In your presentation, you made the statement that each car has effectively 7 "homes" or parking spaces in the country and that you would love to have such a luxurious lifestyle as to have 7 homes with a graphic with seven places on the country. Why no Dallas? /tongue in cheek. But seriously, what would it take for Dallas to make that list?Anne, you live in Denver but do the majority of your work consulting in Dallas. You get the opposite question. What keeps you in Denver?One of my favorite lines is from Lewis Mumford’s massive tome The City in History where he writes about Necropolis (or the collapsed city), stating “the multiplication and massive collective concentration on glib ephemeralities of all kinds, performed with supreme technical audacity…are symptoms of the end…when these signs multiply, Necropolis is near, though not a stone has yet crumbled.” Interpret for me what might be present day “glib ephemeralities” or glaring warning signs of impending collapse or long-term inevitable decline...
Do we fetishize “design?” and place it in such an abstract sense that design has lost any meaning relating to qualitative improvement and instead is simply what might be novel or different? And do we lack the metrics to properly assess whether certain efforts have been (past tense) or will be (predictavely – in future tense) successful?
We’ve recently concluded a downtown plan for Dallas and one of the critical issues downtown currently faces, is that land is “upside-down” in that the cost of land overwhelms demand for development. What strategies would you recommend (proven or theoretical) for catalyzing development when the public sector can no longer meet the gap between cost and profitable returns?
So what you're describing is Stakeholder vs shareholder economies AND planning/development processes and the importance of locally driven stewardship in a world of globally driven finance? And can that engine be harnassed?
I was recently reading about the use of “community shares” as a development tool in the UK where x amount of capital is raised with a cap on how many shares any one person can purchase. Can a version of crowdsourcing like that work in the states and what new economic tools might be out there merging the power of social media with urban development that could be profoundly transformative in how we finance urbanism?
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
A house is first a home. It’s only an investment when it is passed between generations. A house in the center of Amsterdam costs the same today as it did 400 years ago, when adjusted for inflation. Of course, the next generation has to see value before it will bother to care for the property. The houses along Swiss Avenue, like those in Amsterdam, received some TLC 60 or so years into their life spans. To last that long, a house needs to be useful, adaptable, and, most important, loved. I’m afraid many exurban neighborhoods, most built to standards far below those of Craig Ranch, face an uncertain future against shifting demographics looking to downsize. What we need most is a more comprehensive understanding of what affordability means. Perhaps we trade some of that excess space for durable, well-crafted houses located in complete neighborhoods. The oversize pantry is externalized as the corner market, the third garage is replaced by a gaggle of bikes, the rec room becomes the neighborhood, and the dining room, its restaurants.
The fourth reason the road won’t work is probably the most important, though it has been discussed the least. Highways are bad for cities. Inter-city freeways are necessary to link regional economies like Dallas’ and Houston’s and Austin’s. But intra-city highways—the expensive eight- or 10-lane thoroughfares that turn into parking lots twice a day—those choke the life out of metropolitan areas. Even President Eisenhower, the father of the U.S. interstate system, was opposed to putting highways through cities. They displace people as they’re built and then, as time goes on, highways decentralize populations. They make it easier—and often cheaper—to live farther away from the center of economic activity, which means that just as a city undertakes an expensive infrastructure investment, it loses a portion of its tax base. (ed. note: and over the long-term then more expensive to do both, live outside city and maintain said road) A 2006 study from Brown University found that, on average, each intra-city freeway leads to an 18 percent population loss.
One of the fundamental goals of the Trinity River Project has always been decreasing traffic congestion. Building a highway doesn’t decrease congestion; it makes it worse. Increasing the number of lanes only increases the number of people driving, while decreasing the amount of viable commercial space where a car might be able to get off the road. Modern urbanists now think that building highways is at best a temporary (but very expensive) solution to congestion.
A better answer to Dallas’ traffic problem is to create more transportation options, more ways to get around without a car and better routes to take with one. When San Francisco lost two major freeways after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the city decided that, rather than rebuild, it would replace the freeways with a grid of people-friendly boulevards. Today an area that was once desolate is thriving. With boulevards, a steady, predictable level of congestion actually fuels the local economy. People stop to eat dinner, to shop, to linger in a place that is part of the urban fabric—as opposed to a freeway, which just tears through it. Those places eventually become desirable places to live, which means population density goes up, and the standard of living goes up, too. Forty years ago, people scoffed when Vancouver refused to allow highways through the city. Vancouver today is at least pleasant enough to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
In place of poetry we had standardized efficiency, not just the new Esperanto of green highway signs speaking to us at 65-mile-per-hour Highway Gothic — the same tongue from Maine to Montana — but the whole experience of travel itself. “With the modern car on the modern freeway,” Earl Swift writes in “The Big Roads,” “the modern traveler was left with practically nothing to celebrate but the ever-briefer time he had to devote to getting from one place to another.” Or, in John Steinbeck’s famous remark, one could now drive from “New York to California without seeing a single thing.”
