Posts tagged "Philadelphia"
The Atlantic Cities:
“The Problem With Defining ‘Downtown
Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on population trends in American downtowns, a helpful step toward quantifying the claims made by many cities that residents (and jobs) are moving there in droves (you can view the original report here… whenever the federal government reopens and the Census Bureau’s shuttered website comes back online). The Census’ blunt definition of “downtown,” though, inevitably produced some grousing about over-and under-counts of local populations. It measured “downtown,” for lack of a better universal definition, as everything within a 2-mile radius of the local city hall.
In Baltimore (at left) and New York City (at right), here is what the resulting circles look like:
You can see that in these two cases we’re talking about an awful lot of water, not to mention some largely neglected neighborhoods in Baltimore. And as anyone in New York will quickly point out, this definition of “downtown” in Manhattan awkwardly includes a slice of New Jersey.
It’s a little hard to blame the Census. There actually is no single definition of what “downtown” means across the country. Nowhere do the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis or the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually count or keep tabs on the number of jobs in American “downtowns.”
Photo: CV Garas/Shutterstock

The Atlantic Cities:

The Problem With Defining ‘Downtown

Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on population trends in American downtowns, a helpful step toward quantifying the claims made by many cities that residents (and jobs) are moving there in droves (you can view the original report here… whenever the federal government reopens and the Census Bureau’s shuttered website comes back online). The Census’ blunt definition of “downtown,” though, inevitably produced some grousing about over-and under-counts of local populations. It measured “downtown,” for lack of a better universal definition, as everything within a 2-mile radius of the local city hall.

In Baltimore (at left) and New York City (at right), here is what the resulting circles look like:

You can see that in these two cases we’re talking about an awful lot of water, not to mention some largely neglected neighborhoods in Baltimore. And as anyone in New York will quickly point out, this definition of “downtown” in Manhattan awkwardly includes a slice of New Jersey.

It’s a little hard to blame the Census. There actually is no single definition of what “downtown” means across the country. Nowhere do the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis or the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually count or keep tabs on the number of jobs in American “downtowns.”

Photo: CV Garas/Shutterstock

Philly.com
"Changing Skyline: Including neighbors in planning process
By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
POSTED: September 14, 2013


The first time Omar Blaik met with residents of West Philadelphia’s Spruce Hill neighborhood to discuss his proposal for a large, new apartment house on Baltimore Avenue, he did something unusual in the high-stakes world of real estate development: He showed up without a PowerPoint.
There were no gauzy architectural renderings, no images of sleek, modern kitchens, no floor plans. Instead, he handed out blank sheets of drawing paper and colored markers.
"You have nothing to oppose," Blaik declared, explaining that the building hadn’t yet been designed. "Tell me what you are for."
It seems safe to say that few community meetings in Philadelphia start off this way. Developers typically march in with a finished set of architectural plans, declare the building the greatest design since City Hall, and then stand aside to wait for the blowback. Residents, meanwhile, often feel that they’ve just been asked to accommodate a spaceship in their backyard. The ensuing negotiations rarely end amicably.




But Blaik, who lives in West Philadelphia, an area known for contentious debates and activist politics, envisioned his multimillion-dollar investment as a partnership with his neighbors.”
Photo: A developer wants to build an apartment house on this overgrown lot at Baltimore Avenue and 43d Street in West Philadelphia, and residents of the Spruce Hill neighborhood are helping plan the project. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)

Philly.com

"Changing Skyline: Including neighbors in planning process

By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic

POSTED: September 14, 2013

The first time Omar Blaik met with residents of West Philadelphia’s Spruce Hill neighborhood to discuss his proposal for a large, new apartment house on Baltimore Avenue, he did something unusual in the high-stakes world of real estate development: He showed up without a PowerPoint.

There were no gauzy architectural renderings, no images of sleek, modern kitchens, no floor plans. Instead, he handed out blank sheets of drawing paper and colored markers.

"You have nothing to oppose," Blaik declared, explaining that the building hadn’t yet been designed. "Tell me what you are for."

It seems safe to say that few community meetings in Philadelphia start off this way. Developers typically march in with a finished set of architectural plans, declare the building the greatest design since City Hall, and then stand aside to wait for the blowback. Residents, meanwhile, often feel that they’ve just been asked to accommodate a spaceship in their backyard. The ensuing negotiations rarely end amicably.

