Posts tagged with "urbanism":

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Unveiled> OMA Master Plan Wins Bogotá’s International Design Competition

OMA has been selected to design the Bogotá Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN) new civic center, situated at the heart of the city’s main axis, Calle 26. Steered by partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu, the 680-acre mixed-use design occupies a footprint as large as Washington, D.C.’s National Mall and will operate as the city’s government headquarters with intermixed residential, educational, retail, and cultural developments, all which encourage continuous activity within separate districts. The design intends to integrate civic and public life while connecting to local destinations. CAN will form a new public axis in Bogotá, unifying green, infrastructural, and programmatic networks. The site is divided into three districts, including an institutional/governmental area that connects to the current cultural and park spaces, an office zone linked to the current financial district, and an educational campus that links to the University City of Bogotá. The multi-use program will be tied together by a green path that extends into Bogotá’s decidedly popular pedestrian and cycling CicloVia system. Shigematsu described the development as one that attains “clear urban density while accommodating programmatic diversity.” The winning design will move Bogotá’s historic downtown center, master-planned between 1947 and 1951 by Le Corbusier. CAN will be the second largest constructed institutional master plan in Latin America, with Oscar Neimeyer’s 1960s Brasilia being the largest. The project will be carried out in partnership with local architect Gomez + Castro, mobility consultant Carlos Moncada, financial consultant Oscar Borerro, and sustainability consultant Esteban Martinez. [beforeafter]oma-masterplan-bogota-archpaper-09 oma-masterplan-bogota-archpaper-10[/beforeafter]
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Archaeological Survey in Angkor Reveals Intricacies of Pre-Industrial Urbanism

The US National Academy of Sciences has published the results of a survey performed in April 2012 of the forests of Cambodia, which uncovered a monumental, intricate landscape of low-density urban sprawl connected to ancient ruins of Angkor Wat that dates back to more than 700 years, invalidating archaeologists’ current understandings of pre-industrial urbanism. Until now, scholars have based their thoughts of medieval cities around the world on European cities. This study has revealed a colossal low-density urban system with working citadels and vast infrastructures in Cambodia. Lara Dunston of The Guardian wrote that the “high-tech survey of Khmer Empire sites has rocked the archaeological world and captured travelers’ imaginations.” The densely populated, sophisticated landscape system consists of and links Angkor cities such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon, along with seldom visited medieval city ruins of Phnom Kulen, Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, over 62 miles away. Koh Ker, 75 miles from Siem Reap, and Beng Mealea, 32 miles away, were thought of as isolated structures, but the study has revealed that they were actually large outlying service centers for Angkor.
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The Bruner Foundation Announces Winners of the 2013 Gold and Silver Medals for Urban Excellence

The Bruner Foundation Inc. has named the 2013 Gold and Silver Medalists of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA). For twenty-five years, the foundation has celebrated urban projects that stand out for their “contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation's cities” with this biennial award. A panel of six urbanists—including such experts as Cathy Simon, design principal at Perkins + Will, and Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City—selected the four Silver Medalists, and the recipient of the $50,000 Gold Medal, Inspiration Kitchens in Chicago. “Our twenty-fifth anniversary Rudy Bruner Award winners highlight the diversity of innovation in our cities today,” says Simeon Bruner, founder of RBA, in a statement. “They show us urban excellence at all scales and inspire us with their optimism.” The Gold Medal winner, Inspiration Kitchens is a nonprofit, that provides a restaurant training program for homeless or economically challenged individuals at its 80-seat LEED Gold certified facility on Chicago’s west side. The Bruner Foundation will award $10,000 to four Silver Medalists,  including: Congo Street Initiative, Dallas, TX: The LEED Gold or Platinum-certified restoration of five family houses and the construction of a sixth, in addition to the creation of green infrastructure that includes stormwater management and solar power and solar thermal systems. Louisville Waterfront Park, Louisville, KY: An 85-acre urban park, once an abandoned industrial swathe of land, transformed over the course of two decades into a vibrant greenspace and waterfront community that provides a link to the city with the Ohio River. The Steel Yard, Providence, RI: A 3.5-acre historic steel fabrication facility that serves as a center for arts education, workforce training, and small-scale manufacturing. Via Verde, Bronx, NY: A 222-unit, LEED Gold certified, affordable housing development in the Bronx, designed by Dattner Architects and Grimshaw, featuring green roofs and solar panels.  
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Cincinnati Opens Downtown Casino, But Is it Urban?

