Immigration and Open Public Space

There's been a lot of speculation that immigrant communities are more adept and better at using public spaces, in whatever condition they may be, to create vibrant places. Examples abound, from the Chinatown public markets to Latino soccer tournaments in fields long overlooked by city parks departments.

The Barr Foundation just released this report, focused primarily on Boston, on immigration and open public spaces. It is the first step in understanding how individuals who have many more challenges in becoming part of a new society improve the very place where they're treated as strangers.

"Advertecture" under fire

The Flatiron Building was issued 9 violations today by the Department of Buildings for its huge H&M ad. (courtesy of the Municipal Art Society)


Last moments at the Fulton Fish Market

I first visited the Fulton Fish Market last fall with a public markets expert who could point out all the intricacies of the economics of running the place. Those details have faded, but the experience of being at the market - all the different fishes, the friendliness of the fish sellers, the loudness of their selling - is unforgettable.

newyorkmetro.com's great last images of Fulton Fish Market.


Bronx Terminal Market ...terminated for economic development pipe dream

[I'm sorry not to post this earlier, but it's still important.] We were aghast by the news reported in last week's Village Voice article about the Bronx Terminal Market giving all its vendors the boot to make way for another big box economic development initiative.

"Tenants were notified on March 4 that they have until the end of the month to accept a buyout package and relocation to separate sites around the borough—or face immediate eviction."
This market is pivotal to the daily life of New Yorkers - it supplies produce and dry goods for the hundreds of thousands of small business owners who are then able to keep their prices affordable for the less-privileged citizens of the city.

The market vendors essentially provide access for millions of New Yorkers. And the vendors are not exactly small scale business people. One operates out of a 50,000 sq ft "store" in the market.

Bloomberg calls the market an "eyesore" and the neighborhood "blighted." I just don't think a Target and other big box developments are the answer to jumpstarting the economy. Those chains simply do not invest back into the city, and their presence in the city is often predicated on some tax breaks in the first place.

The Bronx market vendors, however, do give back. Instead of looking through the lens of the "burning neighborhoods" 1970s New York, Bloomberg should think about improving the market for all the people that it serves, the people of New York.

On comtemporary architecture in China


I haven't gotten to the article yet with my Metropolis Magazine, but this is a very thoughtful way of putting it (via Life Without Buildings).

There has been so much hype about the brand name architects lately that the article was simply a pleasure to read. I tried to find out more about the Chair of the Architecture Association in Shanghai and some of the city planners after last month's Harpers article about Shanghai in Harper's but didn't get too far. (And that article isn't online, I'm sorry to say). In the article, one of the city's planners was advocating for a more human scale, rather than huge mega-projects. He was worried that people wouldn't be able to walk from place to place. Worth reading if you can get your hands on a copy.


I'm not an advocate of smooshed words, but this one sure does sum this up! (via Curbed.com)

Jane Jacobs invoked in vain over West Side

Speaking on behalf a proposal for the West Side Stadium plan, Alex Krieger, the head of Harvard's GSD, invoked Jane Jacobs, claimed her as a mentor and asserted that his proposal most closely matched her ideals.

People love to invoke Jane Jacobs to support some idea that has "mixed-use" and "public space." An intrepid reporter, Will Doig (who also wrote another story I posted a few months ago, and for which I got my first nasty comment) from New York Magazine got to the bottom of this, and managed to talk to Jacobs herself.

“The Harvard School of Design has never been much of a mentor of mine.” Why? “They’ve never respected the city street or the vitality of cities. They got terribly fond of Le Corbusier,” whose tower-in-a-park planning theories are anathema to Jacobs. “And it’s never really worn off.”
Her final quote said it all:
"That’s an awful way to use valuable land in Manhattan."

Lack of posts

This spring has brought a lot of changes, so I apologize for not posting as much as I should be. We're moving homes this week, after the office move just two weeks ago, so please bear with me. There is something irresistible though; it'll be up in a minute.


