What happens when you build mobility systems entirely around safety? I found out the morning I arrived in Houten, a design experiment set amid the soggy pastures of the Dutch lowlands.
I stepped off the train, eyes blurry with an Amsterdam-size hangover, and found a bustling downtown without a car in sight--just throngs of white-haired senior citizens wheeling past on bicycles, their baskets loaded with shopping. I was greeted at Houten’s city hall by the mild-mannered traffic director, Herbert Tiemens, who insisted that we go for a ride. He led me down Houten’s main road, which was not actually a road but a winding path through what looked like a golf course or a soft-edged set from Teletubbies: all lawns and ponds and manicured shrubs. Not a car in sight. We rolled past an elementary school and kindergarten just as the lunch bell rang. Children, some of whom seemed barely out of diapers, poured out, hopped on little pink and blue bicycles, and raced past us, homeward.
New images unveiled this week reveal that the third and final phase of New York's High Line park will feature an enclosed amphitheatre filled with plants.
The bowl-shaped structure will create a new north-east gateway to the popular park - created across an abandoned elevated railway by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and planting designer Piet Oudolf - and will form part of a new stretch wrapping around New York's old freight train yards. Named The Spur, the structure will be positioned at the widest point of the High Line, across the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, and is conceived as "an immersive experience of nature.
A new mixed-use development, called “EyeBAM,” is the latest addition to Brooklyn’s burgeoning Downtown Cultural District.
Dattner Architects, Bernheimer Architecture, and SCAPE / Landscape Architecture, have been selected by the Mayor’s Office and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to design a 12-story building with109 apartments (40 percent affordable and 60 percent market rate), a restaurant and two arts-and-science-focused organizations, Eyebeam and Science Gallery.
Designed to engage with neighboring cultural institutions, the restaurant will flow into the new Arts Plaza, which will include outdoor seating to activate the space.
To further accentuate the cultural space, the architects plan to implement a glazed exterior on the lower levels. The material palette, composed of terracotta and brick, is a nod to Brooklyn’s architectural history.
“We wanted to create a scale and texture to the building that was both contextual to the neighborhood but also gave the building its own identity."
Every crane on every corner tells a story, and the two dozen–plus steel jibs currently soaring overhead have this to say about San Francisco: We're not messing around. With the economy booming and the cork finally popped on mega-projects that have been bottled up in the pipeline since the Newsom era, there are nearly 150 major real estate developments under construction in the city, and another 145 or so are through the approval process.
John Boitnott's insight:
It's undeniable. The face of the city is being changed by Tech and the construction projects that are multiplying, partly because of it.
Last week, Architizer and Arup put out a call for ideas to make New York City a better place for its residents and the 1 million additional people projected to arrive in the next few decades. As a follow-up, we’ve gathered a few examples of Arup projects from around the world that demonstrate the way that design can enhance everyday life in urban areas.
One, the UK's high-speed rail line from London to the Channel Tunnel, was a massive, decades-long effort that had the regeneration of a whole city sector in its goals from the outset. Others, such as a water recycling facility in a Melbourne park, are more modest in scale and scope, but present interesting models for dealing with challenges common to many cities around the world: resource constraints, housing shortages, disadvantaged neighborhoods, natural disasters, and more.
In recent years, San Francisco has become the capital of what someone described to me as “three-business-card life.” People might give a lot of their time to one startup while keeping a substantial equity share, and maybe a nominal job title, in...
John Boitnott's insight:
There are some very interesting assertions in this New Yorker article. One of the more provocative is that when comparing San Francisco and New York... SF has become the "power" city. There are also some highly interesting profiles of local entrepreneurs and the state of the startup world.
The internet is a worldwide network of computers, but it seems very intangible to most of us. In a general sense, the internet is made up of a lot of different components: Websites, users, servers, browsers, networking cables, and more. Some of these things have a physical component, and some of them do not, but even the ones that do have a physical component can be hard to conceptualize spatially. These maps help to lend that spatial component to the Internet.
Planners present a smart vision for any city seeking to accommodate innovation.
A new cluster of tech activity in Brooklyn is taking shape, showing some of the momentum its West coast counterpart had decades ago, already home about 500 tech and creative companies, with demand for space expected to double by 2015.
