Despite the Motor City’s notoriety as a symbol of urban decay, development is actually going on in Detroit. And with almost 40 square miles of vacant land, Detroit has the chance to redefine urban renewal outright. The city recently took note of one major way some residents are turning blight into bounty: Mayor David Bing signed off on Michigan State University’s plan to seed urban agriculture in Detroit with $1.5 million over the next three years.
Installation of the first community rooftop garden in the United States—UpGarden—is almost complete. Located in the shadow of Seattle’s Space Needle, the project will convert close to 30,000 square feet on the top of the Mercer parking garage into an organic, edible, herb and flower garden with 100 plots for lower Queen Anne neighborhood residents. Landscape architecture firm Kistler Higbee Cahoot is leading the design, organizing community workshops and construction of the garden with a volunteer crew.
A massive new urban farming project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was announced last week by New York City-based Bright Farms, a company dedicated to building hydroponic farms close to supermarkets. The Sunset Park project will be the largest rooftop farm in the city, and possibly the world. At 100,000 square feet, it could potentially yield 1 million pounds of produce a year and joins several other agricultural projects in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange, another rooftop farming operation located in Queens, is planning to open a 45,000 square foot urban farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and farm-developers Gotham Greens will be opening a new location in the borough as well.
City Farming. Last week, the New York City Council amended the city’s building code to allow for rooftop farming and greenhouses: now, rooftop greenhouses will not be considered an additional story. The bill also requires prisons to purchase locally grown food and calls for the city to maintain a record of spaces suitable for farming, Inhabitat said.
Mobile Equity. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights argued in a recent report titled “Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity” that mobility must be a civil right. Recent studies indicate that low-income areas and the elderly lack adequate access to mass transportation, particularly in rural areas. With abut 80% of federal transportation funding marked for highways, mass transit is under-funded reported Wired.
Home Slim Home. While Japan is famous for its narrow residences, the world’s thinnest house will soon lie in Warsaw, Poland, says ArchDaily. Designed by Centrala, The Kennet House is 122 cm to 72 cm at is narrowest part and will serve as the residence and workplace for writer Etgar Keret.
Perfect Pyramids. In a Wired post, a physics professor at Southeastern Louisiana University examined the construction of pyramids—how tall can pyramids be, and what is the best angle? Through mathematical formulas, he mused that 140 meters is the most efficient height.
Farming Right Side Up. Spiegel Online reported on vertical farming research in South Korea as an innovative means of remedying food shortages on an increasingly urban planet. For the time being, agricultural scientist Choi Kyu Hong conducts his own version of Dickson Despommier’s Manhattan urban gardening project in an unexceptional 3-story industrial building, but Hong and his team have outfitted the farm with solar panels, LED lighting, and recycled water infrastructure hoping to attract enough attention to bring vertical farming to the global market and city skyscrapers.
Hadid Stands Still. After touring New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid claims its permanent home in the front plaza of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, France. A Daily Dose of Architecture noted that the pavilion now features the Zaha Hadid Une Architecture exhibition, creating a thematically coherent viewing experience inside and out.
Stirling Search. Bustler posted the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) shortlist for this year’s £20,000 ($32.5K) RIBA Stirling Prize. The list includes previous prize winners Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield, as well as O’Donnell + Tuomey, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Bennetts Associates Architects and Hopkins Architects Partnership for the 2012 London Olympic Park.
Bored to Death. After tunneling through the subterranean rock of Midtown Manhattan for the new Grand Central Terminal train station, the 200-ton serpentine drill will be left to decompose 14 stories underneath Park Avenue. The New York Times revealed that the Spanish contractor in charge of the 4-year excavation ensured the MTA that this internment is both practically and economically preferable to dismantling the drill.
Going to the Chapel. Curbed posted the two winners of a pop-up chapel competition celebrating gay marriage in New York. ICRAVE’s entry calls for a pavilion of colorful ribbons while Z-A Studios design forms recycled cardboard into a curving tulip. Both designs will built in Central Park this weekend where they will host 24 weddings.
So we’ve got schools with green roofs sprouting in D.C., Manhattan, the Bronx, and who knows where else across this fine country of ours. (If you’ve got more, email us, we’d love to hear about them.) Not content simply with the mantle of “country’s oldest public school,” Boston Latin has decided to add a green roof as well. Designed by Studio G Architects, this one’s a whopper, covering 50,000 square feet with areas dedicated to growing crops for the cafeteria and providing lab space for science classes. At that size, maybe they could even find some room up there for some mini golf or a tennis court. More renderings and details after the jump. Read More