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Old 04-18-2009, 09:32 AM   #21
ablarc
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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Originally Posted by kennedy View Post
First, style has nothing to do with urbanity (unless you're designing like Corbusier in the French photos).
Somewhat right and somewhat wrong. The truth is LeCorbusier's style was specifically conceived to thwart urbanity --which its remnants continue to do to this day. This always bothered his follower, Sert, who tempered his own style to permit traditional urbanity. Hence the Holyoke Center.
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Old 04-18-2009, 12:08 PM   #22
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

I started this thread on Wired New York, and it generated some more images of 21st Century urbanism (actually, it reminds me a little bit of Miami's Coconut Grove).

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That looks like successful New Urbanism to me... somewhere in Italy?

That reminds me... I once spent a short but memorable time in Aix-en-Provence. It's one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When I did an aerial search recently I found that a massive set of structures was going up on the verge of the old part of town, near the Place du Gaulle fountain. These pics are few years old. I've been unable to find any finished info/pics of what this complex is and how it meshes with its surroundings. Do you happen to know?

Minato knew:

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Old 04-18-2009, 02:46 PM   #23
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

They use that continuous-balcony style in a lot of middle-class-blah neighborhoods of cities in Turkey and Greece. I'm surprised they used it for what looks like a chic redevelopment in boutique Aix.
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Old 06-06-2009, 05:18 PM   #24
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Bloom where you're planted...

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The new parts are nothing if not picturesque. They let people live normal French lives, like they grew up living. When the buildings get dirty, only archaeologists will be able to tell they?re new.
I think your examples are beautiful and, populated by normal French lives, would be just as compelling to the cultural tourist as "authentic" Paris.

But your quote above is the very thing that cannot be replicated "on spec". Building a French neighborhood does not make you French.

How can this be a leitmotif for the Seaport District [for example] if the ?normal Bostonian lives? have not resulted in similarly compelling [by your standard] districts in the rest of the city?

Why should the Back Bay rise again in the South Boston Waterfront when much of the existing city is dysfunctional by New Urbanist planning standards?

Shouldn?t we first fashion our existing fabric into something vibrant , vital and fully utilized before forging ahead with a whole new district that is culturally unnecessary, ie: is not really a response to the needs of a growing vibrant city but just growth for growth?s sake?

You can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat.
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Old 06-06-2009, 06:36 PM   #25
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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Shouldn?t we first fashion our existing fabric into something vibrant , vital and fully utilized before forging ahead with a whole new district that is culturally unnecessary, ie: is not really a response to the needs of a growing vibrant city but just growth for growth?s sake?
Why not both?

And I disagree that a whole new district would be unnecessary, or "growth for growth's sake". Boston is woefully under-built. This artificially inflates the cost of housing/living, and contributes to, among other things, the city's ongoing problem of losing young professionals to other, more accommodating cities.

A Back Bay-like build out of the Seaport would have also done much to vitalize the city's lifeless financial district and waterfront, not to mention the sterile Seaport itself.
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Old 06-06-2009, 10:14 PM   #26
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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Why not both?
I know my argument is rhetorical and unrealistic; of course we will do both.?now on with the rhetoric..

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A Back Bay-like build out of the Seaport would have also done much to vitalize the city's lifeless financial district and waterfront, not to mention the sterile Seaport itself.
So creating a new district with life will breathe life into an existing lifeless district?!? Maybe. Can?t the existing lifeless districts be re-animated [re-zoned, re-designed] without resorting to, in effect, sprawl? And if it cannot, then isn?t there a non trivial risk that the new district will be stillborn? Is it just the emptiness of the Seaport and the freedom to ?start over? [a very American approach] that holds the promise for getting it ?right? this time?

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?Boston is woefully under-built. This artificially inflates the cost of housing/living, and contributes to, among other things, the city's ongoing problem of losing young professionals to other, more accommodating cities.
Under-built, maybe so, but I would argue that the high cost of real estate is also due to the bubble growth of the last 25 years and not exclusively to lack of supply.

