Search results for "New York City Department of Transportation"

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This urban intervention in Chicago would let citizens control colorful lights under the "El" with their smartphones
Chicago is best known for Wrigley Field and the Sears Tower (yes, the Sears Tower), but one of its most prominent urban features is the elevated train tracks that form the “Loop,” or the downtown area bound by this snaking steel goliath. However poetic the idea of the “El” might be, it brute steel structure could, like most raised infrastructures, use some improvements. To draw attention to improving the El, the Chicago Loop Alliance has even outlined a plan called Transforming Wabash, which focuses on one heavily trafficked throughway underneath train tracks. The Wabash Lights is a site-specific installation that would convert a stretch of the tracks into a programmable light show with over 5,000 LED tubes. Urban instigators Jack C. Newell and Seth Unger need your help to Kickstart a pilot of the project, and, at the time of publication, they have less than a week to raise $13,000 to complete their crowdfunding campaign. The underside of the elevated train tracks above Wabash Avenue will be their test site for the lights, which the pair says embrace and celebrate the existing, rather than destroying the character of what is there. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackcnewell/the-wabash-lights-the-beta-test From the Kickstarter campaign:

For most people visiting or living in Chicago, Wabash Avenue in the Loop is a dark, noisy, sometimes scary place to either avoid or walk quickly through. Positioned between the history of State Street and the futuristic playground of Millennium Park, Wabash Avenue is an underutilized resource in the city for art, culture, and business.

The design calls for 520 light tubes that are programmable every 1.2 inches, and Chicago residents can control the lights using a smartphone or computer. The project was initially entangled in a bit of a bureaucratic red tape, but it now has gained all of the approvals needed to move forward with a pilot outside of the Palmer House Hilton on Wabash Avenue. The duo has been working closely with the Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the city government. To contribute to the project and see Chicago’s streets come to life, head on over to their Kickstarter page.
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NYC DOT's "Great Streets" vision for Atlantic Avenue lacks any bicycle infrastructure
As part of Mayor de Blasio’s mission to eliminate traffic deaths in New York City, his administration has committed $250 million toward its “Great Streets” initiative to redesign four of the city’s most dangerous arterial roadways: 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens, Queens Boulevard, and  Grand Concourse in the Bronx. On 4th Avenue in Brooklyn—which is known as “the canyon of mediocrity” for its lackluster architecture—the Department of Transportation is making permanent a temporary road diet it put in place in recent years. Street adjustments like wider medians and banning left turns at certain intersections have paid huge dividends: On a 15-block stretch of the remade roadway, pedestrian injuries decreased 61 percent. The DOT did not include bike lanes in its road diet, instead opting for 13-foot-wide parking lanes. Construction has also just begun on the DOT's "Great Streets" remake of Queens Boulevard, a harrowing roadway dubbed the “Boulevard of Death." This transformation has been widely lauded in transportation circles for its inclusion of pedestrian pathways and protected bike lanes. But now the DOT has unveiled its $60 million plan to remake two miles of Atlantic Avenue, and like many recent street-calming measures undertaken by the department (Queens Boulevard excluded) it does little—if anything—to protect the city’s cyclists. On the dangerous section of Atlantic, most of which is in East New York—a neighborhood de Blasio wants to rezone to create affordable housing—the DOT plans to replace existing medians with longer and raised medians that have space for plantings and benches. The design would also implement left turn bays, high-visibility crosswalks, ban left turns at some intersections, and create mid-block crossings. The DOT says these strategies will calm traffic and reduce speeding. “The design proposed by DOT will make Atlantic look nicer and probably yield a marginal improvement in safety,” wrote StreetsBlog, “but it does not fundamentally alter the geometry of the street.” As part of its Vision Zero rollout, the DOT had previously re-timed traffic lights on Atlantic Avenue, and stepped-up traffic enforcement. It was also one of the first streets to have its speed limit dropped from 30 miles per hour to 25. The absence of any bike infrastructure in this “Great Streets” project is especially notable given the fatal bicycle crash that recently occurred just off Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. After the cyclist was killed, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a press conference at the intersection calling on the city to fast-track a redesign of the dangerous intersection. Adams also brought reporters on a bike ride along Flatbush Avenue to underscore the harrowing conditions cyclists have to contend with on many city streets. Last year, pedestrian fatalities in New York City fell to their lowest level in over a century, but cyclists' deaths rose from 12 in 2013 to 20. The DOT says it will finalize this plan with the Department of Design an Construction by August 2016 and start construction the following spring. It remains to be seen what the department has planned for the Grand Concourse.  
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A Big Interesting Mess
Columbia University professor Richard Plunz discusses New York City affordable housing as part of an Inventory of What's Possible..
Courtesy IPA

On April 9 and 10, the Institute for Public Architecture and Pratt Institute School of Architecture held “An Inventory of What’s Possible,” a symposium organized to discern what can be done to implement Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious plan to build 200,000 affordable housing units in the next ten years. The event consisted of visits to a variety of different public and supportive housing projects from various eras throughout the city, in addition to talks by professors, students, city officials, community activists, and the president of a residents’ association. They discussed new ideas, historic projects, problems, possible solutions, and opportunities that the current affordable housing crisis presents.

