Urban Planning

Diplomacy by Design

September 5, 2014
A new generation of architects is using rail lines, shopping centers, and football fields to keep the peace from Belfast to Baghdad.

On a single day in July, when ambient tensions escalated, Palestinian militants fired more than 180 rockets into Israel, and the Israelis launched airstrikes against towns throughout the Gaza Strip. Dozens of Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed. The order of daily urban life was disrupted, yet again, by warfare.

Burning Man and the Metropolis

January 10, 2011
It's not exactly the ideal place to build a city. No water, little vegetation, limited animal life. August temperatures climb to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and drop close to freezing at night. High winds kick up powder-fine dust into blinding storms. The place is, in a word, inhospitable.

But year after year in late summer, a small city rises on this ancient lakebed in the Black Rock Desert, in Pershing County in northwestern Nevada. It's the annual event — or festival, or party — known as Burning Man, an eight-day experiment in self-expression and self-reliance that is now one of the most notorious cultural events in North America. What began as a bonfire attended by 20 friends on a San Francisco beach in 1986 has exploded into a global mega-event with 50,000 participants.

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

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.

Working in the Age of Geodesign

February 6, 2013
Data is becoming the designer’s new best friend. Urban designers, architects, and landscape architects – whether they’ve realized it yet, or not – will soon be integrating massive sets of data into every design they do.

These fields are entering the age of geodesign, an emerging concept that melds the geospatial data of geographic information systems, or GIS, with simulation and design evaluation techniques. Through geographic analysis of the various streams of data relating to a project and its site, geodesign creates the potential for real-time vetting of design ideas within the grander context of the site. From hydrology and habitat to traffic patterns and energy regimes, multitudes of data are now easily available and nearly as easily integrated into the designs of the built environment.

RoboCop: The Monument

June 22, 2011
Can open source play a role in urban planning? Launched on Kickstarter, the proposal to erect a monument to RoboCop has received support from thousands of people worldwide.

The Internet's very local demand for RoboCop

Strange things can happen when the nerdy niches of the Internet mobilise. In less than a week, the wacky-yet-kindaclever idea of building a statue in Detroit of the title character from the Detroit-based 1987 film RoboCop surpassed its $50,000 goal through donations on the fundraising website Kickstarter.

The New New Urbanists

November 17, 2010
Los Angeles’s high school of urban planning welcomes its freshman class.

Kids can be planners too. That’s the philosophy of a group of Los Angeles teachers who just started their own pilot school organized around the unlikely theme of urban planning. The East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy of Urban Planning and Design held its first classes in September on the crisp new campus of Esteban Torres High School, in the heavily Latino East L.A. It’s a neighborhood where, the teachers think, students can particularly benefit from the skills and values of the planning profession.

Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners

October 29, 2008
It's Halloween and that means it's costume time. But, what's that you say? Too busy updating your comprehensive plan to find a costume? Well, don't fret! I've got some last-minute costume ideas for the busy urban planner that are both fun and planning related.

I know what you must be thinking, what kind of costume could possibly be planning related? There’s tons! And here are just a few:

Big Box

This one is incredibly straightforward. Just find yourself a big cardboard box, cut some arm holes and bam! You’re a 150,000 square-foot mega-retailer ready to crush local business and drain the traditional downtown! And look! There’s a sale on candy corn on aisle 29!

Bike Lane