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Who are you and what do you do?
I’m an intern architect working with VIA Architecture.

What made you decide to go into your field?
Good question…was it Lego? Maybe but too cliché
Was it Howard Roarke? Nah, too much ego.
Then what was it? Okay since you really want to know…Mike Brady and the fact that he worked from home in a low rancher…

What did your family think of your chosen field?
They were alright with it. They would have preferred a profession that was easier to pronounce when it came to telling their friends what field their son was in.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
A professor who said in a critique, “Show me, don’t tell me or I will smite you.”

What inspires you?
1. Art
2. Community. Relating with other people who share your interests, belief systems, can be amazing. To feel that you are part of something that matters no matter how small. It encourages you to make your contributions mean something. You become more creative in the process and perhaps in the end be a better person.

What schooling is required for success in your career?
Elementary school, Secondary school, post secondary school, travel, life experiences

What is the best advice you were ever given?
A professor who said (in reference to keeping things simple) “You can’t put 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound bag.”

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?
Look at it as an opportunity to make the world a good place to live for everyone. Start with baby steps like in your own neighbourhood and community.

by Catherine Calvert, VIA Architecture

I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Public Transportation Association’s annual conference on Sustainability in New York City. I came away with a clear appreciation of how challenging these times are for transit agencies, particularly in the United States.

The ability to survive the economic downturn has moved very much to the forefront of many agencies’ agendas, and sustainability has had a tendency to fall into the “would be nice to have” category of considerations. As Jay Walder, Chair of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Agency expressed, “we like the concept of sustainability much more when our economy is robust”. And yet, treating sustainability as if it were at odds with financial responsibility is clearly short-sighted.

Sustainability has been described variously as being a three-legged stool that relies interdependently on the “three E’s” (Environment, Equity, Economy) or the “three P’s” (People, Planet, Prosperity). In applying these ideas to public transit systems, it’s often difficult to connect the concepts with the reality of a public agency, particularly in the realm of Social Sustainability (the “Equity” or “Prosperity” aspect). However I particularly enjoyed Mr. Walder’s description of public transit sustainability as a trifecta — Customer Service, Environmental Benefit, and Bottom Line.

What works well here is that transit agencies are already focused on customer service as a core mission, so equating this with Social Sustainability is an easy conceptual link to make. The other thing I like about this occurred to me once I’d looked up the word “trifecta” – not being a horse racing fan, I was unfamiliar with its exact meaning of winning by picking the first, second and third finishers simultaneously (1). What a great idea – sustainability can only be “won” by addressing all three aspects at the same time.

In North America the most common ways to include Social Sustainability in a transit agency’s operation is to focus on these issues:

  • Mobility – a connected network that allows users to move around a city using a combination of public transportation and non-motorized means of travel;
  • Accessibility – the removal of physical barriers in order to provide access to people with a variety of abilities;
  • Personal Safety – design using principles of CPTED, enabling the physical environment to discourage crime and undesirable behaviors;
  • Security – ability to resist criminal acts by screening technology, presence of security personnel, and physical design;
  • Community investment – the integration of public art into the urban environment, creating alliances with local business, and using station area design to support and reflect neighborhood values.

At the conference we learned that in Europe there is additional focus on education. Maybe we forget sometimes that children aren’t born knowing how to ride a transit system, or that older people have a hard time with evolving schedules and service changes. In Leipzig the LVB transit agency has a specific program that trains 11-15 year olds not only on the logistics of riding transit, but also on how to create a “better transit climate” through responsible behavior and ridership. This agency also provides outreach programs to senior citizens in order to ensure that their needs continue to be met as their own abilities change.

Additional ways to consider the Social Sustainability aspects of transit include the opportunities to connect transit agency activities with broader social concerns. Transit often suffers from the “last quarter-mile” problem, which refers to the distance that a person must travel in order to get to the nearest transit stop. For a variety of reasons, and despite how efficient the transit system might be, this last quarter-mile is often an insurmountable barrier to ridership. This may be due to problems such as missing sidewalks or hostile pedestrian environments, the absence of weather protection at bus stops, or areas which are threatening to personal safety. Brussels-based UITP – the International Agency of Public Transport — is looking at links between public health concerns like obesity and this absence of transit connectivity. If every trip started with a walk, how much healthier would we be?

Finally, there is opportunity for transit to directly support its communities by sponsoring the work of local charities and non-profit groups. Since 2003 the Dublin Bus Community Support Programme (2) has provided grants to any group that is located within its service network, funded by proceeds from long-term unclaimed change receipts.