The Seaport district is man-made land. It was created with private investment at great expense and at its height, was teeming with commerce. That it is now empty awaiting the next Back Bay was not by design. The fact that the wharf/transportation/warehouse/manufacturing industry died marked a real decline for the City. This was not due to poor planning resulting in the loss of young workers.

The Seaport district development as imagined on this site and as proposed in reality is not some necessary, intrinsic, vital part of civic body like the wharf operation was, it is just more of what we already have, neighborhoods, residences, shops, cafes, parks, bike paths, offices, hotels, street trees, ...etc. The plans for this area [and there have been many in the last 25 years] are still based on a leveraged, unsustainable growth, bubble economy.
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Old 06-07-2009, 04:00 PM   #27
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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Originally Posted by scootie View Post
I know my argument is rhetorical and unrealistic; of course we will do both.?now on with the rhetoric..



So creating a new district with life will breathe life into an existing lifeless district?!? Maybe. Can?t the existing lifeless districts be re-animated [re-zoned, re-designed] without resorting to, in effect, sprawl? And if it cannot, then isn?t there a non trivial risk that the new district will be stillborn? Is it just the emptiness of the Seaport and the freedom to ?start over? [a very American approach] that holds the promise for getting it ?right? this time?



Under-built, maybe so, but I would argue that the high cost of real estate is also due to the bubble growth of the last 25 years and not exclusively to lack of supply.

The Seaport district is man-made land. It was created with private investment at great expense and at its height, was teeming with commerce. That it is now empty awaiting the next Back Bay was not by design. The fact that the wharf/transportation/warehouse/manufacturing industry died marked a real decline for the City. This was not due to poor planning resulting in the loss of young workers.

The Seaport district development as imagined on this site and as proposed in reality is not some necessary, intrinsic, vital part of civic body like the wharf operation was, it is just more of what we already have, neighborhoods, residences, shops, cafes, parks, bike paths, offices, hotels, street trees, ...etc. The plans for this area [and there have been many in the last 25 years] are still based on a leveraged, unsustainable growth, bubble economy.
I dont think it's unreasonable to assume that at least some of the vibrancy of a densely built-out Seaport would spill out across the channel into the financial district and neighboring wharfs, especially if the connections between these districts were emphasized.

And why is a commercial wharf operation a more necessary, intrinsic, and vital part of the civic body than a mixed-use, densely populated neighborhood?

Also, I dont agree that such a district would be dependent on "a leveraged, unsustainable growth bubble economy". It wouldnt be growth out of thin air, but a redistribution of population, a contraction of the metro region. The city of Boston's population has shrunk from over 800,000 in 1950 to its current level of around 600,000. In this same period, the population of its metro area has exploded, with the state's population growing from around 4.4 million in 1950 to its current level of 6.4 million. This is the sprawl you refer to, and a denser core would be part of the remedy. So maybe a good portion of those hundreds of thousands commuters coming into Boston every morning and leaving every night could live in the Seaport, and walk to and from work instead. There is a demand for this, and it really isnt possible today.

This whole debate is of course academic. The Seaport is not being built-out following the model of the Back Bay, or any other neighborhood in Boston. It's being built piecemeal, as a generic convention district.
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Old 06-07-2009, 08:39 PM   #28
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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Originally Posted by briv View Post
I dont think it's unreasonable to assume that at least some of the vibrancy of a densely built-out Seaport would spill out across the channel into the financial district and neighboring wharfs, especially if the connections between these districts were emphasized.
I don?t think it is unreasonable or unlikely either, it would be great. That is not the point. The point is can the vibrant Seaport you imagine be realized at all? I think it is a luxury that cannot be supported without the wacked economics of the now deflating real estate bubble. It is like building an addition onto your house to increase its value, not because you need the space.


