Urban Planning

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Arc de ????


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Atlanta has this big new area full of hotels, exhibits (will “Bodies” EVER leave? The billboards are GROSS!), stores, condos, apartments, and even temporary Cirque de Soleil tents called Atlantic Station. I think they planned this project fairly well except for the fact that there is no MARTA station onsite. However, the dumbest thing I have ever seen in this city thusfar is this:

I mean, we had an Eiffel Tower at King’s Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, but an amusement park is the proper context for such a folly. Couldn’t they come up with something more original? Is this supposed to fool us into thinking that the road to IKEA is the Champs-Elysees? Does that make the Chatahoochee river the Seine? Does your city have anything as stupid as this? Do tell!


Monday, March 16th, 2009

Stacked in Stockholm: The Slussen Project Proposals


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I cannot seem to get it together today. Thank you to M. Campbell who just wrote in on the STACKED! post to let me know about a cool slideshow in today’s NYTimes. It’s about urban planning in Stockholm, where proposals to replace a traffic clusterf, well, let’s leave it at cluster, have been submitted by five architects. They seemed confused by the Sir Norman Foster one, perhaps he let Brad Pitt do something besides play an architect and gave him the reins, or a drafting pencil on this one, I’m not sure.

Here’s a stacked proposal:

image from Gert Wingardh Architects via The New York Times


Monday, March 2nd, 2009

You, Me and the Bus


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Athens GA has always been a cool town – not only the birthplace of great bands, but also a place where visual arts and architecture are celebrated. For example, right now they are in the middle of You, Me, and the Bus phase II. After phase one, four artist-designed bus shelters were constructed around town. The competition for the eight additional shelters is wrapping up as I write this. This is a perfect combination of public art form applied to an everyday function. Such shelters are usually banal and uninspired.

Has your town had its version of the Cincinnati pigs, the Chicago cows, the Outer Banks dolphins, what have you? I’m hard-pressed to find a city that hasn’t had some version of that project. Isn’t this shelter project a much better and original use of public art funds? What types of public art do you have in your neck of the woods? Would these shelters make you a little more likely to want to take the bus?

photo one by Trevor Frey for Athens Online

photo two by John W. English for the AJC


Thursday, February 19th, 2009

J. Max Bond Jr., Architect, Groundbreaker


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I was sad to read that J. Max Bond Jr. died on Wednesday. Mr. Bond had an illustrious career as an architect and educator, in spite of being told by one of his Harvard professors that he should forget about it because he was African-American. At the time of his death, Bond was working on the National September 11 Museum at the WTC. One of his many projects was the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change here in Atlanta. I did not realize that he was related to Julian Bond until I read his obituary on Thursday (in 2004, Julian Bond was inducted into the Civil Rights Walk of Fame, part of the same property as the MLK Center). To learn more about J. Max Bond Jr., his remarkable career and family, there is a concise but informative summary with links here, and you can read the obituary in full over at NYTimes.com. I have to share the last two paragraphs, which really got to me:

Despite these insider’s credentials, Mr. Bond never lost an outsider’s perspective, applying it critically in 2003 to early plans that called for public spaces high up in the new skyscrapers at the World Trade Center site.

“It’s always been difficult for young blacks, for young Hispanics, for anyone who looks aberrant to get access to the upper realms of Wall Street towers,” Mr. Bond said. “For a city of immigrants, the public realm is more than ever now the street.”

photo swiped from University of Michigan Visiting Faculty page


Friday, January 23rd, 2009

In Case You Missed It: Around the Web This Week


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1) I cut this Boston Globe Magazine story out of the paper over the holidays and just found it wedged in a Soduku book in my carry-on. It’s about Nicole Freedman, whom they are calling “The Spokes Woman.” Freedman has a background in urban planning and is now Boston’s Bike Czar. rallying for bike share programs (like this one I told you about in Paris) and better bike lanes.

2) On a related note, here’s a clever bike lane light post over at Shelterrific. It’s from Good magazine, where we learned about guerrilla bike lanes a few months ago:

3) This image over at swiss miss brightens up a rainy day:

4) Melissa Hom turned the camera around on one of our very favorite photographers/bloggers Todd Selby – I spied him in his own home over at New York Magazine. By the way, any headline that mentions A.C. Slater will grab my attention every time! That magazine has some of the best article titles.

5) What do you think of “log” cabins made from concrete logs? I’m with Joe Campeau who says “Architecture 101 says respect the integrity of the materials…material should represent itself and not another material. Simply put, they’re fake.”

Yea or nay on the logless log home? I suppose we could get into a big semantic argument over the definition of “log.” Does it imply a shape and color to you or material? What do you associate log cabins with (it’s Laura Ingalls Wilder for me all the way)? Would you forgo the integrity of the material in exchange for low maintanence? Wouldn’t you rather have a house that celebrates its material like this one?

2) from Good, via Shelterrific

3) photo by Sam Spenser via szymon via swiss miss

4) photo by Melissa Hom for New York Magazine

5) photo by Janie Osborne for The New York Times