March 31 2015

Unconventional “Wikibuilding” Planned to Help Reinvent Paris, France

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, has designated lot M5A2 in the ZAC Masséna (a concentrated development zone) a part of the project “Reinventing Paris.” The lot is a bare swath of terrain stuck just inside Paris’ periphery, only a few minutes’ walk from the National Library and the 1,000 startups that will, in the future, be set up in the Halle Freyssinet. On this bare lot, it will be possible to construct between 8,000 and 11,000 square meters of mixed-use space, depending on what options are ultimately chosen for construction. It cannot be denied that the location is rather improbable, being on the very furthermost outskirts of Paris. However, this could very well be the location of[...]
March 31 2015

Brutalist Communism Memorial Sited Across from Supreme Court in Ottawa, Canada

Fighting against destructions. Protesting against constructions. To believe that only the status quo is the savior. In Ottawa, the memorial to the victims of Communism has attracted the criticism of the profession. Canada's Royal Architectural Institute has expressed itself as not in favor of the project by Abstrakt Studio. Who would have thought? Since the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2015, the Institute - representing no less than 4,800 members - launched a call to the government so that it would "reconsider its decision to erect the imposing concrete monument on the preeminent site and take back the initial plans," explains John Geddes on the website of the Maclean's weekly magazine[...]
March 30 2015

Lack of Lighting and Shelter Influencing Bus Ridership in Twin Cities Metro Area

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, alternative forms of transportation have been on the rise for many years. Minneapolis is even recognized as having the most bicycle users of any city in the United States. Because of this, it is critical that public transportation systems be designed and run as efficiently and safely as possible. This not only includes the modes of transit themselves – such as buses, light rail, heavy rail, etc. – but also the processes prior to boarding and after exiting a transit vehicle. Many people refuse to use or are uncomfortable with using public transit due to a lack of safety. Though much of this is just a negative perception, there is something to[...]
March 30 2015

Plainfield, Connecticut’s Inter Royal Mill is the Perfect Town Playground Extension?

Every town has them: warehouses, mills, and factories of some bygone industrial heyday. Years of abandonment has deteriorated their structures. Often, they are “contaminated.” Some have been met by fire. Overgrown and fenced-off, "keep out" signs keep us protected from them. The cost of remediating these properties far exceeds the reach of most local and state budgets. After so long, the community seems stuck with them, and we ignore them. They’re our neglected history, now ruins. "Ruins provide the incentive for restoration, and for a return to origins. There has to be an interim of death or rejection before there can be renewal and reform."— J.B. Jackson In his essay[...]
March 27 2015

Nutrition in the Urban Landscape Reimagined for Limoilou, Quebec

What would happen if nutrition became a central priority for municipalities, and if we did a global re-thinking of nutritional systems? Continually looking to help Quebec City create better-functioning communities, the organization Vivre en Ville questioned the link between nutrition and the urban landscape in its most recent publication, Nourishing Cities. The man behind the work, Vincent Galarneau, has lived more than 20 years in the borough of Limoilou and has lent himself to imagining what a nourishing neighborhood might look like for us at For the sake of transparency, I must mention that I worked as an intern with Vincent Galarneau and t[...]
March 26 2015

7 Mile “Freezeway” Skating Path Will Pilot in Edmonton, Canada

In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, we are juggling with the idea of creating a linear ice skating rink that would go across the entire city. Named the "Freezeway," this path would allow people to get to work and even go see a hockey game on ice skates. The proposal, which seems a little nuts, has been around for two years, but it has recently come up again in the framework of an event for the promotion of the city as a winter destination (the "Winter Cities Shake-up"). Matt Gibbs was the originator of the idea. He is a student at the University of British Columbia and had come up with the details in his architecture masters program. You can see his proposal summary here:[...]
March 25 2015

Farewell to The Grid from Tara Whelan in Switzerland, San Francisco & Cambodia

After a year as an architectural blogger with The Grid, I have learned many things about my urban environment, writing, architecture and myself that I never would have otherwise. The past year has been quite exploratory for me as I moved to three different cities while investigating current architectural affairs. As I move forward, I hope that this practice of examining and discussing my urban environments will continue with me. I began blogging in Switzerland in January 2014, after moving to a small town that no longer allows new construction. And even though there was not a lot of building going on, I found many interesting architectural topics of style, climate and [...]
March 24 2015

