Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":

Placeholder Alt Text

Pringle-shaped velodrome proposed for Philadelphia

When we talk about cities boosting bike infrastructure, we’re typically talking about adding bike lanes and launching, or expanding, bike share. Building a multi-million dollar velodrome for high-speed, Olympic-style, indoor track racing isn’t typically part of that equation. But it now is in Philadelphia. Shortly after Mayor Nutter created the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board to help make the city a world-class cycling destination, he has thrown his support behind a private plan to build a $100 million velodrome inside FDR Park. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that if the city hands over four acres of public parkland for the project, the arena’s organizers would provide between $5 million and $15 million in improvements for the rest of the 384-acre park. They would also create a four-acre replacement park. While the plan, titled Project 250, may sound like a subterranean, missile silo hidden somewhere in Nevada, it would actually bring a prominent architectural statement to Philadelphia. The Sheward Partnership has drawn up plans for the velodrome which would be a swooping, parabolic structure with a 55-foot-high roof. The building, with its lifted entrances, can perhaps best be described as Pringle-like or at least, Pringle-ish. Since velodrome cycling isn’t necessarily all that popular in the U.S., the 6,000-seat arena would be also programmed with concerts, and tennis and volleyball matches. Organizers told the Inquirer that it would be open to the public 80 percent of the time, and that amateur cyclists could buy hourly memberships. There would also be a classroom to teach free track-racing to low-income teens. Before any bikes can hit the track, however, Project 250 needs to be approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission, the Historical & Art Commission, and the City Council.
Placeholder Alt Text

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh up their bike game

With bikeshare launching in Philadelphia next year, Mayor Nutter is taking significant steps toward boosting cycling throughout the city. NewsWorks reported that the mayor recently signed an executive order to create the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board, which will advise him on implementing smart bike policy. This would include "[fostering] volunteer efforts that promote cycling and maintain cycling trails; encourage private sector support of cycling, especially among Philadelphia employers; and promote national and international races in Philadelphia to attract the most elite cyclists to compete in the city." Despite joining the bikeshare game pretty late, Philly routinely ranks as one of the country's most bike-friendly cities. AN recently reported that out of 70 large cities in America, Philadelphia has the 10th highest percentage of residents that commute by bike. Right behind Philadelphia is another Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh, which is experiencing nothing short of a surge in bike commuting. Using Census Bureau data, the League of American Bicyclists found that bike commuting in the Steel City grew over 400 percent between 2000 and 2013. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants to build on this, and has made increasing bicycle infrastructure one of his major priorities. "We got into the game late," he recently told Streetsblog, "we did our first three [protected bike lanes] in six months, though. And we're looking to do the first five miles in two years." These new lanes, he added, will become part of a "highway system for bikes." With this new infrastructure, and the city's impending launch of a bikeshare program, Peduto said Pittsburgh will "leapfrog" other cities when it comes to bicycling and livability. "We're not going to be able to settle at just being able to play catchup, we want to catch up and then go ahead," he said. Game on.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pittsburgh, Washington, Buffalo lead nation in growth of bicycle commuters

Portland still dominates the American Community Survey ranking the 70 largest cities with the highest share of bike commuters, but the list shakes up some preconceptions when you count which cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013. The League of American Bicyclists runs the numbers every year, pulling data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. This year's bike culture report card, as it were, has Portland, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New Orleans topping its list of bicycle commuters as a percentage of total population. In total 13 cities report more than 2 percent of their population biking to and from work. Growth in that number is more startling. They're small overall numbers, perhaps inflating the percent change figure, but the growth since 1990 for eight cities is over 100 percent. The following cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013:
Placeholder Alt Text

Letter to the Editor> Golden Age of Rail

[Editor's Note: The following comment was left at archpaper.com in reference to John Gendall’s feature article on multi-modal transit hubs (“The Golden Ticket” AN 07_08.06.2914_MW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] The original design of all grand U.S. railroad stations fit the architectural design foundation “form follows function.” Unfortunately the years have not been kind to these railroad stations. Real estate developers have coveted the rail yard property for non-transportation development. In some cases these rail yards have yielded to interstates, highways, and streets. This has transformed the depot (waiting room, ticket offices, etc.) into just “a nice old building that used to serve the traveling public.” Denver is a prime example of a real estate grab. A beautifully designed rail yard gave way to developers interests. Look at the Google Maps satellite view. Transportation design was an obvious afterthought. The rail yard is stubbed, necessitating a time-consuming backup move for any train, namely Amtrak’s California Zephyr, using the original waiting room. Any future Front Range development will also require a backup. The light rail system is tucked away, far from the grand original structure. The wispy “Sidney-Opera-House-Denver” platform cover design is curious. It stands in stark contrast to the architectural elements of the original depot. A Google image search of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station does not reveal the austere feel purported in this article. What it may need is just a spit and polish rehabilitation. Those who want to remodel the structure seem to stand arrogantly. They claim the original designs were flawed and that somehow modern architects and planners can do a better job. So, will Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station become another depot from the grand era of passenger rail to fall to the modern architect? If the regal designs of the past are too ostentatious, then an entirely new depot should be constructed. The old should be left undisturbed until a new generation of architects discovers that their great grandfathers knew better how to design transportation facilities. Evan Stair Executive Director Passenger Rail Oklahoma
Placeholder Alt Text

