Will Beverly Hills High’s Plans Destroy The City’s Most Famous Oil Derrick?

Beverly Hills' Oil Derrick (D Boone)

Tower of Hope as seen from Pico Boulevard. (D Boone)

One of the insider landmarks of Beverly Hills is the Tower of Hope, an art-covered oil derrick that sits at the edge of Beverly Hills High School, clearly visible from Pico Boulevard. Covered with fabric panels painted with colorful flowers by young hospital patients, the 155-foot-tall tower is a remnant from the days when the area was covered with oil fields (the high school once contained almost 20), and it’s become a popular visiting spot. It also still pumps oil, for Denver-based Venoco, with some of the proceeds going to the school. But Beverly Hills High’s major expansion plans call for removing the well altogether.

Continue reading after the jump.

Local Group Tries to Block Affordable Housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Development sites at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Courtesy Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy)

Development sites at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Courtesy Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy)

As AN covered earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio’s plan to bring affordable housing to Brooklyn Bridge Park has received steep opposition from local groups in neighboring Brooklyn Heights. They contend new housing development will eat up public space and that under-market housing would not provide necessary funding for park maintenance. Under a Bloomberg-era plan, revenue from private, market-rate development would help cover upkeep at the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates-designed park. Under de Blasio, 30 percent of the two proposed towers for the park–one 31 stories and the other 16–would be subsidized. The groups opposing that plan have now formalized their opposition against it.

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From fireworks to kayaks, step inside the well-produced world of renderings

Some more birds and some more kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

Lots of birds and lots of kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

In the idealized world of architectural renderings, everything is absolutely perfect. There are no dirty windows, no rust, no clutter, no dead leaves, no mud, no rain. There are crowds, but nothing is crowded. There are cars, but there is no traffic. The scalies dropped into these polished scenes are as happy  as can be—why wouldn’t they be? Every day is spent walking hand-in-hand down a boardwalk with a loved-one giggling about a Jeff Koons sculpture over there. Life is good, they think, as fireworks explode behind them. Life is good.

When you spend as much time as we do here at AN sifting through these highly-planned digital worlds, some trends start to appear over and over. Here’s a sample of what we see again and again.

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Navy Pier redesign gets $20 million private donation

The $20 million donation helps fund the redesign of Gateway Park, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chicago's new "front door." (James Corner Field Operations)

The $20 million donation helps fund the redesign of Gateway Park, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Chicago’s new “front door.” (James Corner Field Operations)

Chicago’s Navy Pier is currently undergoing major changes courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. That work got an infusion of cash Thursday, as local benefactors from the Polk Bros. department store chain announced a donation of $20 million. It’s the single largest private gift ever made to Navy Pier, Illinois’ most-visited tourist attraction. Read More

Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn’t slowing down—it’s just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That’s because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions.

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Cleveland’s Public Square could break ground soon, thanks to $8 million cash boost

Cleveland's Public Square is the subject of a major redesign, which recently received a funding boost from a local foundation. (James Corner Field Operations and LAND Studio)

Cleveland’s Public Square is the subject of a major redesign, which recently received a funding boost from a local foundation. (James Corner Field Operations and LAND Studio)

Cleveland last year unveiled a plan to revamp Public Square—a space that, as its name suggests, is meant to serve as a civic space for the city’s downtown. Now an $8 million grant could make that ambitious project shovel-ready by the end of this year. Read More

Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square Returned to Its Modernist Roots

The refurbished fountain and stairway. (Courtesy Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy)

The refurbished fountain and stairway. (Courtesy Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy)

After five years and $10 million, Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square has been returned to its mid-century splendor. Dedicated in 1955, the Square served as a modern, green oasis in a city choked by pollution. But only a few decades after opening, the modern masterpiece had fallen into disrepair, its former glory hidden by cracked pavement, broken fountains, pigeons, and empty planters. As Pittsburgh has transformed itself in recent years, so to has Mellon Square. Now, the reborn space is yet another example of the Steel City’s promising future.

Continue reading after the jump.

On View> Designing for Disaster at the National Building Museum

Elevate

An elevated model home in Biloxi, Mississippi, designed by architect Marlon Blackwell in 2009 as part of an Architecture for Humanity Initiative, incorporates resilient and affordable design with porch living—an important part of local culture. (Timothy Hursley)

Designing for Disaster
National Building Museum
401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Through August 2, 2015

The National Building Museum’s newest exhibition, Designing for Disaster, will explore how communities assess risks from natural hazards and how we can create policies, plans, and designs that create safer, more disaster-resilient communities. The two central questions that the exhibit addresses are where and how we should build.

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The Music City’s New Urbanism: The Nine Projects Leading Nashville’s Transformation

Nashville at night. (joshunter / Flickr)

Nashville at night. (joshunter / Flickr)

For many, architecture isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering Nashville—it’s called the Music City for a reason. But there is more to Nashville than country songs, barbecue ribs, and the eponymous show on ABC. In recent years, the city of 600,000 has become a regional leader in smart urban design and distinctive architecture. New riverfront parks are transforming Nashville’s connection to the Cumberland River, bikeshare docks have appeared around downtown, bus rapid transit is in the works, and the city’s tallest tower is set to rise. And that’s just the start of it. Take a look at the city’s dramatic transformation and a peek at where it’s headed.

Continue reading after the jump.

Victory in Round 3 for Los Angeles’ MyFigueroa Streetscape Project

A recent compromise among stakeholders means that the project can now move forward. (Courtesy MyFigueroa)

A recent compromise among stakeholders means that the project can now move forward. (Courtesy MyFigueroa)

After four years of stops and starts, MyFigueroa, the $20 million proposal to transform Los Angeles’ Figueroa Corridor from a regional throughway to a bike- and pedestrian-friendly destination, appears to be moving ahead. Overseen by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) with design assistance from Melendrez, Troller Mayer Associates, and Gehl Architects, MyFigueroa will add separated cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes, bike racks, and improved transit shelters, lighting, and landscaping to 4.5 miles of streets between LA Live and Exposition Park.

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Proponents Lose Battle to Build Park Across Los Angeles River

The old Figueroa-Riverside bridge will be demolished as a new vehicular bridge is built upstream. (waltarrrrr / Flickr)

The old Figueroa-Riverside bridge will be demolished as a new vehicular bridge is built upstream. (waltarrrrr / Flickr)

A proposal to turn the old Riverside-Figueroa Bridge into a High Line–style park appears to be dead after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order to demolition crews. Introduced by RAC Design Build and EnrichLA last fall, the Figueroa Landbridge would have preserved part of the 1939 bridge for use by pedestrians and cyclists while the replacement span for vehicular traffic was built upstream. Read More

Motor City’s first buffered bike lanes planned for Midtown

Detroit's 2nd Avenue is the target of a substantial road diet that may include the Motor City's first buffered bike lanes. (Curbed Detroit)

Detroit’s 2nd Avenue is the target of a substantial road diet that may include the Motor City’s first buffered bike lanes. (Curbed Detroit)

Given the severity and number of challenges facing Detroit, streetscape improvements might not seem like a very high priority. But in the Motor City’s Midtown, one of the city’s relatively resurgent neighborhoods, a local planning non-profit is betting that encouraging more bicyclists and pedestrians will be a boon for the area. As a result, Detroit may soon get its first buffered bike lanes. Between Temple Street and Warren Avenue, Midtown’s 2nd Avenue is the target of a substantial road diet, as first reported by ModeShiftRead More

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