In State of the City, New York City Mayor de Blasio Promises Affordable Housing

Development, East, Media, Newsletter, Urbanism
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address (New York City's Mayor Office / Rob Bennett)

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address. (New York City Mayor’s Office / Rob Bennett)

In his first State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to tackle the “inequality gap that fundamentally threatens [New York City’s] future.” At the LaGuardia Community College in Queens, the new mayor spoke of the “Tale of Two Cities” that has taken root in America’s largest city, and he promised to address it head-on.

Continue reading after the jump.

New Research Shows Cities Take an Unexpected Toll on Songbirds

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(Photo by Stephen Gomes/Flickr)

Researchers at Arizona State University have discovered yet another way urbanization contributes to noise pollution. In this case it is not so much what is being added to the aural environment, but rather what is being taken away. A new study establishes a direct link between degrees of urbanization and the prevalence of parasites that tend to fatally affect finches. Beyond prevalence, the research shows that the loss of natural habitat within more urbanized areas also amplifies the severity of the gastrointestinal infections that afflict the songbirds. My poor Swomee-Swans…

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.

De Blasio Names Carl Weisbrod Chairman of NYC Planning Commission

East, News, Shft+Alt+Del, Urbanism
Friday, February 7, 2014
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduces Carl Weisbrod as the new City Planning Commissioner. (Kyle Kimball / Twitter)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) introduces Carl Weisbrod (right) as the new City Planning Commissioner. (Kyle Kimball / Twitter)

This afternoon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Carl Weisbrod, a real estate consultant and co-chair of the mayor’s transition team, will be the city’s next planning commissioner. De Blasio said Weisbrod “understands exactly how the city can shape development to stoke the most growth, the strongest affordability, and the best jobs for New Yorkers. He is ready to take these challenges head-on.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Astor Place’s Current Residents A Slight Impediment for Ongoing Redesign

Astor Place_archpaper2

(Courtesy NY DDC/Flickr)

Drastic architectural overhauls often require the eviction or removal of those living in the area that has been designated for revamping. The ongoing redesign of Manhattan’s Astor Place and Cooper Square is no exception, though in this case, authorities are looking beyond mere eviction in favor of extermination. The rodent residents of the area have proven a recent set-back for a project that was first revealed over three years ago.

Continiue reading 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.

On View> MoMA Presents “Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal”

Art, City Terrain, East, On View, Urbanism
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
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Model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre City. (Courtesy MoMA)

Model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City. (Courtesy MoMA)

Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY
February 1 to June 1

Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal will represent the first exhibit resulting from the recent join acquisition of the architect’s archives by MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. The models, drawings, and films found within the extensive collection will allow the museum to illustrate the tension in Wright’s urban thinking in the 1920s and 30s.

Even as he undertook projects that contributed to the increasingly vertical nature of American cities, he created a radical horizontal vision of urban life known as Broadacre City. The elaborate model of this agrarian metropolis created by Wright and his students will be displayed alongside the architect’s designs for the San Francsico Call Building, Mahattan’s St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie Towers, and a largely theoretical mile-high skyscraper.

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.

Progress for San Francisco’s First Eco-District

DESIGN STUDENTS IN THE SWA 2012 SUMMER PROGRAM IMAGINED WHAT CENTRAL SOMA MIGHT LOOK LIKE AFTER ECO-DISTRICT IMPLEMENTATION (SAN FRANCISCO PLANNING DEPARTMENT)

DESIGN STUDENTS IN THE SWA 2012 SUMMER PROGRAM IMAGINED WHAT CENTRAL SOMA MIGHT LOOK LIKE AFTER ECO-DISTRICT IMPLEMENTATION (SAN FRANCISCO PLANNING DEPARTMENT)

If you’re looking for change in San Francisco, look no further than the city’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. Central SoMa, a 24-square-block area between the central business district and Mission Bay, has been targeted for up-zoning and other public improvements as part of the Planning Department’s Central SoMa Plan (previously the Central Corridor Plan). The neighborhood is also the site of several major construction projects, including a $56 million renovation of the Moscone Center and the extension of Muni’s T Third Line.

All of the above may be affected by another potentially more radical change: Central SoMa has been identified as San Francisco’s first eco-district, as we reported last year. The district has taken some big steps since we last checked.  Read More

Louisville Looks to Fill Vacant Lots With Design Competition

City Terrain, Midwest, Urbanism
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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The city's Park Hill district is among the areas with vacant land targeted by the competition. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

The city’s Park Hill district is among the areas with vacant land targeted by the competition. (Courtesy Bing Maps)

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer started 2014 off with a call to citizens: Help the city come up with creative ideas to redevelop vacant land. Local and far-flung designers are invited to re-imagine the land in a new competition. The winners of the Lots of Possibility competition will be awarded a total of $38,000 to put their vision into action.

Continue reading after the jump.

Colorful Carbon Footprint Maps Illustrates Energy Usage Trends

New!_Carbon_Footprint_Maps_CoolClimate_Network_-_2014-01-16_03.40.47

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.

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