Shop Houzz: Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms-to-Be (70 photos)

Mother’s Day is an extra-special occasion for the newest members of the mom club. Help them celebrate this holiday as an honoree for the very first time with presents to use once the baby comes, or gifts to relax now and after the little one’s arrival. This Houzz Shop collection is your guide to...

 

City Council Candidate: We Need to Shed Parks

(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Despite the health and wellness benefits of green space, cities are choosing to sell off parkland in order to pay their bills. And space isn’t the only thing for sale — “naming rights” have increasingly become an item on the bake sale table. Recently, San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department announced plans to exchange the names of trails, playgrounds, roller rinks, recreation fields — even rooms in community centers — for money.

A few new stories about city governments peddling green space for cash have recently caught my eye.

Carving Open Space Out of Public Housing Developments
Even though the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has gone back to the drawing board with major plans to lease land for the development of luxury housing, it has been quietly putting smaller plots of land on the chopping block. In the past few years, green spaces, playgrounds and parking lots have peen sold piecemeal for the creation of affordable and senior housing.

The New York Daily News reports that since 2013, the housing authority has sold 54 parcels totaling around 441,000 square feet of NYCHA-owned land to private developers.

Calling the land “underutilized,” NYCHA hopes that the sales will help to put a dent in their $98 million budget gap for the year. In a statement, NYCHA director Shola Olatoye told the paper, “Given this reality, we are exploring all options available to bring in additional revenue that will help us better serve residents.”

But residents have a number of concerns, including questions about how these transactions intersect with other privatization plans the authority has and if the land might be worth more than the price at which NYCHA is selling it. They also see the land as a much-needed amenity: A tenant leader from the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn mourned the loss of a parking lot by saying, “This is where the kids learned to ride their bikes … If you take that, where are they going to go?”

NYCHA is discussing selling off another lot in the development that’s used for football, basketball and social gatherings. Olatoye has promised more clarity about the housing authority’s plans to sell and lease land as the upcoming Next Generation NYCHA plan is rolled out.

Fort Lauderdale Brushes Aside Plan for Downtown Park
Residents of the city’s Flagler Village are urging the city to create a new park out of a 3.5-acre site close to the city center.

But City Manager Lee Feldman is claiming that a future park would only end up being another hangout space for the city’s homeless population. Meanwhile, a real estate consultant’s report says that the value of the land could be between $11 million and $13 million if redeveloped, potentially for a multi-family or senior-living development.

Feldman told the Sun-Sentinal that the property is “clearly the gem of the [city’s] portfolio.” Locals see this fact as the perfect reason to ensure the space is preserved for the public. “We can’t just not do parks because we’re working on a management issue with homeless people. We need to do both,” the president of the Flagler Village Civic Association told the paper.

Will Evansville Choose a Leslie Knope or a Ron Swanson?
The Parks and Recreation Department of the Illinois town maintains more than 2,500 acres between 65 parks. But since the department is more than $500,000 in the red, whether or not to sell land has become an issue in Evansville’s upcoming City Council election.

One candidate for a position representing the Second Ward, Steve Davis, is arguing that sales are necessary to guarantee maintenance and upkeep of the remaining parks. The ward’s incumbent, Missy Mosby, is arguing that alternative funding streams and increasing residents’ ownership of local green spaces is key to improving park quality. Davis told the Evansville Courier & Press:

“We’re not taking care of our parks. We’re not maintaining them. They’re not safe. They’re not being utilized by the public. So I would like to downsize the parks department,” Davis said. “We need to shed them.”

The Democratic primary on May 5th might determine the future of park preservation in Evansville.

 

What Urban Planners Can Learn From Skaters and Itinerant Marching Bands

The Hungry March Band practices in August 2001 on waterfront land that would five years later become the East River State Park. (Photo by Daniel Campo)

Mr. Robinson showed me the way he likes to plant his crops. “In a straight line, so we can stay organized and grow as much food for the neighborhood as possible.” I had just moved to Brooklyn, and was taking a tour of the community garden down the block that neighbors had founded on an abandoned lot over 40 years ago. Mr. Robinson and the other self-appointed heads of the garden managed the members’ dues and distributed keys, and often opened the garden up to BBQs, parties and art shows for neighbors. I was asked to always leave the door open when I was gardening, so that anyone could come by and enjoy this handmade, unsanctioned respite from the city.

