Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Becoming Jane Jacobs
A new light on Jacobs' great book

As a long-time Jane Jacobs armchair-scholar, I've found Becoming Jane Jacobs by Peter Laurence (Clemson University School of Architecture Director of Graduate Studies) to be invaluable. He brings some answers to the question "How did Jane Jacobs become Jane Jacobs?"

Details of the almost 10 years she spent as an architecture critic for Architectural ForumEmerging fresh post-war ideas in the areas of urban planning and design, architecture, and influential new visions of what the city should look like and how it should function. An emerging interest in forging an increased influence on those disciplines of the aesthetic.

There's a passage that traces ideas that were evolving at the Rockefeller Foundation from the early 1950s in architecture and urban planning that precede the funding that allowed Jacobs to take a leave from Architectural Forum and devote most of a year to research and writing of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Fascinating reading and shines a new light on Jacobs' great book.

Laurence is ideally positioned to walk the reader through the changes in underlying philosophies at work in the architecture of the 1950s and the role that architecture could and should play in city building. Prior to these years architectural criticism had all but disappeared due to often successful libel lawsuits. Forum editor-in-chief Douglas Haskell was on a mission to spearhead its resurgence, backed by its parent company, Time Inc. It was an exciting fertile time and Jacobs thrived in it, influenced by the creative, intellectual environment created by Haskell and influencing it in turn. The detail of Haskell's story makes a terrific read in its own right.

I  was under the impression (it's part of a persistent  Jacobs mythology) that the only post secondary studying she had done was a few extension courses at  Columbia University. The facts, and as they're recounted by Laurence, are more interesting and more relevant. Jacobs famously did poorly in the regimented primary and high schools she attended. Robert Kanigel in his Jacobs biography Eyes on the Street retells a family story of the chronically late for high school classes Jane, asking her mother to write her a note. Jane read the note on the way to school. "Jane is late because she spent too long sitting on the side of the bed with one shoe in her hand." Jane's son Jim said he'd seen his mother do this often. "She was working something out." Her mother is also quoted that her great accomplishment of 1933 was "getting Jane through high school."

So, the environment at Columbia, the flexibility that allowed her the chance to pick subjects in her areas of interest, was ideal. She enrolled and completed two full years of studies. Full time day classes in subjects like geography, geology, chemistry, philosophy, law, "nearly all of them subjects to which she returned in her later work." This background also shines a new light on and appreciation of Death and Life and the ideas she was "working out" in her other books. And this famous bureaucratic twist of fate: she took (completed and scored highly in) so many classes she was no longer allowed to take extension courses, but required to enrol in the formal institution. She enrolled, was rejected because of her high school grades and was understandably embittered for a very long time.

Jacobs at first thought the book would take 8 or 9 months to research, write, and edit. It took 28 months and required applying for 2 Rockefeller Foundation funding extensions. In Chapter 7, A New System of Thought, Laurence recounts the correspondence between Jacobs and Rockefeller Foundation Associate Director Chadbourne Gilpatrick who had long championed her work. It makes for reading as compelling as the book itself. She realized that she was “…not rehashing old material on cities and city planning…[but] working with new concepts about the city and its behavior. Many of these concepts are quite radically opposed to those accepted in orthodox and conventional planning theory.” She was increasingly aware that she was “proving the validity of these new concepts and giving evidence, from experience in the city itself, which shows that the alternative to ignoring them is not the rebuilding of some improved type of city but rather… the disintegration of the city."

She once said, and I paraphrase, that perception was the most important and valuable of our intellectual abilities. The book wasn't ready because she was still doing what she had always done, she was working things out. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ideas That Matter
Big City Mayors meet with Jane Jacobs
2001 Winnipeg C5 Conference

Editor's notes, Mary W, Rowe. Over two days in May of this year, Jane Jacobs met with the mayors of five of Canada’s largest and most economically significant cities to discuss issues of mutual concern and importance. This historic meeting, known as the C5, was an outgrowth of a series of discussions, convened by urban advocate, businessman and ITM Executive Publisher Alan Broadbent over a twenty month period, in which Jacobs had participated. The C5 meeting was initiated by Jacobs as a means of bringing together the leadership from five Canadian cities whose economies she considers to be most at risk because of their outdated, paternal relationships with ‘senior’ levels of government. PDF of the Sept, 2001 edition of Ideas that Matter here.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

