4 Projects That Show Mass Timber is the Future of American Cities

As architects face up to the need for ethical, sustainable design in the age of climate change awareness, timber architecture is making a comeback in a new, technologically impressive way. Largely overlooked in the age of Modernism, recent years have seen a plethora of advancements related to mass timber across the world. This year alone, Japan announced plans for a supertall wooden skyscraper in Tokyo by 2041, while the European continent has seen plans for the world’s largest timber building in the Netherlands, and the world’s tallest timber tower in Norway.

4 Projects That Show Mass Timber is the Future of American Cities https://www.archdaily.com/905601/4-projects-that-show-mass-timber-is-the-future-of-american-cities

Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses | Grist

 

Some 2.4 million American homes and businesses worth more than $1 trillion are at risk of “chronic inundation” by the end of the century, according to a report out Monday. That’s about 15 percent of all U.S. coastal real estate, or roughly as much built infrastructure as Houston and Los Angeles combined.

The sweeping new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists is the most comprehensive analysis of the risks posed by sea level rise to the United States coastal economy. Taken in context with the lack of action to match the scale of the problem, it describes a country plowing headlong into a flood-driven financial crisis of enormous scale.

 

Check out interactive map to see how your home, zip code or community does: http://US Coastal Property at Risk from Rising Seas.

Union of Concerned Scientists report at: Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018)

Grist: Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses

As California’s largest lake dries up, it threatens nearby communities with clouds of toxic dust – The Verge

Dying lakes release dust, often polluted dust, that is literally killing people who can’t afford to move.

Though we often think of lakes as permanent landmarks, global warming, irrigation, and our constant thirst threaten these resources around the world. Terminal lakes like the Salton Sea, bodies of water that have no natural drain, are particularly vulnerable. Iran’s Lake Urmia — once the largest body of water in the Middle East — has shrunk by almost 90 percent over the last 30 years; Africa’s Lake Chad is also 90 percent smaller than it was in the 1960s; and Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea, once the fourth largest salt lake in the world, has practically been wiped off the map.

When these lakes evaporate, they can upend industries and erase surrounding communities. For residents near the Salton Sea, the most pressing problem is the threat of toxic dust. The receding Salton Sea will reveal at least 75 square miles of playa, the lake bed that the water once hid. When that soil dries, it will begin to emit dust laced with industrial runoff from the surrounding farms: up to 100 tons of dust could blow off the playa daily. If it isn’t captured, that dust will push the area’s asthma crisis from bad to dire. The Salton Sea is a dust bomb that has already begun going off.

Source: As California’s largest lake dries up, it threatens nearby communities with clouds of toxic dust – The Verge

A Most Internationally Modernized City – Next City

The New Celestial Empire:

Author’s note: China’s “One Belt One Road” Initiative is an audacious plan to cover half the earth in Chinese-built infrastructure: railways, highways, shipping lanes, and energy corridors. One of the initiative’s marquee projects is a railway that China would like to build from its southern city of Kunming all the way through Southeast Asia to Singapore. Construction has just gotten started, particularly in Laos, the first Southeast Asian country the railway would run through. A poor and extremely undeveloped place, Laos has seen China’s presence grow quickly in recent years. I traveled to Laos in March 2017 while researching a book about the railway to see for myself how the project was coming along. What I found was surreal.

In the remote Laos-China border region, China is turning highland villages into teeming industrial hubs. Engineers have sliced modern highways — the kind you rarely see in Laos — through the jungle. And in one case, Chinese city-builders are resurrecting Boten, a former casino town that had been abandoned years prior, retrofitting it to serve as the railway’s entry point into Laos. This chapter-length excerpt is a snapshot of this isolated region and its dramatic transformation, as China begins its inexorable march with steam shovels, blueprints and big plans for the future.

Source: A Most Internationally Modernized City – Next City

Manhattan Office Rents Increase With Internet Certification | GlobeSt.com

Buildings with high rated internet connections command premium rents. Also interesting is the replacement of FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) by TAMI (Technology, Advertising, Media & Information).

“When tenants pay more for their office space, they expect better internet connections,” Shaw Lupton, senior managing consultant at CoStar Portfolio Strategy, tells GlobeSt.com. In looking at WiredScore rated buildings, on average there was a 6.9% increase in rental properties, between each of the four rating levels.The report found Class B buildings benefitted the most from certification. They commanded rents up to $7.50 more per square foot compared to non-Wired Certified structures, also accounting for distances to subways. “Class B building internet connections are much, much less uniform than internet connections in Class A buildings,” explains Lupton. “For Class B buildings, the wired certification sends a much needed signal to the marketplace about the quality of the connection in that building.”

TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) tenants are attracted to buildings with strong digital infrastructures. This sector leased 13.3% of the platinum rating buildings compared to 6.9% of unrated buildings.

TAMI tenants took up an average of 8.4% of the buildings with the certified, silver and gold level designations.

Source: Manhattan Office Rents Increase With Internet Certification | GlobeSt.com

Something delicious is growing in the ‘sustainability underground’ | GreenBiz

This urban hydroponics farm is in refurbished WWII bunkers just 100 feet under the swarming, grubby streets of Clapham, in South London. Next time I hear that 1970 Motown line, “War, what is it good for?” followed by the response, “Absolutely nothing,” some part of my brain will protest: “Hydroponics!” In effect, what Growing Underground does is to flip vertical farming on its head. Instead of going up, it goes down. With U.K. supermarkets recently forced to ration vegetables in the wake of poor harvests…………

The headline: “Paris to turn a third of its green space into urban farms.”

The piece continued, “It all started when the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who was elected in 2014, declared her intention to make Paris a greener city. The Paris government responded to her call in 2016 by launching Les Parisculteurs, which aims to cover the city’s rooftops and walls with 247 acres of vegetation by 2020. A third of the green space, according to its plan, should be dedicated to urban farming.”

The city’s deputy mayor, Pénélope Komitès, noted, “Paris not only intends to produce fruit and vegetables but also (plans to) invent a new urban model. … We have seen a real craze among Parisians to participate in making the city more green. Urban agriculture is a real opportunity for Paris. It contributes to the biodiversity and to the fight against climate change.”

Source: Something delicious is growing in the ‘sustainability underground’ | GreenBiz

An Infrastructure Plan That Would Actually Work by Willem Buiter & Dag Detter – Project Syndicate

The total value of commercial assets owned by state and local governments is sure to be of the same magnitude, or larger. After all, local governments own and operate most airports and ports, as well as utilities such as water, sewerage, and electricity – all of which are in desperate need of funding. But real estate comprises the bulk of public commercial assets. By some estimates, publicly owned assets account for as much as one-quarter of the total market value of real estate in a city or county. At the same time, many localities need additional funding for affordable housing.

All told, this public wealth represents a substantial opportunity for investors, local governments, and society as a whole. If professionally managed, the yield from such a vast portfolio of commercial assets could fund not just critically needed infrastructure investments, but also any other public goods and services that are in demand.

Source: An Infrastructure Plan That Would Actually Work by Willem Buiter & Dag Detter – Project Syndicate

What You Can Learn About the Future of Cities from Wakanda – CityLab

Citylab has pulled together a Wakanda Reader, or online bibliography of sorts, to indulge those who are interested in the larger questions around urbanism implicated in Black Panther. We would call it a syllabus, but there are already several syllabi available—this #WakandaSyllabusfrom Walter Greason, an economic history professor at Monmouth University and founder of the International Center of Metropolitan Growth, is particularly good. This Wakanda curriculum for middle school grades from school teacher Tess Raker has also been making the rounds.

As for what else has been circulating, here’s an exhaustive, still-living-and-growing list of articles that build upon the Wakandan mystique:

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/02/the-wakanda-reader/553865/?utm_source=twb

What Does China’s ‘Ecological Civilization’ Mean for Humanity’s Future? | By Jeremy Lent | Common Dreams

China’s leader affirms an ecological vision aligned with progressive environmental thought. Whether it’s mere rhetoric or has a deeper resonance within Chinese culture may have a profound global effect

Propaganda or hope for the future?

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/02/10/what-does-chinas-ecological-civilization-mean-humanitys-future

Why we all need Deaf urbanism – Greater Greater Washington

Deaf Urbanism is about changing the conversations around our cities, bringing our Deaf cultural values to the city at large, and preserving our place in society at large — as well as defining urbanism for our own community. Many tenants of Deaf Urbanism have to do with fostering a sense of inclusion as well as eliminating ableism and tokenism…

Deaf Urbanism is really just good design

Many able-bodied people benefit from technological advancements that were first designed for Deaf people, such as subtitles and texting. In urban contexts, various design ideals in DeafSpace include tactile elements, visual access and wayfinding throughout the urban environment. Tactile elements are simply changes in the walking surfaces to denote uses and boundaries — think of a rough stone edge near a curb, so that when you are looking away, you can feel with your feet when you are reaching the edge.

When it comes to visual access, having buildings and spaces that are open, have lots of light, and have direct visual connection benefit everyone. Being able to see your friends in a group in a building across the way on the second floor is simply good design. Applying these items in a larger urban context, we can use different materials in paving to denote different spaces and transitions, such as a cafe, a sidewalk, and a crosswalk. Having appropriate visual connection of buildings to Metro stations instead of buildings obscuring the visual landscape benefits everyone.

Many other urban design elements — such as gentle slopes and wide sidewalks instead of stairs — benefit people that have limited mobility and are also appreciated by able-bodied people. Another example is reduced curb cuts, which benefit pedestrians and bikers as well as people who are Deaf and disabled. Instead of having to step down or look for cars, an able-bodied person can just walk through…

Deaf people communicate in a 3-D language that can benefit planning conversations. It is intuitively simpler to communicate a 3-D environment in a 3-D modality. In our roundtable conversations for Deaf Urbanism, we discuss the scale of streets and how they should look with bike lanes, streetcar lanes, and the like in only a few signs…

Source: Why we all need Deaf urbanism – Greater Greater Washington

Via: Placeswire.org

Blowing down the Saddledome and building a new Victoria Park – Calgary – CBC News

Imagine you were given a serious chunk of Calgary’s core, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and told you could turn it into whatever you wanted.That’s pretty much what the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is doing with Victoria Park.Planners and a couple of architectural firms are hammering away at a vision for the future of one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods.It’ll be a 20-year plan to turn what’s currently a seriously bizarre jumble of skyscrapers, empty lots, an aging Saddledome, a bus barn and several rail lines, into Calgary’s entertainment district of the future. And a cool new place to live.

Source: Blowing down the Saddledome and building a new Victoria Park – Calgary – CBC News

Opinion | A New Map for America – The New York Times

From 2016 but even more salient today. Compare to Trump’s Infrastructure Plan once released and see where the plan misses the key points.

Congress was once a world leader in regional planning. The Louisiana Purchase, the Pacific Railroad Act (which financed railway expansion from Iowa to San Francisco with government bonds) and the Interstate System of highways are all examples of the federal government’s thinking about economic development at continental scale. The Tennessee Valley Authority was an agent of post-Depression infrastructure renewal, job creation and industrial modernization cutting across six states….

What would this approach look like in America? It would start by focusing not on state lines but on existing lines of infrastructure, supply chains and telecommunications, routes that stay remarkably true to the borders of the emergent super-regions, and are most robust within the new urban archipelagos…

Where possible, such planning should even jump over international borders. While Detroit’s population has fallen below a million, the Detroit-Windsor region is the largest United States-Canada cross-border area, with nearly six million people (and one of the largest border populations in the world). Both sides are deeply interdependent because of their automobile and steel industries and would benefit from scaling together rather than bickering over who pays for a new bridge between them. Detroit’s destiny seems almost obvious if we are brave enough to build it: a midpoint of the Chicago-Toronto corridor in an emerging North American Union.

To make these things happen requires thinking beyond states. Washington currently provides minimal support for regional economic efforts and strategies; it needs to go much further, even at the risk of upsetting established federal-state political balances. A national infrastructure bank, if it ever gets off the ground, should have as part of its charter an obligation to ignore state lines when weighing

Source: Opinion | A New Map for America – The New York Times

The Shortcomings of the Plan to Expand Penn Station – CityLab

New York’s Pennsylvania Station is among the most unpopular places anyone in the Northeast United States has to visit. Today’s station structure, shared with Madison Square Garden, is an urban renewal project from 1963 that replaced a majestic Beaux-Arts building, whose demolition provoked outrage and sparked the historic preservation movement. The late architectural historian Vincent Scully said of the original station, “Through it one entered the city like a god. … One scuttles in now like a rat.” In the

Source: The Shortcomings of the Plan to Expand Penn Station – CityLab

Basel’s Tri-national Streetcar Connects France, Switzerland, Germany – CityLab

Basel's new streetcar is pictured.

