November 24 2014

The Suburban Pushback Against Affordable Housing in West Des Moines, Iowa

The city of West Des Moines is an affluent, growing community in the Des Moines metropolitan area. However, it faces challenges when it comes to affordable housing. Market rate single family housing is the typical type of development seen in West Des Moines, as it is in most suburban communities, but this pattern of development prices a large portion of the city’s labor force out of the market. West Des Moines’ continually growing retail landscape means that there is an increasing amount of service sector employees who cannot afford to live in the city in which they work. The City of West Des Moines is a suburban community with a population of 59,296 and an unemployment[...]
November 21 2014

Study in Calgary, Canada Hopes to Improve Future Waste Water Treatment

Lee Jackson, a professor in the University of Calgary’s department of biological sciences, is currently doing a project with his students concerning the treatment of waste water. The study aims to eliminate the hormones and chemical products contained in drinking water, which can cause certain health problems, like cancer, to develop. “The water that we drink comes from someone else’s waste water,” explains Professor Jackson. In order to evaluate the quality of the water coming from the water treatment plant of Calgary, the team of researchers will conduct their tests in canals that recreate the ecosystem of the Bow River, the metr[...]
November 20 2014

Will the Elderly Run to the Suburbs? In Montreal, it Seems to be the Case

If we were to believe a study published by a Concordia University researcher, it would be necessary to redouble efforts in order to attract silver heads and other "boomers," who are set to expand the cohort of seniors over the course of the coming decades like never before, to urban centers.  In spite of analyses that hold out the prospect of a "white wave" for revitalizing and densifying the city centers, the conclusions of Professor Zak Patterson, a Professor in the Department of Geography, Urbanism and Environment [at Concordia], leave us uneasy. In effect, during the years 1990 and 2000, a refined analysis of Canadian census data collecte[...]
November 18 2014

Peace Footbridge in Geneva: A Flagship Element of the Secheron Neighborhood

Officially inaugurated on Sept. 22, 2014, the Peace Footbridge constitutes a key element in Geneva's Secheron neighborhood. Designed by the architect Pierre-Alain Dupraz (in partnership with Laurent Chablais, CP civil engineers SA), it crosses over the railroad pathways, in such a way offering a new connection between the Place des Nations and the lakefront. The Secheron neighborhood is in full swing of change. Located near the city center, the international organizations, and a belt of important circulation routes that are well-served by public transportation, this site offers exceptional development potential, notably because of its industrial past, which has left behind impo[...]
November 18 2014

Farmers Unable to Water Crops in Salazie, Reunion Island Due to Water Rates

In Salazie, Reunion Island, farmers moved to action. They denounced the lack of water in the commune as well as the tariffs for the water that currently exists. In this period of drought, they criticize both the lack of discussion regarding water extraction and newly-announced water restrictions. The farmers of Mare-à-Martin are already denouncing the decrease in water being extracted due to water regulations. These professionals claim an “undeniable misuse” of the water resource. Despite the number of water sources in the heart of Salazie (as seen in the above photo), drinkable water is actually a rarity - a fact that does[...]
November 17 2014

Nour Aoude Says Farewell to The Grid from Ottawa, Canada

Over the last six months, The Grid has become a place to record my ever-evolving understanding of Ottawa’s urban fabric and functions. When I started blogging in May, I had just moved here. This bestowed upon me the advantage of fresh eyes on the city, but also meant that I had to educate myself on the urban planning issues of an entirely new place. Ottawa’s nature as a small-big city came in handy while writing my blog posts. As the national capital, the city boasted abundant urban planning projects and resources, on par with any large metropolis. Current projects included the construction on a new LRT system, a recently completed football stadium, and the transformation of the ci[...]
November 17 2014

When Will Baltimore City’s Water Wheel Be Shut Down?

Baltimore City’s newest Water Wheel has received a lot of positive attention in recent months, but it is just one solution to the Inner Harbor’s serious trash problem. A two-minute video from Healthy Harbors shows hundreds, if not thousands, of bottles, cans, cigarettes, styrofoam and plastic bags floating from Jones Falls and into the Inner Harbor. In a video on NBC, Adam Linquist of the Healthy Harbor Initiative stated that “our goal is to actually put the water wheel out of business … it’s great because it’s immediate, it’s innovative, but the real solution is that people need to change their behavior.” This sentiment has been expressed since at least 2008 when Bal[...]
November 14 2014

Nairobi, Kenya Solving Traffic Congestion by Increasing Capacity?

