Could de Blasio Choose Anna Levin as NYC’s Next City Planner?  Could de Blasio Choose Anna Levin as NYC's Next City Planner? After a campaign insisting differentiation from his predecessor, New York City Mayor–elect Bill de Blasio (above) is not likely to choose a Bloomberg-elected official as his Chief of the Department of City Planning. The Real Deal reported that three current members of the City’s Planning Commission—Anna Levin, Michelle de la Uz, and Kenneth Knuckles—are speculated as replacements for current commissioner Amanda Burden. Levin, elected by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, is a front-runner. Her previous experiences as a commissioner and Community Board 4 Member give her grassroots appeal backed by political savvy. (Photo: Courtesy NYC Public Advocate)

 

John Norquist To Retire from Congress for the New Urbanism.  John Norquist To Retire from Congress for the New Urbanism After a decade as CEO and President of the Congress for the New Urbanism, 64-year-old John Norquist has announced he will retire next spring. In 1993, with 16 years of Milwaukee mayoral reign under his belt, Norquist created CNU as an advocate for mixed-use development in city neighborhoods. Since then, the organization has promoted highway removal, re-design of public housing, and increases in public transportation, building its membership count to over 2,500. In June 2014, after the 22nd Annual Congress in Buffalo, Norquist will leave his position, hoping for “time to write and teach.” (Photo: Courtesy CNU)

 

“Urban Fold” Paper City Creator Set Puts Twist on Traditional Building Blocks

City Terrain, National
Friday, November 22, 2013
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(Courtesy Urban Fold)

Urban Fold caters to builders of all ages with an city planning toy entirely of paper. (Courtesy Urban Fold)

In a hybrid of LEGO and origami, Paper Punk has created their first boxed set of punch-and-fold, customizable paper building blocks. Urban Fold is the California-based company’s newest creation by founder Grace Hawthorne, a designer, author, and artist from San Francisco who currently teaches at Stanford University’s d.school (Institute of Design). The set gives builders the opportunity to create a paper city in punchy colors and patterns, inspired by Berlin graffiti and the photography of Matthias Heiderich.

Continue Reading After the Jump.

New SimCity “Green Utopias” Offer Futuristic Glimpse of Imagined Cities

National
Monday, November 4, 2013
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SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow Allows Players to Plan Virtual Futuristic Utopias. (Courtesy EA, Inc)

SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow Allows Players to Plan Virtual Future Utopias. (Courtesy EA)

In 50 to 75 years, SimCity, the virtual city-building game just about every architect or planner has played around with at some point, imagines an average metropolis taking two routes—a sustainability-based, green utopia or a money-driven, oil-dependent corruption—and gives players the tools to construct these futures.

Continue reading after the jump. (Video)

With Limited Land for Housing, Hong Kong Looks to Grow Underground

International, Urbanism
Thursday, October 31, 2013
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01-Hong-Kong-archpaper

HONG KONG SKYLINE (WENZDAY01 / COURTESY FLICKR)

The housing problem in Hong Kong is critical. Studies estimate that the city of seven million will have to house another 600,000 people over the course of the next 30 years. With rapidly increasing urbanization rates, leading Chinese metropolises are speculating on fast and intelligent ways to manage population growth by creating additional housing within their existing borders. While some cities are growing taller and others are mulling developing rare and cherished park space, Hong Kong is taking a different approach. Officials and engineers have thought about something else: developing an extensive underground city.

Continue reading after the jump.

Will New York’s Bike Lanes Last? Gil Penalosa Addresses the Planning Commission

East
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
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The 8th Avenue Complete Streets program keeps cyclists safe from cars and car doors. (Courtesy NYCDOT)

The 8th Avenue Complete Streets program keeps cyclists safe from cars and their doors. (Courtesy NYCDOT)

With only 75 weeks left in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, cyclists the city over will inevitably be concerned about the next mayor’s stance on bike lanes and street designs lest initiatives put in place under Bloomberg fall from grace. One need only to recall Marty Markowitz’s parodic tricycle stunts poking fun at bike lanes or former NYC DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall’s efforts to remove a protected bike lane from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West to realize that the concern is not unfounded.

At yesterday’s regularly-scheduled City Planning review session, former Bogotá Parks Commissioner Gil Penalosa was invited to give a pep talk, placing a particular emphasis on bike lanes. He warned an audience filled with commissioners and planning staff that as the weeks wind down before the mayor leaves office, they’d better get cracking at PR and permanence: the public needs to become even more familiar with the bike network and the infrastructure needs to become permanent—and striped bike lanes won’t cut it!

Continue reading after the jump.