City professionals who advocate for
streets for all users, not just for cars

Friday, November 4, 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016

From @Parksify
The Design Philosophies of #JaneJacobs

Thursday, October 20, 2016

From Belém to a new Brasília: Brazil's cities in the 1950s – in pictures @guardiancities

Sunday, October 2, 2016





Tuesday, September 13, 2016

#PlacemakingWeek in #Vancouver #walkbikeplaces

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Alissa Walker in Curbed
Our streets are killing us

In 2015, a staggering 35,092 people were killed on U.S. streets—a 7.2% increase from 2014. According to a report out this week, this year is on track to be even deadlier: Based on preliminary data, the National Safety Council predicts the number of traffic deaths has already increased an additional 9% percent in the first six months of 2016. Sadly, cities are seeing evidence of this trend first-hand on their sidewalks and crosswalks. In New York City, 16 cyclists have already been killed this year, more than the number of cyclists killed in all of 2015. Read more: Our streets are killing us - Curbed

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

From Congress for the New Urbanism
The morbid and mortal toll of sprawl

A federal report revealed that US traffic deaths have risen 9 percent over the last year and have totaled 19,100 in the first six months of 2016. More than 2.2 million people have been seriously injured in that time. The economic cost is estimated annually at $410 billion, or 2.3 percent of gross domestic product. The human cost is harder to calculate. They are the most frequent reason for fatality of children 5 and up and young adults. Much of the blame has been placed, predictably, on distracted and drunk driving and rising vehicle miles traveled. The “elephant in the living room,” the factor that nobody wants to talk about, is sprawl and the infrastructure of sprawl. The roads built to support sprawl, designed to modern safety standards, are contributors to the majority of US traffic deaths and injuries. Read more: The morbid and mortal toll of sprawl | CNU

Thursday, July 28, 2016

From City Builder Book Club — Webinar: Urban Acupuncture- Celebrating the
Work and Vision of Jaime Lerner

In this webinar, panelists Stephen Goldsmith (Center for the Living City), Mike Lydon (Street Plans Collaborative), and Erin Barnes (ioby) discuss Jaime Lerner’s influence on community-based urban interventions. Moderated by The Overhead Wire’s Jeff Wood. Read more: Webinar: Urban Acupuncture- Celebrating the Work and Vision of Jaime Lerner

Thursday, July 21, 2016

From Strong Towns — Historic buildings
get newer, greener lease on life

The story of Peggy and Tom Brennan who recently renovated and opened two unique buildings in downtown Detroit: the Green Garage, a business incubator and coworking space, andEl Moore, a residential apartment building and urban lodge. Find out how these businesses got started and where they're headed now. Read more: Historic Buildings Get Newer, Greener Lease on Life — Strong Towns

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

From The Nature of Cities
Common threads: connections among
the ideas of Jane Jacobs and Elinor Ostrom

Jane Jacobs and Elinor Ostrom were both giants in their impact on how we think about communities, cities, and common resources such as space and nature. But we don’t often put them together to recognize the common threads in their ideas.
Jacobs is rightly famous for her books, including The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and for her belief that people, vibrant spaces and small-scale interactions make great cities—that cities are “living beings” and function like ecosystems. Ostrom won a Nobel Prize for her work in economic governance, especially as it relates to the Commons. She was an early developer of a social-ecological framework for the governance of natural resources and ecosystems. Read more: Common threads: connections among the ideas of Jane Jacobs and Elinor Ostrom, and their relevance to urban socio-ecology | The Nature of Cities

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

From PBS NewsHour
Traffic deaths surged in 2015

Fatalities rose 7.7 percent to 35,200 in 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. That overall rate was significantly outpaced by non-motorist traffic deaths: Bicycle fatalities were up 13 percent; pedestrian deaths rose 10 percent, and motorcyclist deaths rose by 9 percent. Last year was the deadliest driving year since 2008, when 37,423 people were killed. It was also the year in which American drove 3.1 trillion miles, more than ever before. The fatality rate for 2015 increased to 1.12 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT), up from 1.08 deaths in 2014. Read more: PBS NewsHour on Twitter: "Traffic deaths surged in 2015, federal data shows"

