Posts tagged with "Planning":

After 13 years and multiple changes, San Francisco planners approve massive project by Arquitectonica

After a drawn out, 13-year process, architecture firm Arquitectonica has rolled back the years on its design for the final installment for Trinity Place on San Francisco's Market Street. The firm has reverted to a design it originally conceived back in 2006 and had approved in 2007. However, the final phase required much back and forth and Arquitectonica and San Francisco's Planning Department have just now found accord and are moving forward. Since Arquitectonica submitted its original plan in 2003 for the site, 13 years have passed along with numerous iterations to the project. Originally, 1,410 housing units had been planned, but this proposal was altered in 2006 due to complaints from locals. After that, the final third phase of the project lay in limbo, being changed and changed again in the process. But while the project stalled, the area has also changed. When Arquitectonica cofounder Bernardo Fort-Brescia submitted yet another set of plans last week (that were very close to the 2006 scheme), the San Francisco Department acknowledged that perhaps Mission/Market Street had caught up and finally gave it the green light. Prior to Arquitectonica's inception, the 4.5-acre plot was occupied by a motel that in the 1970s had been converted into apartments. Now, two, 24-story cubic volumes rise up, interlocking and overlapping with various elements, all of the same simple orthogonal nature. The structure houses 440 units, "360 of which are rent controlled," the firm said, settling one of the earlier disputes. This, however, is just the "first phase" (which has already been built) of Arquitectonica's overall plan, which will offer a whopping 1,900-units. Phase two lies on the same plot. It boasts 105 more units with 21,000-square-feet of retail space, while the third and final phase will use a Tetris-like, golden "L" shape to house 915 new residences. They don't come cheap, either, with prices starting at $2,775 for an unfurnished "junior one bedroom." "We wanted to start with something very graphic and pure compared to the background of San Francisco, and then the composition changes personality from one building to the next," said Fort-Brescia. "By the time it reaches Market Street, we’re trying to create a more subtle streetscape."

How Salt Lake City might add buildings in the medians of its extra-wide streets

Over the course of four years, the Granary District of Salt Lake City has been trialling "median development" whereby pop-up shows, stands, and other forms of temporary architecture exist literally in the middle of the street. Now, James Alfandre, director of the Kentlands Initiative, proposes something more concrete. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSXH_EEz144 To say Salt Lake City's roads are incredibly wide is an understatement. Initially, this width was derived from former Mormon Governor of the Utah territory who stipulated that a team of oxen and their cart should be able to turn around in the street. In fact, this phenomena is particularly prevalent in many Mormon cities in the United States. However, what was relevant and functional in centuries past is not so today. The width of the roads in a modern city is now an inefficient use of space and in Alfandre's eyes, an opportunity for entrepreneurship. https://vimeo.com/139990231 Building on the success of the trials that saw the streets be transformed into vibrant areas of social interaction, with the space being used for performances and predominantly as a gathering location, Alfandre now proposes a more long term solution. Median development in this respect would shrink the size of the street, dividing space between pedestrians and vehicles as outlined in the diagram above. In the trials, median development gave rise to shipping containers to form "Granary Row" (seen in the video's above). Using this template, the Kentland's Initiative is working with the city to lease the median for 99 years, allowing them to build permanent structures and even housing. Crucially, the median is already under city ownership, meaning that residential space be procured essentially for free. This can then either be sold as a profit or used for low income housing. Alfondre says, "In essence you’d be taking land that was once allocated to cars—or oxen and carts, if you will—and giving it back to the people."

James Russell appointed Director of Design Strategic Initiatives at New York City DDC

James S. Russell has been appointed the Director of Design Strategic Initiatives at the New York City Department of Design and Construction. Leading a research team, he will help the agency to build its already impressive capacity to deliver equitable growth through environmental sustainability and resiliency.
Russell has been a long-time critic, journalist, and consultant on architecture and evolving cities. He has written most recently for The Economist, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. He was for nine years the architecture critic at Bloomberg News and an editor in several capacities at Architectural Record. He has also practiced architecture with several firms and was made a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Russell also authored The Agile City: Building Well Being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change. "As urban challenges grow and diversify, I have gotten an itch to become involved in many of these issues in a deeper, more hands-on way,” Russell told AN. "The DDC challenges me to ‘walk’ my years of journalistic 'talk.’ It is an extraordinary opportunity.”

