January 30 2015

St. Henri: Another Montreal Working Class Neighbourhood Gradually Transforming

Has St. Henri been subject to a renewal or gentrification? The latter has become a sensitive topic in urban planning theory, and is the cause of many debates and discussions. Notable for its negative implication of wealthy outsiders displacing poorer residents, the shift in demographics leads to subsequent changes to a neighbourhood’s social and economic character. The rise of rents and property values, and the introduction of new land use activities are often the factors that exclude original residents. Though class and culture may clash, it is these social and economic changes that can breathe new life into a community. Can urban revitalization even hap[...]
January 30 2015

Pedestrians Prioritized in Montreal, Canada: Five Projects Launching in 2015

In Montreal, Canada, five streets will be transformed in order to provide more space for pedestrians, beginning this summer. These projects are part of the city’s new urban planning program. On Sunday, the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, announced the City of Montreal’s intention to allot more space to pedestrians while renovating the streets. In 2015, five districts can count on the city’s financial aid to transform a stretch of their streets into pedestrian spaces, whether that be accomplished by closing a traffic lane or by developing shared lanes. “These re-imagined streets will stimulate neighborhood life, not only by increasing liveliness, security, and the quality of[...]
January 29 2015

Los Angeles, California Announces New Plans in Anticipation of “The Big One”

In a large metropolitan region like Los Angeles County, California, preparing for disasters, both natural and man-made, is a huge governmental concern. With a population of just over 10 million people, Los Angeles County is home to over 200,000 businesses. Specific to earthquakes, Mayor Garcetti has recently announced a new plan called “Resilience by Design” to help address some of the city’s greatest vulnerabilities to earthquakes. Scientists conclude that Los Angeles (along with other cities that borders the southern section of the San Andreas fault) is long overdue for a major earthquake that many call “The Big One.” Besides concerns for buildings that haven’t been retrofitt[...]
January 26 2015

Creative Augmented Reality App in San Francisco: Reimagining the SFMOMA

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is “closed for construction, yet more open than ever.” With the museum expansion still under construction until early 2016, the SFMOMA collection has been popping up around the Bay Area in exhibits held within surrounding museums and public spaces. Even with the handful of curated exhibits planted throughout the Bay, the SFMOMA’s absence feels more present than ever. Snøhetta’s vision of the new SFMOMA serves as a symbol for the museum’s future rebirth. Wedged within the dense urban fabric of San Francisco, the structure is as visually captivating as it is controversial. The white building is seen by some as visually distracting[...]
January 26 2015

Longest Footbridge East of the Mississippi: Century-Old Willimantic Footbridge

While Willimantic’s Frog Bridge might be eastern Connecticut’s most familiar bridge, there is a far more historically notable bridge close by that has provided access to Willimantic’s downtown for over a century: the Willimantic Footbridge. As the Willimantic textile industry grew in the 1800’s, so did it’s neighborhoods on the south side of the town’s namesake river. A single road provided a pedestrian route across. The need for a second river crossing was recognized and debated for more than fifty years, and finally approved in order to “to curb the dangerous pass of children and adults across the nearby railroad yard bridge spanning the riv[...]
January 21 2015

Why Riverside Transit Agency Replaced its Entire Fleet with CNG Buses

The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) has provided public bus services to Western Riverside County since 1977. RTA operates more than 160 buses on 36 fixed routes and 8 commuter routes. They also use 98 Dial-A-Ride vehicles, and 10 trollies. Their service area is among the nation’s largest, covering 2,500 square miles of Riverside County, California.  In 2001, RTA took a major step by converting its entire fleet of 94 diesel buses to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), despite the buses costing $50,000 more than their diesel counterparts. Early in 2014, RTA replaced its first CNG fleet with a larger set of 97 brand-new 42-foot CNG buses. So why are they so committed to CNG? CNG [...]
January 19 2015

Alternative Energy Options Expand in Galway, Ireland

Alternative energy is any energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuel. These alternatives are intended to address concerns about such fossil fuels and their associated risks. There are various types of alternative energy available in Galway, situated on the west coast of Ireland, including wind power,geothermal energy,hydropower,solar and biomass. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, Galway is one of the windiest places on Earth. Wind energy was always going to be the number one alternative energy choice. At present, there are over six wind farms in Galway with more planned in the future[...]
January 16 2015

