Streamlined Streets Aim to Enhance Houston’s Quality of Life

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York City Arts Group Recreates Historic Photo as 75-Foot-Tall Mural

The mural in Brooklyn. (Courtesy Mista Oh, Cre8tive YouTh*ink)

The mural in Brooklyn. (Courtesy Mista Oh, Cre8tive YouTh*ink)

A new, mid-rise, rental building on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn looks like many of the new, mid-rise, rental buildings in the borough—at least from the front. The GF55-designed building’s brick and glass facade is fairly nondescript, but around the corner, on the building’s eastern flank, a new 45-foot-wide, 75-foot-tall mural could become one of the most iconic—certainly the most Instagrammed—pieces of public art in the neighborhood.

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago’s Divvy bike share program gets a corporate sponsor

Pro tip: A bike with the seat backwards means it's in need of repair. (John Sonderman / Flickr)

Pro tip: A bike with the seat backwards means it’s in need of repair. (John Sonderman / Flickr)

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.

Minneapolis breaks ground on massive downtown east development

Minneapolis developers broke ground May 13 on a mixed-use development in Downtown East. (Ryan companies/DML)

Minneapolis developers broke ground May 13 on a mixed-use development in Downtown East. (Ryan companies/DML)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York City Asks Citi Bike to Cover $1 Million in Lost Parking Revenue

Citi Bike station in NYC. (Flickr / JMazzolaa)

Citi Bike station in NYC. (Flickr / JMazzolaa)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Art Installation Transforms Philly’s Amtrak Corridor With Vibrant Color

The Drama Wall. (Courtesy Mural Arts Program)

The Drama Wall. (Courtesy Mural Arts Program)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago Plan Commission Approves New Skate Park for Grant Park

(Chicago Park District)

(Chicago Park District)

This month, Chicago’s Plan Commission approved plans for a new skatepark at the south end of Grant Park. Plans were released last fall, showing curvy paved pathways and sculptural landscape features courtesy of the Chicago Park District and North Center urban design studio Altamanu. Read More

Delays Plague New Waterfront Park in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park

Aerial rendering of the park's first phase. (Courtesy Adrian Smith Landscaping)

Aerial rendering of the park’s first phase. (Courtesy Adrian Smith Landscape Architecture)

As Brooklyn Bridge Park opens two new piers, a planned green space five miles south continues to sit empty. Work began on Bush Terminals Piers Park in Sunset Park in 2009—just months after Brooklyn Bridge Park got started—but has been behind construction fencing ever since. The park was slated to start opening last fall, but that did not happen. And it’s still not clear when it will.

Continue reading after the jump.

Brooklyn Bridge Parks Opens New Pier and Beach

The ribbon cutting.

The ribbon cutting. (Henry Melcher / AN)

The opening of a new pier and beach at Michael Van Valkenburgh’s Brooklyn Bridge Park this week marks the halfway point in the transformation of the celebrated 85-acre site. Local elected officials and community leaders—including Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver—appeared on the new Pier 2 to mark the occasion. They used words like “amazing” and “unbelievable” to describe the new six acres of space, but didn’t need much help selling the project.

Continue reading after the jump.

St. Louis Exhibition Explores Street Design in Grand Center Arts District

(Great Streets Project: Grand Center)

(Great Streets Project: Grand Center)

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

Q+A> Mathieu Lefevre, Executive Director of the New Cities foundation

Mathieu Lefevre (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

Mathieu Lefevre (Courtesy New Cities Foundation)

This year, the Europe-based New Cities Foundation is bringing its annual New Cities Summit to the Dallas Arts District, from June 17 to 19. Eight hundred global thought leaders will convene at the Winspear Opera House to listen to speakers, engage in workshops, and take advantage of world-class networking opportunities. The Architect’s Newspaper is one of the summit media partners. AN Southwest editor Aaron Seward recently spoke to Mathieu Lefevre, the Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation, about what the organization has on tap for this year’s summit, whose theme is Re-imagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis.

Aaron Seward: Let’s start by getting some background on the New Cities Summit. What is it? Why did it start? And what does it hope to achieve?

Mathieu Lefevre: The New Cities Summit started when the New Cities Foundation was set up, in 2010. It’s a non-profit whose mission is to make cities better. The event is aimed at shaping the global conversation and adding to the creative thought leadership surrounding how to shape what we are calling the Century of Cities. We held the first summit in 2012 in Paris; then we went to São Paulo, Brazil, in 2013; and this year we’re coming to Texas.

Continue reading after the jump.

The Energetic City: Design Trust Calls on Designers to Create Connected Public Space

The Energetic City. (Courtesy Deutsch NY)

The Energetic City. (Courtesy Deutsch NY)

On Monday, dozens of designers, planners, and community organizers packed the amphitheater at the newly opened LEESER-designed BRIC House in Brooklyn‘s rapidly-growing BAM district. The attendees were there to hear the details of the latest Request For Proposals (RFP) from the Design Trust for Public Space, The Energetic City: Connectivity in the Public Realm.

The Design Trust has launched pivotal projects before, like their Five Borough Farm that is helping to redefine urban agriculture in New York City. This time, the group is seeking new ideas for public space and, according to a statement, “develop new forms of connectivity among the diverse people, systems, and built, natural, and digital environments of New York City.”

Continue reading after the jump.

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