Kansas City, recently outfitted with superfast internet courtesy of Google, is on the move. And KC taxpayers voted to keep up the momentum this week, authorizing a special taxing district to help fund a downtown streetcar.
A transportation development district would cultivate the 2-mile, $101 million route from Union Station to the River Market. The line was shortened by 300 feet after a scramble to make up for $25 million in TIGER grants that the city applied for and was not awarded. Funding for the modified plan came from the Mid-America Regional Council.
Now efforts turn to finding an operator. Kansas City will work with the Port Authority to create a Streetcar Authority—a step which has become a hang-up for similar efforts in Detroit. But Wednesday’s vote is a clear signal of public and political support for expanded public transit in the city.
KC is also lining up funding for a second phase of streetcar lines, totaling 22 miles of track crisscrossing the city.
Happy 126th birthday, Mies van der Rohe! Google and San Francisco-based artist Willie Real are already celebrating with today’s Google Doodle of Mies’ iconic Crown Hall built in 1956 at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where Mies was director of the College of Architecture. The Mies van der Rohe Society spoke with Real about his design and architectural ambitions. Here’s a sample:
What was the most important thing to convey about Mies in the doodle, and how was it achieved?
Celebrating Mies’ legacy was definitely a challenge. Mies did so many great buildings that are worthy of a doodle but it was pretty evident from the get go that highlighting what many consider his masterpiece was the way to go.
City of Scientists. Russian Prime Minister Putin has recently reviewed plans for a potential $6.4 billion project that could build a 5,000-person—scientists and researchers, specifically—domed village in the Arctic called Umka, about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Plans call for an isolated artificial climate inspired by “an imaginary Moon city or a completely isolated space station.” More on the Daily Mail and Foreign Policy Blogs.
Abu Dhabi Adjourned. The new 450,000-square-foot Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum planned in Abu Dhabi has been put on hold pending contract review. A similar fate awaits Jean Nouvel’s Louvre satellite previously scheduled to open near Gehry’s site next year. More at Mediabistro.
Sergey’s Secret. Due to his prolific work ethic, the insider joke at Google is that co-founder Sergey Brin is really Batman. More believable, the latest Google rumor is that one of Brin’s secret pet-projects may very well be architectural, with blueprints and all. Business Insider has details.
No bin, no trash. The NY Times reports on the MTA’s seemingly counter-intuitive enviro-social experiment to remove trash cans from subway platforms. The idea: no garbage bin might be the way to achieve no litter. A trial run in Queens and Greenwich Village left some people very unhappy.
If you’re reading this, you probably have at least a passing interest in architecture and an equivalent understanding of its power to shape and influence the world. But what about those of us living in a world of our own? What about those of us on the autism spectrum? It turns out architecture can play an even more important role in their lives than for us average Joes, according to a Newsweek article (via Archinect) that explains the unexpected attraction of children with autism to SketchUp, Google’s free online drafting program. It turns out that for those on the spectrum, for whom verbal and interpersonal communication has often been challenging, the precision of the computer and the visual nature of SketchUp allow them to express themselves in new ways. Google has been exploring this world for a few years now, as the video above shows, and there is even hope it could help find careers for these aspiring architects. We’ll certainly welcome them into the field.
Among the revelations in Nick Paumgarten’s recent meandering piece for The New Yorker was that the designs for the park had actually been completed months ago and are under lock-and-key within the former Coast Guard grounds, awaiting the stabilization of Albany—sometime in 2012, perhaps?—for a proper unveiling. The other piece of news that struck us was that Leslie Koch, the director of GIPEC who had fought to have the island put back on maps it had been excised from decades prior, had gone so far as to convince the notorious Google Street View car to come over to the island so people could explore the place inside-out, in-season and out. (The park closes the second weekend of October.) Read More