As its full title somewhat implies, Nicholas Dagen Bloom’s new book, The Great American Transit Disaster: A Century of Austerity, Auto-Centric Planning, and White Flight (University of Chicago Press), tells the whole grisly story of how, in less than a century, the U.S. changed from a rail-connected nation of cities and towns to a sprawling network of increasingly congested roads. A historian and a professor of urban policy and planning at Hunter College, Bloom rejects the sort of conspiracy-driven narratives around transit’s demise and comes to an uneasy conclusion: America essentially chose the car for a variety of reasons, only one of which was automobile company collusion. I talked with Bloom about why transit in the U.S. collapsed, why it turned out differently in European cities, and the hopes for a transit renaissance.
Hospitality expert Liz Lambert has announced a collaboration with ICON, the office that pioneered large-scale 3D printing, and BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, to rebuild El Cosmico, a campground hotel in Marfa, Texas. The team plans to relocate the venue to a 62 acres plot, where new architectural approaches are made possible by including advanced technologies and 3D-printing elements such as domes, vaults, and parabolic forms. The innovative development will feature guest accommodation and new hospitality programming, including a pool, spa, and shared communal facilities. The project is expected to break ground in 2024.
The Austin Transit Partnership has selected UNStudio, HKS, and Gehl to lead the architecture and urban design of Project Connect, a major expansion of the public transportation system in Austin, Texas, in the United States. The project is set to become a transformative investment, including and integrating the light rail system, expanded bus routes, and connectivity with more services across the city. The initiative is also voter-approved. In November 2020, Austin citizens approved Project Connect, leading to the creation of the independent entity Austin Transit Partnership charged with implementing the project. The citizens of Austin are invited to continue to get involved and provide feedback.
In 2020, in the midst of the first wave of lockdowns due to the pandemic, the municipality of Amsterdam announced its strategy for recovering from this crisis by embracing the concept of the “Doughnut Economy.” The model is developed by British economist Kate Raworth and popularized through her book, “Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist”, released in 2017. Here, she argues that the true purpose of economics does not have to equal growth. Instead, the aim is to find a sweet spot, a way to balance the need to provide everyone with what they need to live a good life, a “social foundation” while limiting our impact on the environment, “the environmental ceiling.” With the help of Raworth, Amsterdam has downscaled this approach to the size of a city. The model is now used to inform city-wide strategies and developments in support of this overarching idea: providing a good quality of life for all without putting additional pressure on the planet. Other cities are following this example.
Austin-based office HKS announced the design of the Wilson Tower, a high-rise of 315 meters in Texas' capital featuring 80 floors, 450 units, outdoor terraces, and gardens. The tower will be delivered in collaboration with Britt Design Group and Wilson Capital, and is expected to break ground in the summer of 2023. After completion will become the tallest residential tower in the USA outside of New York.
Pioneer in large-scale 3D printing, ICON announced the construction of a 3D-printed 100-Home Community co-designed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group and developed by Lennar. Located north of Austin, in the city of Georgetown, "The Genesis Collection at Wolf Ranch" will become the first and largest house estate in the world built by a fleet of robots integrating additive construction techniques.
Combining the digital possibilities of 3d printing with sustainable features at an affordable price, the project aims to support the housing crisis in Austin, one of the U.S.A's most dynamic and growing cities, home to the new Tesla Gigafactory and other giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle.
The 311 meters high Mixed-Use Tower in Downtown Austin designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), will become Texas' tallest when it opens in late 2026. Called Waterline, this skyscraper is intended to define the skyline of one of the U.S.A's most dynamic and growing cities. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the 74-Story project will include apartments, offices, hotel rooms, and a ground-floor paseo. The development will also add two new pedestrian bridges and three additional public pedestrian and bike access points.
Herzog & de Meuron have unveiled their latest mixed-use development in one of Austin, Texas' most desirable districts. Dubbed ‘Sixth & Blanco’, the continuous horizontal wooden structure is nestled between vernacular store fronts, restaurants, stores, galleries, tree-lined streets, and walkable routes near the Clarksville neighborhood. The challenge of the project was to propose an architecture that takes key ingredients from its surroundings and distributes them throughout a dense yet permeable program.
Construction technology company ICON unveiled its newest 3D-printed project, “House Zero”, designed by Texas-based firm Lake|Flato Architects. The project is the first in ICON’s “Exploration Series,” which seeks to highlight the architectural possibilities enabled by additive construction and develop new design languages with the purpose of “shifting the paradigm of homebuilding”. The material honesty of the house combines the expression of robotic construction processes with the natural wood textures creating a timeless design.