Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Linkages - Back Atcha

...whilst watching Cash Cab and realizing that I either need to move to NYC or die trying to bring a similar measure of urbanity to DFW. Is there anything more satisfying than the street shoutout working?? Speaking of:

Interesting interview of author Carlene Bauer, who discusses moving to NYC and the urbanity that helped her find herself:
Also, I seemed to have a predilection for the urban from birth. Apartments over storefronts on main streets—not a feature of the suburban cul-de-sacs I was raised in—were fascinating to me. Who lived in those lighted windows? I wanted a lighted window. I thought if you had a lighted window, rather than a whole big house, you were living an anonymous, autonomous life.
Hmmm...I think she touched upon a future Livability Indicator that I've been putting together.
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I may have linked this one before, but who cares. It's about a city removing a giant gash freeway from its connective tissue in order to increase revenue thru property value increases. In this case, it's Providence RI:

In a similar fashion, about 20 years ago the city uncovered the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers, which were largely paved over in downtown Providence, and moved the point of their convergence for aesthetic purposes.

Next year, the old highway overpass will be demolished and the city will begin to create a new street grid, which will better connect surrounding neighborhoods to the waterfront, said Michael P. Lewis, director of the state Department of Transportation. This work will continue into 2011 and 2012, while the state prepares the surplus land for development.

I created a diagram to show how many parcels would be affected by similar efforts in the Big D:

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Zoinks. Haven't talked Housing in some time, because I no longer need to convince people of the impending, nay, now imploded doom. But, Case-Shiller is suggesting another 48% fall.

More on housing, Wells Fargo's Chief Economist tells the awful truth, "there is no easy way out."
And there, hopefully, begins the long way road to recovery. There are no free lunches.
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Dubai. My favorite Vegas on Steroids. One of my personal fav oped guys, the man who brought to life such excellent insight and turn-of-phrase (also regarding Dubai),
When prices go up, buildings go up. When prices come down, buildings tend to stay up. Until recently visitors to Dubai returned gasping. This was truly a city designed from start to finish by autocrats and architects. It was the last word in iconic overkill, a festival of egotism with humanity denied. It was an architectural chorus line of towers, each shouting louder and kicking higher. People were ants.
Simon Jenkins, weighs in again:
I still have no doubt that Dubai will survive, despite its lack of oil or other natural resources. But it will do so as a benighted settlement on the Gulf shore, in hock to neighbouring and more cautious oil-rich states, such as Abu Dhabi. Its luxury apartments will become tenements to an ever shifting army of refugees from the torments of the Islamic world. Its towers will stand empty, unable to afford their energy-guzzling services. Its fantasy islands will be squatted or will rot and sink back into the sea. Where fresh water will come from, who knows?
It's fundamental problem is that it is entirely a product of the supply side thinking that created much of the economic catastrophe the world over. If you build it, they will not come. And if they do, they will then leave because noone else is there, like a tide rising, only to retreat back to the ocean. There has to be demand in the first place and demand comes from economic purpose, which typically comes in the form of natural resources, transportation, or increasingly, human capital.

Funny thing? There actually was a demand that they have managed to exploit which until further notice will be the economic foundation of Dubai. That, as the world's black market, for anything and everything that black markets exist for.

And, anybody that quotes PB Shelley in a newspaper article is always well worth the read. Expect the readers to come to your level, don't ever write down to theirs:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
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Park Slope CoHousing. The article is only strengthened by the presence of Alex Marshall.
Co-housing has yet to be tested anywhere as dense as New York City, but as Alex thought about it, he came to believe that, in fact, the city was perfect co-housing ground. Throw a bunch of organic leeks in Brooklyn right now and you will hit some kind of a communal-living situation—a vegan house in Bed-Stuy, a bunch of young renters in Clinton Hill who Craiglisted up to pursue like-minded goals. Surely he wasn’t the only middle-aged New Yorker who wished he had real relationships with his neighbors.
If you haven't read How Cities Work. You are missing out. See my post discussing the potential for high-rise cohousing:

This stems from the idea that any one person's community, the amount of people they can ever really "know" at one time is approximately 150. I probably need to track this back to source the info, but something tells me it was one of those tidbits that stuck with me from a psychology class in college. In this case, the vertical co-housing would be the person's "community." Whether they choose to know everybody within their building is beside the point, but the opportunity is there.

The vertical cohousing was based on the idea of eliminating excess inefficiencies of excess individual plumbing lines, savings on sharing of electricity and appliances, and all but elimating inefficient floor space, meaning, no hallways. The elevator opens directly into a shared kitchen/dining area that would be shared by 4 to 8 units per floor and potentiall two floors per kitchen area. This would be organized as a tenants "nuclear family."

The rest of the common amenities would be structured similarly based on the amount of people to use it. Meaning every four or so floors there is a common gathering area, be it a workout facility, a pool, game room, home theater, etc. These areas would be the "extended family."

The idea of which has been done with many high-rise towers in europe that create garden floors every fifteen or twenty floors in modern "green" office towers, ie creating social spaces for subsets within the larger unit. However, as I have said, to some extent this minimizes the person/place/thing interactions or feedback loops that create more intelligent places, ie rather than being 100 on the street, there might be 20 every 100 feet in elevation (although I imagine diminishing returns based on the exponential overlapping that occurs in these semi-lattice networks).

The base of the building, would have a community-wide amenity area. One building we worked on was supposed to have a wii station for resident use.

The last level of the hierarchy is the public, which is the street, or city at-large, and this is where the building would have its "third places"; how the building engages the street and the city. Here could be some overlap with the community-wide amenity area as I have seen in my building with the bar/grocery store as a popular hangout after work for building residents.

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Lastly, on Rio's Favelas, Gangs, Drugs, and Crime. If you haven't seen City of God you are missing out on the best movie of the last twenty years.