On April 9, participants toured housing ranging in time from Strivers Row by James Brown Lord, Bruce Price, and Stanford White (1893) to Via Verde by Dattner Architects and Grimshaw (2012) and in space from Roland Wank’s Grand Street housing in Lower Manhattan to Clarence Stein and Henry Wright’s Sunnyside Gardens in Queens and Twin Parks in the north Bronx. Richard Meier; Prentice, Chan & Olhausen; and Giovanni Pasanella all have buildings at Twin Parks. The tour drove home the point that New York City’s legacy is remarkable for its range, quality, and continuing success. It also showed that there are lessons to be learned—both positive and negative—from what has been built in the past.

After welcomes by Pratt Dean Thomas Hanrahan, and professor and AN editor-in-chief William Menking, panel discussions furthered historical perspectives, provided views of neighborhood activists, and presented new ideas about ways to attack the affordable housing crisis.

Jonathan Kirschenfeld, the founder of the Institute for Public Architecture, who had designed some of the housing visited the day before, noted, “We have 50 years of research on the public realm at Pratt in the institute founded by Ron Shiffman (Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, or PICCED) and now directed by Adam Freeman. Housing—and the way we think about the public realm and the interior realm—defines our humanity as a city. New York is the quintessential innovator in thinking about housing in a dense place, willing to take chances and create new types of housing.”

Karen Kubey, who directs the Institute for Public Architecture, mentioned "Total Reset" an Institute Fellows residency program on public and below-market housing that took place last summer, noting that Michael Kimmelman had covered it enthusiastically in “Trading Parking Lots for Affordable Housing,” in The New York Times on September 14.

Later in the day, when Institute Fellows presented the findings from their work, Miriam Peterson, Nathan Rich, and Sagi Golan described the “9 x 18” plan that Kimmelman had praised. They proposed a new parking policy, especially in areas near pubic transportation, an attempt to create streets that promote an active lifestyle.

“There is much more parking on NYCHA sites than on other urban blocks. The idea is to replace parking lots with parking structures that house community facilities,” said Golan.

“A lot of the residents were willing to trade parking space for other amenities.” Another Institute Fellow, Kaja Kuhl, a Columbia GSAPP professor who goes to five neighborhoods every year with the 5 Borough Studio, talked about the importance of starting a conversation with each community. She uses “Postcards from Home” to learn how the residents view “home” and found that they see it as “neighborhood and community,” “privacy,” and even “food.” She said, “We heard that housing should be affordable,” and she showed some of the student projects that were inspired by these conversations. At the Forest Houses in the Bronx, students looked at the schools that surround the NYCHA development as a place to share school facilities like a library, a gymnasium, and computer labs with each other and with NYCHA residents by putting them on the housing authority campus.

Frederick Biehle, a Pratt professor and principal of VIA Architecture, had also considered restoring streets and reshaping the urban fabric in his studio that focused on the Ingersoll and Whitman Houses in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He suggested “delineating public, semipublic, and private spaces” to counter the “sameness and banality” of the existing buildings. The studio proposed a new two-story base connecting two existing towers with semi-private space for residents and an interior courtyard with new institutional programs—a skating rink, a school, stores. “Each individual building gets to determine its own block. The metastasized scheme doubles the number of units, but the buildings’ lower floors become more porous. Townhouses face the street.” He described a number of possibilities and noted, “It’s amazing that so many successful, doable projects were proposed.”

In a morning session on “Stabilizing Neighborhoods,” the moderator was Daniel Hernandez, the Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and a Pratt professor. He noted the importance of early engagement in identifying issues and then implementing them, since “it’s a moment when there is a lot of cultural change going on in the agencies.”

NYIT Professor Nicholas Bloom described the promise of subsidized coops and said, “The word ownership comes up often in the mayor’s document.” He talked about the success of earlier subsidized coops, such as Village View in Manhattan and the Luna Park Co-op in Coney Island, which encouraged residents to take care of their neighborhoods. He proposed that NYCHA create a subsidiary to build some of these on their land on a nonprofit model, similar to what is done in Singapore. They might be built with FEMA funds in some areas, would “put more eyes on the street,” and might be step-up housing for some NYCHA families. “There has to be a less strident conversation about underused land in NYCHA communities,” he said.

Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, a principal of Buscada who teaches at the New School for Public Engagement, discussed the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). She described it as “a big mess but one that is interesting.” In 1967, families were driven out but told that they could return when new housing was built. However, not enough was built for many families to return. She emphasized the importance of perpetuity in communities.

Benjamin Dulchin, who is a community organizer, not an architect, represents the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Developmentan, an umbrella organization for 101 community development groups. He is trying to help neighborhoods set agendas and develop policies by studying what has worked and what conditions made success possible. He said that while it is important to build permanently affordable housing, it is also necessary to focus on crime, economic development, and institutions to sustain a community.

