This week a city council panel voted to advance Minneapolis’ plans for a 3.4-mile streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s thumbs up clears the way for a full City Council vote next week.
Renderings show preliminary plans for a $200 million streetcar line instead of a bus route. About $60 million of that comes from a state-approved “value capture district,” (similar to TIF funding). The rest will come from funding not yet identified, but could include a transit sales tax.
Minneapolis’ move comes alongside streetcar developments in Cincinnati and in Kansas City, among other cities.
When Elon Musk makes plans he makes no little ones. And he feels California shouldn’t either. This is the rationale behind Hyperloop Alpha, a supersonic, solar-powered, air-cushioned transit system (and future “Never Built”?) he views as the bolder alternative to conventional high-speed rail. It’s not a train, exactly. It’s more a hybrid between high-speed rail and the Concord.
It’s Mr. Musk’s answer to the ever-delayed and increasingly expensive bullet train being proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Project that was supposed to be “shovel ready” in 2012. Turns out it’s more complicated and expensive to build high-speed rail than anybody in the state ever thought. Could Hyperloop, more bullet and less train, be the answer? If it’s true it could be built for less than one-tenth the cost of the $70 billion high-speed rail system, then perhaps yes.
For a mere $20 (He’s really thought this out) you would be able to strap yourself into a thin aluminum tube and get shot (at speeds of up to 750 mph) to San Francisco in about 35 minutes. The design doesn’t feature any windows, so hopefully there will at least be some video monitors or soothing ambient lighting to relax passengers who are essentially locked inside a jet engine hurtling itself through an elevated steel pipeline.
In a conference call following the release of the 57-page PDF outline of the project, Musk said there could be a prototype ready for testing within the next four years. Perhaps it’s time for the California High-Speed Rail Project to hire Mr. Musk and his team of engineers and optimists. At least then California could have some form of 21st-century transit underway before 2020.
A team led by Herzog & de Meuron has been unanimously selected for the redevelopment of Melbourne’s historic Flinders Street Station after beating out a star-studded shortlist that that included Zaha Hadid and Grimshaw. The team will be awarded a $1 million prize. The winning design aims to transform the iconic 1909 train station into a 21st century civic center and transportation hub, preserving the most beloved features of the landmark building while integrating it into a contemporary urban context. The proposal also incorporates cultural, retail, and civic programs within an adjacent 500,000 square foot site along the Yarra River, including a public art gallery, plaza, amphitheater, marketplace, and permanent space for arts and cultural festivals.
While the old Flinders Street Station has become an icon of the city, especially the copper dome, grand arch, and distinctive clocks of its main façade, it could barely handle the nearly 100,000 straphangers who step onto its platforms each day. As Mark Loughnan of Melbourne-based Hassell told Building Design, “Today it is a place people generally choose to hurry through. Our design makes it a destination, with new buildings an features that will attract people to the precinct.”
Borrowing formally from the arches of the existing station and unbuilt features of the original design, the new station is composed of long, rippling white vaults, perforated to allow for natural light and ventilation on train platforms. The vaults follow the alignment of the tracks, curving slightly to intuitively lead commuters through to the central plaza and outdoor amphitheater along the river’s edge. Across the plaza, four similarly styled, straight, white vaults house the civic, cultural, and retail functions. The new design is meant to ease commuter and pedestrian flows through thought the station while readying the site for potential future growth.
According to Melbourne's Herald Sun, initial estimates place the cost of the new station between $1 billion-$1.5 billion.
“The Red Line” could be Cleveland’s answer to New York's High Line or Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail, rails-to-trails projects that have captured the imaginations of their respective cities as an answer to questions surrounding transportation, aging infrastructure and urban placemaking.
The Rotary Club of Cleveland is pushing the idea of a three-mile greenway connecting five city neighborhoods to downtown. That would make the old RTA Red Line trail longer than both the High Line and the Bloomingdale Trail.