Quote:
Originally Posted by briv View Post
And why is a commercial wharf operation a more necessary, intrinsic, and vital part of the civic body than a mixed-use, densely populated neighborhood?
Because it is a major industry providing high quality productive jobs that would employ the population of a neighborhood. Not just service jobs typical of a mixed-use, densely populated neighborhood. I?m not saying we need to replace those kinds of jobs in a new Seaport district [although it would be nice], just that the impetus for the creation of this entire district was market driven and the fact that it is vacant [i.e. NOT a vibrant mixed-use densely populated neighborhood] is also market driven.


Quote:
Originally Posted by briv View Post
Also, I dont agree that such a district would be dependent on "a leveraged, unsustainable growth bubble economy". It wouldnt be growth out of thin air, but a redistribution of population, a contraction of the metro region. The city of Boston's population has shrunk from over 800,000 in 1950 to its current level of around 600,000. In this same period, the population of its metro area has exploded, with the state's population growing from around 4.4 million in 1950 to its current level of 6.4 million. This is the sprawl you refer to, and a denser core would be part of the remedy. So maybe a good portion of those hundreds of thousands commuters coming into Boston every morning and leaving every night could live in the Seaport, and walk to and from work instead. There is a demand for this, and it really isnt possible today.
This whole debate is of course academic. The Seaport is not being built-out following the model of the Back Bay, or any other neighborhood in Boston. It's being built piecemeal, as a generic convention district.
I think the debate is good [thanks for that] but it is academic because there will be no buildout at all until condo prices can again support the development costs.
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Old 06-08-2009, 06:41 PM   #29
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

I think I side with Scootie on this one. I really want the Seaport to be built out, similar to the Back Bay (in terms of the process, and the density, but not the design.) However, I just don't think it's economically feasible at this time. Even if there's a large population in the MSA, I doubt that many of these people would jump on the opportunity to move to the city. If they were, wouldn't more of the residential space in the city be filled? Sure, it can be attributed to the economic crisis, but can the city afford (or do developers have the vision) to build a district like this for the future?

I think that, right now, we need to be planning for the future. Not for the current market conditions, but on the future of Boston and the future of a sustainable market. Through rezoning and tax benefits for industry, the city can (cheaply) set up the SBW for success in the coming few decades.

But, they won't.
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:19 PM   #30
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

It is uneconomical to build out the Seaport as it's currently envisioned because the land is overvalued. That value was determined by the current zoning which calls for block-sized monoliths of office space. This zoning didnt grow out of some dire need for more grade A office space, but as a way to maximize the profit of the land owners--you know, as a reward for sitting on acres of parking lots for decades.

The city should have zoned the Seaport for something more akin to what we see in Ablarc's post, perhaps something like a contemporary, slightly higher density version of the Back Bay, or South End. The neighborhoods in the city's core are its most desirable and command the highest values. There's still plenty of demand for them even in this economy. Building a similar neighborhood in the Seaport would have been an easy success, especially during the housing boom.

Boston should be following its own best examples of what makes a successful neighborhood, and not falling into the same old panacea thinking that has been proven wrong so many times. We shouldnt be waging our future on building attractions like convention centers or shopping malls, but in creating vibrant, vital neighborhoods, replicating what people love about this city.

Of course nothing will be built in this current economy. But I think if the city had any vision and actually asserted a little leadership in planning the Seaport, we could've been seeing a 21st-century Back Bay take shape there today, rather than seeing an Anywhere, USA convention district languish.
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Old 06-10-2009, 09:23 PM   #31
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

I'd like to share this thread of photos, from Kansas City's new Power and Light District. You'll probably think it's too Disney, and it is, but I think that this is about as close to an American urban project as I've seen. Perhaps, with a bit of urban tweaking and local styling, this could be a more realistic foreshadow of the Seaport, and especially, the Seaport Square development.

GRID's photos, of kc-photos.com
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:31 PM   #32
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

The link says Ive been banned from Urban St Louis
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:02 PM   #33
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

That happened last time I tried to link to UrbanSTL, I don't know why. Here's the post:

Ablarc, I hope you don't mind me adding this to your post, I just thought everyone would find it interesting to see an domestic example.

