Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's Today? Linkages.

Steve Brown, architecture critic (not really), plays architecture critic to cast no new light whatsoever on the issue of reflective glass on Dallas buildings.  Fitting, because just a day or two ago, I tweeted about hearing from One Arts Plaza condo owners who have had their units penetrated by morning glory.  That is, if glory is a beam of radiated, concentrated sun rise reflected off Museum Tower into their home.  They can now boil their morning tea.  Brown:
This gives the current dustup about light bouncing off downtown’s new Museum Tower some historical perspective.
As mirrored buildings go, Museum Tower doesn’t hold a candlepower to the reflectivity of other downtown familiars including Bryan Tower or the Hyatt Regency.
Of course, if Museum Tower were on the west side of downtown, there wouldn’t be any fuss about where the afternoon light is bouncing.
With renewed emphasis on energy efficiency and green construction, reflective glass is enjoying something of a renaissance. Granite and concrete soak up a lot of sun.

But Museum Tower isn't on the West Side of downtown.  Nothing wants to be on the West Side of downtown.  Because it is the West Side of downtown.  This is the same argument as saying, nobody would "complain" (pay special attention to the language used there) if the tower was built on the moon.  Of course, nobody would complain because it doesn't adversely affect them there.

Investment and density wants to be where other investment is.  That is to say, people (investment) are attracted to people (investment).  When investment (people) cluster, there will invariably conflicts that must be resolved and buildings socialized to participate in the larger whole and greater good.

Similarly, when there are a lot of people wanting to be in a certain place, public realm matters.  These shiny buildings not only ignore the public realm but worsen it, thereby decreasing the value of the overall place.  Have you seen many people hanging out outside the Hyatt?  Lovely part of town that, between rail lines, highways, and neverending circles of cloverleaves.  It's literally the worst part of town.  Rather than expanding Lew Sterrett county jail, we should move it to the Hyatt.

Highly reflective glass is a lazy solution to supposed environmental issues that doesn't actually design at all.  It does not pay attention to the local climate.  As I've said a million times, if we were building in Dallas for Dallas and the sunny, hot place it is, there would be far less exposed sides of buildings and more exposed roof surface area to reflect the radiation upwards, not downwards.  Onto the public realm.  And to keep the blustery, dusty Texas winds up over human habitat rather than knocking it down and concentrating it onto our streets and sidewalks.  Environmentalism that ruins the surrounding environs.

I swear, if it wasn't for Wilonsky, I'd have the DMN on block, ignore, and 'enemied' on facebook by now.
Will Doig writes a piece for Salon that is sort of about Arts Districts, but also talks about large-scale private development like Victory.  I'm quoted several times.  This bit didn't make it into the piece, but I reiterated something I said on the panel regarding "How to Save the Arts District," that the Dallas Arts District is more like a World's Fair Site than a real, authentic, organically derived arts district.  Though that sentiment comes through in the piece in sum.

If we lower our standards for it (to World's Fair site) or at least recalibrate/appropriate, then we wouldn't be so underwhelmed by it.
Meanwhile, back at the DMN bat cave, transpo reporter Michael Lindenberger writes that the Mayor, TxDOT, and the three dissenting council members (how dare they?!) have placed their credibility on the line.  Good!  Their in charge of billions of dollars and the future of the city?  They're credibility better damn well be on the line with every single decision.  And there ought not be a statute of limitations on this or any previous decision either.

In fact, the entire framework of this piece and the broader discussion about the need for the Trinity or Project Pegasus, if we can only afford one,

YOU DON'T SOLVE CONGESTION.  It's like this is these people's drug war.  A crusade that can never end, but gives them purpose.  Meaning.

Instead, you decide what form of congestion you want.  That is, if you want concentrations of high activity areas, precisely the kind of thing that makes cities attractive, valuable, sustaining places.  Everybody in a car, where everyone else is the enemy, it's unsafe, the air is polluted, the public realm is disastrous, noisy, and repellant... or this:

'Tis a segment of the Champs Elysees.  What's the most trafficked road in DFW?  635, I believe.  It moves around 250,000 to 300,000 cars per day.  Busy, busy.  Champs Elysees only moves a mere 100,000 cars per day (not counting how many cross it).  It also moves 500,000 to 600,000 pedestrians per day.  Wowzers.   Sounds congested.

It is.  Because the most popular places in the world are congested.  They're desirable precisely because of the congestion.  That it isn't all in cars.

Social and economic exchange is happening in the picture above.  Such is the purpose of cities.  And as such that should be the goal.  The powers that be in Dallas, COG, TxDOT, and their useful servants (elected leaders), think the purpose of a city is to move cars.  The article actually comes across vaguely threatening towards councilmembers Greyson, Hunt, and Griggs.  And I'm sure they welcome it.  They're actually the courageous and informed ones here.  By all means.

As long as the transportation planners, spender's credibility is on the line as well.  Why isn't the credibility of those planning the Trinity Toll Road in the first place on the line?  There have been too many transportation decisions made without any accountability whatsoever.  It's time to start making them accountable.

Yes, let's please put everyone's credibility on the line.  Pretty, pretty, pretty please with sugar on top.  Because unless we change course, how we define congestion as well as what our goals are for the city, and its fundamental purpose, they will deliver the type of city that we'll regret and no one will want to be in.  And that's the real danger.

Oh, let's not forget they're spending your tax dollars to do so.