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California Dream

California moves to relieve housing crisis with key legislative wins
Several bills aimed at alleviating California’s persistent and worsening housing affordability crisis advanced through the state legislature late last night, re-igniting the state’s housing activists and raising hopes that housing relief is on the way. The six initiatives address different facets of the crisis, but have been seen as a collective success and an initial step toward more full-fledged efforts by the state to rein in skyrocketing rents and reverse the housing shortage. The California State Assembly passed Senate Bill 2 (SB 2)—the most controversial of the batch—a proposal that adds $75 to a $225 fee to mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions, excluding home and commercial property sales. The fee is projected to raise $250 million per year for low-income affordable housing, and provide a permanent and consistent funding source to rehabilitate and expand that market, the Los Angeles Times reported. When matched with federal, local, and private funds, it is estimated that the fee could raise over $5 billion for such housing over the next five years, according to The Mercury News. Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), also passed Thursday night, paves the way for a $4 billion bond designed to finance low-income housing development and provide mortgages to military veterans to go onto the 2018 statewide ballot. Providing housing for formerly-homeless veterans has been a particular focus of ongoing housing efforts across the state. Senate Bill 35 (SB 35) would streamline the approval of housing development, requiring cities and counties to develop land use plans that include a housing element and hold municipalities accountable to those figures. Senate Bill 166 would also pressure municipalities to meet their housing goals while also forbidding them from lowering residential density in their respective zoning codes to reduce the overall number of required units. Senate Bill 167 would strengthen the state's Housing Accountability Act—which compels municipalities to approve low-income housing projects, among other types of housing—by fining municipalities automatic fines of $10,000 per unit of unbuilt housing resulting from their violation of the act. Various municipalities around the Bay Area have caused controversy in recent years for violating the act, which in turn, has resulted in lawsuits from housing activists. Senate Bill 540 incentivizes “workforce housing opportunity zones” by allowing municipalities to adopt specific plans for local areas that are particularly in need of housing. The bill would streamline redevelopment efforts, especially in relation to California Environmental Quality Act approvals. Both SB 2 and SB 3 cleared the California State Senate earlier this year; those bills and the four additional measures will head back to that chamber for final approval today before being sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown has until October 15th to veto or sign the bills.
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Flood relief

MVRDV, BIG, and James Corner Field Operations selected to future-proof Bay Area
Resilient by Design | Bay Area has chosen 10 multi-disciplinary teams to partake in the next phase of a design challenge focused on future-proofing California’s San Francisco Bay Area against the destructive effects of climate change and sea level rise. The 10 teams will partner with community members and organizations over the next nine months to develop innovative approaches for the region. The teams include several notable architecture and landscape architecture firms, including BIG, MVRDV,  and James Corner Field Operations. Each of the selected teams contains at least one community member and several of the teams are entirely Bay Area–based. Resilient by Design is modeled on Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded New York City re-visioning competition held after 2012's Hurricane Sandy. The 10 selected design teams include:
BIG + ONE + SHERWOOD Bionic Team Common Ground HASSELL+ Permaculture + Social Equity Public Sediment The All Bay Collective The Field Operations Team The Home Team Team UPLIFT
The teams were each awarded $250,000 to engage in research over the next three months and to work with community members to analyze chosen sites with the eventual goal of crafting an adaptation strategy for a specific project location by May. “Resilient by Design is creating a blueprint for the world, bring together community members and experts to show how we can collectively tackle climate change,” Amanda Brown-Stevens, managing director of Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “We know that it is time for something different, a new approach that matches our new reality but draws on who we are and what we have always been able to do: think differently, innovate, come together, and adapt.” Formal announcements for team and site pairings will be timed to coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown’s scheduled Global Climate Action Summit in December. The most recent announcement comes after the Bay Area Challenge was awarded a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation earlier this year.
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In the Zone

