Read it carefully. The authors, Victor O. Gray and Neil H. Twelker, are extremely experienced engineers who believe that the existing viaduct can be retrofitted to make it safe.
Read it carefully. The authors, Victor O. Gray and Neil H. Twelker, are extremely experienced engineers who believe that the existing viaduct can be retrofitted to make it safe.
Orange County, California is building a huge new park out of part of an old Air Force base and has hired landscape architect Ken Smith:
Peter Reed, a senior deputy director at Museum of Modern Art in New York, called Smith's work "avant-garde" and "cutting-edge."
"He's definitely into beauty. He's into irony. He's into meaning," Reed said. "The L.A. project would be very exciting."
Beware of designers who are 'into meaning'? Isn't any "meaning" which one might eventually attribute to a public space a function of how people use it? I'm not familiar with the idea that a designer should aim for meaning much less irony, Isn't functionality and pleasure enough?
(And of course L.A. is not in Orange County.)
Interesting post on 'peak oil' at Cascadia Scorecard which links to a graph (in Global Peak in Oil Production: The Municipal Context) illustrating the heart of the matter: the rate at which oil production might decrease i.e. is it a "cliff" or a "gentle slope?"
Of course this graph is simply an illustration. Production might in fact peak in 2037 followed by a gentle slope; no one knows for sure when the peak will be, especially as the amount of recoverable oil is not simply a function of natural history but of technology & economics, and that's the problem. So what do you do?
It seems to me that the key is to make sure that the market signals -- fancy way of saying higher prices -- which follow from a fall-off in production, or even from the anticipation of a fall-off, get through to consumers as rapidly as possible. So at the national level, the idea of unleashing the strategic petroleum reserves to keep prices low, might be the very worst thing to do. Beyond that, I'm not sure which government policies to force conservation in advance of rising prices are wise. Yes, all sorts of energy use standards. But ultimately the only thing which will work to make people conserve is higher prices. But how much of those higher prices should be government taxes, I am not sure.
But still, or not surprisingly, Charlie Rose doesn't get that information wants to be free or at least cheap i.e. the profit is in volume and it's short-sighted not to make (at least) podcasts of your show available for basically nothing...maybe 99 cents, not $34.95 for a video of two talking heads with (I betcha) not a single image.
For example, here's an interview with Zaha Hadid:
Zaha Hadid talks with Charlie Rose about architecture, art, and her new museum. She says the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center needed an identity of its own. Hadid says that's part of the reason why the museum is incorporating specific pieces of art designed for it.
It's $34.95. Way out of step; I think they'd get a lot more sales at a lower price, which would increase overall volume and, more importantly for a figure such as Charlie Rose, give him greater 'mind share.'•••
And just as an aside: "...the museum is incorporating specific pieces of art designed for it?" Huh. Wow. What an odd synergy. I'm not quite sure what to make of that except it sounds like an art marketing conspiracy. The architecture is so inspiring that people make art to go with it? Hmmm.
I've heard about birds flying into buildings and dying and take it seriously:
"...ornithologist Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Between 100 million and 1 billion birds die in glass collisions every year in North America alone, Klem estimates. At the very least, that's an average of one bird a year slamming into each of the roughly 100 million homes, apartment buildings, office towers, schools, and storefronts that dot the American landscape. "Glass is one of the world's great bird killers," rivaled only by habitat destruction and perhaps cats, says the blunt-spoken, 57-year-old ornithologist.
I have no reason to doubt this sad phenomenon; I have little knowledge of birds. But I wonder why do we not see such dead birds on city sidewalks? (Or do we?) With so many dead birds, I would expect to have seen a few but I can't remember seeing any. Mind you, it might simply be my own lack of attentiveness,
Have you ever noticed any dead birds lying on a city sidewalk? Even one?
Via Veritas et Venustas.
From Christopher Hawthorne:
Architects may enjoy greater celebrity than ever. But it's also true that they may never have been as ineffectual, in a political sense, as they are now.
One wonders why architects, as a professional or business group, should be expected to have any particular political influence. For what policies would architects — as a group — argue? 'Starchitects' only public policy would likely be more commissions for their firms; in reality they are politically silent — so as to make the fewest enemies, I assume? And judging from starchitects' almost universal poor urban design, it's probably a very good thing that they are not involved in public policy issues. What for example could any of them add to discussions of rebuilding New Orleans? Nothing, so far as the past indicates, Do any of the starchitects opine on public affairs? Lord Rogers is the only one I can think of. So I wonder what Hawthorne really had in mind.
