Blog » weekly snapshot
- September 17, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
Cars and Cities: The removal of the Alaskan Way viaduct in Seattle has the potential to pave the way for transit innovation. However, its proposed replacement, an underground freeway, would leave little room for new transit ideas, and might reinforce car dependence.
Once Celebrated Ambassador Hotel Finds New Life as a School: The Ambassador Hotel, a Los Angeles landmark, is now being converted into six different state-of-the-art schools for inner-city students.
Waco Embraces Growth and New Urbanism: Tired of being known as "Texas's largest bathroom break," the formerly planning-conservative town of Waco is now embracing "new urbanism" in the form of increased walkability and green building to reawaken its sleepy downtown.
Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity to build 5,000 Green Homes: Habitat for Humanity and the Home Depot have paired up with the hopes of building 5000 green homes in under five years. With 1,800 houses already built, and 2,400 to be constructed, the partners are well on their way to completing their goal.
Perks for Pedaling: Knowing that a good worker is a healthy one, many companies in Oregon have started offering hefty benefits to employees who bike to work, rather than drive.
- September 10, 2010- posted by Anika Jesi
Kung Fu Tacos and the creme brulee guy in front of SPUR's opening party for DIY Urbanism: Testing the grounds for social change, on view through October 29. [Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
The Power of Density: Writer Richard Florida argues for the economic benefits of urban density, suggesting that the geographic concentration of related industries and assets can play a powerful role in sparking innovation and economic growth.
Clever Crosswalk Squashes Jaywalking by Making it Legal: Korean designer Jae Min Lim has a simple but innovative idea for pedestrian safety—repaint crosswalks to reflect the way pedestrians actually walk.
Green Revolution Comes to Urban Neighborhoods: Organizations like the LA Conservation Corps are helping to "green the ghetto" by training young adults in low-income neighborhoods skills needed for green jobs. Residents of these areas say they've been left out of the environmental movement due to a common misconception that they neither want nor can afford eco-friendly improvements.
Spit, Glue, and Maybe Even Chewing Gum: The New York Times suggests that some of America's greatest infrastructure systems are also some of the most vulnerable, and it can often take little more than a tiny electrical fire or rusted pipe to bring an entire system to its knees.
SF Adding Parking Meters in Premium Districts: Don't be surprised if there's a sparkly new smart meter in your neighborhood soon. The SFMTA voted Tuesday to start installing 1,340 of the new meters, whose rates will rise and fall with demand, in neighborhoods where parking is at a premium.
- September 3, 2010- posted by Anika Jesi
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
Portland Streetcar Success has Fueled Interest Elsewhere: The success of Portland's streetcar is helping to spark a streetcar "renaissance," in which cities nationwide are seeking federal grants to build their own networks of electric streetcars.
"¨"¨In Stockholm, Rental Blue Boost Black Market: One flipside to Stockholm's egalitarian-minded rent system is that is has fueled a black market in which only renters willing to dish out large sums of money under the table can avoid the system's years-long waitlists, and have access to the best rent-controlled apartments in the city. "¨"¨
Matchmaker, Matchmaker: The Van Alen Institute has launched "Design Speed Dating," a new series in which emerging designers rotate around a table filled with established designers and critics, receiving half-hour long portfolio reviews and constructive feedback from the professionals.
"¨"¨The New Agtivist: Gene Fredericks is Thinking Inside the City's Big Box: Local entrepreneur Gene Fredericks proposes converting the Bay Area's vacant big-box stores into year-round indoor food growing centers."¨"¨
Sewage Streams into Scenic Parks? One Man's Goal: Urban Planner Manit Rastogi hopes to turn a heavily polluted sewage line running through the heart of New Delhi into a scenic path that will serve as an eco-friendly and safe transit network for pedestrians and bicyclists who currently have to traverse the city's congested and dangerous streets.
- August 28, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
Market Street [Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
The Good, the Bad and the Empty: Students at Walt Whitman Middle School in partnership with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)made a video examining the link between land-use and neighborhood well-being by asking the basic but thought-provoking question of "Why are there so many empty lots in our neighborhood?" More on CUP here.