Clearly there is much opportunity to expand our understanding of public transit’s role in the social life of our cities, and the ways in which transit can directly and indirectly support our health and values. One of the most interesting things I learned at the conference was that for the first time ever, the percentage of 16 to 19-year olds who are driving is on the decline. The reason – it’s hard to text while you’re behind the wheel. Maybe an oblique way to encourage transit ridership, but an interesting social trend nonetheless.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trifecta
(2) http://www.dublinbus.ie/en/About-Us/Community-Events/Community-Support-Programme/What-is-CSP/
Image from http://www.treehugger.com/nyc-subway-mta-walder-transit.jpg

Monday News Roundup

Aug 02, 2010

Blueprints for a Better ‘Burb (NYTimes)
That the Murphys, the couple recently arrested for spying for the Russians from Montclair, N.J., were described by a flabbergasted neighbor as “suburbia personified” is telling, an observation that perfectly sums up our collective notion that the suburbs are chock full of white, middle-class families, both nuclear and normal.

But that prevailing vision contradicts the reality of suburbia today.

Another Step Toward Green Design (Forbes)
With help from star architect William McDonough, a ”green products” institute is born.

Small Shoots, Big Shades: Beautiful Tropical Bamboo Home (dornob)
A climate-specific design for Costa Rica by an architect for his mother, this is a unique dream home that combines local building traditions, modern techniques and an extreme sensitivity to connecting the interior with the wild and wonderful outdoors around the house.

The G-List – the top green buildings since 1980. Why so different from Vanity Fair’s “most important works of architecture since 1980“?

Frank Lloyd Wright the Villain? (The Overhead Wire)
The author talks about his belief that Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Ford were the greatest villains of the 20th century in their encouraged suburban development taking us away from the beneficial village community and pushing us to rely too heavily on automobiles and suburban development.

Saving Seattle’s trees one bird at a time(SeattlePI)
Seattle City Light contractors cut back trees to create clearance for power lines on the edge of Kiwanis Ravine on Thursday July 29, 2010 in Magnolia. The City of Seattle hopes to preserve the city’s tree canopy and preserving the nearby colony of great blue heron are part of the plan. No heron were nesting in the trees cut by the workers.

The future of cities and transportation (GOOD Magazine)
Bus rapid transit systems and “complete streets” are great. But to design urban transportation systems that are truly sustainable, we have to think much further ahead.

LA pushing to become nation’s mass transit leader (Associated Press)
The region famous for jilting the street car to take up a love affair with the automobile is trying to rekindle its long ago romance with commuter rail.

The Mark of a Great City Is in How It Treats Its Ordinary Spaces, Not Its Special Ones (Urbanophile)
But leave the tourist district behind and check out the average street, the average building, the average design. Too often you will find that those are of another order altogether. It’s as if there are two separate cities. One place is the city of special events and tourists, existing inside a cordon sanitaire (whose boundaries are marked with gateways perhaps?) indicating its unique status. The other place is the city as it is actually lived in and experienced in everyday life. This latter city, that is to say, the vast majority of the city, is too often neglected. The gulf between the special and the ordinary proclaims the hollowness of these places.

Superfront (UrbanOmnibus)
SUPERFRONT is a venue for architectural experimentation. Three and a half years ago, Mitch McEwen — a curator, urban designer and unlicensed architect — walked by a dilapidated storefront in Bed-Stuy in the shadow of the elevated LIRR tracks, and went about applying her passion and energy into transforming it into a gallery and project space devoted to “promoting architecture for an interdisciplinary world.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brian O’Reilly, and I’ve just officially joined the Via team. Since beginning as a contract employee in April of this year, I’ve primarily provided architectural design support for the SR99 Vent Buildings.

What made you decide to go into your field?
In retrospect, I am surprised it took as long as it did for me to settle on architecture – it seems so obvious now. It fulfills my need for both an artistic and arithmetical outlet – a balance of qualitative and quantitative. My sketchbook page should be filled with both formal explorations, as well as a few rough proportioning calculations, hopefully the buildings I have a hand in will reflect that.

Or, this could all simply be a means of carrying on my childhood obsession with fort-building.

