Posts tagged with "urban planning":

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New York City is getting serious about future superstorms with $100 million to fund floodwater mitigation

On August 27th, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Office of Resilience & Recovery announced plans to spend $100 million to fortify lower Manhattan against future superstorms. The latest proposal calls for green spaces, levees, and floodwalls to protect the area from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street, and around the northern tip of Battery Park City. https://vimeo.com/117303273 This is on top of $15 million pledged in March 2015 for flood prevention in the area.  To further capitalize the project, the city is leveraging its $100 million dollar investment as it enters the HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition in the hopes of gaining up to $500 million to finance flood protection in the target area. All current storm and floodwater mitigation efforts are a part of OneNYC, the city’s $20 billion global warming resiliency plan. Lower Manhattan is the target area because of its vulnerability to flooding during superstorms. The objective is to combine flood protection with accessible parkland for the affected neighborhoods. Of special concern is the storm readiness of NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) complexes, including the Alfred E. Smith Houses on St. James Place, which were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Initially,‎ a submission from the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) branded dually as the BIG U or the Dry Line, was selected as one of six winning projects for 2013's Rebuild by Design competition. Sponsored by HUD, the Municipal Art Society, the Van Alen Institute, and other regional stakeholders, Rebuild by Design asked firms to envision how New York City and the region could protect itself against extreme weather. In the proposal, BIG U covered a more extensive area—from West 54th Street, to Battery Park, and up to East 40th Street—and envisioned more intensive modifications to the built environment. Rebuild by Design initially awarded $335 million to the project. The adapted plan draws on BIG U's guiding principle of small but powerful interventions that fit the scale of the neighborhood and activates public space, but the scale of the project will be reduced to meet the city's budget. Heather Fluit, from HUD Public Affairs, told AN that she couldn't comment on whether BIG's design will remain in any future project. "We've closed the book on that competition," she said. The final plan will be determined by the size of the grant received from HUD. The Office of Recovery & Resiliency is preparing a round-two proposal for the Disaster Resilience Competition. HUD is expected to share grant winners and funds allocated to each of the chosen submissions by January 2016.
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Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel floats ordinance to fast-track transit-oriented development, reduce parking minimums

This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will push a plan to expand transit-oriented development (TOD) by easing zoning restrictions and releasing certain projects from parking requirements altogether. The city already has an ordinance providing for transit-oriented development and, as AN has previously reported, several projects have rushed to take advantage of it. Mixed-use developments with dozens of new housing units have slashed their parking lots, avoiding a longstanding code requirement that they provide one spot for every unit by building near transit stations. Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) gave the proposed changes a favorable preliminary analysis, building off its own “TOD calculator” which the agency released recently in order to spur private developers into building on dozens of properties it labeled “ready for TOD.” Emanuel's new ordinance would give developers of such projects more opportunities to reduce their investment in parking. Here are the changes City Council members will vote on Wednesday, according to the mayor's press office:
• TOD incentives will be available within an expanded radius from a transit station: up to 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) or 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) on a Pedestrian-designated street. • A 100 percent reduction from residential parking requirements if replaced with alternative transportation options, such as a car sharing station on site, or bike parking. • A streamlined process for accessing the minimum lot area, floor area ratio (FAR), and building height incentives by allowing developers to secure these benefits through an Administrative Adjustment from the Zoning Administrator, as opposed to a zoning map amendment by City Council under current law. • For projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 3.75) if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site, plus an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 4.0) if the development includes all required affordable housing units on site.
(Metropolitan Planning Council) image-full
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Video> Shanghai Talks: Toronto city planner James Parakh talks skyscraper design, sustainable urbanism

Last September the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled "Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism." I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Toronto City Planner James Parakh. Parakh talked about enhancing public space through Toronto's POPS program for privately-owned public spaces. Downtown Toronto has added over one million square feet of these developments over the last 10 years—think plazas, parks, pedestrian connections. “I often say it's a win-win,” he said. “The developer gets extra height through the process.” As one of the newest hotbeds for tall building development, Canada's largest city is trying to walk a line between runaway “Manhattanization” and suburban sprawl. At the same time Parakh said Toronto is grappling with questions about its urban character—from the top of its skyline down to its pedestrian spaces. “I don't think every building is a landmark building and I don't think every building should be a gateway building,” he said. “How do we intersperse tall buildings—whether it's in Toronto or Chicago or Mumbai or São Paolo—how do we do that the best that we can so that we can improve the quality of life for people around the world?”
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Tuesday> AIANY presents Art & Architecture in the Public Realm

