Exciting stuff on the street

On another front, there are some interesting, exciting things happening on the street level.

A countdown crosswalk at 6th Avenue and 8th Street. Even without the digital countdown, the adjusted timing between pedestrians and cars is much improved for this confusing intersection.

Counting down crosswalk

Also on 6th Avenue and 10th Street, there's a bicycle crossing. This is one of those spots where the street is marked for bikes to be on either side (look to the way left of the image for the other bike marking). What's the thinking behind this?

Bike crossing

Busy week

Another busy week. I went to visit CarpetCycle's recycling center (they will come in and remove carpet before demolition, save it from going into the landfill). The CEO spends a lot of his time looking for people who are looking for raw recycled material, so check out CarpetCycle if you fit that category. I just think it's great that someone's business model includes helping industry innovate. He does studies with universities around the country.

Isn't it great that all this stuff isn't going into a landfill?

Last night I checked out some of the best of the best from architecture schools in this region at the Center for Architecture. I loved a project out of Parsons. It was a proposal for a new Yankee Stadium that twisted up the traditional stadium form which allowed for lots of flexible use public space underneath the seated viewing areas. Go check it out.

Studying boards
Studying the boards

AIA live music

So many great minds, but then this happened: Incidentally, I went to the AIA again this morning, to attend a session for the Green Issues Task Force with regard to PlaNYC. This is an open task force, anyone may attend. Am I just being a curmudgeon, but does the NY AIA seem particularly ineffective with this very pressing issue of our city's sustainability plan? Does anyone know of a design profession group that's actually making inroads for this plan? I know the congestion pricing issue has been discouraging, but there's many many other initiatives that can get off the ground. Anyone??


L.A. Downtown public spaces

Our office in Los Angeles is way up in the sky, so I can get a pretty good view of downtown (from one side, anyway).

From above, there seem to be a lot of public spaces, but they are two or three stories above street level, usually above a parking garage.

Park from above

Park from above with sculpture

Park from above with another sculpture

Park from above with pool

This is what it's like from the street:

looking east on Flower Street

You need these pedestrian walkways to get to the public spaces, but how do you get up there?

Flower Street skywalks

Actually, I shouldn't assume that those green spaces are actually public. But you have to wonder when much of the retail is underground.

Flower Street Entrance to underground retail

In addition to elevated plazas, sunken plazas are also quite popular.

Hotel's sunken cafe

There are a couple of spots where it was more humane, like in front of the Los Angeles public library.

LA pub lib sitting in shade

And the plaza across the street from the library.

Flower Street plaza public seating

Downtown Los Angeles seemed to be a true Modernist experiment - separation of cars and people, elevation of cars in status, and separation of everyday functions (buying and eating lunch, shopping) from the banality of walking on the sidewalk. During the day, downtown isn't half-bad, but I did get annoyed when the hotel told us not to jog because the downtown was too dangerous. This perception was only reinforced by native LAists, who also told me not to walk around at night when I mentioned going for an after dinner stroll. It will be interesting to see how the city develops downtown, especially with the big Grand Avenue redevelopment project.

I did get to ride the subway, which I have been very curious about....

LA subway

...only I was not supposed to ride it back.



I'm in LA for the rest of the week, but back in New York, it looks like the CitySol festival is worth checking out.


Dumbo's public space experiment

Pearl Washington experiment.jpg

...hard to see, but it's twilight on Pearl/Washington Street in Dumbo. I realize that it is imperative to let cars know that there is a public space here where they once were able to run willy-nilly, but the number of barriers seems to repel the people who should be using it. Cars still drove by as fast as possible...thinking it was a construction site.

This is what it's like inside the square.

Pearl Washington experiment.jpg

Update: of course, Clarence from Streetfilms beat me to it! He's got some clearer shots in this video.


Vancouver's sustainability plan

Vancouver releases its sustainability plan, EcoDensity,

"the City’s bold, new vision for how Vancouver will grow in the future. It’s about the kind of city we will leave for our grandchildren. It’s about the affordability of our city for everyone. It’s about maintaining Vancouver’s status as one of the most desirable places in the world to live."
Now this is one city that doesn't side-step the use of the word "density."


FAQ: Managing Millenium Park

From Flickr

From my work, I am guessing that a frequently asked question is how to best design, manage (and fund) public spaces, especially high profile ones. So, here is Ed Uhlir, Director of Design, Architecture and Landscape for Millenium Park in Chicago, answering some questions about the famous park.


As promised, the FLoating Pool

A couple of pictures...

Floating Pool

It was an early morning and gray day, and not warm enough to go swimming. So you see, no one is using the pool.

I do wish the "beaches" were located closer to the water, and not in the middle of the parking lot. But they do look nice...maybe providing more seating and shade options would be a good idea too.

Floating Pool beaches


Finally, bike share! among other things...

Isn't it about time that NYC tried a bike share?

Why stop with a place in Manhattan? They should do a kiosk in Brooklyn too...maybe around Smith Street?

I caught a glimpse of the floating pool over by the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. It hasn't been as busy as I thought it might be, but I missed the few really hot days last week. I'll go and take some pix sometime this week so you can see how cool it is.