Whether or not redevelopment agencies survive in the California budget crisis, they will likely take a severe, or in the case of many agencies, fatal blow. While much remains undecided, both legislatively and in the courts, significant damage has already been done to redevelopment projects in the rush by municipalities to protect their funds from the grasps of a desperate state government. [Read more…] about California Redevelopment: Saplings in the Ashes?
Recent studies and analysis indicate that in order to increase the likelihood of success, high speed rail must reach into the center of cities. [Read more…] about High Speed Rail Must Include Downtowns in Order to be Successful.
The Los Angeles Times published one of its best articles of all time when (12/27/2008) it published The Best Houses of All Time in L.A. Its a great photo gallery of 10 of the coolest homes in L.A. with written narratives for each.
In the “old days,” you marketed your business or career by joining organizations, serving on boards and committees, socializing, advertising, and writing articles that got published. Many of us tried all but the last item because it was a major undertaking. Today, with the evolution of the internet, websites, blogs, and social media, the dynamics have changed. While the old in-person activities are still worthwhile pursuits, writing and publishing have become much easier, less expensive, and more worthwhile. [Read more…] about Marketing for Architects and Design Professionals Through Online Article Writing
The San Francisco Chronicle reported this month that the City, while considered one of the most walkable City’s in the nation, also has one of the highest rates of pedestrian deaths. [Read more…] about San Francisco’s Street Grid Plan Killing People?
Recent statistics indicate that suburban commercial centers were hit harder by the recession and are recovering more slowly than their urban counterparts. This circumstance is the opposite of prior recessions in the last half century, even as recently as the 2003 – 2004 dot com bubble recession, according to the Wallstreet Journal. During the current recession, the urban core of nearly every major city in the Country suffered substantially less loss of office and retail space than the suburbs surrounding them – including hard hit Detroit. [Read more…] about Recession Reveals that Suburbs Losing Their Appeal.
“Smart growth,” i.e. the densification of development in both new and established communities, especially along transportation corridors, is not only a worthy objective, it’s a necessity. Sprawling development has many established negative impacts. The infrastructure to support it is disproportionately expensive to build and maintain. Its environmental footprint is disproportionately large and wasteful. It has been shown to create negative impacts on the social and physical quality of people’s lives. [Read more…] about When Smart Growth is Not and the NIMBY Is
Turn the freeways into solar collectors and at the same time mitigate noise, pollution, blight, and open space encroachment. This is a fascinating idea from architect Måns Tham of Sweden. He also proposes that the solar canopy capture auto exhaust for feeding algae ponds to create bio fuel. While it seems at first glance to be ‘pie in the sky,’ upon further reflection it may not be so far fetched. It could help resolve the controversy regarding solar arrays in the desert and possible effects on fauna such as the desert tortoise. Freeways typically involve vast sun exposed stretches of real estate that would seem ideally suited for solar panels. Read more on the architect’s blog.
There are many academic lists regarding the principles of urban planning, a sampling of which is included below. However, I’ve put together my own list about what creates a pleasant place in the built environment. Its based on nothing more than my personal observations.
1) Narrow streets make nicer neighborhoods and shopping districts.
2) Setbacks suck. (Compare all the places we are attracted to for vacations.)
3) Great cities happen at the street level, not the skyline.
4) Preserve the old buildings not just for architectural significance, but for diversity of architecture.
5) Small lot development is smarter development. (i.e. large master planned developments lack soul) [Read more…] about 10 Principles of Planning Pleasant Places
This post is the first of a multi-part (but irregular) series about the conflicting relationship between U.S. transportation policy and urban renewal efforts, and what some communities are doing to “take back the streets” from cars for people. This post features a video by COAnews (published on YouTube), which gives a little history of the rectangular or square street grid patterns so common in U.S. cities, especially in the west. Then it goes on to talk about a project in Portland, frequently a leader in urban planning, to make neighborhood intersections more community oriented.