Friday, August 31, 2012

Time-lapse Video of Patrick Vale
Drawing the Manhattan Skyline

Timelapse video of artist Patrick Vale drawing the view of the Manhattan skyline from the Empire State Building. Music - Moanin' by Charles Mingus.

From polis — Barcelona (Re)photographed

An exhibit recently opened at the Barcelona Photographic Archive that uses photography as a tool to understand urban change through time. Titled "Working across Time: Rephotographing Images of Place," the exhibit is the culmination of a series of workshops and a conference exploring "rephotography" organized by the Archive and Arqueologia del Punt de Vista with American photographer Mark Klett

Read more: polis: Barcelona (Re)photographed

From PriceTags— Bob Rennie on
New Patterns in Home Ownership

The baby boomer is so automobile dependent because they needed it to socialize. Today youth does not need a car to get a date. Everything is done on their iPhones. It’s just a completely different culture. We’re really trying to tie that into our product design. Is youth going to be as competitive with the jewelry of home ownership as their parents were? I don’t think they are. …
When we sold out Marine Gateway in March, 414 units sold in a day. It was on the Canada Line. Twenty per cent of the product didn’t have parking. I actually phone the city manager and I said, “Screw the planning department, and screw the community groups. The consumer has spoken. They want to live on transit, and they’ll buy without parking.” I think that our elected officials need to hear what’s really going on.
- Bob Rennie

Quote: Bob Rennie on new patterns in home ownership « Price Tags

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cities on Speed — Bogotá in the 1990s

During the early 1990's Bogotá was the capital city of Colombia and by far the "worst city in the world". Doomed by corruption, chaos, poverty and violence, Bogotá was at urban decay. At the midst of collapse two creative politicians with radically new methods changed the city at a speed never imagined. This is the story of Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa two mayors who created citizenship, culture and democracy in a rotted city.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Robert Hughes on Barcelona

I recently read Lance Berelowitz' thoughtful post on the death of Robert Hughes:
Anyone who has had the good luck of visiting Barcelona in recent years will know that Hughes’s eponymously named book is a brilliant interpretation of that place and its curiously complicated culture. Reading it completely opened my eyes to one of Europe’s most enthralling urban experiments. In that sense, Hughes was a true urbanist: he understood, and wrote about, cities for what they are: great works of art.
I happened to have had that good luck three years ago, arriving late September on the weekend of the Merce Festival. While I await the library copy of Hughes' Barcelona I read his National Geographic book Barcelona the Great Enchantress. Here's Hughes on the Eixample, Catalan urban planner Ildefons Cerdà's mid 19th century expansion of the ancient port city:
The Eixample today is far denser and higher , more chaotic in texture and generally more oppressive than Ildefons Cerdà could ever have imagined. Cerdà designed his standard block with 710,000 feet of built floor space and a maximum height of some fifty-seven feet, later increased to sixty-five. Over the next century developers managed to increase this fourfold, to three million square feet per block; an urbanistic disaster, a fraud on the public, and a travesty of Cerdà's plan... Even so, the Eixample is one of the most interesting urban areas in Europe.
Among Barcelona's many delights, for me, was not so much Gaudi's famous strange otherworldly Modernista fantasies (Picasso said Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia should be sent straight to hell) but the discovery of Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and his breathtaking Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de la Música Catalana (high res panorama here).

Right: View from the Hospital de Sant Pau main entrance looking toward the Sagrada Familia down the pedestrian Avinguda de Gaudi.

Pictured below: Hospital de Sant Pau. Photos: Frank Murphy

Hughes on the impact of the 1992 Olympics on Barcelona.:

"Olympiads come and go amid a lot of blather about how they help remake the host city, lift it into permanent world attention, and so on. It is rarely true... But the approach of the 1992 Olympiad was the cue for Barcelona to launch the biggest program of excavation and construction, rerouting and reconstruction, cleaning, restoration and general urban rethinking the city had experienced in a hundred years, since the construction of the Eixample." 

The legacy of the 1992 Olympics includes the Barceloneta, a Mediterranean beach reclaimed from "a wilderness of rusting tracks and abandoned industrial equipment... from dump to prime real estate in a single fiat."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Funded by — Roominate
The Toy that Makes Every Young Girl an Artist, an Engineer, an Architect,
And a Visionary!

From PlaceShakers and NewsMakers
Zoning Our Way to HOA Insanity

... [P]erhaps the smallest, most local form of governance — one that over 60 million Americans routinely submit themselves to — is the home owners association (HOA). And lately, HOAs haven’t exactly been getting great press in our collective efforts to build a better world.

Like the whimsy of chalk drawings on the sidewalk? Your HOA doesn’t. Want to make a show of patriotism? Take it somewhere else, rabble rouser. Got a hankerin’ for fresh veggies or just like to spend some time tending the garden?No can do.

