All posts in Transportation

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Flights of Fancy

NASA partners with 17 companies to invest in the future of Urban Air Mobility
The concept of the flying car has lived in the popular imagination ever since the Space Age of the 1950s, yet a recent initiative by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) could make urban airborne travel more likely than ever in automotive history. The agency recently signed Space Act Agreements with 17 companies—including Toyota, Boeing, Airbus, and Hyundai—to participate in airborne transportation tests with the intention of radically transforming the transportation of people and goods in the near future. A series of technology demonstrations, known as the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Grand Challenge, will test the feasibility of additional airborne (some of them self-driving) transportation systems that include personal taxi services, emergency ambulances, and cargo delivery, all while promoting public confidence in advanced air mobility systems. “With this step,” said NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics Robert Pearce in a press statement, “we’re continuing to put the pieces together that we hope will soon make real the long-anticipated vision of smaller piloted and unpiloted vehicles providing a variety of services around cities and in rural areas.” While the drone technology the teams want to use for airborne travel is nothing new, the recent initiative aims to make its daily application in urban areas more realizable through conforming to safety measures set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “Our partnership with the FAA,” said Pearce, “will be a key factor in the successful and safe outcomes for industry that we can expect from conducting these series of Grand Challenges during the coming years.” Additionally, Uber representatives have suggested that many of the currently existing aviation policies are sufficient for demonstrating the potential of UAM, and that air taxis could avoid ground traffic by linking urban centers with suburbs. According to a study conducted by Morgan Stanley Research last year, the market for UAM is projected to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040. “The intersection of many technologies,” said Adam Jonas, head of Morgan Stanley's Global Auto and Shared Mobility research team, “such as ultra-efficient batteries, autonomous systems, and advanced manufacturing processes are spawning a flurry of activity in this space.” Uber was the first of the 17 to announce a partnership with NASA in 2017, which later made plans for debuting an autonomous flying taxi in 2023 (the original 2020 deadline seems to have come and gone). The concept car, named Elevate, was expected to fly between 1,000 and 2,000 feet in the air at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.
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Work on Europe’s longest cycling bridge kicks off in the Netherlands

In the far northeastern reaches of the Netherlands, construction has commenced on what’s being touted as the longest bicycle and pedestrian bridge in Europe. At over 2,600 feet long, the bridge will snatch the title from a 2,480-foot-long bridge in Sölvesborg, Sweden, when work wraps up in the Groningen province at the end of this year. Dubbed Blauwe Loper, or Blue Carpet, the wooden structure with a 2.5 percent gradient will technically be a series of four interconnected bridges spanning a large lake, a canal, a nature reserve, and a busy highway. The section over the canal will be moveable. And, as DutchNews.nl reports, there are plans to stretch the bridge even further—up to over 3,000 feet—in the future. With a price tag topping $7 million dollars, this ambitious work of car-eschewing infrastructure will connect the city of Winschoten with Blauwestad, a bucolic residential development-turned-lakeside recreational area, in its initial phase. The two areas are a “stone's throw from each other, but there is now no direct connection between the two for pedestrians and cyclists,” reads a special section dedicated to the bridge on a promotional website for  Blauwestad. “Functioning like a vast boardwalk,” the Blue Carpet will link the two locales and serve as a “sustainable icon” for the region. As the Guardian reports, one of the top design considerations for the bridge was bat-friendliness, very much a priority in the realm of Dutch bike and ped bridge construction. Blue Carpet will be painted “bat-friendly" green and outfitted with solar-powered LEDs as a method of helping bat colonies navigate from Oldambtmeer lake to a nearby public park. Blue Carpet’s builders claim that the bridge, built from resilient imported African hardwood, will last at least 80 years. “This bridge is not going to rot,” the Guardian quoted project leader Reinder Lanting as telling local daily newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden. “That is because it is technically well designed. The wood is not pressed together but has a sort of venting system.” The bridge was designed by NOL, a local multidisciplinary civil engineering and design firm. Matters of length aside (China still rules in that department), the bike-loving Netherlands is home to a large number of notable bridges reserved for bike and foot traffic. They include and certainly aren't limited to, Nescio Bridge, a curvy, single-cable steel suspension bridge in Amsterdam designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineered by ARUP: Grontmij, a modest bike bridge in the village of Gemert that, in a world-first, harnesses 3D printing technology: Eindhoven's Hovenring, a first-of-its-kind suspended bike roundabout that's technically a circular cable-stayed bridge, and a span in Utrecht that’s incorporated into the rooftop garden of a Montessori school.
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Gratis for All

