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D Magazine
Cities around the world are trying to adopt new measures to ensure that everything their residents need is available within a 20-minute walk or bike

Many of Dallas’s urban challenges can be summed up in a single term: land use. Whether we are talking about affordable housing or public transportation, income inequality or fixing streets, quality public schools or walkability, at its core, we are really always talking about land use.

Our massive investment in light rail doesn’t work? That’s because the city has developed with insufficient density around stations to make them useful. We can’t afford to fix the streets? That’s because our low-density development model means we have more street surface area than tax base to pay for it, and our highway system has made it easy for new investment to continually seek-out cheaper, under-developed locations outside the city. Our schools are underfunded? That’s because for 70 years land use decisions have allowed urban neighborhood to erode and an endless succession of competing suburbs to spring up to siphon off students, teachers, and taxes from the inner city. At the end of the day, all of Dallas’ urban problems are land use problems.

Which is why a new trend that is being adopted by a number of cities around the world caught my eye. It’s called the “20-minute neighborhood.” The concept is incredibly simple, and yet it promises to solve many of these problems listed above in one fell swoop. What if everything you needed from the city during your day-to-day life was located within a 20-minute walk or bike of your front door? We’re talking groceries, job, social centers, schools–everything. Twenty minutes away, tops. Sounds pretty convenient, right? It would be nice to walk to the grocery store, walk to pick up your kids from school, bike to a concert on a Friday night. But while 20-minute neighborhoods sound, at first, like convenient, fun places to live, their implications are much more profound.

That’s because the idea of 20-minute neighborhoods strike directly at the cause of so many urban issues: land use. What if cities began to regulate their land use so that every corner of a city was measured by their ability to ensure that basic daily needs could be met via a 20-minute walk? That’s the goal in Portland, which has set out to make it so 90 percent of Portland residents live in “20-minute neighborhoods” by 2030 as part of its climate action plan. The concept has been bouncing around for a long time. Back in 2010, The Atlantic looked at the effort not long after it was first introduced and pointed out that the idea was being tasked with taking aim at a whole host of urban challenges:

The 20-minute neighborhood plan is a part of Portland’s long-term strategy to manage the challenges that face many urban environments across the country, including rising energy costs, population growth, roadway congestion, and demand for expensive public transit to connect more and more distant suburbs.

As cities around the world create their own climate action plans to respond to the existential threat of global climate change, we’re seeing 20-minute neighborhoods pop up as part of that solution as well. Melbourne, Barcelona, London, and Paris all have some version of the 20-minute–or 15-minute, or “superblock”–as part of their short- to mid-term development goals.

What would such places look like? The Parisian plan sketches out a vision that would promote a hyper-local approach to all city planning:

Paris en Commun’s manifesto sketches out some details for what this future walkable, hyperlocal city would look like. More Paris road space would be given up to pedestrians and bikes, with car lanes further trimmed down or removed. Planning would try to give public and semi-public spaces multiple uses—so that, for example, daytime schoolyards could become nighttime sports facilities or simply places to cool off on hot summer nights. Smaller retail outlets would be encouraged—bookstores as well as grocery stores—as would workshops making wares using a “Made in Paris” tag as a marketing tool. Everyone would have access to a nearby doctor (and ideally a medical center), while sports therapy facilities would be available in each of the city’s 20 arrondissements.

To improve local cultural offerings, public performance spaces would be set up, notably at the “gates” of Paris — the large, currently car-dominated squares around the inner city’s fringe which once marked entry points through the long-demolished ramp
Courtesy Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Near the Green Line, this Fulton Market apartment plan is adding even more units

n the West Loop, where architects and developers are often required to shrink projects to appease dissatisfied neighbors, one proposal has done the opposite: it’s grown.

LG Development originally pitched two 20- and 22-story towers for the corner of Lake and May streets in July 2019. The latest design instead calls for a single 33-story, 330-foot high-rise. The number of apartments has also increased from 484 to 555—making the transit-oriented proposal one of the largest rental developments in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

According to a presentation posted by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) ahead of the project’s trip to the Chicago Plan Commission, the recent revisions allow for more light and air to reach street level. This sort of change is consistent with the West Loop Design Guidelines, which favor taller, skinnier designs over wider, squatter buildings.

The glassy design comes from architecture firm Gensler (NORR Architects was behind the earlier plan) and uses a more contextual brick cladding at its base. Updated renderings also show a pedestrian-friendly alley lined with retail running below the apartment portion of the project—a similar concept is included in the upcoming development at 167 N. Green.

The zoning application spans two parcels and still includes an 11-story office building slated for the vacant lot across the street at 1050 W. Lake Street. That building was also redesigned by the architects at Gensler.
Gensler
An urbanizing world has put commercial real estate practices in the spotlight. Gensler’s Co-CEO’s Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen discuss the ways the industry can lessen its climatic stress.

Mass urbanization and commercial real estate’s climate impact demand strong action by designers, urban planners and architects, developers and legislators around the world. It’s also a subject that Gensler has taken very seriously: the Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) outlines the firm’s commitment to design all their projects to net-zero standards by 2030; and addressed it in their recently released Design Forecast “Shaping the Future of Cities.” Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen, Co-CEOs at the leading global design firm, spoke to GlobeSt.com about the real estate industry’s most urgent climatic challenges and how CRE stakeholders are responding.

GlobeSt.com: How has CRE’s climate impact changed and how much will that burden expand in the future?

Diane Hoskins: The growth of cities creates so much more of a need to focus on buildings, which account for 40 percent of CO2 emissions in cities. Cities overall create 70 percent of CO2 emissions even though they’re only 2 percent of the world’s land mass. Since 1990, we’ve seen a 70 percent increase in the number of people living in cities (to 3.8 billion). That obviously means more CRE in our cities and thus more CO2 emissions.

Andy Cohen: We are adding about 1.5 million people to cities every week for the foreseeable future, and 80% of the world’s GDP is in cities. More than half of the global population is now concentrated in urban areas, and by 2060 two thirds of the expected population of 10 billion will live in cities. The way we design, build and operate new buildings, and how we reposition existing buildings to be more efficient are critical factors in our global efforts to address climate change and the effects of climate change.

GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest climate concerns and how can cities be more resilient in response?

Cohen: Cities are at the forefront of these issues, dealing with the real-time impacts of weather events, rising sea levels, migration, and resource scarcity. Ninety percent of the world’s urban areas are on coastlines, so they are increasingly at risk. Working together, governments, institutions, and investors can anchor city planning in resilience to produce tangible, positive impacts on people’s lives, jobs, health and well-being.

Hoskins: A multi-pronged effort regarding material choices, building retrofits and new construction standards is required. For existing buildings, how we upgrade systems and the building envelope from both a thermal and energy-generation standpoint is critical, using new types of glass and even brick and other types of veneers that sequester carbon.

GlobeSt.com: What impact is climate change having on the real estate investment sector?

Hoskins: At the 2019 ULI Fall Conference, one of the panelists talked about increasing coastal risk from rising seas. The investment sector in coastal US markets is really beginning to sound the alarm and take a harder look at the 10-, 20- and 30-year time horizon with regard to the risk and resilience of locations. We’re in the mode now of resilience thinking versus prevention. For example, in Miami it’s not about trying to stop sea level rise, but rather adapting to changing conditions. This includes having walkways at the second level and having entries that may be on the ground level but that are built with materials that can withstand the water. And in order to ensure that there isn’t a cataclysmic level of warming and flooding, it’s critical to address greenhouse gas emissions through building sector choices. Going to net zero can help keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius from now until 2050.

GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest CRE challenges to meeting and exceeding net zero carbon standards?

Cohen: We need to address everything from operational energy and the materials we choose, to how people travel and where we decide to build. We need our cities and governments to set goals in their cities and then take concrete steps to achieve them. We need investment from the private sector to assist with the gap in resilient design and high-performance measures, because the returns on these investments take time. And we need our cities to create densified zoning to encourage green development. We need all parties involved in development to design for zero carbon starting now and as desig
The Urban Developer
Developers of a New York skyscraper have been ordered to remove as many as 20 floors from the top of its recently completed project on the Upper West Side.

The 200 Amsterdam Avenue development, being delivered by SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, has been found to have exceeded zoning limits after developers “gerrymandered” a 39-sided zoning lot in order to add height and bulk to the project.

The decision, handed down by supreme court judge Justice W Franc Perry, marks a watershed moment for community groups who opposed the 204 metre tall project on the grounds that the developers used a zoning loophole to upsize the project to comprise 112 apartments.

The court found that while it is common for developers to purchase the unused development rights of adjacent buildings, the developers in question had put together a highly unusual zoning lot to take advantage of the development rights.

Community groups opposing the tower went to court after their request to stop construction was rejected by New York City’s Department of Buildings.

Last year, the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favour of the community groups and ordered the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) revisit the matter.

Despite the court order, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America continued with the construction of the high-end residential project, which recently topped out.

“200 Amsterdam entirely conforms with all zoning rules, as earlier upheld by equally the DOB and the BSA, the two metropolis agencies with the most important responsibility for interpreting NYC’s zoning codes,” SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America said in a statement.

“We continue to make construction progress and look forward to delivering a building that will significantly benefit the neighbourhood and New York City.”

Attorneys representing the developers plan to appeal the ruling on the grounds that the project was fully compliant with the city’s zoning resolution.

At this point it remains unclear how many floors might need to be deconstructed from the 52-storey tower, but under one interpretation of the law, the building might have to remove 20 floors or more to conform to the regulation.

The Elkus Manfred-designed tower, which is located a few blocks from Central Park, at its current height would boast panoramic views of the Hudson River, Empire State Building and World Trade Centre.

The project also offers high-end amenities including an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre, conservatory, virtual golf room and a residential lounge.

The decision isn’t the first time a ruling like this has been passed down in the state of New York.

In 1991, developer Laurence Ginsberg was forced to reduced a development at East 96th Street by 31-storeys to 19-storeys after it was found to be inside a special Park Avenue zoning district, which limits building heights.
Dennis Pieprz
stanbul is a teeming city of striking contrasts. Its setting on the Bosphorus—a natural strait connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara—places it between continents, between histories, and between cultures. And this is exactly how I experienced the city: some neighborhoods felt like the heart of Cairo; other areas called to mind Paris, or even Rome. On Istiklal Street (shown above) you can feel the shape of the city as the open, slightly inclined pavement bends toward the sea. It’s thrilling, full of valuable lessons for urban designers and placemakers.

This is a street just off Taksim Square. It’s quieter, but equally interesting. The concrete pavers go from building face to building face. This flattened surface created a welcome feeling for pedestrians. The odd car seemed quite comfortable as it slowed down, navigating groups trying to decide which restaurant to try. A mix of residential, office, and commercial buildings make the street active and vital throughout the day and evening.

Across the Golden Quarter waterway from Istiklal Street, a local friend took me to the Eminonu quarter, where we were engulfed by masses of people moving through tight passageways, shopping at every conceivable kind of store. Suddenly there’s a break in the enclosed street, and I am in front of the portal to the Egyptian Bazaar.

As a kind of covered street, the L-shaped bazaar fits seamlessly into the network of markets and streets nearby. At this intersection, you can carry on forward through the arched space of the market street or head back into the city. I am drawn to this granite column anchoring a corner shop jammed with every spice imaginable.

It was mid-December when I visited Istanbul. I came across a section of the market devoted to light decorations. In the slightly darkened street sat thousands of glowing objects for sale. The magical radiance transformed the space for a moment as I moved along to the next array of stalls and vendors.

One of the most remarkable places I saw was the Suleymaniye Mosque complex, built by the architect Mimar Sinan between 1550 and 1557. Located on a hill, the mosque comprises a number of institutions, including four madrasas, or schools. The domes of the learning places step down the hill, their chimneys forming a geometric construct that contrasts with the informal market streets nearby and the modern city beyond.

The schools are organized around courtyards and stepped gardens. Taking advantage of the slope, each classroom has an outdoor terrace platform where people can meet, quietly read a book, or work on their laptop. The double arches and vaults provide a cloistered protection from the harsh sun and create a beautiful place to study in the glowing light.

One evening, I discovered a roof terrace with a remarkable view toward the Suleymaniye Mosque, with the Hagia Sophia in the distance. These centuries-old complexes are lit up each night and, in the gloaming, mark the horizon of a city where many worlds coexist: East and West, religious and secular, ancient and modern.


urbanize.LA
Wider sidewalks and new street trees are in the works for the iconic 1.3-mile corridor.