Paula Segal, the executive director of 596 Acres, an organization that advocates for community gardens spoke, unsurprisingly, in favor of their preservation and of ownership of land by communities. She is particularly opposed to giving gardens to for-profit developers.

In a discussion period after their talks, Ron Shiffman said, “Displacement and speculation on land has become palpable in every neighborhood of New York. A lot of good planning came from neighborhood-based organizations. Let’s start integrating some of the wealthiest communities.”
Pratt faculty member Meredith TenHoor chaired a panel on Enabling Quality Design. She noted that in the 1970s, when cities were seen as failing, it was often the design of housing that was blamed.

Suzanne Schindler, who teaches at Columbia, discussed another historic example—Twin Parks in the Bronx (1967–75), which participants had visited the day before. She described the interesting variety of buildings, built by a group of 15 churches and synagogues with help from the state and federal governments and designed by well-known architects. The 2,300 apartments ranging from studios to five bedrooms “were created to stabilize the neighborhood but gang warfare happened right there.” She asked, “What can we learn?” and answered, “It all depends, not just on design but on how a project is managed,” showing a single loaded corridor completely blocked, plazas fenced in, she added, “You need to think about design along with management, security, and other factors.”

Pratt professor David Burney commissioned innovative community centers from celebrated, mostly young architects when he was in charge of architecture at NYCHA in the 1990s and then headed the city’s Department of Design and Construction during the Bloomberg Administration. “When I got to NYCHA, I found that there was still some money left for buildings but it was hard to spend. You couldn’t build unless you could provide free land and use the low income tax credit. The Reagan Administration insisted on private developers, and the early attempts had been disastrous,” he said. They found a community garden on West 84th Street and hired Castro-Blanco Piscioneri Architects to build 35 permanently affordable units. With Becker + Becker, they built two- and three-bedroom apartments in a contextual walkup building on 8th Street; at 189 Stanton Street they built supportive housing for families with AIDS designed by James McCullar. “There are ways of doing things that are different. All these projects are completely integrated into their neighborhoods,” he pointed out.

TenHoor then asked the speakers, “How do we get quality? Who defines those standards?” Menking said, “At Sunnyside, the architects were deeply committed to quality and social scientists were part of it.” He also noted the role that philanthropy had played in the past, citing Phipps Houses, The Robin Hood Foundation, and Common Ground. Burney suggested, “Reverse the notion that design costs money, that design is only for the wealthy.” He also said, “As every architect knows, when you get to the end of the project, it’s the landscaping that gets cut.” He noted the importance of “health and the built environment. We are not number one in many things, but we are number one in obesity.” TenHoor mentioned the role of the private sector, noting that Mayor Lindsay advocated it and that it attracted architects of the caliber who designed Twin Parks. Schindler mentioned “long term issues and short term issues. If someone is going to maintain it, they may build it differently.”

Toward the end of the day, the president of the residents association at the five-story walkup First Houses (1936), Brendaliz Santiago, presented the tenants’ point of view. “NYCHA doesn’t communicate with tenants,” she said, “but we want community residents involved in planning.” Since New Years Eve 2014, though, she has been working closely with NYCHA. “With unity there is power.”

Karina Totah, Senior Advisor to the Chair of the New York City Housing Authority, explained, “The mayor gave the chair two directions: Reset your relationship with key stakeholders and create a plan for how you are going to make NYCHA survive.”She said, “Safe, clean, and connected is the goal,” and that engaging residents like Santiago to get resident input is a priority as well as dealing with short term financial problems, rehabilitating, and harnessing the real estate NYCHA already owns, and operating 138,000 units. “We are the largest landlord in New York City,” she added.

The two-day event brought together architects, professors, students, community organizers, residents, and managers of housing projects. The conversation necessary to jumpstart Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious housing plan has begun.

 

 

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Santiago Calatrava brings his signature style to Park Avenue with seven sculptures
Santiago Calatrava, currently the darling of George Clooney, has set up seven blade-like sculptures along Park Avenue in New York City. The installation is a collaboration between the Marlborough Gallery, the New York City Parks Department, and the Fund for Park Avenue. The aluminum sculptures each have an expressive form that is classic Calatrava, but are not the all-white creations that we have come to expect from the architect. No, these pieces are painted red, black, and silver. The installation runs until mid-November meaning that it should close right around the time that Calatrava's long-delayed World Trade Center Transportation Hub finally opens. Take a look at the gallery below for a closer look at the sculptures, and if you're in New York and want to see for yourself, the pieces are on Park Avenue's median between 52nd and 55th streets.
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Ride Chicago's new elevated park and bike path, The 606, with this time-lapse video
Chicago's long-awaited bikeway and elevated park, The 606, opened last weekend (on 6/6, no less) to a rush of pedestrians and cyclists who were eager to test out the new 2.7-mile trail after years of planning, design and construction. The public park remains extremely popular in the sunny week following its debut. https://vimeo.com/130217662 Formerly called the Bloomingdale Trail, the former railroad has been likened to New York City's High Line, but it is quite different—the 606 is as much a highway for bikes as anything else, due in part to its having been largely funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program. For those who haven't had a chance to visit the trail, Steven Vance of Streetsblog snapped this time-lapse video of a recent bike ride that covers the length of the trail, which runs through the West Side neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and West Town. (Vance is also a contributor to AN.) https://instagram.com/p/3tlNEuERTh/ Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates led the design of the trail, which slopes slightly at various points throughout its length to slow bike traffic and suggest spaces for community events. Several access points connect the elevated trail to parks and city streets below. Meanwhile with The 606 up and running, affordable housing advocates are worried the popular park could help swell the tide of gentrification sweeping out longtime neighborhood residents. https://instagram.com/p/3t4zaOCP0J/
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Piercing the Sky
Courtesy Page A

