De Blasio Offers Cash to Landlords Who Help Homeless

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Just yesterday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio joined other city leaders in Boston to talk income inequality, noting that “the material reality is so harsh for so many families.” And while de Blasio’s big affordable housing gamble is still in its early stages, the Mayor’s taking baby steps too, when it comes to sheltering all New Yorkers.

According to the New York Daily News, de Blasio is robocalling New York City landlords with a plea to take in the city’s homeless. Real estate owners who take up the Mayor’s offer to house those in the city’s shelter program will receive a $1,000 “signing bonus” and funds from the city to cover the rent.

According to the newspaper, “the robocalls come at a time when the city’s homeless shelters are housing about 60,000 people a night,” and “the money for participating landlords is being distributed through the city’s new Living in Communities Rental Assistance program, which aims to move families out of the strained shelter system and into homes.”

“This call from the Mayor is part of our ongoing conversations and outreach to landlords,” a City Hall spokeswoman told the Daily News. “We want to remind landlords with vacant units that these programs are available, a safe business opportunity for them, and a way to help our city combat a huge affordability crisis.”

 

How to Channel Your Inner New Bohemian (17 photos)

It seems like every other magazine and catalog I’ve received this year is touting “new bohemian” style; I haven’t seen those words used so much since Edie Brickell & New Bohemians topped the charts with “What I Am” in 1988. Even the most buttoned-up brands like Great Britain’s Burberry...

 

U.S. Mayors Meet to Talk Transportation, Housing and Income Inequality

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Transportation, housing and income inequality are on the agenda in Boston today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Cities of Opportunities task force, which convened Sunday.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were among a group that met at the University of Massachusetts Boston yesterday to address what their cities were doing about income inequality.

“This crisis of inequality now has taken on a form really unprecedented in this country,” de Blasio said. “The material reality is so harsh for so many families, that the notion of getting ahead is simply being able to pay the bills again, as opposed to having to decide among what bills you’re going to pay this month and what will have to wait until next month. … That shows you just how far off the mark we are.”

All of the meetings are closed to press, but the mayors are holding a press conference at 12:30 p.m. in Faneuil Hall to discuss the need for Congress to pass a long-term federal surface transportation law. They’ll urge the feds — as chambers of commerce across the U.S. also did recently — to localize spending control on projects.

Here’s what attendees had to say about yesterday’s panel.





 

On the market: Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11
Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

What do you get if you combine three individual mews properties? You get this three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11.

Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11
Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

That’s what has happened here, with three separate properties merged into one  house. Obviously that’s not just a case of knocking down a few walls. An architect has overseen the project, resulting in the stylish living space you see here.

Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11
Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

Premium finishes throughout as you would expect, as well as plenty of light and space.

Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11
Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

The ground floor offers up a ‘spacious’ entrance lobby that leads into the open plan kitchen and dining area, as well as a wide reception room complete with fireplace and projector screen. There’s also a glass-walled shower room that doubles as a steam room on this floor too.

Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11
Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

The first floor is made up of a ‘dramatic’ master bedroom suite leading to a large limestone en-suite bathroom via a glass walkway, along with two further double bedrooms.

Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11
Three-bedroom mews conversion in London W11

If you want more space, there is the option to use the flat roof space across all of the house, which has previously had planning approval for a railing around the perimeter. Priced as you might expect, specifically at £۲,۲۵۰,۰۰۰٫

Images and details courtesy of the Marsh & Parsons estate agents. For more details and to make enquiries, please visit their website.

 

Shadow-free skyscrapers would redirect the sun’s rays to public plazas

A concept for "shadowless" skyscrapers that redirect sunlight to public spaces could work for tall buildings anywhere in the world, say the London designers behind the proposal. (more…)

 

۸۰-Square-Foot Cabins in the Countryside Form an Idyllic Art Studio

The Observatory and The Study Project by Feilden Clegg Bradley

"We wanted them to be silhouettes that just exist on the landscape," says Feilden Clegg Bradley and architect Charlotte Knight, who helped design The Study and The Workshop, a pair of mobile artist's studios currently located in South Downs, two hours drive south of London. "They’re black and foreboding. In the distance, it’s quite striking." 

 

Image courtesy of Matt Dunkinson.

When designing a space meant to inspire working artists, architect Charlotte Knight of British firm Feilden Clegg Bradley decided the best possible collaborator was another creative. As she and colleagues Ross Galtress, Mina Gospavic, and Lauren Shevills began formulating an entry for a contest held by the arts organization Space Placemaking and Urban Design last year, they tapped her old friend, Devon-based artist Edward Crumpton, as an artistic reference and creative catalyst. The resulting workspace revamp, dubbed The Observatory, consists of a pair of angular, 80-square-foot cabins. Knight explained the project’s genesis to Dwell, including the future of the mobile residency program and the joy of torching your own building material. 

