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- September 23, 2009BY JULIE KIM
Last Friday, we teamed up with the San Francisco Great Streets Project and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to participate in 2009 PARK(ing) Day, an event-cum-social movement started by Rebar in 2005.
Before the big day, architect and SFBC volunteer Riyad Ghannam spent countless hours in the Urban Center's basement designing and building wooden platforms to create a seamless transition between the sidewalk and PARK:
We're hoping the installation can be a model for restaurants and other small businesses to create temporary outdoor eating and sitting spaces as an extension of their storefronts. The model was a hit among North Beach restaurant owners, for whom PARK(ing) Day turned into a PARK(ing) Weekend! (See Streetsfilm's clip below for the whole story.)
Finally, what would PARK(ing) Day be without a little bellydancing by Calamity Sam, who literally stopped Mission Street traffic.
Thank you to plant-provider Flora Grubb, furniture-maker Miles Epstein, belly-dancer Calamity Sam and cellist Leo Suarez-Peringer for making 2009 PARK(ing) Day a raging success! And we're thrilled that Dwell, Streetsblog and Streetsfilms all had a chance to stop by.
- September 22, 2009BY JULIE KIM
Last month, AIA San Francisco, CEOs for Cities, GOOD Magazine and SPUR issued a "call for problems" to a handful of city leaders, and asked six up-and-coming designers to develop responses and present them at an evening forum later this month.
The challenges we got ranged from improving public schools, to designing a more welcoming storefront for the Ferry Building, to coming up with a better, i.e. less cumbersome, way for homeowners to store recycling bins.
Six local design teams--some of the brightest minds in architecture, graphics, interactive systems and industrial design--will present their solutions to their "clients" at a public forum at the Urban Center on September 29.
We are thrilled to welcome GOOD contributing editor Alissa Walker as moderator.
Full event details are below...see you next week!
Tuesday, September 29, 6-8 p.m.
SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission Street, SF
$10 General Admission; Buy tix at aiasf.org/archandcity
The GOOD Design SF lineup:
- Problem #1: Create a scalable program that improves local public education. Submitted by Carlos Garcia, San Francisco Unified School District. Design response by Kuth Ranieri.
- Problem #2: Expand the Ferry Plaza's vibrant food experience out into the street. Submitted by Chris Meany, Wilson Meany Sullivan. Response by Surface Design.
- Problem #3: Make recreational movement safer along our waterfronts. Submitted by Monique Moyer, Port of San Francisco. Design response by Min Day.
- Problem #4: Reinvent San Francisco's Broadway as a vibrant commercial corridor. Submitted by Michael Cohen, Mayor's Office of Workforce and Economic Development. Design response by Mike and Maaike.
- Problem #5: Design a citywide bicycle parking system. Submitted by Nathaniel Ford, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Design response by Stamen.
- Problem #6: Devise a more effective residential recycling program. Submitted by Zahid Sardar, author, design editor and columnist. Design response by Volume.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Architecture and the City website.
Tags: good design
- September 15, 2009BY JULIE KIM
Maureen Futtner of the San Francisco Examiner asks SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf about the trajectory of his career (from SPUR intern to Executive Director), the role of optimisim in affecting social change and his thoughts on what makes a great city leader.
- September 9, 2009BY DAVID BONOWITZ
Twenty years after Loma Prieta, are we better prepared for our next big earthquake? A new website takes a grassroots approach to the question.The site lets anyone post photos and descriptions of retrofitted buildings on a Google-based map. It launched in mid-August with an eye on the October anniversary. Results from the first two weeks are compelling: hundreds of structures, everything from houses to high-rises, posted by owners, engineers, contractors--and even local governments.
The mapped projects show what can be done and suggest what needs to be done still. But do they add up to something? SPUR has made the case for public policy that focuses on resilience, not just survival, and that's going to take some planning. Whatever the policy, however, earthquake risk reduction will almost always get done one building at a time, as the website illustrates.What's the point of mapping hundreds (maybe thousands) of retrofits? The organizers (full disclosure: I'm one of them) acknowledge that the site started as a way to quantify progress, but it's morphed into something different. Since the content is user-generated, it's not controlled enough to support a research project. Instead, the site is about community and shared purpose, a way for anyone and everyone to say "I retrofitted!" Twenty years of progress, even if slow or scattered, is worth documenting in a public way.
- August 13, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
Transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the fastest growing source of emissions in the U.S., and are currently responsible for almost 30% of the nation's total GHG output. A new ULI report, Moving Cooler, presents different strategies for making our transportation systems more sustainable. It proposes nine categories for improvement, including pricing/taxes, land use and smart growth, transit improvements, ridesharing, intelligent systems, and more. Going beyond other reports of its kind, it not only looks at the costs and effectiveness of different strategies, but considers them in various combinations. Although you have to buy the book, you can get an overview of its findings here.
- July 14, 2009BY MARY
Should you be driving on the highway in rural northwest Norway keep your eyes peeled for more than just the natural beauty. The Norwegian national road agency is in the midst of a $1.6 billion project that attempts to lure tourists to this often over-looked area by highlighting the landscape with architecture--in the shape of viewpoints, rest stops, benches, winding foot bridges and stairs leading you to the sea. It has already hired more than 45 architects, landscape architects and artists to create these eye-catchers. And you don't need a car to enjoy it! Some of the projects include resting shelters for bicyclists.
A rest house for cyclists.
- July 1, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
NRDC has just released a guide to SB 375, the nation's first legislation to link transportation and land use planning with global warming. The goal of this legislation is to foster development patterns that reduce the need to drive. Household transportation is the single largest and fastest-growing source of global warming pollution in California. SB 375 will also help save money for households and taxpayers (through reduced infrastructure costs), reduce air pollution, conserve water, and protect farmland and open space.
- June 30, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
Our friends at the Sightline Institute in Cascadia have put together a primer on the federal climate bill, aka the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), aka Waxman-Markey, that passed the U.S. House of Representatives late last week. Cap and Trade 101 features what you need to know about cap and trade, pollution auctioning, offsets, and why national climate legislation is good for families. For one slightly technical analysis of the bill, also check out Sightline's blog post, "14 Things I Love - and 6 I Hate - About Waxman-Markey". Get ready for a showdown as this groundbreaking legislation is debated in the Senate in the fall.
- June 25, 2009BY MARY
Times Square has under gone a transformation lately, with lounge chairs replacing traffic and conversations replacing honking taxis. This coned-off chunk off Broadway is one of a number of experiments with public space happening around the city. New York City's Department of Transportation is trying out various spots to see where roads currently set aside for traffic could be turned over to pedestrian and bikes without serious disruption. Like the project in Times Square, the first step is to stage the area with inexpensive, easily removable objects: large potted plants, beach umbrellas, tables and chairs. If it "works," if people use the space, it can made permanent. SPUR has recently teamed up with the Bicycle Coalition to work for the Great Streets Campaign, which wants to create similar urban spaces in San Francisco. The mayor of Bogata, Colombia, a leader in this movement, will be speaking at the San Francisco Public Library July 7th about successful strategies to make public urban space. Join in!
- June 23, 2009BY MARY
Earlier this month, after ten years of advocacy from neighbors, activists and artists alike, the first of three sections of New York's High Line park opened for visitors. The 1.45 mile-long park is situated on a defunct 19th century elevated train track that used to carry cattle into the Meatpacking District, but had been left standing since 1980, when nature adopted it, and turned it wild with grasses and wildflowers--a magical place for those who knew about it. James Corner, the landscape architect endeavored with transitioning the old rail into public space, created a design that maintains some tenor of abandonment and "retain[s] that quality of wildness and melancholy." At three stories high, the park runs from the Hudson, between buildings and crosses avenues and streets, giving the visitor a new prospect of the city and a fantastic place to be a voyeur.