 

The new streetcar link that launched in Basel, Switzerland, on Tuesday may not look all that special. A low-slung tram painted a shade of racing green, the rolling stock is ferrying passengers just a few stops further down a line that’s been in service since 1897. But these new stops have something special, even ground-breaking about them: While Basel lies in Switzerland, they’re across the border in France. And by opening them, Basel inaugurated the world’s only tri-national streetcar system.

 

Source: Basel’s Tri-national Streetcar Connects France, Switzerland, Germany – CityLab

Latest Renderings for Kearny Point, New Jersey’s Former Shipyard Being Transformed into a Small Business Hub | Untapped Cities

A very interesting project to track. Conversion of an industrial waterfront into a modern office park with exceptional architects/planners and a developer with a vision.

 

 

Aerial view of the Kearny Point site. Image via STUDIOS Architecture (Architecture) in collaboration with WXY architecture + urban design (Master Planning).

Kearny Point, which is located cross the Hudson River in Kearny between Newark and Jersey City, is being positioned as a sustainable business campus. The developer, Hugo Neu, is renovating and redesigning spaces that were once dedicated to one of the most well-known and most active shipbuilding sites, which opened in 1917 in the months leading up to the entrance of the United States in the first World War…..The developers have since renovated a first building, Building 78, that serves as Kearny Point’s proof of concept. It currently houses 150 small businesses, of which over 70% of which are minority or women-owned, a co-working space called Kearny Works, a cafe and a blue roof. The site also houses various companies, including a vertical farm, a bridal design company, a vitamin company, and much more.

A master plan has been developed by WXY, the architecture and urban design firm behind projects like the Spring Street Salt Shed and DSNY Manhattan District Garage, the Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park, the redesign of Astor Place, and the reconstruction of the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk. At Kearny Point, WXY has envisioned a comprehensive plan that will densify the site, add public open space, offer new waterfront access, restore native habitat, and protect the site from flooding.

$1 billion is planned to be invested over the next decade, contributing to 7000 new permanent jobs and new tax revenue for the state and local jurisdiction. There will be three million square feet of converted or new office space. In addition, 15 acres of restored shoreline will accompany a new 4,100 foot waterfront promenade and 10 acres of publicly accessible civic and open space, including a 20,000 square foot amphitheater. It is anticipated that the waterfront area around the south basin and Building 197 will be completed this year, with another large portion of the historic yard anticipated to be completed between 2017 and 2018. A second waterfront phase is projected to be completed by 2023.

Source: Latest Renderings for Kearny Point, New Jersey’s Former Shipyard Being Transformed into a Small Business Hub | Untapped Cities

The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist – POLITICO Magazine

| Erika Larsen for Politico Magazine

Cape Coral may be the best place to gauge the future of the dream—and to see whether Florida has any hope of overcoming its zany developmental, political and environmental history—because Cape Coral is the ultimate microcosm of Florida. It’s literally a peninsula jutting off the peninsula, the least natural, worst-planned, craziest-growing piece of an unnatural, badly planned, crazy-growing state. Man has sculpted it into an almost comically artificial landscape, with a Seven Islands section featuring seven perfectly rectangular islands and an Eight Lakes neighborhood featuring eight perfectly square lakes. And while much of Florida now yo-yos between routine droughts and routine floods, Cape Coral’s fluctuations are particularly wild. This spring, the city faced a water shortage so dire that its fire department feared it couldn’t rely on its hydrants, yet this summer, the city endured a record-breaking flood. And that “50-year rain event” came two weeks before Irma, which was also supposedly a 50-year event.

Source: The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist – POLITICO Magazine

Canadian report recommends nationwide retrofit strategy to cut emissions from large buildings | Proud Green Building

A new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) delivers a detailed roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings like office towers, recreation centers, hospitals, arenas and schools across the country. CaGBC’s A Roadmap for Retrofits in Canadademonstrates the critical role existing buildings play in realizing Canada’s low carbon future, according to a release.

The report provides recommendations to retrofit large buildings that will contribute to achieving a reduction in GHG emissions of at least 30 percent (or 12.5 million tons) by 2030, with the potential to reach 51 percent or 21.2 million tons. The roadmap provides government and industry with a targeted plan to yield the greatest carbon savings from buildings and grow Canada’s clean economy.

Source: Canadian report recommends nationwide retrofit strategy to cut emissions from large buildings | Proud Green Building