The public debut of the Texas Department of Transportation’s $6 billion plan to re-route I-45 around downtown Houston has citizens, planners, and city leaders atwitter about whether to demolish or repurpose a section of freeway known as the Pierce Elevated.

Houston needs an urban icon, said Marcus Martinez, a designer at the Houston office of national architecture firm Page. Martinez believes the Pierce can be saved and reprogrammed into an elevated park development connecting Buffalo Bayou, downtown, and adjacent neighborhoods. He has been working pro bono on a proposal called the Pierce Skypark with Tami Merrick and John Cryer, also of Page.

“We are due for something big that puts us on the map and attracts people from all industries,” said Martinez. “Our chief goal is to keep it and turn it into something public and transformational for the city. It could be a variety of programming and flavors as well.” And it would be a nod to the city’s heritage instead of razing the structure completely.

 
As TXDOT proposes a plan to re-route I-45 around downtown Houston, architects at Page have proposed transforming a section known as the Pierce Elevated into park land and open space, as well as retail, housing, and offices.
 

The Pierce Skypark is an optimistic vision to turn a two-mile stretch of elevated freeway (roughly 3 times the size of New York’s High Line) into an amenity for citizens and visitors. Programming above and below the existing structure could range from parks and trails to public space, retail, housing, and office space.

“All kinds of big ideas are being batted around,” said Cryer, Board of Directors, Emeritus of Page. Cryer has been a key player in major revitalization projects in downtown Houston, including Discovery Green and Buffalo Bayou parks, the Rice Hotel, Commerce Towers, Club Quarters Hotel, and Keystone Lofts. He is also president-elect of Preservation Houston. “The main issue is people think of it as another park. The power of it is that it becomes a development with occupied space below, like a shaded promenade, and above with air rights. It can be an incredible design element and identity marker. Think big. When you look at the history of Houston, there can be a return to the legacy of Houston doing bold and big moves again.”

A master development strategy needs to be created, Cryer said.

 

“Not every elevated stretch of infrastructure is a High Line,” said Charles Renfro, a Houston native and a partner at Diller, Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), which designed the High Line. “There is no success guarantee. The Pierce makes a surreal landscape that lets people get higher than normal and it is a launching pad to think differently about making landscape in Houston. There could be an opportunity to keep, or selectively keep it, and that is where design comes in. Whosoever designs something on top and under the Pierce Elevated, there has to be a spectacular ambition to not mimic anything in the world.”

A myriad of public and private conversations have ensued about the potential of transforming the 37.7 acres of the Pierce that currently afford a view of a giant neon cross. Comments have come from journalist Lisa Gray of the Houston Chronicle, urban and environmental historian Dr. Kyle Shelton of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, Bob Eury of the Houston Downtown Management District, and John S. Jacob of the Eastwood Civic Association.

 

At three public meetings attended by more than 500 people across the city, TxDOT has released intricate maps, animated renderings, and data tables showing various routes, as well as the environmental and statistical impacts of its rerouting plan. It involves the widening, depression, and elevation of three segments of I-45 from Beltway 8 continuing to downtown connectors and around the George R. Brown Convention Center. Parts of the proposal in segment 3 cut through the Mexican Consulate and the South Central Police Station in Third Ward, and will raze a public housing project called Clayton Homes along with the Pierce Elevated.

The state agency is in the process of gathering public feedback, but consensus has not been reached in the community. The environmental studies are due in 2017, and then a public hearing will ensue. Along with processing community input, the lengthy procedure of eminent domain would need to run its course and funding would have to be secured. Danny Perez, TxDOT spokesman, estimated “it could be five to 10 years before we see any movement on these projects.”

TxDOT is accepting public comments until May 31 via regular mail and email. The group from Page had pitched the idea of the Skypark to Councilman David Robinson privately prior to the recent public meetings and media attention. “We need to recognize this is going to be a very long process and there are several authorities that have jurisdiction over this,” said Robinson. “It’s not a fully integrated solution but it’s very provocative and stimulates the discussion in an appropriate way and hopefully we can make a Houston-specific solution.”

