The City of Las Vegas could soon adopt a major new master plan for the next 20 plus years. City officials are considering an alternative to replace the current master plan, the Downtown Centennial Plan, that was adopted in 2000. The new 5.5 square mile plan for downtown Las Vegas envisions better connected downtown neighborhoods, transit-oriented development surrounding proposed transit and light rail stations, arts and culture districts, greened boulevards, parks, markets, and more. “The new master plan extends the boundaries of the focus area to include the Las Vegas Medical District on Charleston Boulevard; the historic West Las Vegas neighborhood; the area surrounding Cashman Center; and a quadrant south of the Fremont East entertainment district that city planners say is ripe for development,” writes the Las Vegas Sun. The area around the Cashman District is also getting attention, with ideas to create a mixed-use district by converting Cashman Field into a professional stadium while developing the surrounding property. The proposal pitches restaurants, community, and other public spaces alongside a variety of residential types (apartments, townhomes, duplexes, and condos). The city is working with local and regional consultants including Kubat Consulting, RTKL Associates, The Integral Group, Fehr and Peers, among others. The planning process started over a year and a half ago, in October 2014. Two weeks ago, officials presented the master plan to the Las Vegas Planning Commission for discussion. On May 18, the Las Vegas City Council will vote on the plan. If adopted, Las Vegas city planners are expected to prepare an implementation plan by December 2016, helping to smooth the transition between the current and proposed plans. No word yet on a budget or funding sources.
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As many baby boomers are reaching retirement, many think we need to have more of those important end-of-life discussions. There’s The Conversation Project, and as of this year, Medicare is now reimbursing discussions about near-death medical care. But what about the permanence of our cemeteries? How will urban areas—with increasing land shortages and rising urban populations—address, preserve, maintain, finance, update, and develop these spaces? Our cemeteries were some of the first public urban green spaces in the United States, serving as refuges from city life. But perhaps more so than other urban public parks, they are layered with a complex web of social, political, cultural, and environmental issues. “As the meeting point between the living and the dead, cemeteries are peculiarly fraught ground. That makes them easy for cities to ignore,” writes Next City. “Crime, environmental problems, historic preservation, social class, religious traditions, and the thorny legacy of who is included in cities, and who is not, all come crashing together in urban cemeteries.” Beyond traditional land burials, cremation is popular. Some are proposing vertical or skyscraper cemeteries. And then there are eternal reefs, cryonics, and composting. But in Austin, Texas—a city with one of the highest concentrations of millennials in America—urban planners and city officials are attempting to tackle the issues of future cemetery planning and historic preservation head-on. The city is proposing a top-down approach with its first-ever cemetery master plan that spans five urban cemeteries. The report outlines maintenance plans—a key part is improving drainage to prevent flooding–as well as developing outreach services to local residents. One idea Austin is proposing is columbariums: vertical funeral niches that would hold funeral urns. Voters approved a $2 million bond to begin the cemeteries' capital improvements in 2012, but the city will need to further address funding. Up for some historical reading? Here’s a 1950 report on city cemeteries from the American Planning Association’s Planning Advisory Committee.
This summer, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) launched a new master plan, whose concepts build on a strategic plan begun in 2012 to anticipate future changes and transform the way students interact and learn through the campus's built form. Questions raised included: "How will art and design pedagogy change and how will this impact space needs?" and "How do we build new models of sharing and collaboration?" To carry this out the school is exploring renovations, new buildings, and other physical changes at close to a dozen sites around campus over the next twenty years. It's also reinforcing its commitment to studio-based learning, and strengthening its connection to Downtown Providence and the Providence River. The first facilities to open (this fall) under the new plan are the school's Illustration Studies Building (ISB), a combination of new and renovated spaces, Co-Works, a collaborative digital maker lab in Downtown Providence, and 189 Canal, a renovated building for RISD Apparel, the school's fashion design program. Co-Works, a 3,000 square foot storefront space in Downtown Providence (169 Weybosset Street) encourages interactive fabrication by students in most of the school's departments. The space, formerly a bar in the RISD-owned Fletcher Building, was stripped to its core and re-imagined by Providence-based Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels. It contains, among other things, equipment for 3d printing, 3d scanning, CNC cutters, vacuum forming machines, foam cutters, industrial sewing machines. Often usual processes get "hacked" into something completely new, as students rethink how to use software and hardware. "The idea of having a glass artists seeing something a furniture designer or architect is doing is exciting around the circle. It’s become a wonderful lab for innovation," said new RISD President Rosanne Somerson. "To create a space that encourages more crossover was more important than locating these machines in individual departments." ISB, designed by RISD alum Ed Wojcik, updates and reconfigures one of the oldest (and outdated) buildings on campus into 43,500 square feet of advanced studio, classroom, gallery and home space. This includes a five-story, 5,600 square foot addition that opens up each floor and allows for several new facilities. Enlarged and revamped studios are flexible not just physically but digitally, as light colors, for instance, can be set for different types of classes. The renovation of 189 Canal includes new studio, teaching, and classroom space for RISD Apparel students. The formerly-vacant 20,000 square foot building provides much-needed teaching and studio space for an apartment that was formerly housed in the school's Auditorium Building. Responding directly to the master plan's requests, the clearing of that space provided more room for Foundation Studies studios, a computer lab, a general use seminar room, and studios and offices for Film/Animation/Video. "Rather than approaching this from the perspective of a building brief, we're look at what can happen here, and what adjacencies can encourage collaboration," said new RISD President Rosanne Somerson of the master plan. "How can the physical space also activate the curricular space?"
As plans to makeover Chicago’s Lathrop Homes become more clear, debate becomes more heated over whether the development team has the storied development’s best interests in mind. Twelve years after the Chicago Housing Administration announced its intention to overhaul the 1930s housing projects, the fate of the site remains unclear. Lathrop Community Partners—a team counting among its partners Related Midwest, Studio Gang Architects, Wolff Landscape Associates, Farr Associates, bKL, and Bauer Latoza Studio— revealed a draft master plan [PDF] this month that aimed for compromise between restoration and scaling up. At a community meeting Tuesday night residents pressed the design team to offer more affordable housing, but it appears the ratio of market rate to public housing remains firm. The plan calls for 1,208 residential units on the 32-acre property—504 market-rate units, 400 public-housing residences, 212 affordable homes, and 92 for senior citizen public housing residents. It also includes 752 parking spaces with 259 more on the street. With parks, greenspace, and a landscaped riverwalk, the plan apparently consolidates Lathrop’s celebrated design elements. Taller buildings south of Diversey Avenue would raise property values nearby, but the stepped-up development doesn’t sit well with those who would like to see the renewal of this historic housing project do more for low-income residents.