Search results for " bike lanes"

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Astro Loop

Houston unveils post-Harvey downtown master plan
Downtown Houston released an ambitious master plan on Friday, the culmination of 18 months of work and input from hundreds of stakeholders. Creating walkable streets, a five-mile green loop around the city’s core, new design guidelines and more, the 20-year plan puts an emphasis on sustainable, resilient development. A product of the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District), a nonprofit focused on improving the quality of life in their district, and Central Houston Inc., the proposal is a spiritual successor to Houston’s 2012 Downtown Living Initiative. Although Houston lacks zoning codes, the original Downtown Living Initiative successfully encouraged growth in the city through a series of public/private partnerships, tax rebates for construction, and reinvestments into downtown Houston’s infrastructure. Asakura Robinson and Sasaki had consulting roles in the process, while HKS Architects and Harris Kornberg Architects were among the architecture firms involved in the plan's leadership group. With the new plan’s release in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, planners, designers and city officials have also turned their focus towards disaster mitigation. Besides increasing the amount of green space in the district, the proposal has set aside land for detention areas and has tried to shift away from car-dominated urban planning. City officials are expecting a population boom from 7,500 to 30,000 over the next 20 years, and are calling for the construction of 12,000 new residential units to deal with the demand. Along with building more schools and predicting a 20 percent increase in the workforce, the plan calls for keeping residential developments centralized and integrated with mass transit. As with the plan that preceded this one, questions over how affordable these developments would be have yet to be answered. Bob Eury, president of Central Houston Inc, spoke to the Houston Chronicle about the challenges involved with bringing affordable housing to this type of development. "Unless we can find public land so you can basically write off the land costs, it's extremely challenging to build affordable high-density housing without a continuous subsidy," he said. The project’s crowning jewel is its five-mile long Green Loop, a band of parks and bike lanes that would wrap the downtown area and connect it with further-flung neighborhoods. Aided by the ongoing North Houston Highway Improvement Project, a highway readjustment by the Texas Department of Transportation, downtown Houston has an unprecedented chance to readjust its urban borders. The complete Plan Downtown: Converging Culture, Lifestyle & Commerce presentation is available here.
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Faux Facades

Michigan's Mcity selects startups to test self-driving technologies
A tech haven located on the northern campus of the University of Michigan is redefining Michigan's ‘Motor King’ reputation. Mcity is a 32–acre complex designed to mimic urban and suburban city environments. Complete with painted building facades, dummy pedestrians, bike lanes, roads and highway ramps, the controlled laboratory environment eliminates real-world risks and serves as a unique testing ground for vehicle and urban transportation technology. The combination of physical and virtual alteration possibilities within this ‘fake-city’ allow both for current real-life simulations as well as testing for speculative future mobility scenarios. The ability to replicate human-scale urban and suburban environments is vital for conducting tests to enhance current road safety and to plan for our evolving urban future. The facility is involved in numerous research projects, including testing data collection and management systems, studying interactions between motor vehicles and bicyclists, enhancing pedestrian detection and avoidance technology, and improving intelligent parking guidance system. Having access to a state-of-the-art testing facility such as Mcity provides tech companies with unparalleled development opportunities in their work and research. This fall, five emerging startups have been selected to work at Mcity alongside students at the University of Michigan's TechLab. Tome, based in Detroit, works on enhancing bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication within the urban sphere. CARMERA, based in New York and Seattle, are experts in street-level intelligence focused on creating real-time 3-D maps and scene reconstructions vital for autonomous vehicle performance. RightHook, from San Jose, California, specializes in safely simulating harsh conditions to test the resiliency and performance of automated vehicles. Zendrive, of San Francisco, California, aims to increase driver safety through smartphone data collection. PolySync, from Portland, Oregon, builds software infrastructure and tools to develop autonomous vehicle functions.
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L.A.'s New Viaduct

