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Infrastructure: The Latest Architecture and News

Did a Highway Kill the City of Hartford?

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Can a piece of infrastructure literally kill a city? This is the question that writer Jim Krueger poses in his recent podcast, The Road That Killed a City. The place in question is Krueger’s current hometown—Hartford, Connecticut—which he grew up next to in the leafy suburb of West Hartford. Kruerger has lived in both towns, and that helps to balance the amazing story he uncovers about how Connecticut’s capital was impaled by a roadway (actually, two: east/west I-84 and north/south I-91 converge in Hartford in a sort of arterial highway ground zero). I spoke with Krueger about what prompted the podcast, some of what he uncovered about the history of this ill-fated urban “improvement,” and the legacy of a highway that continues to thwart Hartford’s rebirth—an inheritance shared by many cities across North America.

San Francisco's Newest National Park Topping a Highway to Open This Summer

Presidio Tunnel Tops is San Francisco’s upcoming national park destination, set to welcome visitors starting July 17th. The project reconnects the park formerly split in two by the Doyle Drive by creating new landscaped land over the highway now moved underground. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the firm behind New York’s High Line, the project brings 5.6 hectares (14 acres) of new parkland to the Bay Area, featuring trails, picnic areas, and scenic views over the city as well as a nature play area for kids.

© James Corner Field Operations© James Corner Field Operations© James Corner Field Operations© James Corner Field Operations+ 16

New Green Spaces Don’t Have to Lead to Gentrification

Decades of redlining and urban renewal, rooted in racist planning and design policies, created the conditions for gentrification to occur in American cities. But the primary concern with gentrification today is displacement, which primarily impacts marginalized communities shaped by a history of being denied access to mortgages. At the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Matthew Williams, ASLA, with the City of Detroit’s planning department, said in his city there are concerns that new green spaces will increase the market value of homes and “price out marginalized communities.” But investment in green space doesn’t necessarily need to lead to displacement. If these projects are led by marginalized communities, they can be embraced.

Dequindre Cut, Detroit / SmithGroup. Image Courtesy of The DirtHarold Simmons Park, Dallas, Texas / Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Image Courtesy of The DirtJoe Louis Greenway, Detroit / SmithGroup. Image Courtesy of The DirtElla Fitzgerald Park and Greenway / Spackman, Mossop, and Michaels. Image Courtesy of The Dirt+ 13

When 5% of the United States is Covered By Parking Lots, How Do We Redesign our Cities?

Aerial View of a Parking Lot. Image via Parking Industry
Aerial View of a Parking Lot. Image via Parking Industry

Cities face much criticism with how they handle their car population, but have you ever thought about how much land use is dedicated to surface parking lots? In fact, it may be one of the most prominent features of the postwar city in the United States. Housing, community facilities, highway infrastructure, often garner much attention, but the amount of land dedicated just to park cars is astounding.

Little Island Park and the Collaboration among Designers, Contractors and Fabricators: An Interview with Arup

Pier 54 in New York has a history that dates back to the city's first inhabitants. After being severely damaged in 2012 with the passage of Hurricane Sandy, Barry Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust institution worked to create solutions to reactivate it and return the space to the public.

The final resulting project, Little Island Park, became an urban oasis of almost 10,000 square meters, which is structured on 132 pillars and houses amphitheaters, and several species of trees and other vegetation, in addition to other attributes. With the architecture developed by Heatherwick Studio and landscaping by MNLA, the work presented numerous difficulties, which required great innovation and collaboration between many professionals. Arup, a global company that develops consulting and engineering projects, was involved in the project from the beginning. We spoke with David Farnsworth, Principal at Arup’s New York office & Project Director of Little Island, about the challenges and learning involved in this process:

"Our Cities are not Designed for the Disabled" According to CityLab

Although disability laws have been put in place decades ago, architects are still struggling with disability requirements. A recent article by CityLab explored how the rise of speed and efficiency-driven cities have overlooked accessibility, neglecting the needs of people who are physically unable to live or keep up with these dense neighborhoods. And while the "15-Minute City", one that allows people to walk or bike to most essential services within 15 minutes of their home, may seem as the future of built environments, it does not cater to disabled individuals or their movements.

© Aitor OrtizCourtesy of Ciclo Vivo© Shutterstock© Arup+ 4

Miami Unveils its 40-Year Mitigation Plan to Combat Sea Level Rise

Earlier this month, the city of Miami released a draft version of its comprehensive plan to combat the effects of climate change. The so-called Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP) will be implemented to alleviate the threat of flooding throughout the city, improve the quality of water in Biscayne Bay, and fortify its coastline against stronger and more frequent storm surges over the next 40 years, at an overall cost estimate of $3.8 billion.

Deck Parks are Increasingly in Vogue, But Are They Always a Good Fit?

"Deck parks are increasingly in vogue in the Southwest’s downtown cores but aren’t a good fit for El Paso," writes Sito Negron. Recently a lot of cities around the world have been rethinking urban spaces dedicated to transportation, introducing public areas over highways while expanding the vehicular realm. In this week's reprint from the Architect's Newspaper, the author explores the limits of this trend and questions its implementation in some cases.

