Times Square In Philadelphia?

The Gallery and Market East are in need of a desperate facelift.  Developers and City Council seam to believe that large animated digital advertisements is exactly what the district needs.  A city council bill has been proposed that would create a commercial advertising district on Market, between 7th and 13th Streets.  The lighting, supporters say will draw tourists and convention goers to a new entertainment zone near the Gallery shopping mall.  Developers want invigorate Market East, envisioning it full of themed restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and movie theaters.  There is also talk of bringing in upscale "big-box retail stores" to draw Center City residents who now drive to South Philadelphia for their general household shopping, says Carl Primavera, and attorney who represents billboard companies.  In its current state Market East is underwhelming and underdeveloped, lacking the vitality that will entice conventioneers and tourists.

On the contrary opponents see this bill as a disaster.  They believe a potentially majestic and charming district will be totally stigmatized with chunky bill-boards and bright lights.  Philadelphia is not a second rate city and shouldn't result to desperate measures of imposing a false identity already branded by its big brother just 100 miles up north.  Philadelphia's brand has always been history, preservation and the arts.  That is why people visit this city.  As planners, preservationists, and developers who have an invested interest in the future of Philadelphia, we should be looking at innovative and exciting unique ways to enhance our city while still preserving and staying true to its identity, not settling for easy-fix, temporary, dated and potentially disastrous solutions just to make a quick buck.  When Philadelphia gets these rare opportunities to rebrand itself and make a statement to the world that we are a first class city with a lot of great personality, we settle for mediocre. We need to recognize the treasures we already have and enhance and celebrate them, not cover them up or taint them with false illusions.

When people visit Philadelphia they are looking for what makes Philadelphia different from any other city.  They ask themselves what is so special about Philadelphia that they can say to their family and friends at home, "You must go to Philadelphia to experience this!"  If we continue to borrow experiences instead of creating our own, we will continue to loose our credibility as a first class destination.  Lets run with the momentum of Green in 2015 and set our sights on becoming a global destination by 2035 with creative bold ideas that bridge commerce, history, entertainment, leisure, accessibility, education and livability.

Also check out "Bright Lights Big Mistake?"at Philly.com


Schwarzenegger Rallies For United Governments On Climate

Since the failed attempt at a global climate-change treaty, California has been exploring other alternatives to reduce greenhouse gases. Governor Arnold Swarzenegger is pushing state and regional governments around the world to act, stating the effort must be led locally in the absence of national and international momentum.  At his third and final California climate summit at the University of California, Davis, the governor enthusiastically encouraged unity in ushering in a new era of building a cleaner and brighter, more prosperous future to over 1,500 attendees from more than 80 countries.

Schwarzenegger is hoping states and provinces from more than 20 countries will launch a program being considered by the united Nations to secure financing for carbon-cutting projects in industrialized and developing nations. Talks leading up to a U.N. climate summit in Mexico already have divided rich and developing nations over the issue of intellectual property rights, compromising the possibility of making any binding cuts in greenhouse gases.  In the U.S., instead of pursuing legislation that would cap emissions through a carbon market, the Obama Administration intends to bypass Congress and regulate greenhouse gases directly through federal agencies.

Schwarzenegger said the failure at the federal and international levels should not discourage local governments from adopting their own policies on climate change.  The governor pointed out that the "green revolution" is happening at the local level in places like Africa, Australia, China, Norway, and the U.S.  There is great promise for this level of commitment with California and other States and leaders of Provinces in Morocco and France moving forward with their own nonprofit financing programs.  This could create the motivation and reality that climate solutions are real.

Read more at GreenSource Magazine

Revamping South Delaware Waterfront

Despite future plans for a Foxwoods Casino at its proposed site at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street, planners for the Delaware River waterfront imagine far greater potential for this section of the river.  With the bad press and out of control crime at the recently opened Sugarhouse Casino farther north up river, there is no wonder planners are looking past the casino option and envisioning a more communal, economic, and culturally balanced approach.  With a casino out of the way, the neighborhood would be more residential friendly welcoming future hotel options and retail.  The neighborhood would have great potential for being a destination place to live, work, and rest while visiting the city and sports arenas. Future light rail transportation connection from Port Richmond and Market Street to Oregon Ave, the Sports complex, and the Navy Yard will make the waterfront and its neighborhoods a viable and convenient place to live.

Planners imagine a restored wetland park based on the deteriorated piers from 53 to 70 with nesting platforms for osprey and eagles.  The area currently hosting Walmart and Home Depot will continue to host the big box stores, but will shrink to a more urban-friendly vertical form, with stores fronting Columbus Boulevard and underground parking or a well designed parking garage.  The freed land can allow streets to extend across the boulevard and host new residential developments creating a balance of residences, retail, and industry.  Neighboring retailers can follow suite with Target, Lowes, IKEA, and Best Buy also going vertical, stacking their facilities freeing up land for new development.  These solutions expand the lifespan of these large retailers creating healthy communities and a consistent supply of customers.

