Planning & Urbanization
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No two cities are exactly the same, but some enjoy distinct looks that makes them unmistakable. Think of Parisian balconies with cast-iron banisters, chimneyed townhouses lining the streets of London, or the water towers and fire escapes of New York. Small quirks like these can add up to make a city instantly familiar to anyone in the world. With this in mind, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a software program to determine exactly which features give certain cities their unique architectural character. Using everyone’s favorite vicarious vacation dream machine, Google Street View, the researchers developed an algorithm that detects elements, such as a window, column or balcony, that are both distinct and occur with regularity inside a city. As explained in an accompanying video , this disqualifies singular landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, whose iron angles are distinct but don’t occur anywhere else in Paris.
Welcome to the era of the megacity. More than half the global population now lives in urban areas, and there's no going back to the farm. With China leading the way, today's global cities are surging ahead in population and economic heft, powering the world economy -- and posing some very difficult problems for governments.
July 18, 2012 — Trees, bushes and other greenery growing in the concrete-and-glass canyons of cities can reduce levels of two of the most worrisome air pollutants by eight times more than previously believed, a new study has found. A report on the research appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology . Thomas Pugh and colleagues explain that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) and microscopic particulate matter (PM) -- both of which can be harmful to human health -- exceed safe levels on the streets of many cities. Past research suggested that trees and other green plants can improve urban air quality by removing those pollutants from the air. However, the improvement seemed to be small, a reduction of less than 5 percent. The new study sought a better understanding of the effects of green plants in the sometimes stagnant air of city streets, which the authors term "urban street canyons."
Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things By Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Chicago Press, 183 pp., $25) JUST WEST OF SEOUL, on a man-made island in the Yellow Sea, a city is rising. Slated for completion by 2015, Songdo has been meticulously planned by engineers and architects and lavishly financed by money from the American real estate company Gale International and the investment bank Morgan Stanley. According to the head of Cisco Systems, which has partnered with Gale International to supply the telecommunications infrastructure, Songdo will “run on information.”
Some 1,600 years ago, the Temple of the Night Sun was a blood-red beacon visible for miles and adorned with giant masks of the Maya sun god as a shark, blood drinker, and jaguar. Long since lost to the Guatemalan jungle, the temple is finally showing its faces to archaeologists, and revealing new clues about the rivalrous kingdoms of the Maya. Unlike the relatively centralized Aztec and Inca empires, the Maya civilization—which spanned much of what are now Guatemala , Belize , and Mexico 's Yucatán region ( Maya map )—was a loose aggregation of city-states. (Read about the rise and fall of the Maya in National Geographic magazine.)
I suppose the easy thing to do would be to rail against food deserts, the dearth of fresh produce and other healthy foods for those living in impoverished neighborhoods. Or to enter the debate over whether there are, in fact, food deserts. (A couple of recent studies have suggested that proximity to decent grocery stores isn't the key problem of inner-city nutrition.)
Today, she could have had both. New York City (the stores!) is suddenly a farming kind of town (the chores!). Almost a decade after the last family farm within the city’s boundaries closed, basil and bok choy are growing in Brooklyn, and tomatoes, leeks and cucumbers in Queens. Commercial agriculture is bound for the South Bronx, where the city recently solicited proposals for what would be the largest rooftop farm in the United States, and possibly the world. Fed by the interest in locally grown produce, the new farm operations in New York are selling greens and other vegetables by the boxful to organically inclined residents, and by the bushel to supermarket chains like Whole Foods.
Dilip Vishwanat for The New York Times The vacant D concourse at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Dilip Vishwanat for The New York Times
How many Wal-Marts could fit in Los Angeles County? The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) thinks the answer is hundreds. Alarmed by the retail giant’s plan to build a store in L.A.’s historic Chinatown and another in Panorama City, the advocacy group created a stunning (and wildly exaggerated) graphic , depicting “the Walmartization of Los Angeles.”
John DeGrove was the father of land use planning in Florida and the principal architect of the state land use agency, the Florida Department of Community Affairs. The agency was established in 1985 to oversee compliance with the Growth Management Act. Most Floridians are unlikely to know either what the Department of Community Affairs did or what its disappearance means. Fewer still understand the challenges to design and implement a regulatory framework for rationale growth and development in one of the nation’s fastest growing states, or, how DCA and DeGrove’s mission was a target of anti-government, pro-property rights zealots from the first. Why this matters is simple. Presupposing the failure of government regulatory authority virtually guarantees it will happen.
Shma's bold "water city" concept is a reimagining of the medieval Thai city of Ayutthaya, that rethinks flood defenses for the 21st century by drawing inspiration from the past. It's a concept, yes, but one worthy of a second look, given that this is a uniquely Thai response to the catastrophic flooding that hit the country last year. Gizmag takes a moment to set Shma's scheme in its proper context: that of the very recent past, as well as that of Ayutthaya's heyday as one of Asia's, if not the world's, foremost cities. The flood
6/25/2012 under Cool Places - by Grace Murano - TAGS: cool tunnels This unusual tunnel can be seen in California's Sequoia National Park. The drive is cut through the tree trunk of a Sequoia which fell in 1937. Instead of removing it from the road, the park administration decided to cut a tunnel in it. It's 5.18 m. (17 ft.) wide and 2.44 m. (8 ft.) high.
Last week, a press release from Chicago’s Office of the Mayor proclaimed something that would have sounded like a Yes Men prank just a few years ago: Rahm Emanuel, it said, has a plan to get rid of the city’s “excess asphalt.” It wasn’t a proposal for a big new park or recreational facility, but a plan to take little bits of public space here and there — streets, parking spots, alleyways — and turn them into places for people. It was the latest example of a municipal government taking an active role in tactical urbanism, that low-cost, low-commitment, incremental approach to city building — the “let’s not build a stadium” strategy. For a long time, tactical urbanism was associated with guerrilla gardeners and fly-by-night pop-up parks, whereas large-scale “city planning” was seen as the job of bureaucrats with blueprints.
The Center’s exhibit space and offices in Los Angeles offers exhibits, lectures, and other resources for the public. A small bookstore stocks CLUI publications, and titles of special interest from other publishers. While visiting the CLUI in Los Angeles, check out: POINTS OF INTEREST IN CULVER CITY Currently on display: DOWN TO EARTH: EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT CRASH SITES OF THE MOJAVE