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

From Next City
Determining How Subsidized Housing Factors Into a More Affordable San Francisco

Building more market-rate housing in the Bay Area may reduce displacement pressure at the regional level, but building subsidized housing has over twice the impact, according to researchers at UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project. In a report released this week, they note that at the level of San Francisco blocks, neither market-rate nor subsidized housing production has a significant impact on displacement though, likely due to “the extreme mismatch between supply and demand.” Read more: Determining How Subsidized Housing Factors Into a More Affordable S.F. – Next City

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

From PBS NewsHour
Urban designers transform these streets
into pedestrian paradise

New York City’s streets underwent a radical transformation under the leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan, who served as transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013. In the new book “Streetfight: A Handbook for an Urban Revolution,” Sadik-Khan and co-author Seth Solomonow share the lessons from six years of redesigning the streets of New York City with more plazas, bike lanes and rapid bus lanes. Read more: Urban designers transformed these five spaces into pedestrian paradise | PBS NewsHour

Friday, June 3, 2016

From Co.Exist
Car-Free Neighbourhood Redesigns Suburbia

It's possible that some people might own a car in a new neighborhood designed for Mannheim, Germany. But they won't be able to drive up to their doors: The entire neighborhood is car-free, with parking hidden underground.
Instead of roads, the neighborhood will have sidewalks that connect with paths in a surrounding park. "Essentially the project recreates the park experience on a residential scale, and removing the road allows the park to permeate throughout the site unrestricted," says Johannes Pilz, one of the architects from the design firm MVRDV, which worked on the development for Traumhaus, a German affordable housing developer. This New Car-Free Neighborhood Redesigns Suburbia | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jane Jacobs' "big R&D lab" in downtown Toronto industrial sites redevelopment

20 years ago Jane Jacobs was given the chance to put her ideas into practice in the renewal of two large downtown Toronto in-decline industrial sites. The King Street neighbourhoods were a priority of then-mayor Barbara Hall and she asked Jacobs’ advice. Details of this fascinating story are told in the links below by Spacing Magazine’s Shawn Micallef in and in a Globe and Mail piece by Stephen Wickens.

401 Richmond in the western neighbourhood of the "Two Kings", which the Zeidler family purchased in 1994, is an illustration of Jacobs’s arguments about urbanism and a piece of her legacy in Toronto. Eberhard Zeidler, the patriarch, was the architect who designed the Eaton Centre. When the Zeidlers purchased 401, the old steampunk neighborhood around it, once the heart of Toronto’s schmatte trade, was dead. "There was one restaurant in the area, just a greasy spoon. Now there has to be like 20 or 30 in that section there," says Margie Zeidler, Eberhard’s daughter and the driving force behind what would become the vital building beloved by so much of Toronto today. Today that 1994 landscape is unimaginable and the building is at the heart of one of the most intense areas of development in North America, with condo towers sprouting where there were once acres of parking lots and buildings left fallow after deindustrialization. Read more: Jane Up North - Curbed

She wasn’t at all surprised to see people saying 
what would Jane Jacobs have thought; 
but what Jane Jacobs would have thought 
was think for yourself.Jim Jacobs

Friday, May 27, 2016

Richard Florida in CityLab
Inner-City Growth and Competition

Two new studies explore the movement of businesses and people back to the city, but outside the central business district. Over the past decade or so, inner cities have staged a comeback, leading to what’s been dubbed a “great inversion” as people and jobs move back to and near downtown, and poverty and disadvantage increasingly take up residence in the suburbs. Read more: Inner-City Growth and Competition in the U.S. - CityLab

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

From Guardian Cities — Barcelona’s plan
to give streets back to residents

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

From Urbanarium
City Debate #5: Let Experts Plan

Should citizens be more empowered to decide what gets built and where in Vancouver? Or is the process already too prone to public pressures, stifling the creativity, knowhow and vision that professional planners are hired to provide? More at: City Debate #5: Let Experts Plan | Urbanarium

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Burning Would: A film by
Marshall McLuhan and Jane Jacobs

There was a shape to it. It had music. It did have a thread and raised a lot of important issues. Colin Vaughan provided an excellent narration. It was a good movie; furthermore, it was shown a lot, especially in the United States. For a long time I would get an occasional letter from this or that group in California saying that they had shown the movie. However, the final product bore no relationship at all to our original script.
— Jane Jacobs on "Making a Movie with Marshall McLuhan"