Homeless and Empty Homes—an American Travesty: With 3.5 million homeless U.S. residents, and more than 18 million vacant homes across the country, should we be finding ways to turn these empty houses into shelters for people in need?
What Beijing's 62-Mile, Nine-Day Traffic Jam Means for China's Turbulent Future of the Car: Popular Science's Clay Dillow suggests that China's nine-day-long traffic jam, having unveiled the flaws of an auto-centric transit system, has the potential to spark serious urban planning and infrastructure innovations.
Car-Free Community Cropping up in Rural Columbia Suburb: The nation's first car-free, cycle-oriented community is under development in South Carolina. The town, appropriately named "Bicycle-City," hopes to tackle the problems of obesity and climate change all at once.
To Catch Cairo Overflow, Two Megacities Rise in Sand: Cairo has become so overcrowded that the Egyptian government has undertaken the massive urban planning project of building two megacities from scratch in order to house the millions of residents the city can no longer sustain.
- August 20, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
The Tenderloin National Forest [Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
DOT Unveils New Pop Up CafÃ© in Financial District: NYC takes a page from San Francisco's book and installs a parklet as the first in a series of attempts to address the lack of public space caused by Manhattan's cramped sidewalks.
Beyond City Limits: In this "urban age," are megacities replacing nation-states as the centers of governance and power, and the hubs of economic vitality?
Goodbye Land Transit? Say Hello to New Flying Suntram: In an attempt to solve their traffic congestion problems, Denver has proposed the Suntram -- a high-speed, zero-emissions "flying" tram that would carry passengers high above the ground.
Animal Shaped Cities? South Sudan Unveils Big Plan: South Sudan has unveiled plans for a radical urban planning project in hopes of boosting tourism in the state. The $10 billion project proposes to restructure Sudan's capital cities into the shape of several animals found on the Sudanese flag.
- August 14, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
Ruling Paves Way for San Francisco Bike Lanes: Bicyclists rejoice as San Francisco's four-year-old bike plan injunction is lifted, allowing the much anticipated implementation of 45 new bike lane projects city-wide.
Time to Return to L.A.'s Core: One symptom of the economic downturn is that it has slowed gentrification, putting some neighborhoods in developmental limbo. This, however, has produced surprisingly sweet results in areas like downtown LA, where there have been just enough changes to energize the area, but not too many as to feel overdeveloped.
London's Do-It-Yourself Approach to Safer Streets: In this video, a UK organization models a DIY community-based approach for reducing traffic and improving street life in London neighborhoods.
Brazillian Activists Paint Guerrilla Pedestrian Lines: A group of Brazilian activists in Sao Paulo, a city notorious for its transit chaos, took pedestrian-safety into their own hands by painting guerilla crosswalks in high speeding zones throughout the city.
The Scary Truth About America's Disappearing Middle Class: A new report suggests that technology, rather than politics, may be to blame for America's shrinking middle class, as computers more increasingly become the principal performer of middle-wage jobs.
- August 6, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
PlantSF [Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
Paris's popular bike rentals spark electric car plans: Influenced by the success of its bike-sharing program, Paris plans to add the electric car to its repertoire of shared transit.
Ground Zero mosque plans move forward after key vote: Despite proposals for symbolic land-use restrictions, NYC's controversial plans to build an Islamic mosque near ground zero are moving forward after a vote to demolish a building in the mosque's proposed site.
Food stamps go organic: Farmers markets in Healdsburg and Petaluma are now accepting food stamps in a trial run designed to encourage individuals receiving government aid to shop at their local markets. This arrangement benefits not only low-income shoppers, but local farmers as well.
The future of cities and transportation: One author suggests that if we want our cities to have a truly sustainable infrastructure, we need to look further into the future when making planning decisions today.
Changing clocks could cut carbon costs: What if shifting clocks forward an hour was the key to cutting carbon emissions and improving our general quality of life? According to the UK's Lighter Later Campaign, it is.
Line between cops, civilians blurs with new SFPD program: A new program through the SFPD, which would train civilians to respond to and investigate non-violent crimes, aims to reduce SF police officers' workload, allowing them more time to focus on violent or high-priority cases.
