The Oculus book talk on the new book, How to Study Public Life, at the Center for Architecture with Jan Gehl and his co-author Birgitte Svarre was like seeing the documentary The Human Scale come to life—only with a sense of humor.
Gehl’s urban theories have gained a lot of traction, not least in New York City. Jeanette Sadik-Khan went to Gehl’s native Copenhagen two weeks into her job as commissioner of NYC’s Department of Transportation (along with fellow commissioner of City Planning, Amanda Burden) and experienced the city’s pedestrian-over-cars public plazas, rode bicycles on protected bike lanes, and absorbed the lessons of the city that is repeatedly named the most livable in the world.
This afternoon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Carl Weisbrod, a real estate consultant and co-chair of the mayor’s transition team, will be the city’s next planning commissioner. De Blasio said Weisbrod “understands exactly how the city can shape development to stoke the most growth, the strongest affordability, and the best jobs for New Yorkers. He is ready to take these challenges head-on.”
With important, large planning projects—like the Domino Sugar redevelopment in Brooklyn—still awaiting approvals from the agency, and with heads of the Department of Design and Construction and Landmarks Preservation gone or on the way out, New York City desperately needs leadership from these city departments. But, when will New York’s new Mayor Bill de Blasio finally appoint a director of city planning?
A team of mayors and nonprofit foundations said Wednesday that they’ll spend enough retrofitting major U.S. cities to save more than $1 billion per year in energy costs. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation pledged $3 million each year for three years to provide technical advisers for 10 cities across the country: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. Read More
New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.
With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.
As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.
Obama’s former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has accepted two new jobs since resigning his post last July. First, he has joined a bipartisan group focused on improving national transportation policy. LaHood will be co-chair of Building America’s Future along with Former New York Mayor Bloomberg (I) and former Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell (D). “I am delighted to join Building America’s Future as a co-chair and am excited to work together with some of the nation’s most innovative public leaders,” LaHood said in a statement. Also this month, LaHood announced he will be joining law firm DLA Piper as a senior consultant, according to StreetsBlog. A spokesperson said he will hold a strictly advisory role at the mega-firm and will not become a lobbyist.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer started 2014 off with a call to citizens: Help the city come up with creative ideas to redevelop vacant land. Local and far-flung designers are invited to re-imagine the land in a new competition. The winners of the Lots of Possibility competition will be awarded a total of $38,000 to put their vision into action.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Mayor Greg Fischer today issued a challenge to citizens — give the city your most creative ideas for redeveloping vacant lots and win $38,000 in prize money to carry out that vision.
The Lots of Possibility competition, funded by a grant from a local foundation, seeks ideas from individuals or groups to take one or more eligible vacant lots owned by the Louisville/Jefferson County Landbank Authority and the Urban Renewal Commission and put them into productive use.
It’s part of a broader strategy as the city works to implement policies and plans to reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties that dot the city, with a high concentration in Western Louisville. The city has identified more than 6,000 vacant properties and has been razing some and foreclosing on others.
“The rules for this competition are simple — be creative and be bold,” Fischer said.
The competition is collaboration between the Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Vision Louisville and the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, funded in part by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Prize money will be awarded in two areas:
- Proposals involving construction for residential or commercial use. Proposals submitted in this category should include a long-term/permanent use of a vacant lot managed by Metro Government. Up to two winners will receive ownership of the vacant lot and $15,000 to implement their proposal.
- Proposals involving temporary or interim use of vacant lots. This category is designed for proposals that identify innovative ways to repurpose vacant lots. Uses are not expected to be permanent at the outset, but rather to preserve the land for future potential development. Up to two winners will receive a one-year land lease (renewable for an additional year, for a total of a two-year land lease). Winners will also receive $4,000 to help implement their idea.
Entries are due Feb. 24. Six finalists in each category will be chosen by a jury and the winners will be announced in April.
For the past five years under the leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has re-appropriated underused street space as public plazas for pedestrians. The Bloomberg Administration–initiated projects have been well received in neighborhoods like Herald Square and Tribeca; however, some of the less affluent neighborhoods who would like to have a plaza have been hindered by the cost. Each plaza is sponsored by local businesses and fundraising for construction and regular maintenance can seem a daunting task. Until now.
Yesterday, something remarkable happened. More than a decade after the destruction of the World Trade Center, the walls and fences surrounding a small corner of the site came down and the public was able to glimpse a new stretch of Greenwich Street—which will eventually bisect the site—as well as Fumihiko Maki‘s completed 72-story tower, Four World Trade. The minimalist tower is the first completed building on the site, though tenants will now begin building out their floors.