But Blaik, who lives in West Philadelphia, an area known for contentious debates and activist politics, envisioned his multimillion-dollar investment as a partnership with his neighbors.”

Photo: A developer wants to build an apartment house on this overgrown lot at Baltimore Avenue and 43d Street in West Philadelphia, and residents of the Spruce Hill neighborhood are helping plan the project. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)

The Atlantic Cities:
"Why Is There So Little Innovation in Water Infrastructure?
Henry Grabar. Sept 13, 2013
On its 2013 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. water infrastructure a D. Even the nation’s best water systems are ancient — we have over 240,000 water main breaks each year — and unprepared for a mix of current challenges that includes climate change, tightening budgets, growing urban populations, and pharmaceutical contaminants. This spring, after record-setting rains, Detroit had no choice but to pour several hundred million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes. 
What’s the problem with American water infrastructure? In part, it’s the same old story: federal infrastructure spending in the U.S. continues to fall and cash-strapped cities, choked by the sequester and the economic crisis, can’t afford to fill in the gaps.
But water infrastructure may be harder to change than most. That’s the argument put forth in a recent paper by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (handily abbreviated ReNUWIt). In “The Innovation Deficit in Urban Water” [PDF], the authors argue that water infrastructure is systemically resistant to innovation — and put forth some ideas for what we can do about it.”
Photo:  Flickr user Mircea2011

The Atlantic Cities:

"Why Is There So Little Innovation in Water Infrastructure?

Henry Grabar. Sept 13, 2013

On its 2013 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. water infrastructure a D. Even the nation’s best water systems are ancient — we have over 240,000 water main breaks each year — and unprepared for a mix of current challenges that includes climate change, tightening budgets, growing urban populations, and pharmaceutical contaminants. This spring, after record-setting rains, Detroit had no choice but to pour several hundred million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes. 

What’s the problem with American water infrastructure? In part, it’s the same old story: federal infrastructure spending in the U.S. continues to fall and cash-strapped cities, choked by the sequester and the economic crisis, can’t afford to fill in the gaps.

But water infrastructure may be harder to change than most. That’s the argument put forth in a recent paper by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (handily abbreviated ReNUWIt). In “The Innovation Deficit in Urban Water” [PDF], the authors argue that water infrastructure is systemically resistant to innovation — and put forth some ideas for what we can do about it.”

Photo:  Flickr user Mircea2011

The Atlantic Cities:
"The Suburbs Are Dead, Long Live the Suburbs
Eric Jaffe Aug 27, 2013
Regular readers of The Atlantic Cities will be familiar with most of the social trends that Leigh Gallagher of Fortune magazine tracks to produce the title argument of her new book, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving. Population growth is on the rise in city centers (though total population still favors suburbs), Millennials seem less keen to drive than their parents were, urban home values are increasing faster than suburban ones. The list can anddoes go on.
What any interested reader will recognize, however, is how well Gallagher welds this enormous amount of data together. The result is a post-mortem worthy of the great American suburban experiment. Which, let’s face it, housed so many of us for so long — and which isn’t quite over, as Gallagher explains, but will never be the same again.
"I think I marshaled so much evidence partially because I knew I might get attacked, and partially because every stone I turned over yielded these beautiful flowers of evidence," she tells Atlantic Cities. “It was really everywhere.”
Photo: Shutterstock

The Atlantic Cities:

"The Suburbs Are Dead, Long Live the Suburbs

Eric Jaffe Aug 27, 2013

Regular readers of The Atlantic Cities will be familiar with most of the social trends that Leigh Gallagher of Fortune magazine tracks to produce the title argument of her new bookThe End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving. Population growth is on the rise in city centers (though total population still favors suburbs), Millennials seem less keen to drive than their parents were, urban home values are increasing faster than suburban ones. The list can anddoes go on.

What any interested reader will recognize, however, is how well Gallagher welds this enormous amount of data together. The result is a post-mortem worthy of the great American suburban experiment. Which, let’s face it, housed so many of us for so long — and which isn’t quite over, as Gallagher explains, but will never be the same again.

"I think I marshaled so much evidence partially because I knew I might get attacked, and partially because every stone I turned over yielded these beautiful flowers of evidence," she tells Atlantic Cities. “It was really everywhere.”

