July 21 2014

The SFMOMA Expansion: Increasing Community Connection Through Transparency

Commonly, the most dreaded hurdle for architects is: How to address the site in a way which does not dismiss the surrounding urban fabric. Drawing in the occasional pedestrian would be a compliment, but it is not always that simple. A building’s connection with both city and site can often become clouded and disjointed with codes, programming, and of course the too familiar egos that tend to surface. Architecture firm Snøhetta makes the engagement of urban fabric seem effortless with its design for the expansion of San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Set to open to the public in early 2016, SFMOMA's sleek addition will expand the museum’s program to n[...]
July 21 2014

Montreal, Quebec, Canada Welcomes Its First Parklet

The borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal in Montreal has launched an unusual public development project; a parklet that is being developed. A concept inspired by cities such as San Francisco and Vancouver, parklets, or placottoirs in French, are sitting and rest areas resembling outdoor terraces that are installed in the parking areas in front of businesses. What makes them unique? They are accessible to everyone, from customers to people passing by, and the sale of products is forbidden. Montreal’s very first parklet appeared on Saturday, July 5th on the corner of Duluth and Saint-André in front of the Léo le Glacier ice cream shop. It took little time for this new re[...]
July 21 2014

Farewell to The Grid from Christine Cepelak in Dallas, Texas

If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Already active in the sustainability, urban development, and poverty realms of Dallas, Texas, I consistently encountered inspiring people engaged in the complex issues of the greater metropolis. From my original interest in how poverty and marginalization could be ended for the long-term, I became unable to ignore the urban environment's role in generating both problems and solutions. I was drawn to the collective topics being addressed on The Grid, and felt that beginning to share some of the stories [...]
July 18 2014

Poised for Redevelopment: Boland’s Mill at Grand Dock in Dublin, Ireland

Boland’s Bakery Mill is located at the intersection of Barrow Street and Pearce Street beside Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock. This area has recently become one of the most popular locations in Ireland for domestic and international companies to establish offices. Facebook and Google are just some of the recent additions to the area, resulting in both commercial and residential properties being in high demand. Boland’s Mill, along with the Four Courts and the General Post Office (GPO), was one of the most significant sites during the 1916 Easter Rising. Though the 1916 Rising was a complete failure in terms of actual results, it was seen as a major turning point in the Iris[...]
July 18 2014

How will Montreal, Quebec Repurpose its Aging Urban Hospitals?

Two super-hospitals (MUHC and CHUM) are under construction in Montreal, Quebec and they are considered to be two of the city’s largest building projects since the 1976 Olympics and will reinforce Montreal’s position as a leader in life sciences research. Their development will combine several major hospitals onto their two sites, rendering many historic buildings vacant and left with an uncertain future. The MUHC, or the McGill University Health Center, was formed in 1997 when the Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal Neurological Institute, Royal Victoria Hospital, and the Montreal Chest Institute, all merged together under [...]
July 17 2014

Microclimatic Improvements for Panepistimiou Street in Athens, Greece

An approval was finally signed regarding the environmental conditions of the Panepistimiou Street’s rehabilitation project in Athens. Other projects were also included in this meeting, such as the extension of the tram network and the regulation of traffic in the center of the city. This whole project has a total budget of 78.5 million Euros and was signed by the Minister of the Environment, Giannis Maniatis. The project is divided into two main categories, both of which are going to be financed (37,974,000 Euros) by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, through the operational program "Environment and Sustainable Development," and by the Region of Atti[...]
July 17 2014

Adaptive Reuse of Former Breweries Brings Charm Back to Baltimore Neighborhoods

It’s hard to pass through Baltimore, Maryland without seeing a mural, billboard, or the giant winking head that symbolizes the once prominent brewing industry of the city’s history. Two of the largest breweries in the U.S., the National and Gunther Breweries, once operating in Baltimore, have remained beloved brands of the city even after closing their doors and subsequently blighting adjacent neighborhoods for years. Similar to other former industrial complexes of Baltimore, the breweries were recently redeveloped for mixed and residential uses that are bringing new excitement to the area - without forgetting the past. Architecturally, the Brewers Hill[...]
July 17 2014

