The Guardian


When the Big One Comes: the Woman Preparing LA for Life After a Major Quake

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January 20, 2016
Marissa Aho recently became Los Angeles’ chief resilience officer. In a city prone to earthquakes, reliant on imported water and suffering a housing shortage, how could the city survive and recover after a catastrophe?

On the list of existential threats to Los Angeles, earthquakes rank highest. With dozens of fault lines running beneath and around the metropolitan area, the ever-looming threat of the Big One is a not-so-quiet concern in the back of most people’s heads. The last major earthquake to hit the region was the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake in 1994, which killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. Many predict that an even stronger earthquake is increasingly likely to strike by mid-century.

Photo: From Theaster Gates to Assemble: Is There an Art to Urban Regeneration?

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November 3, 2015
The Chicago planner-turned-artist’s transformation of Stony Island bank is the latest high-profile example of how the arts can drive a city’s redevelopment. But is this always a good thing?

Stony Island Arts Bank
© Nate Berg

From Theaster Gates to Assemble: Is There an Art to Urban Regeneration?

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Date: 
November 3, 2015
The Chicago planner-turned-artist’s transformation of Stony Island bank is the latest high-profile example of how the arts can drive a city’s redevelopment. But is this always a good thing?

A pair of octogenarian siblings were two of the first visitors to the recent opening of the former Stony Island State Savings Bank on Chicago’s South Side. They were last inside the building nearly 70 years ago, when their Greek father ran a small food stand in one of its alcoves, back when it was still a bank. Today, the building has awoken from a decades-long slumber of dereliction and abandonment as the Stony Island Arts Bank, an art gallery, community arts space and archival library.

Photos: How LA School Districts are Turning Disused Land into Low-Cost Housing

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October 1, 2015
In a city where affordable rents are in short supply, Los Angeles schools are partnering with developers to build low-cost housing targeted at substitute teachers, bus drivers and maintenance workers

Sage Park Apartments

Sage Park Apartments
© Nate Berg

How LA's School District is Turning Disused Land into Low-Cost Housing

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October 1, 2015
In a city where affordable rents are in short supply, Los Angeles schools are partnering with developers to build low-cost housing targeted at substitute teachers, bus drivers and maintenance workers

In a freeway-lined corner of the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena, where modest ranch-style homes and shopping malls dominate, the sleek modern architecture of Sage Park Apartments bursts through the drabness. The jutting rooflines and stylish grey, red and rust-orange panelling make the 90-unit complex seem more like a misplaced version of the luxury condos of downtown LA, 15 miles to the north, than what it really is: subsidised, affordable housing.

What Happens When You Ask to See CCTV Footage?

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September 22, 2015
In Britain and other EU countries, people have the right to see footage of themselves recorded on CCTV cameras. Yet when one university researcher set out to test this, many operators were less than forthcoming

One day in late 2013, Keith Spiller went for a walk around a city in the south of England. Over the course of about an hour and a half, he walked past the town hall, a train station, a stadium, a few banks, a few shopping areas, a museum and a handful of other public places. And, like countless others walking around UK cities and cities around the world, in each of the places he passed he was recorded on CCTV surveillance cameras.

After his walk, however, he did what very few others do: he asked for the footage.

How Community-Led Renovation is Helping a Rundown Pittsburgh Neighborhood Fight Crime

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July 8, 2015
Slumlords are vanishing, crime is down and affordable housing on the rise: what can East Liberty teach us about the transformative power of regeneration?

Dorothea Burke is standing in the street, staring at her house. It’s a warm day in late May and after a hard Pittsburgh winter, Burke and many of her neighbours are in home improvement mode. Drills and power saws blare in the background. New windows are going in across the street and the house next to it is on the market. Facing her house, Burke, a 23-year resident of this block, is thinking about repointing her brickwork and maybe a paint job. “People are finally taking pride in their homes,” she says.

New Yorkers to Get Free Wi-Fi via Old Phone Booths in Google-Funded Project

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June 29, 2015
Google’s urban innovation startup Sidewalk Labs has made its first big investment – turning NYC’s disused phone booths into 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots

The goal of free, high-speed internet for everyone in New York City has jumped much closer: Sidewalk Labs, the new Google-backed startup that was created last month to improve city life though technological innovation, has announced it is investing in a project to turn the city’s payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots.

Will Google's $5m Plan Make Cycling in the Rest of Silicon Valley Easier?

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June 19, 2015
Cycling is safe and easy inside the search giant’s Mountain View HQ, but getting to the site from elsewhere in Silicon Valley means crossing fast-moving expressways and busy train tracks. Is Google’s new bike plan the answer?

Inside the Googleplex – the tech giant’s headquarters in Mountain View, California – hundreds of multi-coloured bikes are scattered around. With bright yellow frames and big blue and green rubber tires, they’re seemingly everywhere – clustered at the edges of parking lots, lined near building entrances, or clumsily toppled over into the office park landscaping. The bikes make it easy for Google’s employees to move between its many office buildings, spread over roughly two miles of land at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay in a neighbourhood known as North Bayshore.

The LA Street Artist Who Sees Beauty in the Cracks of Our Cities

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May 8, 2015
Paige Smith’s Urban Geode street-art project brings a hint of the magical to derelict corners of Los Angeles, and – with a network of fans worldwide – her crystalline forms are spreading

Down a narrow alley between two brick buildings in a Los Angeles warehouse district – now an expensive loft neighbourhood – in the small corner of a ground floor window filled in with concrete, a small plastic growth spreads out from the sill.

Like sculpted globs of clear ice, the crystalline shapes spill out from the window’s crevice, mixing with translucent blue mineral forms, forming a blossom of geometry.