October 22 2014

Transportation Options Underserving Residents in Towson, Maryland

Towson, Maryland is an urban-adjacent town just north of Baltimore City, with a mix of young families, retirees, and young professionals and a growing population of college students. As of 2014, Towson University’s undergraduate population totaled over 18,000 students, with on-campus housing available for fewer than 5,000 students. This means that up to 13,000 students are contributing to the traffic on Towson’s roads during the school year. As of 2012, Census data estimates that nearly 60% of Towson’s household population is college-enrolled, compared to 33% in other Baltimore suburbs. This presents challenges for maintaining a steady flow of traffic, but Towson’s students have fr[...]
October 21 2014

Urban Revitalization Seems Close Enough to Touch in Saint-Maixent l’École, France

Elected officials have validated Saint-Maixent l’École’s application for candidature for a national project to revitalize downtown areas across the country. While opening the municipal council debates on Thursday evening, Léopold Moreau announced that the city of Saint-Maixent L’École was pre-selected from three hundred communes in France to become a candidate for the revitalization of town centers. The representatives would have decided whether or not to take this opportunity, except for that only fifty communes will be selected during a yet-to-come final round of judging. According to the application, being chosen would allow the town to benefit from a f[...]
October 21 2014

São Paulo, Brazil Street Markets Celebrate 100 Years

On August 25th, 2014 we celebrated 100 years of the formal existence of street markets in São Paulo, a true cultural heritage of the city. The date refers to the first regulation of this activity in the capital, Act 710, signed by Mayor Washington Luis in 1914. The first official market in the city took place at Largo General Osório. Today we have 880 markets scattered in thirty-two subdistricts of the city. Generally, the marketplace is filled with family businesses, working in a different market every day of the week except for Monday. Today there are over 16,000 market stalls throughout the capital, in all regions of the city, according to inform[...]
October 20 2014

Ottawa Lacks Downtown Amenities to Stimulate Urban Intensification

A few weeks ago, on a sunny September afternoon, I left the fluorescent confines of my Centretown office in Ottawa to indulge in a meditative outdoor lunch in the fresh air and gentle hum of the city. After choosing my food, I scanned the surroundings for the most obvious green space where I could enjoy my meal. And I scanned again. And again. I walked a few blocks east, then west. Realizing that my search was in vain, I settled for a large concrete planter on a side street and meditated on the contradictions of Ottawa’s downtown life. Walking around Centretown, it is impossible to miss the brand new condominium developments poking through the neighborhood’s typical stock of low-ri[...]
October 16 2014

Activists Fight to Preserve Historic São Félix Railway Station in Bahia, Brazil

Considered to be the main cultural and historical heritage building in the Reconcavo of Bahia, the São Félix, a former railway station, is now in an advanced state of deterioration and has been abandoned by the government since June 2014. An organization known as the Coletivo Criativo Ocupa Estação (Creative Collective for the Occupation of the Station) proposes artistic and cultural activities for the space, giving it a social function. The Collective started a film club, a library with a reading room, laboratory workshops and arts and crafts events for local communities. Before the occupation, it also operated as a health and fitness club. The construction of the station da[...]
October 10 2014

Racing Towards the Finish Line: Behind Montreal’s Hippodrome Development Project

The Hippodrome of Montreal, formerly named the Blue Bonnets Raceway, was a horse racing track and casino founded in 1872. It has sat at its current site on Decarie Boulevard in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough since 1907. Having gone bankrupt and officially closing its doors in 2009, the 43.5-hectare tract of vacant, abandoned land presents the city of Montreal with yet another opportunity for a large-scale, urban redevelopment project. The city envisions the creation of a sustainable, mixed-use neighbourhood of 5,000[...]
October 09 2014

Bees and Belonging in Ottawa’s Resilient Community Gardens

A new grassroots city-building movement is redefining the urban landscape in Ottawa. In neighbourhoods, residents are coming together to create stronger, more resilient communities by growing their own food in urban community gardens. There are currently over 50 community gardens registered with the Community Gardening Network (CGN) of Ottawa. One of these is Urban Shades, a new kid on the block, established this past summer. Nestled between All Saints Church and Laurier Avenue in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood, Urban Shades consists of twenty-two raised beds producing tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, kale, chard, mustard greens, radishes, and wild strawberries, to name j[...]
October 09 2014

