What would it look like if cities could harvest power from water pressure moving through municipal water pipelines? Since 2012, Riverside, California has been putting that question into practice, and now Portland, Oregon is adopting the approach as well. A Portland-based company, Lucid Energy, has designed a system that generates electricity from simply flushing a toilet or turning on the tap.
It looks like it’s bad news again for the in-progress Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel in Seattle, and for Bertha, the nickname for the world’s largest tunnel boring machine being used to create the underground highway. Bertha has been idle for much of 2014 due to a broken cutter system. And now the complex process to reach Bertha 60 feet below the surface has been halted. Recently a team of engineers discovered that the soil around Bertha is sinking as much as 1.4 inches in some places.
It was the warmest December on record in Seattle, but that didn’t stop local architects from designing their annual round of gingerbread houses at Christmas. The 2014 theme, “Jingle All the Way,” was inspired by holiday songs, with donations raised during the event (as in years past) going to the JDRF Northwest Chapter.
In the last few years, urban bike sharing has popped up all across the United States: in cities like Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Miami, San Francisco, and Chicago among others. Finally Seattle is getting it’s first bike sharing program, Pronto Cycle Share, today.
San Francisco’s deputy mayor for transportation—who played an integral role in getting the city to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake—passed away on July 30th. He was 68. After the earthquake struck the city, Wright convinced former San Francisco mayor, Art Agnos, to help lead the effort to remove the highway and replace it—not with another highway, but instead with a boulevard at street level.
Known for his political activism and for art that spans east and west, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will hold an exhibit on Alcatraz Island this September. The show will include seven works at the notorious former federal prison—with partners including the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the For-Site Foundation.
Like many major tech companies in Silicon Valley, Apple provides free transportation for its employees living in the Bay Area. About 28 percent of Apple employees do not drive to work, instead taking employer-owned biodiesel shuttles, biking, or walking. In an effort to bring that percentage up to 34 percent (a figure that will help get their new Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino approved), the company is expanding its fleet of buses and building a dedicated transportation center.
Los Angeles isn’t the only city exploring freeway caps. In effort to bring more green space to the west side of the City of Roses, the Portland chapter of the American Institute of Architects is hosting a competition, STITCH. They are calling designers to submit their ideas for capping a portion of I-405 between downtown and the city’s Goose Hollow neighborhood.
Seattle’s monorail was unveiled in 1962 and it now carries 7,000 passengers per day on a one-mile track between the Space Needle just north of downtown and the center of the city. While plans were first proposed in 1997 to extend the monorail, they were scratched. But now another way to travel and see Seattle from the sky is being offered by Kyle Griffith, the owner and developer of the Seattle Great Wheel (that rests on Pier 57 on the waterfront): an urban gondola. Cities like Rio de Janeiro and Singapore have installed gondolas to great success, providing a more exciting way to commute and an unusual way to view the urban landscape below.