A new website offers a look at design concepts for the Hollywood Walk of Fame's new master plan - a core component City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell's Heart of Hollywood initiative.

The Walk of Fame, established nearly 60 years ago, spans approximately 1.3-miles along Hollywood Boulevard and a short stretch of Vine Street. Though the corridor is one of the biggest tourist draws in Southern California - evidenced by throngs of pedestrians, street performers, and costumed characters - its built environment has often underwhelmed visitors.

“The Walk of Fame Master Plan is the signature project of my ‘HEART of Hollywood’ initiative, and the concept plan is just the first step,” said O’Farrell in a statement. “We are working to update the Walk of Fame in a balanced, holistic, cohesive way. As this evolves, we will keep building a sense of consensus and collaboration around various ideas. I encourage Hollywood stakeholders to view the concept plan in its entirety, provide feedback, and join us throughout this process.”

O'Farrell, who represents much of Hollywood, has pushed to use the remainder of the 13th Council District's allocation of CRA/LA excess bond proceeds to fund the new master plan for the Walk of Fame as well as a first phase of improvements. Architecture and planning firm Gensler has been tapped to lead the effort, with also includes civil engineering firm DCA, landscape architecture firm Studio MLA, and various city departments.

The Walk of Fame serves as the central pedestrian spine of the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District, comprised of 102 historic Spanish Colonial and Art Deco buildings - many of which maintain a high degree of integrity on their upper floors. But the corridor is best known for the thousands of terrazo stars which commemorates luminaries of the entertainment industry.

While the Walk of Fame's architecture and its iconic stars remain a draw, its streetscape has worn down over the decades, and repairs to its sidewalks have lagged. Among various shortcomings, the project team has noted that the Walk of Fame suffers from a lack of unified signage, tree wells, and street furnishing along Hollywood Boulevard. And while a new guide published by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering provides direction for future repairs, the Heart of Hollywood takes the effort a step further.
An "enhanced complete street" concept has emerged as the favored alternative for the project, which, if implemented, would remove street parking and some automobile travel lanes to allow for wider sidewalks along the Walk of Fame. The reclaimed space could be used for new amenities such as sidewalk dining, performance areas, seating and other furniture, playgrounds, and areas for street vendors. Plans also call for five new event plazas located at key sites along the Walk of Fame - including the Pantages Theatre and the Hollywood Highland Center - which could temporarily be closed to automobile traffic with removable bollards.

These improvements would be supplemented by the addition of new curb bulb outs - shortening the distance of street crossings - and raised scramble crossings to make pedestrians more visible to approaching vehicles.

The "enhanced complete street," concept is one of several alternatives considered for the master plan. Other options include a similar, but less ambitious sidewalk expansion, or in the most modest concept, selective street extensions near major landmarks such as the Pantages Theatre. Planners also considered closing the street to cars entirely, converting the Walk of Fame to a pedestrian promenade, but feedback garnered through a series of focus groups and open house meetings favored maintaining vehicle access.

Hollywood Boulevard's Art Deco heritage is also set to be expressed in the new master plan in the form of unified signage and potentially decorative patterns in crosswalks, as seen in conceptual renderings.

Bloomberg/Getty
Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold.

In Manhattan, the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.

Such is the tale of two cities within America’s largest metro. Even as 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or on its streets, Manhattan residents have watched skinny condominium skyscrapers rise across the island. These colossal stalagmites initially transformed not only the city’s skyline but also the real-estate market for new homes. From 2011 to 2019, the average price of a newly listed condo in New York soared from $1.15 million to $3.77 million.

But the bust is upon us. Today, nearly half of the Manhattan luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold, according to The New York Times.

What happened? While real estate might seem like the world’s most local industry, these luxury condos weren’t exclusively built for locals. They were also made for foreigners with tens of millions of dollars to spare. Developers bet huge on foreign plutocrats—Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls, Saudi royalty—looking to buy second (or seventh) homes.

But the Chinese economy slowed, while declining oil prices dampened the demand for pieds-à-terre among Russian and Middle Eastern zillionaires. It didn’t help that the Treasury Department cracked down on attempts to launder money through fancy real estate. Despite pressure from nervous lenders, developers have been reluctant to slash prices too suddenly or dramatically, lest the market suddenly clear and they leave millions on the table.

The confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has done the impossible: It’s created a vacancy problem in a city where thousands of people are desperate to find places to live.

From any rational perspective, what New York needs isn’t glistening three-bedroom units, but more simple one- and two-bedroom apartments for New York’s many singles, roommates, and small families. Mayor Bill De Blasio made affordable housing a centerpiece of his administration. But progress here has been stalled by onerous zoning regulations, limited federal subsidies, construction delays, and blocked pro-tenant bills.

In the past decade, New York City real-estate prices have gone from merely obscene to downright macabre. From 2010 to 2019, the average sale price of homes doubled in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Prospect Heights and Williamsburg, according to the Times. Buyers there could consider themselves lucky: In Cobble Hill, the typical sales price tripled to $2.5 million in nine years.

This is not normal. And for middle-class families, particularly for the immigrants who give New York City so much of its dynamism, it has made living in Manhattan or gentrified Brooklyn practically impossible. No wonder, then, that the New York City area is losing about 300 residents every day. It adds up to what Michael Greenberg, writing for The New York Review of Books, called a new shameful form of housing discrimination—“bluelining.”

We speak nowadays with contrition of redlining, the mid-twentieth-century practice by banks of starving black neighborhoods of mortgages, home improvement loans, and investment of almost any sort. We may soon look with equal shame on what might come to be known as bluelining: the transfiguration of those same neighborhoods with a deluge of investment aimed at a wealthier class.

New York’s example is extreme—the squeezed middle class, shrink-wrapped into tiny bedrooms, beneath a canopy of empty sky palaces. But Manhattan reflects America’s national housing market, in at least three ways.

First, the typical new American single-family home has become surprisingly luxurious, if not quite so swank as Manhattan’s glassy spires. Newly built houses in the U.S. are among the largest in the world, and their size-per-resident has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. And the bathrooms have multiplied. In the early ’70s, 40 percent of new single-family houses had 1.5 bathrooms or fewer; today, just 4 percent do. The mansions of the ’70s would be the typical new homes of the 2020s.

Second, as the new houses have become more luxurious, homeownership itself has become a luxury. Young adults today are one-third less likely to own a home at this point in their lives than previous generations. Among young black Americans, homeownership has fallen to its lowest rate in more
Smiley N. Pool
Let’s celebrate some of the highlights and lament the misfires.

Here’s a look at big moments in architecture as we celebrate the highs, lows and uh-ohs of the departing decade in Dallas culture, 2010-2019.

Growing pains in the Arts District

It’s easy to take the Arts District for granted — easy, because even after a decade of building it still has a tendency to feel, well, kind of dead. It’s not for a shortage of big-name architects. Additions to the district over the last 10 years have included Norman Foster’s AT&T Performing Arts Center, OMA’s Wyly Theatre, SOM’s Moody Performance Hall, and Allied Works’ expansion of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A bevy of less-impressive towers are filling in around these signature projects, with the ill-conceived Museum Tower being the most notorious. While all this building has gone on, a master plan for the district has sat on a shelf, waiting for implementation. Most cities, one should note, make the urban plan, and then allow for the building. Here, we do it in reverse and pay the price, which is empty streets. Still, we have some really nice buildings, and with the new development, there is potential for new life.

The decade’s best new buildings in Dallas

Rather than a single champion, we spread the accolades among a group of projects that collectively make Dallas a better place: Test Pavilion at the Dallas Arboretum (Buchanan Architecture), the St. Michael and All Angels Columbarium (Max Levy), the Temple Emanu-El expansion (Cunningham Architects), College Park Pavilion (Snøhetta), the Cottages at Hickory Crossing (BC Workshop), Webb Chapel Park Pavilion (Cooper Joseph Studio), the Wyly Theatre (OMA), the Booker T. Washington expansion (Allied Works), the Warehouse (Droese Raney), Pacific Plaza Pavilion (HKS), the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center at the Greenhill School (Weiss/Manfredi), the Science Building at the Lamplighter School (Marlon Blackwell), Bullion Restaurant (Gensler), 1217 Main St. (5G Studio), Rolex Building (Kengo Kuma), and Fire Station 27 (Perkins & Will).

Signature spans

In a fit of skyline-altering extravagance that we will probably never see again, Dallas managed to open not one but two bridges designed by Spanish shape-wizard Santiago Calatrava, each named for a beloved matriarch named Margaret. Like most everything built by Calatrava, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge were massively expensive, dogged by construction problems, needlessly grandiose, uniformly white and — arguably — beautiful. At least, with the former, there was a purpose in the ostentation: the creation of a signal gateway to West Dallas, which has rapidly gentrified since the bridge’s inauguration. Of course, despite the big price tag, the bridge made no accommodation for pedestrians or cyclists, a fact only partially ameliorated by the transformation of the erstwhile Continental Avenue Bridge into a car-free elevated park. Call that a victory.

The fall of sprawl’s thrall?

Yes, the cookie-cutter developments continued to sprout in the hinterlands, but the younger set returned to the city, and even those who remained out in the burbs clamored for reform. In Plano, in McKinney, in Frisco, and points beyond, suburban centers began emphasizing walkability and rail connection to the city, even as they remained principally automotive in nature. (They also became a lot more diverse.) Even Jerry Jones, always with a keen eye for opportunity, noticed the trend, the result being his own mini-city devoted to football: the Star, an antiseptic paradise for Cowboys fans.

The eternal quest for a Fair Park plan

Did you have a plan to save Fair Park? It seemed like everyone did during the 2010s. There were plans, and then more plans, and more plans after that. Every year, we heard lamentations about the state of affairs at the city’s crown jewel — too much concrete, no connection with the neighbors, underuse, decaying landmarks, flooding — and every year there was another plan to save the place that went exactly nowhere. It looked like we might just get through the entire decade with zero progress until, late in 2018, the city finally — finally — signed a 20-year deal with a private management firm with a solid history of running parks. Will this be the answer? The problems are still real, but there’s hope. And a $15 million
Michael Young
Construction is moving along at 66 Hudson Boulevard, aka The Spiral, the eighth-tallest skyscraper under construction in New York City in YIMBY’s annual countdown. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, the massive commercial office tower is rapidly ascending toward its 1,031-foot-tall parapet over the Midtown neighborhood of Hudson Yards. Tishman Speyer is the developer, Turner Construction Company is the construction manager, and Banker Steel is in charge of fabricating the 66-story, $3.7 billion supertall.

Photos show the superstructure rising in pace with Norman Foster‘s 50 Hudson Yards across West 34th Street.

Both projects have risen at a substantial pace since going vertical earlier in the year, and it will be interesting to see which of the two supertalls will top out first. The Spiral currently appears to be roughly a quarter of the way to its summit as it ascends around the concrete core, which continues to precede the steelwork in formation. Work should accelerate further as each successive setback reduces the size of the floor plates.

There are several floors covered with white plastic sheets toward the end of the building along Tenth Avenue, likely to contain the spray of fireproofing material for the steel columns and beams. The fireproofing on the western half of the floors facing Bella Abzug Park is finished, and the metal clips to hold the curtain wall are already in place and awaiting the installation of the façade’s reflective glass panels. The signature spiraling form of the architectural design will become more noticeable once the envelope starts to climb all four sides.

The Spiral is expected to be finished around 2022.
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership wants to make bold streetscape improvements akin to the recent redesign of 14th Street in Manhattan.

While parts of Brooklyn are famous for their human scale and walkability, the borough’s downtown is not among them. Much of its street design dates back to the Robert Moses era: Broad arterial roads move cars swiftly to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, public plazas can feel bleak and unsafe, and the collision of three different street grids makes wayfinding difficult.

Yet the neighborhood is one of the fastest growing in New York City. Its population increased 31 percent between 2010 and 2016; the number of jobs also increased between 2010 and 2015, by 26 percent. The neighborhood’s population is expected to double over the next decade.

“The action plan seeks to re-knit, at a pedestrian and bike scale, many of the streets that were widened or cut off,” said Claire Weisz.

The first phase of the plan would link those pedestrian oases via shared streets, known in the Netherlands as woonerfs, where curbs would be eliminated to make room for landscaping and street furniture. A 15-foot-wide winding traffic lane would be retained in these streets, although vehicle speeds would be severely restricted.

The second phase would extend the shared streets through much of the neighborhood, expand sidewalks along Fulton and Livingston Streets and Boerum Place, and add improved pedestrian crossings along Flatbush Avenue.

