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Posts tagged Architecture.
Floods in Europe. From In Focus - The Atlantic:
The historic flooding throughout central Europe continues, as the Elbe River has broken through several dikes in northern Germany, and the crest of the swollen Danube River has reached southern Hungary, and threatens Serbia.
Parts of Austria and the Czech Republic are now in recovery mode, as thousands of residents return home to recover what they can. Gathered here are images from the past several days of those affected by these continuing floods.
First photo: A Super Puma [helicopter] of the German Federal Police Bundespolizei carries sandbags to fix a broken dam built to contain the swollen Elbe River during floods near the village of Fischbeck, on June 10, 2013. (Reuters/Tobias Schwarz)
Second photo: Budapest. The flooded River Danube, with a city view of the parliament building in downtown Budapest, on June 10, 2013. The Danube peaked at 891 cm, 31 cm higher than the record levels of 2006. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images) Via
Politicians uninterested in helping fix the situation, leaving repairs to emergency funds. And endangering the public…
NPR’S Scott Simon introduces the topic (on the audio version) with this somber revelation: “[C]hances are 1 in 9 that a bridge you drive over has been deemed structurally deficient, or basically in bad shape, by the federal government.” Worse yet, “there is no consensus on how to tackle the problem or pay for proposed solutions”.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge, NPR’s Brian Naylor interviews Barry LePatner, a New York real estate and construction lawyer and author of Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward, that analyzed the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minn. in August, 2007.
Residents fear Lake Macquarie City Council’s controversial actions on the risks of sea level rise will wipe more than $1 billion off the value of properties.But some believe the loss could be worse, with homes worthless because they cannot be sold. Some say their properties already won’t sell and insurance premiums are skyrocketing – problems they blame on the council’s sea level rise measures.
But the council says changes in property values are a result of the global financial crisis, housing supply and interest rates, not council predictions of sea or lake level rise.
In a statement the council also said sea and lake level predictions in 2050 or 2100 played no role in the calculation of insurance premiums.
However, Marks Point resident Barbara Davis, who is leading an action group on the matter, said the council was ‘‘destroying people’s lives’’.
The council had placed notations relating to flood and sea level rise on section149 property certificates of about 10,000 properties, and residents say the move has devalued many properties.
This Nigerian school is set to rise. The floating structure was built by Dutch and Nigerian architecture, design and urbanism firm NLÉ to serve the slum neighborhood of Makoko, much of which exists on stilts above a lagoon in the port city of Lagos. Looking to mitigate the compounding problem of massive population movements to urban areas and the realities of climate change, NLÉ built the school as a prototype for a broader urban planning initiative called Lagos Water Communities Project.
Their design conforms to the local necessity of building houses on stilts above the lagoon with flotation platforms crafted from 256 common plastic barrels. This will allow the three-story primary school to rise along with sea level due to climate change or rainfall. The architects also designed it to provide natural ventilation, water from a rain collection system and power from rooftop solar panels to occupants. The almost 2,400 square-foot bamboo and wood building can safely hold up to 100 students.
Bauhaus: Design in a Nutshell
How prepared are American cities for increased natural disasters? Over the years, Americans have insisted on expanding and building cities and suburbs in locations that are clearly threatened by natural hazards. This week’s monster tornado in Oklahoma demonstrates this. Cities and states have encouraged people to live in these areas through city planning, architectural design, and the so-called need for “economic development.”
Thus, instead of encouraging people to not live in these hazard zones, city leaders have created methods to help people survive relatively normal lives there. Houses in California must meet specific earthquake design standards, buildings in Oklahoma have “safe rooms,” and countless structures must be stable enough to handle floods and erosion along American coastlines. These are adaptations. Not good adaptations (I believe people should not be encouraged to live in these areas), but there it is.
With the climate changing, the impacts on communities are likely to increase. Incidences of natural disasters are expected to rise, costing many lives and causing a need for an endless stream of disaster aid.
Researchers at MIT teamed up with the non-profit ICLEI to survey cities around the world. The goal was to compare how they were adapting to climate change impacts, or preparing for future impacts. Progress, the researchers found, is very slow in the US, while cities around the world are far more advanced.
It’s a great read, very visual so if you don’t have time you can skim it.
