Cities

Sci-fi skycrapers of the future

The cities of the future could combine dense living arrangements with energy innovation, according to the winners of architecture mag eVolo's annual skyscraper design competition. This design collects lightning and uses it to power hydrogen fuel cells. Some of the other winning skyscrapers are habitations, but others are recycling centers, turbines, and water purification facilities — and one's a moon base that looks like a Gaudi cathedral. Click through the gallery on Popular Science and imagine our vertical-living, clean-energy-running, Martian Chronicles-looking future.

Cities

When you’re in love with a broken city

Baltimore in black and white.Photo: Callie NeylanCross-posted from 1934. Yesterday, I read the saddest thing I’ve ever read in my life. In an interview with Bill Moyers, David Simon, creator of “The Wire” — for which he won a MacArthur Genius Award — talks about loving Baltimore and the futility of the drug war. His answer to this question is especially heartbreaking: Bill Moyers: There’s a scene in the third season of “The Wire” where the Baltimore police major Bunny Colvin, a favorite character, gives some rare straight talk on the futility of this drug war. David Simon: I don’t think we have the …

How to build a prefab high-rise

Prefab houses are pretty awesome. Dense living is definitely awesome. And Sustainable Living Innovations is getting the prefab peanut butter in the density chocolate, designing modular high-rise buildings that unfold like cootie catchers. This video shows how it works. The result is a block of modern, open-plan apartments that is LEED Silver certified, and maybe a little ugly from the outside but no more than any other high-rise. It costs about the same to build as a conventional building, but takes as little as half as long to construct. This is perhaps not welcome news for Teamsters, but the idea …

Choosing a school? Here are the most bike-friendly universities

College acceptance letters should be piling up right about now, and the League of American Bicyclists has put out a list of the country's most bike-friendly universities. Here's the top 12 (the ones they rated Platinum, Gold, or Silver): Platinum: Stanford University Gold: University of California, Davis University of California, Santa Barbara Silver: California State, Long Beach Colorado State University Portland State University University of Arizona University of California, Irvine University of Minnesota, Twin Cities University of Oregon University of Washington University of Wisconsin, Madison So while the ivy-covered halls of academe on the East Coast tend to dominate academic …

Biking

Resilient Tokyo: commuters learn to love the bike

There’s more of this in Tokyo these days.Photo: Byron Kidd Shortly after last month’s disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we posted a dispatch from Tokyo by Bike blogger Byron Kidd (@tokyobybike) about how more people were biking to work in the quake’s aftermath. Today, The New York Times has a story about how the uptick in bicycle commuting seems to be persisting in the weeks following the tragedy: [Shigeki] Kobayashi, director of [a] bicycle advocacy group, regularly counts the number of bikers passing by a busy boulevard that leads to downtown Tokyo. On a day last November, he counted …

Sprawl

The EPA chooses sprawl over urban sustainability

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. In defiance of the environmental values it supposedly stands for, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is moving its regional headquarters from a walkable, transit-rich, downtown Kansas City (Kan.) neighborhood to one of the worst examples of suburban sprawl it could have possibly found, some 20 miles from downtown. The result could nearly triple transportation carbon emissions associated with the facility. In addition, around 600 federal and associated civilian employees will abandon a central city at a time when the agency’s own staff is writing reports suggesting that central cities in the U.S. are making a comeback. Kansas …

Cities

Stalking the wild salamanders of Manhattan [UPDATED]

Perfectly at home.Photo: Sarah GoodyearIf I asked you where the picture above was probably taken, I don’t think your first answer would be Manhattan. But that’s exactly where I found this fine-looking red-backed salamander: In a brushy, overgrown part of a park in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. This is the second time I’ve gone salamander-hunting in this spot. Here’s how you do it: You get off the subway and walk a few blocks, along streets where merengue music is blaring from the storefronts, past the sidewalk food vendors and the cellphone stores and a group handing …

Transportation

Thinking ‘like an Avon Lady’ to get suburban workers on transit

Making a greener office park.Photo: Keith CuddebackFascinating case study in The Atlantic about getting people out of their cars and onto transit for their commute. Lisa Margonelli writes about a program at a suburban California office park that has had huge success in encouraging workers to leave the car at home — by emphasizing the practical and financial advantages of using transit, working with local government to improve bus connections, and creating a culture in which using transit is aspirational — simply a cool thing to do (are you listening, John Kasich?). One of the things that makes it work …

Transportation

Ohio Gov. Kasich wants state to be ‘cool,’ fails to get what that means

Is there anything more uncool than a 50-something politician in a suit talking about wanting his state to be “cool”? Nah. Probably not. Witness Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a newly elected Republican whose union-busting policies have made him pretty unpopular, as he delivers one of the more delicious soundbites in recent memory. The video moment was captured by Mark Kovac of the indispensable Capital Blog (via @rustwire): We’ve got to make Ohio cool. You know, I was down at Lexis-Nexis down in Dayton, I’m meeting with the CEO of the company, and he says, you know, a lot of these, …

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