Two Cheap and Efficient Ways to Improve Public Transit

Efficient Passenger Project Sign in Brooklyn. (twitter.com/eppnyc)

Efficient Passenger Project Sign in Brooklyn. (twitter.com/eppnyc)

Ah, the joy of New York City’s rush-hour subway commute. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you know the thrill in stepping off one crowded, dirty subway car into a wall of people to push your way onto the next crowded subway car. You turn up your music, or that riveting Podcast with that guy from that thing, and you power through it.

While you might be accustomed to it, the daily commute has plenty of room for improvement. Two new approaches to ease crowding on public transit systems show how some easy adjustments could make big-city commutes considerably less hellish.

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Maps Visualize the Challenge of De Blasio’s Vision Zero Plan

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A heatmap of 2013 cyclist injuries. (Courtesy Ben Wellington)

With Bill de Blasio making traffic regulation a priority of his fledgling administration, new visualizations of traffic injuries across New York City illustrate what the new mayor is up against in attempting to make such incidents a thing of the past. Statistician and Pratt professor Ben Wellington has used open data documenting traffic fatalities and cyclist injuries to generate heat maps of where in the city such events tended to occur in 2013.

More after the jump.

Moynihan Station Moves One (Possible) Step Closer to Reality

Moynihan Station Renderings (Empire State Development Corporation)

Moynihan Station Renderings (Empire State Development Corporation)

After years of delays and dashed hopes of development, the plan to extend Penn Station into the Farley Post Office across the street might finally—possibly—be on track. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Empire State Development Corp., the state economic-development agency, is looking for a broker to sell 1.5 million square feet of unused real-estate-development rights attached to the property.”

The hundreds of millions that this could generate would go towards transforming the Post Office into Moynihan Station. The new space would include a grand waiting area for Amtrak inside the building’s main hall. While no concrete plan or timeline is in place, the state’s request could provide significant funds to kick-start construction. Key word: Could.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Unveils “Vision Zero Action Plan”

East, Media, Transportation, Urbanism
Monday, February 24, 2014
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Busy New York City street. (Flickr /  Erik Drost)

Busy New York City street. (Flickr / Erik Drost)

After promising to “end the tragic and unacceptable rash of pedestrian deaths” in his State of the City speech, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has officially unveiled his “Vision Zero Action Plan.” On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, near an area where three pedestrians have been killed in the past month, the mayor promised to address the scourge of traffic fatalities across the city.

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Explore Grand Central’s History With Fun, New Website

Grand Central's Main Concourse in 1914. (New York Transit Museum)

Grand Central’s Main Concourse in 1914. (New York Transit Museum)

Grand Central has always been more than a train station. It’s an architectural and cultural touchstone for New York City. Even the most hurried commuter will stop to admire the building’s impressive scale and immaculate detail, before making their next transfer or stepping onto the crowded Midtown streets.

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Our Crisis: Engineer Considers Options for Houston’s Transportation Future

Eavesdroplet, Southwest, Transportation
Thursday, February 20, 2014
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Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

It’s no secret that Houston is going through a growth spurt. The city currently has four central business districts that, if separated, would each be among the country’s top 15 employment centers. In the next 30 years, 3.5 million people are projected to move to the 8-county region, with two million of those concentrated in Harris County.

Continue reading after the jump.

Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal

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Detroit's I-375 made the list.

Detroit’s I-375 made the list. (gab482/flickr)

The Congress for the New Urbanism has released their annual list of Freeways Without Futures. The organization selected the top 10 urban American (and one Canadian) highways most in need of removal. The final list was culled from nominations from more than 50 cities. Criteria for inclusion included age of the freeway, the potential that removal would have to positively effect the areas where the roadways are currently situated, and the amount of momentum to realize such removals. Additionally the CNU highlighted campaigns in Dallas, the Bronx, Pasadena, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls, that are taking significant steps towards removing freeways (some of which have been included in past lists) as illustrations of broader institutional and political shifts on urban infrastructural thinking.

The dubious list after the jump.

TxDOT Approves Barton Creek Bicycle Bridge for Austin

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Since the construction of the twin freeway bridges that carry the MoPac expressway over Barton Creek in 1987, the Austin community has been clamoring for a bike and pedestrian bridge to accompany it. That outcry has now been answered. On February 11, The Texas Department of Transportation approved just such a crossing. The project will cost the state around $7.7 million and will take approximately thirty months to complete.

According to the Austin Public works department the construction will be handled in three phases: Phase I includes adding a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Barton Creek at MoPac. The south bound lanes of MoPac will also be re-striped to lessen traffic congestion and to improve bicycle and pedestrian connections to the Southwest Parkway, Loop 360, and other trails in the area, including the Violet Crown Trail and the Oak Hills Neighborhood Trail System.

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The New Paris Underground: Mayoral Candidate Proposes Reusing Abandoned Subway Stations

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Subway station as restaurant (Courtesty OXO architects + Laisné architecte urbaniste)

Paris mayoral candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is attempting to forge a new underground scene in the French capital. In conjunction with her 2014 campaign the politician has commissioned a series of mock-ups that re-imagine abandoned subway stations as cultural and recreational gathering spaces. The designs were executed by Manal Rachdi of OXO architects + Nicolas Laisné from Laisné architecte urbaniste.

Read more after the jump.

AIA NY Announces Winners of Queensway Design Competition

Qway PresRelease Winners-4

Queens Bilboard by Nikolay Martynov (Courtesy Nikolay Martynov/ENYA)

The winners of the AIA New York‘s biennial design competition have been been announced. The Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) committee selected from 120 proposals submitted as a part of QueensWay Connection: Elevating the Public Realm, which was intended to drum up ideas that would contribute to the proposed re-purposing of an elevated railway in Queens. Entrants were tasked with designing a vertical gateway for the elevated viaduct portion of the 3.5 mile–long track currently under consideration for the High Line treatment.

More winners after the jump.

Civic group calls on Chicago to expand car-free zones

Harry and Guenter Kempf Plaza in Chicago's Lincoln Square. (Google Maps)

Harry and Guenter Kempf Plaza in Chicago’s Lincoln Square. (Google Maps)

The jostle of potholes notwithstanding, motorists might find nothing unbalanced about Chicago’s public streets. But the Active Transportation Alliance points out while nearly a quarter of the city is in the public right-of-way, cars dominate practically all of it.

Citing the city’s Make Way for People initiative, which turns over underused street space to pedestrians, the group released 20 proposals Wednesday, calling on City Hall to create car-free spaces from Wrigley Field to Hyde Park. Read More

Could This Swedish Bridge Become the Hippest Pedestrian Crossing in Stockholm?

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(Courtesy visiondivision)

The Traneberg Bridge in Stockholm once possessed the world’s largest concrete bridge vaults. That was in 1934 following it’s completion based on a design from Swedish Modernist Paul Hedqvist. With its size record long surpassed, Swedish firm Visiondivision are calling for alterations to the structure that would garner another wave of notoriety for the bridge some 80 years later.

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