Explore Chicago’s regional transportation network on this interactive website

How many people get on the train at your "El" or Metra stop each day? Which county's roads make for the roughest ride? How long do Chicago-area drivers while away waiting for train crossings? The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) just unveiled a new tool to stir discussion about transportation in the greater Chicago area that can answer all of those questions, as well as many more about the regional transportation system as a whole. CMAP planners said they hope the interactive website, which is full of clickable maps and tables compiled from mountains of public data, will resonate with policy makers as well as frustrated commuters. When it comes to transportation infrastructure, Chicago has an embarrassment of riches—and a wealth of problems. Some 25 percent of the nation's freight traffic travels through the region, but the seven-county region's 1,468 rail crossings snarl traffic for a total delay of 7,817 person-hours every day. In total traffic ate up more than $6 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2011 across the roughly 30,000 miles of roads in Cook, Lake, McHenry, Will, Kane, Kendall and DuPage Counties. As the authors of GO TO 2040, the 2010 comprehensive plan that sought to renew Daniel Burnham's regional vision, CMAP officials said they made the website to encourage more data-driven planning and regional policy. The website gives a mixed assessment of public transit in the region. While 71.5 percent of residents had at least moderate access to transit, progress on increasing that share of people has occurred at a slower rate so far than will be necessary to meet the 2040 goal of 78 percent, CMAP's analysis shows. Although Chicago lauds its growing open data culture, CMAP's Tom Garritano said arbitrary policies persist. For example Illinois' 55/45 rule, whereby 55 percent of highway funds typically go downstate, while only 45 percent stay in the Chicago region—despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the state's population and economic activity occurs in and around its largest city. “We believe strongly that the best decisions are driven by data,” said Garritano. “We want people to get excited about data.” While the website shows the region has made considerable progress on meeting GO TO 2040 goals in recent years, CMAP officials stressed that stats inflated with stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 may paint a rosier picture of transportation infrastructure's finances. CMAP pointed to the declining share of crumbling roads and bridges in the area—without continued funding for maintenance, they said, that progress would soon be overwhelmed by mounting infrastructure repair needs. More than half of non-highway roads in Cook County were judged less than “acceptable,” but that figure was less than 10 percent in McHenry and Kendall counties. More than 300 bridges in the Chicago area were deemed “structurally deficient” in 2013—a distinction CMAP pointed out does not mean they are necessarily dangerous, just below civil engineering standards. The total share of deficient bridges in the area was 9.7 percent, slightly below the national average of 11.1 percent. A section of the site named “Forward” links to a public-private fundraising campaign called FUND 2040. Last year CMAP called for a quarter-penny sales tax hike that would net $300 million per year for infrastructure work. “Metropolitan Chicago must compete globally against regions whose public investments have for decades far outpaced our own,” reads the site. “Current infrastructure funding mechanisms are simply not adequate to meet our region's infrastructure needs.” New spending, however needed, is politically risky in fiscally troubled Illinois, but CMAP's ideological influence recently got a boost in Springfield. The agency's executive director, Randy Blankenhorn, was recently appointed to head the Illinois Department of Transportation by incoming Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

NYU to Take Another Shave on Last Lap of ULURP Process

The Zoning Committee of the New York City Council is holding a hearing today for NYU's proposed expansion. It is the last stop on the ULURP tour that has garnered some of the most contentious debate in a neighborhood that has seen more than its share of zoning upheaval over the past year. Usually the council votes in agreement with the council member representing the district. As such, all eyes were on Council Member Margaret Chin, whose Downtown district includes the Washington Square area where the expansion is being proposed. While Chin said that the plan is "unacceptable as it stands" she didn't outright reject the plan. According to The Wall Street Journal, Chin is casting a critical eye on the so-called Zipper Building on the southern super block. As the university agreed with City Planning to eliminate a hotel in that building, it seems likely that's where the ax will fall. Borough President Scott Stringer, whose role is advisory, said that he had already negotiated a reduction in the Zipper Building, but City Planning set aside his suggestion. This morning Chin added affordable housing to the list of her desires, opening up yet another round of arm twisting for NYU.  Whether the housing would be included on the site or within the district is unclear and whether that agreement would be binding will probably be a sticking point for the ever-vigilant Villagers. Open space was also on the Council Member's radar, but her mention of preserving park space along the DOT strips along Mercer and Laguardia streets was already mapped out by Planning. However, Chin's mention of the "thousands" of jobs that the project will bring indicates another mildly altered version of the plan will move forward. For their part, NYU stuck to the script. As an example of a university busting at the seams, President John Sexton noted that the university's library should seat 8,000 but could only accommodate 3,000. He countered claims that expansion was an attempt to fill college coffers with cash from more students, saying the expansion was physical in nature and would not correspond with a substantial growth in the student body, which he predicted would only increase by half a percent annually. He also defended the contention that the university couldn't afford the project. "We wouldn't be taxing our budget any more than we have over the last then years," he said.