Photo: Shutterstock

The Architects Newspaper:
RIVER OF INDUSTRY
Nicole Anderson.
Philadelphia adopts plan to revive activity on the Schuylkill River.
A plan to revive 3,700 acres of Philadelphia’s Lower Schuylkill River—an industrial area that has long been home to oil refineries—is now underway. On May 21, the Philadelphia Planning Commission adopted the Lower Schuylkill Master Plan, which seeks to turn the area into a thriving manufacturing hub.
“It took us 18 months to pull it together,” said Thomas Dalfo, senior vice president of real estate services for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). “The concept is to take this industrial district, which in a larger respect under performs compared to what it has done historically, and bring it up to the standards of the city’s other districts. We want to get the vision out into the market and let [potential businesses] know where the city’s investment is going.”
Photo: PIDC

The Architects Newspaper:

RIVER OF INDUSTRY

Nicole Anderson.

Philadelphia adopts plan to revive activity on the Schuylkill River.

A plan to revive 3,700 acres of Philadelphia’s Lower Schuylkill River—an industrial area that has long been home to oil refineries—is now underway. On May 21, the Philadelphia Planning Commission adopted the Lower Schuylkill Master Plan, which seeks to turn the area into a thriving manufacturing hub.

“It took us 18 months to pull it together,” said Thomas Dalfo, senior vice president of real estate services for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC). “The concept is to take this industrial district, which in a larger respect under performs compared to what it has done historically, and bring it up to the standards of the city’s other districts. We want to get the vision out into the market and let [potential businesses] know where the city’s investment is going.”

Photo: PIDC

The Atlantic Cities: 
"15 Ideas for Making Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Better.
Eric Jaffe. April 4, 2013
Early last year, the Federal Railroad Administration launched NEC FUTURES — an effort to plan out the passenger rail investments needed in the Northeast Corridor through 2040. This week it released a short list of ideas [PDF] for improving the region. FRA is calling these 15 ideas “Preliminary Alternatives,” whittled down from a larger basket of about a hundred. The next step is an even smaller set of “Reasonable Alternatives,” and by early 2015 the administration is expect to arrive at what it may well call a “Single Alternative,” but what the rest of us will probably just call a decision.
NEC FUTURES is the latest attempt to prepare for growth in the country’s most important rail corridor, following the $151 billion “vision” [PDF] for the Northeast that Amtrak released last summer. The FRA has (rather wisely) chosen not to subject itself to the political ridicule that surrounded Amtrak’s price tag, but as a result it’s a bit tough to evaluate the options set forth by the administration. Generally speaking, they range from limited capacity upgrades to an enhanced high-speed service — as well as a “no build” option that more or less maintains the status quo.
The impetus for all these plans, of course, is that rail travel in the Northeast Corridor is both thriving and seemingly set to thrive even more. Amtrak ridership in the region is steadily growing, with trains now carrying a greater share of passengers than planes in the corridor, and yet there’s plenty of room for improvement. NEC FUTURES makes the case that the Northeast is also deserving of great investment given its economic importance to the country — generating a fifth of the nation’s G.D.P., according to an FRA chart.”
Photo: Reuters
 

The Atlantic Cities: 

"15 Ideas for Making Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Better.

Eric Jaffe. April 4, 2013

Early last year, the Federal Railroad Administration launched NEC FUTURES — an effort to plan out the passenger rail investments needed in the Northeast Corridor through 2040. This week it released a short list of ideas [PDF] for improving the region. FRA is calling these 15 ideas “Preliminary Alternatives,” whittled down from a larger basket of about a hundred. The next step is an even smaller set of “Reasonable Alternatives,” and by early 2015 the administration is expect to arrive at what it may well call a “Single Alternative,” but what the rest of us will probably just call a decision.

NEC FUTURES is the latest attempt to prepare for growth in the country’s most important rail corridor, following the $151 billion “vision” [PDF] for the Northeast that Amtrak released last summer. The FRA has (rather wisely) chosen not to subject itself to the political ridicule that surrounded Amtrak’s price tag, but as a result it’s a bit tough to evaluate the options set forth by the administration. Generally speaking, they range from limited capacity upgrades to an enhanced high-speed service — as well as a “no build” option that more or less maintains the status quo.