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

From The Municipal Art Society of New York The Jane Jacobs at 100 Celebration

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) is a leading independent advocacy organization that inspires, educates, and empowers New Yorkers to engage in the betterment of their city. This year, MAS welcomes you to join Celebrating the City: Jane Jacobs at 100, a celebration dedicated to legendary urban activist Jane Jacobs on the 100th anniversary of her birth.
Jane Jacobs believed in empowering urban citizens to get involved in their communities and shape their city. [A great synopsis, called Jane Jacobs: Ten Big Ideas by Nate Storing, formerly of the Jane’s Walk Project Office and now at Project for Public Spaces, is here.] The celebration, spanning May through October 2016, will honor her impact by bringing together hundreds of self-organized events and activities under a single banner that reveal the dynamic energy, innovation and creativity of cities. Read more: About the Jane Jacobs at 100 Celebration

Saturday, April 30, 2016

From Business in Vancouver
How Expo 86 changed Vancouver

World’s fair left key infrastructure legacies and turned a large tract of industrial land into an urban streetscape praised worldwide. It wasn’t just that the fair introduced the city to the world and came with SkyTrain, BC Place Stadium, the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, a new Cambie Street Bridge and other infrastructure legacies. In the wake of the fair, the site’s sale helped spark the urban revitalization that has established Vancouver atop the world’s most livable cities rankings. Read more: The Expo effect: How Expo 86 changed Vancouver | Economy | Business in Vancouver

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Downtown development is the golden goose of urban economics"

When it comes to the debate about housing and development, there’s been plenty of discussion about the physical impacts of decisions we make, for example the height and bulk of buildings. There’s even been to a lesser extent a discussion on the capital costs of development, the costs of building or upgrading roads, pipes and other infrastructure. Some of this is quite evident now with the Transport for Future Growth consultations currently underway.
One area that hasn’t really been discussed at any level – other than probably some obscure high level planning papers – is the impact our development choices have on rates and operational costs. In many ways this is odd given how loudly many sections of our society protest every time rates are increased. But there is a clear link between rates and the types of development we allow. More at: The Value of Well-Designed Cities.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

#‎JaneJacobs‬ : 10 Big ideas + 4 smaller ones

Saturday, April 23, 2016

From Canadian Business
How booming cities made urban
planning Canada’s hottest job

Urban growth—not to mention truckloads of infrastructure spending coming down the road—spell opportunity for urban planners. 
In August 2014, construction crews in Waterloo, Ont., began building the so-called Ion light rail transit line, an $818-million megaproject that will connect a disparate region known for its tech sector, insurance companies and Mennonite farms. When finished, the piece of infrastructure will reshape the city in a way that hasn’t happened since a little local firm called Research in Motion unveiled the BlackBerry. 
As its engineers supervised the physical work of laying the line, the region also hired a five-person planning team from Toronto consultancy Urban Strategies to begin the process of reimagining the main street along which the LRT will operate. 
The goal, says Habon Ali, a 29-year-old associate with the firm and part of the five-person team, was to create a community-building strategy for Waterloo to capitalize on the transit corridor by leveraging the giant investment to attract new retail, high-density development and other amenities. Ali, who graduated from the University of Toronto’s planning school in 2012, was involved in the public engagement aspect of the project—organizing open houses, finding straightforward ways to communicate complex planning jargon and soliciting input. “It was a cool transit project to be involved with because it was about getting the public involved,” she says. Read more: How booming cities made urban planning Canada’s hottest job

Friday, April 22, 2016
A Future We Can't Afford
live tweets #DearCityofGlass

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

From Project for Public Spaces
Place Governance through
Neighborhood Planning Offices

