Favorite Architecture and Urbanism Posts for Week of Nov. 5, 2012

Preserving and maintaining Wright. An app for ecological urbanism. Soaking it up in Philly. Balancing design and value.

Frank Lloyd Wright conservancy. Build was invited by Larry Woodin, president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Tracy House in Normandy Park near Seattle. Build also talked to Woodin about how he got interested in architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright, and how he leads the charge on saving Wright houses from demolition.

Woodin discusses preservation and maintenance. “Maintenance is the priority. We must first ensure stability of the structure and provide the necessary upgrades. If the house is properly cared for, it’ll last a long time. Preservation and refinishing come after basic maintenance, and this includes adding elements that were in the original drawings but not built at the time (likely for reasons of cost). It’s important to draw that line and not do anything that we merely think Wright would have wanted but didn’t document.” – Larry Woodin

Via Build LLC Blog

App for sustainable urban design. Ryan Cunningham blogs about a new app called Ecological Urbanism created by Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, which is the start of a deep dive into innovation research with real prospects for finding urban sustainability treasure.

“The app is well mixed with information; with staple projects like the High Line and Masdar, and exotic new discoveries like “Effectual Decentralization,” a project in Argentina that plans urban subdivision by watersheds. The information has a Wikipedia like feel, but the target of innovative hits a well curated mark; nothing less then what you’d expect from Harvard.” – Ryan Cunningham

Via Metropolis POV

Competition to soak up water. The design competition, Infill Philadelphia: Soak it Up!, sponsored by the Philadelphia Water Department, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Community Design Collaborative seeks to inspire teams of landscape architects, architects, and engineers to offer up sustainable, low-cost ”green stormwater infrastructure.”

The competition is part of a broader initiative in Philadelphia to use green infrastructure to revitalize communities. Bold, new ideas that come out of the programs will also be critical to “the implementation of Green City, Clean Waters, the city’s innovative, sustainable 25-year plan,” according to competition organizers.

Via The Dirt

More than a little paint. Nick Konen, marketing manager at HDR, blogs on his experience and lessons learned from flipping houses, and how those lessons can be applied to HDR clients.

“Our philosophy was to fix each house to a standard that we would feel comfortable living in. But design decisions become a bit more complex when you know how it affects potential profit. We spent time looking for the best value. At the check-out line, we would think twice before spending “a little extra” on kitchen tile. You can’t underestimate the importance of design. But at the same time, you can’t lose focus on the goal…to make money. It’s a delicate balance that requires both left and right brains.” – Nick Konen

Via Blink Perspectives on Design

Weekly Blog Favorites for July 30

Disney embraces green. The 4,500-square-foot VISION House seeks to promote green home awareness that will imprint children with green design and products both prosaic and visionary, much as an earlier generation embraced recycling

VISION House’s purpose is to engender sustainable thinking, says Green Builder Media CEO Sara Gutterman. Green Builder Media collaborated with Walt Disney’s Imagineers to “innovent” VISION House, combining the media company’s expertise in green living with Disney’s expertise in entertainment.Disney expects 15 million people will see the home during the next three years.

Via Metropolis Magazine POV Blog

Makeover for Washington DC’s Union Station. Amtrak has revealed an ambitious conceptual master plan that would increase the number of tracks, trains, and travelers that can be handled at what is now the East Coast’s second-busiest station.

The National Trust, as part of the Union Station Preservation Coalition, has helped prepare a report that recommends ways to best preserve Union Station’s historic integrity. The full report can be downloaded at www.PreservationNation.org/UnionStationReport.

Via Preservation Nation Blog

The Future of Olympic Architecture. Hosting the Olympics creates a unique opportunity for a city to show off its character and style. There’s no better way to empower a forward-thinking, progressive population than by constructing bold, progressively designed event spaces and stadiums. But at what cost has constructing these venues become?

London has taken a revolutionary approach to host “the world’s first truly sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games, leaving a legacy far beyond the departure of the Olympic Flame,” according to London2012.com. The city has purposefully designed some of its buildings to be easily disassembled and recycled once the Games have concluded.

Via Mashable

How Far Has Bike and Pedestrian Advocacy Come? In 1980, the very first Pro Bike conference with 100 people convened in Asheville, North Carolina. Thirty-two years later, the Pro Walk/Pro Bike: Pro Place has expanded to 1,000 advocates, reflecting the dramatic transformation of bicycling advocacy into today’s active transportation movement.

Project for Public Spaces interviews three advocates who have played very active roles in this transformation, looking back over the past three decades and reflecting on lessons learned thus far.

Via Project for Public Spaces Blog

Parks are part of our healthcare system. Green spaces are crucial to solving hypertension, anxiety, depression, diabetes – “the diseases of outdoor living,” Dr. Daphne Miller, a professor of family and community medicine, University of California, San Francisco, told conference attendees at the Greater & Greener: Reimagining Parks for 21st Century Cities in New York City.

The more someone spends outdoors, the less likely they are to suffer from mental or physical disorders. In a separate panel on healthcare and parks, Dr. Deborah Cohen, senior natural scientist at RAND, and Sarah Messiah, a research professor at the University of Miami presented study results that measured “play in communities,” examining activity levels of residents using parks in Los Angeles.

Via The Dirt

Weekly Design Blog Favorites: July 9, 2012

Adventure playgrounds. Brendan Crain blogs how the playgrounds have changed and the how the “play structure” has become something that doesn’t use the child’s imagination and play.

“Over the past few years, we have siloed different types of play within playgrounds, just as we have siloed different types of uses in cities. Pieces of play equipment that might be transformed into fantastical alternate worlds when jumbled together are isolated (a slide here, a tire swing there), underlining that each piece is meant to be used in one specific way. But research and support have been mounting for years to back up what many of us feel on a gut level: these sanitized playscapes are junk.”

Via Project for Public Spaces blog Related: The Strange Case of a Suburban Park

Architecture and a more connected future. What role does architecture play in this technology-driven age? More company leaders are looking to the future when it comes to workplace design.

“The conventional architect is becoming extinct. I believe that the world will cease to be built out of concrete, steel and glass. New buildings must mirror our current reality, which consists of bytes of information, shared technology and interconnectedness. Construction will evolve into something which is beyond architecture. A building should empower people through the materials it use.”-- James Law, CEO and founder of Hong Kong-based firm Cybertecture, believes that great design can inspire creativity and increase productivity.

Via Mashable Related: Cybertecture

Vision for Houston’s bayous. Kevin Shanley blogs that in the last 40 years, more grassroots organizations and programs seek to protect and enhance Houston bayous and reduce flooding in environmentally sustainable ways, supporting the vision of landscape architect Arthur Comey.

While Comey’s vision has demonstrated how parks and greenspaces can improve the economy, environment and health of the city, there is more work to do. Now is the perfect opportunity to purchase distressed properties along the city's bayous in the hopes of further revitalizing and expanding Houston's parks and greenspaces before those properties are sold for development or redevelopment.

Via APA's Sustaining Spaces Blog First published on SWA Bayou By Us blog

Urban biking a global trend. In cities across the United States, bicycles are becoming an increasingly popular form of urban transportation. A survey of 55 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. found that bicycle commuting rates increased, on average, 70 percent between 2000 and 2009.

The growing popularity of urban cycling has led to a proliferation of bicycle infrastructure in many cities. Over the past decade, Washington D.C. has laid down over 50 miles of bicycle lanes, New York is preparing to launch bike sharing programs and Los Angeles has temporarily prohibited cars from driving on designated streets for certain Sunday afternoons,

Via The Dirt