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URBAN DESIGN

UPDATE

Newsletter of the Institute for Urban Design July/August 2006 Vol. 22 No. 4 ROWE AND STRUM PROVIDE NEW PERSPECTIVE ON BARCELONA. IN BILBAO LEGORRETA AND STERN ADD HOTEL AND SHOPPING CENTER. Barcelona, considered by many urbanists, the most dynamic of European cities, is wearing its laurels lightly this summer. The universally high quality of housing and of neighborhoods, together with vigilant preservation of the Gothic Quarter, is striking to any visitor from North America. Urban designers await details on proposed new museums:

Barcelona New Books

Zaha Hadid’s Plaza de Les Arts Museum of Film and Video;

Maritole Bohegas & MacKay’s Museu del Disseny de Barcelona;

Frank Gehry’s Mobility Museum planned along a high-speed rail track from Sagrera Station to Marseilles, pegged for 2020 completion.

At the same time, Barcelona architects and urban designers were in a moment of reflection and transition. Jean Nouvel’s Torre Agbar is seen as a vertical disruption to Barcelona’s horizontal skyline by design and as a visual joke by architecture-ignorant tourists. For a city rushing to create its own Silicon Alley, there remains the frustration of a phone system that doesn’t work for international calls and a Hertz rent-a-car pick-up system requiring two hours. Universitat Politecnia de Catalunya will continue its English Language Masters in Architecture and Urban Culture in September reports Suzanne Strum, head of Studies. Professor Strum, herself a graduate of Columbia's Urban Design program, is author of Barcelona Architecture, soon to be published by Watermark Press, Sydney. Another overview of urban design issues in Barcelona is presented by Harvard's Peter G. Rowe in Building Barcelona: A Second Renaixenca, available now from Actar Publishers, Barcelona at $30.00. Also available is Joan Busquets’ Barcelona: The Urban Evolution of a Compact City, Nicolodi editore, Via dell’Artigiano 30, 38068 Rovereto (Tn) Italia.

Bilbao New Hotel New Shopping Center

With the opening of the Sheraton Bilao in 2004, the Abandonibaria neighborhood has achieved a critical design mass. Designed by Legorreta + Legorreta, the hotel expresses luxury through onyx lamps red travertine and green marble. Pink highlights on the façade contrast with red brick. Zubriate across the street is a shopping center designed by Fellow Robert Stern. Pedestrian arcades within the building provide retail shops, a food court, restaurants and, on top floor, a cinema. Abandonibaria, with a new plan by Cesar Pelli, is Bilbao’s current focus for revitalization. A tower by Pelli is scheduled to go up soon near the Guggenheim Museum, less that a 10-minute walk from the Sheraton.

