Infrastructure Blues: ULI Report Assesses National & Global Policy

Once again, the results of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) /Ernst & Young annual global infrastructure report don’t look good for America. According to the document, “The United States notably continues to lag its global competition—laboring without a national infrastructure plan, lacking political consensus, and contending with severe federal, state, and local budget deficits that limit options.” The end of the federal stimulus package in 2013 makes the picture even bleaker. “The stimulus helped, but it was only a down payment on what’s needed,” said Ernst & Young Global Real Estate Leader Howard Roth at a recent ULI meeting in Phoenix.

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Parklet Lost, CityGarden Love, Chatham Scratched and Directing Traffic

Daily Clicks
Monday, May 23, 2011
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Parklet in Oakland goes missing. (Courtesy Actual Cafe)

Parklet in Oakland goes missing. (Courtesy Actual Cafe)

Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept–transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk–and we hear they’re quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident.

Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis’ much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI’s 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC’s Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize.

Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown’s Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn’t want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead.

Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.

QUICK CLICKS> Flyways, Pitstops, Bikes and the City

Daily Clicks
Friday, May 20, 2011
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Time lapse photography reveals an enlightened path (Courtesy Lost at E Minor).

Heavenly highways. No, this isn’t a preview of the Rapture (whose marketing graphics leave much to be desired)–it’s a series of time lapse photographs of the quotidian take-offs and landings of airplanes, courtesy of Lost At E Minor.

Out of Gas. Sunday Zipcar drivers take note: when the current lease runs out, the Gaseteria-turned-BP at the corner of Lafayette and Houston Streets in Manhattan will become the site of a new “super-secret five- to seven-story commercial loft development with luxury retail” reports The Observer.

Pro “Roberta Moses.” In her article “Anatomy of a Take Down,” Karrie Jacobs of Metropolis deftly deconstructs the critical pile-on around DOT Commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan and her transformation of New York City’s streets. If Jacobs were mayor, she says, she’d throw Sadik-Khan a ticker-tape parade.

Two-wheeled Commute. Happy National Bike to Work Day! Dissuaded by inclement weather in the northeast? For inspiration, check out Street Films’ video–after the jump–of Lucette Gilbert, in her “very late 70s,” who has been getting around New York by bike since the transit strike of 1980.

Watch the video after the jump.

QUICK CLICKS>Palace 4 Sale, College Towns, Barbie House

Other
Thursday, May 19, 2011
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How much for a palace in New York? $400 million. Courtesy WSJ

Big Deals. It’s a week of very big deals in NYC as The New York Times reported that Condé Nast signed on the dotted line to move in to One World Trade, and The Wall Street Journal broke the story that The Palace is under contract to be sold to Northwood Investors for $400 million. While across town at The Plaza, the drama continues to unfold with news that landlord Miki Nafti is stepping down and the Oak Room is closing.

Grad Towns. With commencements commencing, many would rather forget that college grads are having a pretty hard time finding work. But a recent search for the ten best college towns from Kiplinger made job opportunities in the college towns part of the criteria.  NYC came in first, despite the “sky high rents,” Charlotte and Baltimore followed with their relatively low cost and robust growth.

Open Call. The AIA has announced that My Architect Barbie needs a house. Through the contest to “design a house that meets her guidelines” architects may find the client surprisingly demanding, “With more than 125 careers, I need a spacious office,” says the eight- inch wonder. A big back yard needs to accommodate all her pets, including the giraffe.

 

 

 

Billings> Index Tumbles to Lowest Point in 6 Months

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
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Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)

Billings (blue) and inquiries (red) for the past 12 months. (The Architect's Newspaper)

In what can only be described as an about face, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) took a bit of a tumble into negative territory last month. The April ABI fell to 47.6 from 50.6, beating even October’s low of 48.7. At the end of 2010, words like “rebound” were cautiously bandied about, but for the past three months the ABI skated along the edge of positive territory hovering around 50.