So what happens? Ironically, we end up appealing to higher forms of government, just so we can gain permission to hang the clothes out to dry. The anti-local.

That’s not the way strong, resilient communities get built. Read more: Zoning Our Way to HOA Insanity | PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Can Vancouver Architect Bing Thom
Save the Southwest From the
Legacy of Urban Renewal?

Darrow Montgomery Photo
“In order to hear good sound from performances or theater, the most important thing is the gap between the words or the gap between the music,” says Thom, 71, the architect who rethought Arena Stage—down to making sure Arena patrons don’t hear airplanes flying into Reagan National Airport, as they did for decades, when the space should be completely quiet. “In the gap, you create the suspension for what’s to come. If you’re not able to create silence in the space and exterior noise comes in during the gap, the whole presentation is lost. It could be the hum of a light switch, an ambulance, an air conditioner coming on. It’s the pace of the delivery. The pace of the delivery, you create by the gaps.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

From The Pop-Up City — Theater Group Launches Pop-Up Crosswalk
To The Arc De Triomphe

Theater Group Launches Pop-Up Crosswalk To The Arc De Triomphe — The Pop-Up City

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From The Pop-Up City
Recycled Shadows In Madrid

It is estimated that about 938,000 copies of free newspapers are distributed daily in Madrid, out of which a large ends up in the trash. Under the name ‘Recycled Shadow’, the Spanish architecture collective Meva transforms wasted newspapers into precious shades for the madrileños. For this project, wasted newspapers are folded into paper windmills and attached to a nylon string holding them all together. Once numerous pieces are attached, the structure finds its new purpose.

Read more: Shadows In Madrid — The Pop-Up City

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Inhabitat ― Madrid's Atocha Station Doubles as an Indoor Botanical Garden
And Turtle Sanctuary

Madrid's  Atocha Train Station. Commuters relax under the leafy palms, or watch the turtle pond while waiting for their next train. 

Slideshow:Madrid's Atocha Station Doubles as an Indoor Botanical Garden and Turtle Sanctuary | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Dîner en Blanc Coming to Vancouver

At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc's” secret place. Thousand of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space... Dîner en Blanc - Vancouver

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From Flavorwire
The Most Beautiful and Imaginative
Public Schools in the World

Architects and local governments around the world are now fighting the good fight against dismal, uninspiring schools and the groundbreaking results are re-shaping the learning experience for our future generations. From a colorful kindergarten in Slovenia made out of toy planks that lets kids play with and manipulate their environment to a high school breeding a new generation of environmentalists...

More at: Flavorwire » The Most Beautiful and Imaginative Public Schools in the World

Botanist Patrick Blanc ―
Creator of the Vertical Garden

Frank Murphy photo.
Patrick Blanc, botanist, creator of the vertical garden. Pictured, his work at the Caixa Forum, Madrid.

Friday, August 17, 2012 ― Explore City Data Patterns, Trends, Correlations

City Forward is a free, web-based platform that enables city officials, researchers, academics and interested citizens world-wide to view and interact with city data while engaging in an ongoing public dialogue. City Forward

Thursday, August 16, 2012

From Businessweek
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Often Takes the Train to Work

Photograph by Thomas Prior for Bloomberg Businessweek
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel often takes the train to work, chatting with constituents. Devin Leonard goes along for the ride and talks with the mayor about his planned upgrade of the city’s infrastructure. More at BussinessWeek: Rahm Emanuel on Upgrading Chicago's Infrastructure - Businessweek

From Illustrated Vancouver
1961 Zoning Plan Includes
First Modernist Towers

A Zoning Plan for the Downtown Area, Vancouver, B.C., published May 26, 1961; images from the planning department brochure shown courtesy of Tom Carter. This plan signals an important change for Vancouver, as it includes one of the city’s first modernist towers, the Burrard Building. The Burrard Building was built 1955-57, and the United Kingdom Building was built in 1958. Technically, it should also be noted that The Electra, the masterpiece of modernism, was completed first in 1957. The Burrard building may no longer jump out of the crowd today, but once upon a time, it rose with distinction. Originally it had metallic lemon/lime coloured spandrels, the detailing between the windows, but more recently it has been re-skinned with low key reflective glass windows. The building’s design was heavily influenced by Lever House in New York City.