- July 31, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
The Castro parklet [Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
Fleeing Phoenix out of fear of Arizona's immigration law: Thousands of immigrants are fleeing Phoenix, AZ before the state's harsh new immigration law goes into place, leaving neighborhoods vacant, and forcing local stores out of business.
Seedbombing for the modern guerilla gardening movement: Guerilla gardeners are arming themselves with "seedbombs," their new weapon of choice in the quest to make the world a greener place.
Bikes and cars: A lesson in Los Angeles: The mayor of Los Angeles broke his elbow last Saturday, when a swerving car knocked him off his bike, serving as a painful reminder that his city still has a ways to go in improving bike safety.
Exploring algae as fuel: Certain strains of genetically engineered algae are showing promise for being used as a green source of fuel.
Atlanta's Buford Highway is a death trap: A highway in an Atlanta suburb exemplifies the serious problems with suburban transit infrastructure that caters to cars and not to pedestrians.
The G-list: Architect Magazine has compiled a list of the "top-five most important green buildings since 1980", in response to Vanity Fair's recent top architecture list which gives surprisingly little representation to green architecture.
Old San Francisco mint to become a gorgeous green museum: The San Francisco Mint, which has been vacant since 1995, will find a new purpose as a cultural hub and historical museum thanks to an adaptive reuse project aimed at greening and redeveloping this famous SF Landmark.
- July 24, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
London opens bike superhighways: London sets a positive urban example by installing bicycle superhighways on the previously bike-unfriendly streets, in hopes of inciting a "cycling revolution."
Longtime denizens resist call to leave terminal: As most San Francisco residents welcome the arrival of a new Transbay Terminal, others are having more difficulty adjusting to the change-- specifically the homeless individuals who used to call the old terminal home.
German autobahn closed for gigantic party—one million cyclists celebrate: There was no driving on the Autobahn last Sunday when a section of the famous German expressway was closed to host a giant car-less party. An astonishing three million pedestrians and bikers showed up to reclaim the road.
Getting off oil: Forget hybrids and solar panels, we need active, exciting and vibrant cities: Does the key to greening our cities rest not on solar panels and electric vehicles, but instead on our ability to increase walkability in pre-existing urban areas?
BART's fare reduction off track: BART enters the 2010-11 fiscal year with a $4.5 million surplus -- a sum passengers hope will be spent on extended service hours, tighter security, and cleaner trains instead of temporary fare reductions.
Grandiose Nazi airport becomes a wild and free park in Berlin: A former German airport, once a testament to the country's rocky past, has blossomed into a no-frills, but nonetheless wildly successful park, with little more done to the vast space than a few X's painted onto the runway.
Innovation powers growth of small wind on urban rooftops: New innovations in the small wind industry are helping to bring wind power to urban settings, such as in New York City, where a small wind turbine resting atop an eight-story apartment building can supply the residents with all their power needs for their shared spaces.
- July 16, 2010BY ANIKA JESI
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
SFMOMA architects meet the public: The project of designing the $250 million SFMOMA extension to house the incoming Fisher Collection has been narrowed down to four eclectic finalists. In a short film, each architect discusses their individual hopes for the future of MOMA and their theories on what a museum should be.
Science city stores warm air from summer to heat buildings in winter: A Swiss University has found a way to heat its campus with virtually no carbon emissions. Their innovative method, which could have significant implications for city-scaled sustainability solutions, stores warm air from the summer, and uses it as a heat source during winter.
Will California achieve its anti-sprawl targets? California's anti-sprawl bill promises to bring about much needed change by requiring metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to invest in projects that promote sustainable land use, but will MPOs shift their investments away from destructive development in order for these changes to be realized?
Subway on the street: The Bx12 in NYC offers a glimpse into the bright future of bus transit, if buses are given a dramatic makeover. In this utopian, but not altogether unattainable future, passengers board in mere seconds, and buses glide through rush hour traffic with ease.
So-Cal seeks High Line West: With the recent success of New York's High Line, it's no surprise that LA is unveiling plans to build the West Coast version of the popular elevated park.