Archive for the 'built environment' category

Seattle’s Carbon Footprint: Assessing The Assessment

The City of Seattle just released its 2008 greenhouse gas inventory, and in most of the media reports, the results get distilled down to this headline:  Seattle’s emissions are seven percent below 1990 levels. Or perhaps even further distilled to:  Seattle is meeting the Kyoto protocol. Sure sounds good, but the reality is much more [...]

Opposite Ends of I-90 Vol. 2: Parking Garage Edition

Usually they’re contemptible scars on the urban fabric, like the eye-popping piece of work in the photo above at 2nd and Union in Seattle.  But they don’t have to be.  The garage shown below is in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, and isn’t it the most adorable thing?

Here’s another in Boston’s downtown office core:

Excited yet?  Yes, [...]

Opposite Ends Of I-90

Which mayor’s race does the following describe?
[Both candidates] want the same things: better schools, improved public safety, sustainable economic development, accessible parks, affordable housing, livable neighborhoods. To win the November 3 election, both candidates may go so far as to endorse motherhood — perhaps, if the polls get really close, apple pie.
Seattle’s, perhaps?  Or pretty [...]

Choo-Choo Train Conference

Gone East to Railvolution in Boston.  They have lots of transit and narrow streets in this city.  Exciting posts will surely be forthcoming.

Transit-Oriented Communities Event Tonight

Don’t forget about the Futurewise/GGLO/Transportation Choices Coalition Blueprint for Transit-Oriented Communities launch event tonight from 4–6pm at the Pike Brewing Company in Pike Place Market, followed by a gallery opening reception from 6–8pm at AIA Seattle on First Ave between Virginia and Stewart.  More info here. 
And at the risk of getting everyone all hot and bothered, an [...]

Transit-Oriented Communities: A Blueprint for Washington State

What you best be doing next Tuesday, October 27, from 4 to 8pm, is this: Drinking beer and talking the wonk about transit-oriented communities. Because that’s when there’s gonna be a release party and AIA exhibit opening for a new report called Transit-Oriented Communities: A Blueprint for Washington State, written by Futurewise and its partners [...]

What Do You Spend $5.50 A Month On?

(Editor’s note: Guest poster Kate Stineback is a resident of West Seattle and an affordable housing developer and community organizer at Capitol Hill Housing.  More on the housing levy here. )
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Less than $6.00 a month for the typical Seattle homeowner—that’s about 18 cents per day, or $65 a year for the Seattle Housing Levy, on [...]

What The Corner Really Needs

[ How many rockstar reporters can you spot at McGinn's 23rd and Union press conference? ]
For eleven years I have lived two blocks from the notorious intersection of 23rd and Union where Mike McGinn recently held a press conference on public safety. We all know that the crime that has plagued the area around that [...]

Field Work

Done did the Puyallup and saw much.  The transition out of the Seattle bubble couldn’t be any more dramatic than when I-5 dumps you out on Federal Way’s Enchanted Parkway—shown above—and yes, that’s a Fatburger right next door to LA Fitness.
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A few miles further south on S.R. 161 in Milton—when will we stop building stuff [...]

Not Easy, But Worth It

Sightline has a post up on land use patterns and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that makes my day cause it saves me the trouble of writing the same piece.   Some argue that restructuring our built environment to be more compact and location efficient is not a practical strategy for cutting GHGs because it is [...]

Chipping Away At It

Most Seattle sidewalks are not photogenic.  But to some of us, they are exciting nonetheless.  The sidewalk in the photo above didn’t exist a few months ago.  Back then, if you wanted to walk on Pine Street between one of the city’s most densely populated  neighborhoods and downtown, you could  only cross I-5 on the [...]

Don’t Even Think Of Trying Your Park(ing) Day Shenanigans On Any Other Day

[ Park(ing) Day on 1st Ave between University and Seneca ]
Yes, Park(ing) Day is the purest of wholesome urban goodness.   Last Friday in Seattle and cities all over the country, people took over street parking spaces, filled them with stuff, and hung out in publicly owned space that is normally and unquestionably surrendered for the [...]

The Value Of Doomers

Author Paul Hawken has a word for people who can’t shut up about how the whole world is going to hell:  doomers. But during his keynote address to the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum in downtown Seattle on Thursday, he spoke in defense of them.  Because doomers play a key role:  they make designers do a [...]

A Message From The People’s Waterfront Coalition

(Editor’s note:  The following is a letter from Cary Moon to friends and supporters of PWC, reproduced here with permission.)
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Dear friends,
It’s been a while since I wrote to share news with PWC friends and supporters. The politics around this viaduct decision were already tricky, and continue to get weirder. Here’s a recap from my [...]

Who’s Your Baddest Streetscape?

I’ve long thought that the east side of the block on 3rd Ave between Union and University deserves an award for being the most abominable pedestrian streetscape in the downtown core.   Behold its gawdawfulness:  at eye level the ~350 feet of street wall is completely blank save for a small length of sealed windows into [...]

Lo! Praise The Infrastructure!

A Voice Of Reason That Needs To Be Louder

The Seattle Planning Commission recently sent two letters to the City Council that  demonstrate its potential to provide a voice of reason in debates over planning policy.   The first letter recommends passing the cottage housing ordinance, with the important caveat that the 50 unit per year limit be removed, as was discussed in this HAC [...]

Even David Byrne Gets It About Density

His take on the perfect city, in the WSJ of all places:
If a city doesn’t have sufficient density, as in L.A., then strange things happen. It’s human nature for us to look at one another— we’re social animals after all. But when the urban situation causes the distance between us to increase and our interactions [...]

Wu Xing

The ancient Chinese philosophy known as Wu Xing is based on cycles of five.   There are five seasons of the year, and the extra one is late summer, now playing.
Our culture is totally four-centric (Wiccans notwithstanding).  Five seasons just seems wrong.   You can have a four cylinder or a six cylinder, but not a five [...]

Our Carbon Futures

For those who have recovered from the mayoral primaries, you may have noticed that the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, otherwise known as H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, has moved on to the Senate… and the debate over how best to dilute it is about to start. 
The Bill is huge.  It is 1,428 pages of pure [...]