What did your family think of your chosen field?
I happen to be on a long drive from Vermont to New Jersey with my entire family, so here are a few quotes:

“Damn proud”
“Right up your alley”
“All those Lego kits paid off”
“A little surprised you didn’t go into landscape architecture”

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
Professor Don Corner at the University of Oregon taught me the importance of intent. Such a simple way of evaluating the success of a design, but often overlooked – What is your intent? What is in support of this intention, and what detracts? Easy.

Also, quick shouts out to Tim Simpson for chemistry, John Padden for jazz, and Carl Straub for poetry.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)
Doubtless, it was my lack of direction during my undergraduate. I certainly value the liberal arts education I received; all the same, I suffered a bit of anxiety when, with contemplating my future, I drew a blank. Once the possibility of a career in architecture dawned on me, I was finally able to focus my efforts and feel confident in the direction my life was taking.

What inspires you?
Complex puzzles with simple, elegant solutions. Mid-century Danish furniture. New England barns. Non-repeating number patterns. Scarpa details. Moment diagrams.

What schooling is required for success in your career?
There are several areas of knowledge I consider essential to success in architecture – how you go about getting the knowledge is of less importance (NCARB does not share this opinion).

  1. How to design. Really, this is a way of thinking. It’s the means by which you generate an idea, and proceed with this idea to a final design. The most popular choice for getting this knowledge is going to school – that’s what I did, but I’m sure it’s not the only path.
  2. How to build. Knowing how a building is actually put together is invaluable. Being able to zoom in and carry your concept through construction makes the difference between a nice sketch and an exceptional building. Putting in at least a year or two pounding nails and actually building things is the best way to develop this understanding.
  3. How to communicate. No matter how brilliant a design or elegant the detailing, it will never be built unless you are able to effectively demonstrate to a client that the design is aligned to their needs. The ability to relate to others, and successfully communicate with them is crucial to realizing a project.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?
Those with a left/right brain balance – a healthy mixture of artistic creativity and arithmetical ability. A knack for three-dimensional thinking. Persistent enthusiasm for exploring new ideas. Obsessive attention to detail. Clarity of vision. And, supreme confidence.

What is the best advice you were ever given?
Professor Don Corner, University of Oregon, relating a story from his stint in architecture school:

Student (defending his project): Well, I wanted my building to be different.
Professor: Why not make a good building? That would be different.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)
As became all too clear in recent months, our profession is subject to fluctuation. When I completed my graduate degree in the summer of 2008, I would have been hard put to speak with optimism in regard to job prospects. However, two years later, things are slowly improving, and I’m confident they will continue to do so. For now. The market will, some day, go down again. The question then becomes, how do we position ourselves to weather times of economic bust, while also reaping the benefits of the boom?

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?
Surround yourself with people who share your passion and enthusiasm for the field. You will propel each other to a develop innovations, a greater breadth of knowledge, and a deeper understanding of the subtleties of architecture and design.

Oh, and avoid all-nighters – outside of providing you some mild bragging rights, they generally make you over-tired and stupid.

New Separated Bike Lane for Downtown Vancouver

by Stephanie Doerksen, VIA Architecture

On June 15th, the City of Vancouver officially opened a new separated bike lane on Dunsmuir street, continuing the lane recently opened on the Dunsmuir viaduct, and connecting the popular Frances/Adanac bike route with the downtown core. Cyclists from all over greater Vancouver are calling this a huge success in terms of cycling infrastructure.

Without a doubt this separated lane will provide a much safer route into downtown and go a long way towards encouraging potential cyclists who are uncomfortable biking in city traffic. So far the lane runs to Hornby street and the City has plans to connect it to a future north – south lane, also separated from traffic, which would provide a connection with the Burrard street bridge. Currently, there are several options on the table for the location of the north-south lane, including Burrard, Hornby and Thurlow streets. The city plans to hold a round of public consultation on potential routes beginning this summer.

Although the majority of press surrounding the opening of the new bike lane had been positive, there has also been a certain amount of controversy. Most notably, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association has made some negative comments surrounding the lack of consultation prior to the installation of new bike-related traffic signaling and the implementation of the bike lane itself.

Similarly, some drivers are angry about several new right turn restrictions off of Dunsmuir, as well as the usual complaints that reducing the area of road surface given over to cars will cause irreparable traffic snarls and general mayhem. Although there may be validity to the DVBIA’s claims of inadequate community consultation, it is too early to tell what the effects of the new bike lane will be on traffic patterns.