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New York City converted this dingy subway tunnel into a colorful underground museum of street art
For a long time, the 900-foot pedestrian tunnel that leads to the 1 train in Washington Heights was one of New York City's creepiest spaces. Now, it's been transformed into one of the city's best places to see art—or at least take some impressive Instagram photos. As part of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Beautification Project, the dingy tunnel was recently transformed into a colorful, art-filled corridor. NYCDOT picked five teams of artists (out of 150 submissions) and gave them each a 200-foot piece of the tunnel to use as a canvas. As you can see, the result is pretty dramatic. NYCDOT has a nice rundown of what visitors and commuters should expect as they make their way through the tunnel:

At the entrance to the tunnel, local Washington Heights artist Andrea von Bujdoss, also known as Queen Andrea, welcomes pedestrians with her mural entitled, 'Primastic Power Phrases,' a series of typographical designs that include phrases such as, 'Today is Your Day,' 'Live your Dreams' and 'Estoy Aqui!' As one travels further into the tunnel, Maryland-based artist team Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn have created, 'Caterpillar Time Travel,' a series of colorful, geometric designs. Next, Queens-based artist Nick Kuszyk takes viewers through 'Warp Zone,' a geometric design that plays with perspective and 'warps' the tunnel walls. Chilean artist Nelson Rivas, also known as Cekis, has created a dense jungle landscape with, 'It’s like a Jungle/Aveces es como una jungla.' At the end of the Tunnel, local artist Fernando Cope, Jr., also known as Cope 2, created 'Art is Life' to remind pedestrians to 'Take Your Passion, Make it Happen' and to 'Follow Your Dreams.'

If you're wondering why the DOT oversaw this project, it's because the tunnel is technically mapped as a city street. Anyway, onto the pictures!
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New York City just made biking down cobblestone streets way more fun
Cobblestone streets are beautiful to walk around and add charm to historic neighborhoods, but biking down these bumpy thoroughfares is another story. New York City has solved that problem with a new design treatment to a block-long cobblestone bike lane along Varick Street in the city's Tribeca neighborhood. https://vimeo.com/127628966 NYC Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Project Manager Nick Carey explained the new lane to Streetfilms this week. He said the project is part of a major north-south route in Lower Manhattan, the south leg following Varick Street. "The thing with cobblestones is, you can ride a bike on cobblestones, it's just not very comfortable," Carey said. "So naturally, a lot of cyclists were using the sidewalk," which is illegal in the city if you're over the age of 12. Carey said the granite lane was installed to preserve the historic nature of the street. In house crews saw cut the path for the granite pavers out of the cobblestone road bed, laid down the bike lane with an asphalt base, and hand-fit stones around it. The smooth path is narrow, as it only has to fit a bike tire, but the overall bike lane is six feet wide, delineated with offset cobbles. The granite bike lane is located just south of Canal Street. "It's a new tool we have in our toolbox," Carey said. "Just like green paint, or bollards, or signage."
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New York City planning a pedestrian-safety overhaul the dangerous approach to the Manhattan Bridge
Vision Zero is coming to the dangerous and traffic-clogged Manhattan Bridge approach in Chinatown. The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has presented a plan to rearrange the tangle of streets that connect to the bridge, create new space for pedestrians, and update traffic flows. It doesn't take any expert knowledge in transportation policy to see why the area has been labeled as a "high crash corridor" by the NYCDOT. There are a lot of cars, unclear and changing alignments, and street markings that are faded, if present at all. For pedestrians, getting from one side of the street to another can be a harrowing experience. The Bowery crossing, for example, is almost 90 feet wide. But that could all change soon. Perhaps the most significant change in the plan is the rerouting of traffic. Currently, the bridge's lower roadway heads toward Brooklyn from 3:00–9:00p.m., but the NYCDOT wants to make it Manhattan-bound at all times instead. This would allow for a large curb extension right in front of the bridge. Crossing distances for those on foot would be reduced further by the expansion of two existing pedestrian islands. These new areas would include planters, so the plan comes with some greenery too. Over on Bowery, a concrete median extension would provide pedestrian refuge in the middle of the busy roadway. The DOT also proposes new marked sidewalks and signaled intersections to further clear things up. This plan comes as construction continues on a long-talked-about scheme to turn a triangular plot next to the Manhattan Bridge into the Forsyth Street Plaza. The 10,000-square-foot pedestrian space will cost about $3.5 million and is slated to be completed spring 2016. As for the NYCDOT plan, Streetsblog reported that it will be voted on by Community Board 3 on May 26. If approved, work would start this summer and wrap up in the fall.
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Going Further
Hunter's Point South Park.
Albert Vecerka / Esto

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tends to highlight the differences between himself and Michael Bloomberg any chance he gets. But on sustainability and climate change, Gotham’s current mayor has not only lauded his predecessor’s policies, he has built upon them. And so on Earth Day, Mayor de Blasio unveiled his update to Bloomberg’s PlaNYC—a wide-ranging blueprint aimed at cutting the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Now, that plan has even more ambitious goals, a new focus, and a new name: One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City.

“PlaNYC looked at sustainability, looked at resiliency. These were crucial, crucial issues to address and it did it very well,” said de Blasio when unveiling OneNYC. “But we knew we needed to go farther.” He argued that the plan had to become broader to incorporate issues like inequality because “you can’t have environmental sustainability without economic sustainability.”

