January 2009 Archive

Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal

January 30th, 2009

By Blair Humphreys
August 2008
(for an explanation of the delayed posting, see here)

In 1939 Angelo C. Scott, an ‘89er and early civic leader, wrote in his book The Story of Oklahoma City:

“The Chamber of Commerce is the heart that pumps the life blood into the veins of the city. It is the hand-maid and the agent of the city, as vital to its progress as the city government is to its protection and control.”

These words are as true today as they were the day they were written. Following in the footsteps of men like Anton Classen, John Shartel, and Stanley Draper, today’s Chamber leadership has helped push Oklahoma City to new heights. The Chamber has been at the forefront of the City’s dramatic renaissance over the last fifteen years and now hopes to contribute directly to the revitalization of downtown by building a new headquarter’s building at the corner of Fourth and N. Broadway. Their vision calls for an iconic design capable of elevating the status of the Chamber and the City alike, while utilizing a site plan and layout that integrates the project into a rejuvenated downtown and provides for the growing needs of a 24/7 urban community.

The successful development of the new chamber building is critical to the sustained success of Oklahoma City’s ongoing renaissance. For many visitors to Downtown, the new Chamber building will shape their initial impressions of the City, as pointed out by civic leader and current Chamber Chairman Larry Nichols:

“The chamber is often the first place a new company comes when they look at investing in Oklahoma City, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes tourists from all over the world.  The new chamber building will truly be a front door to our community, a way to make a lasting first impression of this dynamic and vibrant city.”

More importantly, the Chamber building will be a model for future downtown development. This is one of the first major projects to be implemented under the City’s new Downtown Design Guidelines and will establish precedents responsible for shaping the future of Downtown’s urban environment. While the soon-to-be-constructed Devon Tower will certainly have a more noticeable effect on the City’s skyline, the new chamber building’s potential to positively influence the experience of pedestrians downtown is unmatched. The building will sit in a pivotal location at the nexus of multiple centers of downtown activity and the project presents a rare opportunity to improve downtown mobility by mending the historic urban fabric that was severed nearly four decades ago by the Pei Plan.

It is clear that improving the pedestrian experience downtown is now a major priority of the city. The aforementioned Downtown Design Guidelines were adopted with the intention of making OKC’s downtown a “vital mixed-use area” containing “a network of pleasant public spaces and pedestrian amenities.” The Chamber has thus far embraced this idea; Chamber President Roy Williams has indicated that he wants this project to be the start of a discussion on how to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

“The reality is that’s a troublesome intersection there,” Williams said. “When Gaylord was put through (in the early 1970s) it created unusual pieces of property and an unusual traffic configuration. It’s not pedestrian friendly. It’s not friendly for crossing. And we see where people might want to walk to us from their offices downtown or from the convention center.”

The Chamber has gone out of their way to ensure that the design for the site would live up to these lofty expectations. They reviewed design concepts from a handful of architects before selecting Allen Brown with Frankfurt-Short-Bruza. Brown’s architectural talent has already been demonstrated by his design for the Donald W. Reyolds Visual Arts Center. The project, which was completed in 2002, is home to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and can be credited with helping to rejuvenate the city’s Arts District.

Despite the best efforts of the Chamber, the recently released designs for the new building (see below) do not meet their stated expectations, nor are they in keeping with the spirit of the city’s Downtown Design Guidelines.

The proposal calls for a 50,000 square foot building to be positioned away from the street, near the center of the three-acre site, and flanked by an expansive surface parking lot. The resulting density is problematic. With a floor area ratio (FAR) less that 0.40, the site will be less dense than a typical two-story suburban office complex. Further, the area’s need for pedestrian amenities and usable public space are not effectively met. The lack of density seemingly leaves a significant amount of area for this public space, but instead the land is either utilized for surface parking or is rendered useless to pedestrians as one of the small landscape buffers, each isolated by retaining walls that will prevent pedestrian use.

While the “Commerce Circle” appears to represent a significant pedestrian improvement, it is little more than an attempt to dress-up the six lanes of traffic that pedestrians will still be forced to cross. [Note: This aspect of the original plan is not present in the most recent site plan (shown above) and what remains of the circle has been renamed "Commerce Plaza".]  In the end, the proposal does little to improve pedestrian friendliness in the area and may even be seen to exacerbate the existing problems for persons walking to downtown from the Flatiron District by adding more surface parking and creating new barriers.