NEW PROJECTS New Orleans

Berlin

Los Angeles

Abuja, Nigeria

Kansas City

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

As thousands of New Orleanians continue to live in 240 square foot FEMA trailers, the rebuilding planning efforts continue. The non-profit organization that is managing the Rockefeller grant money, The Greater New Orleans Foundation, has been working with Steven Bingler of Concordia Architects to determine which firm will oversee the upcoming 13 district planning process, reports former Fellow Darren Walker. On July 21st, it was announced that Fellow David Dixon of Goody, Clancy and former Fellow Fred Schwartz will be among designers preparing plans. The planning process is scheduled to be completed by December 2006 and approved by the City January 2007. Berlin's World Cup final match was viewed in July by over one billion people around the world. The city understood that the stadium was limited to a select few with tickets. It, therefore, created the popular public viewing area called the Fan Mile. According to the German Tourism Office, some nine million people flocked to Berlin Boulevard over the four-week period of the games. The one-mile street that cuts directly through the middle of Berlin, with the Brandenburg gate as its backdrop, was closed off to all traffic. Ferris wheels, food vendors, and entertainment lined the street. Each night after the games ended, the strip was turned into a disco, complete with laser show, DJ’s, and spinning disco balls. The Fan Mile represents a new form of urban entertainment—a blend of television watching and public partying. Public transportation ran 24 hours during the one month-long event, and thousands of red-shirt volunteers assisted with city information. Berlin acquired a new stadium, improved its local and regional train lines, and boosted city pride. Newly appointed Director Los Angeles City Planning Gail Goldberg is starting to make changes. Since January, she has hired 18 planners. The Department is working on six new community plans for Boyle Heights, Granada Hills, Sylmar, San Pedro, Westlake and West Adams and a new Civic Center master plan for Little Tokyo. Goldberg is also stressing the need to create urban design guidelines to improve pedestrian environments. Other changes include bringing transportation issues to the planning process from the conceptual phases and bringing former Los Angeles Conservancy’s Ken Bernstein on board to provide historic preservation guidance within the planning department. Abuja, Nigeria will get a master plan for a 500-acre campus, reports Carmi Bee, RKT&B, whose firm has been selected, together with Perkins Eastman. The American/Nigerian Institutes of Health and Centres of Excellence in Medicine will include a 190-bed hospital, research center and hotel at a cost of $41 million. Kansas City, Missouri is creating a six-block entertainment district reports Cary Goodman, who is heading new firm Clockwork architecture+design in Kansas City. The district will include H&R Block World Headquarters, an IRS regional center and Kansas City Star printing plant. At the same time an old warehouse district is experiencing a grass roots retrofitting into a regional arts district. Michael Stepner returned from the United Nations Habitat June event in Vancouver eager to pass on lessons to other professionals in San Diego. Vancouver’s decision 40 years ago to focus on public transit has resulted in perhaps the most animated of pedestrian streets among North American cities. This will serve Vancouver well as it anticipates 2 million new residents over 20 years . . . Larry Wayne Richards has just packed up an exhibition, “Frank’s Drawings: Eight Museums by Gehry” at the University of Toronto Art Center . . . Enrique Norten reports that the Guadalajara Guggenheim is moving forward in Mexico . . . Christopher Choa has left his Shanghai position with HLW to become Director of EDAW, Shanghai . . . Richard Marshall, former Director of EDAW, Shanghai, has returned to his Sydney hometown with the firm of Woods Bagot with title of Global Urban Design Sector Leader . . . Chad Floyd, Centerbrook, has been in Virginia’s Prince William County to advise on a plan for a new town called Belmont Bay. The Science Museum of Virginia has selected a Belmont Bay waterfront site for construction of a new Washington-area museum . . . Thomas Balsley returned recently from St. Louis where his firm will design new parks to cross the sunken I-70 to connect downtown St. Louis to the Arch as designer Eero Saarinen originally envisioned.

URBAN DESIGN CENTERS MAKE NEW POLITICAL ALLIANCES A host of urban design centers have sprung up across the country over the last ten years. Here, leaders of four design centers offer updates on their current projects.

Paseo Bridge Kansas City

Kansas City Design Center www.kcdesigncenter.org Daniel Serda, Executive Director In 2008, the Kansas State Department of Transportation will replace the Paseo Bridge, an interstate crossing on the Mississippi River. The Kansas City Design Center is making sure that the new bridge accommodates now only cars but also other forms of transit, pedestrian traffic, and bikes. “We’re trying to reframe what the Department of Transportation thinks is possible,” says Serda. The Center is also working with the Kansas City parks department on improving what is one of the most extensive parkway networks in the United States, founded in 1893. “Over the last 50 years, engineering decisions have made the parkways more suited for cars than for people” says Serda. The parks initiative is still in the formative stages. Established in 1992, the Center run by the University of Kansas, Kansas State, and University of Missouri. Nashville Civic Design Center www.civicdesigncenter.org Gary Gaston, Associate Design Director