More here: Illustrated Vancouver, A Zoning Plan for the Downtown Area, Vancouver,...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From Foreign Policy: The Cities Issue
Meet the 29 Chinese Cities
Powering Global Growth

Foreign Policy's index of the 75 most dynamic global cities contains more than a few surprises, but perhaps none more so than the fact that 29 of these cities are in China -- far and away the most of any country on the list. As part of its mad dash toward modernization, China has rapidly urbanized, spawning a slew of massive cities whose size is only tempered by the surprising fact that most people in the West have never heard of them. Despite their relative anonymity, these are the cities likely to drive the world economy during coming decades. Some are high-tech manufacturers; others are bathed in smoke produced by the factories that not long ago were a common sight in Western countries. Meet the 29 Chinese cities powering global growth: The East Is Rising - By Elias Groll

From Foreign Policy: The Cities Issue
75 Powerhouses of the Urban Revolution

Postcards from the Future - An FP Slide Show

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Market Square Revival Proposed for Stratford

In cities around the world people are working with city planners and municipal governments to recapture the spirit and energy of their Market Squares and Common Spaces. From Prague to San Francisco, from Kingston to Toronto people have restored their town centres, rooted trees and drawn people back to the central spaces that so many of us fondly remember. Stratford shares that dream; to recreate Market Square as the beating heart of the city centre.

Read more: Market Square - Home

From Project for Public Spaces
Public Spaces Hall of Shame

Project for Public Spaces: 
The Hall of Shame
Empty, Unsafe, Dysfunctional,
Uninviting, Disorienting, Inaccessible

What Makes a Successful Place?

Great public spaces are where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges take place, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, neighborhood schools – where we interact with each other and government. When the spaces work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives. More at

Hall of Shame - Great Public Spaces | Project for Public Spaces (PPS)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

From The New Dubliners ―
Young Artists Stake Claim to Open Spaces

The news out of Europe has been grim, nowhere more so than in those countries so charmingly referred to since the 2008 crash as PIIGS—Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain—whose economies threaten to upend the entire European experiment. In Ireland, where the fierce economic growth of the late 1990s and early 2000s earned it the sobriquet the Celtic Tiger, the collapse has been particularly dramatic. But if the crisis has reduced the tiger to a mewling kitten, it has also helped forge a new Dublin. The city of pubs, footballers, and butcher shops selling Leopold Bloom his morning dose of pork kidney that I had envisioned has given way to one of pop-up exhibitions fueled by a fresh, do-it-yourself energy. A new generation of visual artists, performance artists, and even culinary artists is staking creative claims to spaces left empty by the bust, forming an avant-garde that couldn’t have come into being without the crisis. Read more: The New Dubliners - AFAR

Friday, August 10, 2012

From ― 40 Top Public Spaces

Granville Island Public Market Photo: Hutch 
Every community needs a commons where people can gather as friends, neighbors and citizens. This can be a grand public square, a humble Main Street or a vacant lot with a few handmade benches where locals sit down for conversation. Or even a bridge, beach or bus station, as the examples below show.
What’s important are the connections made among people, which can lead to wonderful things: friendships, love affairs, partnerships that flower into new ideas for businesses or community projects.
Project for Public Spaces, a New York-based group that works around the world helping citizens boost the sense of community in their neighborhoods, compiled a comprehensive catalog of more than 600 of the best public spaces around the world. Here is a selection of some of the most inspiring, many of them very modest and in surprisingly humble locations, which can offer ideas about creating or improving a commons in your own town.
You can find out more—including practical information about elements what make these places succeed as commons—and nominate your own favorite public spaces at Project for Public Spaces’s Great Public Spaces Hall of Fame. You can peruse PPS’s Hall of Shame to learn what mistakes not to repeat from over 60 of the most disappointing public spaces around the world.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Streets NYC ―
Play, Run, Walk and Bike

Summerstreets is back again this year: on August 4, 11 and 18, from 7 am to 1 pm, nearly seven miles of New York City streets are opened “for everyone to play, run, walk and bike.” Learn more: here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

From ― Public Pressure Builds
For Change to Sears Building

Artist’s rendering of what the new building could look like. Courtesy of Vancity Buzz.
“It’s outright hostile to the walker,” says former city director of planning Brent Toderian. “The building is a nod to car culture and big monolithic sterile architecture. It’s as big and lumpy as it could possibly be and it was designed for easy car access in a way that’s hostile to walkers.”

Read more: Public pressure builds for change to Sears building | OpenFile

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Video on
Dave Meslin: The Antidote to Apathy

Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy | Video on

It's Zaha Hadid's Time to Shine

Iraqi-born Hadid is one of the greatest architects alive. In 2004, she became the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, architecture's greatest honor. The year prior, she was awarded the European Union Mies van der Rohe Prize for a tram station in Strasbourg.

More at  At last, it's Zaha Hadid's time to shine -

Thursday, August 2, 2012

From Business in Vancouver
Nanaimo Seaplane Terminal Surpasses
2 Million Passenger Milestone

In its 27th year of operation, Nanaimo’s seaplane terminal hit 2.2 million passenger throughputs as of July 31. 

Read more: Nanaimo seaplane terminal surpasses 2 million passenger milestone | Transportation | Business in Vancouver