However, plenty of far more significant examples have recently proven that motorists have a lot less to worry about than they often claim when it comes to traffic problems. The pre-emptive panic over the Burrard st Bridge lane closure, which came to nothing, is one of the more high profile examples. Similarly, it’s tough to claim that closing a single west-bound lane over the Dunsmuir viaduct will lead to traffic nightmares when the entire viaduct, both east and westbound, was closed for the duration of the Olympics with no visible effect on traffic entering the downtown.

The City did meet with both the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and the Downtown Vancouver Association prior to the construction of the separated bike lane on Dunsmuir and I’m happy to report that, based on my own observations (and I use the new lane regularly), all the concerns raised at these meetings were more than adequately addressed in the construction of the lane. In general, these concerns were:

  • That the bike lane and its physical separators be aesthetically pleasing. (As in, no the concrete jersey barriers like the ones used on the Burrard street bridge. Along Dunsmuir medians, bollards, and planters have been used to separate the lane and they appear well thought out and attractive.
  • That bike parking be provided for cyclists. It seems that more and more businesses are acknowledging that many of their patrons are cyclists and that you can fit a lot more bikes into the space that one car parking stall takes up. This is great news for cyclists as the lack of suitable bike parking has been a major issue in this city for years. There is bike parking provided along the new lane, and it has been well-thought out and placed so as to prevent conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians.
  • That potential conflict points between cyclists and pedestrians (ie. bus stops and cross-walks) be properly designed for and signed.

This last point has been achieved as well as can be expected, although it’s still quite common to see pedestrians wander into the bike lane without looking around. Hopefully, this is the type of thing that time and increased awareness will help to resolve.

Similarly, most of the complaints of drivers stem from a change to their habits and sooner or later these changes will, themselves, become habit. The bottom line is that the more cyclists there are on the roads, the more drivers and pedestrians will be aware of them and the more all modes of transportation will learn to co-exist. The Dunsmuir separated bike lane is definitely a big step towards creating a more cycling-friendly city and a more pleasant urban environment.

Friday Feature: JP

Jul 26, 2010

Who are you and what do you do?
My primary role is as the Director of Practice for the Vancouver office which involves much of the day to day running of VIA as a business in terms of tackling issues related to projects, budgets, legal and staffing as well as the computer systems and most general operational issues. I also head up (with Matt in Seattle) the mixed use and major projects sector. So I’m quite busy.

What made you decide to go into your field?
After a failed attempt to join the Royal Navy (not quite British enough apparently) and the Canadian Navy (“sorry we are full”)I thought what would be better than spending all day drawing (we were still on drawing boards then). Also I felt that I needed an occupation where at the end of the day I could stand back and see something tangible as the outcome of my work.

What did your family think of your chosen field?
They were all for it providing that I stuck at it. I had a habit of getting bored quickly. I also think that they were just pleased that I was going to college.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
There are two actually:

Tim Baker was both my Engineering tutor and my Professional Management tutor. He was great in turning what could have been dull subjects into ones that I found the most exciting. We always knew when Tim was going to talk about concrete as he would appear pipe in mouth, hands rubbing together. He taught me the importance of not just learning how to detail but to physically build stuff to understand the implications of my designs. I went on courses to learn how to build with brick, concrete and timber as well as roof building. I’ll never forget learning the “slump test” nor building my first brick arch with no mortar, taking away the formwork and seeing it remain standing even when I stood on it. I actually wrote to him after graduation thanking him.

David Green, one of the founding members of Archigram was my first post grad tutor. He taught me that if I believed in my ideas to stand up strongly and to not back down. Ironically and by mutual agreement I left that particular college shortly after mastering this.

What was the biggest hurdle you have faced or are facing along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)
Actually sticking at it. It’s a long and expensive process. I left a couple of times to work in related fields. I’ve done everything from exhibition and theme park design to detailing fire protection systems for Historic Royal Palaces in the UK all of which have been great experience.

What inspires you?
People that make a difference

What schooling is required for success in your career?
I went to college in the UK which involves a 3 year undergraduate degree in Architecture followed by a year working and then a further 2 years of postgraduate Architectural studies, a further year working then professional exams. Generally however it takes a bit longer. It’s a different process in North America and a MA in Architecture would be a good starting point.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?
I rarely generalize about success as I think that it is entirely personal how you judge your own. Specific attributes however that can be advantageous are an ability to problem solve, be a great team player and communicator, recognize and embrace change and above all to do what you say that you will do when you say that you will do it.

