What happens when you gather four tactical urbanists in one room for a “Death Match”-style debate asking, “Is Small Big Enough?” You get a choir. The panel at the Flux Factory’s discussion last night was equipped with “smackdown cards” to challenge the views of their opponents, but they all agreed more often than they disagreed, that the small scale actions at the root of tactical urbanism—and this years US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Spontaneous Interventions—are just fine. What emerged from the packed house was a highly polished discussion, where minor differences were exposed, ground down, and made smooth.
You might have heard that the next version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 6, is scrapping transit directions when it revamps its mapping program. That’s a big deal for city dwellers in a constant rush to grab the closest subway or the fastest bus and caused quite an uproar earlier this summer when news hit the internet. While Google’s standard app is no longer default, a plethora of software developers have jumped at the opportunity to design custom transit apps. Open Plans, a non-profit software developer in New York, is one of them, and they’re in the final hours of a Kickstarter campaign to fund their transit app.
As of publishing, their open-source OpenTripPlanner Mobile project is still about 20 percent short of its goal, but closing in pretty quickly. The software promises features that the current Google maps app doesn’t allow, like planning for multi-modal trips involving transit, walking, and bikes. New Yorkers can check out an example of Open Plans’ bike-share software Cibi.me, which will help plan Citi Bike trips once the city finally works out all the bugs.
Russian Posters – Rodchenko 120
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Herron School of Art and Design Marsh Gallery
735 West New York Street, Indianapolis, IN
Through August 24
In recognition of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Rodchenko, Moscow Design Week organized a poster campaign honoring the Russian avant-garde artist, graphic designer, and photographer. Commissioning work from twenty prominent Russian poster artists, the campaign sought to create a dialogue between contemporary graphic designers and a master of the discipline. Sergei Serov, curator of the project, writes, “The posters are not only a tribute to the great artist, but a reflection on the historical destiny of graphic design.” The posters all bear Rodchenko’s influence in unique ways. Elements from some of his most notable designs are repurposed, utilizing Rodchenko’s own language of collage and geometric composition. These strict geometries inform Nikolai Shtok’s entry, above, where simple geometric forms are abstracted and composed as a Rodchenko-inspired typography.
There are many reasons to love Summer Streets in New York—or open streets programs in most cities across the country—but one of the best is the opportunity to stand in the middle of Park Avenue, Fourth Avenue, or Lafayette Street gawking up at the city’s architecture without becoming roadkill. Walking Off the Big Apple presents a list of notable buildings along the route in easy to use Google map form. Summer Streets is back again tomorrow and the following Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so look for Mies’ Seagram Building, Stanford White’s 23 Park, or, of course, Grand Central Terminal.
Also be on the lookout for this crazy bike-powered musical instrument called the Cyclo-Phone (above) by Marcelo Ertorteguy and Sara Valente. Curbed New York spotted the crazy contraption made of kiddie pools and PVC pipes at Astor Place.
A one-mile-long pedestrian bridge spanning the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana is under construction and expected to open next spring. With work progressing on laying a new concrete deck on the circa 1895 former railroad bridge and a dramatic elliptical spiral ramp built of Cor-ten steel to match the patina of the old span already soaring above the Hargreaves-designed Waterfront Park in Louisville. The latest piece of the puzzle came into focus in late July as a new park in downtown Jeffersonville was unveiled to the public.
Urban rooftop farming is on the up-and-up in New York City and across the country. Putting his official stamp of approval on the movement, New York Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the city’s largest rooftop farm, the 43,000-square-foot Brooklyn Grange atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With the growing season in full swing, the plants were towering nearly as high as the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
Saturdays in August, Manhattan is made for pedestrians and cyclists. The fifth season of Summer Streets, New York City’s spectacularly popular open streets program where a major thoroughfare is closed off to traffic and opened up to just about everything else, kicks off tomorrow, August 4 from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lafayette Street and Park Avenue will play host to thousands of New Yorkers experiencing the city in a way normally only someone with a death wish might, and this year, the NYC Department of Transportation is stringing out new attractions along the nearly seven mile route.
In the middle of a lightly populated island in the middle of a French reservoir—the Ile de Vassivière—an eerie green glow rises from the crest of a hill at dusk, indicating that you’ve found OTRO, a phosphorescent skate park of sinuous bowls and tunnels. Designed by artist Koo Jeong-A, L’Escaut Architectures, and skateboard consultants Brusk and Barricade, the project is described as “skateable artwork” and located near a large chateau housing the International Center of Art and Landscape, a light house designed by Aldo Rossi, and a humanoid piece of land art only visible from high above.
If everything had gone according to plan, New York’s highly anticipated bike-sharing system called Citi Bike would be in full swing. Unfortunately, earlier this month the city announced that a computer software glitch had pushed the opening back until August. While we can handle waiting one more month, rumors that the planned 10,000 bright blue Citi Bikes might not hit the street until next year had us alarmed.