 

Mayor’s Race Reveals Philly’s Strengths, Weaknesses on Multimodal Transit

(Photo by Dave Z)

Mayoral candidates gathered last Thursday in Philadelphia to discuss an increasingly multimodal city. This is the first election in which those vying for the executive seat have felt compelled to stake out positions on such issues, and everyone running (one sent a surrogate) showed up. Increasingly vocal urbanist political groups have placed non-car transport squarely on the next mayor’s agenda in the Pennsylvania city.

“There’s a very large contrast between the two elections,” says Sarah Clark Stuart, deputy director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. “In 2007, transportation issues were not widely discussed as they are in this election cycle. There are just so many more people who are interested in bicycling and walking and making streets safer and issues like Vision Zero than there were eight years ago.”

The Sweden-originated Vision Zero approach to eliminating traffic deaths has spread far beyond early U.S. adopters New York and San Francisco. Seattle is the most recent big city to adopt such a goal.

All of the participants at the forum embraced Vision Zero. (Republican Melissa Murray Bailey went out of her way to note that she works for a Swedish company.) Candidate Anthony Williams’ representative, policy director Omar Woodard, promised “an interagency task force that will create an action plan that will reduce traffic-related mobility fatalities by half by 2020.” That’s the same target the Bicycle Coalition is pushing. (He also noted, correctly, that most pedestrian deaths occur in low-income neighborhoods.) No other candidate committed to such a concrete date, but all endorsed the concept.

Unfortunately, the panel moderator’s search for more specifics came up empty-handed. Former councilman Jim Kenney was the only one with anything to say about signal prioritization for city buses — he’s for it. Candidates Doug Oliver and Lynne Abraham clearly did not understand protected bike lanes. (Abraham, a former D.A., said she could not support a proposed protected bike lane on the exceedingly wide and busy JFK Boulevard because many elderly people lived there who “could be injured or even killed by a speeding bicyclist.”)

Abraham’s website offers no insight into her transportation goals. Williams issued a press release embracing Vision Zero, while Doug Oliver has told Plan Philly that his meeting with the Bicycle Coalition revolutionized his outlook on these issues. (“I think I was probably their worst enemy going in but I might be their best friend coming out.”) Kenney also counts himself among the converted. His campaign site is the only one that specifically names Vision Zero as a policy priority and one of the only ones, along with Nelson Diaz, to include an entry on transit: Kenney wants to extend a subway line, aid in the restructuring of the transit concourses below Center City and build bus shelters in neighborhoods.

Kenney’s presence and support of Vision Zero, protected bike lanes, and signal prioritization for city buses and (presumably) trolleys is probably the most telling. The Democrat sat as an at-large member of council for 23 years, and the crowd at the Better Mobility 2015 forum wouldn’t consider his record to be spotless on their issues. He voted yes on a 2012 law that took the power to create bike lanes from the mayor and gave it to city council. The move ensured implementation wouldn’t be part of a central plan but instead be dependent upon the whims of entrenched district politicians. When asked about the bill, Kenney stumbled through an excuse about Mayor Michael Nutter’s poor relations with City Council — but his opening remarks were revealing of the changing conversation around multimodal transit in the city.

“When the bicycle movement first began taking off I would consider myself Paul of Tarsus. I was not exactly a fan,” said Kenney. “I was one of those lifelong Philadelphians who resisted change. Over time I learned what it was about, these changes are very important to our city. It means that all these young people who don’t want to be married to an automobile and a parking space, will come and live in Philadelphia. When people complain to me about bike lanes now I say relax, the sidewalks and streets belong to everyone.”

Similar shifts have already occurred in other big cities. Many candidates in 2013’s New York City mayoral election railed against the transportation policies of Michael Bloomberg, who was strongly associated with elite-biased policy preferences. Progressive Democrat John Liu said he would likely close bike lanes in Queens and Brooklyn, while Anthony Weiner told Bloomberg the first thing he would do in office was “tear out your fucking bike lanes.” Even Bill de Blasio expressed reservations. But as the campaign wore on, the rhetoric changed as multimodal advocacy groups pushed their messaging forcefully. Today de Blasio is the nation’s leading advocate of Vision Zero and ordered- the construction of a few protected bike lanes of his own.

In Los Angeles, multimodal transportation has been on the rise as well. The city’s proclivity toward traffic jams had made residents especially keen for non-car alternatives. In addition to adopting Vision Zero and expanding bike lanes it is also one of the only big cities in the nation that is aggressively expanding its public transit infrastructure. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel campaigned in 2009 on expanding bike infrastructure. Four years later Chicago has 100 new miles of protected bike lanes. Now Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is attempting to overthrow Emanuel, but he is not defining himself against the incumbent’s record on multimodal transit. Instead he is endorsing more protected bike lanes, where the community calls for them, and increased local funding for mass transit.