What is the best advice you were ever given?
To listen more than I say and to facilitate rather than dictate solutions. Most often if a task that you set is not completed correctly (or how you had expected it)it’s because you have not communicated clearly enough. This was a real eye opener for me and I’m still working on it.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)
I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is currently growing, like many fields architecture reflects the economy. As always however it is changing. The projects are generally getting larger due to economies of scale and more complex due to technological advances and financing constraints. Sustainability is only going to become more important but on a larger picture. Strategies around cars and parking will be key. Roles are changing to match and a new breed of Architect is emerging. The list of specialist consultants is increasing The “starchitect” is hopefully on his way out. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is leading the way for a more integrated design process. This collaborative approach needs to be embraced by anyone thinking of a career in Architecture.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?
First drop the ego, there really is no place for it any more. I have seen too many professional relationships come to ruins due to over inflated egos, second is to get some experience before college if you can. I did and it was worth its weight in gold. Also get lots of different experiences early on in your career when you can. This will help you find your place. Architecture is a huge discipline with lots of different options, you need to find your own place not one that is selected for you.

Great Upcoming Event

Jul 20, 2010

A Field Guide to Transit Quarrels

Where: GGLO Space at the Steps, 1301 First Ave., Level A (Enter through door located about 1/4 of the way down the Harbor Steps (click for map)
Date: Thursday, July 29, 2010
Time: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Great City and Streets for All Seattle are co-hosting Jarrett Walker, who will explore the intense and often bitter quarrels that crop up when cities try to decide what kind of transit to build or operate. Working from his 20 years of experience as a transit planning consultant, Jarrett will discuss some of the most common confusions that emerge in debates about transit, and offer suggestions for how to increase clarity in these conversations by recognizing the difficult choices that arise from transit’s intrinsic geometry and costs.

Jarrett currently posts his thoughts on public transit planning and policy on his blog Human Transit.

Monday News Roundup

Jul 19, 2010

Streets ahead: A revolution in urban planning (The Independent)
Cities of the future won’t be filled with androids but with ‘silver citizens’. And that means a revolution in urban planning

Coal Protest: Moms Begin Ascent of Mt. Rainier! (Earth Justice)
Four Washington moms have begun their attempt to summit Mount Rainier this weekend to deliver a strong message to their governor about coal.

Bouncing Back from the Disaster in the Gulf  (Huffington Post)
The Gulf oil spill is yet another grim reminder that our society’s reliance on highly complex and centralized energy systems renders us highly vulnerable. In fact, there seems to be a correlation: the more complex and centralized a system, the more vulnerable it becomes.

Los Angeles Dreams of a New Downtown River Park (Inhabitat)
A 100 year-old rail depot resides next to downtown Los Angeles, and next to the rail yard is the famous LA viaduct, a ribbon of concrete and steel cutting thought the heart of the city. The city recently funded a study to re-envision this 20th century monolithic development as a 21st century park complete with a green belt, a transportation corridor, and a recreation area lined with mixed-use developments.

Sound Walls Made From Grass (Planetizen)
The Ohio Department of Transportation is experimenting with “green noise walls” instead of the standard eyesore, using bags of soil sprouting greenery as an alternative to concrete.

Ridership down in America? look deeper (Human Transit)
London’s Bicycle Superhighway Opens Today! (Inhabitat)
As a way to encourage bike commuting and improve safety for bicyclists on the road, London is opening a series of bike superhighways along important commuter routes.

Rescued From Blight, Falling Back Into Decay (NYTimes)
At 1694 Davidson Avenue, a building in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx that the city once owned, tenants say conditions have deteriorated.

Restoring New York Streets to Their Bumpier Pasts (NYTimes)
Masons installing cobblestones along Laight Street in the TriBeCa area of Manhattan, where many restorations are under way.

8-Bit Capitol Hill (Capitol Hill Seattle)
Here’s a map of the Hill — and all of Seattle — rendered in old school, 8-bit computer graphic style.

The top 10 reasons building a smaller house is better (Washington Post)

Walking — Not Just for Cities Anymore (Brookings)
I see compelling evidence that the collapse of fringe drivable suburban markets was the catalyst for the Great Recession, and the lack of walkable urban development due to inadequate infrastructure and zoning is a major reason for the recovery’s sluggishness. Joel feels the demand for walkable urban development is a fraction of the future growth in households.

Slow City (BLDGBLOG)
There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today about the design and implementation of “aging-improvement districts”—that is, “parts of the city that will become safer and more accessible for older residents.”