Looking to the margins, to places like self-designed and designated community gardens, teaches us important lessons about power, inequity, and the capacity of our cities to meet the needs of a diverse and constantly evolving citizenry. As a student of urban planning, I’ve been taught that planning sanctions proper uses and the form of our cities. But in reality, many important strategies of creativity and survival take place in spite of formal design, development and regulation.

Daniel Campo’s book, The Accidental Playground, tells the story of an abandoned rail terminal on the North Brooklyn waterfront that between 2000 and 2010 became the home turf of skateboarders, artists, marching bands, homeless people, and neighborhood residents in need of a bigger and freer backyard.

Hanging out before the park became a Park (Photo by Daniel Campo)

No one invited these people to the space or offered any designerly nudges toward particular uses. They were playing, creating, socializing, and supporting themselves freely and in ways that they could not elsewhere. With an absentee landlord and a landscape of benign neglect, the space’s informal, self-selected tenants had to constantly negotiate with each other so that the space remained open, and not exclusive to any particular group. The qualities of the space so beloved — its diversity of uses, shared ownership and co-created nature — also made the space successful by the standards of many public space managers.

The finished East River State Park

Yet in 2006, the terminal was torn up and redesigned to be a formal public space, the East River State Park. Today, the park is a popular neighborhood hangout, successful in many ways, yet it is a very different sort of place than the one Campo, associate professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University in Baltimore, found in 2000. The formal park designation means that most of the activities Campo documented would no longer be allowed. Moreover, the designed and managed feel of the park has made it feel less free and inviting for self-made activities. In a sense, the space’s original visionaries became the casualties of its development.

It’s no coincidence that the end of Campo’s accidental playground was the beginning of the Brooklyn waterfront’s furious redevelopment into some of the city’s most expensive real estate. Unlike the shantytown skatepark and DIY marching band stage that came before it, the East River State Park is a valuable amenity for the million-dollar condos that continue to spring up around it. Indeed for those who are part of marginalized cultures or communities that reclaim space through unsanctioned uses, cities reliant on property taxes to fund operations are increasingly hostile environments, with every inch designed for the “highest and best use.”

It’s not only on the Brooklyn waterfront that this clash occurs. Nabil Kamel is a professor of urban planning at Arizona State University who studies how marginalized people shape inhospitable environments through what he calls “placemaking tactics.” In a study he conducted in several sprawling Phoenix neighborhoods, he and his students observed residents setting up guerrilla gardens, holding informal yard sales and selling food through illegal stands, all activities that likely wouldn’t fit into the city’s regulatory scheme, but nonetheless allowed its residents to make a living and preserve their culture.

Both skateboarders occupying the waterfront and informal vendors in the neighborhoods of Phoenix are challenging the intended use of a space. These seemingly positive, yet consistently outlawed activities challenge us to rethink dominant planning paradigms.

Skaters on the waterfront (Photo by Daniel Campo)

If creative freedom, co-creation and empowerment are qualities we want our public places to provide, why not look to the places that organically embody them?

Subversive spatial practices like the scene Campo found on the Brooklyn waterfront indicate needs going unmet. If a corn vendor in Phoenix must occupy an abandoned lot to make a living, it most likely means that the legal pathway for doing so is prohibitive to him. If a homeless woman in Brooklyn occupies an abandoned waterfront instead of going to the shelter or being able to support herself, perhaps we need to reconsider what other public spaces and opportunities are available to her. And if a skateboarding community creates its own parks, perhaps it indicates that we need a bit more space to play, to be free, to make our own environment. The collective action required to create such a space is an end unto itself.

For those of us in the urban planning profession, it is worth exploring why we too often undervalue these self-made free spaces and the urge to reclaim a space through empowering, undesignated uses. What if instead, we supported them?

One tactic could be to focus on co-creation. By this I do not mean a few charettes, or a handful of sparsely attended public meetings, but rather a deeper negotiation among all of the relevant actors involved in a site. This may play out in the public realm through calm discussions. It may also play out through protests, which is a natural part of democratic negotiation in a world of unequal power relations.