The impetus for all these plans, of course, is that rail travel in the Northeast Corridor is both thriving and seemingly set to thrive even more. Amtrak ridership in the region is steadily growing, with trains now carrying a greater share of passengers than planes in the corridor, and yet there’s plenty of room for improvement. NEC FUTURES makes the case that the Northeast is also deserving of great investment given its economic importance to the country — generating a fifth of the nation’s G.D.P., according to an FRA chart.”

Photo: Reuters

 

“Philadelphia’s Katherine Gajewski is turning a gritty city green
By Darby Minow Smith. Sept 21, 2012
Katherine Gajewski was just 29 years old when Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter asked her to take on the role of city sustainability director. “I was concerned that people wouldn’t take me seriously,” she says. Three years later, those fears have all but disappeared. Using limited staff and resources, her office works long days to earn Philly a green reputation. “Once people see that you’re really serious and you’re working really hard, age isn’t a factor,” she says.
Gajewski works to implement the ambitious city-wide Greenworks Philadelphia plan [PDF], directs a five-county energy-efficiency program, and even organizes a social group of city employees nicknamed the “Young-ish City Government Workers.” For episode 2 of our Knope and change series, about women who are leading the charge to make our cities more sustainable, Gajewski tells Grist about Philly’s lovely bones and her vision for the future (while also making everyone here feel a bit unaccomplished-ish).
Q. Philadelphia has a rep for being a gritty city.
A. And we’re a really old city. We have great bones — modest-sized, energy-efficient row homes, an extensive public transit system, a really low car ownership rate, a 9,200-acre park system. Those are the type of bones that make for a sustainable city. We’re not a new city that’s building new. We were designed and built smart the first time around. That just happened to be 300 years ago.
We’re a very diverse city. We’re a very poor city. Twenty-five percent of our population is at or below the poverty level. The work we’ve been doing and planning to do raises interesting questions about what people think of as a sustainable city: What kind of environment can provide the highest quality of life and best environmental outcomes? It has cities thinking differently about themselves.
Q. What’s Philly doing that’s unique?
A. Over 1,000 communities in the United States are in non-compliance with the Clean Water Act because of old sewer systems that, in heavy rain events, mix outlets of cities’ wastewater into the waterways. Traditionally, [to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act], that’s meant billion-dollar plans that increase the piping and sewer systems underground so that excess water can be moved through bigger pipes.
Instead of just increasing our grey infrastructure, we’re spending about $2 billion over the next 20-25 years to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act with green infrastructure. We are the first plan of this scale to have approval from the EPA. [The city will use a variety of methods and projects — green roofs, rain gardens, streets with porous pavement, etc. — to slow, absorb, and evaporate stormwater before it overwhelms the sewers.] We are literally transforming half of the city to do this.”
Via: Grist
Photo: Katherine Gajewski.

Philadelphia’s Katherine Gajewski is turning a gritty city green

By Darby Minow Smith. Sept 21, 2012

Katherine Gajewski was just 29 years old when Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter asked her to take on the role of city sustainability director. “I was concerned that people wouldn’t take me seriously,” she says. Three years later, those fears have all but disappeared. Using limited staff and resources, her office works long days to earn Philly a green reputation. “Once people see that you’re really serious and you’re working really hard, age isn’t a factor,” she says.

Gajewski works to implement the ambitious city-wide Greenworks Philadelphia plan [PDF], directs a five-county energy-efficiency program, and even organizes a social group of city employees nicknamed the “Young-ish City Government Workers.” For episode 2 of our Knope and change series, about women who are leading the charge to make our cities more sustainable, Gajewski tells Grist about Philly’s lovely bones and her vision for the future (while also making everyone here feel a bit unaccomplished-ish).

Q. Philadelphia has a rep for being a gritty city.

A. And we’re a really old city. We have great bones — modest-sized, energy-efficient row homes, an extensive public transit system, a really low car ownership rate, a 9,200-acre park system. Those are the type of bones that make for a sustainable city. We’re not a new city that’s building new. We were designed and built smart the first time around. That just happened to be 300 years ago.

We’re a very diverse city. We’re a very poor city. Twenty-five percent of our population is at or below the poverty level. The work we’ve been doing and planning to do raises interesting questions about what people think of as a sustainable city: What kind of environment can provide the highest quality of life and best environmental outcomes? It has cities thinking differently about themselves.