A tale of two flood zones: NYC nabes rezoned for new building and buy-outs
Two New York City neighborhoods heavily affected by Hurricane Sandy received City Council go-ahead for two new (and very different) rezoning plans last Thursday, September 7. The first was the approval of Mayor Bill de Blasio administration's proposed rezoning of Far Rockaway, a historically under-served coastal neighborhood. This is the neighborhood's first rezoning since 1961. The plan committed around $288 million to commercial development, public amenities, schools, and affordable housing in the downtown area. This includes more than 1,000 affordable housing units, 250,000 square feet of commercial space to attract new businesses and jobs, the neighborhood's first new library since 1976, and its first new park since 1960, according to local City Council member Donovan Richards. Additional funds will renovate and build new parks as well as improve open space at the public housing complex. This development plan is the result of two years of community engagement. For Staten Island's East Shore, the City Council approved the creation of a new Special Coastal Risk District. This plan, a response to flood vulnerability, will buy out two swaths of land – including parts of the Oakwood Beach, Graham Beach, and Ocean Breeze neighborhoods – and tightly restrict future development. Any land re-use will be restricted to the creation of open space. The goal of creating the Coastal Risk District is to form a storm surge barrier between the coast and developed areas. Of the 10 neighborhoods identified by the Bloomberg administration for rezoning after Sandy, the Staten Island's East Shore is one of only three neighborhoods that has advanced to City Council with an actual proposal addressing flood risk. In the plan, homeowners in the two areas of the Coastal Risk District will be offered a voluntary buyout of their homes at pre-storm values, and those who choose not to participate will be very limited in how they rebuild their homes. Those in affected areas now face the question: continue on living in a designated flood zones under the new, restrictive ordinances, or move to a more secure inland location but lose their home? For many, this is not an easy choice, and voluntary retreat is disproportionately skewed to affect low- and middle-income households. As New York approaches the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and watches Houston and Miami begin the process of recovering from Harvey and Irma, it's clear that the need to build resilient cities is more urgent than ever.
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Zone Defense

Chicago pilots program to stem gentrification on North and West Sides
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced a new pilot program to encourage affordable housing in the city’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. The program would focus on areas on the Near North and Near West sides, and along Milwaukee Avenue corridor. Since the dismantling of much of the city’s public housing throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, Chicago has heavily relied upon private development to fulfill affordable housing needs. To guide this the city passed the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), which sets rules for new developments over 10 units or that receive zoning changes. The current iteration of the ordinance requires that 10 percent of units in qualifying developments must be affordable, or the developer can pay in-lieu fees up to $225,000. The new pilot program would target particular neighborhoods which have shown signs of rapid gentrification. These include 9 miles along Milwaukee Avenue, incorporating parts of Logan Square, Avendale, West Town, and areas along the Green Line. The goal is to create 1,000 new affordable units over the next three years. To do this, the program proposes to raise the required affordable unit obligation from 10 percent to 15 or 20 percent depending on location. The in-lieu fee option would also be eliminated, forcing developers to build affordable units instead of paying to get out of the obligation. Lastly, the pool of eligible tenants would be expanded by increasing the threshold to 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI), 20 percent above the current threshold. “Access to affordable housing is critical to Chicago’s legacy as one of the world’s most livable big cities, especially as the real estate market undergoes unprecedented neighborhood development,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This initiative will create more affordable units in targeted areas while helping the city to assess the most effective ways of meeting neighborhood affordable housing goals.” If passed by the city council, the program will affect some of the fastest developing areas in the city. Both the Near North and Near West Sides have seen rapid growth, particularly around transit nodes. Thanks to a 2015 Transit-Oriented Development Ordinance, developers have been able to build large residential blocks with few or no parking spaces near major transit lines. The result has been a building boom, which many argue has exacerbated the gentrification in neighborhoods across the city.
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Jail No More

