Abu Dhabi: Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Park?, Urban Street Design Manual, Beit Beirut Videos

IN DUBAI…the city’s reinvention in the wake of the recession is a running theme on Urban Fabric, and Brownbook profiles the potential greening of Dubai’s massive 14-lane Sheikh Zayed Road. Design firm Portland producing ambitious plans to bury it (like Boston’s Big Dig) then elevate the streets and use parks to knit together the east and west sides (Brownbook Magazine).

English design firm Portland's ideas for "greening" Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road -- by turning it into a park! / Image via Brownbook Magazine.

Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Commission released the first-ever? Urban Street Design Manual. Lots of good points — giving streets a 12 percent “road diet,” eliminating illegal parking, widening sidewalks and including tree shading. Their first prototype is the Corniche (not clear where, exactly). Have you noticed differences? (Gulf News Article and Video)

The Masdar Institute has a new video on the evolution of Abu Dhabi over the past 25 years, using aerial maps (UAE Interact).

Speaking of mapping, the city (curiously not the UPC) is using GIS technology to give developers and homeowners in-depth details on plots of land (Khaleej Times). But the UPC does have new sign regulations, plus more on gas ventilation and air conditioning units, to improve the safety and beautification of the city (AME Info).

ZonesCorp is working on a new Auto City in Mussafah, planned for completion in 2020 (Gulf News). Design firm Parsons won an award for its cross-cultural business relations in Abu Dhabi, they’ve done a lot of transit work like the Dubai Metro and Khalifa Bridge (Business Intelligence Middle East).

Abu Dhabi and Japan are forging an economic partnership (Emirates News Agency). NYU AD received a record-setting nearly 2,500 applicants for only 150 spots at the downtown Abu Dhabi campus (NYU AD: Salaam).

Elsewhere in the region…
Brownbook also has stories on Turkish firm Supercool using GIS mapping to improve Istanbul; Morocco’s Ecological Architecture and Systems of Tomorrow firm using sustainable architecture; Abu Dhabi’s organic farmers market; the gradual disappearance of Tehran, Iran’s historic neighborhood of Tajrish; and the growing Arab community of western Sydney, Australia.

At the Egyptian Coffee Shop, many of the customers are Egyptian; others are from Yemen, Algeria, Syria, and Morocco. And some are New Yorkers seeking an authentic hookah experience. / Image via NYT.

Lebanese newspaper Orient Le Jour has a great four-part video series from on the slow reconstruction of Beit Beirut, the beautiful and beleaguered Art Deco mansion that’s slated to become the city museum. (In English, subtitled in French.)
Part 1: A Unique Architecture
Part 2: The Happy Life
Part 3: In the Time of Snipers
Part 4: The Future of the “Yellow House”

Indian photojournalist Pablo Bartholomew revisits Mumbai of the 1970s-80s with his father’s archive mixed with his own photos in “Chronicles of a Past Life” (NYT India Ink). More detailed plans for Baku’s kilometer-high Azerbaijan Tower and related artificial islands (Atlantic Cities). Finally, take a trip to what may be the U.S.’ oldest hookah shop, the Egyptian Coffee Shop in Astoria, Queens in New York City (NYT).

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Abu Dhabi: Metro and Light Rail by 2017, Tripoli Urban Planning, Baku’s Crystal Hall

After last week’s announcement of the raft of new infrastructure funding, there are a few more details on the transit systems.

Will Abu Dhabi's metro resemble European/North American ones or Dubai's monorail? / Image via AD UPC's Plan 2030.

Both the mostly-underground metro and light rail/tram are expected to be operational by 2016-2017. The metro would run 131 km, and there’s also curiously talk of a 31 km monorail. (Gulf News). Besides new highways to Dubai and Saudi Arabia, the design for the light rail line is supposed to be done this summer (The National).