Q. What’s Philly doing that’s unique?

A. Over 1,000 communities in the United States are in non-compliance with the Clean Water Act because of old sewer systems that, in heavy rain events, mix outlets of cities’ wastewater into the waterways. Traditionally, [to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act], that’s meant billion-dollar plans that increase the piping and sewer systems underground so that excess water can be moved through bigger pipes.

Instead of just increasing our grey infrastructure, we’re spending about $2 billion over the next 20-25 years to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act with green infrastructure. We are the first plan of this scale to have approval from the EPA. [The city will use a variety of methods and projects — green roofs, rain gardens, streets with porous pavement, etc. — to slow, absorb, and evaporate stormwater before it overwhelms the sewers.] We are literally transforming half of the city to do this.”

Via: Grist

Photo: Katherine Gajewski.



“The Tricky Politics of Vacant Lots
Nate Berg. Sep 24 2012
The empty lot next door to Ori Feibush’s coffee shop in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood wasn’t really empty. Though vacant, it was full of garbage and overgrown vegetation that made it – like many vacant lots in cities around the world – into a potentially dangerous eyesore. So Feibush did something about it.
After efforts to get the city to clean up the site failed to progress, Feibush took the cleanup efforts into his own hands, removing, he says, upwards of 40 tons of debris from the site. He also leveled parts of the ground, planted trees, built picnic benches, sidewalks and fencing. He invested roughly $20,000 to turn the vacant land into a small neighborhood park. Neighbors were ecstatic.
Less pleased was the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, owner of the lot. They contend that Feibush – also a real estate developer in the area – trespassed on their property and illegally transformed a piece of land he had no legal right to use. “Like any property owner, [the authority] does not permit unauthorized access to or alteration of its property,” a Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority spokesperson told the Daily News. The PRA claims that Feibush had not made any efforts to express interest in the site or the possibility of buying it.
This is a clear instance of good Samaritanism, but it’s also a smart business move. Cleaner, more friendly environments tend to draw more people to a place. And as this recent research shows, even making moderate cleanup efforts to vacant lots can dramatically reduce crime in the surrounding area.
But it’s also a clear case of someone illegally using land that does not belong to them. The Redevelopment Authority is threatening legal action against Feibush, demanding that the site be returned to its original condition. That probably doesn’t mean putting back the 40 tons of garbage and overgrown brush, but it likely will mean re-vacating the lot and closing off access to the public – thereby reducing any liability for accidents or incidents on the site.
Though the intent here was a good one – cleaning up a blighted, garbage filled lot and replacing it with a park – it also creates an unplanned administrative headache for the owner of the site. It’s a shame that the two sides – those with the energy and means and those with the deed to the land – couldn’t have come together to jointly address the issue. Instead, the owner will likely get its way and a community amenity may go back to being a neighborhood disadvantage.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Photo:  Flickr user The Shopping Sherpa

The Tricky Politics of Vacant Lots

Nate Berg. Sep 24 2012

The empty lot next door to Ori Feibush’s coffee shop in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood wasn’t really empty. Though vacant, it was full of garbage and overgrown vegetation that made it – like many vacant lots in cities around the world – into a potentially dangerous eyesore. So Feibush did something about it.

After efforts to get the city to clean up the site failed to progress, Feibush took the cleanup efforts into his own hands, removing, he says, upwards of 40 tons of debris from the site. He also leveled parts of the ground, planted trees, built picnic benches, sidewalks and fencing. He invested roughly $20,000 to turn the vacant land into a small neighborhood park. Neighbors were ecstatic.

Less pleased was the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, owner of the lot. They contend that Feibush – also a real estate developer in the area – trespassed on their property and illegally transformed a piece of land he had no legal right to use. “Like any property owner, [the authority] does not permit unauthorized access to or alteration of its property,” a Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority spokesperson told the Daily News. The PRA claims that Feibush had not made any efforts to express interest in the site or the possibility of buying it.

This is a clear instance of good Samaritanism, but it’s also a smart business move. Cleaner, more friendly environments tend to draw more people to a place. And as this recent research shows, even making moderate cleanup efforts to vacant lots can dramatically reduce crime in the surrounding area.