L.A. picks three finalists for Lincoln Heights Jail redevelopment
The dilapidated and boarded-up Lincoln Heights Jail—a five-story, 229,000-square-foot art deco and modernist complex adjacent to the Los Angeles River—is on the verge of transformation as L.A. City Council officials prepare to implement redevelopment plans for the three-acre site. Sandwiched between Downtown Los Angeles and the city’s economically-stressed Eastside neighborhoods, the shuttered complex is one of the city’s most prominent historic landmarks. The triangular site sits in the city’s Cleantech Corridor and is written into the Cornfields Arroyo Seco specific plan as well. Those designations help poise the site for the type of high-end industrial redevelopment that is currently remaking the nearby Arts District while also threatening nearby communities with displacement. The jail was built in 1927 and was designed to hold 625 prisoners, though by the 1950s, it imprisoned more than 2,000 individuals, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy. Because of overcrowding, it was expanded in 1953 with a modernist wing. The jail has played an important role in the city’s history, holding individuals arrested during the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 and the Watts Riots of 1965, for example. Individuals who had been arrested over suspicions regarding their sexual orientation were also imprisoned at the Lincoln Heights jail, which even contained a separate wing dedicated to incarcerating gay prisoners. The jail was decommissioned in 1965 and became vacant in 2014. Currently, developers CIM Group, WORKS, and Lincoln Property Company are each vying for the opportunity to remake the site. Developer CIM Group has proposed redeveloping the site as a mixed-use district called “The Linc” containing offices, housing—including multifamily and low-income units—retail shops, restaurants, and a community garden. The proposal calls for converting the art deco portion of the structure into a hotel with a rooftop restaurant. The 1953 addition would be converted to residential use while a triangular structure on the far end of the site will contain a single story of retail programming. CIM has partnered with architects LOHA, LA Más, and landscape architects Superjacent for the proposal. Nonprofit housing developer WORKS—Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Service—is looking to re-envision the site as a community-driven enterprise called “Las Alturas.” The complex would include 122 housing units, including 66 permanent supportive housing and 47 moderate-income homes. The proposed complex would also include a community center, child care facilities, theater, and generously-landscaped areas designed by Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA). Mia Lehrer, principal at MLA explained to The Architect’s Newspaper that the WORKS-led proposal represented “the kind of community-focused investor you imagine exists but you don’t get meet very often,” adding that the design team included partnerships with Cal Poly Pomona’s agriculture program, and architects Omgivning and Killefer Flammang Architects. A third proposal by Lincoln Property Company, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, and Fifteen Group is also on the table. That scheme—called the Lincoln Heights Makers District—calls for a commercial- and manufacturing-focused district containing four acres of open space. The plan includes 268,250 square feet of residential space, including an affordable housing component; 220,000 square feet of commercial space; and 57,000 square feet of manufacturing and retail spaces. The designers envision repurposing the existing jail facility as a manufacturing center with associated housing and commercial spaces located alongside.  The project has been proposed by the developer as part of a larger scheme that includes an adjacent, privately-owned 3.2-acre site that will contain live/work spaces. The proposal would include connections to the L.A. River as well as outdoor community-oriented leisure and work spaces.  The schemes are currently being vetted by the City's economic development committee before heading to the full City Council for consideration. The City Council is expected to decide on the proposals as soon as this fall.  
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Presidential Profits

Trump to reap millions from Brooklyn public housing development sale
Will the President of the United States make up to $14 million from the sale of the largest federally-subsidized public housing development in the country? This is an unfortunate question to pose in an era where affordable housing seems increasingly scarce. Starrett City, also known as Spring Creek Towers, is an extensive housing complex situated between the Brooklyn neighborhoods of East New York and Canarsie overlooking Jamaica Bay. This summer, it will be sold for an estimated $850 million, and President Donald J. Trump's family business collectively owns about 16% of the development, so they stand to profit a hefty sum. As The New York Times reported, Trump himself could reap up to $14 million from the sale. Now that Trump manages the federal agency involved in its sale – Ben Carson's Department of Housing and Urban Development – concerns about potential conflicts of interest have understandably bubbled up among both the public and Congress members. In early July, two congressional Democrats – Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York – requested extensive records from the Trump family regarding their organization's communications with the development's owners, banks, and federal officials after the 2017 election. The potential conflicts of interest raise larger concerns about the operation of HUD in general, with massive budget cuts perhaps leaving "the type of federal aid that flows to the owners of Starrett City mostly intact" while cutting off support for others, as the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Trump, Carson, and others on July 7. Starrett City is being bought by a partnership between a real estate firm, Brooksville Company, and a private equity firm, Rockpoint Group, with the official announcement released Wednesday. Both firms are restricted from rent gauging and potentially forcing out long-time residents by rent regulations effective for another twenty-two years, and both have expressed their intention to keep in line with the site's original purpose as affordable housing for low- to middle-income tenants. Donald Trump's father acquired up to a 20% stake in the development when its construction was handed over to a private real estate company in the early 1970s, and it has since functioned as a convenient tax shelter for the family. The sale is the end of a long and involved succession of failed deals, with the development's residents hoping for a fate different than those of comparable Manhattan complexes like Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and Riverton Houses – i.e., bought up piecemeal and rented out at market value during the real estate boom of the early 2000s. What Trump's individual profit margins will look like is still a matter of speculation, however – and lawmakers retain a healthy skepticism while awaiting the more thorough background on the sale.
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No Small Potatoes

L.A. developer is bringing live-work units to Downtown Boise

With the 159-unit Fowler and 37-unit Water Cooler projects, Los Angeles–based developers Local Construct are expanding their horizons by building for a growing niche of budget-conscious transplants seeking classically urban qualities like walkability and affordable density in Boise, Idaho.

Casey Lynch, cofounder of Local Construct, explained that Boise is “more progressive in terms of land-use and transportation planning” than larger municipalities, which allowed the developer to implement and expand on its existing suite of best practices.

The firm’s seven-story Fowler, designed by Holst Architecture, is a subtly zigzagging complex that includes 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and five ground floor live-work units that allow residents to “live above the shop.” The iron-washed brick and troweled-stucco block features gridded facades made up of punched openings that overlook the street and a central courtyard.

