Monday, January 30, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
New Yorker architecture critic has a new article up on the American Scholar about his last visit with Jane Jacobs in 2004. It is well worth the read, particularly my favorite bit:
Not the least of the price we pay for having so many of Jacobs’s views become the common wisdom is the extent to which they are now co-opted by real-estate developers and politicians. They have realized that there is money to be made in shopping centers created as fake villages with pedestrian “streets” leading to “town squares,” and in “festival marketplaces” that are little more than shopping malls in drag. Developers proclaim these places to be like real cities, as if they were a natural outgrowth of Jacobs’s ideas. The term mixed use, which started as a sharp-eyed writer’s observation of what underlies an organic urban fabric, has become a developer’s mantra.
Whether the development will flourish is something we’ll have to wait to find out. But there is reason to question Barnett’s assumption about the need to “internalize” the development. Patrick Kennedy, an urban planner and designer, has spent some time walking around Park Lane. He says a development like this one needs to do two things to succeed. “It has to be so well-designed, so lovable that the citizenry will always care for it and ensure that it endures,” he says. “The other is, it has to tie into the rest of the city, the adjacent properties, neighborhoods, street network, and transportation framework so that the improvement, stewardship, and resilience are mutually ensured. I’m not sure Park Lane successfully accomplishes either. I think the underlying logic defining Park Lane—that of convenience—undermines certainly the latter and possibly the former, as the experience is ultimately degraded by the disconnection, no matter the level of detailed design.”
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
An interesting takeaway from the study concerns the importance of city efforts to maximize cycling or walking. Dallas dedicated, according to the survey, $4 million in 2010 to bike or pedestrian projects. That's better than many of the cities on the list, including Washington, D.C., Fort Worth, Houston (which spent $0 city funds). Even Boston, the reigning champ when it comes to its residents walking and biking to work, spent far less -- about $600,000 in 2010.
@AurashKhawarzad On 350 calories, a bicyclist can go 10 miles, a pedestrian 3.5 miles, and a car 100 feet.
Interventions should aim for change at multiple points across a system, targeting a range of factors, and working at various scales (e.g. individual, organisational, community, societal).
The West Dallas plan seems merely to hope that it will happen. And I suppose hope is all we’re clinging to right now.
Monday, January 23, 2012
This report comes at a critical moment, as Congress takes up the imminent passage of the next federal transportation bill, which dictates how billions of tax dollars will be spent over coming years. The Benchmarking Report reveals that, in nearly every city and state, pedestrians and bicyclists are disproportionately at risk of being killed, and currently receive less than a fair share of transportation dollars. While 12 percent of trips in the U.S. are by bike or foot, 14 percent of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrian and bicycle projects receive less than 2 percent of federal transportation dollars.
“The Benchmarking Report shows that biking and walking are smart solutions to many of our country’s most pressing challenges when it comes to transportation, job creation and health,” Jeffrey Miller, Alliance President/CEO, says.
The report compiles persuasive evidence that bicycle and pedestrian projects create more jobs than highway projects, and provide at least three dollars of benefit for every dollar invested. The report also highlights the health benefits of active transportation, showing that states with the highest rates of bicycling and walking are also among those with the lowest rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. “The data points to one conclusion: Investing in biking and walking projects creates jobs, leads to more people biking and walking, and improves safety and public health,” Miller says.
John Pucher, a professor at Rutgers University, emphasizes: “The wide range of environmental, social, and economic benefits of walking and bicycling, so clearly documented in this report, justify greatly increased investment in facilities and programs to encourage more walking and cycling, and to improve the safety of these most sustainable of all transportation modes.”
Friday, January 20, 2012
Curb cuts, he said, mean that cars are "diving in and out and the pedestrian experience that is frightening at best when there are cuts every 50 feet or so."
That speaks to a long-standing issue about parking requirements in the district in which Whittall said zoning requirements have made it difficult to open or expand a business. The former owner of a popular coffee shop on the strip, Whittall sold it after his plans for expansion were denied because of parking requirement.
Kennedy says those parking requirements contribute to the risk for pedestrians in the district. Not only are patrons being encouraged to drive to places where they can drink, he said the parking requirements insure the curb cuts through pedestrian pathways.
"As long as you make it as convenient as possible for the car, it’s always at the expense of the pedestrian," said Kennedy. "If you make it inconvenient for a car, then proximity becomes a premium and things want to cluster closer together. It’s better use of the land and creates a safer environment."
These are relatively new issues in Dallas, said Whittall, because additional retail and residential development has people opting more often for shoe leather instead of rubber.
"Now that there are more residential areas, people are walking all the time," said Whittall. "All of a sudden Dallas is becoming a walking city."
Agreement seems to be emerging that Dallas also has to become a pedestrian-friendly city.
"We’re at the right point where the business community is starting to see that if it is pedestrian-friendly, they’ll have more customers because more people will be out and about walking," said Kennedy, who estimated most of the customers for Cedar Springs businesses are within a two-mile radius. "Once you get the that rhetorical start, I feel like eventually we can get there."
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
At the exhibition, I fell to talking with two elegantly coiffed ladies of the kind who spend their afternoons in exhibitions. “Marvelous, don’t you think?” one said to me, to which I replied: “Monstrous.” Both opened their eyes wide, as if I had denied Allah’s existence in Mecca.
But this imposition of art (real or pretend) on top of life is likely to be highly damaging to both, as the urban scholar Jane Jacobs famously warned. Moreover, an architect is not merely a sculptor at giant scales, but a professional, not unlike a medical professional, with a “duty of care” to provide a living environment with a high grade of quality of life for the rest of us. The architect is not working in a private gallery for the benefit of connoisseurs alone, but deeply affecting the ordinary life and wellbeing of people and regions.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
You gut the integration, you lose the accommodation. Integration = demand. Accommodation = supply. Cause and effect. As I point out in mySpace Syntax of downtown Dallas post, the real estate market and building technologies built upwards at the exact same time as cities, states, and federal government unwittingly conspired to undermine the demand to fill those towers. But since the towers were new and shiny with whatever modern doo-dads a business may look for at the time, they cannibalized from historic buildings...which could then be torn down for parking all the residents that fled when their homes were taken for highways.