Top 5 Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of Sept. 2, 2013

090213 The excitement of  field trips. Returning streets to the people. Building under bridges. Public squares in the urban world. A trail for volunteering. Examining thought leadership.A trip into the field.

Melanie Kahl of Cannon Design discusses how field trips contribute to design, learning and place.

“Strange as it may seem, we think field trips are more of a mindset and lifestyle than anything else. A mindset central to learning and design. When we go on field trips, we become students of the world––our awareness is heightened, our inspiration is fueled, and our understanding is deepened. Life is a series of really awesome field trips.” – Melanie Kahl

Via Cannon Design Blog

Returning streets to people. Gerdo Aquino, president of SWA Group, examines how cities are finding opportunities to reintroduce car-free zones that give the streets back to the people.

Aquino provides five tips for going car-free in urban areas, including making sure that pedestrians already frequent the space, that the street is not currently essential to the city’s street grid and the place is a unique destination.

Via Ideas SWA


Under bridges. Jared Green of ASLA’s the Dirt explores Mexico City’s creative use of space under its bridges.
After the success of its pilot program Bajo Puentes, or Under Bridges, which turned four trash-strewn, vacant underpass spaces into vibrant shopping plazas, playgrounds, and cafes, the city is expanding the program. It will add another five and target 30 more possible areas that can be turned into commercial or recreational space. as candidates.

Public squares are center of urban world. Landscape Architects Network (LAN) features 10 festival squares as part of its Top 100 Squares, showing the world the power of people and the power of public space.

  1. St. Marks Square, Venice, Italy
  2. Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia
  3. Century Square, Shanghai, China
  4. Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto, Canada
  5.  Zócalo Square, Mexico City, Mexico
  6. Jackson Square, New Orleans, USA
  7. Leidseplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  8. Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain
  9. Place Sainte-Catherine, Brussels, Belgium
  10. Bristo Square, Edinburgh, Scotland


A great trail for volunteering. Stantec landscape architect Dalton LaVoie assembled a volunteer team of local designers throughout Northern California to help create a road map for converting an iconic stretch of now defunct Northern California railroad into a landmark hiking trail.

When complete, the 80-mile scenic Great Shasta Rail Trail will link the Northern California towns of McCloud and Burney, as well as nearby recreation areas and local communities. “Volunteering can serve as a creative outlet and provide opportunities that may not otherwise present themselves through your everyday work. For design professionals, exercising creativity and imagination is one of our passions. When this passion is coupled with opportunities to learn, explore, collaborate and assist communities in need, we’re usually interested.” – Dalton LaVoie

Via Stantec Blog

Thought Leadership Article

Amanda Walter of Walter Communications examines the term thought leadership, discovering a growing movement toward thought leadership programs across the AEC industry.

Walter conducted a global survey, which indicated several common topics: sustainability, technology and business growth and operations, design process and project delivery. But there was one factor that was evident in each firm interviewed: “Leadership. Somewhere — maybe not directly conducting the research, but cheering on the team that is — there are passionate individuals who have sparked the initial curiosities. Permission to pursue ideas can have infectious results.”—Amanda Walter

Via Design Intelligence

Top Architecture and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of August 26, 2013

Arup on technology fueling engagement. A corner transformation by P+W. Olin on the power of diversity. Bangalore, AECOM, and clean energy. Facebook for law enforcement. 091309

Technology improves engagement. Marissa Powell, a social and engagement specialist in Arup’s Brisbane office, discusses how can we better engage with communities about projects that affect them through technology.

Powell says to engage people, we have to understand how to make it easy for them to participate in the discussion – especially when they are usually time poor, they want to give and get information quickly and they now carry their digital life with them wherever they go. Powell says that it’s time consuming, and often difficult, to translate rafts of qualitative data gained through engagement processes into something meaningful that can be used to inform planning decisions.

Via Arup Thoughts


Transforming a San Francisco corner. Perkins+Will joined The Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco and Youth Spirit Artworks for a community art day to spread the word about the Jones Neighborhood Nexus, a long-term vision for the triangular intersection of Jones, McAllister and Market, which has been called one of the worst street corners in San Francisco intersection.

With more than 30 kids participating, the Jones Neighborhood Nexus was reinvented as a painted mural, which highlighted the Tenderloin neighborhood as a quilt. Each child brought their cultural background to this unique urban place and the composition of all those parts is what gives the neighborhood its identity.

Via Ideas + Buildings


Power of diversity. OLIN Studio Blog explores the lack of the diversity in the landscape architecture profession and how The American Society of Landscape Architects has begun tackling the issue of diversity by organizing the 2013 Diversity Summit.

As a community of creative professionals, we are not able to reach the fullest potential of our practice. A designer’s approach to the transformation of a place is informed by in-depth research, site analysis, and a rigorous design process, but the lenses through which a designer envisions the potential of this transformation are colored by their personal knowledge base, prior experiences, worldly travels, and cultural background.

Via OLIN Studio Blog



New energy in Bangalore. Johannes Wilson, an engineering geologist in AECOM’s Christchurch, New Zealand office, shares his experience helping the nonprofit Pollinate Energy deliver clean energy solutions to India’s poor as part of its Young Professionals Program in Bangalore.

“When looking a bit closer at the demographics of Bangalore, statistics support what is very obvious in the streets.  The population of the city has grown by almost 50 percent in the past decade, standing at almost 10 million. With such rapid growth and little urban planning, the outcome is pretty chaotic, but amid this chaos lies the charm of Bangalore, and the influence of traditional India is still strong.” – Johannes Wilson

Via Connected Cities


A Facebook for cops. A new social media site exclusively for law enforcement,, which was created "for cops by cops" recently launched. Before law enforcement officers can complete registration, 20for25 ("10-20" is standard police code for a location report, and "10-25" is a request to meet in person) verifies their credentials with their employing agency. In October, former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will launch BlueLine, "the secure professional network built exclusively for law enforcement." BlueLine will provide mechanisms for the thousands of U.S. law enforcement agencies to collaborate in real time, as well as a private marketplace to buy and sell equipment.