LA Planners Learning From Zappos

West
Friday, December 3, 2010
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A template for city planning documents?

According to the LA Downtown News, LA Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner is proposing an interesting model to help reform LA’s archaic development process: Internet clothing seller Zappos. At a public presentation of his development reform plan last month at the LA Chamber of Commerce, Beutner cited Zappos’ customer service operation, lauding the fact that “any time someone makes a Zappos purchase, they can go online and find exactly where the package is in the shipping process.” Hence if his idea moves ahead it would make it easier for developers and architects to know where their projects were in the pipeline. The reform project, largely overseen by consulting firms KH Consulting Group and Woolpert, could also streamline the amount of departments needed to approve projects, allow design and permitting to happen concurrently, and assign specific planners to each project, among other things. Stay tuned.. And happy shopping?

Swamps Emerging on the Urban Landscape

Midwest
Thursday, December 2, 2010
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An urban swamp in Detroit (Photo by Clark Mizono)`

An urban swamp in Detroit (Photo by Clark Mizono)

While bringing nature back into the city is generally heralded as a sign of improvement, this is hardly the best path to that end.  Next American City‘s Willy Staley recently took a walk through Detroit‘s East Side with vacant property guru Sam Butler to surmise the problems of abandonment facing the city. Detroit, seeking to demolish some 3,000 structures, has long been at the center of a movement to “shrink” cities suffering from population loss and blight.

More on urban swamps bogging down neighborhood revitalization.

Ponce de Leon Responds: ′Office dA continues to thrive′

National
Thursday, December 2, 2010
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(courtesy Australian Design Review)

An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe, “Design for Acrimony,” detailed recent strife between the principals of Office dA, Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de Leon, including accusations of inappropriate withdrawals of office funds and changing the locks of the studio. The Globe reporter spoke with Tehrani, but Ponce de Leon, the Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, did not agree to be interviewed. In response to the article, de Leon sent AN this statement:

“Nader and I have been working together for a long time. The Boston Globe article is grossly inaccurate and one sided. I did not give an interview to the Globe and I did not make any of the statements attributed to me. I did not use my majority stock to terminate his position with Office dA. This a small business dispute and the matter is scheduled for arbitration before the end of the month. Despite the dispute, Office dA continues to thrive.”

Both sides agree that the matter will be settled by arbitration by end of month.

Towering Beacon Awaits Approval in Miami Beach

Other
Thursday, December 2, 2010
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Tobias Rehberger's Lighthouse proposal for Miami (Courtesy Art Newspaper)

Tobias Rehberger's Lighthouse proposal for Miami (Courtesy Art Newspaper)

You won’t see German artist Tobias Rehberger‘s proposed Lighthouse installation at this year’s Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach, but if the city approves the project next week, the towering beacon could be lighting up the night sky by the end of 2011.  To be located in South Pointe Park at a cost of $500,000, the 55-foot tall Lighthouse is comprised of stacked cylinders and would represent Rehberger’s first public commission in the United States. [ Via The Art Newspaper. ]

Earthquake conference scares the heck out of us

West
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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Damage from California's last major temblor, 1995's Northridge Earthquake

Be afraid. Be very afraid. That was the theme at today’s LA symposium, Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction in US Cities. The UCLA-hosted event brought together seismologists, engineers, architects, assessors and others to discuss preparation for the inevitable Big One, which, as everyone agreed, is not a question of if, but when. Despite the LA Times’ questions about whether the conference’s sponsors stood to gain from spreading earthquake fear, the insights to us seemed sincere and terrifying. We’ve compiled a few of the more sobering points, which should get you caring a little more about seismic retrofits and earthquake kits. Read More

Architecture, the Final Frontier for Pirates?

International
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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(Slightly adjusted) Zaha Hadid Pavilion (Courtesy John Picken / flickr)

(Slightly adjusted) Zaha Hadid Pavilion (Courtesy John Picken / flickr)

 

Aye, those swashbucklin’ pirates are at it again, matey! This time, though, they’re not after gold, DVDs, or designer purses, but the identities of architects. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey relates that Chinese firms posing as British officers of Aedas and Broadway Maylan have been pursuing bids with false information. He points out the dangers that such a development might entail for the profession and wonders if starchitects like Zaha Hadid could be the next victims.