A fellow I'd never heard of until I ran across his blog a few months ago, James Wolcott, writes about a blogger's conference:
I really don't grasp the bang-for-the-buck logic behind these dinky extravaganzas. I can understand why culture buffs would pay to attend a New Yorker Festival, say, to see/hear Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Dave Eggers, Anthony Lane, Lorrie Moore, Zadie Smith, et al, but what is the draw in traveling hundreds of miles to observe an all-star lineup of no-name bloggers?
I won't speak to whether the people at BLOGGING MAN 2007 have anything interesting to say. In fact the cold, hard truth is very few people have much to say — who is Lorrie Moore? — and yet some of them even have regular gigs with big time media. Maybe the folks at Blogging Man 2007 are cranks and fools; I don't know one way or the other because I don't know them or of them.
But the idea that because Wolcott doesn't know their names therefore they lack anything to say indicates a breathtaking self-absorption and narrowness. Maybe it has never occurred to Mr. Wolcott that there is wisdom beyond his own acquaintance.
But one of the Blowhards uses it as way of "analyzing" Seattle's Architecture. Starting architectural criticism with "What I like" and "What I don't like" is perfectly sound — in fact it's the only way — but it would be nice to go beyond the word "silly" to something more substantive, some criteria which indicates how to improve the urban environment.
The Seattle Zoo's pony ring to close. But,
[a] new pony facility is included in the zoo's long-range plans, which call for it to be built closer to the zoo's family farm. Officials say about $250,000 must be raised for design work, and the facility will cost about $3 million to build. (italics added)
A pony "facility" for children costs $3 million? What sort of facility must it be to cost so much? What sort of ponies?
A member of the Seattle City Council recently resigned and the remaining eight members are appointing a replacement. Diversity seems to be the criterion.
In announcing their first cut, several council members said they were looking for more diversity on the nine-member body, which now includes two women and two racial minorities, Richard McIver, who is African American, and David Della, a Filipino American.
"It seems like the council is headed in the direction of (appointing) a woman of color. It seemed to be the momentum of this process, and I think it's going to stick," said Councilman Peter Steinbrueck.
No white men were among the seminfinalists.
I think I know what sort of diversity the Council really needs, and it doesn't run along racial/ethnic/religious lines.
A reader linked me to an article by a noted Harvard Professor, which article was supposed to comfort me about our President's recent actions concerning surveillance etc. I read the article and I was unimpressed though I couldn't articulate why; it just struck me as fluff. Conveniently, I just ran across a take-down of the article here.
One observer writes:
Land-use regulations are unpleasant. They are too often cumbersome and impact smaller landowners harder; they're frustrating to all involved, that's a given. The question, though, shouldn't be, can we get rid of all these stupid rules on my land?
The question is, are these regulations worthwhile? Is keeping some farm and forest land beyond the reach of the bulldozers worth the frustration of government rules?
It seems to me that there are a lot of alternatives between "can we get rid of all these stupid rules" and " are these regulations worthwhile?"
It seems to me that the writer is confusing ends with means. The goals themselves may be quite worthwhile but the methods used may be cumbersome, inefficient and unfair.
For example, one might ask "Do these regulations offer the simplest route to achieve the goal?" Now that environmental/land-use laws are firmly-established as part of our culture, isn't it time to go back and see if the regulations are the simplest possible to achieve the ends? We should be asking — as many people assert we should be doing in national security matters — what are the fewest rules possible? And we should not assume that such is the current condition.
The Independent reports that it is now accepted that a state may spy on its citizens:
MPs should be treated in the same way as other citizens and will be given the same safeguards against wrongful tapping, the Prime Minister will say....Mr Blair was last night put on notice that any attempt to tap MPs' phones would be bitterly opposed in the Commons. Andrew Mackinlay, Labour MP for Thurrock, said it was a "hallmark of a civilised country" that its state did not spy on elected representatives.
But I gather it's perfectly OK to spy on citizens.
"We now know that it's not the furry things with claws that we had to be afraid of, we were driven by other stresses. We were being driven by attacks from the sky.
"Can you imagine what it must have been like back then? Not only were we afraid of cats, and leopards - you had to watch for aerial attacks from these ferocious predators preying on your young."
Anyone interested in whether the President has the right to pursue the 'war on terror' in any manner he chooses, Congress and the Courts to the side, might want to take a look at Why the NSA Surveillance Program is Unlawful. It's a letter from some fairly big-name legal eagles, including a former Director of the FBI, if things like that impress you, as they do me.
I am a big fan of roundabouts. Others claim that Roundabouts don't always lead to solutions. (And how could I disagree with that, too? Nothing is perfect; there is a downside to everything.)
But I think that roundabouts should be used more often and have a place in our quiver of auto-space interventions. The frustrating part of urban driving is not the speed per se but its stop-and-go nature. Roundabouts allow continuous, Slow but steady driving which I believe is more calming than full-stop signs and/or traffic lights.