Casinos have landed in Ohio’s three largest cities, now that Cincinnati’s $400 million Horseshoe casino is open for business. Eric Douglas, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has an interesting post as a guest blogger for UrbanCincy on the casino’s supposedly urban character. While Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati have been billed as “truly urban” establishments, he writes, “casinos are not known to be particularly friendly urban creatures.” A large lawn at the building’s main entrance is the extent of the building’s civic engagement, by Douglas’ account, while the slab-like frontage on the building’s other end provides no urban connectivity whatsoever. Located downtown and not far from the booming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Horseshoe is a worthy target for design criticism. Even if its selling point at the ballot box—where Ohio voters approved four new casinos in recent years—was revenue and not urbanism, the facility’s contribution to a city on the rebound could be more than tax dollars. The casino owners said they expect 6 million visitors a year to the 24-7 facility.
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Notes from The Innovative Metropolis: Fostering Economic Competitiveness Through Sustainable Urban Design

Covering ground from Sao Paulo to Copenhagen, a set of multi-disciplinary discussions were convened in Washington, DC yesterday by the Brookings Institution and the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis, to explore the synergies between urban design, policy, and finance required to realize innovation in the way we construct our environment. The discussions focused on global case studies relative to urban mobility, technology, and environmental adaptation, against the backdrop of global urbanization and climate change. While lessons were gleamed, it was clear that what was needed was "not one urbanism," as Dean Moshen Mostafavi of the Harvard GSD put it, but "Urbanisms," tuned to the "logic" of a given geography, climate, and culture. While existing within larger ecologies that, as Valente Souza of Mexico City asserted, may contain "their own solutions," cites are, as Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution emphasized "complex economic systems" and any sustainable initiatives must address consumer demands. As Alex Washburn, Chief Urban designer for New York City summarized, "all change is driven by desire." Watch videos of the proceedings of "The Innovative Metropolis" on the Brookings Institution website.
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Ray LaHood Touts High-Speed Rail at UIC Urban Forum

  Cities matter. In the Midwest recent headlines have read like an urban planning syllabus: post-industrial rebirth attracts a new generation of urbanites downtown, the roll-out of high-speed rail begins to pick up pace, and while innovative solutions to the region’s well-documented problems abound, a lingering fiscal crisis and unfunded pension liabilities threaten to squash even the most attainable aspirations. Those topics and more made the agenda at University of Illinois Chicago’s annual Urban Forum held Thursday, whose lineup included the mayors of Columbus and Pittsburgh, as well as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil” was the topic at hand. Sporting reindeer antlers, a protestor was removed from the conference for trying to confront UIC board of trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy over an ongoing labor dispute at the University. His opening salvo may have summed up the emotional state of the intertwined crises of labor and urban redevelopment better than the slew of statistics his target subsequently laid out, but the numbers are indeed telling: Illinois faces the nation’s largest unfunded pension liability; Chicago and Cook County grapple with decaying infrastructure and persistent impoverishment—some 500,000 people in the suburbs live in poverty, outnumbering those in the city. Governor Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle skipped out on their scheduled appearances to deal with ongoing pension negotiations, but their deputy staffers filled in for the hand-wringing. It would cost so much just to “stop the pain,” said Deputy Mayor Steven Koch, and pay off debt interest at all three levels of government that doing so would bankrupt them instantly. At least they are not alone. “We have a particularly bad form of this disease,” Koch said, “but the disease is widespread.” Somewhat less grim was the following panel, which asked the top brass of Columbus, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh to share their municipal travails. Facing financial crisis in 2001 and then again in 2008, Columbus “had to make a decision about what kind of city we wanted to be,” according to Mayor Michael Coleman. Service cuts were unavoidable, he said, but cutting too much could plunge the city into a spiral from which it would take decades to recover. Faced with cutting firemen and police, Coleman said he approached the business community with plans for a half-percent tax hike. They and the public supported it, he said, in lieu of further cuts. In Pittsburgh, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl recounted the steps he took to attract $5 billion in new downtown investment to the former steel city, which “hit the wall” around 1983. The ultra-green PNC Tower and a growing cadre of Google jobs were his celebrated examples, but he said investing in bike paths and other transportation infrastructure was critical to the revival of the city’s Bakery Square neighborhood. Secretary LaHood closed the day with a rallying cry for high-speed rail that minced no words. “High-speed rail is coming to America,” he said. “There’s no stopping it. We are not going back.” Though the secretary deflected credit for the policy change onto the President, he said his legacy would be safety, pointing to distracted driving restrictions now on the books in 39 states. “Everyone knows what’s needed in the United States,” LaHood said. “The issue is how do we pay for it?” Federal grant programs for multimodal transportation projects have expanded under the Recovery act, but LaHood said the key to sustaining growth was leveraging private money, in part through strategic loan programs. As for governors refusing to spend federal money on rail projects in their states, the secretary said, “Elections matter.”
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Imaginary Doors in Paris