The fields of urban planning and interiors rarely interface with each other except by chance or coincidence. But the AIA New York Interiors and Urban Planning committees are co-sponsoring Art and Architecture in the Public Realm, a discussion next Tuesday, November 4 that will take on the zone between interior and exterior public space. The evening will feature three teams of speakers who all ‘curate’ the discourse between the public and the urban fabric as well as the role that art plays in that—through their curatorial decisions. These include: —Sandra Bloodworth, director of the MTA’s Art in Motion program who will speak with Jamie Carpenter and Vincent Chang, Grimshaw's architects of the soon-to-open Fulton Transit Center. —Susan Chin, director of Design Trust for Public Space, who will discuss her collaboration with Situ Architects on the Heartwalk project in Times Square. —Sara Reisman, director of Percent for Art at the Department of Cultural Affairs, who will talk about her department's projects around the city. I will moderate the panel and hope that, after voting, you will come join the discussion at the AIA Center for Architecture at 526 LaGuardia Place starting at 6:00p.m.
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Remembering Doug Wright, the man who helped tear down highways in San Francisco and Portland

San Francisco's deputy mayor for transportation—who played an integral role in getting the city to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake—passed away on July 30th. He was 68. After the earthquake struck the city, Wright convinced former San Francisco mayor, Art Agnos, to help lead the effort to remove the highway and replace it—not with another highway, but instead with a boulevard at street level. In the 1970s, Wright worked as the planning director in Portland, Oregon. He set a major urban planning milestone in the United States: he got the city to take down a large portion of Harbor Drive, a highway along the Willamette River and build a park—the Tom McCall Waterfront Park (named after former Oregon governor, Tom McCall)—in its place. In many ways his actions were visionary, setting a precedent for large scale urban freeway removal projects. In later decades, other cities let go of portions of their elevated highways, such as Boston, Milwaukee, and Seattle. Seattle is currently in the midst of boring the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel and planning a major redevelopment of the waterfront, designed by James Corner Field Operations. "I hate the word 'vision,' but he had a vision as to how transportation should be part of larger efforts to sustain the urban environment," Rudy Nothenberg told the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a colleague of Wright and San Francisco's former chief administration officer. "More than anyone I worked with, he was the kind of person you would want as a fermenter of ideas and possibility."
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Streamlined Streets Aim to Enhance Houston’s Quality of Life

Dunlavey Street in central Houston typifies the image of a Southwestern city street. It's a sprawling, four lane affair that is approximately 50 percent usable, 80 percent pedestrian unsafe, and, in this case, 100 percent in need of an update. Transportation officials are evening out the numbers for a proposed road diet that would reduce the four-lane street to two and using the outer lane space for parking, improved sidewalks, and bike lanes. Currently, many of Houston’s wide streets—and some of its highways—operate under the principle of induced demand. This idea dictates that existing space is utilized by sheer import of its presence. In other words, people use big roads because there are big roads to use. But the outer lanes of Dunlavey are hardly drivable. They are pothole-ridden, with uneven gutters and extensive debris. Because the lanes go largely unused, pedestrians misguidedly utilize them, sometimes with fatal results. Removing the exterior two lanes would remove confusion over what is drivable area and what is not. It would clearly delineate the road’s functionality, and create a responsible message to drivers and citizens about the roadway’s capacity. In years past, expanding outward has been the modus operandi of Southwestern transportation. Cars, and not people, determined the size of roadways. But this proposal overturns that tradition. The space that comes from the unused exterior two lanes will be converted into parking, bicycle lanes, and better sidewalks. According to planners, these changes will facilitate more efficient traffic, increase pedestrian safety, and encourage alternative methods of transportation such as biking or walking. It also curbs the expansion trend’s tendency to impinge upon private property—an aspect that, commuter or not, Houston’s citizens should be pleased about. If all goes according to plan, the proposal aims to not only increase the quality of life in Houston, but to be the beginning of a larger trend. Developers hope that Houston will be the next city that roadway planners look to when considering developments. A June open house meeting will follow up on the proposal’s details, while City Council will officially consider the changes in September. The plan’s announcement comes a week after Houston was named among the ten worst cities for pedestrians.
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Review> If/Then, the Musical, Follows the Life of an Urban Planner