Photo by Eric Sehr.
Imagine if your local city planner worked around the corner from your home in a storefront on your neighborhood’s shopping street. You wave at them through their window on the way to work, you drop by sometimes for a chat, and you may even be on a first name basis. For nearly two decades that’s exactly how it used to work in Toronto, Ontario. Embracing an innovative model of Place Governance, in the 1970s the City decentralized its planning department intoNeighborhood Planning Offices located in the very areas they served. 
When Jane Jacobs moved from New York City to Toronto in 1968, her adopted city was already well on its way toward reasserting itself as a city for people. After experiencing its first tastes of expressway construction and urban renewal and witnessing the destruction these strategies wrought in many cities south of the border, a movement led by young community activists and idealistic politicians was ready to overturn the status quo. In 1970, they worked with local residents and business owners in the Trefann Court neighborhood to put urban renewal plans for the area into their hands. In 1971, they stopped the construction of the Spadina Expresswaythrough the heart of the city. And finally, in the 1972 election, a host of reform candidates, including Mayor David Crombie, swept to power in city council with a new vision for a human-scale city. Read more:  Place Governance through Neighborhood Planning Offices

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

From NY Daily News
How can we save our beloved
neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops?

It starts with the sign, the one that says FOR LEASE or FOR RENT or simply AVAILABLE, with a phone number printed underneath and maybe the name of a real-estate firm. The sign appears not on an empty space, but on a building that’s home to a long-established business — say, an old-fashioned general store like Winn Home & Beauty, which anchored a block on the busy commercial corridor of Court Street in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood.
Next come the rumors. Did you see that the Winn store space is for lease? A local blogger writes a post, and the comments section fills with laments. News travels along the nearby sidewalks, on social media, at school drop-off. Did you hear? Oh, no. Not another one. Read more: How can we save our beloved mom-and-pop shops from gentrification? | NY Daily News

Urbanarium City Debate #4 —
Create a City-wide Plan #urbanariumvote

Friday, April 8, 2016

From Strong Towns
Why mixed-income neighborhoods matter
Lifting kids out of poverty

There’s a hopeful new sign that how we build our cities, and specifically, how good a job we do of building mixed income neighborhoods that are open to everyone can play a key role in reducing poverty and promoting equity. New research shows that neighborhood effects—the impact of peers, the local environment, neighbors—contribute significantly to success later in life. Poor kids who grow up in more mixed income neighborhoods have better lifetime economic results. This signals that an important strategy for addressing poverty is building cities where mixed income neighborhoods are the norm, rather than the exception. And this strategy can be implemented in a number of ways—not just by relocating the poor to better neighborhoods, but by actively promoting greater income integration in the neighborhoods... Read more: Why mixed-income neighborhoods matter: Lifting kids out of poverty — Strong Towns

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff talks to
Charlie Rose about the future of cities

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

From The Wall Street Journal
Classic New York Streetscapes, Then and Now

It is an essential paradox of New York City that its streetscapes seem both ageless and ever-evolving. Photographer Berenice Abbott captured that vibrant contradiction in the 1930s when she created her landmark series “Changing New York,” more than 300 black-and-white images of the metropolis shot with a large-format camera while she was working under the auspices of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Her visual time capsule documents everything from soaring skyscrapers to neighbourhood storefronts, churches, tenements, warehouses and bridges.

What makes New York is how we recycle buildings. 
Mitchell Moss, professor of urban policy and planning at New York University

The New York Public Library recently released free, high-resolution scans of the “Changing New York” portfolio, prompting one Wall Street Journal photographer to reshoot more than a dozen of Abbott’s images of Manhattan and Brooklyn. They reveal how much, and in some cases, how little, New York City has changed. Read more: Classic New York Streetscapes, Then and Now - WSJ

From CityLab — Why Reston, Virginia
Still Inspires Planners 50 Years Later

Official Trailer: Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA from Rebekah Wingert-Jabi on Vimeo. 
It’s rare for a 1960s suburban development to exert a cultural pull distinct from its neighboring city, but Reston pulled it off. 
Situated about 20 miles from Washington, D.C., in what used to be northern Virginia farmland, this settlement has attracted generations of urbanists for its people-first brand of development. When Robert E. Simon Jr. bought the land and planned his flagship project, he insisted on walkability, density, access to nature and green space, and diversity of races and income levels. He didn’t invent these principles—his inspirations were hundreds of years old—but he and his successors managed to realize them at a scale and level of success that hadn’t been seen before. Read more: Why Reston, Virginia, Still Inspires Planners 50 Years Later - CityLab

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bike, pedestrian-friendly cities are worth the fight says former NYC transport planner - British Columbia - CBC News

Bike, pedestrian-friendly cities are worth the fight says former NYC transport planner - British Columbia - CBC News