Sustainable Wineries Expand Use of Waterway Transportation in Rhône Valley, France

A regular fluvial transportation line for palletized wines has just opened between the Rhône Valley and Paris, France. A development agency wants to incite carriers to transport a part of their freight on this water route. Last January 11th, we clinked our glasses at the arrival of the barge “Alizarine” at the Villette Basin in Paris to celebrate the first transport of palletized wines from the Rhône Valley by waterway. In the holds of the self-propelled boat, organic wines and farm produce products from Ardeche are found. These are stocked in an isolated, climatized compartment that guarantees a controlled temperature and humidity for the entire 23-day journey. At the origi[...]
March 23 2015

Historical Baumanskaya, Moscow Metro Station Closes for Renovations

On February 8, 2015 the Baumanskaya Metro Station, in Moscow, closed for 11 months of renovations. The renovations will include changing its escalators, which were installed with its opening in 1944. They are currently the oldest working tunnel type escalators in the world, as well as the oldest in Moscow, with oak handrails. Renovation of the vestibule and the station are also planned. But I’m personally not as interested in the technical or architectural aspects (although it’s also interesting), but rather the undertaking of the notification of passengers about its swift closing. It’s no secret that the method of notification by loudspeaker, which has been in prac[...]
March 20 2015

Acclaimed Minnesota State Capitol Undergoing $272M Restoration

State Capitol Buildings are incredibly important pieces of architecture in the United States of America. Not only do they house a State’s House of Representatives, Senate, and Supreme Court, they also stand as icons to the State in which they reside. The history of each building's origin and development over their lifetime can be quite fascinating. Here is the story of Minnesota’s State Capitol Building. In 1849, the Minnesota Territory began to hold its first legislature meetings. They would not have their first Capitol Building until 1854, however, and this building would be catastrophically destroyed in a fire in 1881. In 1882, a second Capitol Bui[...]
March 20 2015

The Key Points of Manuel Valls’ Plan Against France’s “Social Apartheid”

Two months ago, Prime Minister of France, Manuel Valls, denounced the existence of what he controversially called “territorial, social, and ethnic apartheid” in France. Friday, he unveiled shocking measures to change struggling neighborhoods, particularly with regards to social mix. Valls unveiled measures meant to work against “cultural apartheid,” threatening to restart the controversy begun by his use of the term. The time frame was not given, but the plan that was presented is entitled “Equality and Citizenship.” Manuel Valls once again declared his wish to make a strong impact against the isolation of struggling neighborhoods while favoring social mix. He notably [...]
March 17 2015

Build Le Phare and They Will Come?: Quebec City, Canada Stirs the Debate

At La Défense, there is a tower imagined by Thom Mayne, which, purged of all its recourses, is truly waiting for an economic recovery in order to emerge from the cartoon world and become reality beyond all polemics. In Quebec, also on paper, Le Phare - another one - which was presented to the public last month, already arouses the first emotions. From Paris to the Belle Province, there is something in common: verticality engenders debate and is the talk of the town. The most neutral announcement, summarized by Le Journal de Québec on February 18, 2015, evoked a real estate complex worth 600 million dollars, including a 65-story tower: in sum, a "Rockefeller Center" offered[...]
March 17 2015

Le Phare Skyscraper “Not Suitable” for Quebec City, Canada’s Northern Climate

In its actual form, Quebec City, Canada’s Le Phare project is “not at all well-suited to the northern climate.” This is due to its “very limited” solar exposure and its height, which will provoke violent winds and make the square below “very uncomfortable year-round,” estimates André Potvin, professor at the Laval University’s School of Architecture. Refusing to be an “alarmist,” but anxious to launch a “rigorous and serious discussion” on this large-scale project, Dr. Potvin estimates that the construction of a 65-story building and three other towers ranging from 25-30 stories in the same section of the city will, “without fail,” bring “wind-condition ano[...]
March 16 2015