All of that space reclaimed from cars would make room for some serious greenery. The plan calls for 950 new trees to add to the existing 1,500 in the neighborhood, and a 230 percent increase in permeable surfaces. Planters will do triple duty, not only as homes for trees but also as benches and as barriers protecting people from cars.

Cyclists would get new protected lanes along Boerum Place, Schermerhorn Street, and Fulton Street. To make room for bike lanes and expanded sidewalks on the Fulton Mall—a corridor that sees higher peak-hour pedestrian traffic than Wall Street—eastbound buses would be diverted one block south to Livingston Street.
Kaizen Development Partners
The new $1 billion+ mixed-use project from Kaizen Development Partners, Woods Capital, and Dundon Capital will reshape the Dallas skyline.

Opportunities like these don’t come around very often, and the partners behind the new Field Street District are determined to get it right. Kaizen Development Partners, Woods Capital, and Dundon Capital acquired two prime tracts on McKinney Avenue at Field Street this past summer, and have selected HKS Inc. as lead designer on their new mixed-use project.

Initial plans call for 1.2 million square feet of office space—in 700,000-square-foot and 500,000-square-foot towers—a hotel, and two residential towers with about 300 units in each. There also will be about 30,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet in amenity space, mostly restaurants and resident/tenant services.

“To be able to influence the Dallas skyline in a meaningful way, with what we’re doing vertically and horizontally—rarely do you get a chance to do this in an urban environment,” says Derrick Evers, CEO of Kaizen Development.

Along with HKS Inc., Beck is working on pre-construction and Kimley-Horn is the civil engineer. The project is getting support from Downtown Dallas Inc., DART, the City of Dallas, and other stakeholders, says Jonas Woods, CEO of Woods Development. “Everyone sees this as an important domino that needs to fall for the continued recreation of the urban fabric to take place,” he says. “It’s an incredible placemaking opportunity.”

The vision is to create a verdant neighborhood that’s grounded in nature. HKS was selected to lead the design, Woods says, because the firm paid a lot of attention to the ground plane: “It’s fundamental to the success of everything above … One of the concepts HKS came forward with is the idea of an elevated walkway on top of the DART rail line that runs along the property.”

The partners expect to break ground in the summer or fall of 2020, depending on preleasing. Interest in the project among brokers and potential tenants is brisk, Evers says.

“We’re hearing about some great deals in the market that are too big for some of the boutique buildings in Uptown,” he says. “We don’t have those limitations; we have the ability to do more than 1 million square feet. We’re holding a big catcher’s mitt.”
City of Helsinki
Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

You might say, “Yes, of course I love the library.” We do, too. But I’m not sure anyone loves libraries quite like the Finns do.

In a country that boasts one of the world’s highest literacy rates, the arrival of the new central library in Helsinki last year was a kind of moon-landing-like moment of national bonding. The €98 million facility, whose opening in December 2018 marked the centenary of Finnish independence, has since been widely celebrated internationally as a model reimagining of these critical pieces of social infrastructure. At the CityLab DC conference this week, Tommi Laitio, Helsinki’s executive director for culture and leisure, offered his own, more personal take on exactly why this building is so important to Finland’s future.

Designed by Finnish architecture firm ALA and dubbed Oodi (“ode” in Finnish), the three-level structure is a kind of spruce-clad monument to the principles of Nordic society-building. Still, Laitio opened his talk not with shots of the building’s sleek interiors but with a sobering image from Finland’s brutal civil war of 1918, which killed 36,000 people, many of whom perished in prison camps.

“You can be your best person inside this building.”

“This progress from one of the poorest countries of Europe to one of the most prosperous has not been an accident. It’s based on this idea that when there are so few of us—only 5.5 million people—everyone has to live up to their full potential,” he said. “Our society is fundamentally dependent on people being able to trust the kindness of strangers.”

That conviction has helped support modern Finland’s emphasis on education and literacy—each Finn takes out more than 15 books a year from the library (10 more than the average American). But Nordic-style social services have not shielded the residents of Finland’s largest city from 21st-century anxieties about climate change, migrants, disruptive technology, and the other forces fueling right-leaning populist movements across Europe. Oodi, which was the product of a 10-year-long public consultation and design process, was conceived in part to resist these fears. “When people are afraid, they focus on short-term selfish solutions,” Laitio said. “They also start looking for scapegoats.”

The central library is built to serve as a kind of citizenship factory, a space for old and new residents to learn about the world, the city, and each other. It’s pointedly sited across from (and at the same level as) the Finnish Parliament House that it shares a public square with.

Its design reflects that lofty mission. The ground floor is an extension of the public square outside—a space for meetings, free events, and informal gatherings, with a cafe, theater, and various public amenities. On the second level, a series of flexible rooms provide a host of au courant attractions and borrowables—3-D printers and power tools, sewing machines and music rooms and makerspaces. Language classes are offered for migrants; gamers get VR-equipped computer rooms. Patrons can even borrow season tickets for the Helsinki’s popular professional basketball games. Only on the topmost level—in a soaring, light-filled space Laitio calls “book heaven”—will one find actual volumes for readers, a 100,000-book collection that’s in very high demand.

Inside and out, the facility is as handsome as Finnish Modernism fans might expect, and it has proved to be absurdly popular: About 10,000 patrons stop by every day, on average (it’s open until 10 p.m.), and Oodi just hit 3 million visitors this year—“a lot for a city of 650,000,” Laitio said. In its very first month, 420,000 Helsinki residents—almost two-thirds of the population—went to the library. Some may only have been skateboarders coming in to use the bathroom, but that’s fine: The library has a “commitment to openness and welcoming without judgement,” he said. “It’s probably the most diverse place in our city, in many ways.”



SHoP Architects
One doesn’t need to visit New York City in order to understand that the city’s skyline is undergoing drastic change, both within and—increasingly—outside of Manhattan.

In an attempt to better understand the micro- and macro-forces at play shaping the city’s skyline, we’re taking a look at three recent distinctive tower projects designed by SHoP Architects in partnership with JDS Development, Property Markets Group and Spruce Capital Partners, including: 111 West 57th, a spindly supertall under construction on Billionaire’s Row; the American Copper Buildings, two metallic skyscrapers overlooking the FDR expressway; and 9 DeKalb, a forthcoming supertall tower set to become Brooklyn’s tallest building.

Together, along with a forthcoming set of acrobatic high-rises slated for the Brooklyn waterfront that SHoP has also had a hand in crafting, the featured buildings highlight several of the dynamic conversations taking shape within the realm of skyscraper design, as issues of extreme height, massing, historic preservation, and environmental performance play out across the city’s (and the world’s) evolving skylines.

A Skyline in Flux

New York City’s constantly growing skyline has reached new and dazzling heights during the second decade of the 21st Century.

The steady stream of neck-straining renderings for the row of supertall towers on the southern edge of Central Park, for example, has created what some have called an “accidental skyline” shaped in part by tricky real estate maneuvers, the exploitation of zoning codes, and piles of cash that nearly rival the heights of the towers themselves. On Manhattan’s western edge, the Emerald City-like Hudson Yards development has sprung up over the last half-decade as an equally controversial set of sky-piercing buildings, their slanting, chiseled forms broadcasting ostentatious luxury, corporate retro-futurism, and America’s frothy economy all at once. The ever-multiplying clusters of residential and office towers taking shape in downtown and northern Brooklyn, in addition, have extended western outposts of the city’s world-famous skyline, while the relatively staid high-rises in Long Island City, Queens, as well as those located across the Hudson River in Jersey City and Hoboken, indicate that New York’s decade-long post-recession growth spurt is reshaping the entire region rather than merely a few choice neighborhoods.

As incredibly tall buildings have advanced and proliferated across the New York area, the conventions of skyscraper design have been somewhat upended. Monolithic glass curtain walls are becoming less common in new proposals, for example, as designers work to incorporate concerns over environmental performance and facade modulation into their work. At the same time, street-level design has grown more rich and people-friendly over the years, with landscaped plazas and pedestrian retail designs back en vogue, as well. Simultaneously, as land-use and zoning regulations have been massaged into submission via a proliferation of re-zoning initiatives and clever lot arrangements, and as a result, towers have sprung up that dive into existing historic structures, hang daintily over them, or land neatly right beside them, challenging the conventions of historic preservation thinking, both on the street and across the sky.

All told, New York City’s skyline, always shaped by the interlocking considerations of aesthetics, finance, and gravity, is alive and growing.

SHoP is Transforming the Skyscraper

Central to this transformation have been the efforts of SHoP Architects, an architecture firm founded in 1996 and based out of Manhattan’s Woolworth Building—a tower that itself stood as the tallest in the city for nearly two decades after being built. In recent years, the firm has undertaken an increasingly aggressive building spree across New York City (as well as regionally and across the globe) that is beginning to give form to a collection of unique and forward-looking skyscrapers. The office, headed by a multi-partner team with experience in design, real estate, and other building endeavors, works methodically to iterate its way toward convention-defying works of architecture, often partnering directly with developers and builders to craft these dramatic and provocative buildings. Such is the case for the collection of projects showcase
Danilo Ramos / Flickr
In their fight against the displacement of local communities, activists are appropriating central São Paulo’s abandoned spaces

Abandoned and obsolete structures have become the newest field of exercise for architectural imagination around the world, converted into bright, mirrorsurfaced corporate towers, world-class hotels, shopping malls, museums or convention centres – real-estate products identified and priced in the global financial market. Without flag or face, global finance is the new colonial empire seizing cities. Deterritorialised and abstract, fictitious and speculative by nature, it occupies cities and materialises into landscapes for rent. Thanks to innovative financial instruments and the digital revolution, architecture – the most tectonic of all the arts – is dematerialised and made to circulate, through technologies and information flows, as pure value — or rather, as the future expectation of value, enabling rapid capital inflows and outflows, without heavy or complex transaction costs. Yet these same spaces are contested by those who are struggling to survive while also aspiring to prosperity. When neglected by urban planning and architectural imaginaries, abandoned sites are appropriated by those with limited resources, generating landscapes for life.

‘The hegemonic paradigm of individual property has been one of the most powerful motivations and justifications for denying other forms of territorial ties the right to exist’

Central São Paulo witnesses these disputes on a daily basis. The creation and consolidation of new urban and real-estate expansion fronts since the late 1960s, as well as widespread use of the car as the preferred means of transport for the middle and upper classes, has encouraged residential areas, services, commerce and cultural facilities to migrate to the south-western region of the city. This resulted in an exodus of the upper and middle classes out of the city centre, and the consequent abandonment of a considerable stock of both commercial and residential buildings. On the other hand, there have been social movements fighting for housing rights ever since the 1970s; although largely based in self-built settlements in the peripheries and favelas, they have also included dwellers of buildings converted into tenements, who partly laid claim to the stock of vacant buildings in the centre for social housing. This combination of factors, coupled with the decades-long insufficiency and inefficiency of housing policies in tackling the huge demand for, and precarity of, social housing in the city, produced the perfect urban and policy environment for the emergence of occupations in empty properties. These squats, usually led by organised housing and homeless movements that had been forming in the city centre for some time, came into being from the second half of the 1990s onwards.

The permanence of an occupation in space and time opens the possibility for the creation and construction of broader dynamics, such as alliances and networks with other movements, collectives, and social and political actors, that seek to claim public resources and focus on public-housing policies, creating other ways of building the city. That is how some of these occupations were able to gather enough public funding for their buildings to be renovated. Formerly a hotel, then a squat, São Paulo’s Hotel Cambridge building now comprises 121 residential units created by the Companhia Municipal de Habitação de São Paulo (COHAB) and the Peabiru Technical Advisory who were hired by the squatters. Even when they don’t reach that stage, the existence of these occupations, focused on fighting for space in the city, transforms how space is created and appropriated. This manifestation of the relationship between a social movement, professionals and activists is one of the ongoing insurgent, counter-hegemonic movements in central São Paulo, a hotly disputed territory.

The occupation of the former Hotel Santos Dumont, named Mauá, is the oldest of its kind in central São Paulo. The hotel, opened in 1953, is located near the city’s old and busy bus station, and in front of Luz train station — an imposing structure built with iron imported from the UK, one of the many manifestations of the coffee economy boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The station’s closure during the 1980s contributed to the hotel’s deterioration an
HSW Nominees
The winners of the 2019 Australian Urban Design Awards have been announced. From 52 shortlisted entries, 10 have received awards and commendations across categories for built projects as well as leadership, advocacy and research.

Announced in Melbourne on 30 October, the awards recognize contemporary Australian urban design of the highest quality and aim to encourage cities, towns and communities across the country.

