Remembering Doug Wright, the man who helped tear down highways in San Francisco and Portland

Destruction of the Embarcadero Freeway (SF Chronicle)

Destruction of the Embarcadero Freeway (SF Chronicle)

San Francisco’s deputy mayor for transportation—who played an integral role in getting the city to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake—passed away on July 30th. He was 68. After the earthquake struck the city, Wright convinced former San Francisco mayor, Art Agnos, to help lead the effort to remove the highway and replace it—not with another highway, but instead with a boulevard at street level.

Continue reading after the jump.

Demolishing Dallas’ I-345 To Make Room for Economic Growth

(Courtesy A New Dallas)

(Courtesy A New Dallas)

Big spaces, big cities, big freeways. This equation has held ground since the boom of major road developments in the 1970s. But a Dallas group lead by urban designer Patrick Kennedy is fighting that conception. He and his initiative, A New Dallas, are pushing a proposal that has been steadily gaining support since it began two years ago. Interstate 345 is an eight lane, 1.4 mile stretch of elevated highway that serves roughly 200,000 commuters weekly. Kennedy wishes to demolish the structure completely, replacing it with a major surface street, four new parks, $4 billion in new private investment, and homes for 25,000 Dallas residents.

Continue reading after the jump.

Boulevard of Broken Bourbon Bottles: Louisville Ponders Its Waterfront Again

A re-imagined Louisville waterfront in the shadow of the elevated Interstate 64. (Courtesy MKSK)

A re-imagined Louisville waterfront in the shadow of the elevated Interstate 64. (Courtesy MKSK)

It’s beginning to sound a bit like a broken record, but for the umpteenth time, the conclusion has been drawn that the riverfront interstate, I-64, in Louisville, Kentucky, is a problem. That along with a lot of other advice—some insightful, some, like, “duh!”—was included in a new $300,000 master plan for the city developed by the firms MKSK, Development Strategies, City Visions, and Urban 1. The more insightful bits include ways of reconnecting Portland and west side neighborhoods with the urban core. The obvious, but still necessary, include the 42 million (that figure is a bit of hyperbole) surface parking spaces. Have you ever flown into Louisville? The downtown looks like a mall parking lot. Mayor Greg Fischer, don’t let this advice fall on deaf ears… again.

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.

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)

 

New York State Tearing Out Robert Moses State Parkway

East
Friday, February 22, 2013
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Robert Moses State Parkway (Courtesy of Doug Kerr/Flickr)

Robert Moses State Parkway. (Courtesy Doug Kerr/Flickr)

Go Down, Moses, indeed. Highway-removal advocates were awarded a small victory this week as New York State announced it will be tearing out a two-mile expanse of the aptly-named Robert Moses State Parkway (aka the Niagara Falls expressway). The section to be removed runs along the main part of the river gorge and has long been a barrier to pedestrians seeking access to recreation areas.

The Buffalo News reported that some sections of the roadway will be kept, but the long-term plan is to build a multi-use nature trail for sports such as hiking, biking, and cross country skiing. This will be the first time in half a century that residents and visitors will have access to nature trails without the inconvenience of crossing the parkway. There will be car access to the gorge by way of Whirlpool Street, which will be turned into a two-lane parkway. New York State Parks officials anticipate the entire process will take around three years and cost up to $50 million. According to the Buffalo News, “It would also constitute the largest expansion of Niagara parkland since the Niagara Reservation was created in the 1880s.”

Vives les Plages! Paris Rethinks its Riverbanks by Banishing Cars

International, Newsletter
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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Left Bank: Port de Solférino, Musée d'Orsay (Courtesy APUR/J.C. Choblet)

Left Bank: Port de Solférino, Musée d’Orsay (Courtesy APUR/J.C. Choblet)

The “reconquest” of the Seine’s riverside expressways will be ushered in by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, following a long battle with Nicolas Sarkozy’s recently ousted right-wing government. Continuous two-lane motorways have severed Paris from the banks of the Seine, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, since Georges Pompidou opened them in 1967 under the slogan “Paris must adapt to the car.”

Continue reading after the jump.

7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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Proposed highway removal along Louisville's riverfront (Courtesy 8664.org)

Proposed highway removal along Louisville's riverfront (Courtesy 8664.org)

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development.

The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance.

Check out 7 highway removal proposals across the country

QUICK CLICKS> Highway, High Speed, Detroit, Heated Sidewalks and Ikea

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
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Vancouver to consider removing two viaduct bridges. Courtesy Publicola.com

Vancouver Chooses Their Way Over Highway. Vancouver officials are considering permanently closing two viaduct bridges after temporary closures for the 2010 Olympics went smoothly. The city is the latest to join a growing number of places proposing highway removal, including Seattle where the debate is heating up.

High Speed Rail to Slow Down. The government didn’t shut down, but President Obama signed off on a $1.5 billion cut to high speed rail to reach a budget deal. High speed rail has been a top transportation priority for the administration, which had been funded at $2.5 billion per year.

Are US Cities Like Detroit Really Dying? The short answer is no. An infographic at Fast Company Design looks at migration in Detroit and finds that there’s been an influx of residents in the city’s core, surrounded by decline. John Pavlus writes, “The undeniable truth is that downtown is flashing the signs of a comeback.”

Keeping Things Hot. The city of Holland, Michigan heats its sidewalks with waste heat diverted from a local power plant. The system eliminates the need for shoveling and keeping downtown lively all-year round.

Fits? Alan Penn, professor of architecture at University College London, suggests that IKEA deliberately designs its stores to be confusing to encourage impulse buying.

Quick Clicks> Vital Arts, Freeway Down, Arguing Art, and Metro Card Art

Daily Clicks, East Coast
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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Dallas Arts District (Photo by Iwan Baan via Cityscapes)

Dallas Arts District (Photo by Iwan Baan via Cityscapes)

District Review. Blair Kamin reports on the Dallas Arts District – the nation’s largest contiguous urban arts district – and finds the architecture inspiring but the street life a bore. In an area where Pritzker-winning architecture abounds, can a new park and residential development create urban vitality?

Freeway Down. NPR reports on the mainstreaming of highway teardowns across the country. With skyrocketing infrastructure costs, many cities find removing a mega-road is more affordable while preserving neighborhood character and spurring new business.

Public Art Confidential. WNYC takes a look at the story of public art in New York and the controversy that can follow as times and values change. Dueling sides argue the benefits of provoking thought on difficult subjects versus giving artwork an appropriate stage to do so. Among the eight most contested statues in New York is the long-toppled King George III once located in Bowling Green.

Multi-Use Metro Cards. Subway Art Blog has a pair of recent galleries showing how you can reuse your old Metro Cards, either by adding to your wardrobe or creating collage artwork.

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