But it’s also a clear case of someone illegally using land that does not belong to them. The Redevelopment Authority is threatening legal action against Feibush, demanding that the site be returned to its original condition. That probably doesn’t mean putting back the 40 tons of garbage and overgrown brush, but it likely will mean re-vacating the lot and closing off access to the public – thereby reducing any liability for accidents or incidents on the site.

Though the intent here was a good one – cleaning up a blighted, garbage filled lot and replacing it with a park – it also creates an unplanned administrative headache for the owner of the site. It’s a shame that the two sides – those with the energy and means and those with the deed to the land – couldn’t have come together to jointly address the issue. Instead, the owner will likely get its way and a community amenity may go back to being a neighborhood disadvantage.”

Via: The Atlantic Cities

Photo:  Flickr user The Shopping Sherpa

“Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture
Silvia Gugu. Sept 17, 2012
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedom Park in New York City is finally approaching completion, with the official opening scheduled for October 24. The latest photographs convey the unmistakable mastery of space demonstrated by the architect Louis Kahn, who designed the park right before his sudden death at 73. Kahn’s only project in New York City, the park embodies the architect’s reverence for President Roosevelt, with whom he shared the desire to enrich the lives of all people.
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Kahn’s belief in the social role of architecture is the subject of a new exhibition running September 8, 2012, to January 6, 2013. Suggestively titled “The Power of Architecture,” it is staged at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in Rotterdam. Read more.
The first retrospective of the American master’s work since 1969, the exhibition is organized into six major themes, showing the vast diversity of Kahn’s projects. Through architectural models, drawings, photographs, plans of 40 of his projects, and information about the influences in his work, alongside videos and publications written on or by him, the curators strive to reveal the stories behind his buildings. Visitors can expect to be surprised by themes that are not usually associated with Kahn’s work, including biophysics and engineering, as well as visions for the city of Philadelphia.
Sponsored by Swarovski, the show is curated by the NAI, the Vitra Design Museum, and the University of Pennsylvania (Kahn’s alma matter). “A song of praise to the beauty, strength and consolation that good architecture can offer,” the exhibition reminds the public how important architecture can be for society, in a time when many think the future of the profession should be re-envisioned.”
Via: Architizer
Photo: Government Building Dhaka, Bangladesh (1962-1986). Image © Raymond Meier

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture

Silvia Gugu. Sept 17, 2012

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedom Park in New York City is finally approaching completion, with the official opening scheduled for October 24. The latest photographs convey the unmistakable mastery of space demonstrated by the architect Louis Kahn, who designed the park right before his sudden death at 73. Kahn’s only project in New York City, the park embodies the architect’s reverence for President Roosevelt, with whom he shared the desire to enrich the lives of all people.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Kahn’s belief in the social role of architecture is the subject of a new exhibition running September 8, 2012, to January 6, 2013. Suggestively titled “The Power of Architecture,” it is staged at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in Rotterdam. Read more.

The first retrospective of the American master’s work since 1969, the exhibition is organized into six major themes, showing the vast diversity of Kahn’s projects. Through architectural models, drawings, photographs, plans of 40 of his projects, and information about the influences in his work, alongside videos and publications written on or by him, the curators strive to reveal the stories behind his buildings. Visitors can expect to be surprised by themes that are not usually associated with Kahn’s work, including biophysics and engineering, as well as visions for the city of Philadelphia.

Sponsored by Swarovski, the show is curated by the NAI, the Vitra Design Museum, and the University of Pennsylvania (Kahn’s alma matter). “A song of praise to the beauty, strength and consolation that good architecture can offer,” the exhibition reminds the public how important architecture can be for society, in a time when many think the future of the profession should be re-envisioned.”

Via: Architizer

Photo: Government Building Dhaka, Bangladesh (1962-1986). Image © Raymond Meier

“WAYS & MEANS: Disrupting City Hall to Open Government
MARK ALAN HUGHES | NEXT AMERICAN CITY
August 21, 2012