Local Construct also partnered with package-handling start-up Parcel Pending to create a package room outfitted with refrigerated lockers that alert residents when their packages arrive.

The developer, with The Architects Office (TAO) and Beebe Skidmore, is simultaneously working on the three-story Water Cooler apartments, which features protruding plywood-clad sections interrupted by white stucco massing. The wood-siding-clad bump-outs overhang the ground level storefront spaces, providing shelter above the building’s entrances. The building will contain seven live-work units along the ground floor, and 900 square feet of retail.

Both complexes are far into the construction process and are expected to open to tenants later this year.

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Mind Over Matter

AN remembers Diane Lewis

To walk the streets of a city with Diane meant to be move slowly and with focus, and to often come to a complete standstill when the discussion at hand was primary over all else. This immersion was in striking contrast to her gait and quickness in the halls of Cooper Union and her brisk efficiency in the orchestration of a construction site. She lived in accord with the tenets of her practice and her teaching, and her intellectual rigor and intensity were applied to all endeavors. She believed deeply in the necessary confrontation of the existing with the ideal. The rub of dueling conditions as the source of artistic inspiration was a concept for Diane that spanned from Dante’s Divine Comedy (the introduction to our course at Pratt) to how she engaged the eccentricities of building within a given condition. To work alongside Diane on the job site was a demonstration of architecture as both an art in form and a theater piece with a unique casting call and stage directions in a whirlwind toward exquisite results. In the center was Diane, always a cutting sight in her effortless, yet careful wardrobe and its accents; the most important were her eyeglasses. She had wanted glasses since an early age and was thrilled when they became a necessity.

Diane’s ability to enjoy life was to make the best possible conditions for living, eating, thinking—whatever happened to be the pursuit of the moment. She had a gusto for food and ate with the same enjoyment and abandon as when she watered the garden at one of her many 9th street studio locations, a bit messy but with pure joy, flinging water so that it hit not only the plants but also the table she designed and the chairs and cushions. She was a talented cook and brought recipes from all over the world back to the studio, where she would regret that we did not have a dedicated chef on staff as Scarpa had when she visited his Venetian studio in the ’70s. Decades later when we visited Venice she insisted the first act must be to go immediately to Harry’s Bar, which was filled with Carnival revelers.

Wherever Diane lived it was always in a work of architecture, whether by her own hand or by selection. She would spend the summers in Long Island renting the guesthouse from Charles Gwathmey’s mother, and she lived for many years on a floor in William Lescaze’s townhouse on 48th street, where she was later married. In a metropolitan style, she had simply stopped by and made an inquiry to his widow if there were rooms for rent; Diane later designed an addition to her D.C. residence. Diane would note that she saw the principals of Hejduk’s Wall House in the Lescaze townhouse. Her intrinsic ability to see the lineages of work and continuity of thought allowed her to absorb, project, and hypothesize. She created a literary a-chronological world of architecture that is both deeply engaging and spectacularly liberating.

As a professor she preserved the sanctity and dignity of the students and adhered to the highest aspirations of academic sovereignty. She treated us with respect and demanded a critical forum for the discussion of work, investing in each student close readings as well as the independence to shape our studio projects. Under her teaching team, our class, and many others, created spectacular work from both expected and unexpected sources. Her gravitational field pulled people from near and afar: My friend and classmate Jack immediately applied to Cooper after having Diane during her tenure in the Hyde Chair at the University of Nebraska. Diane herself applied to Cooper as an art student at the recommendation of George Segal, whom she met in Syracuse in a high school summer program. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners’ Everson Museum of Art was in construction nearby; they would be second firm she would work for after initiating her professional career in the office of Richard Meier.

Most striking about Diane was her precise language, her careful articulation and her prescience to the gulf between thought and speech. Her unrelenting attention to meaning and complete absorption in structure were a means to penetrate through the contrived and conventional. Diane demanded that we engage the world not as it is, but as it should be. She entitled an unfinished book, Mind Over Matter.