Luxembourg becomes first country to make all public transit free
In a big move to reduce traffic congestion, the tiny European country of Luxembourg has scraped transit fares and made all modes of public transportation free. Various European municipalities have enacted free public transit schemes, some on a restricted or resident-only basis, with Dunkirk, France, and Tallinn, Estonia, being among the largest cities to do so. Luxembourg, however, is the first country in Europe or elsewhere to do away with fares almost entirely on a nationwide basis. As Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, some evening bus services, as well as first-class domestic train travel, will still be subject to fares. Now that Luxembourg’s free transit plan has been unrolled throughout the entire castle-stuffed, landlocked country, officials hope that its congestion-curbing impact will prove most potent in the capital of the Grand Duchy, Luxembourg City. Historic Luxembourg City is home to roughly 122,000 of the Rhode Island-sized nation’s nearly 614,000 residents but the majority of its traffic woes. As reported by the Luxembourg Times, Luxembourg City has the sixth-worst congestion for a global city with a population of less than 800,000. Only the Polish cities of Lodz, Krakow, Poznan, and Wroclaw, along with the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, fare worse. This data, pulled from an illuminating/horrifying annual index produced by Dutch location technology firm TomTom, ranks Luxembourg City as having the 25th worst urban congestion of any European city of any size trailing Budapest, London, Brussels, Rome, Paris, and the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. The European cities where drivers sit in traffic the least are almost exclusively Spanish. Per the index, Luxembourg City motorists spent, on average, 163 hour—nearly a full week of their lives—stuck in weekday rush hour traffic in 2019. AFP notes that Luxembourgish transit officials expect that eliminating fares will affect roughly 40 percent of the country’s households, with each saving about $112 in transit fares annually—a figure that demonstrates that getting around the wealthy nation via public transportation was affordable to begin with. Per a 2018 transportation study cited by AFP, Luxembourgers are heavily dependent on private cars, using them for 47 percent of business-related excursions and 71 percent of leisure travel. But as CNN points out, much of Luxembourg City’s notorious rush-hour traffic isn’t generated by native Luxembourg residents. Germany, France, and Belgium can all be reached from Luxembourg City within a half-hour. This means that a large, non-Luxembourgish contingent of workers clog the roads every morning and evening as they stream in and out of the city. Many of those working in Luxembourg City that commute from other countries daily—roughly 214,000 people per Deutsch Welle—choose to live in neighboring countries due to the astronomical cost of housing in the capital city. These commuters are encouraged to ditch their cars at the border and take advantage of Luxembourg’s now-free public transit system instead. To help further alleviate congestion and enable commuters to get around with more ease is a new, growing modern tramway line in Luxembourg City. The first phase of the tramway was finished in 2017 and work on subsequent phases is expected to wrap up within the next several years. When completed, the line will link the southern outskirts of the Luxembourg City to Findel, a small village just north of the city limits that’s home to the country’s only international airport. Luxembourg’s national public transit system costs roughly $562 million annually to operate. Fare sales contribute about $46 million, about 8 percent, a year to those costs and the government will cover the lost fares. “The country at this very moment is in really good shape,” Dany Frank, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Mobility and Public Works, told CNN. “We, the government, want the people to benefit from the good economy.”
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Infrastructure Weak