You probably know more about the locale for tomorrow night’s House Hunters International, or the flavors on next week’s Cupcake Wars, than you do about construction planned for across your street or building code violations on your block.
Ever since Walter Annenberg invented TV Guide (in Philadelphia, by the way), the accessibility of programming data has been continuously improved. And since one thing leads to the next, these days you can access that TV schedule from a device in your pocket and then program your DVR to record shows, post the fact that you’ve scheduled a recording on social media, etc., etc. and, let me just say, etc.
The technology that enables this very contemporary reality TV-topia isn’t restricted to one’s viewing habits. Innovations in digital media and wireless technology have literally remade how we consume information, putting formerly ubiquitous technologies such as the traditional boob tube on the fast train to obsolescence, “disrupting” the existing market and, in turn, the way we perform basic activities.
In Philadelphia, there has been lots of talk — and progress — about disrupting the way we as citizens interact with our government. In particular, there has been quite a bit of interest in open data — or the release of data by governments, transit agencies and others to empower citizens and engage entrepreneurs.
It turns out that someone in City Hall was listening to all the clamor. Under the leadership of Commissioner Carlton Williams, the Department of Licenses and Inspections has launched a new public tool that provides meaningful access to data, allowing people to search and map information from a huge list of topics: Vacancy and code violations, building permits, zoning appeals, food licenses, sign permits and so on.
On its face, this is pretty simple stuff: Taking information that has been around for decades, even centuries, and simply putting it into a map on a web-accessible screen. There are similar moves happening in local government, such as the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Philly LandWorks simple tool for finding and buying property, and the Office of Property Assessment’s Property Search simple tool for determining the assessed value and taxes due on property.
But this simplicity is deceiving. These tools could be the “disruptive technology” we’ve been waiting for, and could very well rock the status quo by the very virtue of their slightly retrograde simplicity. (The key citation here is Clayton Christensen’s 1997 book, The Innovators Dilemma.)
The layering and accessibility of these data sets have the potential to change the practice of both policymakers and private citizens, as well as how these two relate to each other.”
Via: Next American City
Image: An interactive map gives data about the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, such as the L&I violations shown in this screen grab. Credit: City of Philadelphia

WAYS & MEANS: Disrupting City Hall to Open Government

MARK ALAN HUGHES | NEXT AMERICAN CITY

August 21, 2012

You probably know more about the locale for tomorrow night’s House Hunters International, or the flavors on next week’s Cupcake Wars, than you do about construction planned for across your street or building code violations on your block.

Ever since Walter Annenberg invented TV Guide (in Philadelphia, by the way), the accessibility of programming data has been continuously improved. And since one thing leads to the next, these days you can access that TV schedule from a device in your pocket and then program your DVR to record shows, post the fact that you’ve scheduled a recording on social media, etc., etc. and, let me just say, etc.

The technology that enables this very contemporary reality TV-topia isn’t restricted to one’s viewing habits. Innovations in digital media and wireless technology have literally remade how we consume information, putting formerly ubiquitous technologies such as the traditional boob tube on the fast train to obsolescence, “disrupting” the existing market and, in turn, the way we perform basic activities.

In Philadelphia, there has been lots of talk — and progress — about disrupting the way we as citizens interact with our government. In particular, there has been quite a bit of interest in open data — or the release of data by governments, transit agencies and others to empower citizens and engage entrepreneurs.

It turns out that someone in City Hall was listening to all the clamor. Under the leadership of Commissioner Carlton Williams, the Department of Licenses and Inspections has launched a new public tool that provides meaningful access to data, allowing people to search and map information from a huge list of topics: Vacancy and code violations, building permits, zoning appeals, food licenses, sign permits and so on.

On its face, this is pretty simple stuff: Taking information that has been around for decades, even centuries, and simply putting it into a map on a web-accessible screen. There are similar moves happening in local government, such as the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Philly LandWorks simple tool for finding and buying property, and the Office of Property Assessment’s Property Search simple tool for determining the assessed value and taxes due on property.

But this simplicity is deceiving. These tools could be the “disruptive technology” we’ve been waiting for, and could very well rock the status quo by the very virtue of their slightly retrograde simplicity. (The key citation here is Clayton Christensen’s 1997 book, The Innovators Dilemma.)

The layering and accessibility of these data sets have the potential to change the practice of both policymakers and private citizens, as well as how these two relate to each other.”

Via: Next American City

Image: An interactive map gives data about the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, such as the L&I violations shown in this screen grab. Credit: City of Philadelphia

Architectural + Urban Research

Mass Urban is a multidisciplinary design-research initiative concerned with contemporary cities and urbanism. Mass Urban was co-founded in April 2011 by David Lee and Cliff Lau.

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