This video lets you soar over L.A.'s new Sixth Street Bridge
A heroic new flyover video from the team behind the new Sixth Street Viaduct project in Downtown Los Angeles gives us a closer glimpse into what is in store for the L.A. River–spanning bridge as work on the $482 million project moves toward its 2020 completion date. Construction on the bridge—designed by Los Angeles–based Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), engineers HNTB, and the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering—is well underway. Skanska and Stacy and Witbeck are contractors for the 3,500-foot-long project. The original 1932 expanse was demolished last year as a result of long-term and irreparable structural issues. MMA’s proposal for the bridge was selected in 2012 after the city held an international contest to design the new monument. This summer, workers on either bank of the river are preparing foundations for the first of ten pairs of arching piers that will eventually support the bridge. The flyover video shows four lanes of conventional automobile traffic running at the center of the bridge, with striped bicycle lanes and barricaded sidewalks on either end. Either end of the bridge is anchored by large-scale pedestrian access ramps that wind up to meet the bridge structure. The ramps on the Boyle Heights end of the bridge wind in a circular path that ramps down to meet the neighborhood and forthcoming landscaping and park areas, part of the $12 million plan to pedestrianize and green the areas below and around the bridge. Overall, the bridge will feature five pedestrian stairways and at least three ADA-accessible pedestrian ramps. The video has drawn a bit of criticism on social media from bicycle advocates for not including protected bicycle lanes in the design. Los Angeles is making an earnest push to expand its network of protected bicycle lanes in conjunction with the piecemeal introduction of a regional bikeshare system and a growing focus on Vision Zero street designs that minimize pedestrian deaths. Instead of embracing this growing design trend, the new Sixth Street Viaduct designs, like the recently-completed Riverside-Figueroa bridge, exhibits wide, automobile-centric proportions. The bridge is scheduled to finish construction and open for traffic in 2020.
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Ride On

NYC to add more bike lanes in response to surging demand

New York City streets are a decadent mass of pedestrians, cabs, delivery trucks, and the crosstown bus, all scooting somewhere quickly. But even as rideshare apps are pushing more cars on the pavement, there's one green and steadfast transit option that's seeing a surprising surge in popularity.

Right now, the city's streets host 450,000 bike rides per day, an increase of 280,00 trips from 2005. To meet accelerating demand, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) promised on Monday to add 50 miles of painted bike lanes and ten miles of protected paths each year.

Over the last decade, New York has seen an explosion of bike infrastructure. Crain's reports that cyclists now cruise over 1,133 miles of bike lanes, up from a little over 500 miles in 2006. Of those, around 40 percent are shielded from automobiles by concrete or other physical barriers. These are the gold-standard tracks because of the protection they provide relative to painted paths.

But even this relatively robust network can't stop bike fatalities. Nine in ten cyclists killed while riding are killed outside of bike lanes. In response, the DOT plans to ramp up safety efforts in three Queens and seven Brooklyn neighborhoods where many bike fatalities and injuries occur.

Still, officials are optimistic that bikesharing, which was introduced only four years ago, will become further enmeshed in New York's urban fabric. City Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez, who represents Upper Manhattan and serves on the council's transportation committee, would like to one day see free transfers between Citi Bike, the city's bikeshare system, and the MTA. (An annual Citi Bike membership costs $163.) Citi Bike broke ridership records with more than 70,000 riders on one day in June of this year, while last year, the system logged more than 14 million rides.

Despite their low cost relative to cars, and emissions-free crunchy-green aura that renders bicycles anodyne in most quarters, New Yorkers haven't embraced bike culture universally. On the Upper East Side last year, residents objected to bike lanes near a school, worried that speeding cyclists could mow down young ones. Though those crosstown lanes were ultimately approved, out in Corona, Queens, longtime Community Board 4 member (and unrepentant xenophobe) Ann Pfoser Darby called bike lanes in her neighborhood a waste of money, claiming they would be empty after President Trump deported the area's undocumented immigrants.