San Francisco Adaptive Reuse: From Church to Tech Office

When it comes to finding available, unique spaces in San Francisco, tech companies like Twitter, AirBnB, and countless others take on a hermit crab approach. Limited space, dense urban conditions, and nightmarish building regulations make it nearly impossible to build from the ground up. In response, tech companies have resorted to adaptive reuse. Repurposing neglected buildings and industrial warehouses into unique, open, and collaborative spaces seems to be the visual aesthetic of the tech world. One adaptive reuse project in particular stands out from the rest. Vacant since the 1989 earthquake, Saint Joseph’s Church may be transformed into tech offices in San Fr[...]
March 16 2015

Short-term Apartment Rentals Soar in Preparation of Milan, Italy’s Expo 2015

The countdown to Expo 2015 has started, and the international community has its eyes on Milan. It seems like the entire city is preparing to take advantage of this great economic opportunity and keep up with the unfolding events. Expo puts Milan under a lot of pressure. The city must have systems in place to withstand the international gathering, including adequate transportation options, shopping, and visitor accommodations. In order to sustain a high flow of people and traffic, the municipality is trying to improve its infrastructure and transportation system by providing several options for moving around the city. Car and bi[...]
March 16 2015

Suicide 6: Hartford, Connecticut to Providence, Rhode Island’s Unfinished Interstate

In 1995, Reader’s Digest named a segment of the Connecticut’s Route 6 the second most dangerous road in the country. Before widened shoulders and turn lanes were introduced in the early 2000’s, the road was commonly referred to as Suicide 6. The heavily-traveled corridor between Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island was once envisaged as an interstate highway. Segments of the interstate were built, but their connections never finished due to the intra-governmental nature of the project and local concerns for private property and wetlands. Noncontiguous segments of interstate-quality roads were grafted onto US Route 6, making for irregular travel acr[...]
March 13 2015

New Ordinances Aimed at Revitalizing Los Angeles River Communities

In recent years, momentum has been building to recognize the Los Angeles River as an integral part of the city’s cultural identity. After many years of neglect, the river has the potential to help define future communities and public spaces. The 32 miles of river that flow through Los Angeles are channelized, with the exception of a few miles at the Glendale Narrows. There, one can enjoy natural vegetation and other amenities instead of concrete. Proponents feel the need to capitalize on redevelopment opportunities in this area, such as creating new bike paths and community parks. This is not to mention the need to recreate the river's ecosystem and perform other updates and impro[...]
March 11 2015

Managing Water During Dry Times in Inland Empire, California

The drought in California persists – for the fourth consecutive year. Snow Water Equivalents are used by The State Water Resources Department to measure how much water is contained within the mountain snowpack. As of March 3, there was only 22% of normal snowpack in the Southern California, and 19% of normal statewide. And this was despite a weekend of rain and snow. The Bureau of Reclamation announced on February 27th that farmers who receive water from the Central Valley Project will receive only enough water in 2015 to meet their health and safety needs, or 25 percent of their historic use. In light of this record drought (and record extreme weather in other parts of the [...]
March 11 2015

Visionless Phnom Penh, Cambodia: How Will Rapid Development Shape its Future?

Phnom Penh, Cambodia has had a tumultuous history that spans architectural ingenuity to human tragedy. It is currently undergoing a rapid phase of urbanization and modernization. As this sleepy city steadily grows, many new structures are changing the face of Cambodia’s capital. There are mounting concerns about how such change could affect the city’s culture, atmosphere and history. Will this new period erase all evidence of former terror? Will residents forget the glory of the city’s golden era? Or will Phnom Penh’s past and character still be evident after it catches up to the rest of the world? Unlike other major cities that were steadily develo[...]
March 09 2015

Rising Sea Levels: Designing A Future To Save San Francisco

Surrounded by water, San Francisco sits as a sacrificial offering, waiting to be swallowed by the Pacific Ocean. The year is 2072 and San Francisco is an island. Downtown has been erased and gentrification in the Mission has finally laid to rest at the bottom of “Mission Gulf.” What was once a high powered tech city is now an enclave of bays, lagoons, and islands. This is San Francisco’s future if proactive measures are not taken to address the impact of rising sea levels. Over the past century sea levels have risen 4 to 8 inches due to global warming. It is difficult to predict the future of sea level rise, but studies are telling us to brace for oceans to rise 2.5 to 6.5 feet (0[...]

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