[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] Cycling through the small towns of Idaho and Montana provides useful lessons for the English visitor about the growth of settlements in the US and allows interesting comparisons with the development of urban structure in Britain. While we in the UK have high streets, they are a very different sort of place to main streets. English settlements often developed around market squares, their structure defined by the relationship between the church and the ‘big house’ occupied by the feudal landlord as well as topographical features and land ownership. The main streets of places we have cycled through in the last couple of weeks clearly grew up initially to service the needs of the traveller and retained their preeminence in the urban fabric because of the ubiquitous grid plan—a form promoted by Penn because he beleived it would prevent the outbreaks of fire and disease that bedevilled European cities in the 16th and 17th centuries. So as we followed the Lewis and Clark trail we came to towns like Kamiah, once the winter home of the Native-American tribe Nez Perce and now a tourist center with a main street remodelled along Western/Victorian theme. The wide main street is the heart of the place lined with two-story buildings with cut-out profiles that, to the tourist look as though they should be fronted with a board walk and somewhere to hitch your horse. We visited Bozeman, Montana. A look at the map confirms Main Street’s preeminence among city’s streets. We had been told of Bozeman’s hippy/liberal tendencies, largely on the basis that it is a university town. However the impression from Main Street was that this was a well-to-do town with its buildings in good repair, its shops and restaurants prosperous and an almost European intensity of street use with cyclists, pedestrians and cafe tables on the sidewalk. One American architect in the party—now working in London—described the look of Bozeman as "art directed" with its neat brickwork, refurbished buildings and tasteful color palette. The following day we cycled up Main Street in Reed Point—the home of the Great Montana Sheep Drive, past a tumble down bar that boasted "Indians and mountain men welcome here" and were accosted by a local who believed all cyclists to be dangerous lefties. Being British was even worse: “Why don’t you commies go to Iraq or Iran instead of coming here?” When it was suggested that the United Kingdom was not a communist state, the riposte was “No guns - no freedom!” Nothing of the sort, of course, happened when we went through Missoula. Described by the locals as a "spot of blue in a sea of red," it certainly had more of a hippy feel to it than Bozeman, less art directed, with buskers on the streets and offers of grass outside bars in the evening. Most importantly for us it is the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association who provide excellent information for long distance riders, particularly those going across the continent. The cycling provision in the center of town was fair enough, with bike lanes and a path along the Clark Fork River. However, in the outer areas the infrastructure for cyclists was non-existent with some of the most dangerous conditions we have yet encountered.
Posts tagged with "Cycling":
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run. This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.
An avid cyclist plans to bring his passion for bike racing to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Joshua Rechnitz announced Thursday that his nonprofit, the New York City Fieldhouse, will build a $40 million multi-purpose recreation center on the inland edge of the park bordering the BQE. Now occupied by a deteriorating industrial building used for storage by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the new facility designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners will include a modern velodrome along with space for a variety of other recreational activities. Architects have not begun designing the 115,000 square foot Fieldhouse, but the facility is expected to blend well with Michael Van Valkenburgh's surrounding landscape. The roof, which will be visible from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade above, is expected to become a signature design element and the structure will aim for LEED certification. Inside, the velodrome's 200-meter inclined track will dominate the space, but basketball, tennis, volleyball, and gymnastics will also be accommodated. Seating for nearly 2,500 people will be provided around the bike track. Maintenance areas and public restrooms for park visitors will also be provided. Besides competitive racing, the Fieldhouse will also offer the community cycling lessons, classes, and amateur races. Operations are expected to be self-funding. City officials and Brooklyn Bridge Park representatives praised the plans for bringing a year-round use to the park. “We want this to truly be a community endeavor that will add amenities for park users and provide a much needed all-weather sports facility,” Rechnitz said in a statement. A series of public meetings with the community will be scheduled to help guide the project forward and, pending review, construction could begin within a year and a half.
Cinema Pedal-iso. In London, you now have an alternative to the typical energy-consuming movie theater. The Cycle-In Cinema (led by a non-profit education project called Magnificent Revolution) allows you to to plug your bike into a generator, hop on, and start pedaling away for an entirely human-powered movie experience. More at Inhabitat. Reading Rem. Rem has a new book written with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist all about Japanese modernism. To be released this November, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks… documents "the first non-Western avantgarde movement in architecture" from post-war Tokyo in the 1960s and includes rare images from Manchuria to Tokyo, snapshots of the Metabolists at work and play, and architectural models. An advance preview and signing is coming up soon at the TASCHEN book store. Branding a Protest. The NY Times' Seymour Chwast draws attention to Occupy Wall Street's lack of a logo. As the demonstrations gain momentum, Chwast said now is a perfect time to consider branding, suggesting a 19th-century, cigar-smoking baron. Creativity Worldcup. Has the Gross National Product outlived its usefulness in determining the success of nations? Over at The Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida has compiled a list of top cities using his Global Creativity Index ranking global economic competitiveness and prosperity. According to the GCI, which evaluates and ranks 82 nations on the three "T's" (Technology, Talent, and Tolerance), the U.S. ranks second only to Sweden, the world-champion of creativity.