Is Trump holding up NYC congestion pricing and Second Avenue Subway funding?
Congestion pricing is at the traffic-alleviating heart of a $51.5 billion funding strategy developed by New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to raise funds for upgrades and repairs that will help resuscitate the agency’s flailing, failing New York City Subway system. But the plan, which would provide the MTA with $15 billion in bond sales for much-needed funding for signal improvements and enhanced station accessibility, has appeared to have hit a bureaucratic snag. With the congestion pricing scheme slated to kick off in 2021 (although that date now seems a stretch), New York would be the first city in the United States to implement congestion pricing as a means of raising funds for public transportation modernization efforts. Although many particulars are still being ironed out by the state, toll-based congestion pricing would apply to vehicles entering Manhattan from points south of 60th Street during peak traffic hours. An additional fee would also be added for for-hire vehicle rides, which should ideally reduce the number of Uber and Lyfts on the road. As previously reported, Los Angeles County is also mulling a similar congestion pricing plan that would reduce traffic while underwriting mass transit projects. As announced last week in a press conference by Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, New York’s congestion pricing scheme is apparently being “held hostage” by the Trump administration, which must grant the plan approval—via the Federal Highway Administration—before the environmental reviews can begin. While not all of the roadways that would be impacted by the congestion plan are federally funded, many are, thus the need for a federally-mandated environmental review process. For example, as Streetsblog NYC points out, Canal Street is technically part of Interstate 78. To date, the federal government has offered the state no guidance with regard to environmental review processes, essentially putting the brakes on any forward movement for the time being. Cuomo has framed the delay as an act of retaliation for the state’s refusal to hand over data culled from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the Department of Homeland Security that would be used for immigration enforcement. “Will they hold congestion pricing hostage? Yes,” the New York Post quoted Cuomo as saying at the press conference. “It doesn’t happen without the federal government’s approval and right now, they’re not approving it.” Cuomo revealed in another press conference held this past Monday that $3 billion in federal grant funding for Manhattan’s Second Avenue Subway expansion has also been derailed by President Trump. Encompassing three new stations and two miles of tunnels, the first phase of the East Side’s forever-awaited Second Avenue Subway line opened in January 2017. The $6 billion second phase, which would stretch the line from East 96th street to East 125th Street with three new stations, is anticipated to be operational by 2027-2029. The project is currently in the preliminary design phases. Trump had previously expressed decidedly non-antagonistic feelings toward the Second Avenue Subway and its progress. The Trump administration has also delayed funding to rehabilitate a rapidly deteriorating Hudson River rail tunnel that took on significant damage during Superstorm Sandy. The tunnel project is part of Amtrak’s Gateway infrastructure initiative geared to improve rail travel along the Northeast Corridor. It was downgraded to “medium-low priority” status by the Federal Transit Administration earlier this month, “The federal government has been slow, obstinate and I think purposefully difficult whenever they can,” Cuomo told reporters last week in reference to the federal foot-dragging that's slowing crucial New York infrastructure undertakings. “It’s political extortion … and, I think, you see this across the board, and I’m not holding my breath for them to approve congestion pricing.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed similarly waning confidence that congestion pricing will be implemented at the start of next year. He went as far as to suggest that the funding needed to fix his city’s ailing subways system will only come through if a Democrat takes the White House this November. “I am hoping that the professional folks and reason will prevail,” de Blasio recently explained on the most recent episode of WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “It doesn’t always happen in Washington, and if that doesn’t happen, then I am hoping for an election result that will change things in November.”
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Byford Goes Bye-Bye