Calatrava’s First U.S. Vehicular Bridge To Open

The latest bridge from Spanish tension-element guru Santiago Calatrava, renowned architect behind the Milwaukee Art Museum, Puente del Alamillo, and the upcoming World Trade Center Transportation Hub, will be his first vehicular bridge in the United States. Construction has been completed on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the first in a series of Calatrava-designed crossings over Dallas' Trinity River. It will act as a literal and metaphorical gateway to the city. This new bridge links the banks of the Trinity River, with hopes of making the area a lively gathering place. Calatrava wants to rethink the riverfront and its capacity to bring in development as part of the city's urban revitalization efforts. He stated he envisions the Trinity River Corridor as the heart of the city, a recreational area much like New York's Central Park. The bridge is the first step in making the waterfront a focal point for recreation. “During my first visit to Dallas I realized that the river basin had the potential to be of defining importance to the city’s future development,” said Calatrava. The structure is a signature Calatrava design with glowing white arch and supporting suspension cables. Supporting over 14,000 cars per day, the new bridge is part of a larger project involving the replacement of Interstate Highway 30. The Trinity Trust Group, a nonprofit supporting revitalization of the riverfront, will host a series of inaugural events, and Calatrava will be in Dallas this weekend for an opening ceremony complete with fireworks, a Lyle Lovett concert, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  (Fingers crossed that the architect himself will hoist the giant scissors.)  The bridge is planned to open to traffic March 29.

Transit Stalls and Starts in the Midwest

On Wednesday, federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood effectively killed Detroit's planned light rail line, citing doubt about the city's ability to build and maintain the project, given its dire finances and collapsing levels of density. He instead pushed for bus rapid transit along the Woodward Avenue corridor. Elsewhere, however, transit seems to be gaining traction. The much debated Cincinnati Streetcar just received nearly $11 million in federal TIGER grants, allowing construction of the Over-the-Rhine to downtown line to commence, and planners will extend the line to the riverfront development called The Banks, as well as the adjacent stadia. A vociferous opposition has fought the planned line at the ballot box and in the courts, but so far they have yet to block it. Meanwhile, in Indianapolis the Central Indiana Transit Task Force are pushing for a modest tax increase to vastly expand that city's transit system, including doubling the city's bus fleet and building a commuter rail line to Noblesville. The three tenths of one percent income tax increase would be passed through a local two-country referendum, but first the state legislature must give the go ahead to allow the local referendum. That is not an insignificant hurdle in the very conservative, Republican controlled state government, but with much of Indy's business community, including it's chamber of commerce, supporting the tax, it may stand a chance.

Celebrating Coney Island′s Most Curious

The Congress of Curious Peoples has touched down in Brooklyn. Part symposium, part festival, and part freak show, the event celebrates Coney Island's rich history as a vacation and amusement destination. Starting on April 8th, the 10 days of freaky fun begins with Coney Island USA’s annual Sideshow Hall of Fame Inductions and ends on the 17th with Alumni Weekend, where you can catch legendary sideshow performers from the Coney Island Circus Sideshow as well as a scholarly conference on the past, present, and future of this unique and historic part of NYC.

Prospect Park West Bike Lane Target of Lawsuit

That thin ribbon of green paint along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West sure is a touchy subject for residents of the Park Slope neighborhood, and beyond--they're even talking about it in London. Many love the new separated bike lane installed in June 2010--the "pro-laners"--but a vocal group packing some political power would rather see the lane removed--the "anti-laners." We're not kidding when we say the anti-laners are up in arms, either. According to a Gothamist report, one resident wielding a bullhorn shouted to bystanders that the new bike path "mutilated" the broad boulevard. After threatening legal action for a month, two area organizations, Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes and Seniors for Safety, have now filed a lawsuit requesting the lane's removal, which should make CB6's public hearing on Thursday night more lively than usual. StreetsBlog summarizes the complaint:
It argues that DOT acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner, with conclusions made irrationally or in bad faith. It argues that the bike lane did not properly go through the necessary processes given the landmarked status of the Park Slope neighborhood and Prospect Park. And finally, it argues that an environmental review was necessary to assess the impact of the lane on the historic character of the area.
Among the anti-laners are Iris Weinshall, a former NYC DOT commissioner who just happens to be married to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and former Sanitation Commissioner Norman Steisel. Anti-laners have also argued that the Prospect Park bike lane has remade crossing the street as a pedestrian into an urban adventure. Local resident and Huffington Post blogger Paul LaRosa wrote that Prospect Park West "now resembles that old video game Frogger where you need to keep looking and back and forth to avoid getting splattered by a car or a bike." Opposing the lawsuit, Councilman Brad Lander, who represents Park Slope, said a survey of the neighborhood shows the majority of residents support for the bike lane. The Park Slope Civic Association also falls in the pro-laner camp. Association president Michael Cairl told Transportation Nation, "Prospect Park West before the reconfiguration had been a speedway. It was unsafe to cross, it was unsafe to cycle on, it wasn’t all that safe to drive on." The anti-laners submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the DOT's raw data, finding flaws with the results. Their sentiments are echoed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who also questioned the validity of the DOT data. He suggested that the original study to determine the feasibility of the bike lane should have been done by an outside agency to make it more impartial. As different parts of the city create new bike-car combinations, it's inevitable that there will be some clashes. We'll keep an eye out for the implications for our built environment as cases like these plays out in court and on the street.

