Posts tagged "Texas"
The Atlantic Cities:
“Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn
Ian Lovett. Aug 11, 2013
LOS ANGELES — This is how officials here feel about grass these days: since 2009, the city has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns and plant less thirsty landscaping.
At least the lawns are still legal here. Grass front yards are banned at new developments in Las Vegas, where even the grass medians on the Strip have been replaced with synthetic turf.
In Austin, Tex., lawns are allowed; watering them, however, is not — at least not before sunset. Police units cruise through middle-class neighborhoods hunting for sprinklers running in daylight and issuing $475 fines to their owners.
Worried about dwindling water supplies, communities across the drought-stricken Southwest have begun waging war on a symbol of suburban living: the lush, green grass of front lawns.”
Photo: Mitch and Leslie Aiken in their drought-tolerant yard in Pasadena, Calif. Some Southwestern cities have begun paying residents to rip up their lawns in favor of plants that require less water. 

The Atlantic Cities:

Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn

Ian Lovett. Aug 11, 2013

LOS ANGELES — This is how officials here feel about grass these days: since 2009, the city has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns and plant less thirsty landscaping.

At least the lawns are still legal here. Grass front yards are banned at new developments in Las Vegas, where even the grass medians on the Strip have been replaced with synthetic turf.

In Austin, Tex., lawns are allowed; watering them, however, is not — at least not before sunset. Police units cruise through middle-class neighborhoods hunting for sprinklers running in daylight and issuing $475 fines to their owners.

Worried about dwindling water supplies, communities across the drought-stricken Southwest have begun waging war on a symbol of suburban living: the lush, green grass of front lawns.”

Photo: Mitch and Leslie Aiken in their drought-tolerant yard in Pasadena, Calif. Some Southwestern cities have begun paying residents to rip up their lawns in favor of plants that require less water. 

"Discarded by Walmart, a Box Store Becomes a Thriving Library
Zak Stone. July 3, 2012
While corporations have enjoyed record profits during the economic downturn, municipalities have struggled to keep basic services like school systems running. With big cities from Detroit to Denver making significant cuts in service, libraries have been particularly beleaguered. But those trends are what make the recent opening of the New Main Library in McAllen, Texas so remarkable, and not just because it’s well designed. Since December, residents of this South Texas border town eager to use free internet, check out a novel, or even relax over a cup of coffee can do so in an unusual location: a former Walmart, renovated to become the country’s largest single-story library.
According to local news reports, the city purchased the abandoned store from the corporation for $5 million and spent nearly $26 million dollars total on the project, with renovations led by the Minneapolis-based firm MS&R Architecture. While a 2 1/2 football-field sized property has great potential (think of all the books!), the massiveness posed the “primary challenge” to the design team which relied heavily on color to help users understand the floor-plan and navigate the building. Features include conference rooms, a coffee shop, a copy center, an acoustically-shielded space for chatty teenagers, and a 64-terminal computer lab: not bad for a small city with a population less than 150,000 people.
The library replaced McAllen’s 61-year-old institution, which city officials say they outgrew. And while there’s always nostalgia for losing an old relic, the public appears to be loving their new home for learning. Reports from local news showed that more than 10 times as many people registered for new accounts in December 2011 when the library opened than the same month in 2010. On opening day, 2,000 people queued to be the first inside.
Examining the before and after pictures is, perhaps, most remarkable. The space transforms from a drop-ceiling, painfully lit, box store warehouse to a warm, inviting and dynamic space for learning, thinking, and socializing. It’s a refreshing example of how cities can do something about vacant megastores, byproducts of vaciliation in corpoarte decision-making about which stores to keep open. The new design isn’t going unnoticed: the library just took home the 2012 top award for library interior design by the American Library Association and the International Interior Design Association.”
Via: GOOD Magazine
Photo: MS&R Architecture 

"Discarded by Walmart, a Box Store Becomes a Thriving Library

Zak Stone. July 3, 2012

While corporations have enjoyed record profits during the economic downturn, municipalities have struggled to keep basic services like school systems running. With big cities from Detroit to Denver making significant cuts in service, libraries have been particularly beleaguered. But those trends are what make the recent opening of the New Main Library in McAllen, Texas so remarkable, and not just because it’s well designed. Since December, residents of this South Texas border town eager to use free internet, check out a novel, or even relax over a cup of coffee can do so in an unusual location: a former Walmart, renovated to become the country’s largest single-story library.

According to local news reports, the city purchased the abandoned store from the corporation for $5 million and spent nearly $26 million dollars total on the project, with renovations led by the Minneapolis-based firm MS&R Architecture. While a 2 1/2 football-field sized property has great potential (think of all the books!), the massiveness posed the “primary challenge” to the design team which relied heavily on color to help users understand the floor-plan and navigate the building. Features include conference rooms, a coffee shop, a copy center, an acoustically-shielded space for chatty teenagers, and a 64-terminal computer lab: not bad for a small city with a population less than 150,000 people.