   
Click to enlarge.
Courtesy NYC Mayor's Office
 

After calling for a minimum wage hike and pledging to bring 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty by 2025, de Blasio turned to sustainability, where superlatives abounded: the city will send zero waste to landfills by 2030, cut greenhouses gasses by 80 percent by 2050, and have the cleanest air of any large American city by 2030.

Within the lengthy OneNYC plan, there are multiple proposals—many of which are already in progress—to move the city toward this idealistic future. On air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, specifically, the administration focuses much of its attention on mass-transit. By providing better transportation options in the outer boroughs, it believes car-free travel will become a more appealing option to more New Yorkers.

This year, the NYC DOT has plans to roll out three new Select Bus Service routes, which will be followed by five more in the following two years. The bike lane network will also be expanded 200 miles, 20 of which will be protected, over the next four years. And then there is de Blasio’s much talked about five-borough ferry service that is expected to face a host of logistical and operational challenges as it comes into service.

All of these plans were previously unveiled. New was de Blasio’s call for the MTA to study an expansion of the subway system along Utica Avenue, a particularly transit-poor corridor in Brooklyn. The mayor was upfront about how difficult it would be to see the extension through to fruition, given the current state of the MTA. “There is a reckoning that has to happen in terms of where we’re going with the MTA, and that’s going to involve the state, that’s going to involve us, that’s going to involve a lot of other partners in the region to make sense of it,” he said at the press conference.

 

On greenhouse gas emissions, the mayor wants to see an 80 percent reduction by 2050 over 2005 levels. This target—another idealistic figure—was announced last fall. De Blasio said it can be achieved by drastically reducing energy usage in buildings. This starts with the retrofitting of public buildings and boosting renewable energy production. According to the OneNYC plan, “For privately-owned buildings, the city will create a thriving market for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments and services.” On air quality, the plan calls for an acceleration in the retrofitting of oil boilers.

As for the “zero waste” goal, the city plans to ramp up curbside recycling and composting. The city is also exploring “waste audits” for large commercial buildings that would be similar to energy audits.

On resiliency, the city will continue implementing the first phase of a $3.7 billion coastal protection plan created during the Bloomberg years. While the city searches for funds to implement the entirety of the plan, it will continue with ongoing and planned capital and infrastructure projects including installing new bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable pavers. OneNYC specifically mentions “The Dryline”—a landscaped berm and parkland for Manhattan’s East Side. The project, designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group and Starr Whitehouse, was awarded $335 million in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild By Design competition.

The mayor said OneNYC is intended to be more of a rallying call for action than a collection of specific policy proposals. “We do not provide all those answers because we don’t have them all yet,” he said.

