Monday, April 30, 2012

Straphanger ― Saving Our Cities From Cars

CBC's Anthony Germain interviews Taras Grescoe on The Current. Cars are ruining cities. That's the premise of Taras Grescoe's new book, Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile. And if North America doesn't aggressively change its transit course, cities like Phoenix, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto could be in big trouble.
Grescoe travelled to cities around the world -- including New York, Moscow, Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Bogotá and Philadelphia -- to see how they are dealing with transit issues. A self-proclaimed "straphanger" -- that is, someone who relies on public transportation to get around -- 45-year-old Grescoe has never owned a car. "I rely on transit for the day-to-day travel in the city I live in, Montreal, and I ride a bike and I walk," he explained to The Current guest host Anthony Germain in a recent interview. "I put that filter on and visited 12 cities around the world...that process allowed me to see some interesting things." CBC Books - Saving our cities from cars

A Housing Crisis of 

Global Proportions

DOUG SAUNDERS | Columnist profile | E-mail
London— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
“It used to be easy for a young couple to find a place to live. But this new generation is coming of age without access to decent housing. Even if they get a good job, they’re priced out of the market, forced to live as adults with their parents, or settle with cramped living conditions.”

Does that sound familiar? It should. In recent weeks, I’ve heard people utter almost exactly these sentences about their neighbourhoods in Washington, in Beijing, in Nairobi, in London, in Mumbai and in Toronto.

If there is a global problem, this is it: There is not enough housing, to rent or to buy, at a price that people with decent but ordinary employment can afford.

A housing crisis of global proportions - The Globe and Mail

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Sidewalk Ballet Turns Two

The Sidewalk Ballet's first post, April 29, 2010: 

Email Thread With Architect Franc D'Ambrosio, Andrew Tucker re Port Place Redevelopment

Friday, April 27, 2012

Urban Planning For Dummies

With the majority of the world's population shifting to urban centres, urban planning—the practice of land-use and transportation planning to help shape cities structurally, economically, and socially—has become an increasingly vital profession. Urban Planning For Dummies offers an overview of the field, including community demographics, determining the best uses for land, planning economic and transportation development, and implementing plans. Excerpts at: Urban Planning For Dummies:Book Information - For Dummies

Thursday, April 26, 2012

From Walkonomics — Improving Street Walkability Reduces Crime

Every city has at least a few streets where you won’t feel completely safe from crime.  This might be due to several factors, such as the time of day, who you’re with or the reputation of the area.  Research has shown that ‘fear of crime’ affects urban walkability, but now a new project has shown that the reverse may also be true: that improving the walkability of a street can reduce the number of crimes in an area. Read more: Walkonomics – Blog » Improving Street Walkability Reduces Crime

From The Atlantic Cities
Why the Streets of Copenhagen and Amsterdam Look So Different From Ours

Amsterdam and Copenhagen... today widely viewed as paragons in the area of "livable streets" – were headed down the same auto-centric route as the U.S. in the period following World War II. And then they turned around. Read more: Why the Streets of Copenhagen and Amsterdam Look So Different From Ours - Commute - The Atlantic Cities

Monday, April 23, 2012

Caine's Cardboard Arcade in East LA

A 9 year old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad's used auto parts store is about to have the best day of his life.

From The Globe and Mail


Creative muscle in a digital world

LISA ROCHON From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Caine’s Arcade is an Internet video sensation about a nine-year-old boy in Los Angeles whose imagination and capable hands allowed him to construct a multi-game arcade using scissors, tape and cardboard boxes from his dad’s auto-parts shop. If Caine Monroy’s fantasy design hadn’t attracted the attention of L.A. indie filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, whose subsequent short documentary has had more than 2.4-million YouTube hits, we might have been inclined to pity the kid. He was forced to spend an unscripted summer without the diversions of overnight camp, art lessons or World of Warcraft to while away the hours. Instead, we are mesmerized and moved by the determination of a kid with nothing to do but design and build an idea from his mind.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Architect Bjarke Ingels Bicycles Through His Danish Pavillion at Shanghai Expo 2010

The Pavilion  features a double-loop structure with a cycle park on the roof containing 300 free bikes for visitors, and features as its centrepiece a pool overlooked by the authentic H.C Andersen’s Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen – specially imported for the Expo – where visitors can swim.

Charlie Rose — A Mayors Roundtable
With the Mayors of Chicago, Louisville, Baltimore and Jacksonville

From Monday, April 16, 2012. A Mayors Roundtable with: Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago; Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville; Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore; and Alvin Brown, Mayor of Jacksonville.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

San Francisco Earthquake April 18, 1906

April 18, 1906 the shaking began at 5:12 a.m. When it was over 3000 were dead and 28000 buildings lay in ruins. Half the population was homeless. San Francisco was rebuilt in less than a century. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Traffic Explained in Less Than 4 Minutes

Monday, April 16, 2012

Michael Geller Posts From Amsterdam

... while all parking spaces in Amsterdam are pay parking, there are no parking meters. The city got rid of them years ago; today there are ticket dispensers. This got me wondering why Vancouver is continuing to install very expensive parking meters when it could be instituting a much more cost effective system similar to that in Amsterdam and other European cities. You can still pay by phone or credit card. But this approach seems much more reasonable. And the short walk from your car to the meter is quite healthy! Read more: Michael Geller's Blog: Amsterdam: A City of Contrasts

From The Pop-Up City
Woodworking: Transforming The Skyscraper

Wood is a pretty ubiquitous material in much of the world, and it seems as though the time is right for this ligneous skyscraper proposal from Vancouver-based architect Michael Green. Read more: Woodworking: Transforming The Skyscraper — The Pop-Up City

Saturday, April 14, 2012

From The Vancouver Sun
Should Local Government be in the
Social Housing Business?