In truth, the majority of the responsibility for the current proposal’s problems belongs to neither the Chamber nor their very capable architect, rather it is a result of the fundamentally flawed planning done by I.M. Pei all those years ago. Pei’s plan was focused on making the central business district car-accessible. He never imagined that pedestrians would be attempting to cross what is now E.K Gaylord, so while he envisioned a pedestrian friendly central business district, the area east of Broadway was planned for cars. Fred Kent, the Founder and President of Project for Public Spaces, who spoke at Oklahoma City’s 2007 Mayor’s Development Round Table says:

“If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.”

This has certainly been the case with this area of Oklahoma City. The only way for the objectives of the Downtown Design Guidelines to be met and the full vision of the Chamber leadership be realized is for I.M. Pei’s planning for “cars and traffic” to give way to new planning for “people and places.” The Chamber cannot be expected to fix these problems alone, but requires the partnership of the City – and the support of all those that desire a vital urban center – in boldly re-visioning this portion of downtown. Time is certainly an issue, and such a re-visioning will require some delays, but the new chamber building is of such importance that we must take whatever time is necessary to ensure that it is done right!

Continue reading: Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal, part II

For more on the planning of the Chamber site:

1. Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal
2. Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal, part II
3. Re-visioning the Chamber: Defining Objectives
4. Oklahoman Park: OKC’s First Great Public Space

Beginning a Conversation

January 30th, 2009

Discovery of the Chamber building’s new name got me to thinking, and I now realize that I made a mistake last August, one which I wish I could have back. I wrote “Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal” on August 3rd, 2008, but never released it. At the time, the proposal was still weeks away from initial urban design review and I hoped to contribute to the dialogue, or more accurately, initiate a dialogue about the proposal and the constraints placed on the project by the flawed planning of the I.M. Pei Plan. But then, after receiving advice that it would damage my future job prospects in OKC, I chose to stay silent.

It is a tough deal because I love Oklahoma City. I have always dreamed of helping to shape the future of the city and want to make it great – that is why I left development to pursue a career in planning. As a student of history I appreciate and respect the vital role the Chamber has played – and continues to play – in Oklahoma City’s rise from train depot, to State Capitol, to Big League City. However, I have never felt right about the way I stayed quiet on this issue. From now on, I will not back down from contributing my thoughts on contentious issues, but I will try to do so in the most respectful manner possible.

So, is it even worth talking about now?…yes, I think so! While the Chamber has all of the necessary approvals to move forward, construction has yet to start and still looks to be months away, providing an opportunity to reconsider whether the current proposal is the best we can do. While this conversation begins much later than it should have…perhaps it is not too late!

Continue to Re-visioning the Chamber Proposal

The Chamber Forum

January 30th, 2009



Looks like the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce has come up with a name for their soon-to-be-built downtown headquarters. Not sure which particular definition they are intending to reference (see below), but either way, an iconic new title to go with an iconic design!

forum

Main Entry: fo·rum           Listen to the pronunciation of forum
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural forums also fo·ra           Listen to the pronunciation of fora
Etymology: Latin; akin to Latin foris outside, fores door — more at door
Date: 15th century

1 a: the marketplace or public place of an ancient Roman city forming the center of judicial and public business b: a public meeting place for open discussion c: a medium (as a newspaper or online service) of open discussion or expression of ideas

2: a judicial body or assembly : court

3 a: a public meeting or lecture involving audience discussion b: a program (as on radio or television) involving discussion of a problem usually by several authorities

MORE INFO
If you are looking for more information on the new Chamber building, go here.

FEEDBACK
So…what do you think of the new name?

More Funky Parking Solutions

January 28th, 2009

A while back I posted some pictures of Axel Peemoeller’s Funky Parking Garage, well I just came across a post over at weburbanist.com with more high-tech, artistic, and/or just flat out strange parking solutions from around the world.

Here is the link: 15 Creative, Innovative & Hilarious Parking Solutions

Enjoy!

Monday Morning Quarterback

January 27th, 2009

From The Oklahoman’s Monday Morning Quarterbacks discussing my post on Oklahoma City’s #2 fattest city ranking:

Talking, not walking
We beat Miami! Um, no. Not in basketball. Miami was the only city Oklahoma City beat in recent fattest cities list from the magazine Men’s Fitness. Blogger Blair Humphreys, an Oklahoma City native studying in Boston, wrote at imaginativeamerica.com that despite the citywide diet, our fair city bumped up the list and is “just a few burgers away” from taking the cake. Humphreys wrote that Mayor Mick Cornett’s diet plan didn’t seem to help the ranking and that better-performing cities seemed to have planning and policies that encouraged more activity. “As for OKC,” he wrote, “we are talking the talk, but we are simply not walking anywhere.”

