Although Houston has been expanding outward for decades, its bus system has hardly kept up. This is not surprising given the track record for many American cities where cars take precedence over public transit. But what is unexpected—to the point of being radical—is a proposal that will grant greater, more efficient access to Houston’s commuters for not a penny more than its current cost.
As the United States’ prototypical car-oriented freeway town, Los Angeles continues to edge its way toward becoming a pedestrian-friendly metropolis. The city’s Great Streets Initiative, a program intended to redesign public space to be more pedestrian- and cyclist-friend, officially moved forward this week as Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the first 15 streets that will be targeted for improvement throughout the city.
Dunlavey Street in central Houston typifies the image of a Southwestern city street. It’s a sprawling, four lane affair that is approximately 50 percent usable, 80 percent pedestrian unsafe, and, in this case, 100 percent in need of an update. Transportation officials are evening out the numbers for a proposed road diet that would reduce the four-lane street to two and using the outer lane space for parking, improved sidewalks, and bike lanes.
Divvy, Chicago’s bike share program, just sold the moving ad space of some 3,000 bicycles that have traveled 2.5 million miles since the system launched nine months ago. Illinois’ largest health insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, paid $12.5 million to sponsor Divvy and brand its blue bikes and vans with their corporate logo beginning in June. The Chicago Tribune reported that the highest bidder was Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which has also sponsored several other bikeshare systems in recent years, starting in Minneapolis. The health insurance company will pay $2.5 million each year through 2018—revenue the city will use to expand Divvy and fund bicycling projects throughout the city.
Earlier this month, workers broke ground on the largest Twin Cities real estate development project in two decades. Budding off a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, designed by HKS, locally based Ryan Companies saw an opportunity to redefine the Minneapolis neighborhood of Downtown East.
New York City’s bike share system, Citi Bike has had a rough first year. The bikes are in bad shape, the docking technology is glitchy, and the system has been plagued with financial troubles for months. To make matters worse for the beleaguered program, New York City is asking Alta Bikeshare—the company which oversees Citi Bike—to cough up $1 million to cover lost parking revenue from the parking spaces the bike stations occupy.
An art installation along Philadelphia’s Northeast Amtrak corridor is adding some color to the travel experience for 34,000 daily riders. Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has been commissioned by the city’s Mural Arts Program to transform seven sites alongside the tracks with vibrant (and environmentally friendly) coats of paint: Orange and white streak across a warehouse, green and white do the same on an abandoned brick structure, and hot pink cover brush and boulders.
St. Louis’ Grand Center neighborhood has gone through a lot of changes. Though it was hit hard by suburban flight during the 1950s, in recent years the historic and predominantly African-American community area has enjoyed an artistic revival bolstered by theaters and cultural institutions like the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
Now a confluence of development corporations and nonprofits want the midtown neighborhood “to become the premiere cultural and entertainment tourist destination in the Midwest.” Read More
Dallas developer Shawn Todd is proposing a $100 million parking-garage-and-park combo for a downtown parking lot that Dallas has been trying to get underway for years now. And while stories about parking garages aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, Todd’s plans are making a particularly idiosyncratic splash. Besides a massive media screen, a Trader Joe’s grocery store, and adding a plethora of parking spots to downtown Dallas, the garage and park won’t cost the city a penny. Todd plans to pay for it all by himself.
How the greenway might look as it passes through Expressway Park.
As AN reported in our latest Southwest edition, Baton Rouge and New Orleans are gearing up for changes across their respective urban landscapes with two new master plans by landscape architecture firm Spackman Mossop Michaels. The firm has shared these before and after views of the proposed Baton Rouge Greenway, which provides “a vision for a greenway that connects City-Brooks Park near LSU’s campus on the south side of the city to the State Capitol grounds to the north, while stitching together adjoining neighborhoods and other smaller landscaped areas along the way” Slide back and forth to see existing conditions and SMM’s plans for the area and be sure to learn more about the projects in AN‘s news article.
As we’ve noted before, water-surrounded Taiwan has become ground zero for ambitious port projects, from Neil Denari’s Keelung Harbor to Reiser Umemoto’s Kaohsiung Port Terminal. The latest, the Port of Kinmen Passenger Service Center, has just been awarded to Japanese firm Junya Ishigami + Associates, for a series of undulating landform buildings that all but disappear beneath their green roofs. Second and third place went to California firms, Tom Wiscombe Architecture, for a design featuring five crystalline structures hovering over a large box, and Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), for a grid of folded triangular planes weaving through and above a public park. Runners up were Spanish firms EMBT and Josep Mias Gifre.
Boston’s subway system—the “T”—is currently undergoing its first expansion in nearly three decades, pushing the city’s Green Line into the hip enclave of Somerville. And while the first stations in neighboring Somerville won’t open until 2017 (at the earliest), the promise of new transit is already transforming the city’s real estate market. The streetscape is coming next.