The Urban Planning Council (UPC) is holding community charettes in the Eastern Region, including Al Ain (UPC), and is pushing the “Comprehensive Cooling Plan” to target inefficiency in buildings under the their Estimada’s program (The National).

Al Ain National Museum. / Image via ADACH.

The Al Ain National Museum, which opened in 1971, is scheduled to undergo a huge renovation (The National), while Scotland’s Energy Technology Partnership signed an agreement with Masdar City to collaborate on green energy projects (Huffington Post).

UAE University students in the Department of Geography and Urban Planning are going to use SuperGIS Desktop Lab Kit and GIS Learning CD (Directions Mag). The World Ports and Trade Summit returns to Abu Dhabi in April (Khaleej Times).

Elsewhere in the region…
Fascinating look at Tripoli’s urban planning in different eras — from the organic pre-colonial growth of the old town, to the Italian colonial-era of grand boulevards and neighborhood squares, to the Qaddafi-era bubbles of suburban life (Atlantic Cities).

Tour Beirut’s Little Armenia neighborhood (CNN). Should the private sector take over recycling and other city services in Amman, Jordan? (Tareeq)

Baku's Crystal Hall. / Image via World Architecture News.

Designs unveiled for Baku’s Crystal Hall, the venue for the upcoming Eurovision contest in only a few months! Apparently folds in to a larger waterfront redevelopment plan (World Architecture News). Istanbul, Turkey became one of Europe’s safest cities, primarily by lots of community policing (Atlantic Cities).

Abu Dhabi: New Urban Planning GIS Apps, Top Arab Buildings, Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha, Kingdom Tower

To celebrate World GIS Day, Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council unveiled two new internal GIS applications that should help improve planning. (Al Bawaba and ITP)

The UPC now uses two new GIS apps. / Image via Al Bawaba.

GeoPlanner is an internal web portal, developed by the UPC’s Spatial Data Department, that enables the Council’s planners to easily identify masterplans, planning policies and regulations for any location or area and to visually track the development proposal review and approval process.

GeoPad for the iPad, has been developed by the UPC’s Spatial Data Department to allow managers and planners to easily view projects, plans and maps on their iPad device. Through online synchronisation with the UPC’s spatial database, the app allows users to access such updated data from anywhere and at anytime.

Shouldn’t there be historical districts to preserve the funky 1970’s Arab Modern buildings in neighborhoods like Al Markaziyah East? All these megaprojects are great, but what’s lost in the process? (Gulf News)

The UAE has several buildings in Construction Week’s “Top Arab Buildings” list. (Construction Week) Stunning pics of Dubai in 1990 — only a handful of skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road, which looks like it was only two or four lanes wide? (Abdolian and Web Urbanist)

These three photographs depict the same street in Dubai, progressing from a few lone buildings in the desert to the jam-packed, seemingly perpetually-under-construction ode to excess that it is today. / Image via Web Urbanist and Abdolian.

German firms are helping Abu Dhabi think about renewable energy through Estimada. (Khaleej Times) The city opened a new e-waste recycling facility. (Gulf News)

The MEED Abu Dhabi Conference confirms that the city’s airport plans on carrying more passengers, and the passenger rail line is on track for 2018. (AME Info)

Elsewhere in the region…
Jazz at Lincoln Center: Doha, a unique partnership with the luxury St. Regis Hotels, continues Doha’s push to become the Gulf’c top cultural destination. (NYT) Infrastructure firm Interserve continues to focus on Qatar. (Construction Week)

Construction on Jedda, Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, a 1km-tall supertower designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gil Architecture, is slated to begin in January 2012. (The National) But real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle says Saudi Arabia could use an urban planning commission (like Abu Dhabi’s) to help plan its 1 million affordable houses. (Construction Week)

Wonderful travel writing on Beirut, Lebanon. (The National) … Istanbul struggles with traffic — two bridges were built over the Bosphorous River, and a metro is being built…but will a third bridge destroy what natural heritage is left? (NYT: Latitude)