The Holy City of Jerusalem is known for its hilly geography and the narrow, winding roads that delineate distinct Jewish, Arab and Christian neighborhoods. The city fabric nonetheless requires both visitors and residents to cross borders, whether to see various holy sites or to get to the market. Ronnie Ellenblum, a sociology professor at Hebrew University, describes this Old City layout as requiring “that you pass through all sorts of places before you reach your destination, mingling, feeling lost, ultimately finding yourself.” However, this feeling of self-discovery in the Old City is set to be altered; Israeli authorities have approved plans for a cable car system that would fly visitors high above the city skyline, with lines corresponding specifically to Jewish heritage pilgrimage routes. While Moshe Safdie, the renowned Israeli-born architect, calls the project “A total outrage against a fragile city,” as well as “An aesthetic and architectural affront,” the criticisms go far deeper than just the unimaginatively modern glass-and-steel aesthetics. The locations for stations, and the sites and neighborhoods set to be serviced, boil down to be controversial choices from all angles within the context of the Holy City. Right-wing Israeli leaders have hailed the concept as a sustainable solution to the problems of vehicular traffic in the city, congested by ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims and tourists. However, the current cable car plan curates a certain "City of David" program over the city, as large-scale urban planning and transportation has the power to fundamentally change how cities are traversed and dictate what people see, how they see it, and how it's remembered. The plan includes a standard station architecture of raised glass boxes that would rest on pylons at high points and hills, beginning in a Jewish neighborhood, swooping downwards towards Mount Zion, and finally landing at the Western Wall. The new transit system would fundamentally alter the visual experience of the ancient city, juxtaposing the low yellowed-brick walls with the ubiquitous international glass box aesthetic, rising high above them and crisscrossing the streetscape. The architect of the station, Mendy Rosenfeld, believes it’s a matter of taste and execution, but also admits that “there is no way you can hide a cable car system.” Rosenfeld and supporters of the design cite I.M. Pei’s famous pyramid at the Louvre, and specifically the backlash the design received in advance of its international recognition. Yet Paris is not the crossroads of three major religions. While Israeli governments have historically been hypersensitive to aesthetic changes to the city, the current body is taking a more progressive stance towards the built environment. With approvals for 40-story skyscrapers as well as a new office park, it seems like city officials are interested in keeping up with other rapidly growing commercial cities. But the choices in taste and architectural style continue to dominate not just architecture conversations, but international politics. Whether it’s traditional Jewish West Jerusalem cladding or shiny glass-and-steel pavilions, the choices in how the world sees and experiences the built environment today have implications far beyond form and function.
Posts tagged with "cable car":
The Blagoveshchensk–Heihe Cable Car, designed by Dutch-firm UNstudio, will be the first-ever cross-border cable car. The project will be built across the Amur River allowing passengers to easily move between Russia and China. The Blagoveshchensk–Heihe Cable Car includes two international lines and four cabins, and each car will have the capacity to carry 60 passengers plus luggage. The total trip will take approximately seven-and-a-half minutes total, while actual travel time from station-to-station will be three-and-a-half minutes. The project is backed by Strelka KB, a Russian-based urban-planning and strategy consultancy. Following a vision round involving 12 practices, UNstudio was selected as the winning team from a competition to design the cross-border cable car. Strelka KB was also responsible for developing the economic and functional model of the cable car terminal. UNstudio has also designed the terminal station in the city of Blagoveshchensk, Russia while the architect of the station in Heihe, China has yet to be announced. The terminal is designed to reference the historic connection between the two cities that are separated by the Amur River. When the river ices over in the winter, it has historically become a link that supports trade, commerce, and social relationships between the otherwise unconnected areas. The building will feature views of both cities, as a “beacon” for joint prosperity. The public roof terrace will overlook the river towards Heihe, and framed views of Blagoveshchensk greet passengers at the arrival platform. Likening the design to an “air bridge,” Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio, stated "This context provided rich inspiration for the Blagoveshchensk terminal station, which not only responds to its immediate urban location, but also becomes an expression of cultural identity and a podium for the intermingling of cultures." Cable cars have recently become more popular as a transportation solution. Van Berkel believes that these systems, “provide a new form of public transport that is sustainable, extremely fast, reliable and efficient.” In Oakland, BIG has proposed gondola-like cars to connect the Oakland A’s stadium to public transportation. Before winning the Blagoveshchensk–Heihe competition, UNstudio proposed two other designs for cable car systems in Gothenburg and Amsterdam.
The Walt Disney Company has revealed renderings of a gondola system that's slated to connect its Florida theme parks and resorts. With stations custom-designed around the theme of each property, the Disney Skyliner will connect Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century resorts to the International Gateway at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The Epcot station design, for example, will draw on the art nouveau style of the park's nearby pavilions, while the art deco–revival Hollywood Studios station will align with that park's main entrance and bus stations. According to the company, some cabin exteriors will be covered in Disney characters "to give the appearance that a Disney pal is riding along with guests." The project was announced back in July, although the construction timeline has not been announced yet. This is not the only gondola project sweeping onto the boards right now. New York– and Oslo-based Snøhetta is designing a cable car that will ferry riders to the top of Italy's Virgolo Mountain, while London's Marks Barfield Architects and New York's Davis Brody Bond are behind a Chicago gondola proposal that would show off the city's architectural heritage.
