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Feb 12, 2013

Hello VIA Blog readers! Here are a few of the last couple weeks’ most shared and talked-about articles from the VIA Twitter, Pinterest, and beyond.

One of 21 amazing off-the-grid houses shared by Gizmodo, full article linked below 

5 Pearls of Wisdom for Architecture Grads (Arch Daily)
Phil Bernstein is a Vice President at Autodesk and teaches at Yale. This post, originally published in 2011 on his blog as “Winter Commencement,” offers timeless advice for architecture students about to enter the job market.

Traveling the Entire Length of California by Local Transit (The Atlantic Cities)
Local transit maps tend to stay local. Some designate connections to other lines or systems but it’s not really their purpose to expand the map beyond the metropolitan area — say, the way road atlases do. Recently a California design team did what local agencies don’t: created a statewide rail map with more than 500 destinations served by ten rail authorities plus Amtrak, ferry, and major bus connections.

Bridge Built from Shipping Containers Is Trendy, but Inefficient (Treehugger)
Over at Designboom, they’re featuring a new bridge design made from shipping containers by Israel’s Yoav Messer Architects. The firm says that “repurposing the containers is fast and easy work that can be done off-site and later assembled, minimizing invasive construction. A new steel truss will be integrated with the metal boxes as the primary structure of the bridge.” But is it smart design?

How to ‘Rightsize’ a Street (The Atlantic Cities)
The concept of a “road diet” has become increasingly popular, as an inelegant engineering analogy that implies the slimming down of traffic lanes as if they were so much excess fat. Got a four-lane boulevard in a now quiet residential borough? Bring in some transportation planners and trim that beast down to two!

21 Amazing Off-the-Grid Houses (Gizmodo)
Real talk: Between diminishing stores and oil wars, fossil fuel-dependance is officially a bad deal. In the future, as these resources get scarcer, we’re going to have to figure out how to live in a little more harmony with Mother Earth. Here are 21 houses that are already doing it right: eschewing the power grid for solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.

Are Exterior Airbags the Future of Bike/Ped Safety? (Planetizen)
Although the Netherlands remains one of the safest countries in the world, pedestrians and cyclists make up about a third of all traffic fatalities. With that in mind, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment gave the research organization TNO 1 million euros to develop technology to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists by outfitting automobiles with exterior airbags.

McBarge: Abandoned Floating McDonalds to Be Given New Life As a Marina in Canada (Inhabitat)
An old rusting ship is all that remains of a once grand idea for a floating McDonalds, constructed in the mid ’80s for the Expo ’86 World Fair. It has been dubbed the McBarge by residents of Vancouver, where it has been left abandoned for the past 23 years, surrounded by other industrial wrecks and machinery. But now the McBarge is set to be renovated, with plans underway to create a brand new waterfront marina in Mission, British Columbia.

Ghost Cities Around the World (Arch Daily)
Abandoned cities are an unfortunate consequence of life and growth on our planet. The reasons for abandoning a city are as varied as the people who once inhabited their buildings and walked their streets. Many of these cities are forgotten and simply line the pages of history. Some are examples of poor urban planning; some the result of the depletion of natural resources, while others are poignant reminders of the fragility of life in a nuclear world.

Happy Birthday, Grand Central Terminal (Treehugger)
“Railway termini and hotels are to the nineteenth century what monasteries and cathedrals were to the thirteenth century. They are truly the only representative buildings we possess.” So wrote the Building News in 1875, according to Apollo Magazine. Grand Central Terminal was built quite a few years after that and opened on February 2, 1913, but certainly has the drama of a great cathedral.

The City That Never Was: How LA Almost Became New York (Architizer)
As modern metropolises go, Los Angeles and New York couldn’t be more different. But it only took a few failed proposals from the early 20th century to send LA into a self-reinforcing spiral of freeways and sprawl. If a couple of prescient planners had had their way, the city might have grown into a model of urbanism besting the Big Apple (or at least Portland), with hundreds of miles of subways and elevated rail, thousands of parks linked by parkways, and even a raised bicycle freeway connecting Pasadena with downtown.