Thursday, March 24, 2016

“People are looking for experiences as opposed to things and best value as opposed to lowest price.” Johanna Hurme @546arch

From CityLab — Why Race Matters
in Planning Public Parks

Houston is embarking upon a $220 million parks project called Bayou Greenways 2020, a 150-mile network of continuous hiking trails, biking paths, and green space that will run throughout the city. When completed in 2020, it will make good on plans made by the urban planner Arthur Comey in 1912 to connect the city’s parks with the many strips of bayous scratching open the Houston landscape. Residents approved by ballot referendum a $166 million bond in 2012 to pay for the Bayou Greenways 2020 project, and for improvements to the near-50,000 acres of park space in the city. The goal is to connect the area’s bayous and parks to neighborhoods spanning the region. 
While this connectivity is the stated priority for this massive parks overhaul, not everyone in Houston is feeling it. In fact, connectivity seems to matter most only to Houston’s whiter and wealthier residents. When the city’s parks and recreation department conducted its Master Plan Parks Survey in 2014, the majority of respondents replied that they wanted their neighborhoods and parks linked to biking and walking paths. The problem with that survey is that about two-thirds of the respondents were white with household incomes over $75,000. This is clearly not a good starting point for Houston, one of the most racially diverse, (and heavily segregated) cities in the country. Read more : In Texas, Houston's Bayou Greenways 2020 Parks Project Aims To Meet the Needs of People of Color - CityLab

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

@JSadikKhan #Streetfight
Vancouver live tweets —
We can reclaim our streets today.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

From ArchDaily
Inclusivity as Architectural Program:
A Reflection on Vancouver's Woodward’s Redevelopment Five Years On

Officially opened in 2010, the Woodward’s Redevelopment project designed by Vancouver basedHenriquez Partners Architects and situated in the city’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), was a contentious proposal from the time of its inception, and has continued to be so in the almost five years since its completion. Yet as the large-scale mixed-use complex, and its role in the community, nears the first of many milestone anniversaries, it offers us a chance for critical reflection and allows for perceptions and understandings to be gathered and assessed. Read more: Inclusivity as Architectural Program: A Reflection on Vancouver's Woodward’s Redevelopment Five Years On

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

From @AirPano
Manhattan panorama from a helicopter

Courtesy of

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Vancouver has 5 times more kids than Seattle, 9 times more than Portland

When a developer builds a family apartment in Vancouver BC’s downtown peninsula, the dining room comes with easy-to-clean floors that can handle spilled yogurt or spaghetti. Condo and rowhouse projects must have accessible stroller storage and outdoor play spaces, ideally where parents can look out a kitchen window and keep an eye on their kids. 
As of Canada’s 2011 Census, downtown Vancouver’s urban neighborhoods were home to nearly five times more kids than Seattle’s and nearly 9 times more than Portland’s. Read more: Sightline Institute: Are you planning to have kids? (Part 1)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Harvard Business Review
Why Today’s Corporate Research
Centers Need to Be in Cities

Midtown Atlanta is an example of the growing trend of companies relocating major research facilities to be near urban universities that provide mixed-use amenities, lively places, and a high density of firms. For example, Pfizer recently moved one of its largest research centers to Kendall Square in Cambridge, blocks from MIT, and Google now has its machine learning research hub in Baker Square in Pittsburgh, near Carnegie Mellon University. 
What’s driving companies to relocate near urban universities is the changing role of innovation within the private sector as firms are increasingly relying on external sources to support technology development. Read more: Why Today’s Corporate Research Centers Need to Be in Cities

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

From Project for Public Spaces
Placemaking and the human scale city

7th Street SE in Washington, DC | James Calder via Flickr
Human scale advocates share a common concern about the impacts of unrestricted development on our neighbourhoods. Project for Public Spaces is active in this international discussion, but rather than directly protesting developers or luxury housing or zoning changes, we frame the conversation differently – everyone has the right to live in a human scale city, and one way to achieve this is through placemaking. 
DEFINING THE HUMAN SCALE In its simplest definition, creating a human scale environment means making sure that the objects that we interact with every day are of a size and shape that is reasonable for an average person to use. That’s why our stairs have a 7 inch rise and an 11 inch run, for example, and why our doorways are 80 inches. Read more: Placemaking and the Human Scale City - Project for Public Spaces

