Sunday, December 30, 2012

From Project for Public Spaces
Best of the Blog: Top 12 PPS Posts of 2012

2012 was a big year in general here at PPS—and the same was true for the Placemaking Blog! Here's a round-up of the top posts from the past year, organized by popularity.  See anything you missed?? More at: Project for Public Spaces | Best of the Blog: Top 12 PPS Posts of 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From — Picture of the Day: Central Park Panorama

Russian photographer Sergey Semenov captured this great panoramic shot of Central Park in New York, moreover he got the EPSON International Pano Awards 2012 (Panoramic Photography Competition) as Major Amateur Winner and as Amateur Award – Built Environment (including architecture and landscape). His art keeps your eyes interested in details of the picture and your mind busy with “how did he make this shot?” question.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Imouto (“little sister") House, Vancouver’s First Shipping Container Housing Will Create 12 Units for Women Aged 55+

Right now, Imouto House looks like a stack of shipping containers that somebody took a cutting torch to. That’s because it is exactly that; Vancouver’s first recycled shipping container based housing project will create 12 units of housing for Atira Women’s Resource Society. Imouto will in part provide housing for women aged 55+ living in shelters or SRO rooms. Imouto is the Japanese word for “little sister”and was chosen because the building in located in Japantown, kitty corner from the Vancouver Japanese Language School.

The first containers were lifted into position in late November, and the Barry McGinn designed project is expected to complete for April 1st after a week-long open house for the public. Each unit will be 320 sq ft, with its own kitchen, bathroom and laundry, and construction is quite a bit cheaper than traditional methods coming in at under $100,000 a unit.

Imouto House – Alexander Street | Changing City Updates

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

85 Years of Traffic Engineering Revolving Around the Car Has Failed Miserably

Mikael Colville-Andersen: Engineers are brilliant problem solvers. They just need to be told which problems to solve. They are rarely leaders. They are the Can Do team. If we design a city properly, they will make it work. But as it is now, we are living in The Matrix, because traffic engineering goes unchecked and unctriticised. 

“Almost 35,000 people are killed in car accidents on our roads” @copenhagenize on harsh realities of North American and European car cultures. Bicycle Culture by Design: Mikael Colville-Andersen at TEDxZurich

Sunday, December 16, 2012

From Project for Public Spaces
In Praise of the Zealous Nut!

The way that public spaces were being conceived and designed [almost four decades ago] was disconnected from the reality of how people used them, yet there was surprisingly little resistance. Today, in contrast, we are witnessing a convergence of advocates, activists, fathers, mothers, citizens, neighbors, friends — those we call the “zealous nuts” — all coming together around the idea of place.

Looking Back on 2012…and On to 2013, the Year of the Zealous Nut! | Project for Public Spaces

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

From TED Blog — A Community Center Built by the Community Wins City 2.0 Award

The Klong Toey Community Lantern — a community space in the oldest and largest of Bangkok’s slums — was built very quickly. Not quite as quickly as shown in this three-minute timelapse video, but construction for the project took just three weeks thanks to the help of the community. But while construction went fast, Norwegian architects Yashar Hanstad and Andreas Gjertsen — of the firm TYIN tegnestue Architects – took six months to design the space. They conducted interviews with Klong Toey residents and held public workshops to find out exactly what the 140,000 person community — which struggles with rampant unemployment, drug use and substandard housing — needed. The goal was to create a safe oasis for community members of all ages to play and congregate. 

Read more: TED Blog | A community center, built by the community, wins City 2.0 award 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From Kaid Benfield's Blog
The Ten Steps of Walkability

In Jeff Speck’s excellent new book, Walkable City, he suggests that there are ten keys to creating walkability. Most of them also have something to do with redressing the deleterious effects caused by our allowing cars to dominate urban spaces for decades. I don’t necessarily agree with every detail, and my own list might differ in some ways that reflect my own experience and values. But it’s a heck of a good menu to get city leaders and thinkers started in making their communities more hospitable to walkers.

Read more: 
The ten steps of walkability | Kaid Benfield's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

From The Atlantic Cities
What It Really Takes to Foster an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

RICHARD FLORIDA Innovation and entrepreneurship are the engines of economic growth. For decades now, cities and communities across the United States have tried to infuse themselves with those two properties by emulating Silicon Valley, a never-ending quest to become the next Silicon Somewhere. Brad Feld’s terrific new book, Startup Communities, takes us inside the real ecologies of innovation and entrepreneurship. Feld, co-founder of venture capital firm Foundry Group, serves on the boards of numerous high-tech companies. He recently chatted with Cities about his new book.