Park Director Says Main Source of Brazil’s São Francisco River Is Dry

The São Francisco basin covers five states in Brazil and experts say the biodiversity of the region is under threat. The director of the Serra da Canastra National Park, Arthur Luiz Castanheira, said in an interview with G1 (Globo 1) that the source of the São Francisco River, located in São Roque de Minas, is now dry. "I've never seen this situation," said Castanheira. According to him, this is the main source of the 2,700 km long river. The São Francisco is the largest Brazilian river and its watershed covers 504 municipalities in seven Brazilian states including Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Goiás and the Federal District (Brasilia). It begins in the S[...]
October 08 2014

Pontevedra, Spain Increases Downtown Livability by Reducing Vehicle Access

It’s a city where the car is unobtrusive, a city with neither noise nor fumes, where children can play in the street and people with reduced mobility can access businesses and services easily. Is it a utopia? No, it is the urban model developed by Pontevedra, a city of 83,000 inhabitants located in the Northwest of Spain. In 1999, when Miguel Anxo Fernandez Lores presented himself in local elections, his program was simple. He proposed to the residents to make their city accessible to everyone, especially to the most vulnerable: handicapped people, senior citizens, and children. It was a decision guided by the European directive that is set to establish the equal rights and[...]
October 08 2014

Grants to Aid Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Goal: Swimmable & Fishable by 2020

As a major port city, Baltimore’s history with industrial activity influenced how the city’s land has been zoned and developed over time. The resulting design, infrastructure, and zoning of Baltimore’s neighborhoods has not always lent itself to environmental protection and sustainability. In recent years however, Baltimore City has shown an increasing commitment to the protection of its natural landscape and resources through multiple funding opportunities. Storm-water runoff has been a major problem for Baltimore City. Storm-water runoff, in an urban context, results from aging infrastructure, abandoned lots covered by impervious surfaces, and minimal buffering due[...]
October 08 2014

Building Happiness: A Review of Charles Montgomery’s Happy City

Happy City: Transforming our Lives through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery is the theoretical exploration of what it would mean to create an environmentally-friendly, socially just, aesthetically pleasing, and efficient city. Charles Montgomery is an award-winning author and activist who is known for exploring the intersections between urban planning, psychology, culture, and history. Happy City opens in Bogota, Columbia, where we meet Enrique Peñalosa, whom Montgomery dubs “The Mayor of Happy.” And I say “we meet” Peñalosa, because that is exactly how it feels. Montgomery employs the use of “we” throughout the book to draw the reader into his narrative.[...]
October 07 2014

#IAMTHEGRID: Two Years Later Kennith George Reflects from Wenatchee, WA

“Relevant, innovative and cutting edge” is how Kennith describes The Grid. Nearly two years since blogging, from November 2011 to November 2012, Kennith George was with The Grid in its infancy and has seen it grow. When he began back in November 2011 he was a part-time planning intern near Tacoma, Washington. As part of his plan in pursuing his career goals, he approached The Grid with determination and the knowledge that the internship “would be a short step in my career goals, but important for demonstrating to potential employers that I was truly interested and passionate about urban planning.” Kennith is now a Planner with the Chelan County Department [...]
October 07 2014

Water Outages and Rationing in São Paulo, Brazil Launch Protests

The Movement of Landless Workers (MTST) has been protesting since the afternoon of Thursday [September 25th] outside the headquarters of the Basic Sanitation Company of the State of São Paulo (SABESP) in Pinheiros, west of the capital. Like the protest that ended in violence in Itu (SP) earlier in the week, the movement reports water shortages already imposed in several districts of the city - which the state government has denied for months. On the facebook page for MTST, the following statement was posted: "We live on the outskirts of the city and have faced the challenges of a terrible water supply service, budget cuts and abusive accounting, problems that are constantl[...]
October 07 2014