“At a time when the ‘wicked problems’ confronting our urban environments and the communities they support are dramatically rising, this year’s award winners are proof-positive that Australia’s urban designers are equal to that challenge,” said Malcolm Snow, jury chair and CEO of the City Renewal Authority in Canberra.

“All of the winning projects unequivocally demonstrate that their designers and clients have both the insight and skills to make places that are beautiful, welcoming and sustainable. In their different contexts they all put people and the quality of the place experience at the centre of their design research or solutions. This is a hallmark of outstanding urban design ensuring that both current and future generations of Australians are the beneficiaries.”

The winners are:

Built projects – city and regional scale

Awards

Howard Smith Wharves (Qld) – HSW Nominees, Urbis and Woods Bagot

Maitland Levee and Riverlink Building (NSW) – McGregor Coxall and Chrofi

Commendation

Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project (Vic) – Aspect Studios with Cox Architecture

Built projects – local and neighbourhood scale

Awards

Ferrars Street Education and Community Precinct (Vic) – Tract

Flour Mill of Summer Hill (NSW) – Hassell

Commendations

Bridge of Remembrance (Tas) – Denton Corker Marshall

Rosanna Station (Vic) – MGS Architects and Jacobs Architects

Leadership, advocacy and research – city and regional scale

Award

Building Height Standards Review project (Tas)
– Leigh Woolley Architect and Urban Design Consultant

Commendation

Automated and Zero Emission Vehicles – How They Might Reshape our Streets (Vic) – Ethos Urban and Urban Circus

Leadership, advocacy and research – local and neighbourhood scale

Commendation

Engaging the community in the principles of urban design: Serious Urban Play (Qld) – University of the Sunshine Coast

The Australian Urban Design Awards are organized by Architecture Media and convened by the Planning Institute of Australia, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, and Australian Institute of Architects.

The awards are supported by Holcim, the Queensland Government, Stormtech and Tait.
Laurian Ghinitoiu
BIG has arranged the classrooms of this white-brick and glass school in Arlington, Virginia in a fan-shape to allow for a "cascading terraces".

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) designed The Heights public school on a tight plot in the Virginia city, about 30 minutes outside Washington DC, which is surrounded by three roads and the edge of the city's Rosslyn Highlands Park.

"The density of the urban Arlington neighbourhood became the inspiration for the school – we fanned the classrooms to allow each and every floor to be connected to the roof garden on top of the classrooms below," said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.

Five classroom volumes are stacked and pivoted on top of a larger base level, and detailed to look as if they overlap one another.

A swooping staircase alternates between inside and outside to provide access to each of the floors and the rooftop gardens above.

"The resultant cascading terraces are connected by a curving stair that weaves through all levels – inside as well as outside – making all students, from both programmes and all ages, visually and physically connected to each other," Ingels added.

"Each terrace is landscaped to lend itself not just to the social life of the students but also as informal outdoor spaces for learning."

Glazed white bricks clad the exterior of the 180,000-square-foot (16,700-square-metre) building. Large expanses of glazing are placed on the inner side of the fan to offer views to the surroundings.

BIG worked with executive architect Leo A Daly, Arlington Public Schools (APS), West Rosslyn Area Plan and the local community on The Heights, which was first unveiled in 2016.

The projects was initiated to combine two existing school systems in Arlington: H-B Woodlawn school for grades six to 12, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program that offers special education for students ages 11 to 22.

The two lower floors are intended for the latter and include an occupational physical therapy room and a space to aid sensory processing.

In total, The Heights spans 180,000 square feet (16,700 square metres) and accommodates over 775 students. A sports field is set on one side and enclosed with a fence, and an existing convenience store is at another corner.

To complement the recreational field, BIG also created two sunken courtyards, an entry garden and a new public park on the corner of Wilson and Quinn Street. The first roof terrace is also accessible to the pubic when school is not in session.

As a contrast to the white brick exterior, each classroom level inside the building is decorated with a unique colour, including blue, purple, pink, yellow and orange. There is also an indoor basketball court that has green walls.

A large amount of glazing inside echoes the windows on the exterior and creates views to other spaces inside the building.

"Glass walls open up views between the different activities, making it a three-dimensional composition of all aspects of learning and living in the school," said Ingels.

Ossip van Duivenbode
Combining playful design with contemporary architecture, Dutch firm MVRDV has just completed WERK12, a mixed-use development near Munich’s East Station that catches the eye with its bold and expressive art facade. Lifting verbal expressions from German versions of Donald Duck comics, the facade is punctuated with 5-meter-tall lettering that spell out words like ‘WOW’ and ‘HMPH.’ Located at the heart of the Werksviertel-Mitte district, the project is part of an urban regeneration plan to transform a former industrial site.

Spanning an area of 7,700 square meters, WERK12 features five floors occupied by restaurants and bars on the ground floor, the offices of Audi Business Innovations on the top floor, and a three-story gym facility in between with one story dedicated to an indoor swimming pool. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls wrap around the building to bring natural light and views of the city in. The line between interior and exterior is further blurred with the addition of external staircases that curl around the building and connect to 3.25-meter-wide outdoor terraces on each floor.

The bold facade was created in collaboration with local artists Christian Engelmann and Beate Engl. The lettering and the colloquial expressions are a nod to the area’s graffiti culture and use of signage. At night, the letters light up to create a “vibrant lightshow.” The five-meter-tall letters also span the height of each floor, which have extra-tall ceilings that allow for mezzanines or other level changes for greater flexibility.

“The area of the Werksviertel-Mitte district has already undergone such interesting changes, transforming from a potato factory to a legendary entertainment district,” says founding partner of MVRDV Jacob van Rijs. “With our design, we wanted to respect and celebrate that history, while also creating a foundation for the next chapter. WERK12 is stylish and cool on one hand, but on the other it doesn’t take itself so seriously – it’s not afraid to say ‘PUH’ to passers-by!”


Obama Foundation
Today, the Obama Foundation released new renderings of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC), planned for Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago. Designed by New York–based architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the refined design is intended "to be more organic in form and to appear more elegant and inviting as visitors approach from all directions," according to a statement by the foundation.

In order to make the building less opaque and foreboding—a criticism that the second iteration of the design also tried to address—the design team has introduced an 88-foot expanse of glazing at the mezzanine level of the 235-foot-tall tower, and incisions on the southeast and southwest corners aim to reduce the building's profile. Faceted stone cladding will reflect the changing daylight, and textured stone wrapping the middle southeast corner will simplify the finish of an area previously planned to display carved text. And within the landscape, which Brooklyn, New York–based Michael Van Valkenburgh designed, a 1-acre wetland area will capture and treat stormwater and will include a "Wetland Walk" area with seating and a place for children to play.

Projected to cost at least $500 million, the project likely won't break ground until 2020, after a federal review evaluates the OPC's expected impact on Jackson Park. But that deliberate pace suits the architects: "We're slow designers," Williams told the Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin. "We design from the inside out."
dezeen
A canyon-like tower by MVRDV and a twisting structure by Studio Gang are among the buildings to be revealed for a new San Francisco development.

MVRDV, Studio Gang, Henning Larsen and WORKac make up the four practices that have teamed up to design buildings for a new neighbourhood called Mission Rock.

The development will be located in the Mission Bay neighbourhood, on 3rd Street in between Terry Francois Boulevard and Mission Rock Street. It will span a 28-acre waterfront site on San Francisco Bay that is currently used as a parking lot.

Rotterdam firm MVRDV has proposed mixed-use tower, Building A, that features a 23-storey construction with box-shaped units that project out to form a pixelated effect.

It is nicknamed The Canyon because MVRDV referenced California's mountains when designing, with the intention to bring back the city's hilly topography missing on the flat asphalt plot.

"We wanted to establish a dialogue between the waterfront, the ballpark, and the robust Californian rock formations," said MVRDV co-founder Nathalie de Vries.

"Those formations inspired The Canyon's architectural form: steep rocky walls with a narrow valley running between them, thus creating a mix of apartments of different sizes, roof terraces, and lush public spaces which feel welcoming to all."

The project comprises a central tower as a "canyon" that will "fracture" the north-east podium to make a building form of its own and also a lush space at ground level. Another volume, known as the "annex", will contain a separate lobby on the east side of the building.

At the base of MVRDV's tower is a podium with a similarly faceted, red exterior. Located here will be retail, office and commercial spaces.

The building will scale 240 feet (73 metres) and contain about 285 residential units. Mechanical equipment will be housed on the roof in an additional 14-foot (4.3-metre) volume, and a rooftop patio, partial basement for bike parking, and space for the District Energy System round out the design.

US firm Studio Gang, meanwhile, has conceived a 23-storey tower with floors that twist away from one another to create inlets for planted terraces. Ceramics will clad each floor to offer varying hues.

"Building F will be at the heart of Mission Rock, housing amenities for the entire neighbourhood that overlook a new public plaza and vibrant streetscape," said Studio Gang's founder Jeanne Gang.

"For the residences, we designed a tower inscribed with terraces, extending this indoor-outdoor living and offering views amidst elevated bio-diverse gardens."

Similar to MVRDV building, Studio Gang's project will accommodate residences, shops and commercial spaces.

Danish studio Henning Larsen Architects and New York firm WORKac have both created office buildings for Mission Rock.

Like MVRDV, Henning Larsen Architects has taken cues from San Francisco's hilly terrain for Building G. The lower floors are stepped to create terraces for planting, drawing similarities to Studio Gang's structure, while the gridded facade extends at the top to form a balustrade around a rooftop garden.

"Contrary to the contemporary trend of sleek all-glass commercial towers, the aesthetic of Mission Rock reflects the historic architecture of industrial San Francisco where tactile materials bring an inviting, comfortable environment and deep facades create a dynamic play of light and shadow throughout the day," said Henning Larsen partner an design principal Louis Becker.

"An active ground plane with diverse retail programming and engaging streetscape design will define the success of Mission Rock as a new, yet authentic San Francisco neighbourhood," added Henning Larsen design manager Kelly Holzkamp.

WORKac has created a more linear office building with volumes that form a pixellated exterior. The protrusions are also used to create outdoor areas.

"We thought we could take advantage of all the setbacks at the different levels by carving new openings down the face of the building," said WORKac co-founder Dan Wood. "That way every floor has a garden, open to the sky."

"This a building that reflects the city's embrace of the outdoor life so that no matter where you are, you have access to workspace outside," he added.

Mission Rock as a whole encompasses 12 plots – seven for residential, four
Scott Judy
With Miami the setting for its 2019 convention, the American Society of Civil Engineers unveiled an initial proof-of-concept vision for a sea-based “Floating City,” one of five concepts included within the association’s Future World Vision: Infrastructure Reimagined project.

The project, which ASCE established as a separate entity known as FWV Inc., represents a four-year commitment by the organization. In a report released earlier this year announcing early analysis from the effort, ASCE stated that Future World Visions “mapped out key trends and potential outcomes and analyzed a range of plausible future-based scenarios to model how society might interface with cities, infrastructure and operational systems, while also illustrating what civil engineers must do to develop solutions for the changing future.”

Using six key, long-term trends—climate change, alternative energy, high-tech construction/advanced materials, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and policy and funding—ASCE created five Future World concepts: Mega City, Rural City, Floating City, Frozen City and Offworld City.

To Gerald Buckwalter, ASCE’s chief operating and strategy officer, the Future Worlds project is an important step for the engineering community to begin to plan for a rapidly changing world.

“There’s a convergence of some significantly disruptive trends occurring that, in combination, will probably cause more change to the engineering profession and to built infrastructure in the next 50 to 100 years than we’ve seen in over a thousand years,” Buckwalter told Engineering News-Record at the convention, held earlier this month. The effort will position ASCE to serve as a “thought leader” on this topic, he added.

ASCE hired Alex McDowell, of Experimental Design Inc., who previously served as production designer for the futuristic sci-fi film “Minority Report,” to lead the project’s conceptualizing. McDowell then led a team that incorporated input from dozens of subject-matter experts to create a digital model envisioning the detailed development of these city concepts up to 50 years into the future.

By creating five different prototypes, Buckwalter says, it’s possible to identify the implications for civil engineering that are common among all of the future scenarios.

“This will allow us to discover the durability of some of our tools and practices now, and some things that are just going to have to be different, and give us plenty of runway to figure that out” he says.

Surely hoping for considerable “runway” for long-term planning was Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez (R), who was on hand to offer a response to McDowell’s unveiling of the Floating City.