New report predicts huge spike in tidal flooding for coastal communities

It had been a few days—maybe even weeks—since we’d seen a new report about the devastating impacts of climate change, but, as expected, that short streak has ended. The latest end-of-the-world-type report comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and let’s just say there’s a reason these scientists are so concerned. Their report, Encroaching Tides, found that the frequency of tidal floods in coastal areas will increase dramatically over the next 15 to 30 years. In some areas, that could mean flooding more than once a week. And it gets worse down the road. According to the report, in 2045, Philadelphia could experience over 200 tidal floods a year, Miami could have 250, and Washington, D.C. could reach 400. For context, D.C. currently has around 50 tidal floods a year. The report presents four key strategies for cities to boost their resiliency: upgrade at-risk infrastructure, stop building in vulnerable areas, consider benefits and risks of adaptation measures, and to develop a long-term vision. [h/t CityLab]
Placeholder Alt Text

DesignPhiladelphia celebrates its first decade with city-wide design festival

DesignPhiladelphia is hosting its annual fundraiser, PopUp Place, tonight in celebration of its first ten years and to kick off a nine-day, design-focused festival in the city. The fundraiser will include a silent auction that includes work from artists and architects including KieranTimberlake. PopUp Place is being hosted by digital agency Bluecadet in its new, 8,400-square-foot office and studio in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood. And starting tomorrow is DesignPhiladelphia’s “A Decade of Design” festival which will feature 120 events at museums, galleries, boutiques, public spaces, and warehouses across the city. The PopUp Place fundraiser is tonight from 6:00–8:00p.m. at Bluecadet at 1526 Frankford Avenue. For more information on the fundraiser and festival visit DesignPhiladelphia’s website.
Placeholder Alt Text

New round of TIGER Grants goes out to cities and states

The federal Department of Transportation has issued its latest round of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for cities and states around the country. The grant program was created in 2009 through President Obama’s economic stimulus package and has since provided $3.5 billion to 270 projects. While the DOT has not officially announced the recipients of these new grants, which total $600 million, multiple politicians have been touting the money heading to their districts. Here are some of the projects we know about so far. In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York City Department of Transportation will receive $25 million for its Vision Zero agenda to reduce pedestrian fatalities. According to the city, the money will fund 13 projects aimed at traffic calming, safety improvements in school zones, new public spaces, and “pedestrian and bike connections to employment centers.” Specifically, the money will be used to extend the Brooklyn Greenway and make 4th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn safer to pedestrians. In Philadelphia, $2.5 million has been awarded to support the city’s effort to create a bus rapid transit system along Roosevelt Boulevard. “Planned developments on Roosevelt Boulevard include modifications to provide safe pedestrian crossings, transit access, and effective separation of express traffic from local traffic accessing neighborhood destinations,” Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said in a statement. In Virginia, U.S. Senator Mark Warner announced that nearly $25 million has been allocated for a bus rapid transit system in the city of Richmond. The Times Dispatch reported that for this project to happen, the federal money must be matched with about $17 million from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and another $8 million from Henrico County and the City of Richmond. In St. Louis, $10 million will go towards a new Metrolink station in the city’s emerging Cortex innovation district. The funding will cover almost all of the $13 million project which is expected to be complete in 2017. On the other side of the state, in Kansas City, $1.2 million has been awarded for the Mid-America Regional Council’s Workforce Connex planning to study to better connect the city’s workers with public transit.
Placeholder Alt Text

Ribbon cut at Philadelphia's revamped Dilworth Park

Earlier today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter cut the ribbon on Dilworth Park—a new 120,000-square-foot public space next to City Hall. OLIN led the $55 million renovation of the site which now includes an expansive lawn, a café, new trees and seating, and a nearly 12,000-square-foot fountain that converts into an ice skating rink in the winter. The fountain also doubles—rather triples—as a canvas for renowned artist Janet Echelman's latest installation. "The serpentine form is meant as an abstract representation of the subways moving deep below the park," explained Inga Saffron in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Each time a train pulls in, colored light and puffs of mist will pulse along the sinuous path, symbolizing the constant movement of the city's transit infrastructure." The site’s most notable features, though, are likely the two KieranTimberlake-designed glass headhouses that rise out of the plaza providing an architectural flourish and better access points to the trains below.
Placeholder Alt Text