Andy Byford resigns as head of NYC’s subways
Andy Byford, president of MTA New York City Transit, has quit. The British transportation expert was hired to turn around the city’s ailing subway system in January of 2018 after pulling off a similar feat at the Toronto Transit Commission. Now it seems that clashes between Byford and Governor Andrew Cuomo have reportedly led to the former’s departure. The system did improve markedly under Byford’s tenure. On January 20, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released the latest update on its Subway Action Plan, demonstrating improvements in station and track cleanliness, a 10,000-delay-a-month reduction for the fourth month in a row, and an on-time performance rate of 72.6 percent, the highest in four years. Still, despite all of the tangible benefits of his work, this isn’t even the first time Byford has resigned from the MTA; he briefly quit and then rejoined the agency last October. The friction between Byford and the Governor had reached an all-time high and Byford claims that he was being forced to organize conferences at transportation conferences at the Governor’s behest, rather than doing his job. That came after Governor Cuomo swooped in last January to preempt Byford’s 15-month plan to shut down L Train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn for repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel with his own preferred alternative. According to the New York Times, Byford and Cuomo didn’t speak for four months after that, though relations had seemingly thawed since then. Byford’s announcement that he was leaving came during an MTA board meeting earlier today, and even his staff reportedly only learned it was happening through Politico. Immediately afterward, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson took to Twitter to try to woo Byford back, trying to kickstart the “#BringAndyBack” hashtag and calling his departure a crisis. So, farewell to the transportation official that railfans were so enamored with that they nicknamed him the “Rail Daddy.” He’ll live on as long as the MTA continues to run in-station ads for its new OMNY contactless fare system; Byford lent his dulcet voice to an audio announcement about the upgrade that has been running since January 7.
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Moving Forward

NYC launches new website outlining timeline and process for the BQX streetcar
After much uncertainty and relative quiet, an updated timeline has been announced for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX streetcar) that would connect 11 miles of Brooklyn and Queens. The City’s Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Transportation have launched a new website detailing the proposed streetcar, along with previously released and new reports, which would run from Red Hook to Astoria and connect 13 subway lines and 30 bus routes. The BQX team proposes having at least five community board presentations and a minimum of five workshops this winter, and intend to collect public opinion on the $2.7 billion project via the new website and engage in on-the-ground outreach. There will be public hearings and the collection of comments in May and June, followed by a draft environmental impact statement in the spring of next year, with the final version to be released in fall of 2021 following public comment. Alternative options to the light rail line will reportedly be considered (the website gives the example of a dedicated bus lane). Currently, the city aims to open the line in 2029. If all goes according to plan, the city will then seek federal funding (as much as $1 billion according to previous reports) and undertake a land-use review, get the necessary approvals, and select designers, contractors, and companies to run the BQX. Funding has been a major hurdle for the streetcar. The federal government has certainly not been generous with infrastructure projects as of late, especially in areas the current administration sees as opposed to it. While it was suggested that Amazon (which was going to receive nearly $3 billion in subsidies, tax breaks, and incentives) might have footed part of the bill when they had planned to build their HQ2 in Long Island City, that option is obviously off the table. Many City Council members have questioned the price tag relative to the streetcar's projected ridership and the desperate need for upgrades to transit options elsewhere. Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to advocate for the project, however.
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High-Speed Pushback

Maryland towns band together to fight high-speed rail route
As plans move forward for a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., an increasing number of small towns are banding together to fight the railway, which spans 40 miles and would provide service between two major business districts in 15 minutes. The towns are scattered across Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties in the direct path of maglev project construction. The Baltimore–D.C. segment is the first step in a proposal to eventually provide high-speed rail service between Washington and New York. Pushback has increased as the 20-year planning phase of the project has moved to its next steps: An environmental impact statement draft is expected in early 2020, according to The Washington Post. Although the train will run 75 percent underground at depths of 80- to-200 feet, residents between the two cities would bear the brunt of the construction, in close proximity to their homes without much payoff in return—the train, which stops only in Washington, Baltimore, and at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, would be of little use to those living in these small communities. Residents of Greenbelt, Maryland, have been some of the most vocal opponents of the project and formally denounced the proposal for the high-speed train two years ago. Now, the city of 23,000 is requesting legal counsel to aid its effort to halt the maglev route, sparking a debate over NIMBY mentality and the grassroots efforts to protect communities. Amanda Kolson Hurley, a journalist on urbanism who profiled Greenbelt’s history in her book, Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City, offered insight via Twitter: “We really screwed up by not building more subway & light-rail lines already. Greenbelt residents are not wrong to say they will bear the inconvenience while the main benefits go to DC and Baltimore… Greenbelt got carved up by the BW Parkway & Beltway, so there’s a history of being imposed on by big transpo projects.” Support for the high-speed rail project, however, comes from its potential to ease regional traffic congestion and create thousands of jobs. The railway is backed by Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan, and impact studies were aided by a $28 million federal grant. Pending the release of the environmental impact report and final approval, construction could begin as soon as next year.
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No More Limits

