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

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

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[...]
January 02 2015

Iowa Urbanizes as Large Farm Operations Put Small Towns Out of Work

Iowa is the U.S. state most associated with farming; it produces more corn and soybean than any other state, and 92% of the land is designated for agriculture. As farming practices change, the urban landscape changes with it. The population of Iowa has been experiencing a transformation. Whereas Iowa used to be composed of evenly-dispersed farming communities across the state, it is now comprised of rapidly expanding major cities and shrinking small towns. This trend of urbanization is self-perpetuating: as the rural population shrinks, it becomes harder and harder to live in a rural area. In recent decades, farm operations have gotten bigger and bigger, and new technologie[...]
January 01 2015

An Ambitious Project to Open Access for Swimming in the Historic Center of Berlin

In Germany, a project supported since 2012 by the Flussbad Berlin association aspires to make swimming in the river possible in the heart of the Berlin capital. It could come to fruition between now and 2018. Imagined in 1997 by two architects, the brothers Jan and Tim Elder, the project proposes building a natural pool in the open air, extending 750 meters along the canal of the Spree, at the heart of the museum island. The branch of the river in question no longer houses boats, but it remains impossible to swim there, at least within Berlin itself, because of the pollution in the water. On the other hand, it is possible to dive in upstream[...]
December 30 2014

New Housing to Replace Former Hospital in Annecy, France

On November 28, 2014, renovation became legal on the site of the future Trésums neighborhood in Annecy, France. This decision came through from the State Council after a long judicial saga. On the site, asbestos removal is currently taking place, and the deconstruction of the former hospital will soon follow. All of this will leave room for 632 new lodgings. A winding saga is therefore coming to an end. Pleas made by the Lake Annecy Environmental Agency and Annecy Heritage Society to cancel the project were rejected by all levels of administrative justice. This includes the Administrative Tribunal, the Court of Administrative Appeals, and, finally, th[...]
December 29 2014

The Demolition of Iconic Negro Community Center in Montreal’s Little Burgundy

Like many other neighbourhoods in the City of Montreal, Little Burgundy is slowly changing. Cafes and cool bars have emerged on Rue Notre-Dame, a street previously known for its abundance of antique shops. The Corona Theatre, built in 1912, has been revived as a hip and intimate concert venue. The art-deco styled Atwater Market remains a popular year-round farmer’s market that delineates the boundaries between Little Burgundy and St. Henri, another historic working-class neighbourhood. However, one staple building has not survived. The demolition of the Negro Community Center in late November was disheartening to many members of the black community, leaving them to wonder what t[...]
December 29 2014

More than Half of the World’s Zoroastrians Call Mumbai, India Home

We have all heard about the famous Persians Xerxes, Cyrus and Darius the Great. They were recorded by ancient Greek historians, and were even referenced heavily in the Bible. But whatever happened to their descendants? The short answer is they moved to Mumbai. Mumbai (or Bombay) in India is home to the largest Zoroastrian community in the world. Here their fire temples are a common sight, and their cuisine is well known by everyone in town. They have contributed some of the city’s best art galleries, most posh restaurants and well respected hospitals. Unlike a lot of Indian communities who migrated fro[...]
December 26 2014

Moissy-Cramayel, France’s Citizens Petition the Deteriorated State of their Downtown

A petition was launched in November 2014 by the citizens and business owners of Moissy-Cramayel, France. By and large, they note the lack of security and upkeep in the center of town. The Mayor, Line Magne, promises changes but asks for time. The title of the petition, addressed to the mayor, was “No to A Dirty and Unsafe Downtown.” The petition counted close to 200 signatures on December 2, 2014, only a week after the petition began. At the origin of these grievances is a group of shopkeepers and inhabitants of the town who are worried about the local businesses. “They are closing one after another,” one remarks. Worse, according to the petitioner's claims, t[...]
December 25 2014

Lighting Act Partners with Dijon, France to Create Darcy Square’s Urban Living Room

Urban lighting is both a question of quality and quantity. A demonstration, completely nuanced, at Darcy Square of Dijon, France's tramway. Within the framework of the planning for the Dijon tramway, landscaper Alfred Peter has also given value to the contiguous public spaces. More precisely, two major sites in the city: Darcy Square Place de la Republique From a Living Room to a Garden Darcy Square was structured as an urban living room. According to the declivity and the hidden aspect of the underground parking, big flower pots, acting like benches, have been more or less buried in the public space. According to the landscaper, all the pl[...]

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