Bordeaux, France Makes Plans to Execute its Energy Transition

On January 12th, the Economic and Sustainable Development committees of the French Senate traveled to Bordeaux, the capital of the Gironde department. The trip was made in light of the debate around the country’s Energy Transition Bill. Over the past five years, the policies instated by Bordeaux’s Mayor, Alain Juppé, have considerably reduced the city’s energy bill. But ecologists claim that renewable energy sources have not been developed enough.     “Alain Juppé was only the Minister of Ecology for one month, in May 2007, and yet in Bordeaux, we have always gone further than what was expected from the Grenelle Environment Round Table,” assured Anne[...]
January 16 2015

Hints of Corruption Won’t Stall Montreal’s Ste. Catherine Street Makeover

To most, Ste-Catherine Street is recognized as Montreal’s main commercial thoroughfare. Running through the heart of downtown, the street is lined with big brand name stores, several department stores, smaller boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. A number of establishments even have multiple locations along the strip. Lying directly below, as an extension of the activity above, exists a significant portion of the Underground City. Though often bustling with people, Ste-Catherine Street competes with large shopping complexes that have emerged off the island, like Quartier Dix30 on the South Shore, and the Ste Dorothée MegaCentre in Laval. As expected fr[...]
January 13 2015

In Nice, France, Construction of a Second Tram Line Speeds Along

Nice, France is expecting to accelerate the construction of its second tramway line, which will run from east to west across the city. Two thousand and fifteen will be a transitional period. Notably, a committee has been created to offer damages to businesses affected by construction. It has also be announced that there are plans to plant trees along the new route. “Two thousand and fourteen was marked by the opening of many preparatory works across Nice,” announced Philippe Pradal, the First Deputy Mayor of the city. Two thousand and fifteen will be a time for “intensification.” There will be no less than 190,000 square meters excavated, all of which must be eva[...]
January 12 2015

Why are Milliennials Flocking to Des Moines, Iowa?

On its surface, the city of Des Moines may not seem like the most attractive place in which to settle down. It’s located in the middle of the state, surrounded in all directions by a buffer of cornfields. The city has also come to be known as a major center of the US insurance industry. These factors don’t exactly paint the most exciting picture for young millennials when deciding where to live and launch their career. Despite this, Des Moines was recently named by Forbes as the top city for young professionals. This ranking was based off of economic factors such as cost of living and unemployment rate, but, at the same time, Des Moines has become more attractive to young professionals beca[...]
January 12 2015

Placemaking Opportunities from The Los Angeles River’s Revitalization

In response to a pair of deadly floods in the late 1930’s, the US Army Corps of Engineers were called in to control the Los Angeles River. In doing so, most of the river was encased in concrete – it wasn’t until roughly 50 years later that action was taken to revitalize the river. Presently, there are a number of different groups working to revitalize the river (ie. Friends of the Los Angeles River, Heal the Bay, Urban Semillas, LA River Revitalization Corporation). Lewis MacAdams, a long-time activist and co-founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) is one of the river’s earliest proponents. More than two decades ago, MacAdams, along with two others, cut open a fence [...]
January 09 2015

René Pechère Garden Restored in Brussels, Belgium

The René Pechère Garden in the administrative neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium has been rebuilt exactly as it used to be. The renovation of the entire area is coming along little by little. “Even if there are not very many of them, Brussels’ citizens deserve a renovated green space.” Indeed, there are not yet very many inhabitants on this side of the administrative neighborhood, stuck between la Petite Ceinture, La Rue Royale, and Le Boulevard Pacheco. But it is those citizens, of course, and their numerous future neighbors, that Geoffroy Coomans de Brachène, the City of Brussels’ Deputy of Urban Planning, was thinking of when h[...]
January 08 2015