"Live free or die of boredom"

Provocative editorial from the February 2005 Reason Magazine.

Disappearing parking in NYC

...hopefully translates into disappearing cars. This article talks about parking lot owners selling to developers.

I recently saw a presentation that turned the idea of "parking as a right" into "parking as a privilege." It was given by a professor at a university in Vienna, and to make his point, he showed pictures of parking rates in parking lots in Manhattan, and then showed what it cost to park on the street. (His agenda is that streets should be given more to pedestrians with wider sidewalks, and public transit, rather than private cars). What do land use policy makers think of this?


Thom Mayne and the Pritzker Prize

According to the Hyatt Foundation, the purpose of the Pritzker Prize is

"...to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture."
Thom Mayne could have pushed beauty, and he obviously has vision and commitment, but looking at how his buildings meet the street, I'm hard pressed to understand how he has made significant contributions to humanity and the built environment.

Enough already of "brooding aggression"!


The Dutch again - no cars in Amsterdam

I loved this, on the new I AMsterdam campaign for Amsterdam, Holland.

The site tries to give visitors a clue, and under CARS, it says,

Do you really want to enter Amsterdam by car? Know what you are getting yourself into... Traffic jams, getting stuck and a testing of your patience.

Not falling for "Guggenheim Economics"

Boy, am I glad that Taichung didn't fall for Guggenheim economics!

And if anyone has visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, which features local artists, you can see immediately that there is not a dearth of art in Asia, but perhaps it depends on how one defines "art."

Public votes for architects

In Canada, natch.

Voting takes place between April 1 and July 31, 2005. Anyone can vote, I think.


A New York story

Audubon Building

I've been out of touch lately with a recent office move (kicked) out of a 12 story building in the West Village (which will turn the small former offices of non-profits and child psychologists into multimillion dollar lofts...the place does have views on 6 sides!) into a green building, packing and unpacking, and then a subsequent modem UPS debacle. So, no internet for a few days means lots of backlogging. Hopefully I'll be able to glean quickly and catch up. Back soon!


Have your grass and water it too

So this is what happens when you try to grow grass in the desert. Neveda is the site of the largest growing city in the US - Las Vegas! So the water authority now needs to cope with unsuitable landscaping to keep up with the boom, and has developed an incentive program, Water Smart Landscaping, to motivate homeowners to cooperate. A couple of standouts:

I turned off the water on my grass already and it has started to die. Can I still qualify for the program?
Or how about this:
Won't Water Smart Landscaping make my house hotter and run-up my power bills?
No. Shade is the key to keeping you cool in the desert.

[Thanks again kayx.]

Fighting against big boxes

Richard Lipsky, lobbyist for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, is on a roll! He just defeated Wal-Mart's insurgence on the New York economy. I hope it keeps going. I especially like these choice words from him:

...the key is combining a left-wing populist message with a conservative populist one about neighborhood character. [That’s] the music that makes the elected officials want to dance.
[Thanks Chris!]

It's Gerhy alright

What have we come to expect from Frank Gehry - thought-provoking architecture? Or yet another building that requires "fixing" because of its design?

Pauline Saliga, executive director of the Society of Architectural Historians, said she doubted that the changes would drastically alter the hall's look, though she was surprised designers hadn't planned better to prevent an obvious problem such as glare in Los Angeles.

She pointed out that Gehry had to rework another landmark building, the library at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, after snow and ice slid off the curvy, stainless steel roof and crashed onto the sidewalk below.

"Even great architects make mistakes with materials and designs," she said. "I think you just have to admit it and you have to be pragmatic about it and alter that design if necessary. Architecture is a functional art form, so it really does have to function."
Read the rest of the LA Times story.

We found the same thing happening at the Chicago Millenium Park. The center lawn area is closed to use because snow falling off of the grid structure arching over it. And the ramps leading to other areas of the park were closed off because the material was too precious to plow. You can read the full article in next month's Landscape (based in the UK).

[Thanks kayx!]