France has embarked on an ambitious plan to remake Paris -- and, in the process, solve its suburbs problem. On Jan. 1, 2016, Paris, along with Clichy and more than 120 of its closest suburbs, will be enfolded into the Métropole du Grand Paris, an ambitious but still ill-defined project to create a sort of uber-city -- an overarching metropolitan government for the greater Paris area, encompassing around 7 million inhabitants and over 270 square miles. — Foreign Policy
This ambitious project will be the first of its kind in the world, one that planners hope can become a model for other cities. The Parisian suburbs – or banlieues – are notoriously underprivileged. Generally, Paris and its environs are markedly economically segregated: the central city is...
Most of the Bay Area roads, bridges, water systems, dams and levees fared well in Sunday's 6.0 earthquake near Napa, but the damage in the picturesque Wine Country town was a jolting reminder of the vulnerability of public services for 7 million people. A Big One -- such as a 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault that runs beneath heavily populated Oakland and Berkeley -- would inflict more damage to key infrastructure, experts said. — San Jose Mercury News
Overall, the damage caused by the Napa earthquake could have been a lot worse. But a Los Angeles Times article documenting how even retrofitted historic buildings were damaged showcases the profound vulnerability of older structures in California. According to the article: "The destruction...
Big real estate projects sometimes go through name changes, but the announcement August 4th that the Atlantic Yards mega-development near downtown Brooklyn, which has faced steady controversy since it emerged in 2003, would become Pacific Park Brooklyn, was an unusual, strategic and dubious adjustment. — nextcity.org
State-owned news outlets reported this month that the government would ban the use of coal in Beijing and other urban areas by 2020 in an effort to reduce the noxious air pollution that chokes many cities. [...]
But [President Xi Jinping] and other officials have provided few details — and, indeed, have sent conflicting, even disturbing, signals about their plans. Some measures China is considering could actually exacerbate climate change. — nytimes.com
In the wake of economic reforms in the 1990s that helped set off the largest urban migration in history, China had the rare opportunity to embrace cutting-edge city-building approaches as it expanded its skyline. It could have avoided the mistakes that made Los Angeles into the land of gridlock, or bypassed the errors that turned the banlieues of Paris into what one American planner calls “festering urban sores”.
But China looked back instead of forward. — theguardian.com
Public housing in the United States is associated with failure and misery. The very words conjure up visions of concrete tower blocks, drug-related violence and concentrated poverty. But contrary to popular belief, public housing in the U.S. has not been an utter disaster [...].
Many of public housing’s failures can be traced to the American political and economic context, especially easy to see when compared with the success of similar policies around the world. — nextcity.org
It is not rare for a civilisation to abruptly falter, give way and fold into a new one. This insight seems obvious in the territories of the former Soviet Union — a universe transformed into a memory overnight. [...] that a city turned ruin continues to be inhabited, that the collapsing buildings and boulevards stained by a thousand footsteps, after the apocalypse, host new forms of human life, new memories. Harbin, in the far north-east of China, used to be a very Russian metropolis. — calvertjournal.com
Today the Pruitt-Igoe site is once again in the spotlight, but this time because of a new bid to “get the economic flywheel going in the right direction again,” in the words of private developer Paul McKee, the force behind the proposed NorthSide Regeneration project. [...] The lynchpin of it all would be to get the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency—the high-tech eyes and ears of the Defense Department—to relocate to where the towers of Pruitt-Igoe once stood. — citylab.com
Friday, August 22:Zaha Hadid sues architecture critic Martin Filler over book review: Hadid is responding to allegedly defamatory comments made by Filler regarding her 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar.The Demolition of 5 Pointz Has Begun: The "Graffiti Mecca" was slated for demolition last...
The study from UCLA's Ziman Center for Real Estate shows that the average renter in Los Angeles, which has the highest percentage of renters in the country, devotes 47 percent of his or her paycheck to rent. [...]
It's the latest depressing news about L.A.'s rental market, and it comes with a twist: affordability is not a new post-recession problem, but one that has been getting worse for decades.
“Our studies show a severe housing burden among poor renters has existed since 1970 — scpr.org
Seventeen years ago, when Kazakhstan moved its capital here, the city of Astana didn’t even exist. [...]
But after years of rapid economic growth fueled by Kazakhstan’s oil and gas riches, the skyline of Astana [...] is now punctuated by gleaming skyscrapers and Western-style shopping malls. The city has become a hotbed for architectural experimentation, attracting big names like Norman Foster and Manfredi Nicoletti who have transformed it into what locals now call “Manhattan on the Steppe.” — nytimes.com
“Anyone who has been going to Burning Man for the last five years is now seeing things on a level of expense or flash that didn't exist before,” said Brian Doherty, author of the book “This Is Burning Man.” “It does have this feeling that, ‘Oh, look, the rich people have moved into my neighborhood.’ It’s gentrifying.” — NYT
"By the way, there are over 62 million Burning Man results in the Google search but who can guarantee they all originate from Nevada desert? After all, men and women burn daily all over the world. Right?" - from Burning Man, a new religion?
In a paper published this month, the researchers describe how they very simply and very quickly seized control of an entire system of almost 100 intersections in an unnamed Michigan city from a single ingress point. The exercise was conducted on actual stoplights deployed at live intersections [...] As is typical in large urban areas, the traffic lights in the subject city are networked ... allowing them to pass information to and receive instruction from a central management point. — Ars Technica
Tilikum Crossing is the nation's first multi-modal bridge that will be off-limits to private automobiles. It will carry MAX light rail trains (the impetus for construction) as well as Portland's streetcar line and city buses, and of course pedestrian and bike lanes on both sides—but no cars. [...]
"Transit has a huge impact on urban planning. I mean, if you look at our city, it was designed around streetcars. On some level, it has to be part of their DNA." — citylab.com
The Palestinian Authority government has estimated that it could cost $6 billion to rebuild the territory: 50,000 homes have been totally or partially destroyed, roughly 250 factories have reportedly been rendered inoperable, and Gaza's sewage treatment facility and power plant have been damaged, shrinking the available supply of drinkable water and creating a potential health crisis for residents. — Foreign Policy
The recent (and ongoing) Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip has taken a massive toll on the densely-populated urban area's infrastructure. While the need to begin reconstruction is urgent and unquestionable, the mechanics are much trickier. In order to get cement into Gaza, Palestinians must...
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