Nashville Waterfront Hargreaves Associates

The Nashville Civic Design Center has just finished working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Parks Department on a redevelopment plan for six miles of the city’s riverfront with Hargreaves Associates as lead designer. In addition, the Center is working on a site selection process for a new convention center. An original site selection group made up of “chamber of commerce types,” explains Gaston, had originally chosen a spot in the center of the city. The Mayor subsequently asked the Center to propose alternate sites. These will be announced at the end of the summer. The Nashville Civic Design Center was founded in 2001 with participation from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Architecture and Design and Vanderbilt University. Raleigh Urban Design Center www.raleigh-nc.org Daniel T. Douglas, Director

Raleigh, N.C. Convention Center

Currently, the Raleigh Urban Design Center, founded in 2002, is involved with a new Raleigh Convention Center that’s been under construction for one year, with a projected completion date of 2008 and a budget of $215 million. The Center coordinates public input, hosting two to three meetings per week. “We have also facilitated and written a Livable Street Plan for downtown Raleigh,” Douglas relays. Out of the 131 initiatives for the new convention center, the transformation of a mall on Fayetteville Street back into an urban corridor, the undertaking of regulatory reform, and the improvement of downtown design management. St. Paul on the Mississippi Design Center www.riverfrongcorporation.com Tim Griffin, Director The St. Paul on the Mississippi Design Center is an organization of the non-profit St. Paul Riverfront Corporation. Currently, the Center is working on a project called the National Green River Park. “The idea,” says Griffin, “is to take the principals of our downtown core’s two miles of waterfront and apply it to this 17-mile stretch of the Mississippi River.” Another initiative focuses on a light-rail corridor that will connect Minneapolis with St. Paul. The Center is also involved in the site design of the Xcel Energy High Bridge coal-burning facility that is being dismantled and converted into a natural gas plant, and will propose redevelopment uses for a 50-acre remnant parcel. By Anna Holtzman, contributing editor.

BOOKS

Los Angeles 1955-1985: Naissance d’une Capitale Artistique. Catherine Grenier, Exhibition Director, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Editions du Centre Pompidou, Paris 2006. $40.00. For the first time since its 1980s twin cities comparisons: Paris-New York, Paris-Berlin and Paris-Moscow Centre Pompidou has mounted an exhibition to a single city: Los Angeles. The show, according to Pompidou President Bruno Racine, transforms our perception of American art as it came to be transformed in LA from 1955 to 1985.

From Pompidou: Judy Chicago Allen Kaprow

Among the most perceptive of artist/commentators included have been those from England: Aldus Huxley, David Hockney and Reyner Barham. Among American commentators Mike Davis and Sam Hall Kaplan are among the best. The show itself emphasizes Hollywood movies and local painters: John Baldessari, Judy Chicago and Allan Kaprow. What gets slighted is the city of Los Angeles and how it came by its auto-driven urban form. Weimer in Exile: The Antifascist Emigration in Europe and America. By JeanMichel Palmier. Translated by David Fernbach. 852 pages. Verso, New York, 2006. $55.00. This ambitious book examines the decision to emigrate from Nazi Germany by writers, artists and political leaders first to Austria and France, then to Netherlands, Spain and USSR and finally to Turkey, China, Palestine as well as Britain and United States.

In Chicago:

Mies, Monoly Nagy

The story Jean-Michel Palmier omits is the transformation of American music, cinema, architecture and urban design by the talented émigré designer who did make it to the United States. Wilo von Moltke, for example, talented brother of James von Moltke, expanded and strengthened Harvard’s Urban Design Program from the 1980s until his death. Walter Gropius, Bauhaus founder, was President and Dean of Harvard’s Architecture and Design School for more than 30 years. Mies Van der Rohe, ranked as 20th century’s single most admired architect, directed IIT’s School of Architecture, while Laszlo Monoly Nagy also taught in Chicago. How this painstaking French historian could have failed to describe the incalculable gift of Europe’s most outstanding designers and architects remains a mystery of French scholarship in 20th century arts and design history.

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Institute for Urban Design - Urban Design Update July/August 2006