Early warning, communication, training, and “safe rooms” combined to save thousands of lives from the Okla. monster tornado. It is a very clear example of how cities have designed adaptation systems to respond to local weather conditions.
How could so many have survived the Okla. tornado?
Viewers glued to TV following Monday’s tornado that hit here with the destructive force of an atomic bomb very likely expected to wake up Tuesday to a death and injury toll in the thousands.
How could anyone have survived the apocalyptic destruction of a worst-of-the-worst EF5 category storm? Miraculously, most did, despite an official warning coming just 16 minutes before the twister cut a 17-mile war-zone-like path through this city of 56,000.
Local, state and federal officials credit luck, happenstance, timing, faith, heroics, preparation and the seasoned experience that comes with living in the heart of Tornado Alley for the relatively low victim count.
“If they say there’s a chance of severe tornadoes, people take it really seriously,” said Tyler Porter, who lives in Oklahoma City, 10 miles north of Moore. “They pretty much know when it’s time to take cover.”
Excellent coverage by USA Today
I’m sure you heard that the spire was added to Freedom Tower this week. They stuck a GoPro camera on it. Here’s the video. Warning: A bit queasy.
Architects propose various natural systems to combat sea level rise in the Upper Bay. More via MoMA
drawing by Adolfo Arranz
A must click.
Brad Pitt’s sustainable architectural non-profit in the 9th Ward unfairly takes fire from the New Republic. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed the beloved New Orleans’ neighborhood, Pitt, who dabbles in architectural design, decided to help build homes that could withstand hurricanes and floods in the future. He started a non-profit, Make It Right, hired some incredibly talented architects, urban planners, economists, and locals and went to work.
Make It Right built over 90 homes throughout the lower 9th (a small fraction of the tens of thousands that were damaged or destroyed).
The author unfairly compares Make It Right - essentially a charity - to for-profit real estate firms and declares it a failure. It is unclear how anyone - let alone some of the best architects and planners in the country - could have predicted the recovery of a city, especially after a major hurricane.
What’s even more unclear is how the author got away with making such a lazy comparison. The New Republic got duped, in my opinion.
Most of the homes Pitt built are fantastic dream homes comprised of minimalist design and sustainable materials. The problem - so says the author - is that poor people do not deserve such ‘luxurious’ amenities. Racism aside, the fact that many families have moved away from New Orleans, with little expectation that they’ll return anytime soon, the author insists on blaming a charity for attempting to provide sustainable housing.
It’s true the economy is in the tank. But it is simply not true that one non-profit should have followed a different path. The author writes:
But there’s a Catch-22: The neighborhood doesn’t have enough residents to attract many stores and services, and prospective buyers end up elsewhere because the neighborhood doesn’t have enough stores and services.
So about 90 households, primarily elderly people like Guy, are living in futuristic homes that most Americans would covet, and yet there’s not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles.
It didn’t have to be this way, and it’s costing the city.
This is a flat out lie: “yet there’s not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles.” Utterly false. See above google map screen cap I took this morning. The lower 9th has dozens of restaurants and at least 10(!) grocery stores, including one locally owned co-op that features fresh fruits and vegetables.
And that’s just in the Lower 9th neighborhood!
The author uses the yellow home at the top (with the long stair case) as a prop for the story. This home was built 9 feet off the ground. It has solar panels, modernist features, experimental materials, and a small footprint. It cost around $300k to build, yet the author will have you believe that this is far more than anyone in the neighborhood could typically afford. Also false. A quick search on real estate site Zillow shows homes, condos, and townhouses average $250k in the 9th Ward, some top out around $750,000. See map 2. Clearly the New Republic does not employ fact checkers.
Brad Pitt’s project is still the darling of the sustainable architecture and resiliency crowds (and to climate adaptation folks like me). The New Republic will have readers believe that Pitt and his teams should have known better. That his non-profit charity work should become more profitable. This is disingenuous at best, and out right deception at worst.
The New Republic is wrong for comparing a ‘non-profit charity’ to traditional ‘for-profit’ real estate developers.
Founded in 2007, Make It Right’s mission is crystal clear: “To build safe, Cradle to Cradle inspired homes, buildings and communities for people in need.” Yet according this sloppy hit piece, it’s as if Pitt’s error was not fully adopting the commonly held philosophy by greedy developers: “build it and they will come.”
