placemaking

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432 PARK AVENUE:  NYC’s tallest residential building

New York’s newest highrise apartment building, 432 Park Avenue, has just reached its full height of 1,396 feet. It opens next year and the penthouse views, in all directions, are spectacular. So are the prices:  apartments cost as much as $95 million!

At 96 stories, it may arguably be called the tallest building in the city. One World Trade Center, without its spire, is 28 feet shorter than 432 Park. The new building beats the venerable Empire State Building by nearly 150 feet.

New Yorkers give the building mixed reviews. Some are awed by the slender, towering obelisk, while others are offended by its overwhelming dimensions, both physical and financial. Is 432 Park a worthwhile addition to the skyline, or a crass status symbol? 

“For people who watch the skyline and love it, I think there’s a real struggle,” said Vin Cipolla, president of the Municipal Art Society, in the New York Times. “There’s a handsomeness about the building you can’t deny, but it’s so out of context and so imposing, it’s hard to know what to make of it.”

Source:  New York Times, OCT. 13, 2014. Photos taken from the Internet as public domain.

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Airport in Berlin becomes public space. For almost 100 years, the former Tempelhof Airport was excluded from the layout of the growing city of Berlin. Although it symbolised the connection of people and cities, the airport itself cut off the adjoining neighbourhoods of Neukölln, Kreuzberg and Tempelhof from each other. This has changed since the opening up of the airport grounds to the public in May 2010. The former airport building, the emerging park landscape and the building areas at the edges of the former airfield merge to form a giant public space. Current planning at the site focuses on social, cultural and economic diversity.  In order to be able to transform Tempelhofer Freiheit into a future-oriented component in Berlin’s inner city, it is necessary to pay need to a wide array of existing conditions, expectations and requirements in the overall urban community.

The Favela Painting Project was a collaboration between the local community and artists Joroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhan to transform the community into a landmark, a tourist attraction but most importantly it elevates the image of the favela as an essential part of Rio and a place where its people take pride in their surroundings.

Sir John Egan defined 8 characteristics which need to be considered when creating sustainable communities. The Egan Wheel outlines these factors. 

Source: ASC (2006) Making Places: creating sustainable communities. A teachers guide to sustainable communities, Leeds: Academy for Sustainable Communities

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Grill Station

Pop in a couple of coins and you can get the heat going on this outdoor grill station in Michelwiese park in Hamburg.  There is even a spatula attached to the grill by a chain, as well as some grill themed art.

(More info at the official grill station site: grill-drauf-los)

Photos taken April, 2014

Related Posts:

Grilling With Epic Views (Brooklyn)

Bike tool share (Brussels)

Urban Gardening (Brussels)

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Bellevue, WA. These concrete bollards communicate in no uncertain terms that drivers of cars, trucks and busses must respect the pedestrian realm and it’s inhabitants. The language is simple: come too close and I’ll F–k up your bodywork and everybody will see what an idiot you are. But, asking politely by being pretty.

12 Steps to a Great Public Space

1. Protection from traffic

2. Protection from crime

3. Protection from the elements

4. A place to walk

5. A place to stop and stand

6. A place to sit

7. Things to see

8. Opportunities for conversations

9. Opportunities for play

10. Human-scale

11. Opportunities to enjoy good weather

12. Aesthetic quality

— Jan Gehl & Lars Gemzoe

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Inside Out XL

I’m a little late to this project, but better late than never!  Over the past few months, a large number of residents of the Ixelles commune of Brussels took part in being photographed for the Inside Out XL project (XL being slang for Ixelles).  The photographs were then hung on buildings, in windows, along fences, and on many other surfaces throughout the neighborhood, creating sort of a visual gallery of local residents and contributing to local community building and placemaking.

Some of the photos have started to become damaged through ripping, tearing, tagging, and presumably some weather damage, but they are still literally everywhere around the neighborhood.  I find it interesting to document them, even as they start to deteriorate.

The photos above are just several I snapped on two recent walks through the area.  There are many many more to be seen.

Check out more about the project on the official website here, including maps, event listings, and videos. 

The video below shows how many of the residents who were photographed also helped paste the pictures up, and also shows some people’s initial reactions.

Photos taken July, 2013