In news related to the trends of climate change and rising sea levels envisioned by ASCE’s Floating City concept, Suarez reported that the city had just one day prior passed a resolution supporting the concept of a “carbon dividend” tax on carbon-emitting entities.

Suarez cited Miami’s interactions with the Netherlands and New Orleans as examples of how the city is planning to survive rising sea levels. “It is possible to convert water from an enemy into an asset,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to seek to do as we move into this new future where climate is certainly one of the main factors that we need to plan for if we want to be here forever.”
P. Ravikumar/Reuters
A new WRI report on 15 cities across the Global South reveals that access to safe drinking water is often underestimated—and the challenge will only get worse.

The United Nations has long made access to safe drinking water a global priority. First, the UN began tracking each country’s progress as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—a set of eight targets aimed at improving the quality of life for the world’s poorest. Later, water access became part of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which replaced the MDGs when they expired in 2015. While some nations have reported improvements over the last few decades, a report published Tuesday by the World Resource Institute finds that such national-level measurements underestimate the reality of water access inside cities.

“The issues of continuous service, affordability, and how people move water in the urban built environment are not apparent from just looking at progress on SDGs,” says Victoria Beard, a fellow at the WRI Ross Center For Sustainable Cities who co-authored the report. “You need to go beyond it.” Just saying that a nation provides piped water, for example, doesn’t tell you how reliable the service is, or how safe the water is. If the population depends on privatized water sources, like local water vendors or tanker trucks, the costs may not be accounted for—especially among those living in informal settlements.

So researchers at WRI took a deeper dive into the urban water crisis by analyzing water access in 15 “emerging” or “struggling” cities across Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa—regions often referred to as the Global South. They looked particularly at informal settlements, which may not always be included in the data. “A lot of times informal settlements are not represented in public city data because they are considered illegal or they’re outside formal planning or regulatory frameworks,” Beard says. Yet in sprawling megacities like Lagos, Nairobi, or Karachi, more than half of households are inside informal settlements, according to the report.

The good news: Nearly two-third of households, on average, across all 15 of the Global South cities studied have access to piped water, according to the report. A deeper dive into each city, though, reveals that availability is uneven. In Mumbai, more than 80 percent of households get piped water, but water is available for only seven hours each day. Similarly, water is available only three hours a day for roughly 70 percent of households in nearby Bangalore, and only for three days a week. The authors also report that in 12 cities, the government struggled to provide continuous water service—often a result of water and energy shortages, infrastructure failures, or “municipal rationing.” That, in turn, affects quality and safety, as water is more likely to be contaminated when water pressure is low.

Access to piped water is even more infrequent and inconsistent for those living in informal settlements. Of the nine cities that reported medium to high piped-water access, five also reported intermittent water supply.

When piped water is absent or unreliable, residents turn to privatized water delivery services, which are not uncommon. State agencies turned to private companies in the 1980s after struggling to provide basic services to lower-income households. In the 2000s, when private companies also struggled to make a profit, cities began corporatizing water utilities, operating on an incentives model. As a result, Beard says, affordability often gets ignored.
John Muggenborg
In the middle of the last century, when suburbia threatened to drain Minneapolis of businesses and retailers, the city reinvented itself in the image of corporate campuses and indoor malls. Local officials converted a dozen blocks of the city’s Nicollet Avenue into a transit mall according to a design by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, while real-estate developers inserted miles of skyways that connect the surrounding buildings. Today, this downtown zone is being revitalized as a mixed-use neighborhood, and Minneapolis is again reshaping its urban fabric by implementing a redesign of the Nicollet Mall, led by the landscape architecture and urban-design firm James Corner Field Operations, with lighting by New York–based Tillotson Design Associates (TDA) and local expertise contributed by the notable Snow Kreilich Architects and landscape architect Coen+Partners.

According to Field Operations senior associate Megan Born, the new scheme retains Halprin’s existing curvilinear street, while organizing it to work better for pedestrians—people who are walking through it or those seeking out the mall as a destination in itself. For the former group, Field Operations created a clearly legible, 10-foot-wide walkway next to buildings, with TDA outfitting 43-foot-tall poles with adjustable LED floodlights to supply most of the ambient illumination. “Making a welcoming, safe place to stroll at night was a big priority for all stakeholders, so lifting the light source and letting it create an even wash of light is one of the primary design elements of this project,” Born says.

The light poles are spaced approximately 70 feet apart on average, and each has four pairs of small LED floods, each with a warm 3000-Kelvin color temperature and 85 CRI—a welcome change from the single, glaring light source often used for such projects. At the same time, for familiarity, the lighting designers maintained Nicollet Mall’s previous level of brightness, which exceeded 2 foot-candles. Cylindrical RGBW beacons located at the top of the light poles may be programmed in conjunction with different events, and unique, globe-shaped lanterns project from select poles as part of a public art program.

Outside of the walk zones, Field Operations conceived a variety of outdoor rooms for destination seekers. These include a lushly planted reading area for fine weather, where luminaires that look like oversize floor lamps add to the ambient glow, and a theater-in-the-round accented by LED points. At the heart of Nicollet Mall, pedestrians might gather, find respite, or take a selfie underneath the Light Walk, a series of contiguous trellis-like armatures, topped by mirrored fins, that the lighting designers outlined with color-changing LEDs in channel extrusions. Stands of uplit birches, northern pin oaks, and other trees unite the rooms into one continuous experience and lend a seasonal diversity to this reinvented street’s warm, multifaceted scene.
LAVA
Laboratory for Vision Architecture (LAVA) and Australian design practice Aspect Studios have won an international competition to design the new Central Park for Ho Chi Minh City. Located on the site where southeast Asia’s first train station was located, the 16-hectare linear park will pay homage to its industrial heritage with walkways overlaid atop 19th-century railway tracks. In addition to historical references, the visionary public space will also integrate sustainable and futuristic “tree” structures engineered to provide shelter, harvest water and generate solar energy.

Located in District 1, the central urban district of Ho Chi Minh City, the proposed Central Park will replace and expand the existing September 23 Park. The new design will retain its predecessor’s lush appearance while adding greater functionality to include sculpture gardens, outdoor art galleries, water features, music and theater performance pavilions, a skate park, sport zones and playgrounds.

”The site has always been about transportation,” said Chris Bosse, director of LAVA. “It was the first train station in southeast Asia, it’s currently a bus terminal and in the near future it will be Vietnam’s first metro station. Our design references this history and future mobility. Known locally as ‘September 23 Park’, it also hosts the important annual spring festival.”

The designers plan to link the redesigned park to the new Ben Thanh Metro Station and memorialize the transport history with a dramatic twisting steel sculpture at one end of the park.

To improve the energy efficiency of Central Park, three types of eco-friendly structures will be installed, and each one will be created in the image of “artificial plants” and “trees.” The “water purification trees” will collect rainwater for reuse for irrigation, drinking fountains and fire hydrants. “Ventilation trees” will reduce the urban heat island effect and generate fresh air, and the “solar trees” feature angled solar panels to generate renewable energy used for powering the charging docks, information screens and the park’s Wi-Fi system. Construction on Central Park is slated to begin in 2020.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
A new analysis by the ride-hailing giants sheds some light on a long-asked question about their congestion impacts on U.S. cities.

After the 2008 economic crash, Americans began driving less. But it didn’t last long: In every year since 2013, U.S. drivers have packed on more miles behind the wheel. This rise in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT, in wonk-speak) can be seen and felt in the nation’s metropolises. Congestion on major arteries like L.A.’s I-405 or San Francisco’s Geary Boulevard is getting worse; pedestrian death counts are reaching record heights; tailpipe emissions are growing thicker.

Also new since the Great Recession—Uber and Lyft. These ride-hailing services stormed into cities in the 2010s with a grand utopian promise: By tapping into America’s vast reservoir of idle vehicles, on-demand, app-based rides would reduce the need for personal car ownership and ultimately remove cars from the road.

But now, less than a decade into this experiment, the industry is ‘fessing up. Today the ride-hailing giants released a joint analysis showing that their vehicles are responsible for significant portions of VMT in six major urban centers. Still, Uber and Lyft’s combined share is still vastly outstripped by personal vehicles. As Chris Pangilinan, Uber’s head of global policy for public transportation, wrote in a blog post accompanying the findings, “although TNCs are likely contributing to an increase in congestion, its scale is dwarfed by that of private cars and commercial traffic.”

Led by the respected transportation consultancy Fehr & Peers, the analysis provides a high-level view of the combined mileage contributions from Uber and Lyft, as a share of overall VMT, over a recent month in the Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. areas. Results are shown at the level of the larger metropolitan landscape, which includes both the central city and its surrounding suburbs, as well as the level of the core county that contains the city’s most concentrated homes and jobs.

Alongside their big mea culpa, Uber and Lyft are also pointing their fingers elsewhere—and justifiably so.

Notably absent here: New York City, the largest U.S. market for these “transportation network companies,” or TNCs. A Lyft representative said that this was partly because the city is unique in terms of its extremely low rate of car ownership and expansive transit system. Previous research by the independent transportation consultant Bruce Schaller has shown that yellow cabs and TNCs together make up 50 percent or more of traffic in central Manhattan—findings that pushed New York City lawmakers earlier this year to approve congestion fees for drivers entering the downtown core.

The new findings show that Uber and Lyft account for just 1-3 percent of total VMT in the larger metropolitan regions surrounding the six cities. But they have a far heavier traffic impact in core urban areas, as the table below shows: In San Francisco County, Uber and Lyft make up as much as 13.4 percent of all vehicle-miles. In Boston, it’s 8 percent; in Washington, D.C., it’s 7.2 percent.

These numbers suggest that ride-hailing is hitting traffic harder in many cities than previously understood. For example, independent research by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in 2017 showed that, as of fall 2016, TNCs generated about 6.5 percent of the county’s total VMT on weekdays, and 10 percent of weekends. And the agency found that the grown in ride-hailing was already a major contributor to noticeable slow-downs on San Francisco streets.

Now, the Fehr and Peers memo indicates that TNCs accounted for nearly twice the VMT in San Francisco than the SFCTA had estimated, said Gregory Erhardt, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky who has researched Uber and Lyft’s effects on public transit ridership. That means the services are likely delaying commuters more, too. “This difference may be due to the continued increase in TNC use over the intervening two years,” Erhardt said. “With nearly double the TNC VMT, we would expect the effect of TNCs on congestion to be much higher in 2018 than was estimated for 2016 conditions.”

Ride-hailing did not seem to have an equally large footprint in all cities. Uber and Lyft posted lower shares of total VMT in L.A., Seattle, and Chicago.
Sidewalk Toronto
North America is on the cusp of a mass timber revolution, and Sidewalk Labs' Waterfront Toronto project is leading the way. But the smart material faces major obstacles.

A building made primarily of wood conjures public fear of fire, but for a growing number of developers, it evokes opportunity. From constructing towering wooden condominiums, to timber college dormitories, to an entire neighborhood built from trees, experts in "mass timber" are creating buildings of the future.

Sidewalk Labs' master plan for a futuristic smart city on the waterfront in Toronto includes an entire neighborhood made of wood, called Quayside, with 10 mixed-use building up to 35 stories.

The plan is audacious, considering that in the U.S., there are only 221 mass timber buildings in the works or fully built, according to the American Wood Council​'s Kenneth Bland.

In most U.S. cities, mass timber buildings, and specifically tall mass timber buildings, are a rarity, if they exist at all.

But architects, city officials and timber advocates across North America are pushing conventional building codes and public perception because of the drastic impact these structures can have on reducing CO2 through carbon sequestration, compared to traditional concrete and steel.

"I think it's a big opportunity for a lot of cities out there ... The impact on reducing carbon emissions on earth could be dramatic," Karim Khalifa, director of buildings innovation at Sidewalk Labs, told Smart Cities Dive. "And that gets me excited."

What is mass timber?

One of the biggest obstacles for city officials is understanding the material. They are more than buildings made of wood — they're defined by their structure. Steel or concrete buildings with wood accents don't count, according to Andrew Tsay Jacobs from architecture firm Perkins and Will.

Mass timber buildings use solid wood panels to frame a building's walls, floors and roofs, creating structures that can reach at least 18 stories, as is the case with the tallest mass timber building in the world in Norway. But these buildings aren't just pure wood. Mass timber construction utilizes engineered wood, or panels glued together, and there are several types: cross-laminated (CLT), glue-laminated and dowel-laminated timber, with CLT being the most common.

While shorter wood buildings have existed for centuries, CLT panel technology is relatively new. It was developed in Europe in the 1990s, the material was only added to the international building code in 2015. Even then, all-wood buildings were capped at six stories, though that will change to allow taller structures in 2021.