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Center for Active Design announces its 2015 Excellence Winners
The Center for Active Design (CfAD) has announced the winners in its annual Excellence Awards, which honors buildings, public spaces, and, for the first time this year, research, that promotes active lifestyles. All competition entries had to meet at least one of CfAD’s “Active Design approaches,” which include Active Transportation, Active Recreation, Healthy Food Access, and Active Building. After a blind selection process, a jury picked six winners and five honorable mentions. “Regardless of the size, location, or use, the Excellence award winners serve as catalysts for broad based community transformation, maximizing their impact by embracing a cross discipline approach to the design process, which in many cases included use of the Active Design Guidelines from the outset,” said Joanna Frank, the center's executive director, in a statement. This year’s winners will be recognized at “Celebrate Active Design” in New York City on May 11th. For more information on the event visit the CfAD's website. You can read more about the winners and honorable mentions below. City of Pontevedra, Spain From CfAD:
City council members led by Mayor Fernández Lores, began their quest in 1999, by developing a community-driven master plan that prioritized people and public spaces. ... The occupancy of the public spaces post-renovation was almost immediate. 81% of schoolchildren walk to school, half of them on their own. Traffic has decreased by 70% in the downtown area and 30% in the city overall between 1996 and 2014, with zero fatalities due to accidents in the last eleven years. The space devoted to pedestrians and cyclists in streets and squares increased over 60%, using space that was previously devoted to motor mobility and parking. Sidewalks were widened, streetlights improved, and over 400,000 street trees were planted throughout the city. By prioritizing resident health in the design, construction, and maintenance of public spaces, Pontevedra is a pioneer in the Active Design movement.
Guthrie Green, Tulsa, OK By SWA Group From CfAD:
Submitted by the SWA Group, the 2.7-acre Guthrie Green Park serves as a central hub for social and cultural events for the community, now receiving over 10,000 visitors annually. Given that Oklahoma has some of the worst obesity and life expectancy rates in the country, team members aimed to use this project to promote health and physical activity among residents. The design converts a former truck yard into a flexible venue for community gatherings set among gardens, a central lawn, park pavilion, outdoor stage, and interactive fountains that invite visitors to connect with nature and join community events. A geo-exchange grid under the park supplies heating and cooling for nearby non-profit organizations, further contributing to revitalization of Tulsa's downtown Brady Arts District.
New Settlement Community Campus, Bronx, NY By Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architets with Dattner Architects From CfAD:
The New Settlement Community Campus in the Bronx, New York started with a simple desire for a public swimming pool, but soon expanded into an innovative, joint-use project that tackled school overcrowding and a dearth of local community services. Bringing together community activities that were previously located in various neighboring affordable housing buildings, the New Settlement Community Campus provides a resource for both students and residents in this low-income community. Designed by Dattner Architects and Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects the New Settlement Community Campus is a vital community hub providing 1,160 K-12 students and the surrounding neighborhood with a wide range of indoor and outdoor learning spaces, fitness classes, and activity hubs, along with a healthy food program and on-site health clinic.
Casitas de Colores, Albuquerque, NM By Dekker/Perich/Sabatini From CfAD:
Casitas de Colores brings much needed affordable housing to families in downtown Albuquerque. With a walk score of 94/100, it has been recognized as an important project for supporting activity in the downtown area. Located within walking distance to city amenities, transit networks, and employment areas, the project promotes walking, rather than driving to daily destinations. Submitted by Dekker/Perich/Sabatini design firm, the Casitas de Colores community includes open stairwells, terraces, and patios, that maximize visibility and provides community facilities with an array of amenities to promote their health and wellness. Staircases are prominently located near entrances, elevators, and walkways, are wide enough for group travel, brightly colored, and offer views to the courtyards and downtown area. Walking paths are artfully decorated and exposed to natural light, enhancing the pedestrian experience, connecting residents to outdoor courtyards, and supporting a range of activities and social interaction.
Stanford Healthy Neighborhood Discovery Tool, United States, Mexico, and Israel Stanford Prevention Research Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine From CfAD:
The Stanford Healthy Neighborhood Discovery Tool, is a research project that empowers citizens with technology to have an impact on policy decisions that effect the built environment. Researchers from the Stanford Prevention Research Center and the Stanford University School of Medicine, equipped resident 'citizen scientists,' with technology, allowing them to asses their neighborhoods and advocate for more support for healthy living. Using recorded, geo-coded photographs and audio narratives, GPS-tracked walking routes, and survey responses, residents have successfully engaged policy makers and collaborated on funding decisions for built environment improvements. The citizen scientist application has now been used in three countries (Mexico, Israel, USA), leveraging resident 'citizen scientists' and mobile technology that empowers communities to promote active living and healthy eating.
Queens Plaza From CfAD:
Queens Plaza has shifted the way New York City conceives of its public spaces, recognizing them as a critical part of its urban infrastructure, capable of creating vibrant neighborhoods. The application of Active Design principles transformed a parking lot surrounded by 16 lanes of traffic and noisy subway lines into a space that prioritizes the pedestrian.
Honorable Mentions Space to Grow: Greening Chicago’s Schoolyards Chicago, IL From CfAD:
Space to Grow is a multi-sector partnership that transforms Chicago's aging, and in many cases underutilized, schoolyards into dynamic outdoor spaces that support physical activity, learning and community engagement. Selected Chicago Public School schoolyards are located in urban neighborhoods that have a deficit of recreational facilities and green space, and that are also prone to flooding during heavy storms. The project is co-managed by Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands – two Chicago based nonprofit organizations, and is funded by Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Department of Water Management, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Gateway Community College New Haven, CT From CfAD:
The Gateway Community College project represents how thoughtful design can create an educational environment that promotes health, while anchoring the urban revitalization. Submitted by Perkins + Will, this project is designed around a central atrium and open stairway, which links the academic spaces and doubles as the primary gathering space. Informal stadium seating and lounges are provided around this central core. Classroom wings also offer open access to a series of egress stairs, enhanced with hold-open devices, abundant daylight, comfortable width, and views to a rain garden. A range of exterior spaces, like a roof garden and multi-purpose courtyard, are offered to support on-site recreation and special programming. Located in a formerly neglected part of New Haven, Gateway Community College enhances the neighborhood pedestrian environment through the addition of more public elements, such as an interactive, LED art installation visible through the building facade. The images that are projected as part of this art installation are curated by the students and provide a greater identity for themselves and the campus community.
New York City Police Academy College Point, NY From CfAD:
The New York City Police Academy was designed from its outset using the Active Design Guidelines. It consolidates many of the Police Department’s existing training facilities into one consolidated campus. Built on a former landfill site and submitted by the New York City Department of Design and Construction, the campus offers numerous opportunities for occupants to engage in physical activity. A monumental stair is featured at the building’s entrance that connects physically and visually to the circulation stairs located throughout the plan. Egress stair doors on each floor use hold-open devices to maximize visibility into stairwells. Fitness facilities include a swimming pool, indoor exercise spaces, outdoor running tracks and walking routes that move users around landscaped gardens, which are also usable by the surrounding community.
Fulton Center New York, NY From CfAD:
The newly renovated Fulton Center transit center in New York City’s financial district effectively organizes the circulation patterns of about 300,000 daily riders between eight train lines. Designed by Grimshaw Architects under prime design consultant Arup, the Fulton Center is focused around a new civic space with a grand oculus bringing in ample light into waiting areas that were previously dimly-lit and confusing. The improved Fulton Center not only simplifies transit connections, but also provides 65,000 square feet of retail and office space. Features such as wider and brighter concourses make walking between subway lines a more enjoyable and less confusing experience. A spiral staircase located centrally in the atrium attracts the attention of visitors, and wayfinding signage and interactive information kiosks are strategically placed throughout the station. A new pedestrian tunnel offers expanded connections to additional subway and transit lines.
Safe Cycling Design Manual for Istanbul Istanbul, Turkey From CfAD:
The Safe Cycling Design Manual for Cycling is an evidence-based report that aims to raise awareness of cycling as a mode of transportation in Istanbul. After undertaking an extensive literature review, and a series of surveys, interviews, site visits, and visioning workshops with cyclists, the research team at EMBARQ Turkey, found that residents prefer cycling because it is healthy, fast, affordable, and flexible. They also noted however that challenges to cycling in Istanbul include, lack of police enforcement, supporting infrastructure and fast flowing traffic. Leveraging the research and corresponding proposed solutions outlined in the Manual, the EMBARQ team has a created a valuable source on sustainable urban transport for the national government, local authorities, and community members in Turkey.
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Sustainable development plan for Northeast Ohio takes top honors in 2015 National Planning Awards
A plan to steer northeast Ohio toward sustainable growth won a top planning award this week, joining schemes and firms from Austin to Los Angeles on a list of the year's best urban planning work. The American Planning Association on Tuesday awarded its 2015 National Planning Awards, naming 17 firms, plans, and individuals worthy of an “excellence award,” and another 12 to their list of “achievement” award winners. View the full list on this page below, or on the APA's website. The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium took home the top prize for Vibrant NEO 2040—a plan to “do things differently” in the region, which has exemplified the planning perils of deindustrialization, depopulation and the cascading after-effects of those broader trends on a local level. Vibrant NEO is the first regional plan ever implemented in northeast Ohio, which comprises five planning groups across Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown. image07