A Transformation in Pacoima, Los Angeles, Reveals the Potential of the City’s Overlooked Alleys

Courtesy of Trust for Public Land
Courtesy of Trust for Public Land

In a piece, originally published on Metropolis, author Lauren Gallow highlights an urban transformation in California, led by a group of local organizations and designers. The project "replaces a previously hazardous alley with play areas, public art, and native plantings", in order to reveal the untapped potential of the overlooked public realm.

Courtesy of Trust for Public LandCourtesy of Trust for Public LandCourtesy of Trust for Public LandCourtesy of Trust for Public Land+ 6

World's Most Liveable Cities in 2021: Auckland in New Zealand Tops the Ranking

Auckland in New Zealand has topped the ranking in the 2021 EIU's annual world's most liveable city survey. Classifying 140 cities across five categories including stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure, this year’s edition of the review has been highly affected by the global pandemic. Australia, Japan, and New Zealand took leading positions, while European and Canadian cities fell down the ranking.

Tokyo, Japan. Image via ShutterstockAuckland, New Zealand. Image via Shutterstock/ By Maurizio De MatteiZurich, Switzerland. Image via Shutterstock/ By Maykova GalinaAdelaide, Australia . Image via Shutterstock/ By myphotobank.com.au+ 12

10 Cities Embracing Bicycles in their Urban Planning

What does the future of cities and transportation look like? It looks like the future will run on two wheels and a handle bar. Many explain the rise of cyclists as a shift towards a healthier and more economical lifestyle. But while that may be true, why would individuals feel inclined to ride bicycles if the roads don't support it, or if there weren't adequate spaces to park?

Architecture plays an important role in promoting the use of bicycles. Cities equipped with safe bicycle lanes, parking lots, and public bike facilities encourage citizens to refrain from using their cars, and opt for a much more sustainable means of transportation. Many have already began reshaping their urban infrastructure in a way that caters to bicycles, whether it is through bicycle bridges, widened cycling lanes, or permanent parking lots.

Strawinskylaan Bicycle Parking / wUrck. Image © Jan de VriesLex van Delden Bridge / Dok Architecten. Image © Arjen SchmitzDenmark Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010 / BIG. Image © Iwan BaanThe South Entrance / Tengbom. Image © Felix Gerlach+ 15

In Transit: Large-Scale Road Infrastructures Seen from Above

We live in a tangled web of flows – of capital, information, technology, images, structures, in constant momentum dominating all aspects of our lives. The large-scale road infrastructures shown here are products of this powerful desire for movement, which for many years was also synonymous with development, as portrayed by the famous Goethean character Faust in his endless quest for a (false) sense of progress.

From these tangles of concrete and steel, at multiple levels and in different directions, emerges a geometrically organized chaos that tears the urban fabrics in a relentless effort to prioritize the flows with the fewest obstacles and the highest capacity possible.

Houston, Texas. Created by @dailyoverview, source imagery: @nearmapNew Orleans, Louisiana. Created by @benjaminrgrant, source imagery: @nearmapJacksonville, Florida. Created by @benjaminrgrant, source imagery: @digitalglobeLos Angeles, California. Created by @dailyoverview, source imagery: @nearmap+ 12

Concrete Pipes Transformed Into Architectural Elements and Living Spaces

Urban infrastructures provide comfort to inhabitants and mitigate the risks of disasters such as flooding. Underground systems specifically conceal urban infrastructures from public view and are configured as real mazes under the streets. The distribution of drinking water, urban drainage, sewage, and even electrical wiring and fiber optics in some cases, pass under our feet without us noticing. To this end, the industry developed precast concrete parts for about 100 years that provided construction speed, adequate resistance to force, and durability against time. Concrete pipes with circular sections, in many diverse diameters, are perhaps the most used conduits and are ubiquitous around the world. But there are also those who use these apparently functional elements in creative architectural contexts as well.

Fortaleza Subway Extension / Fernandes Arquitetos Associados

© Pedro Mascaro© Pedro Mascaro© Pedro Mascaro© Pedro Mascaro+ 42

  • Area Area of this architecture project Area :  114183 ft²
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year :  2012
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers :  AutoDesk, Arkos, Deca, Docolo, Dânica, +1

Water Towers: Iconic Infrastructure, Underutilized Opportunity

This article was originally published on Common Edge

I am a relative newcomer to the Midwest, and of all the things that have captured my enduring attention, one of them is water towers. In my adopted home state, Minnesota, they are everywhere. These top-heavy engineering marvels rise to well over 150 feet tall and assume all manner of shape and metallurgical prowess, from the pedesphere and fluted column structures, colloquially known as the “golf ball-on-a-tee” and “flashlight,” respectively, to the multicolumned spheroid and ellipsoid tanks that, as legend has it, were the targets of frantic gunfire during Orson Welles’ broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” I can attest that when the day’s twilight settles in, those multilegged towers—or, rather, their silhouettes—can appear otherworldly.