Farewell to The Grid from Kaylie Duffy in Madison, Wisconsin

It’s hard to believe that my six month internship with The Grid has finished. It feels just like yesterday I was trying to find an internship that combined my love of writing, my fascination with urban planning, and my pride for Madison, Wisconsin. When I finally found The Grid, I knew that I had found the perfect match for all of my criteria. Not only did my experience at The Grid improve my ability to manage time and develop my writing skills—it also allowed me to become more intimately acquainted with the city I have called home for the last four years. I perused the streets of Madison weekly with my camera bag and notepad, ready to discover blossoming infrastruc[...]
July 17 2014

New Mobile App for Bus Commuters in Rio de Janeiro Found Unuseful

On the 11th of June, the city of Rio de Janeiro received a tool that allows mobile access and real-time information about bus lines and routes, as well as attractions. Through QR Code technology and Near Field Communication (NFC), users point their smartphone devices towards adhesive signs installed in five thousand points on the fleet of city buses. The users of this new technology will have access to information in Portuguese, English and Spanish. The municipal program Smart City Rio is intended to make life easier, but users are still divided as to the usefulness of the resource. Recently, history teacher Barbara Romano was at a bus stop in the center city, but [...]
July 17 2014

Churches Outliving their Use in Montreal, Canada

Montreal, the city of a thousand church steeples? In order not to lose this identity which is intrinsic to its history, at a time when most churches are emptying out for lack of a secure future, the Quebec Religious Heritage Council (CPRQ) has published six portraits of the sacred sites that have been converted. This is a way of encouraging transformative projects, which are dragging their feet in the metropolis. "The studied projects took between eight and ten years to be implemented," explained Denis Boucher, General Director. "Often, there are many pitfalls to overcome - technical and financial challenges. The subsidy programs are not especially suited to supporting community projects. Th[...]
July 16 2014

Places of Non-Catholic Worship in Florence, Italy: Where Do Other Faithfuls Pray?

Florence is a city whose character has been dominated by Catholicism since the Middle-Ages. Throughout the years, religion has played a significant role in many aspects of its social life. Culturally and artistically, the city initially developed under the Papal Influence. This strong relationship becomes obvious also in an urban realm: Catholic churches are the strongest elements in the urban grid. Not only the Duomo, but also many minor churches serve as symbols and reference points. However, seasons change and historic cities like Florence enter in the era of the globalization. The immigration and the different population allocations have resulted in the[...]
July 16 2014

San Francisco’s de Young Museum: “Smart” or Not?

When considering building materials, what do you think of? Glass, steel, concrete, stone, wood, and some subtleties in between? The utilization of these materials in a building, act as a palette for the designer, giving life or another dimension to the structure. But what if these materials could reach beyond their static existence and give a building a pulse? A building which changes and interacts with its surrounding environment, as if it is a living, breathing organism. What if these materials could be “smart?" What is a “smart” material? It can be defined as a material whose properties alter in reaction to an environmental change relating to temper[...]
July 16 2014

The Grid’s Top 20 Architecture Websites of 2014 – Highlighting the Top 10

Now in its third year, The Grid is proud to introduce the Top 20 Architecture Websites of 2014. We dug deep into the web and took suggestions from our readers to find the most visited architecture websites, according to Alexa Analytics. We have many familiar names from our 2012 and 2013 lists, as well as a newcomer - Archilovers. As you read through the list, you’ll find several sites have moved up the rankings into the Top 10, while others have dropped down. The list includes a diverse mix of online magazines and forums that focus on all facets of architecture, whether it be your downtown high rise or a quaint backyard cottage. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in the field or fresh undergradu[...]
July 16 2014