2015 National Planning Excellence Recipients

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
  • Vibrant NEO 2040 – Northeast Ohio
The HUD Secretary’s Opportunity & Empowerment Award
  • Mueller Redevelopment – Austin, Texas
National Planning Excellence Award for a Best Practice
  • First Last Mile Strategic Plan & Planning Guidelines – Los Angeles, California
National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach
  • Making Planning Public: Newark Zoning Workshop – Newark, New Jersey
National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation
  • Green City, Clean Waters: Philadelphia’s 21st Century Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
National Planning Excellence Award for a Communications Initiative
  • Boston Complete Streets Design Guidelines – Boston, Massachusetts
National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning
  • moveDC – Washington, D.C.
National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning
  • Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan – Louisiana
National Planning Excellence Award for Economic Planning & Development
  • Phase 1 Glenwood Refinement Plan – Springfield, Oregon
National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design
  • The BIG U – New York, New York
The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Excellence Award
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey Urban Regeneration Plan – Monterrey, Mexico
National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate
  • Honorable Greg Cox – San Diego, California
National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency
  • Maryland Department of Planning – Baltimore, Maryland
National Planning Excellence Award for an Emerging Planning & Design Firm
  • Raimi + Associates – California
National Planning Excellence Award for Advancing Diversity & Social Change (in Honor of Paul Davidoff)
  • State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr. and the ReGenesis Project – Spartanburg, South Carolina
National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Pioneer
  • Donald Shoup, FAICP, PhD – Los Angeles, California
National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Firm
  • Perkins+Will — San Francisco, California

2015 National Planning Achievement Recipients

The Achievement Awards are a way for the awards jury to recognize good planning work and are similar to an honorable mention. National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice
  • Realizing the Potential of The Porch: A Case Study in Data-Driven Placemaking – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
National Planning Achievement Award for Economic Planning & Development
  • Maryland State Arts Council – Arts & Entertainment Districts Program – Baltimore, Maryland
National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning
  • Living Breakwaters – New York, New York
Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan – California and Nevada National Planning Achievement Award for Implementation
  • Branch Brook Park – Newark, New Jersey
National Planning Achievement Award for a Grassroots Initiative
  • Opa-locka Community Development Corporation/Gold Coast Section Pop-Up Park Initiative – Miami-Dade County, Florida
National Planning Achievement Award for Public Outreach
  • Pop-Up Outreach for the Southeastern San Diego and Encanto Neighborhoods Community Plans – San Diego, California
National Planning Achievement Award for Transportation Planning
  • WalkBikeNC – North Carolina
National Planning Achievement Award for Urban Design
  • Tongva Park & Ken Genser Square – Santa Monica, California
  • Greening Lower Grand Avenue – Phoenix, Arizona
The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Achievement Award
  • West End Community Plan – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Les Isles/ Domtar Lands Redevelopment – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada