Archive for the ‘Urban Planning’ Category

West Coast Green is this week in San Francisco, and I am honored to be among the distinguished list of speakers at the event. I will be co-presenting a panel on Integrated Water Systems with Paul Kephart from Rana Creek and Andy Mannle this Friday, October 2, at 11am. The panel we did last year, “The Sexiest Large Scale Water Design Applications We Have Ever Seen”, was S.R.O. So they’re bringing us back for an update, which we’re calling (somewhat less racily) “The Whole Pitcher.”

Also at West Coast Green, Sherwood will be participating in the “Greening Fort Mason Design Slam.” The event was created to brainstorm design strategies and practical ideas for the continued evolution of Fort Mason Center as a leading environmentally sustainable destination. I will be facilitating this charette this Friday October 2 at 12:30pm along with a number of great minds from WRT, The Grove Consulting, Van Meter Williams Pollack, Solutions and PEC. You can read more about it here and register to attend the conference here.


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Lansdowne Live

Controversy has been brewing in Ottawa over a proposal to turn a brownfield site into a stadium, to be called Lansdowne Live. John E. Martin, an Ottawa businessman, has invited Sherwood Engineers to join a group of politicians, government officials, architects, developers and community leaders to a private breakfast meeting this Thursday, Aug. 27, to discuss the situation. Sherwood will be presenting a case study based on our experience turning a brownfield site into a stadium in San Francisco. We will let keep you updated about the project as the dialogue continues.

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Daylighting urban streams has long made sense aesthetically, but now the environmental, traffic calming, and air pollution benefits can be quantified based on new studies of the famous Cheonggyecheon running through downtown Seoul.

From the New York Times:

Cities from San Antonio to Singapore have been resuscitating rivers and turning storm drains into streams. In Los Angeles, residents’ groups and some elected officials are looking anew at buried or concrete-lined creeks as assets instead of inconveniences, inspired partly by Seoul’s example.

By building green corridors around the exposed waters, cities hope to attract affluent and educated workers and residents who appreciate the feel of a natural environment in an urban setting.

Environmentalists point out other benefits. Open watercourses handle flooding rains better than buried sewers do, a big consideration as global warming leads to heavier downpours. The streams also tend to cool areas overheated by sun-baked asphalt and to nourish greenery that lures wildlife as well as pedestrians.

But four years after the stream was uncovered, city officials say, the environmental benefits can now be quantified. Data show that the ecosystem along the Cheonggyecheon (pronounced chung-gye-chun) has been greatly enriched, with the number of fish species increasing to 25 from 4. Bird species have multiplied to 36 from 6, and insect species to 192 from 15.

The recovery project, which removed three miles of elevated highway as well, also substantially cut air pollution from cars along the corridor and reduced air temperatures. Small-particle air pollution along the corridor dropped to 48 micrograms per cubic meter from 74, and summer temperatures are now often five degrees cooler than those of nearby areas, according to data cited by city officials.

And even with the loss of some vehicle lanes, traffic speeds have picked up because of related transportation changes like expanded bus service, restrictions on cars and higher parking fees.

“We’ve basically gone from a car-oriented city to a human-oriented city,” said Lee In-keun, Seoul’s assistant mayor for infrastructure, who has been invited to places as distant as Los Angeles to describe the project to other urban planners.

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Bry Sarte, Sherwood’s founder and Principal, will be speaking next Thursday, June 11 in Denver at the 17th Congress for the New Urbanism, aka CNU. The panel is entitled “Achieving Sustainability Using Form-Based Codes and the Transect“, and Bry’s co-panelists include Daniel Parolek, Principal at Opticos Design; Leslie Oberholtzer, Director of Planning at Farr Associates and John Hitchcock, Planning and Evaluation Branch Chief at Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Here is the panel abstract:

Form-Based Codes have proven to be highly effective tool for enabling communities to implement their sustainability goals in many aspects ranging from reducing carbon emission by promoting compact development to promoting green infrastructure, stormwater management, and the integration of agriculture into projects. In addition, the Organizing Principle of the Transect, is being used to create systems and standards for everything from complete streets and sustainable infrastructure to standards that address complex environmental thresholds at a regional scale. This session will discus how these tools how they are being utilized to effectively implement various aspects of sustainability and what lessons are being learned.

If you are planning on attending CNU 17, please come attend the panel, which will be on Thursday at 2pm.

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Check out these awesome street ‘redesigns’ from the GOOD Livable Street Contest. There’s lots of ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of how people would redesign their streets to make them more walkable, breathable, and permeable. While some of them would likely face technical challenges, they represent a good slice of the ideas out there for making better streets.

The contest is closed now, but due to the overwhelming volume of responses, they’ve given the judge an extra week to pick a winner. Check back May 18th for an announcement……


Treehugger brings word of the new Z-Competition: Re-skin old buildings to make them zerofootprint. Or at least, come up with scalable designs for retrofitting older, energy-inefficient buildings to reduce their consumption and improve functionality.

The competition will be judged on the aesthetics, energy efficiency, smart technology, return on investment and potential as a solution for a large number of buildings.

Like the X-Prize, this isn’t just a design competition. Five finalists will be chosen, their designs implemented and monitored over three years. The Z-Prize ca$h will be given to the building that has most reduced the energy per square foot.

Retrofitting existing buildings is one of our most pressing global challenges. It’s the most bang for the buck, the most quickly implemented, and with billions and billions of square feet of building stock out there, could represent a serious dent in carbon emissions.

The competition welcomes teams from all over the world.The deadline for the submission of designs is September 1, 2009.

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Cargo being unloaded on 39th St

Cargo being unloaded on 39th St

Growing up in New York City, I was always told that part of the reason New York City is considered to be dirtier than other cities is because there are no alleys, so the trash is never hidden.  But does the fact that there are no alleys mean that there isn’t a heirarchy established by City Planning amongst the minor streets?  Our New York office is located in a building that spans the block from 39th to 40th Street in Midtown, with the main entrance on 40th St.  The 39th St entrance is a cargo entrance, and while people can enter through this entrance, they need a swipe card so visitors must go through security on the 40th St side.  But our building isn’t the only one with cargo access on 39th.  So does the 99 cent store next door to us, as well as the public library, both of which span the block as well.  Was this a coincidence, or did City Planning purposely dictate the locations of the loading entrances to these buildings, creating a more presentable 40th St, versus a 39th St clogged with trucks and cargo trolleys throughout business hours.

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Speaking at a conference organised by his Foundation for the Built Environment, Prince Charles said slums like Dharavi, featured in SlumDog Millionaire, offer a better model than western architecture for housing booming urban populations, reports the Guardian reports.

Slums, shanti towns, and informal settlements have environmentally and socially sustainable attributes including using local materials, walkable neighbourhoods, and a mix of employment and housing. Prince Charles described this as “an underlying intuitive grammar of design that is totally absent from the faceless slab blocks that are still being built around the world to ‘warehouse’ the poor”.

In a few years we may recognize that these communities have a “built-in resilience and genuinely durable ways of living,” said the Prince.

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