Several cities have experimented with ways to bring together citizen-made space and formal regulation. Seattle has a program that incorporates neighborhood-created community gardens into the city framework, but in a way that requires ongoing participation and co-creation. Architect Jeffrey Hou writes that this kind of bridge benefits both communities and the local government. It gives neighbors the chance to be involved in shaping the city, and it allows city agencies to manage spaces in less resource-intensive ways through partnerships with citizens. This shows that formal and informal processes can come together beneficially. While not all spaces lend themselves to develop in this way, we could stand to think about how more of them can.

Another strategy is even simpler: listening and observing. If an unsanctioned activity like say, a guerrilla garden or DIY skate park is not endangering others, why not consider its benefits and how to preserve it?

This suggests that as people, we can and should challenge what formal, sanctioned spaces tell us are our boundaries. And as Kamel and Campo suggest, designers and developers could stand to think more about socio-spatial practice (i.e., what people are doing on the ground) and less about form and product. Doing so demands a rethinking of our values as urban planners as well as openness to moments of discomfort, disagreement and instability. But not doing so puts us at risk for something much worse: cities in which some are freer than others to flourish and be themselves.

 

On the market: 1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

If you are on the hunt for a time capsule, look no further than this 1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

It’s a wonderful house and one that looks pretty much unchanged in 45+ years. In fact, it looks barely lived in to us, although you can only tell so much from a set of photographs.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

What we do know is that the house was designed by Cardiff architects Thomas Glyn Jones & John R Evans back in 1968, one of six Scandinavian-influenced (and award-winning) houses on the site. A grade II-listing followed in 2006.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

This one is, we would guess, what the architects designed, with the ribbed concrete, cedar wood ceilings, white interior walls and standing seam aluminium roof all intact. In fact, it looks like the interior fittings are pretty much intact too – although you will have to enquire as to whether they will be included in any sale.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

It is a sizeable build too, offering around 2,000 sq. ft. of living space inside, with an enclosed 95ft. rear garden too.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

The space is currently laid out with an entrance porch, a hall with a curved wall and spiral staircase (yes, really) leading to a galleried balcony and open plan to a dining room with full width windows and door leading onto a cantilevered terrace.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

The lounge also has a full length glass window overlooking the garden, while the kitchen (which looks totally unchanged) has a utility room located off it.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

The east wing of the house contains the master bedroom plus a shower room, while the west wing has two additional double bedrooms and the family bathroom. The first floor has the fourth bedroom plus a fifth bedroom, which can also be used as a studio, with a door leading onto a roof terrace.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

Outside is all that garden, as well as off-road parking and a double garage with electric door.

1960s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales
۱۹۶۰s Thomas Glyn Jones and John R Evans-designed grade II-listed modernist property in Dinas Powys, South Wales

A lot of house that does need some updating, but with all that originality to  assist in creating a unique mid-20th century living space. It is on the market for £۶۲۹,۰۰۰٫

Images and details courtesy of Peter Alan estate agents. For more images, more details and to make enquiries, please visit their website.

 

Kitchen of the Week: Splashes of Red for a Country Classic (9 photos)

The owners of this early-19th-century house in Kent, England, had relocated from London and were eager to make the most of their country home’s connection with nature. They thought the dining room, with French windows and views to the garden, would be just right for a kitchen and dining area, so they...

 

Exclusive Renderings: Tadao Ando’s First New York Building

152 Elizabeth Street, to be completed next November, will exemplify Ando's rigorous, serene architecture.
 

Exclusive Renderings: Tadao Ando’s First New York Building

۱۵۲ Elizabeth Street, to be completed next November, will exemplify Ando's rigorous, serene architecture.
 

lee jeong lok makes mesmerizing natural landscapes through light painting


serene natural landscapes and sprawling outdoor panoramas are pierced by the physical addition of glowing geometric forms, korean language characters and butterflies.

The post lee jeong lok makes mesmerizing natural landscapes through light painting appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.

 

The form of Ben Waechter’s Pavilion house is derived from a dining table

Four "legs" support the upper level of this house in Portland, Oregon – a design intended to offer the openness of a glass house, without compromising on privacy (+ slideshow). (more…)

 

Will an Overturned Fish Truck Hurt Seattle’s New Transportation Tax?