In Philadelphia, that bill stripping the mayor’s power over bike lanes passed unanimously. But last week’s mobility forum proves there is an active constituency around these issues and there is no better way to ensure a politician’s responsiveness than organized member-based groups capable of carrying out concerted pressure campaigns. It seems Philly’s next mayor will be well aware of that.

 

Shop Houzz: It’s Chip and Dip Time! (49 photos)

In honor of national Chip and Dip Day on March 23, we’ve put together a party-ready collection of serveware perfect for serving the must-have snack combination of chips and dip. From highly polished pieces by Arthur Court to styles that suit the mood of your gathering, the Houzz Shop has just...

 

Tham & Videgård designs wooden residential towers for Stockholm waterfront

Swedish studio Tham & Videgård Arkitekter has unveiled plans for a row of high-rise apartment blocks constructed from timber that will tower over an old harbour in Stockholm. (more…)

 

Wayne Hemingway’s ‘can-do’ attitude

Blueprint

Words Wayne Hemingway

I was recently tasked with giving a talk on 'Bravery and a can-do attitude' at Somerset County Council's Staff Awards. It is a subject matter close to my heart and something that is sadly lacking not just in the public sector, but in a fair number of those in the private sector that serve the public sector. We all bemoan the paucity of decent design in the vast majority of new housing, and how many times do we have to sit in a miserable hospital waiting room or feel deflated at how uninspiring that sheltered housing scheme is where a beloved relative is living out their final years? How many times do we look at some new public landscape and think, what a bleedin' waste of money?

Just about all of those crappy buildings, public spaces and interiors will have had significant input from architects and designers, all of whom have lacked bravery in debating and standing up to a client that doesn't understand the value of good design, and will have lacked a can-do attitude in being creative with tight budgets. What is the point of being a designer if all you are doing is earning a wage and you don't care about the outcome? I have a firm philosophy that 'design is about improving things that matter in life' and this mantra continues to ensure that we are brave and we 'can-do' and that drives a very healthy bottom line.

Gerardine (wife of 32 years and design partner for 34) and I were brave in moving from our native Lancashire as teenagers with no plans other than to see what 'that there London' could offer. Without staff or a factory to make her clothes, Gerardine was extremely brave to take a very large order from Macy's New York for her first collection that, up to then, she'd been making herself with her portable sewing machine. To grow Red or Dead into a fashion brand with shops all around the world without backing, with a team of young, unqualified, enthusiastic can-doers was brave and a hoot to boot.

From the client side, Bournemouth Council's bravery comes to mind, in commissioning for the run-down district of Boscombe, the world's second-only surf reef and employing designers to bring the mid-century overstrand and pier back to life. Cries of 'waste of money' went up from the media and the usual suspects. The surf reef was untested technology which failed to generate decent waves, then broke, and the New Zealand construction company went bust. But, in the meantime, the investment has paid off: Boscombe seafront is nothing less than transformed and one of the coolest and liveliest bits of beach in the area.

The early years in the development of the Staiths South Bank in Gateshead, which we were also involved with, were full of debate and arguments over 'secured by design', 'homezones', communal barbeques, the table tennis tables in the streets, 'shared pocket parks', cycle routes and restrictions on car ownership. We were questioning accepted practice and were also being questioned by many architects and planners as to our suitability for the project. 'Q: What could a couple of fashion designers know about housing? A: We have bloomin' well lived in them for four decades each and we care about the quality of life!'

We didn't let any of the flak get to us and we proved the police wrong in their belief that we were designing crime 'in' rather than designing crime 'out' by placing all the parking down gable ends rather than in view of residents' houses. We proved the council wrong by getting rid of all wheelie bins and forcing residents to communally dispose of waste. The development has not become covered in litter and the local yoof haven't cooked the neighbourhood cats on the communal barbeques.

Our current, most challenging and most exciting project is Dreamland Margate, and if there is a braver regeneration project in the UK with so many can-do folk involved, then please point me in its direction. From Heritage Lottery, to Thanet Council, to the Dreamland Trust and the Margate community that support it to Sands Heritage that will run the [vintage amusement] park, everyone is taking risks for the public good.

Having creative minds with a can-do attitude has seen transformations of the Mitte District in Berlin, Williamsburg and now wider Brooklyn in New York, Hackney Wick in London, the Baltic Quarter in Liverpool, and now Margate's old town.

To the councils that have allowed pianos and table tennis tables to populate our public spaces, I salute you for your bravery and for supporting those who say 'try this'.

 



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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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