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Originally Posted by GRID
I thought I would post these on this forum since I know you guys are really struggling with Cordish/Cardinals and Ballpark Village.

I follow StL development, but don't post too often over here because I simply don't have time.

KC's development has had problems as well. They should be topping out on a 37 story condo/hotel right now, but that has not even broke ground and Downtown KC still needs more residents for all of this to be successful long term.

But I think for the most part, it's been very much a success so far. Like StL, KC has tons of urban districts and areas to offer locals and tourists, but like StL, most suburbanites are pretty intimidated by the "city". The district helps alleviate that problem a bit by giving the city another entertain/dining option.

Sometimes I wonder if you really want something quite as ?canned? as the P&L district right between your stadium and the heart of Downtown StL. I mean, if this were in StL, I would avoid it myself and go to the more authentic and real areas of the city, but it does serve a purpose and both KC and STL have a hell of a time getting private investment in the core. So, I would take a Cordish development over under-utilized land and parking lots. At least in KC, there are several historic buildings that are part of the project, two theaters and a major hotel.

I hope all goes well in StL and you get something going soon. That is such a high profile location.

Here are the photos...




























































































































































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Old 06-12-2009, 09:12 PM   #34
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Kennedy, what about this new district in Kansas City do you think is worthy of emulation? Not being rhetorical, just curious.
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Old 06-13-2009, 05:39 PM   #35
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Nothing, I meant to show it as an example of an American project that would be more easy to relate to than the European projects, which frankly, seem very unlikely to happen in Boston.

However, it does have some elements to think about. The Sprint Center, as well as the AMC/Midland Theater restoration, are beautiful venues. It provides a good example to show how fairly generic, national chain restaurants will bring people in at first, and (hopefully) encourage local establishments to open in the area. It also shows that pretty lights and signage do make a difference. The P&L District sign looked oddly like the Pike Place Market sign and the Boston Wharf Co. signs, didn't it?

Then again, it's full of lessons to avoid. It's basically a big bar mall. Nothing but bars, clubs, and restaurants. And a pretty arena. It is an entertainment district, but they failed to include almost any residential or hotel space.

Overall, it's a good comparison to Boston's SBW, because it's right next to a convention center, it was basically a blank slate, and they were trying to recreate and integrate a more historic P&L district, similar to our Fort Point Channel neighborhood.
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Old 07-07-2009, 12:10 AM   #36
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

I'm not sure what lessons are to be taken from the KC photos here. I respect the restoration of a historic theater, but other than that, it seems to be a modern entertainment district with a sports arena. It's sort of the party version of a lifestyle center (think Ybor City in Tampa).

How is this mixed use? Who would want to live here, and where? How could local business survive here? Why would anyone come here unless they were going to a game / show / bar?

This completely misses ablarc's point of showing good examples of modern urban design, real place-making. As a silent reader of this board, I have followed this thread in the hopes that others would post similar examples to ablarc's, either here or abroad.

It's easy to say that place-making on this scale can't happen in the U.S. - that developers / investors / the general public don't "get it". I maintain that they haven't been offered a good alternative in a way they understand.

There is potential to do this type of development here, and make a profit doing so. To keep it local - consider what "could be" with projects like Assembly Square or Westwood Station. Think mixed use, transit oriented, walkable, unique sense of place. Why can't we do something similar to the French or Italian examples (regarding their urban fabric, could have New England "styling")?

We all seem to have similar disdain for the status-quo, so why not discuss viable alternatives?
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:47 AM   #37
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

First of all, I offered this example as a something to contrast Ablarc's European projects too. Show me a successful, 21st century urban project in America. I haven't seen one, but then again, I haven't been around enough. The only way to create better design is to study existing design, and learn from it-both it's mistakes and it's successes. Moderator, if you don't think my post is relevant, feel free to delete it. I know it takes forever to load.
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