Why use mass timber?

A main argument for the use of mass timber is its power to mitigate climate change. The structures can have a lifespan of hundreds of years, and contain the unique ability of effectively sequestering or removing carbon from the atmosphere, which can reverse climate change effects at a large scale.

"Now more than ever, the lens through which we view and imagine ways to redesign and build physical infrastructure, has to be based around sustainability," said Portland, OR Mayor Ted Wheeler during a speech at the International Mass Timber Conference in March.
West 8
The Rotterdam, Netherlands–based firm will revitalize 11 miles of the city's shoreline.

Rotterdam, Netherlands–based urban design firm West 8 has been named the winner of the Middle Branch Waterfront Revitalization Competition, which called for submissions to restore the area's wetlands and connect the surrounding neighborhoods with recreational parks and trails. The firm's winning proposal will bring new life to an 11-mile stretch of Baltimore's Patapsco River shoreline, "recreat[ing] and redefin[ing] the blue green heart of Baltimore," according to a press release from the firm.

In the winning design, West 8 proposed reusing dredges from Baltimore's port to control the water and sediment flow along the waterfront's bay. With the expectation that this will create new marshlands overtime, the team also proposed an 11-mile ring of multiuse piers, boardwalks, and structures to create a more community-focused environment.

"A future phase of the design reimagines the iconic Hanover Street Bridge as a park which completes parkland ring and connects people from all walks of life to each other and to the Middle Branch," said West 8 design director Adriaan Geuze in the same release.

The three finalists for the competition, which included the New York-based firms James Corner Field Operations and Hargreaves Jones, were revealed in April. After the announcement, residents were invited to visit an exhibition where they could learn more about the shortlisted designs and add their own comments. A five person jury then ranked the teams on elements such as technical merit, feasibility of the ideas, ability to integrate community feedback, originality of design vision, and responsiveness to the competition's objectives.

Jasso
This Mexico City practice aims to " transform space into place."

Firm name: Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura
Location: Mexico City
Year founded: 2009
Firm leadership: Rozana Montiel
Education: B.Arch., Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; M.Arch., Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain
Experience: Diego Villaseñor Arquitecto y Asociados; and has taught in different universities in Mexico City and at Cornell University.
Firm size: 10

Mission:
We transform space into place. Placemaking is the result of seeking formal content in context, changing barriers into boundaries, shifting spatial perception, approaching the landscape as the program, re-signifying materials, working with temporality, and holding beauty as a basic right. More than an aesthetic decision, beautiful design is an ethical stance impacting people’s lives.

First commission:
My first significant commission was the Void Temple in 2011, a landscape intervention that touches all the themes that concern me as an architectural designer: public space, social fabric, re-signification of simple materials, re-signification of tradition. This land art piece sits amid pine woods and blends with the site topography; it consists of a white concrete wall forming a 40-meter (131-foot) circle that serves as a haven containing the macro-cosmos within the micro-cosmos. The project was part of a collaboration with Dellekamp Arquitectos on a 117-kilometer-long (73-mile-long) pilgrimage route in Jalisco, Mexico.

Second favorite project:
At the 2018 “Freespace” Venice Biennial, we presented our book HU: Common Spaces in Housing Units (Mexico City: Arquine, 2018), which compiles the research and findings of three of our most important public space projects. The book, which advances a new design methodology, collects in a series of post-it graphic aphorisms our observations and solutions for common spaces. The book is one of my favorite projects because it involved a great deal of reflection about how we design and the role language plays in building.

Biggest career leap:
When I began to receive commissions for public projects. It was then that I realized the urban responsibility that architects have when designing collective living spaces. Also, in 2017, I won the Moira Gemmill Award for Emerging Architecture given by The Architectural Review in London. It was an important turning point in my career not only because the prize validated my studio’s approach to architecture, but also because it has funded my research.

Biggest design challenge you’ve overcome:
Every project at our office is a research opportunity that brings a new design challenge. We approach architecture as a form of “willing simplicity” that integrates more with less.

Special item in your studio space:
Our green roof terrace. It keeps us grounded and sensitive despite being on a fourth floor. It connects interior and exterior in an organic way: We can be at the heart of an urban center and yet stay connected to each other through nature.

Design aggravation:
Stale atmospheres. For me, disharmony in a place begins through the sense of smell. If a space has a moldy or stuffy odor, something was poorly designed.

Bad taste in design is not about how things look, but how all spaces and materials come together in an atmosphere. And smell is a tell-all aspect.

Recent inspiration:
I visited the Musée Fragonard d’Alfort in Paris and was fascinated by its écorchés (figures depicted in art showing muscles without skin) and cabinets of curiosities. These cabinets evoke the manner in which architects “make room” through spatial design: Architectural order creates readings and narratives that can only be decoded in space.

Most urgent policy change:
Public space development in Mexico City. Most of the public space interventions lack a long-term vision, due in part to the three-year cycles of political administrations. There must be a way of shielding aspects of policy from political change. Currently, we just get snapshots of progress with no cohesive long-term effect.

Favorite rule to break:
Playing by the rules to their ultimate consequences is the best way to break the rules.

What are you reading?
I love to read several books at a time. I am current
San Jose Spotlight
Silicon Valley has no icon. For more than 50 years the area has had an international reputation as the world’s leading region for technology, business innovation and venture capital. In all that time, no monument has been built to symbolize its prestige.

But this week, a group of local philanthropists launched Urban Confluence Silicon Valley, a worldwide ideas competition to create a recognizable landmark just northwest of downtown San Jose — on Arena Green in Guadalupe River Park — one they hope will rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

“We thought it was odd that an area as important as ours didn’t have a monument,” said Steve Borkenhagen, executive director of the San Jose Light Tower Corporation, a nonprofit group founded by Borkenhagen, Jon Ball and Thomas Wohlmut to manifest the missing icon.

He says the group has raised more than $1 million from hundreds of donors to finance the contest and the construction of the monument.

The nonprofit takes its name from San Jose’s first, and last, international symbol — a 237-foot light tower that could be seen from San Francisco — a 19th century technological wonder making it the first city west of the Rocky Mountains to light itself using electricity in 1881.

But the tower did not endure. It survived the 1906 earthquake that destroyed many of the surrounding structures. But strong winds toppled it in 1915, and more than a century later, nothing has emerged to replace it.

The original concept the nonprofit came up with was to create a 21st century version of the tower near its original location at the corner of Market and Santa Clara streets.

Although the light tower continues to be an inspiration for the project, Borkenhagen said the group opened up to a wider set of possibilities after that idea received a lukewarm reception from the public. Part of the excitement around the project will be examining new ideas the founders of the group never envisioned, he added.

“We’ve come a long way from our original notion of a light tower,” Borkenhagen said, noting that the competition takes its name from the confluence of the Guadalupe and Coyote Rivers.

It’s a good thing too, says Bob Staedler, a land use consultant who worked in San Jose’s redevelopment agency for 12 years.

“The starting premise was off putting,” Staedler said. “Trying to replicate the past to make it seem iconic is futile.”

Former newspaper publisher David Cohen, who also serves on the Urban Confluence Silicon Valley community task force, says he wasn’t excited about the original concept either.

“Back in the day, the light tower was monumental, but today if it were replicated it would only be a relic,” Cohen said.

Even with the change in direction, Staedler says he’s not confident the project will achieve its goal.

“I’m extremely skeptical on this,” he said. “But I don’t make it a habit to tell other people how to spend their time and money, so as long as it’s not draining the general fund, God bless them.”

Staedler said the city should focus on expanding its trails and maintaining its parks for the people who live here, rather than building a monument for tourists.

But Borkenhagen says the monument will be a source of civic pride, something that is sorely lacking, conspicuous by its absence in a place with an oversized ego in many other ways.

“Silicon Valley has great self-esteem in certain areas,” Borkenhagen said. “Intellectually and technologically, but we don’t have a place that causes people to have that feeling of awe that these great icons and landmarks do. That was our original motivation.”

That said, the nonprofit is not looking for an artist’s interpretation of the tech industry.

“We are in Silicon Valley, but we don’t want this to be an homage to the microchip or bro-culture or coding or any of that stuff,” the executive director said.

The group started soliciting entries for the contest on Tuesday and Borkenhagen says he expects hundreds, if not thousands, of applications. The deadline to submit is October 15. Next, up to 50 submissions will be selected by a community panel for a public exhibition in November. Those entries will go before a distinguished panel of artists, designers and place-makers, which will select t
Alamy Stock Photo
The California city on Tuesday voted to ban natural gas hook-ups in new buildings, in a historic move

Berkeley this week became the first city in the United States to ban natural, fossil gas hook-ups in new buildings.

The landmark ordinance was passed into law on Tuesday, after being approved unanimously by the city council the previous week amid resounding public support.

Although Berkeley may be pushing the vanguard, the city is hardly alone. Governments across the US and Europe are looking at strategies to phase out gas. In California alone, dozens of cities and counties are considering eliminating fossil fuel hook-ups to power stoves and heat homes in new buildings, while California state agencies pencil out new rules and regulations that would slash emissions.

Natural gas, it seems, has become the new climate crisis frontline.

Landmark move
Berkeley’s ordinance, which goes into effect on 1 January, will ban gas hook-ups in new multi-family construction, with some allowances for first-floor retail and certain types of large structures.

The reasons behind the decision are multifold. Energy use in buildings accounts for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in California. If the state is to meet its goal of 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045, the gas will have to go.

For decades, gas was considered among the preferred energy sources for buildings and embraced as a bridge from dirtier fossil fuels to a green energy future.

“There’s been a lingering perception that burning gas was cleaner than electricity, which might have been true 20 years ago when electricity came from burning coal,” said Pierre Delforge, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council . “When we look at electrification policies, we need to think about what the grid will look like in 10 or 20 years, not what it looked like yesterday.”

A state energy commission report released in early 2019 concluded that building electrification was “a key strategy” for reducing the state’s climate impacts, one that “offers the most promising path to achieving [greenhouse gas] reduction targets in the least costly manner”.

Roughly 3% of all natural gas extracted by industry is leaked into the atmosphere, where methane is a far more potent, if shorter lived, greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Berkeley was also motivated to reduce health and safety risks endemic to gas appliances, which release significant emissions and pollutants indoors.

And then there’s the matter of running large amounts of flammable fuel around a state known for large earthquakes. A Pacific Gas and Electric pipeline explosion in 2010 turned a Northern California neighborhood into a smoking crater.

“We really believe we have the underpinnings of good legislation with economic, health and safety and climate impacts,” said the Berkeley councilmember Kate Harrison. “We can do this and we’ll end up a lot healthier and cleaner for it.”

As goes Berkeley, so goes California
Further decarbonizing the grid and electrifying buildings will be key to helping California meet its ambitious climate goals. In 2018, the state passed a law requiring it to derive 100% of its power from zero-carbon energy sources by 2045, and to pursue a “bold path” to get there.

Cities’ individual choices will be crucial in reaching that target. Energy is regulated at the state level, but municipalities control much of their own building codes.

“Climate-minded cities are all pulling their hair out, like, we have a climate emergency, and the national government doesn’t care. But this issue is squarely in their wheelhouse – they’ve just got to think about it in new and creative ways,” said Bruce Nilles, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “We’re dealing with an existential crisis. We’ve got to dust off all the different ways that different actors can do good, progressive, climate-minded things.”

More than 50 cities and counties in California are now considering similar policies to Berkeley’s, either banning or limiting gas and incentivizing full electrification in new buildings.

Panama Bartholomy, director of the Building Decarbonization Coalition, points to this summer as a transformative one: in order to have new ordinances in place by 1 January, municipalities will have until September to pass electrification measures. “Not all 50 are going to make it. I’m thinking a c
David F. Smith/AP
Urbanites who battled the construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s saved some neighborhoods—but many highways did transform cities.

In 1955, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads released the “Yellow Book”—a national blueprint to build out the 41,000-mile Interstate Highway System. The series of maps laid out the proposed routes for this massive project, which was set to be completed by 1969.

In the beginning, things went smoothly enough: Highway engineers encountered little opposition from communities in the rural areas. But then builders tried to expand the network into major cities—and the age of the freeway revolts began.