Refined Peter Gluck–designed tower to break ground in Philly early next year

Plans for a 17-story tower at 205 Race Street in Philadelphia are back on track, but what will rise at the vacant site appears to be significantly more restrained than what was first envisioned. In 2012, Peter Gluck, then of Peter Gluck and Partners, unveiled dramatic renderings for a tower that had a facade clad in panels that seemed to disappear as they rose up an increasingly glassy exterior skin. The building, which sits adjacent to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, had ground-floor retail and was separated into two distinct volumes by a two-story cutout that opened up about fifty feet above the street. That plan was almost unanimously rejected by the Old City Civic Association. As PhillyMag reported earlier this summer, Peter Gluck, at the renamed GLUCK+, updated the tower’s design and the project's developer, Brown Hill, brought it before the Civic Design Review Committee. While the structure’s massing is roughly the same, its facade has been significantly toned down; it is now wrapped in two types of metal panels and plenty of glass (a spokesperson for GLUCK+ told AN that the design is still in the development phase). The plan was approved by the committee and the project is expected to break ground early next year. It includes 148 rental apartments (20 more than in the first proposal), nearly 15,000 square feet for commercial use, and an 8,000-square-foot roof terrace. As PlanPhilly noted, 205 Race Street will be the first residential building in the city to get a density bonus for including affordable units—10 percent of the building will be designated affordable.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Letter to the Editor> Motor City Mouthful

[Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to the editorial “Motoring Toward Destruction?” (AN 08_06.05.2014), which parsed the wisdom of Detroit’s blight removal program.Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ] I’m failing to find a thesis in here, other than wholesale demolition = bad, which is something we’re well aware of. Other considerations that weren’t even mentioned in this are aspects of public safety (arson and the use of dilapidated structures in which to commit crimes, peddle drugs, etc.) and the question of revenue (clearing blighted structures for redevelopment). The article even mentions that of the 80,000 blighted structures, we’re attempting to save more than half. I further take issue with some of the language in here. “In its panic to save itself…” There are issues here, the scope and depth of which are truly terrible. I’d love to have the author come to Detroit so we could show him some of what, as he puts it, we’re so panicked about. Mac Farr Data and Financial Manager City of Detroit
Placeholder Alt Text

Gehry on his Philadelphia Museum of Art commission and his future nautical plans

When Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete, the iconic institution won’t necessarily look like one of his signature works—at least from the outside. The architect isn't touching the icon's Beaux-Arts exterior, but is, instead, transforming the museum’s interior to improve circulation and boost gallery space. But even then, Gehry’s work won’t be all that “Gehry.” AN recently toured the museum’s exhibit on Gehry’s masterplan and got a chance to hear from the man himself about the museum renovations. On the tour, Gehry explained how he reimagined the building’s interior with a distinctive signature, but one that is inspired by the building’s DNA. “I think if it’s built, you’ll know somebody like me was here,” he said. This renovation has been a long time coming. And it will be a long time still before it's finally realized. The idea to update the museum was born in the 1990s and completing Gehry’s entire overhaul could take 10–15 years more. “If they wait five years, I’ll be 90,” Gehry said. “So for me, get going.” Given his age, and his storied career, AN asked Gehry about what else he wants to accomplish. “I’m so superstitious,” he said before explaining that he wants to increase his involvement in arts education. He mentioned his participation in the Turnaround Arts initiative—a presidential program, which aims to close the achievement gap through arts and music education. He told a story about going into a school in California and teaching kids how to plan and imagine cities. Gehry added that children are often marginalized in “ghetto schools.” “That’s what I’m interested in, that kind of stuff," said Gehry. "I am also designing a sailboat." Which, of course seems entirely appropriate given his predilection for sailing. He does, after all, already own a boat called FOGGY, which stands for his initials: Frank Owen Gehry. These days, it seems, every starchitect needs a boat in his or her oeuvre. Hear that Zaha and Norman? Frank will see you at the regatta.
Placeholder Alt Text

Philadelphia Expected to Launch Bikeshare System Next Spring

With a recent vote in the Philadelphia City Council, bikeshare moves closer to becoming a reality in the City of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee advanced a bill to bring bikeshare to the city by next spring. The bill is expected to be approved by the full city council on June 19. If that happens, the bikeshare system will launch with 600 bikes at 60 stations and, in the following two years, expand to include up to 2,000 bikes at 200 stations. According to the Inquirer, “the city will initially provide up to $3 million to Bicycle Transit Systems, the Philly-based company chosen to provide, operate and maintain the integrated bike-share system, he said. The funds will be used for delivery, planning and installation.” While Philadelphia is fairly late to the bikeshare game, the city will distinguish its system by allowing those without a debit or credit card to rent a bike. That part of the program is still in the works.