Toronto's Don Valley could be set for a cable car network connecting the downtown district to the greener area around Evergreen Brick Works. The project has private backing from a Swiss-Canadian company. Steven Dale, CEO of Bullwheel International Cable Car, sees the scheme as bridging the gap for the last leg of the journey to get to the Brick Works, which is currently only accessible via a shuttle bus on public transport or by personal vehicle. According to Next City, the Brick Works sees 500,000 visitors arrive each year by car. The added infrastructure could potentially boost the local farmers market and see an increase in use at the children's garden and event areas as well the general area itself which offers a welcome break from urban life with parks and trails. Going over, rather than around or under, appears to be the preferred solution for swift access to the environmental center that is awkwardly sprawled across one of Toronto's ravines. Dale argues that the proposal isn't about developing infrastructure. He maintains that the cable car's primary function would be recreational, viewed and used as a civic landmark, able to offer views over the ravine. The system would also see no state interference, being privately run and funded. Dale hypothesizes that a journey would cost around $10 to non-locals with the entire scheme estimated at requiring $25 million to fund. As for the network itself, six towers, constructed on state land across the ravine will allow up to 42 cable cars to travel back and forth, travelling from the Brick Works in Don Valley down to Playter Gates in Downtown. The company added that each gondola would come tooled with a bike rack to facilitate cyclists as well as other measures being in place to accommodate disabled access. "I don’t know why we’d reject any means of getting people around," Dale said. “We’re trying to come to grips with what kinds of ways we can provide people greater access to the ravines without being too obtrusive … The concept of a cable car that goes through some land that is beautiful and scenic is very appealing." Despite the audacious scheme, no planning proposals have yet been submitted to the city authorities. That said, the Don Valley Cable Car project will host a meeting on March 8 by the proposed station location at Broadway and Danforth to provide further information to locals.
Snøhetta brings a touch of modern design to the old cable car with this winning gondola in the Italian Alps
Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has been selected as the winner of a competition to design a cable car that will take visitors to the top of Virgolo Mountain, near Bolzano, Italy, for the first time in 40 years. The mountain has been practically inaccessible since the city closed its historic cable railway in 1976. The new cable car transit system will take visitors to the top in just one minute. The design is based on two rings. One forms the base station, the other the top station, while the cable connects tangentially. It makes the summit just a five minute trip from the city center. The new cable car also interacts with the city via a landscape at the end of the Südtirolerstraße, which brings nature into the city. At the top, a restaurant, café, infinity pool, and meeting rooms with views of the city and surrounding countryside are also planned. "Mountain Square" at the top the Virgolo will be an open space for everything from open-air markets to concerts. The project is currently displayed in the showroom of department store Bozen Bolzano in the Palais Menz in Bolzano Mustergasse.
Cleveland's lakefront attractions and downtown have long been estranged neighbors, not easily accessed from one another without a car. The city and Cuyahoga County plan to fix that, offering a 900-foot bridge for pedestrians and bicycles that will hop over railroad tracks and The Shoreway, a lakefront highway built in the 1930s. The $25 million bridge takes off from the downtown Mall, touching down between the I.M. Pei–designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center, designed by Boston's E. Verner Johnson. Another Bostonian is heading up design duties for the new bridge. Miguel Rosales' firm Rosales Partners hatched three design schemes with the help of Parsons Brinckerhoff. The final design has not been selected, and regional officials say it will come down to community input. Construction is expected to begin May 2015, wrapping up by June 2016. But before that, public authorities are seeking comment from the bridge's eventual users by hosting a free public meeting from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, in the County Council chambers on the fourth floor of the county administration building, 2079 East Ninth Street, Cleveland. All the options are visually striking. Whether suspension, cable-stayed, or arched, the bone-white bridge wends through renderings made public last week, framing the Cleveland Browns' lakeside FirstEnergy Stadium. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt wrote, the bridge fulfills a longtime goal of planners and urbanists in northeast Ohio:
Creating a bridge from the Mall to North Coast Harbor and lakefront attractions including the Rock Hall has been something of a holy grail in Cleveland city planning for nearly two decades. Yet until now, the city has been unable to mobilize support and fund the project. The city failed three times in recent years to win a federal grant for the project under the TIGER program, short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.But now, Litt wrote, the city and county each agreed to kick in $10 million, which led the state to close the $5 million gap. A 2013 city-county partnership and the news that Cleveland would host the next Republican National Convention apparently provided the incentive they needed to take on the project, which officials said will be complete by the convention in 2016. The three design options are as follows: The suspension bridge option: The cable-stayed option: The arch option:
Shifting Skyline. London's famed skyline may be getting an addition, and it's not a new building. The Architect's Journal tells us that Mayor Boris Johnson recently approved a plan by architects Wilkinson Eyre and Expedition Engineering for a proposed cable car system designed to link two key 2012 Olympic venues, the O2 Stadium and the Excel Exhibition Hall. NYC's Youngest Landmark. The New York Times City Room blog reports that NYC has four new landmarks: the Engineer's Club, the Neighborhood Playhouse, Greyston Gatehouse and the Japan Society, which having been completed in 1971, makes it the youngest of the city's historic landmarked structures. Red Hook North. Meanwhile NYT Magazine reports that Red Hook developer Greg O’Connell hopes to do for tiny Mt. Morris, NY what he did for a slice of once-decrepit Brooklyn waterfront. Will the former NYPD detective's progressive form of gentrification and downtown revitalization work in an ailing upstate town? Onion domes in Paris. Inhabitat shares the news that the Russians are coming to Paris, in the form of a new domed church and cultural center. Situated near the Eiffel Tower, this new structure is the result of bi-national collaboration from the architects at Arch-Group and Sade Sa.