Environmentalist Hopes to Bring Eco-Tourism to Touques River in Northern France

A meeting with Emmanuel Schmitt, a 23-year old naturalist from Deauville, reveals a passion for the biodiversity of the marshes of the Touques River as well as that of the Côte Fleurie. He hopes to develop a type of local tourism that is focused on nature.   Schmitt could talk for hours about the particular orange that covers the marsh water during a summer sunrise, or about the blended shades of insects with turquoise wings who fly as if by magic. As he talks, you can see the sparkle in his eyes. One usually thinks of the solitary naturalist, who takes an inventory of different species and lives in his bubble of nature as far from humans as possible. But Emmanuel Schmitt doesn’t s[...]
October 06 2014

Casablanca, Morocco Inaugurates its New Casa-port Train Station

His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco recently inaugurated the new train station of Casa-port, which is a crowning achievement for the national transportation network’s modern heritage. The first of its kind in Morocco in terms of design and facilities, the station falls within the series of major construction sites launched by Morocco’s sovereign across the nation’s entire territory. It represents the King’s continued desire to accompany the process of restructuring, urban modernization, and the strengthening of inter-city transportation. Located in the heart of a city undergoing plenty of change, the new station (costing approximately 45 million USD), fits in pe[...]
October 03 2014

#IAMTHEGRID: One Year Later Michael Jenkins Reflects from Oakland, California

“Progressive and illuminating” is how Michael describes his experience with The Grid. Blogging from Nothinghamshire, England between January and June 2013 after finishing his MBA studies, it’s been a little over a year since Michael Jenkins said farewell to The Grid. Since then he has returned to his hometown of Oakland, California where he is a Business Taxes Representative for the State of California. Reflecting, he believes that “The Grid allowed [him] the opportunity to locate issues in city planning and uncover [his] true passion for public sector work.” Coming from a background outside of environmental design, Michael approached The Grid internship[...]
October 02 2014

The Paris Metropolis: An Increasingly Differentiated Social Mosaic

Relying on detailed census data to study the transformations of the Parisian metropolis, Anne Clerval and Matthieu Delage show that a dynamic of becoming more bourgeois should not mask the strength of the social division in the space of the Ile-de-France, especially at the intracommunal scale. The discourses that refer to the suburb and the periurban area in the singular sense are very numerous today. They reify them into a homogenous and monolithic whole. The suburbs are reduced to certain popular neighborhoods, which are very stigmatized and mediatized. Seine-Saint-Denis is seen as a whole without any nuance; the periurban area would be so homogenous that it [...]
October 02 2014

Construction Company to Pay $5 million for Labor Irregularities in Manaus, Brazil

The construction company, Andrade Gutierrez SA was responsible for the construction of the stadium known as the Arena da Amazônia (a football stadium previously known as the Vivaldão which was reconstructed from 2011- 2014 as part of Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup). Recently, the company has been ordered to pay an indemnity for collective moral damages in the amount of 5 million reais (about $2 million dollars). The decision is the result of a plea agreement entered before the 12th Labor Court of Manaus, in the civil action records (ACP) filed by the Ministry of Labor in the state of Amazonas (MPT 11th Region). In April 2013, the ministerial body proposed the civil[...]
October 01 2014

Wise or Not, Canton Crossing Brings the Suburbs to Baltimore City, Maryland

If you had never been to Baltimore City and I blindfolded you and dropped you off at the shops at Canton Crossing, upon taking off the blindfold you would rightfully assume that you were in a suburb far, far away. An asphalt parking lot would span out in front of you, without any direct pedestrian path to reach your typical suburban shops including Target, Ulta, Harris Teeter, Five Below, and Old Navy. If you were to turn yourself 180 degrees, you’d see the cluster of historically significant, former breweries redeveloped into architecturally interesting apartment and office towers mixed in with a handful of mostly-local shops and restaurants. These buildings are all connected on an urban st[...]
October 01 2014

Plans to Demolish Architectural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium

A project not adapted to existing buildings could potentially have its building permit request denied. In March 2013, ARAU was alerted by a group of locals that the HUB (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel) was planning to “renovate” a group of buildings located at the corner of Marais and Sables streets, which were acquired in December 2012. This “renovation” project, under the name of Campus Meyboom instead resembled a demolition and reconstruction project. As part of the project, a large part of late 19th century and art déco buildings, possessing great cultural value and in very good condition, were condemned to disappearance. The ARAU was therefore opposed to the project [...]

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