Downtown Dadeland near Miami


Fishtown; One Of America's Most Fuel Efficient Neighborhoods

Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood, located along the Delaware River has been listed as one of America's most fuel efficient neighborhoods according to a Forbes.com study.  With centrally located residences from hip lofts in converted warehouses hosting the next generation of artist, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs, to freshly renovated town homes and New Construction.  There's no wonder why the neighborhood is a magnet for young fast paste yuppie and hipsters commuting to Center City and Temple University.  Transportation cost are the second-lowest among neighborhoods in the 10 largest metropolitan neighborhoods.  Public transit ridership is at around 12%, with short commutes to Old City,Center City and close by Northern Liberties.


G8 Goes ECO at York St.

G8 is nearing completion of its renovation project at 2045 York Street.  Among at list of energy saving sustainable features to the 3 story town home, G8 has decided to go with ECO for its countertops.  ECO, developed by Cosentino is a durable surface made of 75% recycled content composed of post-industrial or post-consumer materials and is bound by an environmentally friendly resin which comes in part from corn oil.  ECO is an ideal substitute for natural or engineered stone.  The product received the Readers Choice Award for Best Surfacing Material by Interiors Sources in 2009.  The counter top is made of recycled glass, mirrors and ceramic.  It never needs to be sealed, unlike concrete counter tops, is maintenance free and stronger than granite.  ECO is cut to order, therefor leaving no waste.  Check out the variety of color options shown below.

Solar Glass Generates Electricity

Unveiled at Taipei's International Optoelectronics Week, China's Hua Qin developed a glass panel that both provides sunlight blocking out the elements, and uses that energy to produce electricity.  This is a great breakthrough in solar technology that can provide great opportunities in sustainable design.  The product is not yet on the market, but hopefully in about 10-15 years or maybe sooner, a commercial prototype and manufacturing process is developed.  The windows are slightly foggy and come in various levels of opacity.  The more haze the more energy they will produce.  This technology will serve great use is skylight installations, clearstory windows, large industrial and institutional facilities that don't necessarily require direct exterior views, and best of all skyscrapers.  With the amount of surface area that is exposed to the sun, many buildings can be taken off the grid.  Of course these windows alone cannot produce enough energy to take you fully off the grid, but they can certainly create a healthy dent in the energy bill.  Instead of fighting over air rights, developers may soon be fighting over sun rights!

Photo via Engadget


Miami's Oppenheim; High-Rise Pioneers

Miami's Oppenheim Architecture + Design has been branding itself as the next pioneer in the future of high-rise living in Miami. The firm is known for pushing the envelope in design, but two recent projects stood out to here at G8.  Located in the Design District COR set to open in 2011 and Cube in 2012 portray city living like no other.  Tossing aside the boring repetitive balcony facades that can be seen throughout the entire stretch of coastal South Florida, Oppenheim has brought new meaning and concept to multi-family high-rise housing in urban areas.  The firm successfully integrates private outdoor spaces into the skeletal frame, achieving harmony with an otherwise tacked on afterthought, examples seen throughout Miami and many cities around the world.

Treating every program requirement as a design element has allowed them to successfully achieve a product that is both a great place to live and work and a respectful neighbor and pedestrian friendly addition to its neighbors.

COR will be the first sustainable mixed-use condominium in Miami.  The 400' tall beauty represents a dynamic synergy between Architecture, structural engineering, and ecology. Extracting power from its environment utilizing the latest advancements in wind turbines, photovoltaics, and solar hot water generation, COR upon completion will be seeking a LEED Platinum Certification.  The polka dotted hyper-efficient exoskeleton shell simultaneously provides building structure, thermal mass for insulation, shading for natural cooling, enclosure for terraces, armatures for turbines, and loggias for congregating on the ground.  Comprising commercial, office, fitness, live/work, and 113 pure residential spaces, COR provides a uniquely flexible platform for lifestyle enhancement.

Cube promotes its occupants to design their own domain with the possibility of connecting multiple cube modules vertically, horizontally, and diagonally in addition to creating double height volumes, garden voids, and cantilevered living environments.  The building has a pleasant transition at its base with live-work environments engaging the street creating a dynamic arcade for pedestrian enjoyment.  Parking is addressed with metallic screens at varying porosity and pattern distorting the reading of the parking garage creating a reflective mosaic.

Read more at archdaily.com


Schuylkill Bridge is Here!

The New South Street Bridge is set to open on November 6.  Great news for the hundreds of people who rely on the West Philly Center City connector.  After 15 years of planning, discussions, engineering, and redesigning the bridge is finally here.  The new bridge Connecting University of Penn to Graduate Hospital and Grey Ferry neighborhoods has wider sidewalks, A mid-block signalized pedestrian/bicycle crossing at the Schuylkill River Trail,  wider green colored bicycle lanes,  a reduction in vehicle lanes, relocation of street lights, and traffic signal adjustments optimized for pedestrian movement and safety.  It also includes new entrances to the University City Regional Rail Station, University of Pennsylvania's Hollenback Hall, and future athletic fields.