Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal
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.
If you have ever seen the film To Live and Die in L.A. then you know the Gerald Desmond Bridge. It has a starring role in the opening sequence, when Treasury agent Richard Chance (played by William Peterson) bungee jumps off of it. You probably haven’t bungeed off it yourself, but If you’ve ever driven across it, you might get why it needs replacing. The original bridge, according to the project website, “is nearing the end of its intended lifespan.” In fact, the old bridge, while considered safe, is a little scary. Netting has been suspended beneath it to catch pieces of falling concrete. Additionally, its approaches are too steep, it’s too narrow, and perhaps most importantly, the newest container ships can’t fit under it.
The days of airport as shopping and entertainment destination are in full swing. Construction of the new 40,000 square foot passenger concourse at the Long Beach Municipal Airport (LGB) will be finished next month. And this is no ordinary concourse. As part of a $140 million modernization project, the two-year renovation not only includes waiting and screening areas, but also two new terminals with 10,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space along with 4,200 square feet of outdoor patio seating containing fire pits, cabanas, and outdoor performance areas.
Our friend Alissa Walker reports in LA Weekly that San Francisco’s Parklet craze (SF now has 23 of the parks built on former parking spaces) has reached the streets of Long Beach. Designed by Studio One Eleven, Southern California’s first parklet is a 30-foot-by-7-foot space with wood decking just outside of the city’s Lola’s Mexican restaurant. Lola’s owner, Luis Navarro, paid for the $20,000 parklet, plus the cost of the chairs and tables. According to the story two more Long Beach parklets will be opening in the next few months—one at a coffee shop and one at a Vietnamese restaurant. Meanwhile LA is on the way to getting its own parklets (hopefully) thanks to the launch of its Parklets Program at the end of last year.
We recently ran into Gwynne Pugh, former principal at Pugh + Scarpa (now Brooks + Scarpa), who earlier this fall left his longtime job (22 years to be exact) to start his own firm, Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio. It seems that he’s already quite busy working as an urban design consultant. Pugh, who sees himself as an intermediary between cities and developers, is consulting with agencies in the cities of San Diego, Carson, and Long Beach. He’s also teaming up with Bridge Housing on an affordable housing project in Santa Monica and working with Coca Cola to review its sustainability scheme for its bottling plant in Downey. Pugh is also president of the planners’ division of the League of California Cities. “It’s been a great opportunity for me to focus on some of these issues I care about,” said Pugh, who right now is working with three employees, and plans to move to a new office in Playa Vista in the beginning of next year.
After having rolled through the AIA Convention in Miami and Dwell on Design in Los Angeles, we just can’t get enough of the weirdness of American trade shows. Finally we’ve found a show that tops them all: The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Conference in Long Beach. The convention, which runs through tomorrow, is a delight for those looking to find those unsexy items that really make buildings run and last, like security systems, anti-mold measures, insurance, parking systems, janitorial services, outdoor lighting, and so on. And the exhibitors have outdone themselves with creative ways to get people to look at things that at first blush might not be too enticing. Start with the prospect of ipods, iphones, ipads, and flip video cameras, and move into interactive fare like a candy booth, a poker table, monogrammed golf balls, several golf putting greens, fresh-baked cookies, a wii station, a dart board, a wheel of fortune, and a good old fashioned raffle, to name just a few. Read More
The Long Beach Press-Telegram and Curbed LA report that on Earth Day marine artist Robert Wyland painted a 2.8 acre mural of planet earth, called “Earth: The Blue Planet,” on the roof of the Long Beach Arena. Wyland did the work for free, but in corporate fashion, the mural is “inspired” by the new Disney film Earth, according to Wyland’s web site. The same week he finished a renovation of his 1992 whale and marine life mural, “Planet Ocean,” on the arena’s exterior walls. That 116,000 square foot, 10-story-tall work was declared the largest mural in the world when completed. Not bad Long Beach. Now if they could only replace one of the chain restaurants on the Harbor with a local eatery…