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Nine Firms Total

COOKFOX, Olson Kundig, Morris Adjmi, and KPF are among the firms reshaping Tampa's Downtown
COOKFOX, Olson Kundig, Gensler, Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF), and Morris Adjmi Architects, have all been named as some of the nine architects spearheading Water Street Tampa, the $3 billion project that will give the Florida city a skyline. Spread over nearly 50 acres, 18 buildings comprise the scheme which is being backed by Strategic Property Partners—a consortium between Jeff Vinik, who owns NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bill Gates’s Cascade Investment. Though first announced in early July this year, more details, such as the architects involved, have been released. Four New York firms are in on the act. COOKFOX will be designing two buildings: an office and a residential block which will sit atop some retail. KPF has been commissioned for a series of apartments and condominiums which will reside above some retail and a grocery store. Morris Adjmi Architects has scooped arguably the largest commission: a 157-key five-star hotel, a range of luxury condos, more apartments, and retail. Gensler, meanwhile, will be behind two office over retail projects. Seattle firm Olson Kundig is also doing a similar project and Baker Barrios, from Orlando, are to design a central cooling facility. Greenery is coming via Tampa-based Alfonso Architects, who are fronting the redevelopment vision for the city's Channelside with a new public park, waterfront shops, and living units. Another Flordian firm, Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates from Coral Gables, are designing a 500-key hotel. Finally, New Haven, Connecticut practice Pickard Chilton are behind three projects that will office and residential over retail. When finished, Water Street Tampa will boast more than two million square feet of offices. In doing so, the scheme will bring the first new office towers Downtown Tampa has seen in almost 25 years. Located on the Garrison Channel and Hillsborough Bay, the project, according to a press release, intends to bridge the city's cultural landmarks, including the Tampa Convention Center, Amalie Arena (where the Tampa Bay Lightning play), Tampa Bay History Center, and Florida Aquarium. This will be achieved via an array of public parks and spaces that lead to the waterfront where the Tampa Riverwalk, and five-mile-long Bayshore path, can be found.
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Still Boring

Elon Musk's Boring Company receives approval to build a test tunnel in L.A.
Elon Musk’s The Boring Company—a tunnel-focused start-up aimed at reducing the overall cost of building underground tunnels in urban areas—has received approval from the Hawthorne City Council in Los Angeles County to build an initial two-mile-long test tunnel under the city’s streets. The approval was made this week and would allow Musk’s Boring Company to extend an ongoing pilot tunnel being dug on the site of the company’s headquarters in Hawthrone, near Los Angeles International Airport. The company is building the tunnel using a second-hand boring machine that was originally used to dig a sewer tunnel in San Francisco, Daily Breeze reports. The souped-up boring machine is named “Godot” and is designed to dig tunnels that measure 14 feet in diameter, 50 percent narrower than traditional subway tunnels. The smaller diameter is expected to bring costs down considerably, reducing costs three to four times compared to traditional methods, according to The Boring Company website. In recent weeks, the company took to building a shaft and a 160-foot-long tunnel on the property, a passage that will be extended underneath local city streets as soon as is feasible. With the approval comes a series of new details surrounding Musk’s plan, including a proposal for a new type of autonomous vehicle system that would allow the entire system to function seamlessly. The 14-foot wide vehicle would consist of an automated platform that can hold pedestrian passengers and bicyclists. These so-called “Skates” would travel in the tunnels and be capable of carrying people, vehicles, as well as other types of freight. The tunnels are also being planned to reuse excavated dirt from the construction process into site-cast building blocks that can be used to line the tunnel interiors in lieu of conventional concrete coatings. Musk also expects that the tunnels will be a useful way of extending a proposed Hyperloop network into dense urban areas.  Brett Horton, SpaceX's head of construction, said in a statement, "We won't have construction crews walking down the street, we won’t have any trucks or excavators working in those areas." Instead of performing labor-intensive and traffic-snarling decking procedures like those involved with traditional subway construction, "Everything that we’re doing is underground," Horton explained. For now, construction on the tunnels continues.
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Comrade Developer