Well, not sure if this is the post I would have preferred to get press for and I take offense to being called a “Monday Morning Quarterback” as I have been pushing for better planning and improvements in walkability since before the citywide diet was created and certainly before the Men’s Fitness rankings were released. But oh well, I guess it will have to do.

I think one of my earlier comments sums up my take on the whole thing:

I will join you in tipping my hat to the Mayor for creating more awareness of the problem, but also encourage anyone and everyone to take serious the impact that our built form and public infrastructure has on the health of OKC residents!

Hopefully, this will be the start of a bigger conversation about the limitations of our wholly auto-focused infrastructure and how it hinders people’s ability to live a healthier lifestyle.  I am really not worried about what Men’s Fitness thinks of us, but I am worried about improving the quality of life in OKC!  And we need to take seriously the health consequences associated with the way we are currently planning and developing our city.

If this is your first time to visit – welcome – and please check out my best posts of 2008 to get a better feel for the regular content.  Thanks!

Does Density Matter?

January 26th, 2009

These density and population statistics from citymayors.com offer some surprising results!  The top ten on the leaderboard is expected and yet still amazes.  Mumbai has 29,650 people per square kilometer!  That would mean cramming over forty people into the amount of space currently reserved for one OKC resident! I can’t imagine that density of this degree could ever lead to quality living conditions, but that doesn’t mean density is a bad thing.  Some of the world’s most liveable cities fall in a range from approx. 1,800 to 4,500 residents per square kilometer.  Also, as with most of these list, you have to pay attention to the way they measured density: this study has attempted to calculate density based on metro area – in which Oklahoma City ranks #87 world wide – as opposed to municipal area, which is an abritrary legal boundary that provides meaningless density results. So while this study took the better of the two measures up front, it does lead you to wonder what their process was for defining a metro area.

A COUPLE THINGS I THOUGHT WERE INTERESTING

  • Densest city in America is Los Angeles – also the 90th densest city in the world!
  • Oklahoma City is ranked #181 and has a density of 900 persons/sq. km – the same as Boston, MA
    • it is one of Boston’s dirty secrets that it is really a sprawling suburban city that hides behind the charm and density of a historic center constructed at least a century ago.
    • Oddly enough, Tuscon has a density of 950 persons/sq. km
  • Paris is denser than any city in America – even with restrictions that limit building heights in most parts of the city.

DENSITY OF TOP TEN MOST LIVEABLE

There definitely seems to be some correlation between an appropriate city density and the general liveable of the city.  But, there is also a major correlation between liveability and being from central Europe or Scandinavia, so the density figure has to be only one part of the equation.  Still, I would guess that Oklahoma City would great benefit by focusing on increasing density from 900 p/sqkm to 1,500 p/sqkm – resulting in a city of approximately the density of Denver, Colorado!

Rank
City / Urban area
Country
Population
Land area
(in sqKm)
Density
(people per sqKm)

1.) Copenhagen, Denmark

117
Copenhagen Denmark
1,525,000
816
1,850

2.) Munich, Germany

78
Munich Germany
1,600,000
518
3,100

3.) Tokyo, Japan

50
Tokyo/Yokohama Japan
33,200,000
6,993
4,750

4.) Zürich, Switzerland – not on the list?