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Top Transit Towns, HUD in Hot Water, Graceland Safe, & An Interior Award

Daily Clicks
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
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The city with the best public transportation according to the Brookings Institute? Honolulu

Transit Surprise. The Atlantic has the 10 best and worst cities for public transportation based on a report on transit and access to jobs from the Brookings Institution. The think tank ranked cities by the area served and the share of city jobs accessible by public transit. The results might surprise you: none of the cities with the best public transit are on the East Coast.

HUD in Hot Water. The Washington Post alleged that “HUD has lost hundreds of millions on delayed or defunct construction deals nationwide” in its new investigative series “Million-Dollar Wasteland.” The paper explores, among deals in other cities, a failed project in D.C. where speculators profited at the cost of millions for the city government.

Graceland Saved. The flooding along the Mississippi River has spared Memphis’ key historic landmarks. According to NPR, Graceland, Sun Studio (where Elvis Presley recorded), and Stax Records (which launched Otis Redding’s career) were unharmed. But some of Louisiana’s most valuable farmland is expected to be inundated by rising waters.

Interior Award. Bar Agricole in San Francisco won the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Interior, reported Fast Company. The restaurant, which serves French-inspired food sourced from local farms, features billowing glass sculptures, walls lined with strips of oak from whiskey barrels, recycled oak seating, and concrete banquettes. Restauranteur Thad Vogler collaborated with Aidlin Darling Design, which received co-ownership for its work.

Video> Thomas Heatherwick′s Seed Cathedral

Seed Cathedral by Thomas Heatherwick (Photo by Eugene Regis/Flickr)

Seed Cathedral by Thomas Heatherwick (Photo by Eugene Regis/Flickr)

British architect Thomas Heatherwick was recently featured on a Ted Talk where he presented five projects including his Seed Cathedral from Shanghai’s Expo 2010. The pavilion incorporated thousands of seed-encapsulating plastic rods that transmit light into and out of the building. Taken as a whole, the strands resemble one giant occupiable seed puff. Check out Heatherwick’s talk about the Seed Cathedral and his firm’s design philosophy after the jump.

Watch the video after the jump.

Guggenheim′s Newest Exhibit to Offer Therapy

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
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Pedro Reyes's rendering of the Sanatorium

The stereotypes of New Yorkers are that they’re rude, they only wear black, and they all have therapists. Sanitorium, the first installation of Guggenheim’s new program, stillspotting nyc, explores the smorgasborg of therapies that help the city’s neurotic residents keep their lives together.

Continue reading after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Babel Books, High Line, Tower Trouble, Twin Lions

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
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Artist Marta Minujin's "Tower of Babel" made from books in Argentina. (Courtesy Buenos Aires World Book Capital)

Artist Marta Minujin's "Tower of Babel" made from books in Argentina. (Courtesy Buenos Aires World Book Capital)

Tower of Babel. Argentinian artist Marta Minujin has created an 82-foot tall “Tower of Babel” in Buenos Aires after the city was named UNESCO’s World Book Capital for 2011. Readers, libraries, and 50 embassies donated over 30,000 books in a variety of languages to fill the twisting structure. The Guardian has a slideshow and we posted a video of the tower after the jump.

High Line Caution. Witold Rybczynski penned an op-ed for the NY Times cautioning the many would-be High Line copy cats that the success of the New York wonder-park (and a Parisian predecessor) aren’t because of the parks themselves, but because of their unique situations in dense, thriving cities.

Tower Trouble. The Wall Street Journal writes that skyscraper construction has dropped off drastically from decades past to the tune of 14 million fewer square feet per decade than the period between 1950 and 1990. Can New York maintain its global competitiveness without ramping up construction?

Twin Lions. Two stone lions, Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, have been standing sentinel at the New York Public Library’s main entrance on Fifth Avenue since 1911. Ephemeral New York posted a little more history on the backstory of the big cats.

Watch the Tower of Babel video after the jump.