"...we should look to the meaning that someone would have taken from the text of the Constitution at the time of its adoption."
Why should the reader at that time be the standard? Why not the writer? Why not the reader's current day heir? Or the current day heir of the writer? Literally; constitutional interpretation by genetics. There is no obvious right or wrong but there is commonsense and practicality.
Corporate welfare angers me: Sonics consider moving unless Seattle can be coerced into further subsidy.
Sonics owners have grown increasingly frustrated with Seattle city officials and state legislators who have so far failed to unite behind a plan to renovate KeyArena and negotiate a more lucrative lease for the team.
Duh. Poor boys. They are frustrated because they aren't getting the deal they want; I'm crying. Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks) is one of the key owners of the Sonics. Now, long-time Starbucks loyalist that I am, I have a reason to boycott his company.
Any time you withdraw land from a very desirable market, you enhance the value of whatever land which remains in that market.
via Nature Noted.
A neighbor left some comments on a post concerning the Viaduct. They warrant a response. His comments are in italics. My response is in bold.
So, in addition to the current viaduct's greatest liability, the likelihood that it will collapse us...
If the Viaduct is truly as dangerous as everyone says, the very quickest thing to do is rehab it in place. The fact that we have done nothing since the earthquake (5 years ago) implies a lack of urgency.
...its second liability is that it creates a physical and visual barrier for pedestrians and traffic, separating downtown from the waterfront. Hard to imagine that making it into a 2 mile long 4-5 story solid building does anything to lessen the barrier.
Well, at the outset, I don't buy into the "physical and visual barrier" trope as a fair representation of reality. One could just as easily say the buildings along Western or First or Second etc etc are a "physical and visual barrier" to Puget Sound.
Specifically, the artist space proposal wouldn't be 2 miles long. And the buildings in the area are already all far taller than 4-5 stories. The street grid would of course continue through as it does now.
You suggest that it is "hard to imagine" that my proposal can lessen the barrier. Such imagination (to lessen the barrier with structure) exists and I only ask that skeptics simply give it a chance. Remember, the goal is not to get rid of the Viaduct; the goal is to connect the CBD to the waterfront.
How would one guarantee the "cheap space" concept on some of the city's most central and valuable real estate, without further digging into the $2 billion to endow the concept?
This strikes me as a non sequitar. Currently, there is NO Income from the property. The land in this sort of redevelopment has no out-of-pocket cost so there it carries no debt. Making warehouse spaces under the viaduct is simply a political decision — choosing how to use opportunity cost — and is similar to any project which involves public property.
The North end butts against the hillside, so spaces would only have the West face open to traffic.
I think you might want to take another look at the site and the areas available for development under the viaduct. I don't think they comport with your characterization.
For most of the rest of its length these new spaces would be only an alley's width away from existing buildings on Western Avenue.
So? That's why they would be cheap spaces. Moreover, I don't think it's fair to raise fears about how unattractive the area is and the turn around and suggest that it will be difficult to keep the rental rates low because the area is so valuable.
Subsidized artists live/work space is a useful tool in urban areas, but a project of this size seems overkill.
Maybe you are right, maybe not. Let's analyze the possibility and see where it falls out. Moreover the spaces could be not only for "artists" but for craftspeople and builders etc etc. Cheap flexible space — places where people can try stuff — is good for the economy.
And who wants to live and work in a studio with a freeway on the roof?
I wasn't really think of living spaces though I guess why not now that you mention it. Why do you characterize it as such awful space? Why would anyone care if there is a freeway on top? As I said before, noise and vibration are issues. But how insurmountable? We don't know. Let's look into their extent and potential solutions before we throw out the idea.
(Just curious. Sometimes people who scream about a particular issue do it out of some weird sense of guilt.)
Steyn's basic point — societal reproduction below replacement rate is a problem — is a very fair one. I have no problem with his raising it. In fact I think it's fine to bring it to the fore.
But then why does he go and spoil it by blaming the problem on the all-powerful "liberals?" Says things like liberals don't even want to talk about it. What sort of dream world doe he live in? Weird. Doesn't he realize that it undercuts his argument to make such bizarre assertions?
Of all the things which people can do, deciding how many children to have is well-within their own control. Unless Steyn really believes that most of us are zombies and robots who respond without our own volition to "social policy."
We, too, will be told that we must stop at nothing in the war on terror.