A Fast-Paced City Tries to Be a Gentler Place to Grow Old (NYTimes)
To make it safer for older people, the city added four seconds to the time pedestrians are given to cross intersections like Broadway and 72nd Street.

by Mel Ifada, VIA Architecture

VIA Architecture converted to Vision in February 2009. Vision is a Professional Services Management program for Project-related businesses. At that time, there was a relatively small group of companies in Vancouver, BC who used the program. However, the users were keen to collaborate and a ‘Vancouver Vision User Group’ was initiated.

There is a rather large network of User Groups in the States and now a growing number of them in Canada. The purpose of the User Groups is to provide a platform for all types of users (Accountants / IT / Human Resources / Project Managers, etc) to discuss + brainstorm problems and solutions. There is no sales pitch – just users talking to users, helping users, networking, sharing experiences, adding value to each other.

Earlier this year, the Vancouver Vision User Group leader changed careers from being an ‘IT Guru user’ to pursue an opportunity on the sales + support side of the business. This is a great indication of the outgoing leaders’ belief in the product and its potential for growth within British Columbia. However, it also meant that the User Group was in need of a new leader.

As I have personally benefited greatly from attending user group meetings and various other Vision meetings, I volunteered to take on this role. My expectation was that the meetings would continue to be a maximum of a dozen or so participants at any one time which is a manageable sized group to host at VIA Architecture’s Vancouver office. The User Group hadn’t had a meeting for about 8 or 9 months so I set a pre-summer meeting for June 8th.

The response was overwhelming (in a wonderful way). We had 24 physical attendees and another 3 companies represented by teleconference! This is the largest meeting of Vision users in Vancouver that I’m aware of to date. It was fantastic! Some people had travelled for well over an hour each way to attend – others had flown over from Vancouver Island just for this meeting!

Many issues were discussed, solutions shared, grievances aired, and the next meeting date set for September 2010. The group is strong and keen!

Thank you to VIA Architecture for being an active participant in the Vision community and to Marlene, VIA’s Director of Finance, for supporting me in taking on this role.

Monday News Roundup

Jul 12, 2010

Public Art meets Public Transportation (GOOD)
Public art and public transportation combined? What more could you ask for?

Portland Does it Again (PriceTags)
PDX comes up with another great idea to celebrate its public spaces – this time its bridges.

Germany Targets 100 percent Renewable Electricity by 2050 (Treehugger)
Germany is already a global leader in solar power, but that’s just a start as far as Germans are concerned.

Evergreen Line a Go (Beyond Robson)
Despite uncertainty over the project’s funding, Metro Vancouver’s Evergreen transit line – a new rapid transit line that will connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via Port Moody and Burnaby – will proceed as scheduled, according executive director Dave Duncan.

Pavilion made from recycled Speedos (Treehugger)
This amazing pavilion designed by students at Chelsea College of Art & Design has been on show during the London Festival of Architecture for the last couple of weeks. It is made from the unlikeliest of materials, Speedo swimsuits, and we think it’s a fantastic example of the design possibilities that can be found in the upcycling process.

Community garden accessible to all (Straight)
Jill Weiss has designed the city’s first community garden accessible to people with disabilities.

Street density by transportation mode (The Transit Pass)

The Vancouver model comes to China (Crosscut)
Expos are about the world, but also remaking cities. Shanghai’s fair showcases urbanism, which includes a Northwest pavilion that promotes density but will sell sprawl too, if that’s what China wants.

Commuter Pain Index (Wired)
Quit whining about your commute. It isn’t that bad, even for you Angelinos and New Yorkers. Your daily slog through traffic is nothing compared to Moscow, where people might spend more than three hours sucking exhaust fumes while going nowhere fast.

Artist turns Paris into a playground (GOOD)
The French artist Jerome G. Demuth (who also goes by the moniker “G”), recently installed swings around Paris for the public to use.

Belltown – is this as good as it gets? (Crosscut)
Belltown’s history over the past 25 years suggested vitality, density, and the kind of success needed for the state’s growth management plans to succeed. Now, it may be at a tipping point, in the wrong direction.

This week’s sign of the apocalypse (Kaid at NRDC)

paris: world’s best transit logo? (Human Transit)
I’ve seen a lot of transit logos all over the world, and this is my personal favorite. Perhaps I love Paris too much to be fair.  Perhaps one has to know Paris to appreciate it.  But that’s fine; it’s a logo for Parisians.