A brief urban history of Pyongyang, North Korea—and how it might develop under capitalism
The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) has partnered with urbanNext—a multidisciplinary platform for design promoted by Actar Publishers—to share articles on common topics every two weeks. This week, we’re pairing the urbanNext article below with AN’s “Photographer Andy Yeung uses drones to capture the density of Hong Kong.” The article below was authored by Dongwoo Yim, who received a Master of Architecture in Urban Design at Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, and bachelor’s degree in Seoul National University. Dongwoo is a faculty member of Rhode Island School of Design since 2011 and teaches PRAUD’s architectural discourse “TOPOLOGY & TYPOLOGY.”
As we witnessed from many post-socialist cities in Eastern Europe, Russia, and China, economic growth and political transition [have] supplied the formula for exceptionally radical and quick transformations of a city. Since adopting market-oriented systems, post-socialist cities have become “blue oceans” for new investments. Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, is one of few socialist cities in the world that has not adopted this new economic model. On the other hand, Pyongyang is comparable to socialist cities of decades ago, in that it exhibits a strong potential to attract huge investments if and when it begins to open its market to other countries. This change has, in fact, already begun to take place, raising the following questions for architects: 1) what growth model can be suggested? 2) where will the new developments be centered? 3) will the urban transformation replace or arise from within the existing structure of Pyongyang? Framed Pyongyang In spite of recent developments in its fledgling tourist industry, North Korea is still the most enclosed country in the world, and even Pyongyang, its capital city, remains under a veil. The information we currently have about Pyongyang primarily comes from media discussions of its political or social issues. In contrast to reports of its dictatorship, nuclear weapons programs, and the trend of nationwide starvation, the actual urban layout of Pyongyang has not received much attention. Pyongyang, however, was considered by other socialist countries to be an ideal socialist city when it was first built during the 1950s, instead of to be a city of veil or dictatorship. In the absence of the political dictatorship of today, Pyongyang provided an experimental field in which socialist architects attempted to apply their ideal urban structures to the real world. In the aftermath of the Korean War (1950-1953), Kim Il Sung, the leader of North Korea, decided to keep Pyongyang as the capital city of the DPRK (North Korea). Its layout reflected the ideology of socialism as well as [the] victory of the war. Left in complete shambles after the war, the reconstruction of Pyongyang afforded planners the rare opportunity to create a new structure from the ground up. Thus, in order to fully understand the urban structure of Pyongyang, it is necessary to first consider the larger context of the model socialist city, its historical context, and how it differed in key ways from the capitalist city model. Pyongyang as a Socialist City After three years of fighting in the Korean War, North Korea started to rebuild its cities through its first three-year reconstruction plan from 1954 to 1956. During this period, several socialist countries supported the reconstruction of North Korean cities by providing resources as well as technological assistance. Pyongyang received support from Hungary and Bulgaria, and not surprisingly, the architectural style and urban structure of Pyongyang showed some similarities to the two countries at the beginning of reconstruction. Based on a master plan in 1953 that reflected the ideals of socialist city planning, Pyongyang was planned as a one-million population city that would stretch from the Daedong River to the Botong River; the density of city was to planned as 20 percent to 25 percent. This scheme captured the socialist concepts of constructing a proper city in a well-planned way. Throughout the decades, Pyongyang realized a number of its socialist urban planning goals. The three major socialist urban morphologies mentioned above were well executed in the city. To resolve disparities between cities and to balance development between urban and rural area, [the] architects of Pyongyang aimed to set aside self-productive units within the city. Today’s Pyongyang continues to be planned based on a unit district system that combines the industrial and residential so that residents can both produce and consume their products. The density of population is planned at around 300 to 600 residents/ha. This district is well structured in the area across from the central administration district, and the two areas together comprise a key axis of directionality for city expansion. As North Korean leaders insisted that Pyongyang be developed in [a] well-balanced way in contrast to any other capitalist cities in the world, architects carefully injected landscape features into the city. Both riversides were developed major landscaped areas and most major boulevards were heavily planted. Additionally, to maximize the effectiveness of labor and production for workers, they created several leisure parks in the city so that the public could have enough rest and recover before returning to production. In Pyongyang, most of the leisure parks were located close to historical or memorial areas. The central part of the city was structured as a place for administrations and institutions. Major socialist buildings and symbols are located in this area, and the main square, Kim Il Sung Square, is also located there. Juche Tower, which is a symbol of North Korean ideology, is located directly across the river from the square. Together they create a major axis of symbolic spaces. Moreover, additional symbolic buildings and statues are distributed all around Pyongyang in order to serve as physical sites of propaganda for socialist ideology. Pyongyang was reconstructed based on the master plan that was designed by Kim Jung Hee in 1953. In the master plan, Pyongyang is structured as a multi-core city. Several different symbolic spaces are distributed evenly throughout the city and each of them become a core of each district. Also, main landscape structures are planned in between districts and work as buffer zones so that they cannot expand freely. This distribution of districts is mainly done to maintain the proper size of the city and to prevent social differentiation that can emerge from marked development in distinct areas. At the same time, each distributed central square works as a symbolic space that testifies to the centrally controlled society. In the 1960s, Kim Il Sung ordered the re-development of an architectural strategy of Pyongyang. Unlike the 1950s when development was more focused on [the] reconstruction of infrastructures based on a master plan, the new wave of development focused on five features that would propagate its society as well as its victory in war. They consisted for the expansion of the major boulevards and the construction of high-rise residential buildings along the boulevards, large-scale civic and cultural facilities, symbolic statues and squares, and leisurely and convenient facilities for foreigners. Once proposed, these five strategies became a major urban development standard with the larger scheme of the master plan in 1953. However, some of [the] schemes conflicted with the master plan. For instance, focusing on the development along major boulevards clashed with the development of several multi-cores. Major boulevards branched out of [the] central developed district and dense high-rise residential buildings came to be located along them. Consequently, this destroyed the multi-core system and only certain areas located near the start of the boulevards could function as core-like districts. Also, denser development of certain areas conflicted with the principle of evening distributing residents around Pyongyang. Additionally, even symbolic urban spaces came to congregate in the central part of the city instead of being distributed throughout the city. This phenomenon resulted primarily due to of the rapid growth of the city. Although North Korea, like other socialist countries, controlled migration of the population, it could not halt illegal immigration into the city and rapid urbanization of Pyongyang. As the city grew