Suburbia: The Next Generation

It's official. The suburbs are here to stay. Now we just need to figure out what to do with them. At least that's the premise of the Build A Better Burb competition that we told you about back in July, when entries submitted by architects, urban designers, planners, visionaries and students, all vying for $22,500 in prizes, were slimmed down to 23 finalists. And the winners are...

AgIsland This ambitious entry has Long Island reclaiming its agrarian roots, replacing office parks with farms. It also calls for consolidating and relocating 9 million square feet of office space along Route 110, utilizing a transit-oriented model.

Building C-Burbia Landscape designers created "an infrastructure system for short-term biomass storage and formation of long-term soil carbon reservoirs in suburban landscape."

Levittown: Increasing Density and Opportunity through the Accessory Dwellings One problem of suburban life in the NYC metro area is a lack of affordable housing options. One solution proposed here is to allow a homeowner to maximize the buildable area of his/her lot, preferably by using modular forms (instead of timber) the structure can expand and contract as needs change.

Long Division This vision of a sustainable Long Island starts with a regional plan that aims to preserve the island's aquifer, maximize transportation, and targets several underutilized downtowns for growth. The plan calls for new typologies of space combined with planned voids.

SUBHUB Transit System Transit doesn't always go where people need it to and is sometimes too big for it's own good. Instead, a more walkable and extensive micro-infrastructure that consists of re-imagined transit, a HUB at existing train stations where people and goods transfer to a smaller shuttle system, and SUBHUBs at existing public schools is envisioned for Long Island.

The winning student submission is: Upcycling 2.0 These Columbia University students target the ubiquitous suburban typologies -- single family house, strip mall, train station, street medians, big box stores, endless parking lots -- and re-appropriates them.

The winning Long Island Index People’s Choice Award, selected by the public, goes to: LIRR: Long Island Radically Rezoned Long Island becomes Living Island by re-densifying the residential fabric,  re-centering public space around train stations, and chopping up underused parking surfaces into small blocks that are a more appropriate fit for scale of the neighborhood.

While the Long Island Index originally anticipated having a first prize and multiple other winners, the jurors felt that the winning submissions were all strong and decided to honor the top designs equally.  Therefore, $20,000 will be split among the top five designs; each will receive $4,000: The student prize was $2,500. ( The “People’s Choice Award” did not have a cash prize.)

Winning entries will be on view at The Long Island Museum from October 8th-October 24th and at The Long Island Children’s Museum from October 5th-October 31st.

Hypothetical Buildings Coming to New Orleans

Every building tells a story of its past. But sometimes, with a little prompting, a building can also tell the story of its future. At least that's what the Hypothetical Development Organization hopes. The group, created in 2010 by author and New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker, examines what the future might hold for some of the hidden, and underused, architectural gems in New Orleans by creating renderings of what the buildings could be, you know, hypothetically. In a city that is still trying to piece itself together after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this is a creative way to draw attention to buildings that are being overlooked. Walker told the Huffington Post that he sees this project as something of a public service.
"If they're not going to be developed, then let's have fun with them," he said. "It's a pleasure-giving response to this crummy situation with the economy, where development isn't happening. But this is not mean or depressing -- it's joyous.
The Hypothetical Development Organization is planning a gallery show planned at the Du Mois Gallery in April 2011. There will even be a specially designed Hypothetical Development Trip, courtesy of Gowalla, which makes a travel-oriented app for smartphones.

Vermont Town Seeks to Reconnect To Waterfront

Residents of Brattleboro, Vermont want a say in what happens to a strip of waterfront and they're voting with... stickers.  Visitors to Renewing the Riverfront at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center can post a small round sticker next to their favorite proposals, which line the walls of the gallery. Just in case they don't find one they like, there are plenty of blank note cards on hand where a resident can throw his or her own idea into the mix. This bottom-up community planning effort comes courtesy of a workshop run by The Center for Creative Solutions at Marlboro College Graduate School that gathered together professionals from different disciplines to familiarize themselves with the area and the community before brainstorming potential plans. The group then mounted the interactive exhibit that has enabled townspeople to have a more active say in the visioning and planning process. Whether Brattleboro officials choose to carry out one (or more) of the proposals that are part of Renewing the Riverfront is still unknown.