Colleague and friend is always innovating and inspiring the next generation. Like the incredible digifab panels he created for our mapleton project. check out the incredible work he is doing with his students at UC Boulder!
A recent journey to Costa Rica brought me face to face with the beautiful reality of a shared street. One bumpy dirt track did it all - cars, atv's, bicycles, dirt bikes, cars, trucks, pedestrians, all shared the space moving at their own pace. Of course the rutted and bumpy road ensured that no ones pace was too fast. Given its closeness to the beach, no one was moving too fast anyway. Don't Worry, Be Happy. The road had restaurants and cafe with outdoor tables, and a place where all modes of travel felt equally at home. The dust though was a real problem - many even wore masks. Patches of paving were beginning to be laid down - a welcome relief to the pervasive dust. Soon it will all be pavement which ironically will make it an even more hospitable place. The informality and the way a road can support all modes of movement, as well as place to meet people, hang out, eat dinner, have drinks,made this not just a road but a place, the place of gathering for Santa Teresa. And only 2 minutes from the beach!
We have been designing a "shared use" project on 14th St. in Boulder for Element Properties and it has hit the press! The project was submitted to the City of Boulder for review with a tentative public hearing of late January 2014.
Here is a link to a blog post by Victor Olgay of the the Rocky Mountain Institute. He is a principal there and was a recent juror at the US DOE annual Solar Decathlon competition. We also share time at the University of Colorado Design Review Board His thoughts about the competition I believe extend more broadly to be a very powerful statement about how architecture should be practiced today. I taught a design studio at CU Boulder that was the beginning of the first CU entry (which ultimately won that year!) It has come a long way.
Please have a read:
I am back in China with the graduate students studying urban design. On our visit to the Great Wall we found a side of the road little restaurant in. Initially unremarkable, the place slowly revealed its treasures. Yes, the ponds had fish and yes that is what we ordered. The vegetables came out of the garden, the chicken came form the pen and the rabbit came from the hills. All eaten under a lovely little trellis overlooking the built and natural ponds, a stream and the hills. Food can not get fresher or more local - likely organic bu un-advertised. The students ate with a smile on their face about the unexpected pleasures of China. Sometimes very special gifts come in very plain wrapping!
Last week I took a one day adventure to Williston, North Dakota - ground zero in the new fracking boom. With prices that rival Manhattan and exceed Boulder, it is a surreal combination of man camps, a classic mid-western downtown, beautiful prairie landscape with bluffs and the Missouri River and the ubiquitous pick-up truck as a modern necessity to take on the roads. The contrasts are extreme - with new 3-4 story apartment buildings on the fringe, rows of trailers, repetitious houses, and remnants of the last boom. We are tasked with "Quality Control": how can we bring a bit of design quality to a place where people work 7 days a week and 18 hours a day. What does a sense of place mean hear? How can the design of buildings, streets, and public space add to the good life here. We will be exploring these questions in the coming months to try and understand what 'quality' means in this curious place.
Here is another piece about how our daily life and the way it is organized (both our scheduling and the physical organization) are critical aspects to whether physical activity is integral to our routine. It is interesting when you turn the lens back on one self how the small decisions add up to a lifestyle.
Here are a few interesting articles about Zero Energy and the opportunities at the district scale. We must begin to think bigger than the individual buildings. As we think of clusters, blocks, districts, and cities new opportunities emerge. It can affect how we think of planning and design to consider the big picture - nut just in the creation of connected places but also environmental systems!
We had another interesting Salon at ULI Boulder where Andy Knudtsen of EPS explored some of the economic factors that affect place. Sometimes we know what we think will make a great place from a design perspective but the economics of supply and demand, getting financing, justifying the investment, risk and reward all are as integral to the design. These factors become important layers to achieving a sense of vibrancy beauty and vitality. It seems that this is what we are looking for but having a harder time achieving. Here is a good article from ULI LAND on the subject.
One way to think about activity andhow we live our lives.
Thursday night was the second ULI Boulder Salon at Shine. Martha Roskowski of Bikes Belong presented a fantastic overview of the bike situation - from Copenhagen and Amsterdam to New York and Chicago to Boulder. What lessons can we learn? How can we intensely increase our biking in what many consider biking nirvana - except in the Downtown and east of Folsom and Broadway and so many other palaces. while the off street network is great and always getting better, the on-street network is largely an add-on that makes people not really feel safe (28th Street anyone?) 1% biking in the US, 10% in Boulder compared to 50% in Copenhagen!! Well we still have a way to go. And to get to 25% here by 2020 is a radical goal. There was a great discussion but the transition to a truly bike centric town from the American suburban nation that is much of Boulder will be an interesting challenge!
I just saw the very powerful film "Chasing Ice" that documents the disappearanceof the glaciers in the far north - indisputable evidence of global warming and the profound changes that are happening on our earth. It is another warm December (!!!) day in Boulder and it makes you think. Superstor Sandy, the decimation of the beautiful forests in the west thanks to the pine beetle and forest fires and the rest!!! The film provides stunning photography and clear physical evidence of the changes on one key part of our planet. It is amazing to me that there are still deniers out there but this should help put that to rest!
See the movie!!! Visit the site: www.chasingice.com Get the app.
And it may help move us out of our complacency to take action. And what can you do? what can I do?
Design a new way of living: low carbon buildings and places that create a new paradigm - linked to the past and the future. Create places of lasting beauty and value - that bring meaning to our lives and consider how using less can create MORE.
ULI (Urban Land Institute) Fall Meeting was last week in Denver. There is always such a huge array of offerings at large conferences and I am but one person but a few trends seemed to emerge from my observations and discussions with others: - Enrique Penalosa spoke of a radical re-thinking of the city and especially the suburbs. This is based on an intense introduction of open space, pedestrian-only spaces, transit, and density. He rightly suggests that the backward looking approach of New Urbanism is not equipped to deal with the opportunities and challenges of the present and future. New ideas about water, energy, biophilia, food, community, resources, transit, and culture make the traditional city need a substantial re-thinking.
- Many sessions, culiminating in the Bulder Urban Agriculture Tour in Boulder on Saturday highlighted the new opportunities to integrate agriculture directly into our cities and towns. Medians, left-over spaces, yards, and open space all become chances to bring food closer to where we live, create fresh local and affordable food and create a strong sense of community. It is a new definition of mixed use and provides a new way to think about space, place, and food. And it is the new amenity in communities: out with the golf courses, in with the gardens!!
-Health is the new gold standard of sustainability. This reminds us again that the ultimate purpose of the built environment is for people and to foster health on many levels. Current design practice and the planning of our cities can create disease especially obesity and diabetes brought about by inactivity. The best neighborhoods promote health by making movement mandatory and enjoyable - a natural part of daily living. And integrate local healthy food, And community.
Make sure you get your 10,000 steps a day. It keeps the doctor away.
If you are in the Boulder/Denver region please come to the first Salon series of ULI Colorado | Boulder. It will be at Shine at 2027 13th Street in Boulder from 5-6:30 on October 4th. This is the first in a series of semi-monthly events to look at issues that impact Boulder titled: "Re-envisioning our City". I will be giving the first talk which will explore what would change about the form of Boulder if it were to become a truly low carbon emission city. Lessons from Europe, China, the UAE and beyond will be explored. Then applications to Boulder will be considered. This will be a short talk with a follow-up discussion. $5 Admission covers the room fee. Food and drink are available for purchase. Come listen, discuss, and connect with others interested in the future of the city. And drink, eat, and be merry!