Friday, August 8, 2014

Sun/Shade & Urban Development – July 2014

The following relate to urban development and urban design in general, and to specific projects with sun/shade issues in particular. They were derived from our twitter feed @SunPosition

Accidental Skyline: Report on tall buildings' influence on open spaces in New York City | The Municipal Art Society of New York

NEW YORK CITY, NY - Change and development are essential to retaining New York City’s dynamism. Over the years many of the city’s most iconic buildings have been constructed as-of-right, some to great acclaim, others to significant criticism. But because of advances in building technology and changes in the real estate market, extraordinarily tall buildings are now being built around some of our most important open spaces, raising a great deal of public concern.

The size and scale of the as-of-right buildings going up on and around 57th St. deserve particular attention because of their proximity to Central Park. Individually, the towers may not have a significant effect; however their collective impact has not been considered.

MAS has undertaken a series of shadow studies to show the serious impact these new luxury towers will have along the southern end of Central Park, blocking views of the sky from a number of locations within in the park and shrouding the carousel, ball fields, zoo and other popular features in shadow throughout the day.

Central Park and New York City’s other open spaces are critical to the economic health of the city and to the well-being of its residents. The mixed skyline along the edges of Central Park is one of the park’s defining and most memorable features. The solution is not to landmark this skyline, but to find a way to ensure that the public has a voice when our skyline and open spaces are affected by new development and to require careful analysis to help inform the decision-making process…

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Municipal Art Society Launches Development Rights Map | Commercial Observer

NEW YORK CITY, NY - The Municipal Art Society, a longtime city planning and preservation advocacy group, launched an interactive map that allows New Yorkers to see what sites in any of the city’s neighborhoods can take on extra square footage over their existing footprints, the organization announced last week…

The map follows the organization’s December 2013 report (see ‘Accidental Skyline’ above) that decries the shadow impact of the towers rising adjacent to Central Park on 57th Street and calls for height restrictions near parks and greater public scrutiny of zoning lot mergers…

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Canada's top 10 residential construction markets for Q2 2014 | BuzzBuzz Home


At the end of Q2-2014, there were 213,683 homes being built across Canada’s 10 busiest new residential construction markets.

Naturally, the activity was centred in a few major urban areas, with Toronto standing out as the most active market by far. There is nearly the same number of homes currently under construction in the Toronto metropolitan area as the metro areas of Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary combined…

Montreal was second on the list behind Toronto…

Widely seen as Canada’s hottest up-and-coming market, Calgary was third on the list…

The Vancouver housing market may be the most expensive in Canada, but the metropolitan area comes in fourth in the country…

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Tallest residential building going to NYC | KSDK News

NEW YORK, NY (WPIX ) - Standing higher than the Empire State Building and just a little shorter than the World Trade Center, the Nordstrom Tower will be the tallest residential building in the world.

The Nordstrom Tower will be located on 227 W. 57th St. in New York City and will rise to a whopping 1,775 feet making it just a foot shorter than 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

Some say it sticks out like a sore thumb next to landmark buildings.

The building will have a giant seven-floor Nordstrom department store on the lower levels and apartment buildings on its top floors for the super rich billionaires.

Some say are foreign investors not even New Yorkers.

Many are not happy about it coming to the neighborhood casting a shadow on Central Park and changing the face of their neighborhood.

It's one of four towers going up on West 57th Street.

The shadows of what some are calling the "Central Park Supertowers."

Some say will severely block out the city's green and have has stirred up a debate about height limits for buildings in our city.

Extell's Gary Barnett defends the towers.

"This is the wrong issue at the wrong time," Barneet said. "It will be a long, slender shadow. It will only be for a few minutes."

People are so angry about this, a local community board has even started a Sunshine task force…

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How Civic Engagement Platforms Can Bring Back the Expertise of Urban Planners | Planetizen

The increasing use of online civic engagement platforms offers a chance for planners to improve the planning process—that is, if they take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the new technology to showcase their expertise.

Cities are experiencing significant changes, from fluctuations in population to climate change impacts and affordability concerns. However, the role of city planners in navigating cities through these changes is in flux. Over the last 30 years, planners have seen their role as the brokers of facts for implementing new initiatives diminish. Their expertise takes a backseat to time spent organizing and facilitating evening meetings.

The growth of civic engagement platforms, where residents weigh in with ideas and opinions about urban development plans, could continue this trend unless planners utilize the benefits of this technology as a platform for their expertise.

Why aren’t planners able to implement new initiatives? A significant challenge is getting political and community buy-in. To be fair, online engagement platforms cannot solve all the complex political challenges in local communities, but they can bring more transparency and accountability to the political process. Public meetings are the de facto method for collecting resident feedback for urban development projects. Because they are often held at inconvenient times, most residents are unable to participate. Bringing the information online helps more people access the information, weigh-in, and offer support for projects…

Here are four practical ways online engagement helps planners drive more informed discussions about projects.

1) Share facts and visualize project impacts…

2) Reach a more representative audience…

3) Educate through responses to comments and concerns…

4) Online engagement doesn’t replace public meetings—it helps them be more productive…

To build better communities, we need to use better tools to make it easy for all residents to add their voice to the process. Civic engagement platforms can help planners reach a wider audience and leverage their expertise to implement change…

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Cheers, Ralph

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