The Tech City

Thanks to Leo Reynolds on Flickr for this great Creative Commons photo of hitchhikers in Scotland!

I have recently been witness to the colliding worlds of web and mobile app programming and city planning. Communication technology and transportation have long been studied in unison. A good example is the slow decline of the US Postal Service (with its complex logistics and delivery systems) as more and more people choose electronic communication. The exchange of ideas, people and goods rely on such complex systems.

Since the 1980’s, transportation experts have awaited the day when telework would make a sizable impact on commuting behavior. However, working from home has been very slow to take off, fueled by issues such as employee productivity. Regardless, teleconferencing, remote access, and mobile … Continue Reading

Planning Challenge 1: Commercial Aggregation and Subdivision (Part 2)

Levittown, Pennsylvania

At the dawn of the 20th Century, cities were ascendant, dense, and prosperous, if also iniquitous and polluted. By mid century cities reached their zenith, and a slow decline lead by the flight of the white middle class and industry to cheaper land in the suburbs, subsidized with mortgage insurance and federal highways, free of urban crime and overcrowded school districts. By the last quarter of the century, American cities appeared to be in free fall, many having lost more than half their population, leaving behind the poor and marginalized. Then, in the last decade of the 20th Century the dense city once again showed signs of life.Young, creative professionals were heading to cities after college, crime rates began to reverse, … Continue Reading

Bike, bike, revolution.

Thanks to Paul Krueger on Flickr for this gorgeous photo taken at Vancouver's Hornby Street separated bike lane.

The introduction of downtown bike lanes in Vancouver, Canada has been controversial. In contrast to the concerns about potential business losses and increased traffic congestion, investment into bike infrastructure has demonstrated economic benefits. A recent study from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies found that bicycling contributes $1.5 billion to Wisconsin’s economy every year through bike-related jobs, tourism, reduced health care costs, and a better quality of life.

Vancouver’s Hornby and Dunsmuir bike lanes serve several important functions that will have tangible and intangible benefits.

  • Downtown commuting is now a viable option for more than the most stylish bike courier.
  • The seawall is … Continue Reading

Planning Challenge 1: Commercial Aggregation and Subdivision (Part 1)

Colorado suburbs. Courtesy David Shankbone.

The word “subdivision” is almost synonymous with the “suburbs.” The building blocks of many suburbs are subdivisions with names ranging from the biblical (“Green Acres”), to the pompous (“Kingdom Heights”), to the pastoral (“Pheasant Run”). The problems of inner-city rejuvenation, brownfield restoration, and strip-mall redevelopment are miles away from the great subdividing maw of suburbanization at the rural fringe. But the theory and practice of subdivision may have something essential to teach about re-vivifying blighted commercial and industrial properties in the urban core. Read more…

Zoning Matters

This is the first in a series of articles written by Seth, a new PlanningPool contributor, that will highlight land use challenges and explore innovative ideas on the cutting edge of zoning thinking and practice, in pursuit of sustainability, justice, and prosperity.

Yaroslavl General Plan (2006). Courtesy of ЦНИИП Градостроительства.

I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with zoning. Zoning’s an odd thing to love – intensely technical, opaque, and jargony. But the invisible logic of zoning – that language and maps (symbolic forms) could manage and transform the complex character of a city – drew me in. Zoning evokes the most boring, stodgy, and opaque subject imaginable, yet at this moment of urban and environmental transformation little could be more important.

The great challenge for urban planning … Continue Reading

Vancouver Master Plan Project

This fall, I had the honor of participating in the creation of the first large-scale master plan for the city of Vancouver, Canada since the 1920s. Fourteen landscape architecture and three planning graduate students contributed to the plan, which tackles envisioning how the lower density portion of the city outside the downtown core will accommodate the growth expected over the next 40 years. View the finished document here (35MB PDF file behind the link). 

Student Mary Wong’s depiction of a Production, Distribution, Repair Typology transitioning to an existing single family home with residential densities in between. Used with permission.

Professor Patrick Condon’s recent book Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities provided a basis for the interdisciplinary studio, and Condon required that the plan reflect a doubling of Vancouver’s population … Continue Reading

Urban Cemetery Update!

I have had a few more thoughts on green cemetery practices. I recently happened upon a sidewalk garden that is apparently being nourished by a cherished pet. The idea of resting where you lived and becoming a part of the scenery is an attractive one. How can this be accomplished in urban settings?

Burial marker for a beloved pet, on a residential roadside in Vancouver, BC. Photo by author.

Promession is a procedure similar to cremation that essentially results in compost. The body is frozen in liquid nitrogen, reduced to powder through ultrasonic vibration, and filtered of metals, which are recycled. The remainder is rapidly biodegradable and can be buried or scattered.

According to Barbara Higham, by confronting … Continue Reading

Online Storytelling Part II – RentersSpeakUp

The region of Metro Vancouver, Canada (pop. 2 million) is experiencing a housing crisis, with a shortage of affordable rental housing.

In Metro Vancouver, purpose-built rental stock is aging, and not being replaced fast enough. Thanks to Gak for this Creative Commons shot of walk-up apartments in Vancouver.

From the perspective of regional housing planners, providers and advocates such as the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association and the Co-op Housing Federation of BC, the situation urgently requires both direct federal funding and ongoing support in the form of a national housing strategy.

Approximately 80,000 rental households in Metro Vancouver lack affordable housing, spending more than 30% of their incomes on rent. 30,000 households spend more than half of their incomes on rent. These … Continue Reading

Attention Canadian Planning Students! 2011 CAPS-ACÉAU Conference in Waterloo, ON

The School of Planning at the University of Waterloo is proud to be hosting the 2011 Canadian Association of Planning Students – L’Association Canadienne des Étudiants en Aménagement et en Urbanisme (CAPS-ACÉAU) conference February 3-5th in Waterloo, Ontario. The annual CAPS-ACÉAU conference is Canada’s premier student planning event which provides networking opportunities between planning students, faculty and professionals, provides students with a platform to present their research, and sparks active debate on planning and design-related issues leading to innovation throughout the profession.

The theme of the 2011 conference is Resilience: Planning for Dynamic Futures. Resilience is entering the minds of planners at a time when socioeconomic changes are intensifying and increasingly affecting our daily lives. Characterized by a community’s … Continue Reading

Call for contributions!

Hi there,

For the past couple of years, we’ve been running Planning Pool with the intention of creating grounds for sharing and discussing community development. While we’ve received a great number of contributions from a variety of different folks, we’d really like for the site to be a stronger exchange for community development ideas and collaboration. We can’t do this without you. As ever, we aim to provide as many avenues as possible to share planning-related thoughts, whether through writing, photos, audio, video, or other media. Additionally, we also do our best to secure press passes for our contributors to cover events, which can be a great way to gain entrance to otherwise expensive seminars. If you have an idea that you’d like to share or an event you’d like to cover, let us know how we can make it happen. … Continue Reading

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