Skyline Stories: Philly Pop. Growth, Old New York Being Destroyed, Tactical Urbanism, Las Vegas Revival?, Paris UX

DVRPC forecasts 11 percent population growth by 2040. / Image via PlanPhilly.

IN PHILLY… Great news as the Philadelphia metro region is expected to grow by 11 percent by 2040, including Philly gaining 7 percent, rising to 1.6 million, according to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). Of course, these long-term predictions are simply educated guesses, and it seems odd that the most growth would not be near transit. Check out the DVRPC’s cool interactive map (PlanPhilly) and (DVRPC).

Franklin Mint site redevelopment. / Image via Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance.

Lots of rezoning and master plans in the works — for the Lower Schuylkill and the Lower South and western Fairmount Park (PlanPhilly). Meanwhile, the new urbanist Delaware County town replacing the Franklin Mint site has been down-scaled from 3 million to 1 million sq ft, though will develop SEPTA’s Wawa commuter rail station and include a conference center and hotel (Delco News Network).

But not everything is great with development — the Inky architectural critic Inga Saffron writes about the “student slum” in Powelton Village (Philly.com), which is later accompanied by a map that proves she’s right (Policy Map). And Curbed Philly opens, featuring former City Paper columnist Liz Spikol as editor (Curbed Philly).

IN NEW YORK… tragic news as Kodak filed for bankruptcy. The city of Rochester too has suffered the same downward spiral, after “urban renewal” in the 1960’s gutted the city (Atlantic Cities).

Hollywood Theater from the 1920's. / Image via HuffPo and Kevin Shea Adams.

Old New York places are being closed and/or destroyed — the former Hollywood Theater (HuffPo), Bleecker Bob’s record store and newer music venue Southpaw
(NYT), Washington Height’s Coliseum Theater (Daily News). In Brooklyn, it’s J.J.’s Navy Yard (Vanishing New York) and possibly the port culture of Red Hook (NYT).

At least the Seaport Museum is resurrected by MCNY (NYT). In Brooklyn, its downtown skyscraper historic district was approved (NYT CityRoom) and take a tour of cool Floyd Bennett Field (Floyd Bennett Field).

Why is New York still going for two convention centers? It’s a no-win situation (Atlantic Cities and Next American City). Thinking smaller seems better — like in the Bronx, with No Longer Empty has a cool mission of site-specific art and community revitalization with the Andrew Freedman House (Urban Omnibus). Travel back to the Bronx in the 1980’s with En Foco, the borough’s Latino photo group (NYT Lens Blog). Could installing solar panels on school roofs hold the key to green jobs? (Scott Stringer)

NATIONWIDE… this smaller-faster-cheaper-better system of street makeovers is also called “tactical urbanism” (Miller-McCune), and a new term “Pop-Up Hoods” (Fast Company).

New report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking shows that spending on bike and pedestrian improvements yields huge dividends, but the country’s car culture is hard to change. More than 1/4 of all trips are less than 1 mile, but 2/3 of them are by car (Alliance for Biking and Walking). Turns out that Washington D.C. is the second-best city for both (TBD). On street-bike parking holds promise (StreetFilms).

Walkable downtowns, which pay more taxes than suburban strip malls (DC Streetsblog), can also be created by retrofitting old buildings (Atlantic Cities). Shouldn’t most cities just use street grids? (Great American Grid)

When you look at New York, the central spine of Broadway leaps out at you. But the other big spines are telling as well: They conform to subway lines. In New York, neighborhoods truly live and die by the subway. / Image via Fast Company.

But even with new urbanist ideals, can Las Vegas’ downtown be revived by Zappos’ CEO — with no background in urban planning? Why not let citizens participate? (Fortune Magazine) At least Vegas has affordable housing. (Atlantic Cities) But it and southern cities are heading towards huge droughts (Atlantic Cities). LA’s small farms, dating to the 1910’s, are fading (LA Times). Bad news for California high speed rail (NYT).

This is why the Northeast Corridor needs high-speed rail — to replace all the flights from New York City, the number one cause of flight delays in the country (NYT). Washington D.C.’s new streetcar system should push up home values (Washington Examiner), while there’s also a national competition to redesign the National Mall (UPenn Design).

Chinatowns, like those in D.C., are moving to the suburbs (ULI). Finally: so cool — Twitter maps of cities could help plan better transit routes! (Fast Company)

IN PARIS… the coolest story in years is of the urban collective UX that preserves untended sites — including repairing the Panthéon’s clock (Wired). The city is pushing some sort of transit along the riverbanks — perhaps an improved vogueo (water taxis)? (Association Grand Paris). Take a visit to the Little India neighborhood (T Magazine).

Two people per second move to a city. / Image via The Guardian.

INTERNATIONALLY, for all the talk of cities planning small, rapid urbanisation to megacities is presenting problems of basic infrastructure that seem almost insurmountable (The Guardian). Sony presents Futurescapes scenarios for sustainable living in 2025
(Futurescapes). And “green” buildings are catching on around the world (Inman News).

Sadly, with all the new technology that improves cities, could it cause the death of the flâneur? (Atlantic Cities) Finally, a fascinating look at American comics translated into Arabic in Egypt and underground comics in China at the awesome Tin Tin Travels blog (Atlantic Cities).

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Abu Dhabi: New Recycling Plants, Food Imports to Spike, New Urbanist Capital District

Slow news week with Eid Al-Adha, but the biggest event was trade magazine Construction Week’s annual conference, this year’s topic was “Building Sustainability in the Middle East.” (Construction Week)

Raw material at Plastic recycling plant at Al Ain Compost plant. / Image via The National.

Abu Dhabi’s population is expected to triple in 20 years — “from 977,000 residents in 2008 to 1.2 million in 2013, 1.73 million in 2020 and 2.58 million in 2030.” That’s going to put an enormous strain on resources, especially water. One of the emirate’s largest developers, Aldar Properties, said that it’s trying to find ways to re-use greywater (domestic wastewater) and blackwater (sewage and industrial water). (Construction Week) The emirate’s first plastics and tires recycling plant recently opened, too. (The National)

Food is another challenge — the GCC imports an incredibly high 90 percent of its food, with the UAE having only 0.8 percent of its land for agriculture. The country’s food imports are predicted to increase 133 percent by 2020. (Abu Dhabi Week)

Substantial growth in food industry highlighted at SIAL Middle East as research shows UAE food imports rising 133 percent to $8.4 billion by 2020. / Image via ADW.

Construction projects are moving along — the city’s Capital District should lead the way in sustainable and new urbanist neighborhoods. (Construction Week) And Saadiyat Island’s luxury JZMK-designed gated community villas (are those necessary in crime-free Abu Dhabi?) are slated to be handed over from TDIC by the end of 2012. (Construction Week) Meanwhile, Eshraq and Khatib and Alami are turning a profit on Al Reem island projects. (Construction Week)

Elsewhere in the region…

Populous' John Barrow wants to use wind towers to create fan-like air inside the stadium. / Image via Stadia Magazine.

Frost and Sullivan predicts construction boom in Qatar over next 20 years. (Construction Week) Populous, who’s slated to build air conditioned stadia for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, now wonders if they be cooled with traditional wind towers? (Stadia Magazine)

Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is hosting a tent city of 3 million pilgrims for Hajj. (Atlantic Cities) … One writer loves Tehran, the “complicated” capital of Iran. (Atlantic Cities) … Match your skyscraper with its window washers. (Atlantic Cities)