The headline reads Plan Would Open All New Orleans for Rebuilding and the first paragraph seems to promise a great deal:
The city's official blueprint for redevelopment after Hurricane Katrina, to be released on Wednesday, will recommend that residents be allowed to return and rebuild anywhere they like, no matter how damaged or vulnerable the neighborhood, according to several members of the mayor's rebuilding commission. (italics added)
But then a succeeding paragraph takes it all away:
But ultimately, those areas that fail to attract a critical mass of residents in 12 months will probably not survive as residential neighborhoods, Mr. Canizaro said, and are likely to end up as marshland as this city's population declines and its footprint shrinks.
There is little likelihood that individuals and their lenders will (re)build a house or (re)establish a new business knowing that they may not have full civic protections or unless enough other people do the same thing. And that the trigger will be pulled within a short twelve months. "Go build if you like but don't look to us to flood-proof the area." That's what it sounds like since there is no commitment to rebuild the barrier islands etc etc upon which New Orleans' safety seems to depend.
It seems to me that this is a neat political tactic to temporaily satisfy people in New Orleans who are attached to their old neighborhood. It appears to do one thing but really doesn't do it all. It's the correct end result — don't rebuild in neighborhoods subject to catastrophic flooding — but I question the method's effectiveness and ultimate fairness. Of course I don't know the political facts on the ground in New Orleans. Maybe the bad news is best absorbed slowly.
Is it a "good idea" to tear down the Viaduct so that Seattle's CBD can connect more directly to its waterfront? Absolutely yes.
Is replacing the Viaduct with a tunnel the best way to spend $4 billion dollars (at least) of local money in order to improve the life of the people of Seattle? No way.
Let's not confuse the desirability of a public work with making that work the highest priority in the city. A few weeks ago I mentioned to a friend that there were far higher priorities for the city than replacing the Viaduct with a tunnel. She asked "like what?" So here's an example I should have remembered to offer. I live in Seattle's "Maple Leaf" neighborhood. It sits atop one of the city's highest hills. There is a reservoir here. I don't know its exact extent but it's probably 3 acres of surface and for security is within a fenced-area of probably twice that size. There are marvelous views to the south of Mount Rainier from the location. I have heard figures of $15 million dollars to put a concrete lid on the reservoir so that the entire wonderful space could be opened to the public as a park. Such a park would add far more to my life — I can walk to it in 3 minutes — than a park in downtown Seattle. There is simply no comparison in benefit.
Such a calculus can be done all over Seattle. The long-and-short is that if we have two billion dollars to spend on improving the city, there are hundreds of smaller projects which will add far more to the ordinary, daily life than the one mega-project of a 2 mile waterfront tunnel.
Btw, as to the People's Waterfront Coalition's "tear-it-down-leave-it-down" approach, I'd like to make it clear that I am not at all against it. It would be nice if the Viaduct was gone.
But I am simply unconvinced that we can do without that corridor. And I mean "unconvinced" quite literally. I am not convinced now. I have heard the arguments and they don't bite me. But it is conceivable that the weight of evidence and informed opinion and commonsense might persuade me. I would like to hear what some sophisticated traffic engineers would come up with if given the assignment to not merely study the impact of the elimination of the viaduct but also to be proactive and to show how such would work. Obviously, such a plan must have been done or will be done in studying the tear-down-and-rebuild option.
A commenter is dubious (see this post from a few days ago) that we could really have a "park" under a retrofitted viaduct. I tend to agree. A "park" in the sylvan sense might be tough. But we can certainly do better than what we have now.
Here's an example of what Paris has done: Beyond The Big Dig —Viaduc des Arts. Lots of photos. (Robert Campbell in the Boston Globe)
More info here at Viaduc des Arts : 45 craftsmen and creators in Paris.
Why not create cheap commercial spaces under a retrofitted viaduct? If you really want to generate excitement along the waterfront, a mile of cheap work/studio space for artists and craftspeople under a repaired viaduct will go a lot father than a lawn. (I've never favored the idea that "What downtown Seattle really needs..." is more "open space," which is, btw, a term I have never liked.)
Obviously, this vision is a very different one that those set forth by either the Mayor or the People's Waterfront Coalition. But I think that it is worth considering. My observation (my own preference aside, to the extent one can ever be ruthlessly objective) is that we, the Seattle body politic, will conclude that
1. the Mayor's vision is not within our budget;
2. it's pointless to build a brand-new viaduct if we can do without one for the projected seven year construction period;
3. the People's Waterfront vision is too risky, too chancy, based on too many assumptions about how things will work just right.
I have to say that while I admire the pluck and boldness of the visions offered by the Mayor and the People's Waterfront, I just don't think they are timely.
The vision set forth here — let's call it the "repair with work-space underneath" model — is affordable, practical and urbane.
Let's not spend billions on a tunnel or an entirely new viaduct when the present structure can be brought up to modern safety and seismic standards and be serviceable for many, many years.