The library replaced McAllen’s 61-year-old institution, which city officials say they outgrew. And while there’s always nostalgia for losing an old relic, the public appears to be loving their new home for learning. Reports from local news showed that more than 10 times as many people registered for new accounts in December 2011 when the library opened than the same month in 2010. On opening day, 2,000 people queued to be the first inside.

Examining the before and after pictures is, perhaps, most remarkable. The space transforms from a drop-ceiling, painfully lit, box store warehouse to a warm, inviting and dynamic space for learning, thinking, and socializing. It’s a refreshing example of how cities can do something about vacant megastores, byproducts of vaciliation in corpoarte decision-making about which stores to keep open. The new design isn’t going unnoticed: the library just took home the 2012 top award for library interior design by the American Library Association and the International Interior Design Association.”

Via: GOOD Magazine

Photo: MS&R Architecture 

“It’s unanimous: El Paso commits to a smarter, greener future
Kaid Benfield.
Earlier this week, the city council of El Paso, the nation’s 19th-largest city, unanimously adopted a detailed comprehensive plan built around the principles of smart growth and green development.  With significant economic importance and a rich cultural history, but plagued with sprawling recent development patterns coupled with alarming rates of land consumption and carbon pollution, the city constructed Plan El Paso over the past two years.  It is among the best, most articulate comprehensive plans I have ever seen.
In January of last year, I reviewed Connecting El Paso, a precursor to the new comprehensive plan that focused on four key transit station areas.  I called the document“a comprehensive guide to smart growth design and implementation” and predicted that it would be a winner when the year’s planning awards were handed out.  Sure enough, in December the US Environmental Protection Agency honored the draft of Plan El Pasowith a national award for achievement in smart growth, judging the effort as the year’s best example of outstanding “programs, policies and regulations.”
The plan has actually gotten better, and certainly more detailed (it runs some 900 pages in all) since I reviewed its predecessor.  Early on, the new document makes clear that it is time for a bold new vision and commitment:
“In recent years health problems such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and the maladies associated with social alienation have become a normal response to a built-environ­ment that does not allow walking or facilitate human interac­tion. The young and the elderly of El Paso, especially, have been left behind by urban forms that necessitate driving long dis­tances. The plan proposes strategies to bring more of the activi­ties of daily living within walking distance and a framework of transportation alternatives including transit and bicycle systems. Encouraging walkability helps create healthy life styles. Building complete places that enable neighbors to know each other will help create and retain close-knit communities …
“The plan recognizes the indispensability of beauty, not as some­thing separate and apart from life like pictures in a gallery, but beauty in homes, neighborhoods, civic buildings, streets, and public spaces. In this way Plan El Paso aims not to return to a vanished time, but rather to grow a choiceworthy contem­porary City based on cherished and enduring values. The plan revives the idea that additions to the built-environment must be functional and long-lasting but also delightful and attractive. Plan El Paso recognizes that design matters.”
Via: National Resources Defense Council
Image: Dover Kohl & Partners via Plan El Paso

It’s unanimous: El Paso commits to a smarter, greener future

Kaid Benfield.

Earlier this week, the city council of El Paso, the nation’s 19th-largest city, unanimously adopted a detailed comprehensive plan built around the principles of smart growth and green development.  With significant economic importance and a rich cultural history, but plagued with sprawling recent development patterns coupled with alarming rates of land consumption and carbon pollution, the city constructed Plan El Paso over the past two years.  It is among the best, most articulate comprehensive plans I have ever seen.

In January of last year, I reviewed Connecting El Paso, a precursor to the new comprehensive plan that focused on four key transit station areas.  I called the document“a comprehensive guide to smart growth design and implementation” and predicted that it would be a winner when the year’s planning awards were handed out.  Sure enough, in December the US Environmental Protection Agency honored the draft of Plan El Pasowith a national award for achievement in smart growth, judging the effort as the year’s best example of outstanding “programs, policies and regulations.”

The plan has actually gotten better, and certainly more detailed (it runs some 900 pages in all) since I reviewed its predecessor.  Early on, the new document makes clear that it is time for a bold new vision and commitment:

“In recent years health problems such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and the maladies associated with social alienation have become a normal response to a built-environ­ment that does not allow walking or facilitate human interac­tion. The young and the elderly of El Paso, especially, have been left behind by urban forms that necessitate driving long dis­tances. The plan proposes strategies to bring more of the activi­ties of daily living within walking distance and a framework of transportation alternatives including transit and bicycle systems. Encouraging walkability helps create healthy life styles. Building complete places that enable neighbors to know each other will help create and retain close-knit communities …

“The plan recognizes the indispensability of beauty, not as some­thing separate and apart from life like pictures in a gallery, but beauty in homes, neighborhoods, civic buildings, streets, and public spaces. In this way Plan El Paso aims not to return to a vanished time, but rather to grow a choiceworthy contem­porary City based on cherished and enduring values. The plan revives the idea that additions to the built-environment must be functional and long-lasting but also delightful and attractive. Plan El Paso recognizes that design matters.”

Via: National Resources Defense Council

Image: Dover Kohl & Partners via Plan El Paso

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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