Urban areas experience a lot of vehicular congestion and traffic jams cost us millions of dollars every day through wasted time, environmental pollution, and increased stress. The City of Nairobi is no exception and due to this a “Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee” was set up by Governor Evans Kidero to look into the best solutions to deal with Nairobi’s congestion. The Committee released their interim Report in June 2014. It acknowledges the two approaches of reducing traffic flow: Increasing road capacity (supply) or reducing traffic (demand). During a forum with the public, the Chairperson of the committee, Prof. Marion Mutungi, reminded attendants that [...]
November 14 2014

Benefits and Challenges of Walking & Biking in Riverside County, California

In August, the California Department of Transportation announced funding awards for the first round of the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The ATP funds walking and biking projects, illustrating that active transportation can be a significant component of a more efficient transportation future. Health benefits of active transportation are obvious – less driving, less stress, more physical activity, etc. Some see walking and biking as something that works best in dense urban areas, but about 20 of ATP funded projects, representing about $30 million, are in Riverside County, where low density and a more car-centric lifestyle present a challenge when prioritizing bike lanes and pedestrian i[...]
November 14 2014

Centre Hospitalier & Schaeffler Factory Set for Deconstruction in Calais, France

Closed since the beginning of summer 2012, the former hospital in Calais, France will be destroyed in 2015. The deconstruction work will last approximately 18 months and should be finished at the end of 2017. Green spaces and townhouses are set to replace the existing structure on this site of 2.5 hectares. The cost of the operation is set at 4.8 million euros. For more than two years, no activity has been registered at the former hospital on the street Quai du Commerce. In order to keep out intruders the site was walled in, adding a somber detail to the decor of this part of downtown. “A Deconstruction, Not a Demolition” The 2.5 hec[...]
November 14 2014

Aesthetic & Rural Policies of Eastern Connecticut’s National Scenic Byway

The Route 169 National Scenic Byway is located in Eastern Connecticut in the Quinebaug River Valley, and features farms, orchards, and historic inns & homes along its entire length. The right-of-way has been in use since the 1600’s and the colonial houses, old churches, pastures, and stone walls lining the road take you back in time. The rural nature of the route also makes it one of the best New England Fall foliage drives and there is local concern for “Protecting the character of Route 169.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_H9fVTv508 Starting in the town of Lisbon, Connecticut, the route travels north-south for thirty-two miles through fiv[...]
November 13 2014

Dedicated Funding for Bike Infrastructure Withdrawn in Porto Alegre, Brazil

The creation of the Municipal Fund to Support the Implementation of the Cicloviário System (FMASC) has been discussed since April, when the City Council of Porto Alegre presented two bills related to the topic. The story came to an end on Thursday (10/30), when the City published the Official Version of Complementary Law 744 (LC), sanctioning the Supplemental Draft for Executive Law 010/13, which was approved by the Legislature in May. However, in the opinion of bicycle activists, the LC provides funding for the system based on sources without guarantees of payment.  Members of movements that advocate for the use of bicycles and alternative transport in the city, whose support is shown[...]
November 13 2014

Montreal May See an Expansion of Self-Service Vehicles and Car Sharing

We estimate that a car in Montreal spends ninety-five percent of its time parked every week. In this context, self-service cars could contribute to reducing the number of vehicles on the road, and their deployment should be encouraged, believe researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique, [stating so] in a memo jotted down in the framework of the consultations conducted by the City of Montreal on this type of transportation. The transportation commission has started leaning toward the system of self-service cars, which has been in place in Montreal for a little over a year but only authorized in four arrondisements.  Ecole Polytechnique researchers Catherine Moren[...]
November 13 2014