Most famously, in New York City the writer and urban visionary Jane Jacobs took on Robert Moses, rallying community opposition to his grand plan for the 10-lane Lower Manhattan Expressway that would have destroyed parts of Little Italy and SoHo. Similar eruptions of resistance stymied highway builders in many other cities. In the greater Washington D.C. metro area, lawsuits filed by residents not only canceled some highway construction, but diverted part of Interstate 66 connecting D.C. to Virginia from its original route. One (brief) survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation between 1967 and 1968 recorded 123 separate highway revolts and road-related protests.

A recent working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia looks at how the freeway revolts shaped the current Interstate map—and how that, in turn, shaped today’s cities. Using data on U.S. cities and neighborhoods from 1950 to 2010, economists Jeffrey Brinkman and Jeffrey Lin also detailed the negative local effects of the highways that did get built—something that Lin says often gets overlooked by policy makers.

“Highways allowed better transportation between cities and more people access to opportunities in cities—but there are costs,” he tells CityLab. “I think you really need to balance the benefits at a national scale against these local effects.”

The report measures the growing influence of public resistance during the Interstate-building era. The closer to city centers highways were planned, and the later they were built, the less they resembled the routes mapped out in the Yellow Book. Those in the suburbs were more likely to be built according to the original plan. And while freeways constructed between 1955 to 1957 most resembled initial plans, by 1993, the correlation between planned and built highways fell from 0.95 to 0.86, falling especially low among routes in neighborhoods near city centers.

The paper also puts the success of the freeway revolts into perspective. Despite celebrated wins like the unbuilt Lower Manhattan Expressway, the Interstate system was still constructed mostly according to plan, says Lin. The revolts did help usher in federal policy changes that prioritized local input, historical preservation, and the environment. But in most cities, highways came anyway. And when they did, they disproportionately affected those living in communities of color and neighborhoods with lower education attainment: By the mid-1960s, white neighborhoods with more affluent, better educated residents had more success putting new policies to use and keeping highways at bay.

Those protests initially came as something of a surprise to highway planners, state officials, and even mayors, who figured highways would be universally welcomed as revitalization tools for struggling downtowns. “Among economists, it had generally been thought that highways affected cities by reducing commuting costs, which improved accessibility,” Lin says.

But as the report details, that benefit was enjoyed mostly by those who lived outside the city, helping to spur further suburbanization. Inside cities, commuting benefits were eclipsed by the negative effects on the quality of life for those who lived near freeways.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
It’s not easy to raise a family in a big U.S. city—but it’s not any easier anywhere else in this country

In January, a young mother wheeled her stroller into a New York City subway station that—like most New York City subway stations—had no elevator. As many city parents have done out of desperation at one time or another, she picked up the stroller and carried her baby down the dozens of stairs to the platform. The 22-year-old mother, who had a history of heart problems, fell to her death. Her 1-year-old survived.

This tragic event epitomizes how American cities are openly hostile to families, and it was the only thing I could think of when I read a story in The Atlantic this week that opens with a New York City mom trying to get her two kids and a stroller up a staircase.

“The mom would fold the stroller to the size of a boogie board, then drag it behind her with her right hand, while cradling the younger and typically crying child in the crook of her left arm,” writes Derek Thompson in “The Future of the City is Childless.” “It looked like hell—or, as I once suggested to a roommate, a carefully staged public service announcement against family formation.”

Thompson’s essay addresses what’s become an obsession for urbanist writers, including the writers at his own publication: For all the people, attention, and money currently pouring into U.S. cities, it turns out that few of those resources are being devoted to raising the next generation of city-dwellers.

The narrative presented by Thompson is that young adults who move to big cities end up facing unsurmountable debt and housing costs, wait longer to have kids, then voluntarily leave once they decide to procreate.

San Francisco, which is cited in the story, is the most notorious example. In 2017, only 13 percent of the population was under 18, the lowest percentage of any major U.S. city. There are officially more dogs than children in San Francisco.

That statistic seems shocking until you consider a few other city stats, like the fact that one out of every 100 people in San Francisco doesn’t have a home.

Across the country, many Americans are spending too much on housing to contemplate the added expense of having kids: Over 11 million Americans—the populations of New York City and Chicago combined—spend more than half of their paycheck on housing costs. San Francisco might get all the headlines, but this is not a city-specific problem. There’s not a single county in the U.S., urban or rural, where a person making minimum wage can afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment and have enough money left over to purchase basic necessities for living—let alone the necessities for two or three additional people.

In Los Angeles, where I live, rising rents and a shortage of affordable units mean that the number of families who are homeless went up again last year, even as the city’s social services placed a record number of families in supportive housing. According to a Los Angeles County report, families headed by women are more likely to be evicted, forcing them to live in overcrowded apartments, in vehicles, and on the streets.

Those families aren’t leaving cities. They’re getting left behind.

Sure, affluent parents might opt to pack up the SUV and flee to the suburbs, but the truth is that most people in this country who have children do not have that type of economic mobility. In 2016, the percentage of Americans who moved to another home during that year fell to all-time low of 11.2 percent—about half the rate of domestic migration in 1965.

At the same time, America’s suburbs are also failing families. In a recent Los Angeles Times series, columnist Steve Lopez spent weeks at an elementary school located in a corner of the San Fernando Valley lined with ranch-style homes, grassy yards, child-friendly dining options, and box-store parking lots filled with minivans. Yet a quarter of the school’s children are homeless—living in garages and motels.

In his piece, Thompson poses a handful of solutions that might spark an urban baby boom. “Surely, downtown areas can be made more family-friendly,” he writes. “Mayors can be more aggressive about overcoming the forces of NIMBYism by building affordable housing near downtown areas. The federal government can help.”

But it’s not just a laundry list of kid-friendly amenities that families need, it’s giving parents the financial breathing room to enjoy them. Within
Oxford Properties
The Canadian metropolis is going vertical as a building spree of billion-dollar projects continues

A newly proposed mega-development in downtown Toronto was announced late last month, highlighting how the city’s vertical growth spree continues to pick up momentum.

The $2.7 billion ($3.5 billion Canadian dollars) Union Park project, helmed by Oxford Properties Group, a partner in New York’s Hudson Yards, will be one of the largest mixed-use project in the city’s history.

Set on four acres just north of two city landmarks, Rogers Centre (the sports stadium formerly known as the SkyDome) and CN Tower (the city’s iconic communications and observation tower), the development will consist of twin curved 58- and 48-story office towers and apartments surrounded by newly landscaped public parkland, and bring 4.3 million square feet of new mixed-use office, residential, and retail spaces to downtown.

This development comes at a time when other large-scale mixed-use projects, such as the 12-acre Sidewalk Labs-backed Quayside smart city project and The Well, a 7-acre “21st century city,” highlight the city’s rapid expansion. A growing tech industry and expanded immigration, among other factors, have fueled a Toronto condo boom; there are 400 proposed high-rise projects in the pipeline, according to Rider Levett Bucknall a global construction firm, and the city has the most construction cranes in North America.

According to the Financial Post, other forthcoming Toronto mega-projects include CIBC SQUARE, a two-tower development adding 3 million square feet of space and a new Microsoft office, and a plan by Cadillac Fairview and Investment Management Corporation of Ontario to develop 1.2 million-plus square feet of mixed-use office and retail at 160 Front Street West.

Union Park fills a gap in the market, said Oxford vice president Carlo Timpano, shifting the financial sector of the city west by providing additional office space for expansion, and adding needed retail and residential space for an underserved part of the downtown core.

The floors for the office portion of the development are designed to measure 100,000 square feet, providing the large, open floor plans favored by tech tenants.

Union Park will also add public amenities to the downtown, including an enclosed winter garden for all-season recreation and a new two-acre park built atop a covered rail line. The park will point towards Lake Ontario, helping provide a new pedestrian pathway linking the business district with the waterfront.

Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, which designed San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower, with local support from Toronto’s Adamson Associates, the project will be spread across two towers, and add 800 apartment units and 200,000 square feet of retail. The city’s PATH underground pedestrian tunnel system will be expanded to connect to the Union Park Project.

The two-acre park, which will cap the Union station rail corridor between Blue Jays Way and the John Street Bridge, is designed by OJB Architects. It’s not the first such project under development; the city’s own Rail Deck Park, a proposed 21-acre green space that just won an appeal against stopping its construction, will be right around the corner.

Oxford, which is starting the public engagement and municipal approvals processes now, expects to begin construction in 2023 and finish within five to six years.
Kate Joyce
From embassy grounds in London to a neighborhood park in Detroit, these projects highlight how landscape projects are now tackling myriad social and spatial challenges.

Though often on the tip of architects’ tongues, landscape often remains snubbed or misunderstood within design. But it’s hard to ignore the rising profile of landscape architecture, which is increasingly called upon to address a range of urban spatial and social issues. Here, to kick off the summer, we survey four new projects that give something back to city dwellers. The landscapes differ in context and approach, but like a lot of good architecture, they engage and deepen urban connectivity.

In Detroit, Empty Lots Become Parks, Helping to Rebuild Lost Social Equity
An ongoing plan by landscape architects Spackman Mossop Michaels (SMM) is tying together the neighborhood of Fitzgerald, which has been atomized by vacancy and foreclosure.

A Public Park in Montreal Aims to Right the Wrongs of Past Development Schemes
The city and local firm Groupe Rousseau Lefebvre turned a 1960s expressway into "a prestigious, functional, and user-friendly gateway to downtown."

How the U.S. Embassy in London Uses Landscape as an Ambassador
The project, which includes design by KieranTimberlake and OLIN, features public spaces that plug into the surrounding neighborhood as well as plantings that evoke American landscapes.

At the Chicago Botanic Garden, a New Space Helps Kids Deeply Engage With Nature
The Regenstein Learning Campus encourages children’s sensory discovery of the natural world—minus the gaudiness of plastic playgrounds or an overprescription of experiences.
IBM
A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.

In 2014, researchers from the University of Washington announced that pairing Google StreetView with a cluster of “smart” surveillance cameras allowed them to create “a self-organized and scalable multiple-camera tracking system that tracks humans across the cameras.”

In so many words, they showed that it was possible to build a dynamic, near real-time visualization of pedestrians and traffic flows, projected onto a 360-degree map of the world. A bit of machine-learning software helped erase any seams. This was an early proof of concept in an urban setting of a technological model now known as a “digital twin.”

“Digital twin” is a creepy-sounding phrase, conjuring visions of pixelated doppelgangers haunting your every step. It doesn’t necessarily describe an all-out surveillance state, though: In some ways, this is an extension of the 3-D computer models that architects and engineers use to help plan a building, or maneuver the inner workings of a car engine before they hit the factory.

But the big difference with what the UW researchers were doing is that they were feeding real-time, real-world data into the digital platform, enabling an exact virtual simulacrum of physical streets. What’s more, AI enabled the virtual world to respond to the projected movements in a way that made it seem more real. This technology has taken off in the years since: IBM, Microsoft, HERE Maps, and Descartes Labs are all working toward building “digital twin” technologies for different uses, including for city planning.

For local governments, the benefits could be big. Already, a number Indian cities have adopted “digital twin” software to help manage water and energy infrastructure. In the U.K., researchers at Newcastle University built a digital twin of their city to help it better respond to flooding.

And the bylaws of the Open Mobility Foundation, a global nonprofit recently established to help cities govern the future of mobility data, state that a “digital twin” is the “only way” for cities to get control over the scooters, ride-hailing cars, and other conveyances clogging their streets. It describes how a digital replica of city streets could quickly model how, say, switching traffic signals to prioritize a speeding ambulance would affect other vehicle flows and what transportation officials would need to adjust in order to manage them.

On the other hand, the privacy implications of such a paradigm are pretty big. Who says a city should have that much oversight into the individual movements of every vehicle on the road? How much personally identifiable information would that require a city to absorb and own, and for how long? Players in the world of transportation technology are asking these questions now, as the public officials who head up the Open Mobility Foundation convene for their first board meeting next week. We’ll see what they have to say. (And watch for my story with more about digital twins, later this week in CityLab.)
Alex Brandon/AP
A new study claims the effects of neighborhood change on original lower-income residents are largely positive, despite fears of spiking rents and displacement.

Anyone can see the changes at work in a gentrifying neighborhood. Rents rise, crime drops, wine bars bloom in vacant storefronts. But it’s harder to see what’s happening inside people’s homes and lives. For all the handwringing that accompanies gentrification—from how common it is to the meaning of the word to what people should do to stop it—there are rarely robust efforts to tease out the impact of a neighborhood’s economic upswing on its original residents. Few resources exist to show how change really affects residents, for good or bad.

