Jan Gehl Calls On Cities to Design For People, Not For Cars

East, Review, Transportation, Urbanism
Friday, February 7, 2014
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Jan Gehl. (Courtesy Center for Architecture)

Jan Gehl. (Courtesy Center for Architecture)

The Oculus book talk on the new book, How to Study Public Life, at the Center for Architecture with Jan Gehl and his co-author Birgitte Svarre was like seeing the documentary The Human Scale come to life—only with a sense of humor.

Gehl’s urban theories have gained a lot of traction, not least in New York City. Jeanette Sadik-Khan went to Gehl’s native Copenhagen two weeks into her job as commissioner of NYC’s Department of Transportation (along with fellow commissioner of City Planning, Amanda Burden) and experienced the city’s pedestrian-over-cars public plazas, rode bicycles on protected bike lanes, and absorbed the lessons of the city that is repeatedly named the most livable in the world.

Continue reading after the jump.

Small Town, Big Bus Stops: International Architects Convene on Austrian Village for BUS:STOP Project

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Sou Fujimoto’s bus stop design (Courtesy kulturkrumbach)

A slew of internationally-renowned architects have convened on the unlikeliest of sites. Krumbach, Austria, a town of less than 3,000 may soon be the location of bus stops designed by Sou Fujimoto and Pritzer Prize Winner Wang Shu among others. The BUS:STOP initiative is the brainchild of kulturkrumbach which managed to entice the heralded names to participate in a bus stop design project with the promise of a free vacation and little else.

Read more after the jump

Before & After> 25 of New York City’s Most Transformative Road Diets

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New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.

With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.

As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.

See more transformations after the jump.

Former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Assumes New Roles

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Obama’s former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has accepted two new jobs since resigning his post last July. First, he has joined a bipartisan group focused on improving national transportation policy. LaHood will be co-chair of Building America’s Future along with Former New York Mayor Bloomberg (I) and former Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell (D). “I am delighted to join Building America’s Future as a co-chair and am excited to work together with some of the nation’s most innovative public leaders,” LaHood said in a statement. Also this month, LaHood announced he will be joining law firm DLA Piper as a senior consultant, according to StreetsBlog. A spokesperson said he will hold a strictly advisory role at the mega-firm and will not become a lobbyist.

Across the Los Angeles River, A Statement in Steel Reconnects the City’s Urban Fabric

THE TAYLOR YARD BRIDGE WILL LINK CYPRESS PARK AND ELYSIAN VALLEY (STUDIO PALI FEKETE ARCHITECTS)

THE TAYLOR YARD BRIDGE WILL LINK CYPRESS PARK AND ELYSIAN VALLEY (STUDIO PALI FEKETE ARCHITECTS)

“We got very attracted to the project, and to the idea of making something that reconnects Los Angeles,” Zoltan Pali said of Taylor Yard Bridge, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge designed by his firm, Studio Pali Fekete architects (SPF:a). Originally introduced as part of a mitigations package twenty-two years ago, the bridge, which will span the Los Angeles River between Cypress Park and Elysian Valley, should be completed within two years at a cost of $5.3 million. Read More

A Life-Saving Proposal for San Francisco’s Sidewalks

SOUS LES PAVES ENVISIONS A GREEN NETWORK OF CROSSWALKS, MEDIAN STRIPS, AND CITY PARKS (OPA)

SOUS LES PAVES ENVISIONS A GREEN NETWORK OF CROSSWALKS, MEDIAN STRIPS, AND CITY PARKS (OPA)

Can better design save lives? That question is at the center of a proposal by Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects (OPA) to transform crosswalks along San Francisco’s Divisadero Street. The project, Sous Les Paves, originated in a GOOD design challenge by the Center for Architecture and Design. With help from AIA San Francisco, OPA partnered with local advocacy organization Walk San Francisco in a bid to improve pedestrian safety at street crossings.

Continue reading after the jump.

What stopped earth’s biggest-diameter tunnel boring drill?

Transportation, West
Thursday, January 16, 2014
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The south end of the tunnel. (WSDOT; Flickr.)

The south end of the tunnel. (WSDOT; Flickr.)

It was early December in Seattle when the world’s biggest-diameter tunnel boring machine, called Bertha, came to a stop underneath Seattle. It was plowing through the city’s underground as part of the two-mile project to bring SR 99 underground and replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Overnight, it seemed as if the whole of Seattle and beyond was curious: was it buried treasure from the gold rush days? Or bootlegger artifacts?

The answer after the jump.

2014 will be a big year for streetcars in Kansas City and Cincinnati

City Terrain, Midwest, Transportation
Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Car 1056 of Kansas City's historic streetcar fleet. The city is currently in the process of reviving the system. (Nick Fisher via FLickr)

Car 1056 of Kansas City’s historic streetcar fleet. The city is currently in the process of reviving the system. (Nick Fisher via FLickr)

Although it hasn’t yet broken ground, Kansas City plans to revive a long-dormant streetcar network. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2012 to fund a 2-mile starter route from Union Station to the River Market, nearly 55 years after the city halted its original streetcar service in 1957.

Now Kansas City residents are likely to vote again to help pay for streetcar construction, this time to approve taxes that would help fund a new streetcar taxing district. The measure goes to City Council on Jan. 23. Read More

Colorful Carbon Footprint Maps Illustrates Energy Usage Trends

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Source: UC Berkeley CoolClimate Network, Average Annual Household Carbon Footprint (2013)

University of California, Berkeley has released a new set of interactive maps illustrating national energy usage.  The visually striking if troubling images reveal a stark urban/suburban divide regarding carbon footprint, with the latter contributing far more in emissions than their city-dwelling counterparts.

Continue reading after the jump.

Historic Train Station in Paris To Become World’s Largest Start-Up Incubator

(Courtesy Wilmotte et Associés)

(Courtesy Wilmotte et Associés)

Paris has its answer to Silicon Valley, with plans to convert an historic train station into the world’s largest home for digital entrepreneurship. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has been entrusted to rehabilitate the landmark building, situated on the southern bank of the river Seine, into a technological hub to accommodate 1,000 start-up companies by the year 2016.

Continue reading after the jump.

Silent Light Installation Illuminated Sound Pollution in Brooklyn

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Silent Lights at Night (New York City Department of Transportation/Flickr)

First proposed in 2011, Brooklyn’s Silent Light installation has finally become a reality.  Located at the intersection of Park Avenue and Navy Street under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) in Red Hook, the series of gates frames a pedestrian walkway that passes through an area of heavy vehicular traffic. The structures are covered in LED lights activated by surrounding noise from cars to create fleeting light shows of various colors and patterns.

Continue reading after the jump.

Bikers Go Airborne: Foster + Partners’ SkyCycle Would Wind Through London

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SkyCycle (Foster + Partners)

Foster + Partners have collaborated with London landscape architecture firm Exterior Architecture and urban planners Space Syntax in developing a proposal for an extensive system of elevated-bike paths in London.

The project entails the construction of over 130 miles of pathways along routes that parallel those of an existing system of rail lines that already weaves in and around the city. Suspended above the train tracks, cyclists would access SkyCycle through the over 200 hydraulic platforms and ramps that would act as entry points.

Continue reading after the jump.

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