QUICK CLICKS> Hollywood Towers, Philly Pier, Midtown Oasis, Twin City Nonstop

Daily Clicks
Monday, May 16, 2011
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Capitol Records to get $1 billion worth of high rise neighbors. Courtesy Handel Architects

Hollywood High. Promising to make the old Capitol Records building the jewel in a $1 billion real estate crown, developers Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures are proposing to revamp a large swath of Hollywood by clustering one million square feet of multi-use development around the famous tower. The developers told the LA Times that community input will influence the design and that the building where Nat King Cole, Sinatra, and the Beach Boys made their magic will hopefully remain an entertainment hub called Millennium Hollywood.

Race to the Finish. Philly’s Race Street Pier is now complete and gets the ball rolling on the Delaware River Waterfront‘s master plan. The new pier runs just slightly south of the Ben Franklin Bridge and park designs reinforce the span’s perspective. A single file line-up of 37 swamp white oak trees march out toward Jersey. PlanPhilly‘s got the all the details.

Midblock Crosswalk. DNA has been following the push by Midtown residents to clear the way for little known pedestrian arcades and corridors that run from from 51st to 57th Streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. At the moment, cars block the privately owned public walkways and residents want the DOT to make them more accessible by providing crosswalks and not allowing parking in front of them.

Buses to Nowhere. Citing a Brookings Institute report, The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal noted that though 67 percent of Twin City residents can walk to a bus stop from home, only 30 percent of the buses stop near their jobs. For metro areas nationwide, New York came in last while Honolulu came in first. The report counts Poughkeepsie as part of the New York metro area. Really? Poughkeepsie?

QUICK CLICKS> Prism Problems, LinkedGreen, Boardwalk, Critic Kvetch

Daily Clicks
Friday, May 13, 2011
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At 65 stories , One World Trade is still experiencing growing pains.

Prismatic Schmatic. After the NYPD criticized the security measures at One World Trade back in 2005, David Childs responded by losing the glass on the bottom 20 floors and creating a bunker like base to be hidden behind prismatic glass panels and welded aluminum screens. Now the Times reports that plan has to be scrapped because the Chinese manufacturer can’t prevent the prismatic panes from bowing. Childs is back at the drawing board.

Green Empire. Sustainable Cities says that LinkedIn signed a 31,000 square foot lease at the Empire State Building because it’s too green to pass up. The building is undergoing a $550 million makeover and shooting for LEED Gold. Via Planitzen.

Say It Ain’t So! Gothamist reports that Coney Island is going concrete, or at least part of the famed boardwalk is. The community board has decided to allow a 12-foot wide concrete path for vehicular traffic to run straight down the middle of the famed wooden way.

Critic Shortage. The LA Times’ Christopher Hawthorne took to the pages of Architectural Record bemoaning the damage “internet culture” has done to criticism. He takes aim at bloggers in particular, though he allows that Geoff Manaugh‘s BLDGBLOG is a stand out. But for every BLDGBLOG there are ten whose work is “overlong, prone to self-absorption, and still struggling to get a handle on the it’s/its dilemma — appears to exist only to prove the old adage that it’s the editor who makes the writer.” Via Archnews.

 

Eight Celebs Who Take High Speed Rail

Courtesy John H. Gray/flickr and Michele Asselin/Arrive

Courtesy John H. Gray/flickr and Michele Asselin/Arrive

The current state of rail is nowhere near its heyday in the 20th century, when train travel was luxurious and serviced most parts of the country. But high speed rail is making a comeback, championed by planners, environmentalists, and the Obama administration.

The mode of transport still has to contend with car and air travel (along with a reputation for inconsistency and irrelevance), but it got some help in March, when a commercial featured Mad Men‘s Pete Campbell and Harry Crane building a campaign for high speed rail. And Amtrak still has an surprising roster of famous passengers, which includes Angelina Jolie, Jesse Jackson and John Travolta, according to forums on Flyertalk.com and Trainorders.com. Check out these celebrities who take high speed rail:

8 famous Amtrak passengers

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