5.) Helsinki, Finland

111
Helsinki Finland
1,000,000
479
2,100

6.) Vienna, Austria

71
Vienna Austria
1,550,000
453
3,400

7.) Stockholm, Sweden

93
Stockholm Sweden
1,400,000
518
2,700

8.) Vancouver, Canada

123
Vancouver Canada
1,830,000
1,120
1,650

9.) Melbourne, Australia

127
Melbourne Australia
3,162,000
2,080
1,500

10.) Paris, France

69
Paris France
9,645,000
2,723
3,550

FULL LIST OF DENSITY IN WORLD CITIES

Rank
City / Urban area
Country
Population
Land area
(in sqKm)
Density
(people per sqKm)
1
Mumbai India
14,350,000
484
29,650
2
Kolkata India
12,700,000
531
23,900
3
Karachi Pakistan
9,800,000
518
18,900
4
Lagos Nigeria
13,400,000
738
18,150
5
Shenzhen China
8,000,000
466
17,150
6
Seoul/Incheon South Korea
17,500,000
1,049
16,700
7
Taipei Taiwan
5,700,000
376
15,200
8
Chennai India
5,950,000
414
14,350
9
Bogota Colombia
7,000,000
518
13,500
10
Shanghai China
10,000,000
746
13,400
11
Lima Peru
7,000,000
596
11,750
12
Beijing China
8,614,000
748
11,500
13
Delhi India
14,300,000
1,295
11,050
14
Kinshasa Congo
5,000,000
469
10,650
15
Manila Philippines
14,750,000
1,399
10,550
16
Tehran Iran
7,250,000
686
10,550
17
Jakarta Indonesia
14,250,000
1,360
10,500
18
Tianjin China
4,750,000
453
10,500
19
Bangalore India
5,400,000
534
10,100
20
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
4,900,000
518
9,450
21
Cairo Egypt
12,200,000
1,295
9,400
22
Baghdad Iraq
5,500,000
596
9,250
23
Shenyang China
4,200,000
453
9,250
24
Hyderabad India
5,300,000
583
9,100
25
Sao Paulo Brazil
17,700,000
1,968
9,000
26
St Petersburg Russia
5,300,000
622
8,550
27
Mexico City Mexico
17,400,000
2,072
8,400
28
Santiago Chile
5,425,000
648
8,400
29
Singapore Singapore
4,000,000
479
8,350
30
Lahore Pakistan
5,100,000
622
8,200
31
Recife Brazil
3,025,000
376
8,050
32
Istanbul Turkey
9,000,000
1,166
7,700
33
Dalian China
2,750,000
389
7,100
34
Khartoum Sudan
4,000,000
583
6,850
35
Rio de Janeiro Brazil
10,800,000
1,580
6,850
36
Monterey Mexico
3,200,000
479
6,700
37
Bangkok Thailand
6,500,000
1,010
6,450
38
Osaka/Kobe/Kyoto Japan
16,425,000
2,564
6,400
39
Guadalajara Mexico
3,500,000
596
5,900
40
Athens Greece
3,685,000
684
5,400
41
Ankara Turkey
3,100,000
583
5,300
42
Madrid Spain
4,900,000
945
5,200
43
London UK
8,278,000
1,623
5,100
44
Tel Aviv Israel
2,300,000
453
5,050
45
Sapporo Japan
2,075,000
414
5,000
46
Buenos Aires Argentina
11,200,000
2,266
4,950
47
Moscow Russia
10,500,000
2,150
4,900
48
Barcelona Spain
3,900,000
803
4,850
49
Porto Alegre Brazil
2,800,000
583
4,800
50
Tokyo/Yokohama Japan
33,200,000
6,993
4,750
51
Belo Horizonte Brazil
4,000,000
868
4,600
52
Fortaleza Brazil
2,650,000
583
4,550
53
Warsaw Poland
2,000,000
466
4,300
54
Tashkent Uzbekistan
2,200,000
531
4,150
55
Naples Italy
2,400,000
583
4,100
56
Katowice Poland
2,200,000
544
4,050
57
Leeds/Bradford UK
1,499,000
370
4,050
58
Manchester UK
2,245,000
558
4,000
59
CapeTown South Africa
2,700,000
686
3,950
60
Fukuoka Japan
2,150,000
544
3,950
61
Taichung Taiwan
2,000,000
510
3,900
62
Baku/Sumqayit Azerbaijan
2,100,000
544
3,850
63
Curitiba Brazil
2,500,000
648
3,850
64
Birmingham UK
2,284,000
600
3,800
65
Berlin Germany
3,675,000
984
3,750
66
Riyadh Saudi Arabia
4,000,000
1,101
3,650
67
Campinas Brazil
1,750,000
492
3,550
68
Jeddah Saudi Arabia
2,750,000
777
3,550
69
Paris France
9,645,000
2,723
3,550
70
Durban South Africa
2,900,000
829
3,500
71
Vienna Austria
1,550,000
453
3,400
72
Accra Ghana
1,500,000