The Rotary Club initiated a cleanup and rehabilitation of the ravine next to the Red Line more than 30 years ago. That project became an urban gardening project called ParkWorks, and eventually spawned LAND Studio. Studies of that “Rapid Recovery” project estimated finishing the greenway would cost between $5.1 million and $5.5 million.
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners has endorsed a study to investigate options to accommodate growth in bus commuting to and from midtown Manhattan. The authority hired Kohn Pedersen Fox and Parsons Brinckerhoff to craft a long-term master plan to improve interstate public transit services and reduce the impact of interstate buses on nearby communities. The plan will potentially replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, which has reached capacity and is in need of improvements.
The comprehensive plan for the bus terminal, which is utilized by approximately 8,000 buses and 225,000 travelers daily, includes a state-of-good-repair investment program and new bus staging and storage facilities on Manhattan’s west side. The scheme has been designed to improve bus operations and limit the amount of buses idling on city streets. By tackling specific infrastructure needs, the Port Authority will make certain the terminal remains a central part of the interstate transportation network.
“The development of a Master Plan underscores the Port Authority’s commitment to make the Bus Terminal a world-class facility and bus transit the most reliable mode of access to midtown Manhattan,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson in a statement. “While the Port Authority has already begun the work of revitalizing the Bus Terminal… this comprehensive approach is the best way to ensure the Bus Terminal keeps pace with future passenger growth over the next fifty years.”
We've known for a while that Tom Prendergast and Anthony Foxx would be leading New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation for a while now, but now it's official. The New York State Senate has confirmed Prendergast has been appointed as the new chairman and CEO of the MTA and Congress has okayed President Obama's selection of Anthony Foxx as the new Secretary of Transportation.
Prendergast, who has extensive experience working in the transit system, is replacing Joe Lhota who left the position to run for New York City Mayor. With Prendergast's new role comes the heavy responsibility of managing an annual $13 billion dollar budget and effectively serving 8.5 million commuters per weekday.
Anthony Foxx, former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, replaces Secretary Ray LaHood, a notable enforcer of safety who initiated a strong campaign against distracted driving. Foxx says that he will follow from LaHood’s example, making safety a priority as well.
During the discussion that followed the announcement of 2013’s Burnham Prize winners, much was made of the difference between “gold-standard” bus rapid transit and watered-down “express bus” service. The key difference is that the real thing not only runs more smoothly, but that it feels like a special experience.
So it was for the honorees of the prize ceremony, which this year included three winners, three honorable mentions, and three citations. Their prompt, “Next Stop,” asked them to design stations for Chicago's burgeoning network of bus rapid transit systems.
Project Title: Form vs. Uniform
Team:Hesam T. Rostami and Bahareh Atash
Winning entry Form vs. Uniform came from a husband-and-wife team who moved to Chicago from Toronto four months ago. They started with a ceiling of concentric wood rings, pulled down at various points to meet the ground. At those points steel supports would bolster the wrap-around glass that enclosed each station. The graceful iterations would “unify and differentiate at the same time” the system’s stops. Its rounded corners and glassy clarity made for a remarkably open feel — a tribute to the city’s modernist mythology, its architects said — but insulated riders from the weather.
Project Title: Enthalpy
Team: Aetheric Studio (Goi Artetxe and Elise Renwick)
The thin, tubular design of Enthalpy appears ready to vanish in its elegance, with LEDs, heat lamps and glass seemingly draped over a steel frame and guarded by a meadow mesh exterior. “We wanted the architecture to float and be open,” said entrant Elise Renwick. Its “chandelier-like” sleekness was eye-catching, though some jurors worried it would be too fragile.
Project Title: BTA: Bus Transit Authority
Team: Aneesha Dharwadker and Conor O’Shea
Designed by Chicago natives, bta pays homage to the CTA farecard itself, arching in and out of the pavement in a slender ribbon to shield commuters from the weather, with separate shelters united graphically by the CTA farecard’s off-center black stripe. Jurors cheered its modular design and bright LCD screens, which the architects suggested could be used to display artwork Tweeted by local Chicago Public Schools students, but were skeptical that the relatively small shelters would provide ample protection.