Read More

Design Miami: Under the Big Top

Other
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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Moorhead&Moorhead's Tent for Design Miami 2010 (Image: Michael Stavaridis)

Design Miami is all about furnishings as art, parties, being someplace warm in December, and more parties. It’s not so much about architecture, except that the most riveting eye-grabber is often an installation by an architect. In 2006, Zaha Hadid, named Designer of the Year, created a plasticene web of wonder that ensorcelled the interior atrium of the Moore Building in the Design District. More recently ArandaLasch created tents set up closer to the action and directly in front of the convention center where Art Basel Miami Beach is located.

Read about this year’s tent by Moorhead & Moorhead.

Frenemies of Yore: Olmsted & Vaux

East
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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Alexander Garvin signs books at a literary breakfast hosted by the Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership.

No soggy Wednesday morning in New York could deter park aficionados, urban planners, and assorted Olmstedians from attending a talk and book signing by Alexander Garvin and Robert Twombly. The former head of planning at the LMDC, Garvin is the author of Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities (W.W. Norton, $59.95), just hitting the bookstores this week. Twombly’s Frederick Law Olmsted: Essential Texts (W.W. Norton, $24.95), came out this past summer.

Read More

The Best Urban Planning Books Of 2010

Other
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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One of the year's ten best books, according to Planetizen

Move over NY Times Holiday Guide… Our friends at Planetizen have come out with something wonkier: their annual top 10 list of books in urban planning, design and development. The winners were based on a combination of editorial reviews, popularity, reader nominations, sales figures, recommendations from experts and books’ potential impact. Some of our favorites include Los Angeles In Maps, a visual history of maps in LA that makes sense of the city’s crazy grids and charts development over the years; What We See: Advancing The Observations of Jane Jacobs, a collection of essays putting a fresh perspective on Jacobs’ views on topics like preservation and urban planning; and Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century, which suggests shifting automobiles to “Ultra Small Vehicles,” which could mean far less gas use and even automated driving. Any of these would be a perfect gift for anyone who knows what FOR, CEQA, or TOD stand for..


New York Expands Pop-Up Cafe Program in 2011

City Terrain, East
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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Returning the street to pedestrians with pop-up cafe's (Courtesy RG Architecture)

Returning the street to pedestrians with pop-up cafe’s (Courtesy RG Architecture)

Could 2011 be the year of the pedestrian in New York? Under the guidance of DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC sidewalks will continue their slow march into the street next year as the city launches a major expansion of its “pop-up café” pilot program across its five boroughs.

The first pop-up café tested out in Lower Manhattan this year proved successful enough that Sadik-Khan has expanded the program, planning for up to 12 sidewalk extensions.

And they’re good for business. Read more after the jump.

I Saloni Kicks Off Street Walking Event

East, Pictorial
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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Italian Trade Commission President Umberto Vattani cuts ribbon with Cosmit President Carlo Gugliemi and Federlegno-Arredo President Rosario Messina.

A weeklong celebration of Italian art and design kicked off last night at Scavolini, the haute kitchen emporium in Soho. Italian officials, architects, designers, and a sprinkling of royalty in attendance gave the event a mixture of gravitas and glamour.

Read More

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Tile of Spain Wants to Take You On Vacation

Other
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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Valencia, Spain (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Valencia, Spain (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Want a free trip to Europe? Tile of Spain has just the ticket, but you have to act fast.  The tile manufacturer is offering four architects and interior designers a chance to taste the local cuisine, see a few of the local sites, take in a tile trade show, and probably learn quite a bit about the offerings of Tile of Spain.  But hey, it’s a free trip right?  You just have to answer a few questions, but, hurry, the deadline’s tomorrow.

Contest rules and info after the jump.

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