Sunday, February 28, 2016

From The Link
Japanese Architect Manabu Chiba Presents Alternative Design to Canadian Audience —
People First Urban Planning

Graphic Madeleine Gendreau 

Madeleine Gendreau  Walking through the city, it’s often forgotten that the environment in which we live has been wholly and meticulously planned to dictate our every move. Each intersection, metro entrance and building orientation has been sent through scores of plans and approvals to be put in its exact place. Read more: A People First Approach to Urban Planning | News – The Link

Thursday, February 25, 2016

From Urban Land Magazine
Growing Small: How Smaller, Infill Urban Developments Are Making a Big Difference

Small development is incremental. It is perhaps even surgical at times—helping infill the broken teeth of existing urban blocks or properties that have disappeared or become obsolete. 
Small development is often highly designed and “curated.” Infill development of a distinctive site within the fabric of an existing neighborhood is almost always a unique endeavor and cannot be formulaic. A project that works anywhere will not work in such a location. It has to be carefully thought out—optimizing a Rubik’s cube of density, parking, life-safety requirements, and appropriate contextual design, among many other elements.
Small development often manifests the best thinking in sustainability and mixed use. This is because the intellectual capital that gets poured into solving the Rubik’s cube begets more focused thinking about what the project should do for its environment and community. 
“Small” can heal and transform. Incrementally adding to neighborhoods adds new energy and activity, helping reveal or “polish” the intrinsic value of the existing fabric. “Small” is often the seed that leads to transformation of and reinvestment in neighborhoods at the edge.
Read more: Growing Small: How Smaller, Infill Urban Developments Are Making a Big Difference - Urban Land Magazine

Thursday, February 18, 2016

From BBC News Magazine
The slow death of purposeless walking

It is the "just to walk" category that is so beloved of creative thinkers.  
"There is something about the pace of walking and the pace of thinking that goes together. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking. I do believe once you get the blood flowing through the brain it does start working more creatively," says Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking.
"Your senses are sharpened. As a writer, I also use it as a form of problem solving. I'm far more likely to find a solution by going for a walk than sitting at my desk and 'thinking'. 
"Being out on your own, being free and anonymous, you discover the people around you," says Rebecca Solnit, author of Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Read more: BBC News Magazine — The slow death of purposeless walking

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Twitter list — Architecture and design

Monday, February 8, 2016

Federation of Canadian Municipalities — Sustainable Communities Conference

Friday, February 5, 2016

From Congress for the New Urbanism
Four ways to improve cities and towns
— Jane Jacobs

A neighbourhood hearth: The Angel Café in San Francisco.
The most influential writer on urban planning in modern times, the late Jane Jacobs received the Vincent Scully Prize from the Green Building Council in 2000. Jacobs made a seminal speech offering suggestions for communities on four topics: Empowering immigrant neighbourhoods to develop freely, investing in “community hearths,” dealing with gentrification, and, finally, encouraging small business activity. Although the speech was made 15 years ago, her excerpted comments resonate today: Read more: Jane Jacobs: Four ways to improve cities and towns | CNU

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Via Urbanarium — City Debate #2
Build Fewer Towers #urbanariumvote

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

From Granola Shotgun
Transactions of Decline

A transaction of decline, as Jane Jacobs explains in Cities and the Wealth of Nations, is an attempt to mitigate a problem but it can't eliminate the cause. Further she says once they have begun as an overall policy approach, they have no ending. In this blog post Johnny Sanphillippo (he's also a contributor to Strong Towns) considers an example in Santa Rosa CA.

Santa Rosa Junior College is installing another parking lot near campus. No big deal, right? 
This is a commuter school serving people from all corners of the county. Faculty and students need places to park. This parking lot is carefully designed to meet all sorts of requirements. There’s comprehensive handicap accessibility. 
There’s a shade structure on the corner for pedestrians. I have no doubt there will be electric vehicle charging stations and that the lighting will be downward facing to preserve the night sky and view of the stars. As parking lots go this one will be as attractive and well appointed as possible.... 
This is the kind of plain vanilla project that travels through various regulatory agencies with tremendous institutional inertia and minimal community resistance. Read more: Transactions of Decline – Granola Shotgun