Electric Bikes and Expanded Service: The Vélo’v of Lyon, Rhône-Alpes, France

The three-speed Vélo’v bikes are a familiar part of the urban landscape to Lyon’s inhabitants. This bicycle sharing service could adopt a new system due to changes being supported by the urban community of Grand Lyon. Firstly, they want to make the entire stock of Vélo’v bicycles electric, and there is also a desire to offer long-term rental for these electric bicycles. With its red and grey color, sturdy handlebars, and wide frame, it is impossible to miss the Vélo’v in Lyon’s streets. When they were launched in May 2005, mayor Gérard Collomb intended for them to be a “daring gamble” that would allow him to speak of a “transformed city” [...]
July 15 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Argentine Architecture: The Venice Biennale

In line with the proposal by Rem Koolhaas, chief curator of this year’s Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Argentine exhibition aims to reflect on how society incorporated modern ideas from the 20th century, to present, into its built environment. The Argentine presentation for the biennale, under the direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ culture department, was curated by Emilio Rivoira and John Fontana, and it answers Koolhaas’ proposal with images and multimedia projections. Entitled Ideal / Real –words written the same way in Spanish and English- the projections aim to show how the architecture and urban design of Argentina absorbed modern ideas and how [...]
July 15 2014

Do Pedestrian Zones Exist in Athens, Greece?

Perceptions regarding social life are often constructed based on people's interests. There is an old Greek saying which states, "the law is the workers’ right." Nowadays, this saying has been so generalized that it seems that "the law is anyone’s right." During the winter, the pedestrian zone "Palas" was transformed into a catwalk where traffic wardens did their best to facilitate several ministers that were arriving at Voukourestiou Street with their expensive black cars. Dionysiou Areopagitou seems to be this summer’s catwalk. Several people chose to take this street to visit either the Acropolis Museum or Herodeion. The ones who boast for facilitating ped[...]
July 15 2014

Canadian Mayors Look to Roadway Tolls or Carbon Taxes to Fund Infrastructure

There is only one toll bridge in Quebec, between Laval and Montreal. Quebec - A toll bridge? A toll road? In Quebec, where the already heavily burdened taxpayer is expected to roll over freely, the idea is an aberration. There is only one toll bridge in Quebec, between Laval and Montreal, and the raising of the shields in the face of the tolls that the federal government wants to impose on the Champlain Bridge shows to what point it could be costly, politically, to make drivers pay. Yet, on the other side of the country, almost all the mayors of the Vancouver region have wound up agreeing to do exactly that ... At the beginning of the month, almost all the mayors of greater Vancouv[...]
July 15 2014

Obstacles Ahead for São Paulo’s Master Plan

The Master Plan of the city of São Paulo is a set of guidelines, backed by the power of local law, whose purpose is to guide urban growth through the next sixteen years. The new plan was approved this week after nine months of discussions among councilors to arrive at the final version, which is now awaiting the final approval of the Mayor Fernando Haddad (PT). One of the major changes brought about by the document is encouragement for the construction of buildings near the axes of public transportation. These buildings may have a greater height than those of the core neighborhoods and, with more units for sale, their construction will be paid for more easily. The[...]
July 14 2014

Toward Multimodal Transport: Learning from Ottawa’s Suburban Biking Culture

Conversations about bike commuting focus mainly on the traditional territories of city downtowns and the urban core. But North American metropolises, like Ottawa, usually consist of many far-flung, suburban subdivisions. Leaving suburbs out of the biking conversation risks turning biking into a privilege of the few who can afford to live in dense, downtown neighbourhoods. Millions would lose out on the health benefits of biking, and we would all be worse off environmentally. Luckily, I need look no further than the official Ottawa Cycling Plan to demonstrate, that with the right infrastructure and programming, biking can become a viable transportation option for those in the suburbs too.[...]
July 14 2014

Touristic Safari: The Urban Cable Car of Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro

Usually possessing more or less informal types of housing and close-knit communities, favelas, a term specific to Brazil, continue to mark the collective imagination. In our geography books, we are shown heaped up shelters made of waste material extending out of sight. In the media, we most often associate them with violence and the dominance of drug cartels. Seen from the outside, it is difficult to really understand how a favela functions without ever having lived in one. However, these “cities within cities” are experiencing a process of pacification with police intervention dismantling the organized crime networks rampant in the areas. Initially forgotten, avoided, and dangerous, today’s[...]
 

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