I am currently intrigued by the potential for projection technology to add interest to the urban environment. These are a couple examples I have found. I am sure I will add more – stay tuned.
Posts about video
Looks like people are paying attention to Oklahoma City’s efforts to improve walkability…
“New Yorkers today are upset over mass transit fares being hiked from $2 to $2.50, and nationwide, many light-rail and other mass-transit projects await stimulus funding. The best way to blow off some of that steam? Take a walk!
A city’s walkability is not only good for fostering healthy development in urban areas, but it can also affect its economic competitiveness, says design consultant Jeff Speck. Since walkability is one of the most important aspects that 20- and 30-year-olds look at when moving to a city, he says cities must make improvements to their walkability or they will be losing out on attracting tomorrow’s work force.
Take Oklahoma City, a city that has been declared not OK when it comes to pounding the pavement, says Speck, former director of design for the NEA. Oklahoma City scored dead last in walkability according to a study by Prevention magazine last year (Cambridge, Massachusetts, came out #1). So this year, the city decided to get serious about their bipedal citizens: They hired Speck to tell them how to make their streets more pedestrian-friendly in a city that was built–overbuilt, really–for cars.
In Oklahoma City, Speck looked at traffic patterns and saw a “shocking disconnect” between the size of the streets and how fast cars were moving. The streets had density and traffic volume comparable to a city the size of Chicago or Manhattan. He also was quick to point out the health benefits to a walkable city: cleaner air, lower health-care costs. “To be walkable, a street needs to be safe, comfortable, and interesting,” Speck told the city. “You guys lose it at safe.” Ouch!
For those who can’t hire Speck to walk your streets and suggest improvements, a few Web resources are at hand, er, foot. WalkScore can rate your neighborhood for its walkability and tell you what’s nearby so you don’t have to climb in the car. And America Walks is an advocacy group that fights for infrastructural improvements that benefit walkers and bikers. Now get going. ”
So maybe they aren’t paying positive attention, but at least we have now acknowledged the problem and we are headed in the right direction? At least I think that is the direction we are headed…
This is not the first time I have posted a time-lapse video, but this is the first time I have posted one that I produced. I worked on the video as part of a studio site analysis project that I presented earlier this week. It is my first time-lapse attempt and there are definitely some kinks to work out (most noticeably the fact that every time a train passes the camera shakes a little). Still, I think it is pretty cool. Watch it and let me know what you think. If you have a short attention span then fast-forward to around the 50 second mark and watch from there. Cheers!
Today I have been doing some research on different techniques used to record pedestrian movement in the city. Often the use of time lapse video is employed and this is a nice example taken on one of Toronto’s “scrambler intersections”, which allow for diagonal crossings.
And by the way, Matthew Blackett at spacingtoronto who helped produce the video points out:
It should be noted that there was a looming rain storm when we shot this, thus the human traffic is a little light.
A little light, heh? Maybe they should abandon all of this sidewalk nonsense and invest in a network of weather-proof pedestrian tunnels. Toronto obviously could learn a thing or two about good urbanism from Oklahoma City…jk
This video attempts to break down the credit crisis into an easy to understand presentation. The information presented is seemingly on target. There are perhaps a few cheap shots, but on the whole I think it stays away from politics and gives an even handed overview of how everything fell apart. I only take exception to the “irresponsible homeowners” having more kids than the “responsible” ones. Either way, I really recommend you taking the time to watch it. I have background in finance and have tried to keep up with all of the information coming out about the credit crisis, but this presentation really helped to weave it all together.
FROM THE AUTHOR
The goal of giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated. This project was completed as part of my thesis work in the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. For more on my broader thesis work exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world, visit my website here.
Find out more on his website: Crisis of Credit
Thought you might enjoy seeing the new video of The Flatiron project being developed by Humphreys Company. In case you didn’t already know, the Humphreys Company is headed up by my brother Grant and father Kirk. They are working on some really exciting developments including the adaptive re-use of this historic flatiron building. I have also posted an email sent out by Grant (with his permission) letting you know how the economy is affecting the development schedule and how you can help get this project going. Check it out and if you are interested then follow the link to their site and find out more.