Swift, a former journalist with The Virginian-Pilot and the author of “Where They Lay: Searching for America’s Lost Soldiers,” among other books, knows the feeling. “Big Roads” begins, appropriately, with a cross-country road trip, Swift at the wheel, his young daughter and one of her friends in tow. Later, flipping through digital pictures from the journey, Swift finds he has images mostly from days he didn’t travel on the Interstate. Whole states had been relegated to vague blurs of asphalt. “The minivan’s windshield became a proscenium through which we watched the countryside pass without actually experiencing it; we were in it, but not of it.” Yet Swift had made the bargain we all do: the Interstate highways “carried us without incident, without drama. They offered up food and lodging with minimal fuss. They carved the shortest path all the way home.” And, most important, “we made very good time.”
I find two particular statements within this prose particularly relevant. First, the erasure of poetry for the sake of efficiency is quite the analogy for the entire modern American cityscape, devoid of all/any character where everything is mass produced for some supposed cost savings, when factoring in life cycle costs, rarely are any costs actually saved, more often completely lost. And that really points to what and how we build cities these days, with equations in mind. Equations that are incomplete, that have no way of calculating the incalculable or the subjective. Eventually, they get externalized. Things like meaning.
The other statement is the author of the book, Swift's statement that while on the road they knew they were in a certain place, but not actually a part of the abstract blur whizzing by the windshield. This gets at the appropriate place of the freeway and its functionality, which it does have some, ie moving things that can't be moved long distances utilizing efficiencies of scale brought by bundling things, ie shipping or riding on planes or trains, freight or passenger. Highways are only viable (and sustainable) as interregional linkages between disparate economies, as trains and planes allow, and when all are maintained as viable forms, they're able to keep costs for all down. However, when those highways are introduced within cities and apart of neighborhoods, suddenly there is dislocation. As if nobody belongs anywhere and what is left is a place nobody wants to be anyhow.
Regional transportation disrupts the integral, complex local connectivity that is necessary for complete neighborhoods and proper, sustainable, lovable cities. Regional connectivity is also necessary in a global world, however since the infrastructure is so large and dislocative, it must only intersect with cities tangentially so to minimize said disruptions, intentionally NOT being apart of a place, because they never can be by nature.
Friday, July 15, 2011
- Income equality - which, obviously can lead to instability
- Economic Diversification - See: Detroit
- Regional Affordability - Housing boom/bust anybody?
- Business Environment - Overly regulated, bureaucratic tangle?
- Education Attainment - Another duh. Gotta cultivate that primary resource, people.
- Without Disability - They seemed to define this as age-related. How old/young its populous
- Out of Poverty - The poor are particularly vulnerable to disruptions
- Health Insured - Ditto.
- Civic Infrastructure - civic organizations as stewards
- Metropolitan Stability - lots or little migration? How "rooted" are its people or are they transplants?
- Homeownership - this has its flaws and I don't think I need to spell them out. Surely, they are again going after stability here
- Voter Participation - again, stewardship
- Minny/StPaul - 3rd
- Boulder, CO - 8th
- DC - 10th - lobbying money y'all
- Boston - 20th
- Seattle - 25th
- Harrisburg, PA......17th?! ..... woah.....woah, wait a minute. I'm assuming economic solvency isn't a factor in these statistics (<---- home town, also gutted by suburbia, narrow "landlocked" boundaries, and regional infrastructure the straw to make leaches life easy)
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The structural elements of the underground and above ground pedestrian network does two things, both pernicious to pedestrian activity on the ground plane. First, they remove people from the street. This can only work in hyper density and even in that case, there is no evidence from other cities that is an ideal condition as one generally makes the other less than comfortable. Second, the structural elements (and walls of T-Giving square) limit line of sight and (perceived) safety. When we can’t see what is on the other side of something, particularly when there aren’t many people around to “police” (social contract kind of thing) an area, people don’t like being there. This is well documented by William Whyte, Jan Gehl, and Kevin Lynch.
Also, I’m not convinced we should be talking about pedestrian only networks yet. In one way, mostly theoretical, they can be good for overall interconnectivity. But again, without lacking suitable density, they just dilute the movement (energy) from other streets, all of which become less than ideal for ground floor businesses which survive off movement and the visability afforded by movement. And by movement, I mean traffic, and by traffic I mean all modes of transportation.
I should add that between the narrow sidewalks that lack any buffer from traffic that is designed to move quickly and the N-S pedestrian route you describe and its incomprehensible nature as well as uncomfortable experience driving people from one to the other, neither being comfortable and amenable. In the end, people just don't walk. No people walking, no incentive for businesses to activate ground floor uses.