If/Then Richard Rogers Theater 226 West 46th Street, New York Scheduled to play through October 12, 2014 THINK OF EACH PLAZA, PIER, AND PUBLIC PARK— HOW MANY SIT THERE EMPTY, LONELY, DARK— The Broadway musical If/Then starts in Madison Square Park with its unmistakable folding seats, tables, and umbrellas, a signature of Janette Sadik-Khan’s overhauling of public spaces during the Bloomberg administration. In this musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (the team behind Next to Normal) city planner Elizabeth (Idina Menzel) returns to New York from Arizona where she’s just gotten out of a failed marriage—and urban sprawl. YOU AND I, WE CAN DRAW A BRAND-NEW GRID. EVERYTHING THAT YOU DREAMED OF AS A KID. If New York is a place of infinite possibilities, then Elizabeth has choices, here pared down to two. Should she be called Beth or Liz; should she meet up with her daring new lesbian neighbor or her old college community organizer former boyfriend (who is now also gay); should she take a job in the city’s department of planning or teach the subject? ENDING THE NIGHT AT TWENTY-THIRD AND THIRD... LIZ AND HER DATE, WHO’S HANGING ON EACH WORD... Color coding helps us keep her two-track story choices straight (as well as eyeglasses for Liz, none for Beth). The metaphor of planning a city and planning a life are clear, but the frisson for New Yorkers who care about the built environment are the specific references. ON A GODFORSAKEN STREET OUT WHERE BUSHWICK TURNS TO QUEENS IS A HOME FOR A MAN OF EXTREMELY MEAGER MEANS There are songs called "A Map of New York" and "Ain’t No Man Manhattan," and references to current issues and locations in the five boroughs. WITH THE ARTIST DOWN IN RED HOOK WHO LOST THE PLACE HE WORKS IN SO YOU COULD BUILD SOME CONDOS ON THE WATER? There’s talk about the Harlem riverfront, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, as well as design competitions, eliminating luxury towers in favor of (affordable) housing units, and reconfiguring plazas. In her Amanda Burden incarnation, Beth wins the American Planning Association’s Burnham Prize. WE NEVER WALK A STRAIGHT LINE. WE NEVER CHECK A STREET SIGN. The set features a mirrored overhang that reflect the action, a nice touch that emphasizes the theme, but also allows us to view the staged machinations like choreography and reflect on the double-sided nature of things. The rest of the set is trusses, scaffolds, frames, stairs and catwalks. If only New York City wondered about its Sliding Doors options the way that Elizabeth does hers. What if we didn’t have that zoning change that allowed air rights? Or we had saved Penn Station? Or if Robert Moses had built the Lower Manhattan Expressway across Soho? What might the city be like today? ON THE WEST SIDE A RAILYARD IS RECLAIMED... WAITING TO BE REBUILT AND THEN RENAMED... Menzel made her reputation in the original Rent 18 years ago, which explored the gentrification of the Lower East Side in the 1980s in the age of AIDS. Nearly 20 years later, the play ends with the rebuilding of the new Penn Station. LET’S MAKE A MAP OF NEW YORK, YOU AND ME. [ALL CAPS are lyrics by Brian Yorkey.]
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Demolishing Dallas’ I-345 To Make Room for Economic Growth