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New Wave

Designers propose park with rippling landscape for Michigan Central Station
It isn’t just the Michigan Central Station that is being eyed for redevelopment. Spread out before the domineering structure is what was once an ornate manicured garden known as Roosevelt Park. Designers and community members are hoping to transform the scruffy patch of green, which marks the intersection of Detroit's Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods, into a public asset. A direct result of the City Beautiful Movement at the turn of the 20th century, Roosevelt Park was originally designed by Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett. The park was specifically crafted to work with Judge Augustus B. Woodward's original plan for Detroit, which called for broad green boulevards and numerous public parks. This park was meant to be a grand welcoming space for the local community and those arriving to the city by train. The current project is being led by San Francisco–based Assembly Design Studio and Detroit-based community research consultants Human Scale Studio. Through a series of meetings with city officials and community workshops, the park's design now has three distinct paths forward in the form of three conceptual proposals. Each proposal addresses the concerns of the city and the community while focusing on a different theme and spatial arrangement. The first of the proposals holds closest to the original park while working to improve access and safety. Currently, the park is a traffic island, inaccessible except across multiple lanes of traffic. This plan calls for the removal of some roads that travel through the park while improving crosswalks, parking, and bike lanes around its perimeter. The second proposal responds to the greater city grid with changes to the surrounding and on-site roads. New pedestrian and bike-only paths would be added to the park, which is divided by several roadways. New sports fields, hardscapes, and softscapes would reflect back to the park’s original form and relationship to the train station. The final proposal is by far the most drastic of the three. Unified into a single large park space, the plan calls for large landscaped ripples emanating from the northwest corner of the park. Areas for food trucks and an area for a farmer’s market will provide food options, while an area for special events and an amphitheater will bring entertainment programming to the park. A formal gateway is also part of the proposal, as well as sports field and playgrounds. While these may not be the first new proposals for the oft overlooked park, they may have the best chance of succeeding. (In 2009 and 2010 two other groups began the process of bringing the park back to life.) With a “green light” from the City of Detroit, these current proposals also have support from business leaders and community members in Corktown and Mexicantown. While trains may not be returning to the area anytime soon, with a little love, people may find a reason to come back to Roosevelt Park.
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#SCNYC17

Sidewalk Labs may develop its own district to test smart city tech
This May 3 to May 6, the Brooklyn Navy Yard's Duggal Greenhouse is hosting the inaugural Smart Cities NYC conference and expo. Smart Cities NYC is ambitious in its scope, with a global selection of speakers whose backgrounds include government, the tech industry, academia, real estate/development, and design. Autonomous vehicles, public health, construction technology, resilient urban landscapes, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just a few of the subjects being discussed. The Architect's Newspaper is covering the first two days of the conference—see yesterday's coverage here! Dan Doctoroff, C.E.O. and co-founder of Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet's urban innovations company and designer of LinkNYC, today laid out his company's vision for driving smart city technology into the near future. Before delving into Sidewalk Lab's goals and methods, Doctoroff painted a picture of an industry facing intrinsic challenges. "Getting things done in cities is really hard.... no city in the world does a good job of truly integrating the physical and the digital," said Doctoroff. That's why, he said, venture capitalists hadn't invested deeply in smart city technology companies. Additionally, as infrastructure crumbles and cities become unaffordable, the public loses faith in government's ability to solve problems. Yet, he believes that technological innovations in materials/fabrication, social media, machine learning, and related fields have the ability to revolutionize cities the same ways that steam engines, electric grids, and cars did in the past.   Doctoroff then discussed an ambitious plan to accelerate the innovation process. Sidewalk Labs is "looking into developing a large-scale district" that would serve as a smart city technology testbed. The company is currently in the feasibility studies phase, and it remained unclear if this would be ground-up construction, but it sees this test bed as critical. Thanks to its district-scale size, it will attract an aggregation of innovators whose collaborations and synergies will create positive feedback loops of experimentation and success. Put differently, the sheer scale of the testbed will make its technologies greater than the sum of their parts. Once successful models are discovered, he predicted, they will be quickly dissimulated. He cited The High Line (a Bloomberg-era project that Doctoroff oversaw as deputy mayor) as an example of a globally and rapidly copied idea. Throughout his speech, Doctoroff often repeated that such innovations would only be successful if they improved quality of life, health, opportunity, equity, and other laudable goals. To that end, he outlined several specific areas where Sidewalk Labs was pursuing its ideas. One was the more efficient use of real estate; Sidewalk is currently looking into prefab modular housing, sensors that monitor building performance in real-time, and robotic delivery services that would reduce the need for residential storage space. Another area is mobility systems that would replace private cars, which Doctoroff said were a financial burden to many ($9,000 to $10,000 per year for a single family), as well as creators of sprawl, lethal accidents, and carbon dioxide emissions. Sidewalk Labs is exploring self-driving cars, car shares, optimizing existing road network usage, and the incentivizing of walking and biking. Sidewalk Labs's third area of focus is sustainability. Most notably, Doctoroff cited a thermal exchange system in development that could capture buildings' wasted heat, thereby reducing energy usage by up to 80 percent over a year. He also mentioned more familiar techniques, like greywater recycling and Passive House technology. A fourth area involved urban commons: the "public realm that is the city's living room or backyard," as Doctoroff put it. Innovations in that department included the use of retractable ETFE canopies to protect bike lanes and sensors that monitor air quality and the status of public assets (presumably benches, streetlights, and similar infrastructure). Lastly, Doctoroff referenced the "close-knit community that uses data to improve services." This area of focus included ensuring universal access to broadband and undertakings like LinkNYC. The improved collection and analysis of data could improve healthcare delivery and new democratic forums. On the whole, Sidewalk Labs's plans were ambitious and brimming with technological optimism, despite the challenges that smart city technology companies face. The question of top-down versus bottom-up efforts was a final and critical undercurrent of its vision: "You can never truly plan a city, you can [just] lay foundations," said Doctoroff. How exactly that plays out, and where the public has an opportunity to shape and direct these technologies, remains to be seen. Want more technology news for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries? Don't miss The Architect's Newspaper's Tech+ expo, coming to New York City this May 23!
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Getting There