denser, housing shortages became a problem. To resolve this problem, as mentioned above, Pyongyang developed several high-rise residential areas. At the same time, informal residential areas emerged. They mostly arose in areas originally planned as landscape areas in the 1953 master plan, and housing resembled typical one or two-story houses that were designed for agricultural areas. This informal development not only broke with the landscape structure in the city, but also rendered micro-districts impossible. Hence, compared to other organized areas that were developed according to the master-plan, the informal development area lost its balance between residential units and service facilities. In short, the urban morphology of current-day Pyongyang portrays a mixture of the physical forms of the ideal socialist master plan and the realities of the actual development scheme. Transformation of a Socialist City As other socialist countries have already experienced, North Korea is also in the midst of [a] transition to adopt the capitalist system in some ways. There are several indications that highlight this transition. For instance, the secretive Pyongyang government recently launched an experiment with the free market in 2002, beginning to deregulate prices and hiking salaries. Also, small vendors, which had been controlled strictly by the government, are starting to emerge at major squares, and even underground real estate deals are taking place. Collectively, these changes can be seen as early indicators of a market-oriented economic system. The former Soviet Union, its Eastern European satellite, and China each underwent this transition a decade ago, and several cities amongst them, like Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing, have already [become] booming metropolises in the world. As noted earlier, socialist cities have different urban structures and morphologies from capitalist cities. These contrasts not only reflect different political ideologies but also differences in the flow of capital. Hence, when socialist cities start to allow capitalist forms of capital flow, the urban figures also change based on this new logic. The socialist city center has been the area where most of this transformation unfolds. Because of its strategic location and superior infrastructure, most investments are concentrated in the city center. Further, public spaces or institution areas in the city center that have weaker capital power tend to be occupied by bigger capitals such as business fields. Therefore, it is the central area of the city [that] begins to morph into the central business district, something that a socialist city has not had before. In summary, the emergence of a variety of retail outlets in the form of street vendors and warehouses are undeniable indicators of Pyongyang’s economic transition, and this trend will impact the transformation of its urban morphology. For example, the more evenly distributed activities of the socialist past will become concentrated in certain areas, while denser and higher pedestrian flows will develop around metro stations, major boulevards, or squares. Moreover, new warehouse-style transactions taking place outside the city will begin affecting the structuring of suburban areas where few developments have been witnessed under socialism. Suburbanization is also connected to the restructuring of social classes within the city. In an ideal social city, there is no class segregation and [the] government strictly controls the movement of its residents. However, as social classes begin to diversify based on personal earnings within the market-oriented system, upper classes have tended to relocate to areas that have better living quality. This observation is closely related to the system of the micro-district. Aiming to consolidate areas of production and living into one space, the micro-district creates a worse environment for residents than an area that is mainly focused on residential development. Therefore, social class differentiation leads to the segregation and restructuring of programs within a city. Pyongyang Transformation The urban structure and layout of Pyongyang will likely shift alongside major economic transformations that have already begun to take place. It may be beneficial for Pyongyang to develop a new set of plans to reflect its transition to a market-oriented system. What growth models are open to Pyongyang? There are several possible development plans for the city. One is the “incremental growth model.” Unlike most Chinese cities, the small size of Pyongyang’s market and the gradual nature of change suggests that the city will transform step by step. The incremental growth model differs from the ad-hoc master plan that ignores the existing socialist city structure and puts an alien structure onto the city. Just as the urban DNA of Pyongyang has resulted from the mixing of the original socialist master plan and development scheme, the incremental growth model will also be capable of forging a new DNA of Pyongyang, fusing it with its existing DNA. Thus the second questions to consider is: where would this incremental growth take place? Studies of other former socialists cities that have already been through the transition suggest that the urban mutation will occur easily in areas where the existing socialist structure and the market-oriented system collide. For instance, the area extending from the major axis of Kim Il Sung Square and Juche Tower is [a] location where socialist ideal morphology, as well as well-structured infrastructure, coexist. Because of its advantageous infrastructure and location, the area has a strong potential for attracting new investment in a market-oriented economic system. A desire to improve the residential environment will likely force production facilities, like light industries in the micro-district block, to be relocated to outside of the city; further, a new mix-used development, which is a typical development type in capitalist cities, will fill the gap. Similar types of transformation will unfold, albeit in distinct ways, in areas where informal development schemes arise. How does a new development interact with existing structures of the area? A significant difference between capitalist and socialist cities is "parcelization." Though its distribution of programs, there is no parcel system within a block in Pyongyang, whereas the parcel is the basic element that defines ownership in capitalist cities. However, like the notion of production-consumption within a block, the physical relationship between programs is very strong in Pyongyang. Thus, when a new parcel system is introduced for the sake of the market-oriented system, instead of just dividing parcel based on existing programs, the inter-relationship of programs should be carefully considered. For example, a parcel can be composed of both production facilities and residential lots, and it can be developed as a mixed-used program. This not only ensures the maintenance of the existing character of Pyongyang as a socialist city, but also makes possible gradual development within a block instead of a whole block scale development. In short, sixty years of socialist rule, twenty-first century Pyongyang is showing early signs of change, and the developments are nothing short of unprecedented. It will usher in new paradigms, a new economic system, and a new social structure. Therefore, a new structuring of Pyongyang is needed. There may be numerous strategies or scenarios to greet this new era of Pyongyang, and the scenario of incremental growth I have outlined is one I find particularly important. Pyongyang may or may not exhibit gradual growth patterns in the future. This scenario, however, takes into consideration the existing structures of Pyongyang and anticipates how they will be shaped by a new era.
Published in [UN] Precedented Pyongyang, 2017. This article originally appeared as Unprecedented Pyongyang on urbanNext. Springer, Chris. The hidden history of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, 2003. Kim, Won. Socialist Urban Planning, 2004. Kim, Youngkyu. Tong Il Han Kook, 1988. Faiola, Anthony. Washington Post, 2004. Haaussermann, Hartmut. From the socialist to the capitalist city: Experiences from Germany. Axenov, Konstantin; Brade, Isolde, and Bondarchuk, Evenij. The transformation of Urban Space in Post-Soviet Russia. Wu, Fulong; Xu, Jiang, and Gar-On Yeh, Anthony. Urban Development in Post-Reform China, State, Market, and Space.
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Coming September