Paris-based artist Jonas LeClasse’s Imaginary Doors (And the People Who Pass By Them) is as simple as it is beautiful. Amidst the continuous grit and grime of dirty, graffiti-filled urban walls in St. Dennis—a working-class Parisian suburb—LeClasse draws doors using chalk, provoking viewers to slow down and reflect. He then invites viewers to pause for a portrait with the “door.” Perhaps it is a gateway of sorts, a simple delineation of inside and outside, or the fact that the portrait always captures the subject within a double-frame (outside of the the door yet inside of the picture). In any case, LeClasse achieves poetry using subtle architectural gestures. All photos by Jonas LeClasse. [Via Wooster Collective.]
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The Doors Project: Projecting Gateways onto Obstacles

In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.” Inspired by true stories of people they’ve met—from a boy mastering kung fu to protect his mother from his abusive father to an Indian worker desperately raising money for his son’s surgery—the installation provokes the viewer to re-imagine boundaries as thresholds, opacity as reflection, and life’s roadblocks as opportunities. “These people, despite much hoping and praying, are faced with countless roadblocks that take them nowhere,” they said. According to Siyuan and Hwee Chong, people should take a giant leap of faith, work hard at what they believe in most, and open their own “doors” in life. “It’s just more meaningful that way.” Expect more public installations from Siyuan and Hwee Chong in the near future. “’Doors is meant to be an ongoing project. There’s no end date to it. For as long as we keep collecting stories of hope and despair, we’ll keep projecting people’s ‘doors’ onto roadblocks.” Read the full interview with the artists at Yolo or check out The Doors Project's website for more.  
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Parking Increasingly Passé in Downtown Chicago Towers

Crain's has an encouraging report on the drop in demand for parking spaces in Chicago's downtown residential buildings. At Lakeshore East, which includes Studio Gang's Aqua tower, only 40% of renters are leasing parking spaces. The developers had forecast a 55% demand. As a result many buildings are dropping the price for spaces. Other factors including buildings with on-site car sharing and secure bicycle storage areas are also likely cutting demand for parking spaces. As a result, some developers are rethinking how much parking to include in new projects, which would mean smaller podiums and more active street life, something any city would want.
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Channeling Mumford

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan lauds Grand Army Plaza. (Branden Klayko) DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has been invited to deliver the prestigious 2012 Lewis Mumford Lecture on Urbanism at the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College on April 5. The lecture will be held in the freshly restored Shepard Hall.  
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On View> Layered SPURA: Spurring Conversations Through Visual Urbanism

Layered SPURA: Spurring Conversations Through Visual Urbanism Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Parsons The New School 66 Fifth Ave. Through February 25 The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) that occupies 14 square blocks on the Lower East Side has remained one of the largest underdeveloped city-owned parcels of land for more than 40 years. Very few of the originally-planned buildings came to pass, and vast parking lots created by slum-clearance on the south side of Delancey Street symbolize a hotly contested renewal plan. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani and students of the New School’s City Studio have spent three years investigating the complex issues surrounding the site, and in an exhibition highlighting their research and artwork they propose to instigate a new grassroots conversation rather than a top-down planning vision.
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Competition> Envision a Future for the Pruitt-Igoe Site

Building on the renewed interest in the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St. Louis, a new competition looks to engage the history and inspire possible future uses for the 33 acre site. Nearly 40 years after the demolition--which Charles Jencks claimed signaled the death of Modern architecture itself--most of the site remains cleared, filled in with trees and grasses that have sprung up over time. Organized by the newly formed non-profit Pruitt-Igoe Now, the competition brief asks, "Can this site itself be liberated from a turbulent and mythologized past through re-imagination and community engagement?" Winning entries will receive small cash awards, and winners and honorable mentions will be exhibited publicly near the site. The organizers are also putting together a symposium at Portland State University, planned for Spring 2012.