453
3,300
73
Glasgow UK
1,200,000
368
3,250
74
Nagoya Japan
9,000,000
2,875
3,150
75
Quito Ecuador
1,500,000
479
3,150
76
Donetsk Ukraine
1,400,000
451
3,100
77
Goiania Brazil
1,475,000
479
3,100
78
Munich Germany
1,600,000
518
3,100
79
Stuttgart Germany
1,250,000
414
3,000
80
Dublin Ireland
1,075,000
365
2,950
81
Kuwait Kuwait
1,600,000
544
2,950
82
Nizhni Novgorod Russia
1,500,000
505
2,950
83
Rome Italy
2,500,000
842
2,950
84
Phnom Phen Cambodia
1,500,000
518
2,900
85
Beirut Lebanon
1,800,000
648
2,800
86
Brasilia Brazil
1,625,000
583
2,800
87
Essen/Düsseldorf Germany
7,350,000
2,642
2,800
88
Lumumbashi Congo
1,200,000
427
2,800
89
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
4,400,000
1,606
2,750
90
Los Angeles USA
11,789,000
4,320
2,750
91
Milan Italy
4,250,000
1,554
2,750
92
Pretoria South Africa
1,850,000
673
2,750
93
Stockholm Sweden
1,400,000
518
2,700
94
Turin Italy
1,350,000
500
2,700
95
Dubai UAE
1,900,000
712
2,650
96
Porto Portugal
1,035,000
389
2,650
97
Toronto Canada
4,367,000
1,655
2,650
98
Budapest Hungary
1,800,000
702
2,550
99
Lisbon Portugal
2,250,000
881
2,550
100
Johannesburg/East Rand South Africa
6,000,000
2,396
2,500
101
Rotterdam Netherlands
1,325,000
531
2,500
102
Harare Zimbabwe
1,750,000
712
2,450
103
Cologne/Bonn Germany
1,960,000
816
2,400
104
San Francisco/Oakland USA
3,229,000
1,365
2,350
105
Frankfurt Germany
2,260,000
984
2,300
106
Hamburg Germany
1,925,000
829
2,300
107
San Jose USA
1,538,000
674
2,300
108
Arabia Saudi
1,525,000
673
2,250
109
Brussels Belgium
1,570,000
712
2,200
110
Lille France
1,050,000
474
2,200
111
Helsinki Finland
1,000,000
479
2,100
112
Port Elizabeth South Africa
900,000
427
2,100
113
Sydney Australia
3,502,000
1,687
2,100
114
New York USA
17,800,000
8,683
2,050
115
Auckland New Zealand
1,050,000
531
2,000
116
New Orleans USA
1,009,000
512
1,950
117
Copenhagen Denmark
1,525,000
816
1,850
118
Montreal. Canada
3,216,000
1,740
1,850
119
Honolulu USA
718,000
399
1,800
120
Las Vegas USA
1,314,000
741
1,750
121
Miami USA
4,919,000
2,891
1,700
122
Ottawa/Hull Canada
828,000
490
1,700
123
Vancouver Canada
1,830,000
1,120
1,650
124
Antwerp Belgium
915,000
596
1,550
125
Denver USA
1,985,000
1,292
1,550
126
Chicago USA
8,308,000
5,498
1,500
127
Melbourne Australia
3,162,000
2,080
1,500
128
Salt Lake City USA
888,000
598
1,500
129
Aachen Germany
585,000
401
1,450
130
Sacramento USA
1,393,000
956
1,450
131
Lyon France
1,349,000
954
1,400
132
Phoenix/Mesa USA
2,907,000
2,069
1,400
133
Winnipeg Canada
627,000
446
1,400
134
Adelaide Australia
1,002,000
729
1,350
135
Riverside/San Bernardino USA
1,507,000
1,136
1,350
136
Portland USA
1,583,000
1,228
1,300
137
San Diego USA
2,674,000
2,026
1,300
138
Washington USA
3,934,000
2,996
1,300
139
Calgary Canada
879,000
702
1,250
140
Nice France
889,000
721
1,250
141
San Antonio USA
1,328,000
1,056
1,250
142
Vereeniging South Africa
600,000
479
1,250
143
Concord USA
553,000
457
1,200
144
Detroit USA
3,903,000
3,267
1,200
145
El Paso USA
675,000
568
1,200
146
Perth Australia
1,177,000
964
1,200
147
Baltimore USA
2,076,000
1,768
1,150
148
Dallas/Fort Worth USA
4,146,000
3,644
1,150
149
Houston USA
3,823,000
3,355
1,150
150
Nantes France
545,000
476
1,150
151
Austin USA
902,000
824
1,100
152
Columbus USA
1,133,000
1,030
1,100
153
Gold Coast Australia
422,000
383
1,100
154
Marseille France
1,350,000
1,204
1,100
155
Philadelphia USA
5,149,000
4,661
1,100
156
Seattle USA