Big spaces, big cities, big freeways. This equation has held ground since the boom of major road developments in the 1970s. But a Dallas group lead by urban designer Patrick Kennedy is fighting that conception. He and his initiative, A New Dallas, are pushing a proposal that has been steadily gaining support since it began two years ago. Interstate 345 is an eight lane, 1.4 mile stretch of elevated highway that serves roughly 200,000 commuters weekly. Kennedy wishes to demolish the structure completely, replacing it with a major surface street, four new parks, $4 billion in new private investment, and homes for 25,000 Dallas residents. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings met with TxDOT's district designer, Bill Halson, on April 1 to discuss the project. He issued a written statement applauding TxDOT for looking into the issue, while also noting that the city has no control over the department. Meanwhile, Kennedy called the decade-long investigative report a stalling tactic. TxDOT, however, claims that the thousands of commuters who use I-345 every day are part of an ongoing need that has to be taken into consideration. The first question many ask is how demolishing the expressway will affect traffic. Counterintuitively, the removal of major expressways actually improves traffic conditions. Structures like I-345 operate under the principle of induced demand, which dictates that if something is there, people will use it. Major traffic jams, long commutes from work to home, and decentralized modes of commercial space (a.k.a. strip malls) do not occur because freeways are not big enough or long enough. Rather, they grow in proportion to the size of the freeway itself. Indeed, this demolition trend is catching on throughout the country, as more and more people realize how major expressways hinder growth. I-345 was born in 1974, a time when developers believed that a commute's efficiency was defined by how fast one could get into and out of the city. The consequent boom in highways throughout the nation resulted in residential developments expanding outward from a city's business district, with strip malls and small businesses popping up in the vast concrete wake. Now, however, experts say that urban sprawl can actually hinder, not contribute to, economic growth. They also note that removing the structure would not back up or halt traffic altogether. Rather, it would disseminate it through city side streets, creating a more even flow and possibly completely eliminating the type of traffic problems that are encountered, not in developed urban areas, but in the suburban sprawl enabled by major highways. Indeed, at least six other cities have removed their traffic-chugging arteries. The resulting spaces have been reinvented into parks, cultural centers, public transit, and industrial developments. Kennedy said that the nearby side streets could handle the traffic flow, and that the installation of a major surface road could encourage the use of public transit, as well as facilitate the type of foot traffic seen in Klyde Warren Park. These types of highway removal initiatives, which allow for a more harmonious blend of office, residential, and commercial space, result in more localized living that reduces the need to drive as frequently or as far. Less traffic also equals less pollution, an environmental bonus that Kennedy's initiative has not addressed, but seems wholly feasible. Kennedy's plan also makes Dallas a safer city, considering the risk factor of accidents resulting from high-speed traffic. As several other U.S. cities throughout the nation are considering similar removals, Kennedy's observation that “this is a political and economic discussion more than it is engineering” may be spot-on. So logistically, what would a demolition look like? On the financial side, $10 million dollars and ten years to research the demolition of I-345, after which an approximate 1.9 billion dollars would be funneled into its removal. Meanwhile, TxDOT’s $100 million dollar renovation of the highway is underway.
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Planner Friends of Dorothy: Chicago Launches LGBT Urban Planning Social Group

Chicago’s urban planning history is epic and, therefore, it’s no surprise that the city draws young folks fresh out of school with their MUPs, MPAs, and MPPs in droves (yours truly was one these eight years ago). However, Eavesdrop had no clue how many of them were gay until a couple weeks ago. A young buck, Daniel Ronan—fresh (meat) off the boat from Portland, Oregon—started an LGBT social group for planner and policy folks called Moxie. The inaugural meeting, which took place at Hubbard Inn, was well-attended, including not one, but two AN contributors and Dr. Curtis Winkle, the department head at UIC’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. And some hot guy from our gym whom Eavesdrop didn’t know was a planner—heyyy! The next meetup takes place on Thursday, April 17 at the Vinyl Lounge Chicago. RSVP here.
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Minneapolis mayor cheers on Nicollet Mall revamp