Miami’s infrastructure woes run deep, but the city has its eyes set on “huge cultural change”

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Talk of “infrastructure” may be one of the few things—if not the only thing—that comes close to uniting Democrats and Republicans at the moment. It was transit infrastructure, of course, that literally united the states of America: originally with railroads in the 19th century and later with interstates and automobiles in the 20th. Today, however, some cities’ prevailing love affairs with the car have become rather one-sided.

Polluting air and clogging roads, vehicles choke our cities. Miami ranks fifth nationally and tenth globally for congestion, as residents spend 65 hours in traffic per year on average, according to INRIX, a global traffic researcher that uses big data. Adding real injury to insult, the state’s stretch of the I-95 is America’s most deadly, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There is a financial burden to excessive traffic too. INRIX estimates that congestion costs Miami drivers $3.6 billion per year (remember that figure). Additionally, drivers pay out an average of $628,000 every day in tolls, just for the privilege of using the Miami-Dade Expressway.

Cars aren’t cheap, but what is the alternative in an auto-dependent city like Miami? Director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) for Miami-Dade County Alice Bravo said that she wanted to make Miami a “car-optional community,” where people can get to “all the different regions within the county using reliable public transit that’s convenient and helps people save time.”

A plethora of schemes and projects are now occurring in and around the city, such as high-speed regional rail, local rail, bus, bicycle, and pedestrian routes, water travel, and carpooling. Miami has gone from having nothing concrete in the pipeline for years to everything happening at once, and this coincides with a development boom that is more tuned for urban living than previous waves of development.

Bravo said that the backbone of the infrastructure surge is the Brightline, a completely private, approximately $3 billion scheme by All Aboard Florida. The “higher-speed” (Note: not high-speed) rail service runs the 235-mile stretch from the Orlando airport to Downtown Miami. The new line will reduce travel between Orlando and Miami from four hours to two and a half, for about the same cost as driving.

Such a commuter-rail service may sound familiar: In the late 19th century, the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) was developed by Henry Flagler. Flagler’s railway ran from Jacksonville and was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world.” The commuter rail prevailed until the 1960s when the line was used to transport freight only, which it still does to this day. Unsurprisingly, then, All Aboard Florida is a sister company of the FEC and the new tracks will be laid along the existing lines.

Designing the Miami station, as well as those in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) who are working with Miami-based Zyscovich Architects. Design principal Roger Duffy explained how the stations would work with the existing infrastructure around them: “At Fort Lauderdale, we’re looking to link up with a bus service that will connect the cruise port and the station.” The city is also pressing on with plans for a streetcar system called “The Wave” that would connect with the station as well.