2,712,000
2,470
1,100
157
Albuquerque USA
598,000
580
1,050
158
Buffalo USA
977,000
950
1,050
159
Cleveland USA
1,787,000
1,676
1,050
160
Douai/Lens France
519,000
489
1,050
161
Milwaukee USA
1,309,000
1,261
1,050
162
Minneapolis/St. Paul USA
2,389,000
2,316
1,050
163
Omaha USA
627,000
586
1,050
164
Orlando USA
1,157,000
1,174
1,000
165
Tampa/St Petersburg USA
2,062,000
2,078
1,000
166
Virginia Beach USA
1,394,000
1,364
1,000
167
Brisbane Australia
1,508,000
1,603
950
168
Memphis USA
972,000
1,036
950
169
Quebec Canada
635,000
669
950
170
San Juan Puerto Rico
2,217,000
2,309
950
171
Scranton USA
385,000
411
950
172
St. Louis USA
2,078,000
2,147
950
173
Toledo USA
503,000
524
950
174
Toulouse France
761,000
808
950
175
Tucson USA
720,000
755
950
176
Boston USA
4,032,000
4,497
900
177
Colorado Springs USA
466,000
511
900
178
Edmonton Canada
782,000
850
900
179
Kansas City USA
1,362,000
1,514
900
180
Ogden USA
418,000
466
900
181
Oklahoma City USA
747,000
835
900
182
Providence USA
1,175,000
1,304
900
183
Rochester USA
694,000
764
900
184
Spokane USA
335,000
371
900
185
Wichita USA
422,000
465
900
186
Cincinnati USA
1,503,000
1,740
850
187
Dayton USA
703,000
838
850
188
Indianapolis USA
1,219,000
1,432
850
189
Jacksonville USA
882,000
1,063
850
190
Louisville USA
864,000
1,013
850
191
Syracuse USA
402,000
465
850
192
Grand Rapids USA
539,000
667
800
193
Pittsburgh USA
1,753,000
2,208
800
194
Sarasota/Bradenton USA
559,000
700
800
195
Tulsa USA
558,000
677
800
196
Albany USA
559,000
736
750
197
Allentown/Bethlehem USA
576,000
750
750
198
Bridgeport/Stamford USA
889,000
1,205
750
199
St Catharines Canada
300,000
389
750
200
Toulon France
520,000
713
750
201
Abu Dhabi UAE
550,000
777
700
202
Akron USA
570,000
797
700
203
Atlanta USA
3,500,000
5,083
700
204
Bordeaux France
754,000
1,057
700
205
Canton USA
267,000
372
700
206
Charleston USA
423,000
598
700
207
Durham USA
288,000
406
700
208
Hartford USA
852,000
1,216
700
209
Jackson USA
293,000
417
700
210
Little Rock USA
360,000
532
700
211
New Haven USA
531,000
739
700
212
Palm Bay USA
393,000
569
700
213
Richmond USA
819,000
1,131
700
214
Shreveport USA
275,000
401
700
215
South Bend USA
276,000
404
700
216
Springfield USA
574,000
800
700
217
Tours France
298,000
421
700
218
Valenciennes France
357,000
507
700
219
Youngstown USA
417,000
591
700
220
Baton Rouge USA
479,000
727
650
221
Bethune France
259,000
390
650
222
Birmingham USA
664,000
1,016
650
223
Cape Coral USA
330,000
497
650
224
Charlotte USA
759,000
1,126
650
225
Fayetteville USA
276,000
433
650
226
Harrisburg USA
363,000
540
650
227
Lancaster USA
324,000
517
650
228
McAllen USA
523,000
813
650
229
Nashville USA
750,000
1,116
650
230
Raleigh USA
542,000
828
650
231
Worcester USA
430,000
648
650
232
Columbia USA
421,000
697
600
233
Flint USA
365,000
599
600
234
Mobile USA
318,000
546
600
235
Port St Lucie USA
271,000
438
600
236
Augusta USA
336,000
600
550
237
Bonita Springs / Naples USA
221,000
389
550
238
Pensacola USA
324,000
568
550
239
Aguadilla Puerto Rico
299,000
620
500
240
Avignon France
254,000
508
500
241
Greenville USA
302,000
587
500
242
Huntsville USA
213,000
407
500
243
Poughkeepsie USA
352,000
686
500
244
Knoxville USA
420,000
879
500
245
Chattanooga USA
344,000
751
450
246
Winston/Salem USA
299,000
651
450
247
Asheville USA
222,000
536
400
248
Pau France
181,000
450
400
249
Barnstable Town USA
244,000
741
350
250
Hickory USA
188,000
546
350

