* You are viewing Posts Tagged ‘urban design’

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

Betaville: Multiplayer Engagement Planning in Beta

We’ve blogged on PlanningPool in the past about the lure and the foibles of city-building games like Sim City, and about the promise of interactive 3D urban models for communication and engagement.

Battery Park Street, New York, as seen in Betaville

But what if 3D urban models like Virtual Berlin could be plugged into a city-building game engine like Sim City’s? And what if everybody could play?

That’s the idea behind Betaville, a new collaborative planning technology developed by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

Betaville is based on an open-source, multi-player gaming engine that runs 3D models of real-life communities. Changes can then be proposed to these “base models” by all participants and modeled in alternative versions of the world.

The intent is nothing less than … Continue Reading

Top 10 Google Maps Tricks

To start off Tech Week, we’re going to talk about something that is near and dear to the hearts of many urban planners – Google Maps! Here’s a Top 10 list of great features in Google Maps:

  1. Directions – You already know that you can get directions from A to B on Google Maps, but did you know that you can get those directions for transit or for bikes? Just click on “directions” on the top left hand corner – the train looking thing represents transit directions and the bike icon represents cycling directions. They aren’t perfect, but they are pretty good!
  2. Street View – Street view is a great way to nab some precedent images or other images that show what the street looks like today. You can capture a screen shot of the street view and then import … Continue Reading

Making Space for A Cart/Kiosk Culture in Accra and Portland

Portland Food Carts: Photo by Author

In Portland you might enjoy a steaming bowl of curry, while in Accra a spicy box of jollof.  Both purchased for a low cost and in a convenient location.  What is known as a cart in Portland or New York, a kiosk in Accra or Moscow, might also be a booth, pavilion or a stand.  Each is a different form of micro-enterprise that plays an increasingly important role in our cities today. A kiosk is an efficient way for an individual to start a business with low costs and short time, while providing an immediate service to an urban area.  Congruently, the vibrancy of a neighborhood can be accentuated through the articulation of these small forms.  But … Continue Reading

CTRF 2010 Conference: Active Transportation – influences and policy support for the built environment

From May 30th to June 2nd, Toronto hosts the 45th annual Canadian Transportation Research Forum, with the theme ‘transportation and logistics trends and policies: successes and failures’. The spectrum of papers being presented this year ranges from container shipping trends and implications, to the benefits of roundabouts for pedestrian safety; needless to say there is no shortage of critical ideas! This series of posts will include brief summaries with critiques and links in hopes to evoke critical discussion and questioning on some of the issues.

Thanks to Arti Sandhu on Flickr for this wonderful Creative Commons illustration of active transportation components. She entitles this photo "The Chase"

The two stage sessions that I attended on Monday were on the topic of Active Transportation. The first set … Continue Reading

Greening Small Home Renovations – The City of Vancouver may require Green Improvements to the Renovation of One and Two Family Homes

A small but important part of the ‘Greenest City Action Plan’, The City of Vancouver hopes to tackle the resource efficiency of existing buildings through a proposed amendment to our building by-law (VBBL) that would require green improvements along with the renovation of one and two family homes. Arguably, it might seem like this will have a small impact on the massive GHG goals taken on by the Province and City, however it is an essential step in any Green Building plan. Read more…

Top Five Urban Design Solutions

With this highlight of urban design winners, we hope to draw out a discussion around public space and built form.  The focus of this list is current trends in urban design, ones that have been built rather than ones that haven’t happened. There are heaps of exciting ideas coming from firms, competitions and students that are very innovative. The real winners, however, are the ones that actually happen.  Today, high quality urban design is widely applied in our urban centers as a critical element in any municipal density initiative, as it is recognized to have positive impacts on ecological, economic and social well-being.

1. Urban ecology

The Dockside Green neighborhood in Victoria, BC received LEED designation, in part because of its attention to urban ecology. Thanks to J. Scratchley on Flickr for the great Creative Commons photo!

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Resilient Cities Conference: Bill Reed on Living System Design

Creative commons photo by Martin LeBar.

Creative commons photo by Martin LeBar.

Bill Reed, Principle of the Integrative Design Collaborative, began his lecture by talking about the problematic structure of the English language and how this has influenced the way english-speaking cultures conceptualize nature and approach development. Specifically, the use of object verbs and subject verbs causes us to describe and ultimately understand elements of the world in isolation as opposed to in relation to other elements. While the topic of  language wasn’t the theme of this workshop, it set the stage for examining ‘Living System Design,’ which is an integrated design approach that philosophically and practically combines human development with natural ecosystems.

Framing his discussion about this integrative design approach, Reed spoke to the consequences of contemporary ideas … Continue Reading

In New York City: Abandoned elevated rail becomes a new urban park


The High Line, underneath the Standard Hotel. Photo by author.

High Line_Complete

Pedestrians enjoy a stroll on the completed High Line in New York. Thanks to Gerard Dalmon for the Creative Commons photo!

Two weeks after the opening of the High Line, New York is still reveling in its newest city park. The creation of open space is a rare event in the world’s densest cities, a treasure hunt sometimes known as landscape urbanism. Seoul, Korea recently brought to daylight a forgotten river under the city, opening up a wide boulevard of parks and recreation spaces. Many cities have converted unused belt railways into community gardens or greenways. Now this trend for generating innovative … Continue Reading

Book Review: World Made by Hand (2008)

World Made By HandUnique among planning literature reviewed so far in the Planning Pool, World Made by Hand is a fictional novel. Its author, James Howard Kunstler is best known for his non-fiction books like The Geography of Nowhere. Here he describes the workings of fragmented social groups deep in the “long emergency“, in and around the small town of Union Grove, New York. 

“Small is beautiful” is one of the many planning lessons that Kunstler has woven into his story. Despite enduring hardships, Union Grove proves more resilient than larger cities like Albany, which has degenerated into a lawless dystopia. Likewise, only human-scale and efficient infrastructure like the town’s early twentieth century gravity-powered water system can be maintained with the limited resources of post-oil, post-globalism America.

A second planning lesson … Continue Reading

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