Can Mayor Ed Murray sell the $900 million “Move Seattle”? (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Last weekend, Seattle officials held their first outreach meeting for a $900 million transportation levy called Move Seattle. Proposed by Mayor Ed Murray on March 2nd, the tax addresses public transit along with street, sidewalk and bridge maintenance and emphasizes bike and pedestrian safety. In draft proposal form, at least, it’s an ambitious package with clear multimodal priorities. It’s also the largest transportation levy in city history.

So, can it pass?

The Seattle area has a lukewarm history with large transportation bonds but, like many metro regions, city-dwellers tax themselves more readily than suburban residents, giving this Seattle-only measure a better shot. And the region’s progressive politics favor rail/bus/bike taxes over freeway/road expansions, so Move Seattle seems locally in sync.

But several things could work against it. They are: 1. Anti-growth backlash to the city’s increasing density, 2. Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine and 3. An overturned fish truck.

Let’s start with the first (and save the fish truck for last).

Roger Valdez is the director of Smart Growth Seattle. For the most part, he likes Move Seattle and feels optimistic that it will pass, citing Seattleites willingness to self-tax for visible capital improvements.

Still, he sees the city’s transportation and land use policies splitting, shoehorned by parking. Last year, for example, a legal decision upped parking requirements for some new development — a threat to density, despite the fact that Move Seattle’s bus and bike lanes would thrive on compact growth. And he says that parking could get in the levy’s way.

“We’re doing all these things like emphasizing bike tracks and trolley — but what happens when people lose their parking spot?” he asks. “The city needs to invest in density, in the land use policies that should come with this levy, and I don’t see that happening. I see it going in the other direction.”

“I think you’re going to see angry neighbors mobilize against this, asking ‘Why should I pay to build more bike infrastructure when I can’t find a place to park?’” he adds.

And it is expensive. The city’s last levy, Bridging the Gap, totaled $365 million and increased the property tax bill of a $450,000 home (roughly Seattle’s median) by about $130, according to Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“Move Seattle would more than double that property tax bite to $275,” he writes.

That large sell could be a tough sell right now, because of at least one high-profile flop: the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, known as Seattle’s unbelievable transportation megaproject fustercluck and one of the country’s 11 worst highway boondoggles. The underground freeway where a massive drill named Bertha broke down in 2013 (tweeting all the while) was financially green-lit through a 2009 bill sponsored by Murray, then a state senator. And though Move Seattle is the opposite of a giant freeway tunnel, Bertha’s substantial shadow could block voters’ view.

That was one worry for local advocacy group Transportation Choices, when the bus-funding Prop 1 went before voters last fall. But Shefali Ranganathan, the organization’s director of programs, says those fears weren’t substantiated. Prop 1 passed.

“Voters will open up their pocketbooks if it’s a good strong plan that is very specific,” she says, expressing support for the new measure’s mix of maintenance and complete streets-type planning.

And according to Hannah McIntosh, project manager for Move Seattle’s development, residents seem positive on the plan’s Vision Zero-like safety priorities.

“So far that’s something that people tend to be pretty excited about,” she says, based on the three community meetings she’s attended since last weekend.

One concern she’s seen involves traffic.

“It’s at the top of just about everyone’s mind in the city right now,” she says.

But while gridlock could nudge voters toward the multimodal plan, Valdez says that traffic could also work against it. Case in point: the fish truck.

On Tuesday, March 24th at about 2:30 p.m., a semi full of salmon flipped on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. According to Mike Lindblom of the Seattle Times, the truck’s driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries. City police called their go-to contractor, who restored the truck to its upright position around 7 p.m. With lanes closed until almost midnight, the fish truck managed to grind Seattle’s transportation grid to a near halt.

Move Seattle’s emphasis on multimodal transit could certainly address fish truck-like snarls. But Valdez worries that anti-growth activists won’t see it that way. He worries that they’ll only see road space taken away from cars.

“[Move Seattle] could run into the neighborhood crowd,” he says. “And the fish truck could become their rallying cry.”

 



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