Chelsea Market Faces Uphill Battle at City Planning

East
Monday, July 23, 2012
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The highly contextual design shift by Studios may have to shift even further... east.

The highly contextual design shift by Studios may have to shift even further... east. (Courtesy Jamestown)

Seems the bad news is about to get worse for Jamestown Properties. The developer’s plans to add 330,000 square feet to New York’s Chelsea Market met with resistance from the Community Board 4 and Borough President Scott Stringer, both of whom gave conditional nays to the proposal designed by Studios Architecture. Now with City Planning’s public hearing set for this Wednesday, Commissioner Amanda Burden has clearly indicated that she is not pleased with the an addition proposed to hover over the High Line along Tenth Avenue. “I remain concerned about the massing and how it effects the High Line experience,” Burden said a pre-hearing review session today.

The two additions to the market include 90,000 square feet addition on Ninth Avenue and a 240,000 square foot addition along Tenth Avenue. As much of the building’s mid-block remains excluded from Jamestown’s plan, it seems likely that area will come in to play. “They do have a whole block,” the commissioner said.

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NYC DOT Eyeing Vanderbilt for Pedestrian Plaza..  The Bleak Vanderbilt Avenue during morning rush: June 14, 8:45AM. The New York Times explored the news of Vanderbilt Avenue becoming a pedestrian plaza through a not-so-rosy Ivy filter today, featuring a photo of the Yale Club rather than the street in question.  AN first reported that the “site has obvious potential for a DOT plaza” back in mid-June when we first examined the Grand Central rezoning proposal that City Planning will present to Community Boards 5 tomorrow night.

 

With Few Changes City Planning Passes NYU Expansion

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
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Mature trees on the DOT strips will be preserved. (Courtesy NYU)

Mature trees on the DOT strips will be preserved. (Courtesy NYU)

In a 12 to 1 vote this morning, City Planning approved NYU’s Core expansion plans for two superblocks in Greenwich Village designed by Grimshaw with Toshiko Mori and Michael Van Valkenburg. In slow and deliberative pace, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden read from a prepared text that included several aesthetic and few programmatic changes to the proposed plan. The new plan will reduced the size of the overall project from 2.47 million square feet to 2.1 million.

Read More

San Francisco To Help Citizens Create “Better Streets”

West
Thursday, May 24, 2012
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The City of San Francisco recently launched sfbetterstreets.org to encourage public participation in city planning.

The City of San Francisco recently launched sfbetterstreets.org to encourage public participation in city planning.

 

One of Jane Jacobs’ most valuable contributions to the understanding of cities was her faith in the wisdom of the urban dweller. She argued that the physical city—and any approach to city planning—could not be separated from the wisdom of each individual inhabitant, “People who know well such animated city streets will know how it is. I am afraid people who do not will always have it a little wrong in their heads, like the old prints of rhinoceroses made from travelers’ descriptions of rhinoceroses.” The complication arising from Jacobs’ argument is simple though difficult to solve; how can we plan a city when planning is one part abstraction and abstraction removes us from Jacobs’ precious “real life” mentality?

A step towards solving this contradiction is sfbetterstreets.org, a website launched last week by the City of San Francisco. Developed by the San Francisco Planning Department in conjunction with other city agencies, the website is part of the city’s larger, “Better Streets” initiative. The legislative concept, described in San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan, is to create streets “designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel… maximizing features for the comfort, usability, and aesthetics of people walking.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Bloomberg Applies Sunscreen Legislation.  Detail of Piano's sunscree for the New York Times building. (Courtesy treehugger) As if to underline, highlight, and italicize the mayor’s support for green design, today New York Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a bill that will allow sun control devices to protrude from buildings up to two-and-a-half feet. If the legislation sounds similar to the Zone Green legislation passed by City Planning back in March, that’s because it is. But the new legislation brings this particular building code in line with one of the many zoning codes encompassed by Zone Green.

 

Zone Green Passes NYC Council.  THE NEW GREEN ZONING CODE WOULD ALLOW THIS DESIGN BY PERKINS+WILL FOR THE BUILDINGS=ENERGY EXHIBITION SHOWING INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAICS TO BECOME A REALITY New York City Planning’s Zone Green initiative cleared City Council yesterday, paving the way for new regulations and variances that will help make going green that much easier. Building owners and architects will no longer have to jump through hoops to install a green roof, add solar panels, or harness the wind for power. “The new zoning recognizes what we’ve seen people designing for their projects,” Howard Slatkin the director of sustainability for City Planning told AN back in March. Today, The Times teased out the benefits of the plan through a Q&A interview with Slatkin and Rose ComapaniesPaul Freitag.

 

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