“Reclaiming Our Food” Will Change the Way You Eat: A Book Review

Tanya Denckla Cobb’s latest book, Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat, provides a practical guide for anyone looking to get involved in the local foods movement. Cobb uses her experience with food systems planning and public planning mediation to break down case studies and provide readers with suggestions and lessons that can be applied to their situation. The book begins with a look at backyard gardening and progressively moves into studying entire food systems. Many of the stories presented in Reclaiming Our Food focus on how food can be a catalyst to alleviating poverty for many neighborhoods. For example, Gat[...]
November 12 2014

Architecture of Corruption in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

How does corruption affect architecture? Considering how corrupt Cambodia is (ranks 160 of 177 countries in the world) and that Phnom Penh does not have an implemented zoning or investment plan for future urban development, the architecture in the city reflects these unplanned conditions. So what does corrupt architecture look like - does it have a style, quality or impact? Since Phnom Penh is currently undergoing unprecedented urban expansion, the architecture of the city is rapidly changing into a more globalized modern society, but at what cost to the livability and design of the city? Corruption runs deep throughout the country, beginning [...]
November 12 2014

New Urban Agriculture Regulations Sprouting in Los Angeles, California

Personally inspired by the documentary “Plant This Movie,” as well as the many other urban farming short films shown at the New Urbanism Film Festival, it appears that urban agriculture is in full swing in Los Angeles. In particular, several innovative pieces of legislation regarding urban agriculture have recently come onto the political horizon. Urban agriculture has made a major resurgence in cities. Proponents explain that urban agriculture serves to not only provide better access to local and healthy food, but to also create a sense of community and to add to the aesthetics of the city by reducing blight. Like former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom once sai[...]
November 12 2014

Silos and Signage Reflect Industrial Heritage in Old Port of Montreal, Quebec

The heyday of industrial activity in the Old Port of Montreal lasted between 1896 and 1930, when the city became a bustling center for the grain trade. To meet the demands of the million tonnes of merchandise passing through the city, the port modernized its facilities. Massive grain elevators, sheds and higher quays were built along the port where grain and wheat could be stored, weighed, and sorted. The most recognized of these structures is the expansive complex of grain elevator no. 5, more commonly referred to as Silo no. 5. It was constructed on the Point[...]
November 12 2014

LA2050 Spurs Conversations for a Better Los Angeles, California

As a newcomer to Los Angeles, I am beginning to see that people here are hungry for change. Initiatives that exist to better L.A. are numerous, most falling within the realm of the non-profit. The scope of these initiatives varies greatly – some groups are advocating for better transportation options (ie. Move LA), while others hope to address urban poverty (ie. LA Food Policy Council, Hunger Action LA). Just recently, LA2050, an organization funded by the private family foundation, the Goldshire Foundation, launched a $1,000,000 campaign to better L.A. An astonishing 267 organizations applied, with 10 finalists who shared the prize money. In the photo above, va[...]
November 11 2014

Herzog & De Meuron’s Triangle Tower Faces Opposition in Paris, France

Jacques Herzog found himself in an uncomfortable situation at Paris, France’s Pavillion de l’Arsenal on October 30th. The Swiss architect was presenting the plans for the sculptural building that his firm, Herzog & De Meuron, had conceived for Paris’ Porte de Versailles (the location of one of the original gates into Paris and now an exposition park). This presentation comes only shortly before a decisive vote by the Council of Paris that threatens to block the project. Triangle Tower Project: Key Figures Size of plot of land: 7,500 m2 Height: 180 m Width at the base: 35 m Width at the summit: 17 m Floor area: 92,204 m2 Offi[...]
November 11 2014

With the Highest Incidence of Lightning in the World, Brazil Plans for Resiliency

At the Amazonian Nokia Foundation II Science Fair (FCA), students presented the unprecedented "electronic device suppressor effect," which successfully protects electronic equipment from damaging urban lightning storms. The FCA is part of the 11th annual National Week of Science and Technology (SNCT), which ended November 7th, in eastern Manaus, in the SESI Worker Club. The National Week of Science and Technology is coordinated by the State Office of Science, Technology and Innovation (Secti-AM). According to the student Yasmin Torres, the electronic suppressor automates electronic systems for homes or businesses to protect appliances against electri[...]
 

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