De Blasio To Tap Mitchell Silver for New York City Parks Commissioner

Mitchell Silver. (Courtesy Harvard GSD)

Mitchell Silver. (Courtesy Harvard GSD)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce that Mitchell Silver—chief planning and development director in Raleigh, NC—will be New York’s next Parks Commissioner. According to the New York Times, “While Mr. Silver has worked in North Carolina since 2005, he has deep roots in New York. He went to high school in Brooklyn and earned a bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute and a master’s degree in urban planning from Hunter College.”

Wilson recently served as the president of the American Planning Association, and in the 1980s worked in the New York City Planning Department. With Wilson’s extensive planning experience, he would seem to be a natural fit to lead City Planning rather than parks—and he reportedly was considered for that post before Carl Weisbrod was selected. This has been a much-anticipated announcement, as the Parks Department as been without a head since de Blasio took office nearly three months ago.

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Minneapolis Mayor cheers on Nicollet Mall revamp

Nicollet Walk Tree Groves (COURTESY JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS)

Nicollet’s Crystal Stair (COURTESY JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS)

As a team of designers gear up for an overhaul of Nicollet Mall, dubbed Minneapolis’ main street, civic leaders there have cheered on the project in an op-ed in the StarTribune. Read More

Chicago breaks ground on Navy Pier flyover for Lakefront Trail

navy pier flyover rendering (city of chicago)

navy pier flyover rendering (city of chicago)

Bicyclists and pedestrians cruising down Chicago’s 18-mile Lakefront Trail generally enjoy an exceptionally open, continuous and scenic path along Lake Michigan. But near Navy Pier they’re shunted inland, underneath a highway, onto sidewalks and through road crossings that interrupt their journey in the middle of one of the popular pathway’s most congested corridors.

The Navy Pier Flyover, announced in 2011, was designed to remedy that situation, and today Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the project has officially broken ground. Read More

Tenants Drop Lawsuit Over New York City’s Controversial Plan for Private Towers on Public Housing Land

Development, East, Urbanism
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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New York City Housing Authority buildings. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

New York City Housing Authority buildings. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Tenants have officially withdrawn a lawsuit over a Bloomberg-era plan to allow developers to build residential towers on New York City public housing land. The Land-Lease Plan, as it is known, would have allowed the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to essentially infill open land at their housing developments with new market-rate and low-income apartments.

Read More

Forum for Urban Design and the Institute for Urban Design Join Forces

East, Media, Urbanism
Thursday, March 13, 2014
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The Forum and Institute Have Joined Forces

The Forum and Institute Have Joined Forces.

The Forum for Urban Design and the Institute for Urban Design—two New York City organizations that promote, well, urban design—announced that they have merged, effective immediately. The new “Forum and Institute for Urban Design” will be led by co-presidents Michael Sorkin and Alexander Garvin and consist of 400 fellows. The organization will regularly be hosting roundtables, symposia, and debates about urban planning and development in cities around the world. The first program, on April 16, will be focused on the future of subsidized housing.

“I am delighted at the long overdue union of the Institute and the Forum,” Sorkin said in a statement. “Joining forces will yield a stronger voice on behalf of a progressive vision of urban design for New York, as well as cities around the world.”

Urban Innovator Enrique Peñalosa To Run for Colombian Presidency

Enrique Peñalosa

Vaunted champion of urban living standards Enrique Peñalosa (pictured) is running for president of Colombia. As mayor of Bogotá, Peñalosa introduced a number of changes that improved the city’s public transportation system and also made it more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. His three-year reign witnessed the the implementation of the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system which services 2 million Colombians daily. He also  instituted of a number of measures strategically restricting auto-traffic within certain parts of the city. Since 2009 the Duke alum has been president of the Institute for Transport and Development Policy, an organization that promotes transportation solutions globally. Peñalosa will be representing Colombia’s Green Party in the 2014 elections, which take place May 25.

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.

Read More

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

Cyclistaccidents2_archpaper

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.

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.

Read More

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

highways_to_boulevards_2

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

url

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.

Read More

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

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