And when somebody ridicules the idea of no ground floor use in a garage, ground floor business locates in the ground floor of garages all the time (even in Dallas - rarely successful because...) when demand driven by pedestrian activity allows it.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Space hogs, water suckers and giant leaf collectors that have to be blown, mown and doused in chemicals with a great ruckus to look good, what is the point of a lawn other than to say: we have land, time and money to waste?Point A is that we're not wealthy enough for the petty bourgeois ostentation any longer. A funny thing happened when we "democratized" the English king and castle, many began to look shoddy and unkempt, hence the strict codes potentially leading to jail time within single tax bracket neighborhoods often gated as socioeconomic monocultures to keep "the other" out. Ya know, the kind of people that would lower your home value...as if the quality of construction, the uselessness of the land/location, and the very nature as a monoculture wouldn't do that already.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
No, our solution is to slap helmets on vulnerable road users, tell pedestrians to wear brighter clothes, tell cyclists to always have two hands on the handlebars, enforce cyclists rolling through empty intersections, rip out bike infrastructure, and fail to hold drivers accountable for their actions.
We need drastic changes if we're going to make cycling more comfortable for newcomers.
Thankfully "cycling in numbers" can have a positive effect on safety even without good infrastructure. Drivers are much more cautious on roads where we see lots of cyclists.
Look at all that pretty green! Green is good, right? Right? Or so I've been conditioned. A park for one and all!
Certainly, the issues behind the decay are far deeper (economic and political) than what one experimental housing typology had on an entire area. But the idealism disconnected from reality and the experimentation and willingness to do so (particularly on the poor) and thereby clustering the poor into hopeless environments didn't exactly help either.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Global Pedestrian Trend, Is Dallas In?
The Dallas/Ft. Worth area is an amazing place filled with sports, culture, and fabulous shopping. Imagine, though, how fantastic the area would be if the city and the suburbs took a page from some of our sisters in the northeast, like Boston, or even our sister to the south, San Antonio, and began to make a more pedestrian friendly community.
By becoming a more pedestrian friendly community, we are encouraging the growth of small businesses and the growth of small communities. Wal-Mart has even taken note from some of our sister cities and began to replace Supersized Superstores with small community markets. If we follow their examples, we will better our economic structures and better our own lives.
Pedestrians are Healthy and Wise
Walking is one of the cheapest and easiest forms of exercise. Although some may turn up their noses to its lack of “extreme-ness”, walking burns calories, raises the heart rate, and moves a person from point A to point B.
Walking doesn’t require any special equipment. However, it helps if the community at large has places or systems in place that encourage walking. Walking paths and trails are great for getting away or seeing natural landscapes from new points of view. Continuous sidewalks and bridges with walking lanes encourage people of all ages to travel along traffic ridden routes. This is the greatest challenge to the walking community, lack of proper sidewalks or walking lanes.
Suburban Pedestrian Friendly Communities
There are some communities in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area that are beginning to see the need for pedestrian friendly communities and neighborhoods. They are widening their sidewalks or putting in new, continuous ones.
• Watters Creek in Allen, TX, was nominated as one of Allen’s most pedestrian friendly communities. It has convenient shopping, dining, offices, and living within a short distance. It also has made it very easy to navigate. It offers a grassy area and even a little creek for spontaneous picnics or games.
• Legacy in Plano, TX, is another community of refinement. The well planned community took a while to be built, but it was completely designed and finished with the pedestrian lifestyle in mind. It has everything a pedestrian could want, including dining, business, and shopping all within a feasible walking distance from one’s home. It also features a large park for outdoor recreation.
• Addison Circle in Addison, TX is one of the residences that follow Addison’s vision of a place to "live, work, play and stay". This town center is a pedestrian friendly, compact neighborhood complete with restaurants, businesses, entertainment, and mixed housing. The suburban downtown area has everything within a very walkable distance, especially on if you travel on its wonderful sidewalks.
• Hebron 121 Station in Lewisville, TX is on the DCTA rail line. This is its greatest asset and earns the nomination as a pedestrian friendly community. Along with fine dining and shopping, the community also boasts commuter access by bus or rail to the downtown Dallas area without having to travel out of the way to get to the station. Lewisville offers a small town feel with big town class and amenities.
• 5th St Crossing DT Garland is a community in another Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb that redesigned itself to become more pedestrian friendly and mass transit oriented. By rezoning and repurposing its older buildings, Garland, TX, was able to create a mixed use residential area with all the amenities of city life within walking distance. There is a theatre, restaurants, fine arts centre, and a community college within walking distance, as well as the transit line to Dallas.
• Frisco, TX, is approx. 45 minutes from the Love Field airport. It features a lot of night life particularly for young professionals. It has the businesses and dining of the big city within a reasonable walking distance as well as the world’ largest soccer complex, Pizza Hut Park.
Become a part of the global trend for pedestrian friendly communities. Visit one of these suburbs, and find out for yourself what the true pedestrian community lifestyle is like.
For more information on Dallas/Ft. Worth properties in pedestrian friendly communities, visit We Buy Ugly Houses Dallas.