Building the World

January 19, 2018
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Cities as Destiny

Cities may rebuild the world. Image: “Cirrus sky panorama.” Image: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos.

We started talking about all these things that we could do if someone would just give us a city and put us in charge,” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet. Sidewalk Labs, subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, won a public competition to design a part of Toronto’s waterfront. Some of the proposed winning ideas:

Sidewalk Toronto:

  • heated pedestrian lanes to melt snow;
  • self-driving bus system;
  • taxi-bots and van-bots for shuttles;
  • transit and bike-shares;
  • street side parks and public spaces;
  • tunnels for utilities, making grids easier to reach and repair.

Throughout history, cities have espoused new visions. Baghdad was drawn in three concentric circles during a vision. Singapore was the spontaneous agreement for an economic and cultural nexus, celebrating diversity. Brasilia was the first urban design built to be seen from the air. Will Toronto take the next step to realizing a new vision, if chosen as Amazon’s HQ2? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau termed the project an “innovation hub.” Some question sensors and data collection, also planned, challenging Sidewalk Labs’ claim: “privacy can be baked into the design.”

Which 20 cities made the short-list for Amazon’s HQ?. Image: München Tram 20. Wikimedia commons.

Toronto, along with Boston, made the short-list for Amazon’s second headquarters. Boston’s note: “We would like to move Boston forward in the process so we can continue to learn more about your community, your talent, and potential real estate options.”  Holly Sullivan, Amazon. While 19 cities in the United States made the list, one Canadian city joined the elite twenty: Toronto. Toynbee, in Cities of Destiny, explored cities that shaped history. What are your ideas for the future of the city?

Wingfield, Nick. “Amazon Chooses 20 Finalists for Second Headquarters.” 18 January 2018. The New York Times.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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November 13, 2015
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Up on a Roof

Will COP 21 mandate green and solar roofs worldwide? Image: Vincent Van Gogh, “View of Roofs and Backs of Houses,” 1886, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and wikimedia commons.

When Vincent Van Gogh visited Paris, the artist was inspired to paint views glimpsed from his room in Montmartre. In the city famous for the Eiffel Tower, aerial views will take on new significance. France has legislated all new construction in commercial zones must have green or solar roofs. Canada inaugurated a similar environmental policy in Toronto; fines for non-compliance can reach $100,000. Brasilia is the first city designed to be viewed from the air; perhaps green or solar roofs will soon color the picture. Green roofs are not a new idea; in fact, the expression ‘raining cats and dogs’ may refer to denizens of thatched cottage roofs tumbling from habitual nests during a storm. Will the United Nations Climate Conference COP 21 recommend green and solar roofs worldwide?

France: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/20/france-decrees-new-rooftops-must-be-covered-in-plants-or-solar-panels

Toronto’s legislation: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_492.pdf

UN Climate Conference COP 21: http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 27, 2015
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Rebuilding Nepal

Flag of Nepal. Image: wikimedia

Before seismic science advanced, great cities were built at crossroads that became centers of population and government. Capital cities in earthquake zones include Tokyo, Mexico City, Jakarta, New Delhi, Manila, Port au Prince, and Kathmandu. Tokyo is planning a “spare-battery” capital to preserve government operations during disaster. Earthquake-prone areas might consider relocating capitals, following examples of Brazil and Nigeria where new centers encouraged new visions. Can the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters lead the way to a better future? Meanwhile, we can offer relief aid.

http://www.umb.edu/crscad

http://time.com/3836242/nepal-earthquake-donations-disaster-relief/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 31, 2014
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Innovation and Inclusion

 

“He was Boston,” Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking of Mayor Thomas M. Menino (1942-2014). Image: wikimedia commons.

Thomas M. Menino, Boston’s legendary Mayor (1993-2014), created a legacy of innovation and inclusion. Founding an Innovation District in 2010, Menino and team brought more than 4,000 new jobs and 200 companies to the city. Opening hearts and minds, Mayor Menino also opened the gates of the city to greater inclusion and opportunity, including excellence in public education. Mayors influence success; cities may respond with greater agility to problems and opportunities. What will cities of the future learn, from Tom Menino?

More: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/10/31/remembered-tom-menino-week/

http://www.bu.edu/ioc/

http://www.c40.org/

Barber, Benjamin R. “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.” Yale University Press, 2013.

Hargreaves, Steve. “Most Innovative Cities.” October 7, 2014. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2014/10/07/greatest-urban-projects/index.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 7, 2014
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Capital Idea

Will North America create a Cap City? Image: wikimedia

What is the nature and role of a capital? Washington, DC is among those capital cities located in a separate district. Mexico’s DF (Distrito Federal) was also established to be located by Congress, according to Section XXVIII of Article 50, Constitucion Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1824. The DF’s population of 8 million is smaller than that of Greater Mexico City, population 21 million, where the Federal District is located. Like Hemingway’s engagingly-titled novel, perhaps a capital city can be a “moveable feast.” New capitals have been founded throughout history: Canberra, Australia; Brasilia, Brazil; and Abuja, Nigeria were each purpose-created new seats of government. In the future, capitals may expand to what Doxiadis termed “regional conurbations.” Should Canada, Mexico and the United States utilize Nafta precedent to create a Cap City to manage los bienes comunes including water, energy, public health, education? At the center of such a Cap City might be a great university, where all students learn English, French, Navajo (Dine Bizaad), and Spanish, whose mission is development of a new generation of transnational leaders. What should the Cap City of North America be named? Where located?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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September 25, 2013
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New Cities, New Visions: Abuja, Nigeria

Nigeria — Lagos and Abuja. Image: Library of Congress.

Abuja became the new capital of Nigeria, replacing Lagos, in 1991. Reasons were similar to factors that led Brazil to leave popular coastal Rio to the tourists and samba dancers (not to mention soccer players and Olympians) and build a new center of government, Brasilia. Nigeria’s new capital was named after a nearby emirate founded in 1828 by Abu Ja, Zarian ruler of some renown (the old town also got a new name: Suleja). Nigeria is 50% Muslim and 40% Christian, and the new capital also had to honor the Gbagyi people who had been in the area for over 40,000 years. What is the significance of building a new capital? How can diversity become a part of the patriotic vision?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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December 11, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Oscar Niemeyer Dies at 104

The National Cathedral in Brasilia, designed by Niemeyer, From National Geographic at nationalgeographic.com.

In November,”Building the World” posted about the hospitalization of architect Oscar Niemeyer. At 104 he was still planning on completing two of the projects he was working on at the time. Sadly, Niemeyer passed away Wednesday December 5th in his Rio de Janeiro hospital, just short of his 105th birthday.

For more on the services and his memory, please see:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20621265

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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November 13, 2012
by zoequinn001
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At 104, Niemeyer Still Designing

Brasilia’s Congress building designed by Oscar Neimeyer, from BBC at bbc.co.uk.

Oscar Neimeyer was a student of Lucio Costa, the primary architect of Brasilia. Costa chose this favored student to design some of Brasilia’s important buildings, including the Congress, the University of Brasilia, the Cathedral and the Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima, as well as the Palace of Justice. Costa died in 1998, but Neimeyer is still going strong at 104. He recently was hospitalized for kidney problems, but plans to continue with his designs for a cultural center in Morocco and a library in Algeria.

For more on the architect’s condition, please see:
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2012/11/11/oscar-niemeyer-doing-well-at-104-doctor-says/

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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