Thinkin' Lincoln. IBM is taking over the Lincoln Center through October 23rd with one of the biggest interactive technology exhibits in the city: IBM Think Exhibit. Highlights include the 123-feet long "data wall" and a forest of 40 seven-foot media panels. More at Inhabitat. Bronx Beauty. The New York Times' new archi-critic, Michael Kimmelman, has penned his first review, shying away from the iconic, gleaming projects of his predecessor, instead beginning with Via Verde affordable housing in the South Bronx, which may help him demonstrate that quality trumps quantity, especially in moral debates of architecture. Biking Sacrifice. Atlantic Cities reported that cyclists in urban environments might want to be wary of cars for more than just accident risks: harmful automobile emissions create a hazard for cyclists as well. According to new research, bikers inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians do in the same trip.
Los Angeles is a great city for architecture. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to breeze past landmarks inside our cars with barely a moment’s notice. A group of young designers and cyclists in LA are looking to slow you down and up your appreciation level by setting up regular free bicycle tours to some of the city’s most iconic architectural sights. Architectural sightseeing is not a new concept, said Brian Janeczko. He organizes BikeHaus, a tour that mostly concentrates on mid-century-modern residential homes by the likes of Lautner, Ellwood, Eames, Schindler and Wright. A newcomer to LA in 2006, Janeczko discovered bicycling after suffering through long work commutes between Pasadena and Echo Park. In the process, he also found the now-dormant RIDE-Arc, a monthly social ride started by a group of SCI-Arc grads. He loved the concept so much that, when things started slowing down for RIDE-Arc, Janeczko continued the tradition in his own style. “I just wanted to engage architecture, see things that I wanted to see, and engage with a small group of people,” said Janeczko, who works as lead fabricator and project manager at experimental design studio Materials and Applications. Janeczko said that appreciating architecture on two wheels is a totally different state of mind than riding your car. “You work really hard to see something special [when biking]. When you get there, you’re a bit out of breath and in a state of euphoria.” Which is exactly how he wants it. Since starting in January 2009, BikeHaus has taken an average of twelve people a ride. While Janeczko has more modern tastes, James Black, Garrett Belmont, Kyle Pfister, and Branden Ushijima err on the more fun and futuristic side of modern with regular rides to Googie coffee shops. “There really aren’t that many [great Googie examples] left, there used to be thousands across the country and now they’re only a handful left in the city. Combining it with a bike ride seemed like a great way to take advantage of that while they’re still here,” said Black, a Googie enthusiast and also principal of design firm Architecture Burger. Every month this year, the Googie Coffee Shops Bicycle Ride series takes riders from The Village Green (where three of the four organizers live) to their Googie coffee shop of choice. Expect a ride, a good breakfast, and lively conversation. “Architecture, bicycles, and food, they’re all three great systems which we can enjoy our city,” said Black. It’s also a way to cross-pollinate cyclists with designers, said Pfister. “It exposes different groups to other groups. There are serious cyclists that you end up exposing to a new way of thinking and looking at the city. Then, you’ve got the architecture aficionados, who suddenly discover how fun it is to ride bikes and actually ride them for a reason, not just to bomb down to the beach on the weekends.” Needless to say, everyone is welcome at both of these rides. Contact BikeHaus (their next ride is Sept 17) at email@example.com. Sign up for updates on Googie rides (the next ride is August 27) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Boom. Blair Kamin takes a look at the sustainability of two billowing icons in Chicago and New York. Studio Gang's Aqua Tower is going for LEED certification while Frank Gehry's New York tower will not seek the USGBC's approval but claims to be green nonetheless. Kamin notes the importance of such moves, saying of Gehry: "What he, in particular, does--or doesn't do--can have enormous influence, not simply on architects but on developers." Trolley Boom. NPR has a piece on the explosion of streetcars across the country with planned or completed systems in over a dozen cities. Bike Boom. Cycling advocate Elly Blue discusses a new study on Grist stating that bikes deserve their own infrastructure independent from autos. And not just a striped bike lane, Blue notes, but separated lanes called "cycle tracks" like one installed along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West. Soane Boom. The Independent reports on a planned renovation to the Sir John Soane Museum in London, that architect's treasure trove of antiquities and architectural memorabilia from across the world. Plans include opening up a new floor that hasn't been open to the public since Soane died in 1837.