OK Historic Courthouse’s Last Chance

January 22nd, 2009

Note: My trackpad button is sticking on my MacBook. I hate to write anything negative about this computer because it – along with the Apple company – has treated me splendidly for over two years. Further, I could fill incredible scroll bar’s lengths of blog telling you all of the things I love about this computer. But imagine how difficult it would be to get anything done on your computer if the mouse button was clicking everything it touched. Needless to stay I will be scheduling an appointment with a genius…and keeping the post short today!

On to the post:

Oklahoma County’s beautiful old courthouse was a treasure and one worth keeping.  And it would seem that when Hare & Hare where called in to do the Civic Center master plan, they initially had every intention of keeping it.  Eventually – for reasons I don’t yet know – this plan was ditched and the planning process took a different direction, ultimately settling on the layout we still see today, with the new art deco courthouse positioned east of Hudson.  But recently I came across this sketch that shows how it would have looked had we kept the Old Courthouse…

ULI Oklahoma: Bringing Retail to the City

January 21st, 2009

Before I headed north for grad school, I had the pleasure of getting involved with ULI and the new District Council in Oklahoma City.  ULI – yes, the same ULI hosting the competition in which I am currently participating – stands for the Urban Land Institute and they are without a doubt the premiere land planning and development organization in the world today. Over the last few years ULI Oklahoma has come into being and is now putting on a number of great events that bring relevant development, land-use, and urban experts to Oklahoma City, creating: a source for great information, a forum for the exchange of ideas, and a platform to influence the future of OKC’s development for the better.

ULI’s latest event is a can’t miss for anyone interested in bringing retail to OKC’s urban neighborhoods – especially downtown – or if you are just wanting to hear Jane Jenkins’, the new Executive Director of Downtown, Inc, thoughts on urban retail.  The event is in two weeks on Wednesday, February 4th from 11:30am – 1:00pm. Check out the description below and then head uli.org to sign up.  Tickets cost $40.

Urban Land Institute, International Council of Shopping Centers and Commercial Real Estate Council Presents

REVITALIZING URBAN NEIGHBORHOOD RETAIL DISTRICTS

February 4, 2009 11:30am – 1:00pm
Skirvin Hilton Hotel, Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City is at the center of national attention. The debut of Oklahoma City’s new NBA franchise, the Oklahoma City Thunder, has the community excited. Successfully hosting the Beijing Olympic qualifying trials for kayaking and canoeing along the Oklahoma River has solidified the city’s big league reputation. Devon Energy Corporation recently announced the construction of the state’s tallest building, a 54- story skyscraper in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. The U. S. Conference of Mayors and the National Main Street Center have scheduled their respective annual conventions for 2010 in Oklahoma City. Now, the impact of Oklahoma City’s bold new development plan, Core to Shore, is just beginning to unfold!

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett

Oklahoma City Mayor, Mick Cornett, stands for efficient government and responsible leadership, and has worked to promote an inclusive and optimistic vision of Oklahoma City, one driven by bold ideas. Join Mayor Cornett to become a part of this vision, as we explore the future and challenges ahead for Oklahoma City. Cornett’s humble nature, intense work ethic and optimistic attitude have become emblematic of a city that, as Cornett says, “works hard and dreams big.” As the global economy changes, Oklahoma City is positioning itself to become a national leader in urban development.

For the last two years, Mayor Cornett has championed an effort to transform over 1,000 acres of underutilized and vacant properties between the downtown core and the Oklahoma River. His community-wide steering committee created a plan to expand downtown to the river. The plan is called Core to Shore. The bold new plan positions Oklahoma City to become a tier-two convention city with a new convention center, convention center hotel, grand scale park flanked by high density retail, office and residential communities. Complimenting the plan are multi-modal areas for walking, biking, scooters, public transit, biking trails, promenades, an events center, a renovated Union Train Station, a pedestrian bridge spanning the relocated Interstate-40,schools and areas to support expanded services like daycares, cultural centers, and health and wellness centers. The plan also strengthens links to Oklahoma City’s newest river developments, including the American Indian Cultural Center, the Chesapeake Boathouse, University Boathouse Row, and the Dell Corporation headquarters.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Brad Segal will present the:

“Top 10 Global Trends Affecting Downtowns and How to Respond at Home”

Brad Segal is president of Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.), a consulting firm specializing in strategic problem-solving for downtowns and communities. The firm has developed an unprecedented body of research that analyzes the top changes, draws conclusions and recommends tangible actions. In consultation with the International Downtown Association, the firm has identified ten major trends affecting American downtowns. Segal will present these trends by demographics, lifestyles and global competition.

PANEL DISCUSSION moderated by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett:

Hear from a panel of highly successful urban retail/business district executives from various regions and cities about creating, implementing and managing a highly strategic and successful business marketplace operation in spite of today’s issues and challenges. Learn what it takes to survive and thrive, and what the future of the district organization will look like in order to be successful.