In other words, Make It Right was, is, and will always be a non-profit community development organization, not a for-profit real-estate firm. It’s like blaming an apple for not being a tuna sandwich.
The hit piece is nothing more than journalistic bedazzling. The article has that well researched, boots-on-the-ground journalistic feel. There are nice pull quotes from interviews, and the writer uses urban planning vernacular quite well. But the author used more speculatory “what if” scenarios than actual analysis, which makes the piece more in line with link-baity shlock.
For example, the writer faults Brad Pitt for not doing things that do not exist. ‘Pitt should have invested differently. Pitt could have built cheaper homes. Pitt could have rehabbed more blocks. Pitt should not include hurricanes in architectural designs.’ And, since Pitt didn’t do these things (which exist in the author’s head), the entire venture has failed. This despite the fact that Pitt’s foundation has the support from Louisiana’s politicians, some of the best urban planners, economists, and architects in North America, and the very people who live in the neighborhood.
Instead, we get paragraph after paragraph of utter speculation that serves nothing more than to stir up stern nods of disappointment:
Pitt’s foundation could have chosen to put its $45 million into a neighborhood where the compounding effects would’ve been remarkable, or at least one without the added risk and cost of building below sea level—like Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr.’s Musicians Village on the other side of the Industrial Canal.
He could also have built several hundred perfectly serviceable, weatherproof, and efficient new homes, instead of the 90 he’s completed—like Barnes and Noble founder Leonard Riggio, who’ll build 200 new homes in a concentrated area in nearby Gentilly for about the same amount.
He could even have filled in more quickly recovering neighborhoods with higher-quality traditional designs, like New Urbanist patron saint Andres Duany. Instead, Pitt got an interesting architectural experiment, lots of gushy magazine coverage, and a place for Gloria Guy to remember what life was like before it all floated away.
Use of “could haves” and “what ifs” in cultural criticism are red flags. These signal that the author has an agenda. Reader beware. These are known as straw man fallacies - create fake scenarios that no one can test - and then shoot them down, all the while not addressing the original issue.
As you can see, the intention of these “he could have” speculations serve nothing more than to solicit your disapproval. This is journalistic trickery. Perhaps the writer was under deadline and needed to fulfill their word-count requirement. But, in my opinion, any good writer will know that presenting a critical analysis of a possibly failed project (this project has indeed not failed) s/he better present their case steeped deep in a fat vat of facts, not on a buffet of empty calories.
So, word to the wise, if you’re going to write a hit piece, do your due diligence. Address a problem that actually exists and present and contrast it to similar scenarios, scenarios that serve to provide appropriate context and understanding. Avoid filling space with empty speculations and bring some solutions to the table.
If you can stomach reading a biased hit piece, go ahead and visit the New Republic - if not at least for the slideshow.
There isn’t enough capacity to refine both the Canadian oil and the Venezuelan oil,” said professor Erick Langer, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University and an expert on Venezuelan politics.
“Can Rail Fill the Gap if Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t Approved?” Thoughtful round-up and analysis via one of my favorite sites, Planetizen. Did not realize 40% of Venezuelan oil is shipped and refined in Texas.
“So if the pipeline is built, then Venezuela might be up a creek without a paddle, because they won’t have anywhere else to refine the oil.
Inspiring read on women architects who defied great odds (re: men) via ArchDaily.
- Sophia Hayden Benett was the first woman to receive an architecture degree from MIT when she graduated in 1890
- Marion Mahony Griffin, was not only one of the first licensed female architects in the world, but was the first employee of Frank Lloyd Wright
- Charlotte Perriand applied for a job at Le Corbusier’s studio in 1927. Unimpressed, he dismissed her work with the comment: “We don’t embroider cushions here.”
Minnesota sure does seem like a sleeper state. Who knew MN’s cities have invested so much in green-infrastructure?
One by one, Minnesota cities are becoming a bit more eco-friendly. The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams recently welcomed a 50th municipality, Maple Grove, to its GreenStep Cities program. Rochester, Austin, Red Wing, Northfield and Kasson are all member cities.
“I think a lot of cities like this because it’s a nice broad framework for sustainability,” said Diana McKeown, Metro director for CERTS. “For many cities, they have environmental commissions, and the GreenStep Cities program gives them ideas on what to work on.” The program, in its second year, gives cities guidelines for greening their infrastructure and work practices in order to save energy and resources.