MTA announces $51.5 billion capital plan with commitment to accessibility
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is set to begin exercising its $51.5 billion capital plan this year—the largest budget approved in agency history. In a press release this week, the MTA announced it's now looking for qualified design-build firms to work on accessibility projects across 23 subway stations in the city. "Accessibility is a top priority fo the MTA," said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye in the statement, "and we are committed to completing these accessibility projects as quickly as possible." Equitable travel—via public transit in particular—has long been a big issue throughout the five boroughs. According to a February analysis by The New York Times, there are over half a million residents who have limited mobility, two-thirds of which don't live near an accessible subway station. What's more, only 25 percent of New York's 472 stations have elevators. The accessibility push is part of the MTA's historic 2020-2024 Capital Plan in which it will invest billions of dollars into New York City public transit, as well as regional subways, buses, commuter rail systems, bridges, and tunnels. Up to $40 billion will be set aside strictly for improving New York's subway and bus systems with $5.2 billion of that allocated for accessibility projects. A total of 70 subway stations have been identified for work overall in the MTA's capital plan. The MTA promises to install two-to-three new elevators at each of the 23 stations listed in the RFQ and make other improvements aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, it will reconstruct platform edges or ADA boarding areas in the hopes of making passengers feel safer. Utility, station communication, and lighting upgrades may occur as well depending on existing conditions at the station. The news comes less than a year later after the MTA announced Foye, longtime head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as its new leader. This past December, the agency moved 430 employees to its new Construction and Development department in an effort to consolidate all construction personnel. The change, along with other organizational moves, was mandated by the New York State government earlier last year in order to increase efficiency within the agency and speed up project delivery timelines.
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Virgin Tracks

Virgin to build another high-speed rail line from SoCal to Las Vegas
The United States has largely tailed other global leaders in the development of high-speed train infrastructure. State and municipal governments throughout China and the European Union have long-invested more in public transportation systems over the automobile, but one recent development in the U.S. may potentially bring America to the fore. A 170-mile-long, high-speed train from Las Vegas and Southern California is slated to start construction next year. Developed by Virgin Trains USA, the $4.8 billion rail line will be placed in between the Interstate 15 highway lanes, from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas Boulevard between Blue Diamond and Warm Springs roads in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to Tina Quigley, vice president of business strategy for the company, the build-out will begin on the western end in California. She told the told Las Vegas Review-Journal that contractors will likely begin work "in about five different areas when construction starts" and that "those five areas will probably be in California.” A section of the track stretching 35 miles will run through Southern Nevada and is expected to begin construction in 2021. Virgin is basing much of its design strategy for the project on a previous, 70-mile system completed by the company in South Florida between Miami and West Palm Beach. When complete, the train is expected to dramatically influence the economy of Victorville, a town with a population of fewer than 20,000 people, as well as the development of other high-speed rail projects throughout the United States. The price for train fare has not yet been determined, but it will have to remain competitive with plane fare and the cost of driving to remain a viable option for interstate travel. Though the project cannot begin until it receives a "record of decision" by the Federal Railroad Administration, Virgin has already begun securing equipment and materials, according to Nevada's Department of Business Director Terry Reynolds. The company received an additional boost last month when the state of California approved a $3.25 billion bond request to support the project. If all goes according to plan, construction on the route will break ground in the second half of 2020 and be completed in 2023.
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Accelerating the modern world

A thrilling journey through the history of the car is on show in London

The automobile—a long-time fetish object of architects, the car is arguably the object that defines the 20th Century and one that has perhaps sent us crashing us into the 21st. The development of the car was once fuelled by optimism, able to set people free to go where they wanted, when they wanted. Today, however, its image has been tainted by its contribution to the climate crisis. The car is both personal and global, shaping lives, cities and nations, and it is the subject of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) latest exhibition: Cars: Accelerating the Modern World.