Austin is getting its own "smart" street
Smart city technology is a burgeoning but embryonic field: Kansas City has its "Living Lab," New York City has its LinkNYC, and Toronto may get an entire Sidewalk Labs–developed smart city tech testing ground—and that's just to name a few. While each project is different, many involve using a network of sensors, wi-fi stations, and smartphone apps to better connect residents (and tourists) with local businesses, events, and public transportation. Now, Austin is joining this cadre of smart city testers. Austin CityUP Consortium—an alliance of businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations—is behind the Smart 2nd Street Living Lab, an effort to bring a similar smart city network to five blocks of Austin's 2nd Street. (The Lab will extend from Guadalupe Street to Trinity Street on 2nd Street, to be exact.) This system will, according to the Consortium, "collect [and] analyze data such as: pedestrian, traffic, sound, air quality, video, and more to determine safety, quality of life, and other needs." Helping to power this undertaking will be Connecthings, a French company that has already implemented similar technology in European cities such as Lyon and Barcelona, and even farther afield in Rio de Janeiro. How does it work? Generally, it goes like this: many already-existing apps benefit from knowing your location. If they know where you are, the apps can show you geographically-relevant information on local events, transit notifications, security alerts, etc. That's what Connecthings does: it deploys small battery-driven sensors and software that ensures location-specific information gets to the relevant apps on your phone. In the case of Austin, Connecthings is just providing elements of the software while BlueCats is deploying the beacons. Additionally, the Austin test won't initially involve apps—instead, when users with Bluetooh and Chrome approach certain bus stations, they will receive the option (in their notifications/widget panel) to connect to a location-specific URL. Selecting that URL will provide real-time bus schedules for that stop. This feature will be operational as soon as the sensors are installed in September. Down the line, as early as October, other apps will enable the project's full range of "use cases," which includes the ability to find open parking spots, locate alternative transportation options (e.g. ride-shares, public bicycles, taxis), receive wayfinding assistance, or learn about pop-ups and public art. Additionally, the city can use the sensors to record the street's environmental conditions and learn how people are using the streetscape itself. “Austin embraces new technologies that empower its citizens and visitors to get access to real-time information—hence facilitate daily life in helping navigating transportation services,” said Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO and founder of Connecthings. “AustinCityUP is Austin’s key innovation enabler that fosters partnerships and helps make an impact in the city, right away.” If successful, according to the Consortium, this network could extend beyond 2nd Street.