February 04 2015

The Perris Valley Line Charges Ahead Through Riverside County, California

Metrolink trains have been operating in Southern California since 1992, and although timetables and station locations can often be less than ideal, the trains provide a reliable alternative to cars for many Los Angeles, Orange County, and Inland Empire residents. Traffic on area freeways can cause significant delays, and the average Riverside County commuter spends 31.7 minutes commuting to work each way. That’s 15% higher than the average for California and 20% higher than the average for the U.S., according to the 2013 Riverside County Community Heath Profile. A significant portion of this traffic travels up and down the Interstate 215 corridor, between Downtown Riverside and Southern Riversid[...]
February 03 2015

Koolicar & Titi Flores Partner to Launch Carsharing in Nantes, France

Last week, in Nantes, France, the transportation society Titi Floris (located in the Nantes suburb of Saint-Herblain) and the start-up Koolicar launched a carsharing system. The system will use individual citizens’ cars, with additional cars provided by Titi Floris. “Our cars only run four hours a day, five days a week. The rest of the time, they just sit there! We were looking for a complimentary service that could bring our enterprise revenue,” justifies Boris Couilleau, Founder and Director of Titi Floris This is where Titi Floris got the idea to rent their professional cars to individuals, via Koolicar's website, when their enterprise wasn’t using them. Titi Floris rent[...]
February 02 2015

Numerous Car-Sharing – Even Electric! – Programs Now Available in Milan, Italy

One of the most consistent struggles of modern cities is providing sustainable and efficient urban mobility. To do so, a city must have an integrated approach to planning that considers all forms of transportation, both within the city and surrounding areas. According to European Union policies, sustainable urban mobility measures should seek to ensure that all people have access to transportation systems, while improving safety and security, reducing pollution, and improving the cost efficiency of urban transportation. More and more, cities around the world are trying to encourage a different kind of lifestyle, one where public transportation, which [...]
February 02 2015

Book Review of “Spectacular Vernacular: London’s 100 Most Extraordinary Buildings”

In "Spectacular Vernacular: London's 100 Most Extraordinary Buildings," David Long takes the reader through central London to discover its least known yet extraordinary buildings. As disclosed in the book's introduction, the author aims at attracting both London visitors and longtime residents' attention to some of the least celebrated buildings and structures of the English Capital. In the words of the author, “the lack of an urban master plan … means that in London … the chief glory lies … in its many historic and often highly individual buildings.” This does not mean, however, that all the structures in this book are state of the art architectural realizatio[...]
February 02 2015

The Fleet of the Future: BART’s Improved Design for the San Francisco Bay Area

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is getting a much needed remodel after 40 years of service. The typical Bay Area commuter’s relationship with BART has always been strained. A typical BART ride, much like that on any big city's public transit system, involves outdated design, crowded cars, maintenance delays, and unsightly seating tainted from someone else's Friday night in the city. The migraine-inducing ride from Oakland to San Francisco under the Bay might be unique to BART, but hopefully this will all change in the future. BART is looking to replace its entire fleet with brand new cars. Nearly 35,000 BART users were invited to view prototypes of the new cars and give an honest critique of [...]
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 30 2015

Is Frank Gehry’s Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum A Work of Art in its Own Right?

When the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis began the process of developing a new home for its art museum – originally founded in 1934 - in the early nineties, they knew immediately that they wanted something special. They wanted a building that would bring character, uniqueness, and beauty to the campus. The University commissioned world famous architect Frank Gehry to design the new building, knowing from his body of work that he could exceed their lofty expectations. The “starchitect”-designed building opened in 1993 as the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. Sitting high atop a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, Gehry’s design is one of contrasts.[...]
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 27 2015

In Toulouse, France, Victor Hugo Market and Square Slated for Renovation

Between now and 2020, the Victor Hugo neighborhood of Toulouse, France will be totally renovated. The market and parking lot (both located in the modern structure whose facade is shown above) will be redone, and the square will be redesigned by urban planner Joan Busquets - with construction lasting 18 months. Work could begin in the summer of 2016, but the project, presented as one of Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc’s priorities, has not yet been budgeted. The six months of dialogue between elected officials, businesses, and citizens finally ended with them settling upon an expansion of Victor Hugo market/parking lot and square. The total demolition of the building, once hinted at, is no long[...]
January 26 2015

New Statewide Rideshare Program Responds to Iowa’s Transportation Demand

If an Iowan were to complain about traffic conditions in Des Moines to someone from out of state, they would likely be laughed at. Traffic in the metropolitan area of Des Moines is nothing compared to that in cities such as Chicago or Los Angeles. However, there is a bigger commuting issue that plagues the state. Many people who live in small towns scattered across Iowa must commute long distances to the major employment centers in urban areas. To address this issue, the state is looking into developing more regional transportation options; enabling people to reside in small towns. The small towns in Iowa were once supported by the agriculture industry. As agriculture [...]
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 20 2015

Are Eco-Towers Coming to Downtown Paris, France?

An engineering and architecture firm have been working on Paris' Climate/Energy Plan, to be achieved by 2050. Their work led to plans for large, positive energy apartment buildings. How can we invent the city of the future while considering the constraints, necessities, and aspirations of its inhabitants, administrations, and enterprises? This, especially given that we live in a world where climate imbalance is provoking an increase of at least 2 degrees Celcius, with risks of heatwaves and floods. How can we intelligently standardize work, housing, and transportation? And finally, how can we manage energy, waste production, and different forms of pollution while reducing collectiv[...]
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 15 2015

Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater Embraces Architecture as an Experiential Art Form

The Guthrie Theater, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, is more than just a theater, it is a center for art. Founded in 1963, its original, now-demolished building once stood about two and a half miles to the southwest of the current building, on the site of the Walker Art Center. However, the Guthrie would outgrow its original space and upon realizing that an expansion of the building would not be feasible. The theater decided to move to a beautiful section of land in the Historic Mills District of downtown Minneapolis. The land overlooks the Mississippi River on one side and the Minneapo[...]
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[...]

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