Meanwhile, at West Palm Beach, the 60,000-square-foot station is located at the center of downtown and will connect with the existing trolley network as well as Tri-Rail and Amtrak. In Miami, the station inhabits a similar location. A zoning override that turned the area into a special transit district was required to build the station, and tracks here are elevated 50 feet into the air so that the 11,000-foot-long station can bridge roads and pedestrian pathways.

Like any contemporary train terminus, the station will offer a ton of retail space, with room for a food court too. Duffy, however, stressed that the station was “not like duty-free at an airport,” where you have to weave through shops to get anywhere. Amenities will also cater to the area outside the building. Space for food trucks—a hit in Florida—has been provided, while skylights where the station bridges the streets offer daylight.

The Brightline train itself was designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group—an in-house strategy and technology studio at the New York architecture and design studio. The LAB at Rockwell Group worked with All Aboard Florida to conceive the Brightline name, brand platform, visual identity, and designed the train’s interiors as well as the exterior graphics. In addition to this, one of Rockwell Group’s architectural studios designed the interior check-in areas, food and beverage areas, and lounge experiences for all four Brightline stations.

Using the Brightline project as a springboard, Bravo is embarking on a $3.6 billion (remember that number?) transport scheme. Part of “Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit,” otherwise known as the S.M.A.R.T. plan, 82 miles of track will be laid along six transportation corridors that involve local services, including the suburban Metrorail and the elevated monorail Metromover.

In addition to new tracks, existing tracks are also finding a new lease on life as a haven for pedestrians and cyclists. Known as the “Underline,” the rails-to-trails scheme, comes from James Corner Field Operations (JCFO)—the same firm who developed New York’s hugely popular High Line.

As one might guess, the scheme involves area underneath the Metrorail being turned into a landscaped oasis filled with pedestrian paths, cycle lanes, and native planting. The 10-mile stretch is planned to run from Brickell Station down to Dadeland South Station. Phase one is occurring in Brickell, where work is due for completion in 2019, set to cost netween $7 million and $9 million. “Brickell has grown explosively in the past 10 to 15 years,” said Meg Daly, president of Friends of the Underline, the group leading the project. “We really believe that this trail-cum-park will offer incredible amenities and green spaces to offset the vertical growth and increased density in the area.”

Expanding on this, Isabel Castilla of JCFO listed amenities such as a dog park, an outdoor gym, a basketball court that doubles up as a space for yoga classes and similar activities, as well as a 150-capacity bicycle garage (Miami-Dade’s first) and a bike repair station. Art will also line the trail, and amenities will be site-specific: In the University of Miami area, a beach volleyball court will be installed.

According to Irene Hegedus of the DTPW, providing safe bicycle routes is a high priority. Castilla added that the shade provided by the Metrorail is “critical” for a project where people are encouraged to “walk, run, and cycle to stations and along the path.” “Working with the existing infrastructure,” she continued, “we hope this leads to the rezoning and re-visioning of areas along the Metrorail as transit-orientated development sites and areas where, as Miami continues to grow, it hopefully grows in a denser way near transit stations rather than continuing urban sprawl that is very dependent on highways and cars.”

Bravo, too, is aware of the interwoven relationship between transit development and the densification of urban areas. Another tool she discussed to further assist Hegedus’s and her ambitions was the possibility of Uber and Lyft entering the fray of her transport plans, acting as the “first and last miles” for journeys.

Now operating in Miami (after three years of lobbying for service legalization), Uber and Lyft previously found success in other parts of Florida, notably in Pinellas Park and Altamonte Springs where rides are subsidized and saving the cities considerable money. Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz described the pilot partnership as “going very well,” but said the scheme is due to end in July.

The low-cost nature of services such as Uber and Lyft is a key to their success. Already able to outprice traditional taxi drivers, ridesharing services Uber Pool and Lyft Line are looking to compete with bus service, too. Uber has gone further than mere carpooling by introducing pickup points optimized by algorithms that essentially create Uber bus stops.