Participants will learn:
· The most creative ways to make your district a destination
· How to attract the retailers and businesses you want
· How to enhance your district’s competitiveness both locally and nationally
· The hottest strategic creative business development trends
· Investor/developer marketing and membership development strategies
· How to retain those retailers and businesses you’ve worked so hard to get

Panelists include:
Jane Jenkins, Downtown Boulder Business Improvement District. and incoming Downtown OKC, Inc. President
Kourtney Garrett, Downtown Dallas
Midge McAuley, Downtown Works, a retail consultant to cities nationwide, including Downtown Austin

Who Should Attend:
Elected officials, municipal, county and state officials; urban residential and mixed-use developers; government and community leaders; urban redevelopment and economic development specialists; architects, engineers and urban planners; retail,cultural, entertainment, film and music professionals; Main Street and neighborhood district organization managers and board members; real estate brokers, consultants, advisors and managers; and, public art and cultural facility directors.

Classifying Open Space: Small or Neighborhood Parks

January 20th, 2009

This is part 4/6 in a series overviewing The Normal Requirements of American Towns and Cities in Respect to Public Open Spaces, an article written by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and John Nolen that appeared in Charities and the Commons journal of social work in 1906.

Boston’s Public Garden is a wonderful neighborhood park enjoyed by people from across the city.

Under this heading may be included grounds of from 10 to 100 or even 200 acres in area. Except in extent such parks are not essentially different in the purpose they serve and the character of their design from city squares and gardens. But this difference in extent affords an opportunity for a degree of breadth and freedom that is unobtainable in the smaller grounds.

Hundreds of acres seems rather large for a “small or neighborhood” park.  Oklahoma City’s new “Central Park” will only be around 30 acres, so it would fall into this class in terms of size, but will likely include programming that serves a much broader audience than would be normal.

On the other hand the seclusion from the city and the broad and beautiful natural scenery that characterize the larger “rural” parks can not here be had.  Yet small passages of interesting and agreeable scenery are often possible. This scenery can seldom be natural in appearance but it can often be quite beautiful, a certain elaboration, elegance and even magnificence taking the place of the more quiet and restful simplicity of the large park in a way that appeals yery obviously to many people. And there is, therefore, more or less tendency to develop large parks in the same direction. It is unfortunate that it should be so, for these ends can be attained almost as well upon small parks as upon large, and therefore it is clearly a mistake to treat a large park in this style. It is because more cities have small parks of this elaborate and what might be called gardenesque character than have large and simple rural parks that many people have a perverted conception of what constitutes a park.

Okay, so small parks are more formal and programmed, while large parks do not have to be so programmed.  Rather wordy, but apparently the point was important in the park design and planning world of the early 1900s.  And it is a point well taken: it is difficult to create a pastoral experience in a small park that is of any use.  You can’t hide the fact that you are still in the city.  Likewise, it is all but impossible to formally program every inch of a large park, which is more suited to serving as an escape from the city.

These small parks are frequently used for the display of interesting and showy flowering shrubs and trees and make a feature of fountains, statues and other sculpture. In moderation such objects, together with terraces and other architectural work, are entirely appropriate and desirable in parks of this class and add much to the effect of elegance and richness, for the enjoyment is closely related to that offered by architecture and decorative design and other pleasures forming a part of daily city life.

The neighborhood park is thus one that provides a place for contemplation, memorialization, the appreciation of beauty, etc; but remains connected to the urban fabric that it serves.  The park may be a garden, such as Boston’s Public Garden.  Or, contain a mixture of programming that includes some elements of a playground, such as Oklahoma City’s Memorial Park on the corner of 36th and Western:

This is one category in which Oklahoma City seems to grade fairly well – at least in the close in parts of the city developed prior to WWII.  There are actually a number of great neighborhood parks and even more that have all of the potential and just need a little TLC.

ULI Urban Design Competition 2009

January 19th, 2009



UPDATE: We were named finalist in the 2009 competition! Click here to see our entry





Site Plan for Dallas’s Cedars neighborhood, ULI Urban Design Competition 2008. Credit: Blair Humphreys (click for larger image)

Today I am starting a two-week long urban design competition hosted by the Urban Land Institute.  Last year my team finished well, receiving one of three “honorable mention” slots putting us somewhere in the top 7 out of nearly 100 teams competing.  Our entry from last year was “Digital Thread”, a mixed-use plan for The Cedars neighborhood in Dallas with a focus on technological innovation and digital urban fabric.

“Digital Thread” – my MIT team’s entry into the 2008 ULI Urban Design Competition (click to download .pdf).

I am excited about this year’s competition and am hoping to improve over last year’s result.  I will keep you updated as things progress over the next two weeks, we submit our proposal, and then find out where we finished.  But I am still planning to dive into some issues related to Maps3 this week, so keep coming back.

If you want more information on the ULI competition: http://udcompetition.uli.org/

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!