HONORABLE MENTIONProject title: Torqued Spine
Team: HDR Engineering (Janet Gonzalez Jeff Fahs, Lance Thies)
Project Title: Halo
Team: RTKL Associates Inc., Willoughby Engineering , Halvorson Partners
Project Title: Kinesis
Team: LC Architects (Ermis Chalvatzis and Natassa Lianou)
CITATIONProject Title: BuRT
Team: Perkins+Will (Branded Environments and Urban Design)
Project Title: Plug & Play
Team: Francesc Montosa and Marc Torrellas (with Mark Pique and Meritxell Arderiux)
Project Title: Hurry Up AND Slow Down
Team: Ann Lui and Craig Reschke
The 42 entries came from 14 countries. Watch the awards ceremony here:
Above: "Gateway Fountain" in warm and cold seasons. (Courtesy Navy Pier)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration Wednesday revealed details about two initiatives they said would amount to $1.1 billion in investment: a new 10,000-seat arena for DePaul University located across the street from McCormick Place, and an overhaul to Navy Pier — the city’s largest tourist attraction.
Navy Pier’s remodeling, which includes a new water feature and an expansion of the Children’s Museum, will total $278 million. Future phases of the project will involve redesigned public and commercial spaces along the pier, additional dining space, and a new park featuring a bicycle flyover on the pier’s west end.
Marilynn Gardner, president of Navy Pier, told Crain’s Chicago Business’ Gren Hinz that the pier “was becoming too carnival-like,” as proposals for the aging tourist mainstay picked up momentum. Last year High Line designer James Corner was chosen to head the renewal. “We're creating a more authentic experience,” she said, “celebrating the fact that it's a pier.”
Gensler's Elva Rubio wondered aloud in a blog post, "What Will it Take to Make Navy Pier a Real Place?"
The $140 million DePaul basketball arena plan calls for an additional $33 million in public TIF funding for land acquisition and streetscaping. A sky bridge would connect McCormick Place West to the arena, which would double as an event center for shows smaller than McCormick Place is accustomed to. It would be between Cermak, Prairie, 21st and Indiana streets. Two hotels — one 500-room boutique hotel and a 1,200 “headquarters hotel” announced last year — would round out the area’s new development.
Also previously announced, Ross Barney Architects will design a new CTA Green Line station for McCormick Place, on the south side of Cermark and 23rd Street. New renderings reveal a bit more about the project, expected sometime in 2014. Emanuel’s team made the announcements on the first day of the Mayor’s third year in office, and the initiatives reflect his oft-repeated promotion of tourism and trade shows in the city. McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America.
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced that four cities will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants to foster research, communications, and community outreach efforts in an endeavor to educate local stakeholders about the advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. The Foundation’s solution to “Transform Cities” and promote fiscal growth and quality of life proposes better mass transit investments. Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh will participate in the project.
The high performance mass transit system, referred to as BRT, offers much of the permanence and speed of a rail system in addition to the flexibility of bus systems for a smaller investment in initial infrastructure costs. BRT systems operate high-capacity vehicles that rely on dedicated lanes and elevated platforms to deliver efficient service.
For years, the Rockefeller Foundation has supported Chicago’s attempts to build a city-wide BRT. With the grant, the city could potentially assemble and operate the first gold-standard BRT in the country. Currently, Cleveland operates the nation's highest-ranked BRT system at the ITDP's Silver designation. Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Port Authority’s Transit Development plan recommends a BRT system to link downtown to its Oakland areas. At least forty stakeholder companies are working together to consider BRT system options for Pittsburgh. A projected BRT system in Nashville would run directly through the city’s downtown hub, although the project remains in the planning stage. In Boston, transportation supporters and state officials are currently considering a BRT system amid alternative transit modernization enterprises.
The Rockefeller Foundation selected public affairs firm Global Strategy Group to handle the grant by teaming up with local partner organizations in each city. For the past three years, the Foundation has made over $6 million available to encourage the expansion of BRT.