Uber is also losing money—approximately $3 billion per year. In December, economist Justin Wolfers commented that “prices will rise once they’ve succeeded at monopolizing the industry.” If he is correct, the governmental embracing of Uber and Lyft long-term will prove to be shortsighted. Evidence of what happens when alternative public transit routes become unavailable can be seen in London. During a tube strike earlier this year, Uber fares surged by 450 percent; one rider was reportedly charged $138 for a five-mile trip.

It should be noted, though, that Altamonte Springs and Pinellas Park went with car sharing due to other circumstances not going their way. The Altamonte Springs city government set aside $500,000 (of which only a fraction has been needed) for private-hire subsidies after it was denied funding for a $1.5 million pilot “FlexBus” program. At Pinellas Park, the program emerged in response to a 2014 referendum in which local voters declined to adopt a one-cent sales tax to aid transit in the area.

In Miami, however, residents appear to be more enthusiastic about public transport. The “People’s Transportation Plan,” a half-penny charter county sales surtax is helping to fund the S.M.A.R.T. project, something the public voted in favor of back in 2002.

All this, too, shouldn’t suggest that Miami is waging all-out war against the automobile. Getting around by car is being made easier by what Bravo calls “smart signals”—traffic signals that adapt to current states of congestion. Using cameras, they monitor intersections and use AI to optimize traffic flow. Miami-Dade County is investing $40 million this year for the implementation of the traffic signals along major corridors, part of a five-year, $160 million effort. Other smart-city services include 300 soon-to-be-installed wi-fi transit hotspots from CIVIQ Smartscapes.

With all the proposed infrastructural plans, varying in scale, Bravo is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task. “This is a huge cultural change,” she said. However, Bravo is optimistic about how future generations will take to the changes. “New millennials are cool about public transportation,” she added. Such unprecedented growth seldom comes around often, and the chance to invest off the back of hefty tax receipts may be fleeting. Miami’s public transit system is dire, but if it continues to ride the wave of public support and enact its plans, change in the form of mobility lies ahead.

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University City

New renderings and info unveiled for Philly's 14-acre Schuylkill Yards project
New images of the Schuylkill Yards project penned for Philadelphia have been released, along with a fancy fly-through film and a new website that details new information. In addition to this, an interactive map outlines 12 of the 14 proposed new buildings for the 14-acre site which lies off the Schuylkill River. The master plan incorporates Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, the third-busiest Amtrak station in the country. 30th Street will see an influx in usage if New York-based SHoP Architects and Netherlands-based landscape architects West 8 are as successful as the project intends to be. "It is estimated that over the next three decades, renewed interest in rail travel will bring twice as many people into this already bustling transportation hub," read a line from a marketing brochure on the project. SHoP and West 8's plans work around the station seem to place priority on public space (of which there will be 6.5 million square feet, denoted as "greenspace and improved streetscape") in the vicinity. Four public spaces were outlined in the brochure:
  1. Drexel Square will feature an elliptical lawn and supposedly represent the "continuation of William Penn’s original vision for the city’s 'public room.'" The area will be active during the day and night and is set to "serve as the gateway into University City from Center City and 30th Street Station."
  2. JFK Boulevard is due to be transformed into a "shared esplanade" linking 30th Street Station with the Armory building. This space will act as an overspill area for commuters and visitors leaving the station, safely integrating pedestrians, bikes, and cars in the same space, "while providing a rich new greenway for the public."
  3. Market Street, a well-known thoroughfare in Philly, will receive new bicycle and pedestrian lanes, as well as trees that will line the street to counteract noise and pollution.
  4. The Wintergarden. Renders for the space show an elevated, balustrade-encased area overlooking the streets filled with greenery and families. The surrounding area appears to be laboratories, so it is unclear if this is a specific public space. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the developers (Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University) for clarification and is waiting to hear back.
Meanwhile, a 627,000-square-foot office tower, "3101 Market East," is in line to be built, as is a hotel covering 247,000 square feet. The $6.5 billion scheme is part of the "University City" development which will be home for many Philly-based universities and institutions, including: Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of the Sciences, Lincoln University, the Science Center, and the Wistar Institute. According to a press release, the Schuylkill Yards project "has the potential to add 25,000 new jobs and create millions of dollars in new tax revenue." Part of it overlaps the Keystone Innovation Zone, a program started by the state of Pennsylvania to encourage start-up companies to come to Philadelphia. It will give residents and businesses tax benefits (up to $100,000 annually) and "further stimulate investment and growth in the community." This hopes to draw science and research-based companies to University City, which offers a Science Center which is undergoing major changes itself. The center recently expanded its 17-acre physical campus, which has been rebranded as uCity Square, to encompass a total of 27 acres. It houses 15 existing buildings, a 16th  is under construction, and nine additional buildings are planned over the next 10 years. In past coverage of the Schuylkill Yards, AN's Will Barlow noted that in a report from last year, firms that were incubated at the Science Center bring $12.9 billion to the Greater Philadelphia economy each year.
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Zeroing In

See the shovel-ready Vision Zero projects changing NYC streets this year
Today Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a slate of shovel-ready or in-progress projects meant to move the city ever closer to its Vision Zero goals. The program, designed to dramatically reduce traffic fatalities through speed limit reductions and streetscape improvements, is now in its fourth year. So what is getting done? According to the Mayor's office, the city is breaking ground on wider sidewalks, more protected bike lanes, new crosswalks, and medians on busy roadways large enough for pedestrians to take refuge. The improvements, part of a five-year, $1.6 billion initiative, will target dozens of projects in the five boroughs. “Dangerous streets have to change,” said Mayor de Blasio, in a prepared statement.  “We want to get the word out: we’re moving lanes, adding new space for pedestrians and making it safer to cross intersections—all to keep your family safe. These changes have helped make each of the last three years under Vision Zero safer than the last.” The city says existing Vision Zero improvements have lead to eight fewer lives lost in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year. Still, New York has a way to go towards zero fatalities—40 people have died in traffic-related incidents so far this year Here are a few highlights from the improvements planned so far for this year: In Brooklyn, along Borinquen Place, South 4th, and South 5th streets, this summer city will enhance pedestrian and bike access to the Williamsburg Bridge in advance of the 15-month L train shutdown. The Brooklyn Bridge, meanwhile, is a commuter cyclist's special hell. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is widening pedestrian-bike entrances at Tillary Street to allow seamless coexistence between selfie-snapping, Citibiking tourists and New Yorkers who are just trying to go somewhere. Plans will add 50 trees and better crosswalks; improvements are underway and are expected to be complete this summer. (President Trump's proposed budget cuts, however, could jeopardize funding for this project.) On the Manhattan side, a "sister project" to the one on Tillary Street will improve bike and pedestrian access, while riders will enjoy a two-way protected bike lane in front of City Hall by this spring. By this summer, cyclists and walkers in Mott Haven will have easier access to the Madison Avenue Bridge, the slice of roadway that connects 138th Street in the Bronx to Manhattan. Over in Queens, two new Select Bus Service routes and safety improvements to Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards build on similar efforts to boost the pedestrian experience along Queens Boulevard. In notoriously car-dependent Staten Island, the city will add five miles of bicycle lanes to connect the North Shore neighborhoods of Tompkinsville, Stapleton, Concord and Park Hill. For residents and visitors, bike connections to the ferry terminal in St. George are coming online this summer.
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Ramping Up

Bold proposal for new bike bridge connecting Miami to Key Biscayne on display at Coral Gables Museum
A new exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum is now on view, providing a deeper look into "Plan Z for Miami," a proposal to create a snaking elevated platform that would provide pedestrians and cyclists with safer passage from Miami to nearby Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. The existing Rickenbacker Causeway has seen four fatal cycling accidents since 2006, spurring many cyclists to push for better bike lanes and barriers to protect them from the high-speed traffic on the bridge. Architect, urban planner, and lifelong cyclist Bernard Zyscovich saw an opportunity to promote cycling as a more viable means of transportation in Miami and launched Plan Z for Miami. The nonprofit organization has proposed two separate plans to convert Rickenbacker Causeway, the first of which involves the removal of a lane of traffic from the causeway to create a 16-foot-wide bike and pedestrian lane, separated from the motor traffic by a strip of native foliage. After concerns were raised about the removal of a lane of traffic, Zyscovich returned with Plan Z 2.0. This bolder plan proposes a completely separate bike and pedestrian lane to run the length of the causeway and connect to the proposed Underline, a ten-mile linear park running under Miami’s Metrorail. The path would then run along the William Powell Bridge, providing an observation deck for viewing the Miami skyline, then continue on to Virginia Key. Zyscovich’s plan also imagines a 20-acre waterfront park and beach at the entrance of Virginia Key, with a branch of paths connecting to Virginia Key Park, before continuing on to Key Biscayne. The project has already garnered a decent amount of positive attention from the community, according to the architect, and they will continue to show the plans to the public to rally further support while the project is in review for potential funding. The exhibit, titled Plan Z for Miami: From Infrastructure to Open Space, will be on view through May 14, 2017, at the Coral Gables Museum. For more information about the exhibit, visit the Museum’s website here. For more information about the Plan Z project itself, you can visit the organization’s website here.
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Trains & Planes

Express rail to Chicago O'Hare airport once again floated by Mayor Emanuel
Speaking to a crowd of union workers last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reiterated his intentions to have a high-speed express rail built between O’Hare International Airport and the city’s downtown. Details, however, remain unclear. It was almost exactly one year ago that Emanuel announced that the city would be spending $2 million to investigate new and existing proposals for the rail, which would carry passengers 17 miles in under 30 minutes. Currently, there already is a train, the CTA’s Blue Line L train, that travels from the airport to Chicago's downtown in about 50 minutes. Critics of the proposed express train argue that the costs of building a new rail system far outweigh the benefits of cutting that trip's time in half. The mayor argued for the need by pointing out the success of express airport rails in other cities, such as London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Toronto. While the latest announcement did not include an idea of the cost, earlier studies into the rail have estimated the price at anywhere between $750 million and $1.5 billion. Those numbers come from a 2006 report commissioned by Emanuel’s predecessor, Mayor Richard M. Daley. Daley also made multiple attempts to kick start the express rail project, but with little success. The wide price range for the project is based on the major options for the path of the train. The more affordable option would see the train sharing space with the existing Blue Line, possibly running on an elevated level above the slower local train. The more expensive route would follow an expressway and existing freight rail lines that run west out of the downtown. While that 2006 report estimated passenger tickets at $10, twice the current price to take the Blue Line, many believe tickets would have to be much higher. Similar rails around the world charge anywhere from $30 to $60. This latest mention of the proposed express train came packaged in a speech celebrating the 5th year anniversary of Emanuel’s “Building A New Chicago” initiative to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure. In those five years, the city has been busy. According to the mayor’s speech, renovations have happened at 40 CTA L stations, 108 miles of protected or widened bike lanes have been added, 1,600 miles of city streets have been repaved, 500 miles of water mains have been replaced, and over 300 neighborhood parks have been renovated. O’Hare itself is also set to receive $3.5 billion in city bonds to build a new runway and make other improvements in the coming years.
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Clear the Road

Paris Mayor unveils plan for new citywide electric tramway and pedestrianized streets
Over the past few months, Paris Mayor Anne Hildago has rolled out her plans to reduce the number of private cars in the French capital by half. The most recent announcement is a new electric tramway that will open September 2018 and will run alongside the upper highways along the Seine in both directions. Dubbed the Olympic Tramway in alignment with Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, it is the latest in a series of attempts to improve the city's air quality. In the past year, periodic road closures and car bans caused controversy after the city’s pollution reached potentially harmful levels. SGP-metro-plan--645x457 The electric tramway will be accompanied by additional bike lanes and infrastructure geared toward pedestrians. According to The Guardian, there are major pedestrianization plans under way: Traffic will be restricted on the upper highway on the Seine's right bank and the Rue de Rivoli, while a one kilometer river-adjacent stretch of the Place de la Concorde and Pont Royal will be fully closed to vehicles. And, as The Architect's Newspaper reported in November, several firms such as Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Kengo Kuma Associates have been tapped to work on this increased network of public spaces in the French capital. BIG designed the new Pont de Bondy station northwest of Paris—one of 68 new stations that will form the Grand Paris Express—and Kengo Kuma Associates created the Gare Saint-Denis Pleyel station north of the city. Combined, Hildago hopes these efforts can create a significant change for future generations.