There’s no Lamborghini Countach, no Citroen DS or Aston Martin DB5 here, this isn’t that kind of show. Cars is a critique of the automobile and its impact. Expect instead to find posters about workers rights relating to Fordist assembly lines, maps tracking global oil production, the world’s first commercial car designed using wind tunnel testing (the Tatra 77), and Graham, the viral, life-sized latex figurine born from the Transport Accident Commission of Australia that shows how humans could evolve to survive a car crash.

Tucking the exhibition into the new AL_A-designed Sainsbury Gallery at the V&A in London, curators Brendan Cormier and Lizzie Bisley have, through a welcome variety of mediums, given audiences a thrilling ride through the history of the car that’s full of unexpected turns.

With regards to architecture, we’re given Prussian-American architect Albert Khan’s plans for the Henry Ford’s Highland Park plant, the place where assembly lines were first used for industrial production. Next to it is a model of Italian architect Giacomo Mattè-Trucco’s Fiat Lingotto factory in Turin, complete with rooftop test track. But nearby is something more sinister—a letter from a Highland Park factory worker’s wife to Mr Ford. “The chain system you have is a slave driver! My God!” it reads, detailing the perils of the factory conditions.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Ford was a control freak. In 1926 he purchased land in Amazon Rainforest to produce his own rubber. Brazilian workers were banned from smoking, drinking alcohol and playing football, while American customs such as square-dancing in community halls and working in the sun, as well as hamburgers in the canteen, were introduced. The workers revolted and “Fordlandia”, as it was known, was abandoned in 1945.

Factory revolts and angry letters to bosses may be fewer and far between now, particularly as machines usurp humans in factory line production. A lengthy and eerily slow panning projection of the inside of the BMW Group Plant in Munich duly demonstrates this. Here machines do the heavy lifting while humans keep watch.

Cars also delves into the wider spatial implications of the automobile. Le Corbusier, who was as obsessed with the car as any architect (maybe more), designed the Maison Citröhan (1922)—named in the car manufacturer’s honor—to be as efficient as the car. Tire manufacturer Michelin, meanwhile, carried out an exhaustive photographic study of dangerous roads in America in the 1930s, highlighting the need for urgent improvement, and an array of photos from this shows just how poor America's roads once were. Missing, however, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s conception of the garage. The car’s impact on suburbs, roadside architecture (notably the work of Denise Scott-Brown), along with highways and freeways and drive-in cinemas is also amiss, but these do all feature in the exhibition’s accompanying book, which has been beautifully produced.

“In the end we ran out of space,” Cormier told AN. More important to the curators was to expose the rush for oil extraction the car created and the devastating effect this is having on the environment, which is understandable.

Throughout the exhibition, visitors are continually exposed to visions of a future which will never exist. One example: adverts and sci-fi films from 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s show many men in many cars, but none are stuck in traffic. By analyzing the automobile through the rear-view-mirror, Cars highlights how the car and modernity have failed to deliver on many promises. That hasn't stopped the industry, though. In the last room is 'Pop.Up Next', a concept from Italdesign which combines an electric car and a drone that is able to clip onto the pod-like vehicle—or rather, another attempt at a flying car, a never-realized fantasy of old which, like its predecessors, may be destined to forever belong in a museum. 

Cars: Accelerating the Modern World runs through 19 April 2020.

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Just Floating an Idea

Oakland councilwoman proposes converting cruise ships into homeless housing
During a presentation at a committee meeting on December 5, Oakland City Council president Rebecca Kaplan presented a doubtlessly provocative plan to partially resolve one of the California Bay Area's most significant political crises. One strategy for housing a thousand members of the region's homeless population, Kaplan suggested, would be to repurpose a disused cruise ship and keep it close to the harbor. “I think it’s worth working on," Kaplan opined, "to see if we can have an innovation to provide needed, urgent housing quickly and affordably.” As ludicrous as the idea may have sounded to Kaplan's audience members, it quickly gained traction with those in the industry. Two days after her presentation, an unidentified cruise ship company expressed interest in offering a number of ships for the cause. The opportunity might be attractive to a number of cruise ship companies in light of a looming emissions regulation imposed by the International Maritime Organization that is expected to take place next year. According to the new policy, a number of ships will not fail to qualify for engine upgrades and will therefore not be suitable as fully-functioning cruise ships. Unable to leave the docks, these ships could potentially serve a surprisingly altruistic purpose as they have in the past as emergency housing during Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Katrina, and other natural disasters. Given the proven track record (though not for long-term housing), Kaplan expressed that she is "excited about the possibility to create more affordable housing quickly.” The Port of Oakland, however, has stated that the plan could not work on its dock in light of current restrictions. The ports are designed for cargo ships, Port of Oakland spokesman Michael Zampa explained, and cannot reasonably accommodate cruise ships without significant alterations. When putting into perspective that the current homeless population in Oakland is currently over 4,000 with little sign of decreasing, a plan such as Kaplan's might become a reality in the near future.
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New Urbanist Gingerbread for Transit Oriented Teens

Museum of Architecture’s 2019 Gingerbread City explores transportation
Every year, London's Museum of Architecture challenges architects to create a fantastic and futuristic city made entirely out of gingerbread, marshmallows, and other sweet treats. Now in its fourth year, Gingerbread City is a miniature candy land designed to consider the future of the urban environment and spark public dialogue about architecture and how we interact with the cities around us.  While the city itself is delightfully whimsical and theoretically edible, the ideas embodied within its sugar-coated walls represent real insights on technology and sustainability. With transportation as this year’s theme, over 100 designers contributed imaginative ways of rethinking mobility in cities while shining the holiday lights on how architects and planners approach both the urban and natural landscapes. In order to participate, architects, designers, and engineers selected and purchased a plot from a master plan of the tiered city developed by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design. Plot options ranged in size from “tiny” to “large,” as well as plots for specific London landmarks, landscapes, and bridges.  Gingerbread City is a really important project for Tibbalds because of the way it makes everyone who visits think about cities and what they mean. It prompts questions about the many things that designers and place-makers have to deal with in creating interesting places that work for those that use them,” said Hilary Satchwell, director of Tibbalds, said in a recent press release. “Fast, fun, edible urbanism is a great way into some important discussions about the value of place.” Complete with lighting, an operational train, and tons of punny names such as “Waffle Iron Tower,” “Wafer Bridge,” and “Gingerbread Modern,” this year's Gingerbread City takes place at Somerset House, or “Sugarset House” as Hawkins\Brown titled their submission. Participants include returning architects such as Foster + Partners, SOM, PDP London, PLP Architecture, and Phase3. Many other firms have joined for the first time including Grimshaw, KPF, and HKS. The city is complete with various districts including a University District, Cultural Quarter, Sustainable Quarter, Gingerbread Waterfront, Castle Hill, and London Quarter Island. Building types include mixed-use, bridges, houses, a stadium, university, train station, urban farm, ferry terminal, and many other spaces that are critical to the contemporary city.  With more than 40,000 public visitors annually, this year’s exhibition will also include a series of gingerbread house making workshops for families as well as a shop. The Museum of Architecture is also celebrating the launch of a new grant-giving fund which will support projects that engage the public with architecture. According to Melissa Woolford, the museum's founder and director, “The Gingerbread exhibition supports our year-round work as an architectural charity and this year sees us able to set up a grant-giving fund so we can support more public-facing and entrepreneurial projects.”  Gingerbread City is currently on display at Somerset House and will be on view through January 5, 2020.