Photograph by: NEWS photo , Mike Wakefield

Should local government be in the social housing business?
As the City of North Vancouver prepares to take possession of six apartments obtained though a 2008 development deal, several councillors aren't convinced.
Read more: North Vancouver City seeks proposals for 6 social housing units

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years
By Michael Kluckner

Vancouver historian and artist Michael Kluckner has announced the launch of his 15th book: Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years by Michael Kluckner

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From The Atlantic Cities
The Simple Math That Can
Save Cities From Bankruptcy

In the 1950s, the five-story brick Asheville Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, started to fall into decline, presaging what would happen to most of the city’s downtown over the next couple of decades. A department store moved into the ground floor while everything above it sat empty. Then the building got one of those ugly metal facades that’s designed to distract from the fact that all the windows are boarded up. Here’s what it looked like in the 1970s, by which time it was completely vacant:

Twenty years later, the local real-estate developer Public Interest Projects set its sights on the building for a mixed-use retail and residential property. Local bankers and businessmen said they were foolish. No one wants to live downtown, they said. And so no one was interested in financing the project. Public Interest Projects went ahead with its own money and turned the building into this:

“Usually people like to see these before-and-after pictures of buildings,” says Joe Minicozzi, the new projects director at the firm who has now made something of a traveling road show with these photos. “And then we have the chaser of castor oil called economics.”
Minicozzi at this point starts pulling out bar graphs and land-use maps and property-tax calculations, because he’s not necessarily trying to make a point about the Asheville Hotel as much as he is about the fundamental math problem posed by modern cities in America.
In its vacant state in the 1970s, the Asheville Hotel didn’t contribute much to the public coffers. Today, though, that same parcel of land is responsible for exponentially more property tax revenue that helps pay for police, parks and city streets.
Read more: The Simple Math That Can Save Cities From Bankruptcy - Jobs & Economy - The Atlantic Cities

Monday, April 9, 2012

From Spacing Vancouver
Price Points: An Easter House

Less than half a kilometre from Burrard and Robson, one of the city's busiest intersections. At 1063-69 Barclay Street, a half-block from the YMCA, it's tucked into the eclectic landscape of the West End, maintaining the architectural diversity of a neighbourhood which still contains every residential style this city has seen since 1890. But despite its look, it's one of the newest. 
This house is actually four strata-title units, built in 2003, as you can see from the map here.
There's no such thing as a Missing Middle in the West End. We have it all.

Price Points: An Easter House « Spacing Vancouver

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser

"Why do smart people enact so many foolish urban policies?"

"Today, the five zip codes that occupy the mile of Manhattan between Forty-first and Fifty-ninth Streets employ six hundred thousand workers (more than New Hampshire or Maine), who earn on average more than $100,000 each, giving that tiny piece of real estate a larger payroll than Oregon or Nevada."
— Edward Glaeser, The Triumph of the City, How our Greatest Invention Makes us Richer, Smarter, Healthier and Happier.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

From The Globe and Mail
Ikea Begins Urban Planning Project -

These computer generated renderings depict the Strand East development in a neighbourhood designed by furniture giant Ikea. The images are urban design concepts only. - These computer generated renderings depict the Strand East development in a neighbourhood designed by furniture giant Ikea. The images are urban design concepts only. | LandProp Services


Welcome to Ikea-land: 

Furniture giant begins urban planning project

LONDON— There are feelings you get when you enter an Ikea store. The vertiginous experience of getting lost in their craftily designed labyrinth. The surprise of wandering into something you hadn’t intended to buy. The discomfiting almost-warmth of a fake apartment. The faintly reassuring sense that your children and your car are in someone else’s hands. Then the odd realization that you’re really inside a high-security structure on the distant edge of town.
Welcome to Ikea-land: Furniture giant begins urban planning project - The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From Project for Public Spaces
How to Turn Dún Laoghaire Around

Abandoned public baths along the waterfront / Photo: Gary Toth
Places, like many things, go through cycles—and even the grandest of public spaces can wind up looking a bit worn and forlorn. Last month, PPS’s Fred Kent, Gary Toth, and Kathy Madden traveled to the wonderfully bucolic community of Dún Laoghaire (pronounced Doon Layer-eh), Ireland, to conduct one of our How to Turn a Place Around training workshops. The area between Dún Laoghaire’s waterfront and high street is picture-perfect at first glance, but the 30 workshop participants quickly identified many underlying flaws. Led by the PPS team, these locals recognized assets that together represented a “gold mine” of Placemaking potential, and developed some wonderfully creative ideas for knitting together the area’s public spaces to create a truly extraordinary destination.

Read more: How to Turn Dún Laoghaire Around « Project for Public Spaces - Placemaking for Communities

1910 — 5th and Broadway, New York

Monday, April 2, 2012

From Fast Company / Co.Design
A First Look At The High Line's Final Phase

Initial details of the third and final leg of the High Line were released at a community meeting. Slated to open in 2014, the estimated $90 million extension of Manhattan’s madly popular railroad-turned-elevated park includes easy access to public transportation, breathtaking views of the Hudson River, and a climbing structure designed explicitly for kids.

Read more:
A First Look At The High Line's Incredible Final Phase | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

How Does Your City Compare?

"As the phrase goes: we overestimate what can be done in a year, and underestimate what can happen in a decade:" City of Vancouver stats reposted from: Progress: It Ain’t All Bad News « Price Tags