The study looks at original residents of low-income, central-city neighborhoods of the 100 largest metro areas using census data from 2000 and American Community Survey data from 2010 to 2014. Using the earlier data as a base, researchers Quentin Brummet and Davin Reed tracked changes in educational achievement and household status among less-educated renters and homeowners as well as more-educated renters and homeowners. While some of these neighborhoods saw gentrification, not all did, providing a basis for comparison.

For less-educated renters, who are among a neighborhood’s more vulnerable demographic groups, gentrification drives out-migration by 6 percentage points. Migration among renters is high whether a neighborhood becomes fancy or not: The research finds that 68 percent of less-educated renters and 79 percent of of more-educated renters move over the course of a decade. So, on average, gentrification spurs around 10 percent of moves for less-educated renters (and much less so for renters with more education).

Given the high rate of change within neighborhoods, the data suggest that gentrification itself is overdetermined as a direct cause of displacement. “This effectively places a limit on the potential for gentrification to cause displacement and makes it possible for neighborhoods to change quickly even without strong displacement effects,” the paper reads.

No doubt, there are unobservable costs associated with moving, which the paper acknowledges. Moving is pretty awful under the best of circumstances, and “displacement” usually summons a worst-case scenario. But leaving a neighborhood can lead to a perfectly neutral outcome. The research shows that “for all types of individuals, movers from gentrifying neighborhoods do not experience worse changes in observable outcomes than movers from nongentrifying neighborhoods.” The paper continues, “That is, they are not more likely to end up in a higher-poverty neighborhood, to become unemployed, or to commute farther than individuals moving from nongentrifying neighborhoods.”

For those original renters and homeowners who stick around, the benefits of improving neighborhood conditions are several. Gentrification reduces the exposure of original residents to poverty, which is tied especially to healthy outcomes for children. For less-educated renters, gentrification appears to be absolutely responsible for reduced exposure to poverty: The baseline change for poverty exposure within this group was zero.
Antonio
The city is taking the threat of climate change seriously, but it may not be enough to keep the waters at bay.

Oh, Miami, America’s tropical fever dream. The city along Biscayne Bay has been half a fantasy since at least the 1950s, a raffish, pastel-colored, Art Deco, bikini-clad vision of escape. Miami Beach, the smaller island city floating just across the bay, sits at the heart of this illusion, a stroll along South Beach promising a chance to briefly escape the harder edges of daily life.

Yet these two communities built on dreams are coming to grips with a reality some of the nation continues to deny: the impact of global climate change. On a spring day so perfect it seemed like it was conjured up by the tourist bureau, Reinaldo Borges, AIA, one of the region’s earliest and most fervent advocates of the need to respond to rising sea levels, took me around downtown Miami Beach to see how the city is adapting to the new reality. We strolled down streets and sidewalks that have been raised as much as 31 inches in recent years to deal with the “sunny day” flooding that had been coming with the highest tides, water rising up through the porous limestone that forms the bedrock in Miami Beach and the larger city across the bay. “This used to be the elevation of the sidewalk,” Borges says, pointing to what is now a sunken storefront operating out of a shallow half-basement. “This building needs to be replaced,” he adds bluntly. A block or so farther down, he points approvingly to a newer Publix grocery store, which has gracefully incorporated a rise in elevation that lifts it above flood levels. “This is a good adaptation.”

Adaptation. Resiliency. Evolution. I heard these words over and over again as I met with architects, urban planners, and city officials. One thing I did not hear is denial. “Those days of denial are over, at least here in Miami Beach,” Susanne Torriente, chief resilience officer for Miami Beach, tells me.

“The debate now is not if we should do something, but what we should do,” says Elizabeth Camargo, AIA, who heads the Resilience Recovery Task Force at AIA Miami, one of two different groups the local chapter has set up to deal with climate change.

Can Miami stand its ground, and what will it look like if it does? How will the city and its built environment evolve? The answers I heard involved solutions as mundane as better storm drains and as futuristic as a platform city.

If the debate is over, it’s because the impact of climate change has already arrived in South Florida: increasingly severe storms, sunny day flooding, and rising sea levels—the ocean here has risen 8 inches since 1950, according to the nonprofit group SeaLevelRise.org. The worst lies ahead. By the end of this century, the seas breaking along the shore in Miami and Miami Beach could be as much as 81 inches higher, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Even more modest estimates predict an increase of 3 to 5 feet by 2100.

The average elevation of Miami Beach is only 4.4 feet and parts of the city are as little as 2 feet above sea level. Most of Miami has an elevation of 6 feet, but several neighborhoods have elevations of 3 feet or less. And the Miami River, of course, runs through the heart of the city all the way to the Everglades. So you have a low-lying metropolitan area of 6 million-plus people on porous soil with a major waterway tying it to an ocean that is rising more quickly every decade.

And yet people keep building and buying here. Breathtaking modernist mansions dot the water’s edge. Construction cranes hang in the downtown sky in Miami only blocks from the ocean. A word I did not hear during my visit, unless I brought it up first, was retreat. Neither Miami nor Miami Beach has zoned its low-lying or oceanside areas to prevent new construction.

Can Miami stand its ground, and what will it look like if it does? How will the city and its built environment evolve? The answers I heard involved solutions as mundane as better storm drains and as futuristic as a platform city.

“Learning to Live in a Water World”
In August 1992, after Hurricane Andrew ravaged Miami, causing billions in damage and leaving a quarter-million people homeless in Miami-Dade County alone, cities and counties in South Florida adopted some of the toughest building codes in the nation. They require buildings to be able to withstand winds up to 175 miles an hour, use shatterproof glass, and be built with
Harvard Libraries
A new exhibition looks back at the period of grand urban design and social reform in New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

This summer, visitors to Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are being treated to a grand, thoughtful, and beautiful exhibition that explores the social-reform work of landscape architects, planners, photographers, and others active in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform” (on display through September 15) recounts the story of large-scale civic improvement plans in New York, Boston, and Chicago, and the dual births of the professions of urban planning and landscape architecture that emerged from these early successes.

Included is the usual cast of characters—Frederick Law Olmsted, his partner Calvert Vaux, landscape architect Charles Eliot, urban planner Daniel Burnham—and their projects in the three cities. Throughout the gallery one can detect the ever-present echo of Burnham’s famous commandment to “make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.” This was the period when America trusted in urban design to ameliorate pressing social problems, giving us the City Beautiful movement, park systems like Boston’s Emerald Necklace, and the institutions of the public museum and settlement house.

Maps, plans, renderings, archival records, and photographs tell the story. The first part of the exhibition focuses on proposals for the development of Manhattan, including a phenomenal 1811 engraving by William Bridges and Peter Maverick. With only the slightest variation of tone, the plan depicts both the existing city (below Houston Street) and an unvarying grid for future growth expanding clear to Harlem. The proposed grid is drawn in a bold hand—as a fait accompli, more real than the existing features. The planner draws what will be.

Paired with this plan is a later, more nuanced map: Egbert Viele’s 1865 “Topographical map of the city of New York,” which also includes this proposed grid, but superimposes it on the underlying topography and natural features of the island, including a number of brooks and streams surprising to those who never contemplated Gotham’s primordial state. Also present are more than a few farms and settlements in this “unbuilt” land, some to be lost to the promised wave of speculation and development, others to be removed in the name of conserving nature.

In the space between the two plans we begin to see the emergence of Central Park and the vision of a new sort of “big plan” which simultaneously preserves and engineers nature to shape the growing city.

The story continues through the examples of Chicago’s waterfront development and 1893 World’s Columbia Exhibition, and Boston’s famous Emerald Necklace. The Boston material is rendered all the more exciting thanks to the museum’s location in the heart of Boston’s Fenway district, an area transformed by Olmsted from a mucky backwater to a gemstone of natural beauty and civic edification. Isabella Stewart Gardner was one of the first to purchase land here for her museum, originally named Fenway Court. Gardner believed that personal encounters with art could improve society.

There is a second possible reading of “Big Plans” in the title of the exhibition. In addition to presenting visions grand enough to stir men’s blood (and spur their actions), the plans themselves—the physical drawings, maps, and renderings—are all stunning large-format prints, and the curators have been wise to provide these works of art with the gallery space appropriate to their stature.

In clever contrast, the final wall of the show features a series of comparatively diminutive photographs by Lewis Wickes Hine, a Massachusetts sociologist and photographer who, like Jacob Riis in New York, used his camera to document and publicize poor working conditions and slum life. (Hine’s photographs helped change public opinion regarding child labor.) Here, the smaller format delivers a refreshing human-scale intimacy to the subjects—mostly poor street children and struggling families—which requires the viewer to lean in and engage with the issues and human beings portrayed.

Time passes and things change. In the century since Burnham, the pendulum of public sentiment has largely swung away from these sorts of “big plans.” All too often, their siren-song beauty proved to conceal the violence and displacement that resulted from their eventual implementa
ONG&ONG
In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor.

Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit.

“The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.”

Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use.




Atmos
London-based Atmos Studio has designed a timber pavilion named Playascape, which aims to "synthesise the essence of Burning Man" by bringing people together at the festival.

The plywood pavilion will be made from a kit of CNC-cut parts that will be assembled on site during this year's desert festival in Nevada.

Atmos Studio designed the semi-circular structure be an extension of the landscape and echo the plan of Black Rock City, the temporary city where the festival takes place.

"Playascape is an undulating terrain that encourages people to perform and interact with each other," said Alex Haw, founder of Atmos Studio.

"Like Burning Man, it is a landscape populated by events and people – a version of the desert playa pulled up into the air for its community to witness each other and connect in new ways," he told Dezeen.

The structure will be created from timber steps arranged in a crescent, so that it can be clambered upon, but also can be used as amphitheatre-style seating for impromptu performances.

However, Atmos Studios hope that the visitors will explore Playscape and find their own ways to interact with it.

"Playascape aims to in some way synthesise the essence of Burning Man by being a space of open-ended opportunity; a place, like the playa, which is fulfilled and activated by its participants; a forum activated by its citizens," said Haw.

"Its multiple gradients of steepness offer everyone their own path of discovery and attainment – allowing some people to gently meander upwards, whilst others can climb up its almost vertical surfaces or climb up its rear shaded ribs."

According to Haw the pavilion will also explore the different atmospheres of the festival during daytime and night time.

"By day it encourages quieter contemplation; meditation; restfulness in the shade it casts; sedentary connectedness in its various nooks and valleys," added Haw.

"By night it encourages greater abandon as the horizon recedes and the local contours of each sinuous step burst alive with interactive lighting, and multiple monumental competitors to the sun roll in and out of its view and harbour."

sections will be prefabricated by Reno Generator in Reno before being shipped to the site and assembled by a team of volunteers like a "giant 3D jigsaw or urban piece of IKEA furniture".

On the final day of the festival the pavilion will be disassembled and shipped to a non-profit sculpture park in the Bay Area of California.

"Playascape will then explore ways in which its spirit of exploration and connectedness can be fulfilled beyond the microcosm of Burning Man, and the way in which an art project can help foster community, social connection and self development," added Haw.

Burning Man is a festival that takes place yearly in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. During the event a temporary city called Black Rock City is erected alongside numerous temporary installations.

Last year's event, which was captured from the air by Alex Medina, featured a giant reflective orb designed by BIG.
Ross Barney Architects
Gadzooks: Ross Barney Architects has unleashed a new pavilion with a visitor center at Chicago‘s Lincoln Park Zoo. In plan, the structure resembles two ‘Js’ knit together by a steel canopy of cantilevered frames that hang together to provide structural support and shade the ground with a leafy pattern. Officially, the 9,500-square-foot building is known as the Searle Visitor Center and it opened to the public on November 15, 2018.

Between the Js, zoo-goers may enjoy a bouldered courtyard designed by hometown landscape architects Jacobs/Ryan Associates. Offices encircle the space; elsewhere, the program includes a membership lounge and an information center. The info center’s patterned walls retract to open the zoo up to the crowds in the visitor center. At the entrance, the gate’s patterning was designed specifically to keep out rogue humans who might try to enter the zoo when the animals throw parties at night it’s closed.

Besides the architecture, the best part about the Searle Visitor Center (and the rest of the zoo) is that it’s free to visit.

Zoos and cool buildings aren’t necessarily a natural association, but they should be. In Detroit, Albert Kahn Associates in 2016 completed a penguin house that’s shaped like a glacier, while at the Bronx Zoo, Morris Ketchum, Jr. & Associates’ modernist World of Darkness (built 1969, but now shuttered) offered a windowless circular cast concrete enclosure to observe nocturnal creatures. In London, the ramped up Penguin Pool is a modern icon but a less than ideal environment for its inhabitants, and may be torn down sooner rather than later.