Read more: What It Really Takes to Foster an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem - Technology - The Atlantic Cities

Monday, December 10, 2012

Promenade, Garonne River, Toulouse

South of France Autumn light through the Plane Trees along the Garonne River. Picture by my friend Jenny, now living in Toulouse. Exquisite public space. Look how the walkway along the river's edge isn't lined with railings as it would be here in North America. "Street wall" of 2-3 stories set well back. Appears about 25% of the space is for car use. 75% pedestrian and bikes, seems about right.

From Witold Rybczynski's Blog
Films Starring Architecture

... Roman Polanski’s 1966 film Cul-de-Sac. Lionel Stander and Donald Pleasance are first-rate, but they share star billing with Lindisfarne Castle, which is the location of this one-setting film. Lindisfarne is a sixteenth-century castle that was restored and converted into a country retreat by Sir Edwin Lutyens, whose austere architecture contributes greatly to the tense atmosphere of the film. It reminded me how few movie director’s have exploited outstanding architecture.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The High Cost of Free Parking

In some city neighborhoods, cruising [in search of a parking spot] makes up as much as 40 percent of all traffic. All this unnecessary traffic slows down buses, endangers cyclists and pedestrians, delays other motorists, and produces harmful emissions. The key to eliminating it is to get the price of parking right... says UCLA Urban Planning Prof Donald Shoup. Part of series Moving Beyond the Automobile
MBA: The Right Price for Parking from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

From — A Project Engineer Explains Street Improvements to a Resident

A resident has a conversation with a project engineer about the proposed improvements to her street.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

From CBC BC — Pedestrian Deaths
Dominate Vancouver Traffic Fatalities

"The records show in each of the past five years, more pedestrians have been killed in Vancouver than drivers, passengers, cyclists, and motorcyclists combined."

It seems increasingly clear that it will take a court challenge to force cities and their Planners and Traffic Engineers to design streets safe and accessible for all. This vast and expensive public space has to be reclaimed and they won't be doing voluntarily. As drivers, we make an implicit agreement: I'll go along with it as long as it's somebody else's grandparent or teenager killed.

Reposted from Blinking City
Ho-Yeol Ryu Time-lapse Photography
Planes Taking off From Hannover Airport

Time-lapse photography of planes taking off From Hannover Airport by the Korean artist Ho-Yeol Ryu.  

Reposted from:

And...a companion piece:

Landings at San Diego Int Airport Nov 23, 2012 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Flâneur Around False Creek

At last, this week, an opportunity to wander False Creek and in particular the new neigbourhood  on its south shore, the Athlete's Village. As a Vancouver expat it's quite an experience to descend from the Canada Line station in Yaletown and travel under False Creek (!) and connect with the new Village neighbourhood that has had such well documented birthing pains. 

Both North (where I have had opportunity to explore over the last couple of years) and South False Creek neighbourhoods are distinguished by terrific attention to public space. Especially a delight it seems to me in the now established NEFC is the attention to the smaller public spaces that link the street grid with the sea wall and parks and playing fields. Evidently these were successfully negotiated with the developer, mainly Concord Pacific and where a condo tower blocks access to the seawall with "private property" notices, you really appreciate these charming squares and small parks. In contrast to the Village, these spaces have an old-world formality which contributes a groomed and ordered neighbourhood atmosphere.

The public space in the new Village neighbourhood by comparison is wild and wooly — and wet, featuring a swampy wetland area quite popular with ducks. As you enter from the west you pass a community garden — "No picking. Please respect our food" — and a wonderfully chaotic enclosed dog run — from a Great Dane to a silly little thing that would fit in a purse and every size and variety in between and owners visting and trying to maintain some sort of order.  The peaceful formality of the north shore is welcome, but the public space and landscaping in the Village creates a distinctive, earthy ambience.

The main square is now enlivened by an upscale food store, brew pub, drug store and cafe, anchored by the Salt building restoration.

From Wired — Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space

Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space | Wired Science |

Saturday, December 1, 2012

From CBC Radio Ideas
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
The Grande Dame of Green Design

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander is this country's pre-eminent landscape architect. Her love of nature and respect for the environment has guided and inspired her work from the grounds of the National Gallery in Ottawa to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. IDEAS producer Yvonne Gall profiles the 91-year-old icon, whose career spans six decades and is still going strong.

Brent Toderian in The Atlantic Cities
6 Ideas Every City Should
Steal From Barcelona

Frank Murphy photo
Spain may be facing significant economic and political challenges these days, but Barcelona's city-building remains one of the best models in the world. Few cities inspire my thinking more.

Thus it was a fitting location for the second Global Smart City Expo/Congress, and my invitation to speak was a good excuse to return, and share some of the best "steal-able" lessons. The Congress may have talked a lot about urban technologies, but Barcelona reminds us how smart the fundamentals are when it comes to making great cities.  Read more: 6 Ideas Every City Should Steal From Barcelona - Design - The Atlantic Cities