As a team of designers gear up for an overhaul of Nicollet Mall, dubbed Minneapolis’ main street, civic leaders there have cheered on the project in an op-ed in the StarTribune. Mayor Betsy Hodges and Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, write of the plan to revamp 12 blocks of pedestrian and public transit thoroughfare:
Never before has the need to leverage the mall as “the” public square providing space for a range of users been more apparent. This is our opportunity to elevate our offerings to ensure we can compete with other cities for tourism dollars, remain home to corporate headquarters, continue to grow the city, and attract new generations of families and employees while developing a space that will serve generations to come.
Minneapolis lacks a visible tourist magnet, they write, like Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street or Beale Street in Memphis. New York–based James Corner Field Operations won a design competition last year for a plan draw up with local firms Julie Snow Architects and Coen+Partners. As Hodges and Cramer write, Nicollet Mall was originally built in 1968, just as many Twin Cities residents were flocking to the suburbs. Now, with some of that momentum bending back to downtown, the op-ed authors and others are hoping to capture some of the economic impact of projects like New York’s High Line, which was also designed by James Corner Field Operations. What does this mean for the rest of downtown Minneapolis? Hodges and Cramer say the public-private partnership model that built the mall almost 50 years ago should be revived to ensure that the Twin Cities “take this opportunity to further enhance downtown.”
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Civic group calls on Chicago to expand car-free zones

The jostle of potholes notwithstanding, motorists might find nothing unbalanced about Chicago’s public streets. But the Active Transportation Alliance points out while nearly a quarter of the city is in the public right-of-way, cars dominate practically all of it. Citing the city’s Make Way for People initiative, which turns over underused street space to pedestrians, the group released 20 proposals Wednesday, calling on City Hall to create car-free spaces from Wrigley Field to Hyde Park. Their full list is available here. It includes a protected bike lane and landscaped seating area on Dearborn and/or Clark Streets, from River North to the South Loop; a pedestrian plaza on 18th Street in Pilsen, created by a dead-end at Carpenter, Miller and/or Morgan Streets; closing Milwaukee Avenue through the square of Logan Square; and closing portions of the vibrant retail corridor on 26th Street in Little Village to vehicle traffic. “Our hope is to jump-start conversations that lead to further study and the creation of car-free spaces,” writes the Active Transportation Alliance. The civic group said the list is inspired partly by places like Navy Pier, Times Square in New York City, and existing pedestrian plazas like Kempf Plaza in Lincoln Square. A spokesman for Chicago’s Department of Transportation told the Tribune that the agency “agrees with the concept,” but wouldn’t weigh in on any of the Active Transportation Alliance’s specific suggestions just yet. The Make Way for People initiative's so-called “complete streets” have gained traction among urban planners for their inclusion of pedestrians, bicyclists, and green space within the standard two- and four-lane roads that cater almost exclusively to cars. New York has overhauled dozens of public streets and plazas in recent years. Chicago designers, including North Center-based Altamanu, have worked with the city in recent years to draft plans for pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets from Mayfair to the lakefront.
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Pittsburgh’s New Mayor to “Focus On Underserved Neighborhoods”

Pittsburgh’s new mayor took office this week, and with him comes a cabinet division dedicated to neighborhood development. The Steel City has largely scrubbed its image as an ailing post-industrial town in recent years, drawing in new artists and young professionals, but the revival has not touched all parts of the city equally. Some urbanists have pinned their hopes of remedying that on incoming Mayor Bill Peduto. During his victory speech on November 5, Peduto contrasted himself with his predecessor, Luke Ravenstahl, who saw “Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance” in large developments like stadiums and convention centers. "Tonight, we end the era of renaissance. There is not going to be a Renaissance Four," he said that night. "It's about building within, rebuilding the neighborhoods." He tapped Valerie McDonald-Roberts to serve as the Chief of Urban Affairs, who will work with the city’s expanded planning department, non-profits and others to oversee the city’s housing initiatives, “with a particular focus on underserved neighborhoods,” according to her profile on the city's website. Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff, will also oversee development and city infrastructure as Pittsburgh’s chief development officer. Peduto has also advocated improving bike infrastructure. Whether Peduto can realize his vision for a more equal Pittsburgh, with economic development beyond its resurgent downtown, remains to be seen. As the Post-Gazette reported, Peduto faces a capital budget largely depleted by his predecessor:
Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle believes working within the city's financial constraints will be the biggest obstacle to Mr. Peduto implementing his vision. "It's one thing to be visionary, [but] once you've sort of hit the ground you've got to govern," he said. "You've got to make the hard choices."