Like many westerners, I left a rust belt eastern city decades ago, in the belief that the region, and certainly those old east coast cities were goners. So it was with surprise and pleasure that I recently read in Landmarks, the journal of The Landmark Society of Western New York, that residents with choices are moving back into the old downtown, and even more surprising, that nationally, corporate headquarters are also moving back to urban centers from the suburbs at an accelerating rate. Take me back to tomorrow – Some surprising indicators of change in U.S. cities
San Francisco Bay Area
David Prowler just returned from a trip to Japan. He wrote about his impressions, accompanied by photos, in his blog. As those of you have previously read David’s musings know, he is a keen observer who notices things that many of us don’t. His writing is always enjoyable and informative. This post, originally published as Souvenirs of Japan in David’s personal blog, is no different* –
It’s natural to be unsettled by change, but residents of San Francisco take resistance to change to absurd levels. In 1958, Gavin Elster—the shipping magnate played by Tom Helmore in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—expressed San Francisco’s deeply engrained ambivalence to change well: “The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast.” A recent letter to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle shared the typical modern lament: “Has San Francisco’s economic growth truly made it a more interesting place to live? Or just a place with more shiny but soulless places to spend money?” San Francisco: The Status Quo City
This article is adapted from an illustrated talk given by Jim Chappell at the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s June 4, 2015 “Context Vol. 2: What’s the Big Idea?” Forum on the Upper East Village, aka I.D.E.A. District and Makers Quarter.
The world is filled with good ideas. San Diego has a lot of great architects and urban thinkers. For several years, a group of these dedicated urbanists have been developing and enriching a plan for the Upper East Village. I.D.E.A. = Innovation Design Education Arts. As the next step in the process to implement the District, the Foundation held “What’s the Big Idea?” to explore next steps. Setting the I.D.E.A. District Apart
John King just keeps getting better and better. In his second Cityscapes volume, published by local treasure Heyday Books, he classifies fifty notable San Francisco buildings and spaces under the sobriquets of Towers, Connection, Clues and Waterfront. This builds on Volume 1’s Icons, Styles and Masters, Landscape, and Change (Cityscapes , San Francisco and Its Buildings, 2011). Another couple of volumes and we will have the complete ‘how to read a city.’ Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco
Spoiler Alert. Despite being one of the worst tales of NIMBYism I have been involved in, it all turned out as it should. The project proponent, the official project opponent, and the Planning Commission all ended up doing the right thing. 420 desperately needed housing units are being built according to the City General Plan, the Neighborhood Plan, and the existing zoning, at one of the most underutilized transit accessible locations west of Chicago. SPOILER ALERT: 420 Housing Units Under Construction
A great street has many variables, and occasionally planners and designers are given a chance to have an effect on those variables – when we do, we need to use every available tool to get it right. It is a rare opportunity to tie together the urban environment in a way that can make it irresistible and successful. High performance streets: The new cutting edge of urban design
An increasingly large percentage of the population qualifies as having one or more disabilities. Many everyday features of our built environments are access barriers for people with certain disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has dramatically improved access since its effective date in 1992, especially in new buildings. California had access construction standards even before the enactment of the ADA. The combination of the ADA and pre-existing California access has resulted in a unique statutory framework that has resulted in an explosion of lawsuits. These lawsuits often target older buildings which were built before the code section forming the basis of the lawsuit. Kim Blackseth, California’s foremost expert on disabled access construction standards, explains how and when a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) can help. (forward by W. Adams) Do you need a CASp in California?
UrbDeZine panel author Sandhya Sood, AIA, founding principal of Accent Architecture+Design in the San Francisco Bay Area was presented with a proclamation by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates honoring her “emphasis on sustainable design and building” and her “raising awareness of the relevance of Julia Morgan’s work and the shared architectural heritage of our city and state.” Berkeley Mayor Honors Architect and UrbDeZine Panelist Sandhya Sood