Regional Plan Association’s Bob Yaro steps down as leader of New York planning group

Robert Yaro, left, and Tom Wright, right. (Courtesy Regional Plan Association)

Robert Yaro, left, and Tom Wright, right. (Courtesy Regional Plan Association)

The Regional Plan Association has announced that its president Bob Yaro is retiring and will be succeeded by its executive director Tom Wright. Yaro has been with the association for 25 years and served as its president since 2001. “I have been privileged over the last quarter century to guide RPA and help address some of the New York metropolitan region’s most pressing challenges,” Yaro said in a statement. “While I will miss working with the extraordinarily talented researchers and policy experts at RPA on a daily basis, I am thrilled to be leaving the organization in the hands of someone as accomplished and visionary as Tom Wright.” 

Slideshow> The Manhattan Tunnels of East Side Access

East Side Access underneath Manhattan.  (Courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

East Side Access underneath Manhattan. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

The MTA has released a new batch of images of the under-construction tunnels for its “East Side Access” project. For the uninitiated, East Side Access is the agency’s $10.8 billion plan to connect the Long Island Railroad with Grand Central Terminal. The project was initially scheduled to be completed by 2009, but, like so many large infrastructure projects, the East Side Access has been delayed. The project is now scheduled to open in 2023. All told, the project is expected to be $6.5 billion over budget.

Many more construction photos after the jump.

Improv Everywhere Turns Humid Subway Station into a Relaxing Spa

The 34th Street sauna. (Courtesy Improv Everywhere)

The 34th Street sauna. (Courtesy Improv Everywhere)

Between June and August, a New York City subway platform is a pretty awful place to find yourself. Over those summer months, the subway has all the smells, crowds, and delays you’re used  to with the unwelcome addition of a shockingly stubborn heat that couldn’t care less that you’re on your way to a job interview.

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Bomb Trains: Vice investigates the dangers of transporting crude oil by rail

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

In a new video report, Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail, Vice News investigated the risk of crude oil–carrying trains exploding as they crisscross North America. That isn’t some hypothetical risk that could be realized down the road—it’s already happening. Last summer, forty-seven people were killed when an oil-carrying train exploded in a small town in Quebec, and in the year since, four more trains have gone up in flames in the U.S. and Canada. With so many train lines carrying oil through the hearts of American cities, Vice highlights safety concerns for urban areas and rural alike.

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With promise and pitfalls, Washington D.C.’s new Silver Line hopes to transform the suburbs

Tysons Corner station. (Flickr / tracktwentynine)

Tysons Corner station. (Flickr / tracktwentynine)

It finally happened. After decades of planning, five years of construction, and months of delays, Washington D.C.‘s brand-new Silver Metro line welcomed over 50,000 commuters for its opening weekend. The new 11.4-mile line, which includes five new stations, will ultimately connect the city to Dulles Airport in Virginia. That part of the line is scheduled to open in 2018. The Silver line, though, is more than an attempt to connect a city with its airport—it’s the latest, multi-billion dollar effort to expand a rail system, spur economic development, and create more walkable, pedestrian-friendly destinations. So, yes, it’s ambitious. And, yes, it was expensive. Continue reading after the jump.

Julian Castro Sworn In As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Castro at today's swearing-in. (Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Castro at today’s swearing-in. (Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, was sworn in Tuesday as the country’s next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro succeeds Shaun Donovan who was tapped to head the Office of Management and Budget. During Donovan’s tenure at HUD, he oversaw the Rebuild by Design competition, which selected its winners earlier this summer. Among his many responsibilities in his new role, Castro will likely be heavily involved in the execution of those projects, which include work from BIG, SCAPE, Penn Design/OLIN, OMA, Interboro, and MIT.

New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal to get $90 million band-aid

Port Authority terminal. (Flickr / rosebennet)

Port Authority terminal. (Flickr / rosebennet)

Nobody likes the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. Nobody. And an infusion of $90 million probably won’t change that. According to the New York Times, the money, which was approved by the authority last week, will be used for fairly minor improvements including better cell phone service, improved restrooms, and more legible signs.

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With Some Cash From Related Companies, Citi Bike Could Expand Next Year

Citi Bike dock. (Flickr / shinya)

Citi Bike dock. (Flickr / shinya)

The latest piece in the ongoing saga of Citi Bike actually contains some good news. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Related Companies, through its affiliate, REQX Ventures, is close to finishing a deal that would inject millions of dollars into the struggling, but popular, bike share system.

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After delays, new D.C. streetcar line hopes to open in November

A D.C. streetcar. (Flickr / Mr.TinDC)

A D.C. streetcar. (Flickr / Mr.TinDC)

After missing its 2013 deadline, Washington D.C.’s streetcar could possibly open this fall—that’s according to a source involved with the project. The in-the-know individual told American University’s radio station, WAMU, that the H Street-Benning Road line could be up and running the first week of November.

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And Another: SOM Unveils Third Trussed Station Design for Florida’s Commuter Rail

All Aboard Florida's West Palm Beach station. (Courtesy SOM)

All Aboard Florida’s West Palm Beach station. (Courtesy SOM)

With another set of renderings revealed for Florida‘s upcoming commuter rail service, it’s clear that SOM hopes to give the system a highly recognizable visual brand. After the firm unveiled plans for All Aboard Florida’s Miami Station, which floats the rails 50-feet above grade on trusses, SOM and Zyscovich Architects revealed its design for the smaller Ft. Lauderdale station, which clearly borrowed heavily from the first. The 27,500-square-foot hub is also defined by reinforced concrete trusses. And today, with images released for the West Palm Beach station, we know those trusses aren’t going anywhere.

Continue reading after the jump.

Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn’t slowing down—it’s just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That’s because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions.

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Cleveland’s Public Square could break ground soon, thanks to $8 million cash boost

Cleveland's Public Square is the subject of a major redesign, which recently received a funding boost from a local foundation. (James Corner Field Operations and LAND Studio)

Cleveland’s Public Square is the subject of a major redesign, which recently received a funding boost from a local foundation. (James Corner Field Operations and LAND Studio)

Cleveland last year unveiled a plan to revamp Public Square—a space that, as its name suggests, is meant to serve as a civic space for the city’s downtown. Now an $8 million grant could make that ambitious project shovel-ready by the end of this year. Read More

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