A Tale of Two Cities: Turin and Milan, Italy’s Agenda for Urban Innovation

Urban innovation is a term that has swept several major Italian cities, among others around the world. The term refers to a city's ability to reinvent itself by proposing a framework of new projects. The concept has come to dominate all strategic planning in places that need to reevaluate their functionality and promote their image. But there have been many discussions regarding what drives urban innovation into a city. Is planning strategically enough? Is having an innovative master plan the key? Or maybe a strong set of policies and governance? Milan and Turin are examples that offer some answers. An interesting study has been conducted by a team of professors from[...]
January 07 2015

Is Suburban the Answer?: Jobs / Housing Balance in Inland Empire, California

Take a close look at an aerial map of Riverside County from a couple of years ago, and you will notice some strange crop-circle-like formations. These weren’t created by extraterrestrial life, but are in fact stalled single-family home developments, whose eerie, empty, post-apocalyptic streets contain signs displaying new home prices from nearly a decade ago. Together they tell the story of a region that was badly impacted by the housing bubble burst. The Inland Empire experienced a crushing number of foreclosures during the recession, going from an average of 2,500 a month in 2006 to about 10,000 a month by the end of 2011. The average home price in 2006 was[...]
January 06 2015

Holistic Architect, Lutgarde Brun, to Lead Huy, Belgium’s Urban Planning Services

Lutgarde Brun is the new city architect in Huy, Belgium. Numerous challenges, many of them quite large, await her, but she is prepared and excited to tackle them head on. With 2,000 new inhabitants expected in Huy over the course of the next ten years (and 1,000 new lodgings that will come with them), the services of the “Living Environment” department are solicited more and more often. These services include answering all questions about urban planning, land use, mobility, energy, and housing for the city. The department has been overworked for the past few years, and thus finally added Lutgarde Brun to its staff two week’s ago to help manage the[...]
January 05 2015

Micro-Apartments: Making 160 Square Feet Livable in San Francisco

California’s smallest legal apartment lies in San Francisco’s SOMA district just south of downtown. The 160 square foot SmartSpace apartment holds enough space for one person looking to practice minimal living. This urban dweller’s dream is equipped with a sofa which folds out as a bed, sliding doors, resourceful storage, and a “smart bench” which transforms into a table for two or sleeping quarters for an inebriated comrade. After an MIT student gave a prototype a test run and a critique, adjustments were made to fixture placement and size. With these new adjustments, micro-units are starting to pave the way for alternative housing options in the densely populated San Francisco area.[...]
January 05 2015

Connecticut Municipalities Mandated to Join Regional Planning Authorities

Unlike most of the United States, Connecticut has no system of county governance. While a regional, "county" government once existed (ceasing in 1960), it didn't hold much power and had very few functions. Under the laws of the state constitution, 169 towns hold powers similar to that of a city and manage their own administration. To meet the cost-sharing and regional needs of local governments, Connecticut passed a law in 1947 “allowing two or more contiguous towns with planning commissions to form a regional planning authority.” The statute called for these regional planning authorities to be: “Based on studies of physical, social, economic and governmental conditions and trend[...]
January 05 2015

Galway, Ireland Turns to its Community in Struggle Against Sprawl

As long as cities have existed there has been urban sprawl. In Galway, Ireland a dramatic increase in the city's urban sprawl began in the 19th century, when labourers flocked from the countryside to work in the new factories that were then springing up. Large developments of small terraced houses began to appear, and new public transportation systems allowed workers to commute into the city daily. Suburban districts also sprung up around the city centre to accommodate those who wanted to escape the squalid conditions of the industrial town. Suburban living has become the dream for many people in Ireland. Having personally lived in an area roughly 8 miles from Galway City[...]
January 02 2015

Mâcon, France Doubles the Size and Increases Mobility Access of Esplanade

Started in late September, renovation work on the Esplanade du Breuilin in Mâcon, France, is advancing at a good pace, as can be seen from a quick tour of the property. After three months of work on the 8,000 square meters that make up the Esplanade du Breuil, the transformation truly stands out. The urban planning project was taken on in order to redefine the identity of the public space. The esplanade itself sits at the heart of an urban environment that is continuously changing. Now, when one comes across the esplanade, forgotten are the 4,000 square meters of paving stones and the notion of empty space that accompanied them. Space has been given to pedestrian meandering, and the road h[...]

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