban Future Award for the project Boswash:Shareway 2030.  The City Dossier in , held this May, was organized as a series of workshops between Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Audi experts in developing steps to realize aspects of the Boswash: Shareway vision.  Part research project, part feasibility study, part road map to the future of mobility – the focus of the workshops is to propose a pilot project that can be tested in the proposed region of – Washington.

We featured the project last year as it highlights how the landscape of urban development has changed.  The focus of “Shareway” is the string of high-density metropolitan areas, their suburbs and ex-urbs along I-95 between Boston, MA and Washington, DC.  The I-95 corridor caters to some fifty million inhabitants, many of whom commute into metropolitan areas for work.  Mobility and transportation are critical to the economic vitality of these urban areas; “Shareway” proposes an intentionally re-engineered “highly orchestrated and deliberately produced platform from which we might imagine alternate paths, different trajectories, or new cultural dreams” whereby imagining an “alternate life for the road” is imagining a new American Dream.

Read on for more on the progress of this project after the break.

Strelka Talks: Architecture and Community / Reinier de Graaf

“The Community” might be the most frequently used term over the last 50 years of Architectural and Urban discourse. For decades, “the community” has served as a legitimization for anything from Team X to New Urbanism, from Celebration to “”. But what is “the community”? Where should we look for the proper definition? How did communities appear in the past and how do they form today? Can ‘the community” influence the design of its own space, territory or context? If yes, what could be the relationship between the community and architecture in the future?

In his Strelka talk is trying to answer these and other, even more complex questions.

Via the Strelka Institute.

2013 MAPEO Workshop Hopes to Explore Experimental Mapping Techniques

Courtesy of The Borderless Workshop

A new Kickstarter campaign is hoping to raise a goal of $3,500 to fund the second annual MAPEO Borderless Workshop – a workshop that focuses on community mapping and brings diverse people and minds together to think about cities within the US-Mexican border region. By rallying individuals from different disciplines with different backgrounds, MAPEO aims to “learn more about our own cities, evaluate urban challenges and come up with ideas on how to improve our life in cities in a very quick and meaningful exercise.”

A Clearer Definition for Smarter Smart Growth

High Line, , is a good example of what is to come. Image © Iwan Baan

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 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.

The Debate Over Making It Right in the Lower Ninth Ward

The Float House / Morphosis, Make It RIght © Iwan Baan

Ever since the New Republic published Lydia DePillis’s piece entitled “If you Rebuild it, They Might Not Come” - a criticism of the progress of Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation – numerous blogs and journals have been in a uproar, defending Make It Right’s efforts at rebuilding the vastly devastated Lower Ninth Ward and presenting a much more forgiving perspective on the progress of the neighborhood since the engineering disaster that exacerbated the effects of in 2005. To date, 86 LEED Platinum homes have been designed and constructed by world-renowned architects, including Frank Gehry and Morphosis, at a cost of approximately $24 million.  Make It Right has promised to build up to 150 such homes, but DePillis‘s article points out that amenities in the neighborhood are low and the number of residents returning to the neighborhood is dwindling.  Make It Right has made a commitment and the debate that ensues questions whether it is going far enough in delivering its promise to rebuilding .

Read on for more on the Make It Right debate…

Report Suggests Demolishing Unsustainable Mid-Century Skyscrapers in New York

Courtesy of wikiarquitectura.com

Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial plans to rezone midtown New York, allowing for bigger and bolder , has found an unlikely ally in the form of environmentalists.

Re-zoning midtown would ultimately lead to the of the corporate steel and glass skyscrapers, which preservationists argue are emblematic of the cutting edge modernism that swept 1950′s America. However, landlords contest that – for the most part – they are poorly built copycats of seminal landmarks such as the Seagram and Lever buildings and are not particularly significant or suited for modern needs.

More information after the break..

Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook

Courtesy of ORO Editions

As a city, Hong Kong doesn’t have it easy; impossibly dense and smothered by unsympathetic hilly terrain, the gymnastics that it performs to survive has lead to the growth of unique urban spaces. Cities Without Ground deconstructs the unfathomable spaghetti of pedestrian bridges, tunnels and walkways, which make up pedestrian Hong Kong. The book, created by motley trio of architects and academics: Jonathan Solomon, Clara Wong and Adam Frampton, graphically dissects this labyrinth in a series of snappy axonometric drawings of 32 various routes through the city.

Read more about the story of Hong Kong’s pedestrian maze after the break…

MAS Context #17: Boundary

MAS Context #17 Boundary

The new issue of MAS Context, a quarterly publication released by MAS Studio, explores the actual and perceived divisions of space.  MAS Context #17: Boundary contains varying discussions of , forced and naturally occurring segregation, the politics of such separations and ultimately, breaking the boundaries that frame our engagement.  Of particular interest in this issue is the philosophical divisions between designers and non-designers and the specialized world that architecture school and the architectural profession construct to define themselves. Through a series of essays, projects, personal accounts and photographs, MAS Context crafts an argument around the boundaries exist in our built and un-built environment – and ways in which we choose to transgress them.

More after the break.

Predictions from the Past: New York 2012 and LA 2013

New York in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner’s Predictions; and LA’s predictions from 1988 for 2013

Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the holds.  Scientific discovery and technological innovation – along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens – have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future.  And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for cities.

Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become – developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and cultural realms through architecture. In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of NYC predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012.  In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing. Find out how their predictions fared after the break.

Hands On Urbanism: “Cities in the 21st Century” at IHP

Sao Paulo; Courtesy of Flickr User Mau Alcântara. Licensed via Creative Commons

and design as programs of study emerged at professional and graduate schools in the early to mid 20th century, but did not become an option for undergraduate students until the 1970s.  Today, urban studies associated with every social science have become a part of regular discourse in colleges and universities throughout the United States.  As Andrew Wade, professor for the International Honors Program (IHP) points out – “Urban studies programs are sprawling faster than the cities they critique. The qualifier “urban” has become ubiquitous: where once stood geography, politics, and ecology now stand urban geography, urban politics, and urban ecology.”

As urbanism becomes a larger part of our colloquial vocabulary – describing more specifically the way cities emerge, develop, thrive, and collapse or endure – it has become clear that “cities are a source of problems and solutions for contemporary life” that require a deep level of exploration and understanding.  The “Cities in the 21st Century” study abroad program offered by the is a unique opportunity that incorporates a hands on and observational approach to an urban planning education.  In an essay via Urban Omnibus, instructor Andrew Wade shares his and his students’ experiences in the program.  Read on after the break for more.