UPDATED: Snøhetta and W Architecture does the impossible: It makes the Penn Station area bearable

[Update: While Snøhetta is drawing up the master plan for the area around Penn Station, Brooklyn-based W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, working with Production Glue, designed the new Plaza33.]

Turning the truly miserable blocks around New York City’s Penn Station into a pleasant and calming retreat would appear to be an impossible undertaking. But Vornado Realty Trust—the primary property owner around the station—believes it can do it with the help of some experienced, Norwegian architects. Enter: Snøhetta.

Continue reading after the jump.

A competing vision to James Corner’s Seattle waterfront plan is going before City Council August 17

Seattle. (stringparts via Flickr Creative Commons)

Seattle. (stringparts via Flickr Creative Commons)

From Boston to San Francisco and cities in between, increasing the quality of livable and usable urban space has become a hot issue. Waterfront redevelopment, highway removal, and linear park creation (and activation) are leading the way.

For Seattle, that means redoing the waterfront by replacing the deteriorating seawall, removing the earthquake damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct, and building a tunnel.

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Pictorial> Minnesota opens first public monument dedicated to military families

The Minnesota Military Family Tribute opened this summer.  (George Heinrich)

The Minnesota Military Family Tribute opened this summer. (George Heinrich)

After four years in the making, St. Paul, Minnesota earlier this year opened a new tribute to the military families—the first monument aimed directly at the family members of those in the armed forces, as opposed to the service men and women themselves.

Continue reading after the jump.

This million dollar sculptural Ferris wheel at a Montreal bus stop is stirring questions about cost

(City of Montreal)

(City of Montreal)

A new bus stop in Montreal will include a 64-foot-tall, Ferris Wheel–shaped art installation that cost the city a cool $840,000. For blatantly obvious reasons, many Quebecois aren’t thrilled about that—in no small part because the expensive art project is in a part of Montreal that is struggling to combat poverty.

Continue reading after the jump.

Open data from Transport for London spurs 3D axonometric plans of the Tube so passengers can mentally map their next trip

(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Now you can strategize your next rush-hour skedaddle through the labyrinthine London Underground ahead of time—and choose all the right shortcuts. Transport for London (TfL) has released a series of 3D axonometric maps of the world’s oldest tube network, following a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request by Londoner Georges Vehres.

View the maps after the jump.

The roster of cities across the world going car-free is growing, joining Paris, Ireland, and Dublin

Rue de Bon Secours, Brussels (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Rue de Bon Secours, Brussels (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The concept of car-free city centers is fast spreading throughout Europe as increasingly gridlocked thoroughfares render the private car intolerable. Brussels, Belgium, has announced the development of pedestrian boulevards in its city center—with a ban on cars effective from June 29, 2015—where the city will stage recreational and cultural activities throughout the summer.

And plenty more are following suit.

This fake town by the University of Michigan to become testing ground for developing smarter driverless cars

(Courtesy University of Michigan)

(Courtesy University of Michigan)

Researchers the University of Michigan just one-upped a recent virtual SimCity project for testing smart technologies of future cities. A tangible, 32-acre testing ground for driverless cars called MCity pits autonomous vehicles against every conceivable real-life obstacle, minus the caprice of human drivers.

Continue reading after the jump.

Tactical Urbanism takes time: Architecture students build downtown Portland’s first parklet despite regulatory permitting hurdles

City Terrain, Urbanism, West
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Portland's newest parklet designed and built by PSU architecture students. (Michael Coon)

Portland’s newest parklet designed and built by PSU architecture students. (Michael Coon)

Word is out that downtown Portland, Oregon, has its first parklet. Designed by a team of Portland State University architecture students and led by assistant architecture professor B. D. Wortham-Galvin, the 41-foot-long public park covers two parking spaces and opened in June on Southwest 4th Avenue.

Continue reading after the jump.

Indiana draws conservative ire for $55 million 200th birthday bash and bicentennial plaza by MKSK

Plans for a new fountain at Indiana's Bicentennial Plaza  in Indianapolis. (MKSK Studios)

Plans for a new fountain at Indiana’s Bicentennial Plaza in Indianapolis. (MKSK Studios)

Hoosiers, if you didn’t get a gift for Indiana on the occasion of its 200th birthday next year, don’t fret—state and local governments have pledged tens of millions in infrastructure investments and new buildings for the Bicentennial. The state’s share carries a total value of more than $55 million, inviting criticism from fiscal conservatives.

Continue reading after the jump.

Milan hops on the car-banning bandwagon with its own proposal to create zones of “pedestrian privilege”


(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Milan is the latest city to join the ranks of Paris, Madrid, Brussels, and Dublin in expelling cars from its smoggy, often gridlocked city center. Unlike its more zealous counterparts, the city has opted for an incremental approach, with no proposed timeline and a gradual, virtually street by street implementation.

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nARCHITECTS reveals Café Pavilion for Cleveland’s revamped Public Square

Rendering of a new cafe pavilion for Cleveland's Public Square. (nARCHITECTS via James Corner Field Operations)

Rendering of a new cafe pavilion for Cleveland’s Public Square. (nARCHITECTS via James Corner Field Operations)

New renderings for one of the largest public space projects in the Midwest have been revealed, showing a new 2,500-square-foot “Café Pavilion” in Cleveland’s Public Square. Read More

This urban intervention in Chicago would let citizens control colorful lights under the “El” with their smartphones

City Terrain, Lighting, Midwest, Urbanism
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Wabash Lights, a site-specific installation under Chicago's L. (Courtesy Wabash Lights)

Wabash Lights, a site-specific installation under Chicago’s L. (Courtesy Wabash Lights)

Chicago is best known for Wrigley Field and the Sears Tower (yes, the Sears Tower), but one of its most prominent urban features is the elevated train tracks that form the “Loop,” or the downtown area bound by this snaking steel goliath. However poetic the idea of the “El” might be, it brute steel structure could, like most raised infrastructures, use some improvements.

More after the jump.

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