Urban Design Associates (UDA) is pleased to celebrate ten years of collaboration with Kennecott Land Company (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto) in the design of Daybreak, an entirely new mixed-use, transit-oriented (TOD) community. From the very beginning, the goal was to set a new standard for sustainable, high-quality development in the Salt Lake Valley. Even as the project remains a 'work in progress', Daybreak has been internationally-recognized as a success.
The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary for UDA. When David Lewis and Ray Gindroz started a practice focused on urban design in Pittsburgh in 1964, there was a big gap in the profession between designing buildings and designing cities. Architecture, land planning and zoning were often separated from both the social and physical context of city building and had little connection to place-making.
Urban Design Associates (UDA) hosted a discussion of Innovation Districts at this year's annual APA Convention, held in Seattle. Innovation Districts are geographic areas in cities where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect. They are compact districts served by transit and they offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail.
The location of professional sports venues is often a hot topic, particularly in cities that are looking to develop new arenas and stadiums. Multi-modal access is highly desirable for these venues, the ability to arrive by automobile, transit, bicycle, or walking. For some teams, construction of new facilities in neighborhoods has stimulated adjacent development and contributed to the life of the city. Other teams have located sports venues in isolation removed from walkable neighborhoods.
Cities in North Africa, the Saudi Arabian peninsula, and the Levant face unique challenges from the tremendous heat and dusty winds of the surrounding desert and high humidity along coastal areas. These environmental forces along with social and cultural norms have resulted in unique cities created over the past several centuries. Built in the pre-industrial era, these old cities offer many lessons for designing dense urban districts that are environmentally responsive and sustainable. There are many fine examples of modern cities influenced by international planning techniques but adapted to the unique environmental challenges of the MENA region.
Last century's general attempt to tidy up cities unintentionally removed many of the ways that we celebrate outdoor places, the fruits of our collective labor and the joy of living in neighborhoods. Thankfully, that is all starting to change. A rediscovered demand for sharing a meal together in both known and undervalued spaces has people clamoring to pop-up dining tables in cities around the world. It is proof positive of a shift from conventional thinking about urbanism to a more experience-based model as a core driver in building vibrant places and creating added value for cities. Farm-to-table has reached a new level.
Memorable neighborhoods, towns, and cities are composed of specific types of places that share a unique ability to spark and continuously energize their communities. We have come to call this type of place Everyday Squares. As part of Urban Design Associates’ annual summer program, our Urban Researchers have immersed themselves in Pittsburgh to document, measure, and interview the curators of the Everyday Squares that are leading and sustaining the regeneration and vibrancy of the City’s many great neighborhoods.
One of the great things about living in Pittsburgh is the Strip District – the city’s version of a working market district. In our city, many people still shop for their pastas, olive oil, meats, fish, breads and pastries from local merchants, butchers and bakers. The traditions of Eastern Europe, Italy, Asia, and South America are alive and well there, albeit in a uniquely Pittsburgh way. It’s hard to find perogies, haluski, asiago and piave, locally made wines, homemade biscotti, fresh Italian pizzas, cannoli, South American treats like the Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa, old fashioned candy, Asian bbq chicken from a hot grill, and Italian espresso, side-by-side along the street in other U.S. cities.
Many of the issues that we face in our own cities are mirrored in the evolution of Moscow in the last couple of decades. The rapid increase in personal wealth and automobile ownership has facilitated middle class flight to the outer suburbs; this has created a staggering traffic problem that repeats itself daily. The jobs however are located in the center city with relatively few jobs in the outer rings of the metropolitan area. To make matters worse, Moscow’s famed metro system, built in the 1930s and 40s, is already over capacity handling some 8 million passengers a day. The resulting pattern is one we are all too familiar with in places like the Washington, Atlanta or Los Angeles – unrelenting congestion for much of the day and night.