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blodgett

Arch Gehl at Calvin thurs

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A reminder to all: Jan Gehl, the Danish architect, author, and director of the

urban design program in the School of Architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine

Arts in Copenhagen, will be speaking on the human dimension of urban planning

and design in the Calvin College Chapel on Thursday, Nov 9, 7:30pm. (Calvin map: www.calvin.edu/map )

In addition to advocating the design of pedestrian friendly public spaces, Gehl

Architects has also been in the forefront of green neighborhood design. It

will soon be possible for entire neighborhoods to obtain LEED certification,

and Gehl Architects will be among the first to go for certification in

connection with a project in Pittsburgh.

Here's the news release:

In June 2006 GEHL Architects won an international design competition in

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in cooperation with an international design team. The

team consisting of master developer Concord Eastridge, USA; Behnisch

Architekten, Germany; architectsAlliance, Canada; and WTW architects, USA was

chosen unanimously beating out three other international teams. The winning

proposal will be one of the first sustainable (LEED-ND certified) neighborhood

districts in the United States, and will contain a mix of office, residential

and retail functions. The design team approach to sustainability has been

holistic in the sense that it seeks to create the framework for a sustainable

lifestyle that incorporates a healthy way of living with energy preserving

construction and operation methods.

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Two thumbs up! Kudos to Nitro for making this happpen.

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The most profound thing that I heard him say was that the city of Grand Rapids (like most American cities) has about 2 times more asphalt than it needs. This should be a mandate to begin to put our streets and parking lots (the overbuilt auto infrastructure) on a diet. The sooner, the better.

Stop letting parking drive design decisions.

Stop widening the freeways and streets.

Stop building subsidized highway bypasses.

Start taking it all back from the auto invasion.

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When he mentioned that the Copenhagen City Planner made incremental changes over the years to discourage the use of cars such as slowly reducing the number of parking spaces so no one would notice an abrupt change, I wondered if this was done covertly as a private agenda or if this strategy was public knowledge. Thinking about Grand Rapids, without lots and lots of re-education I can't see reducing parking spaces around here being able to fly as public policy.

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I thought it was a great event.

I loved his comment that GR has twice as much asphalt as we need! I also realize how poorly we have designed some of our bike lines - destined to fail.

I wish I would have thought to ask, "what role does the citizenry play in all this?" It really sounded like his examples were city planners sitting on the 8th floor playing sim-city with real cities. I would have like to have heard examples of where the people were involved in the decision making or in inspiring the change.

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When he mentioned that the Copenhagen City Planner made incremental changes over the years to discourage the use of cars such as slowly reducing the number of parking spaces so no one would notice an abrupt change, I wondered if this was done covertly as a private agenda or if this strategy was public knowledge. Thinking about Grand Rapids, without lots and lots of re-education I can't see reducing parking spaces around here being able to fly as public policy.

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When he gave the San Francisco freeway example the only thing I could think about was how we tore out the S-Curve and there wasn't a huge traffic mess downtown. It should have never been rebuilt. Now it'll be another 40 years before we get a chance to take it out.

-nb

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When he mentioned that the Copenhagen City Planner made incremental changes over the years to discourage the use of cars such as slowly reducing the number of parking spaces so no one would notice an abrupt change, I wondered if this was done covertly as a private agenda or if this strategy was public knowledge. Thinking about Grand Rapids, without lots and lots of re-education I can't see reducing parking spaces around here being able to fly as public policy.

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I don't think it really matters, although I doubt that a covert agenda would work. As Veloise mentions, it could be done in the zoning language over time. And while that would be a somewhat public process, the vast majority of citizens would most likely miss the nuances that were occurring. It would take years to implement, but the problem did not arise overnight and it will not go away overnight. Right now the Grand Rapids PRD allows half the normal parking. That is a big change and should be taken to the next level and across the board.

The lowering of on-site parking could be done on a parcel by parcel basis and would have to go hand in hand with changing habits of Americans with the use of transit and bikes. The transit would have to be 100 times better than the broken down system that we currently have, including a better, less cumbersome, local network. Investment has to occur from the public sector in transit. Instead of building $150 million dollar bypasses, that money needs to be invested in transit... now.

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I thought it was a great event.

I loved his comment that GR has twice as much asphalt as we need! I also realize how poorly we have designed some of our bike lines - destined to fail.

I wish I would have thought to ask, "what role does the citizenry play in all this?" It really sounded like his examples were city planners sitting on the 8th floor playing sim-city with real cities. I would have like to have heard examples of where the people were involved in the decision making or in inspiring the change.

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I couldn't make it. What did he say in this regard? Did he mean the current rail-trail program?

I agree with GRTP that mass transit has to be a big priority now as a gift to future generations in Grand Rapids. It will take 30 years+ to build out a complete metro-wide mass transit system, so does that time period start now so that a system is working to serve the nearly 2 Million residents in 2030? Or does the process wait until 2030 and come to fruition in 2060, when GR is a sprawling 3 Million residents covering 10 counties?

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His comment on bike lanes was really that they needed to be separated by curbs up to the sidewalk and down the street, more than just painted lines. Where they are painted lines, they should be on the inside of the parked cars so that the cars serve as a buffer from the traffic. North Monroe bike lanes are an example of poorly designed lanes that are ultimately more dangerous for bikers because if a parked car backs out it forces the rider into traffic to avoid being hit. He showed many designs that moved from the center to the sides: central median, lane of traffic, parked cars, curb up to bike lane, curb up to wide 12ft sidewalk, open storefronts.

...

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Bad, bad design. (Sounds like he might be from a foreign country.)

Guess he's never experienced major snowfall. And what keeps the car-parkers from encroaching on the bike lane? There's a reason the FHWA has standards, and getting creative with striping and curbing ain't it.

ETA: now I am glad that I did not attend. (I get enough armchair bike planner "advice" on the street.)

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I couldn't make it. What did he say in this regard? Did he mean the current rail-trail program?

I agree with GRTP that mass transit has to be a big priority now as a gift to future generations in Grand Rapids. It will take 30 years+ to build out a complete metro-wide mass transit system, so does that time period start now so that a system is working to serve the nearly 2 Million residents in 2030? Or does the process wait until 2030 and come to fruition in 2060, when GR is a sprawling 3 Million residents covering 10 counties?

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Bad, bad design. (Sounds like he might be from a foreign country.)

Guess he's never experienced major snowfall. And what keeps the car-parkers from encroaching on the bike lane? There's a reason the FHWA has standards, and getting creative with striping and curbing ain't it.

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Veloise,

The man has a point and results to prove it. I also think the European model for street design should be followed. If you had attended, you might have a different viewpoint.

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