But how do you make sure a dense urban area can accommodate that growth and transform into a zone where connectivity is a given and tech-fueled civic experimentation is encouraged?
In other words, what does it take to make Brooklyn the city of tomorrow? That’s just what the architects and urban designers at WXY Studio were tasked with figuring out...
Read the complete article to find more on the strategic plan for the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which lays out in detail what it will take to establish a thriving tech hub in the heart of Brooklyn.
Many cities are already getting a jump start on smart water solutions and their work provides models for other places dealing with water challenges.
In the U.S., the infrastructure isn’t designed to handle the increased floods and droughts that come with global warming and we need to be smarter about our precious water supply in the coming years. Many cities are already getting a jump start on smart water solutions and their work provides models for other places dealing with water challenges.
We often talk colloquially about the "fast pace of city living," and that pace actually has a default speed: We’ve long assumed that people cross the street walking at about 4 feet per second.
Crosswalks are timed with this number in mind, so you don't get clipped by a creeping car when the red hand starts flashing at you midway through an intersection. But the older we get, the more likely we are to slow down. Most 80-year-olds just don’t move at 4 feet per second.
This bit of infrastructure trivia wasn't all that relevant just a few decades ago. "In the '60s, a majority of people weren't living past 70, or 75," says Hilde Waerstad, a physical therapist and research associate with the MIT AgeLab. As the vast baby boom generation now prepares to age well beyond 75, the demographics of entire cities will effectively age, too. "We're entering into this new era," Waerstad says, "that we just have not seen before."
From a solar mansion in China to a floating farm in New York, green buildings are sprouting up in cities around the world. Among their many benefits are curbing fossil-fuel use and reducing the urban heat island effect.
The Science Barge is a floating environmental education classroom and greenhouse on the Hudson River in New York. Fueled by solar power, wind, and biofuels, the barge, which was built in 2007, has zero carbon emissions.
Vegetables are grown hydroponically in an effort to preserve natural resources and adapt to urban environments, where healthy soil, or soil at all, is hard to come by. Rainwater and treated river water are used for irrigation.
The owner of the barge—New York Sun Works—designed it as a prototype for closed-loop and self-sufficient rooftop gardens in urban areas.
Visit the link for more examples of green urban projects and intiatives...
A conversation with the Arizona-based duo behind San Antonio's "Ballroom Luminoso," among other projects...
Joe O'Connell and Blessing Hancock are two Arizona-based artists who specialize in public art. But they're not the type to build your standard metal sculpture on a public plaza.
The duo operates a 14,000-square-foot fabrication facility in Tucson with 14 other artists, designers, engineers and craftspeople, making art out of fabricated metal, acrylic materials, LED lighting, and electronics.
Looking to find new ways for people to live and interact with art, O'Connell and Hancock create design pieces that help define the space they occupy and encourage interactivity. Their most recent project, "Ballroom Luminoso," debuted earlier this year under an elevated highway in San Antonio. Part of a neighborhood improvement plan, the project aims, through design, to bridge the physical boundary created by the I-10 highway, forming better connections between the different ethnicities and income levels in the area.
“More than eight in 10 neighborhoods across the United States fall into the two least bikeable categories. And more than half of them — 3500 plus — are concentrated in very bottom category. Conversely, just 3.2 percent of the neighborhoods make the top-ranked category, Biker’s Paradise, while another 14.6 percent can be considered Very Bikeable.”
In honor of Bike to Work Day, Richard Florida takes a look at America’s most bike friendly cities and neighborhoods using Walk Score’s bikeability rankings.
Bike commuting may be on the rise in the United States, but the country is still far from being a Biker’s paradise.
Gentrification is a highly charged issue, to say the least. Perhaps that's why a new analysis by Daniel Hartley, a research economist at the Cleveland Federal Reserve, has generated so muchattention.
Hartley’s study used Census data to examine the extent of gentrification across America's 55 largest cities over the past decade. (His data track the change between the 2000 Census and the results of the 2005-9 American Community Survey, which he shorthands as 2007). He defines gentrification as a neighborhood (more precisely, a Census Tract) that moved from "the bottom half of the distribution of home prices in the metropolitan area to the top half between 2000 and 2007."
Cities are experiencing rapid growth across the Global South. With this growth however, also comes economic disparity and environmental degradation. Can microfinance offer a solution to these growing concerns?
With mass urbanisation has also come significant concern with regard to economis disparity and environmental sustainability.
From one perspective, rural to urban migration is thought to be helping to alleviate poverty by pushing more people into the middle class. Additionally, increased urban population density is seen to be ‘green’ because it lowers dependency on private vehicle use and increases resource efficiency. From another perspective however, mass urbanisation also causes a variety of problems across a range of geographic scales: socio-economic inequality, slums, sprawl, deforestation, air pollution, excessive waste and poor water management, to name a few. There is no ‘silver bullet’ for these problems...
A change of scene in Europe's cities CNN During the past two decades, a number of European cities have invested heavily in redeveloping blighted industrial river fronts, turning them into charming urban retreats that emphasize sustainability,...
Governments, urban planners, and architects and designers need to work together to figure out what resilience looks like, to understand its implications for different geographies and populations, and to establish policies and practices for implementing it on the ground.
'We asked Arup engineers what resilience looks like, its implications for different geographies and populations, and the best policies and practices for implementing it on the ground.' Find their responses at the link.
Photographer Brian Rose has grown accustomed to chronicling urban change, one neighborhood at a time. Two years after producing a photo series with side-by-side shots of the Lower East Side of 1980 and today, he's done the same with the Meatpacking District (h/t Vanishing NY). Rose originally turned his lens to the area in 1985, well before gentrification took hold: "In the morning the meat-packing district was a vast open air scene of carnage. Sides of beef were hung from hooks that slid along overhead conveyors. Men in bloodied white coveralls grappled with the carcasses. ... As evening approached another kind of meat market took over—this one human trade–as prostitutes prowled the empty streets, many of them transvestites, overly tall females tottering about on high heels, while men in black leather sought the anonymous doors of sex clubs."
Born of the desire to swim in new york city's rivers, '+pool', the world's first floating water-filtering aquatic facility, will be the largest publicly funded civic project ever.
Three new yorkers have worked with international engineering and design firms such as ARUP to create '+pool', the world's first recreational floating aquatic filtering facility. The layered structure is designed to purify river water, over a half million gallons daily.
Composed of four sections forming the '+', the program is designed to accommodate everyone -- children and adults, athletes and bathers alike. the project is finished 'tile by tile', where each block is inscribed with a name or personal message of a sponsor or group of sponsors who donate over 25 USD.
Faced with the incomprehensible scale of worldwide mega-urbanization, observers have alternately fallen back on sheer numbers or city comparisons to drive home the speed at which cities in the developing world are growing.
A number of design firms have drawn up plans for new a Penn Station and Madison Square Garden as part of campaign to rebuild the complex. Renowned studios SHoP Architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and H3 were all asked to re-imagine the New York landmarks by the Municipal Art Society (MAS), a nonprofit that campaigns for, among other things, intelligent urban design and planning.
The most radical proposals came from Diller Sofidio + Renfro and SOM, who both submitted wildly complex designs. Their proposal, "Penn Station 3.0" aims to serve "commuters, office workers, fabricators, shoppers, foodies, culture seekers, and urban explorers," with a multi-level complex that's topped by a rooftop public garden. The concept separates out the fast-moving commuters, who are confined to the lowest level, and adds layers of stores, cafes, a spa, and even a theatre, in which people are able to move around at a more leisurely pace. The plan would also see Madison Square Garden relocate to sit alongside the Farley building on 8th Avenue.
Despite improvements in air quality, four in 10 Americans still live where pollution levels are often dangerous to breathe.
There is no doubt that great strides have been made in air pollution in the U.S. Awareness, stricter legislation and improved technology have all contributed to improved air, land and water conditions. Despite the improvements, four in 10 Americans still live where pollution levels are often dangerous to breathe.
Since the American Lung Association began studying particle pollution, almost all of the most polluted cities have consistently remained among the worst. The ALA’s 2013 “State of the Air” report measures cities based on low-lying ozone pollution, as well as both short- and long-term particle pollution. Based on average long-term particle pollution figures collected between 2009 and 2011, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 most polluted cities in the country...