Have a great weekend!
A NOTE FROM THE DEVELOPER
From: Grant Humphreys
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2009 5:03 PM
Subject: THE FLATIRON – A SYMBOL OF RESILIENCE – of our downtown, of our city, of our Oklahoma spirit
Across the nation, the economic crisis has forced many development projects to be put on hold or brought to an end. Yet Oklahoma City, despite some very real economic downturns, continues to prove itself as one of the most resilient markets in America.
After almost three years of design and due diligence, our project known as ‘The Flatiron’ is poised to become a reality. When the construction of this project begins at the gateway of downtown OKC, The Flatiron will deliver the message that Oklahoma City is still in the game. Watching this new 5-story mixed-use project be built will boost confidence in our market and help maintain or increase property values as well. No doubt the Devon Tower will deliver this same message around the world, but we’re the small business version that is ready to go. But we need YOUR help.
We need YOUR help to meet our pre-leasing hurdle. The Flatiron will create more than 73,000 RSF of Class ‘A’ office and retail space ideally located at the gateway to downtown, Bricktown and the Oklahoma Health Center. Our asking rates are $22/RSF (gross) for loft office and $22/RSF (net) for street level retail (with CPI bumps). We need credit tenants willing to sign a 5-year lease. Local tenants are great. Once we’ve pre-leased 50% of this space, we will move towards an exciting groundbreaking event. We want to work with brokers. So bring me a deal. With your help, we can meet this goal . . . and you’ll be the first invited to the party!
All the information you need is available online at www.flatironokc.com. You can find floor plans, marketing brochures and a video of the project. Make a point to watch the video. It’s awesome.
Dave Ortloff, our Director of Marketing, is handling the broker relations. He’s here for you. If you’d like to arrange a tour or receive more information about this exciting project, just call Dave at (405) 228-1000 (ext 4). His contact information is also on the website referenced above.
Let’s work together to show everyone that, despite the rest of the nation, the real estate market in Oklahoma City is alive and well. I appreciate your help!
Find out more by visiting their website at: FlatironOkc.com!
The Square is located just northeast of the heart of downtown Portland, in close proximity to much of Portland’s downtown retail.
The beautiful courthouse is just over 50,000 square feet in size. It was first completed circa 1875, and is listed as a National Register of Historic Places Landmark Structure. Its stately presence frames in the square, while in return, the open space contributes to the courthouse’s visual prominence.
VISITOR’S INFORMATION CENTER
A visitor’s information center is built right into the side of the square and surrounded by a large water feature.
“PORTLAND’S LIVING ROOM”
Providing not only a great destination, but also the perfect place to stroll while passing through
Whether you are catching a concert, eating lunch, or just people watching; the space’s flexible design provides plenty of seating.
The layout provides an excellent space for community festivals, performances, and movie nights!
The Square is considered the nerve center of downtown Portland—with some 26,000 residents, workers, and tourists interacting with it daily. And holds as many as 191 events in a single year!
MAX Light Rail
Pioneer Courthouse Square’s success was in many ways buoyed by a partnership with the local transit authority. Planned concurrently with the MAX light rail system, the Square functions as a vibrant transit hub.
The Square sits on a site that was once occupied by the “glorious Portland Hotel”, but that building was torn-down in 1951 to make way for a new surface parking lot. Pioneer Courthouse Square was officially opened on April 6, 1984 after years of planning and fundraising – including the sale of thousands of personalized bricks with which the Square was ultimately constructed.
What do you think? Would people in Oklahoma City use a public space like Pioneer Courthouse Square? Do you think we already have a downtown public space of this caliber? If we did try to build such a space, where should it go? What should it be near? Could it be built alongside the transit being considered for Maps3?
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
Aaron Koblin produces some amazing data visualizations that blur the line between data and art. One of my favorites is Flight Patterns where he visualizes the flight traffic data for the United States to create a time lapse video that tells an amazing visual story. Also, I should point out that his images make excellent desktop backgrounds!
Click on the picture to see the time lapse video: