For all the Pecha Kucha fans out there — or for anyone interested in stepping out for a good cause — Global Pecha Kucha Day for Haiti is tomorrow, Saturday, February 20th. Pecha Kucha events will be taking place in 200 cities worldwide, in the hopes of raising one million dollars, all of which will go to Architecture for Humanity’s rebuilding efforts in and around Port-au-Prince. New York has an impressive line-up of presenters, including Steven Holl, Iwan Baan, Stefan Sagmeister, Craig Dykers, and more, all of whom will be presenting in standard PK style: 20 slides for 20 seconds each. Not in New York? Check out the list of other participating cities and see who is on the roster for your local event.
New York City is one step closer to its first new bridge since the Verrazano. The NYSDOT has released four conceptual designs for the new Kosciuszko Bridge, complete with video simulation, and is asking the public to vote on their favorite. Comments and votes are being accepted through the project’s website, via email, and during public review sessions (one more is scheduled for next Wednesday).
Popular Science has jumped on the ever popular how-to-fix-our-totally-broken-infrastructure bandwagon with a new feature essay. The article, which describes new technological developments, is cleanly divided into five different problem areas: transport, water, power, telecom and sewage. Nifty inventions include a scanner that attaches to the bottom of taxis that relays information on road condition back to a city database, a new paving technique that could apparently reduce accidents by 70% in inclement weather, and water laced with non-threatening bacteria that glows to indicate toxins. Some cities are making efforts to combat the recession through civic spending on the very problems Popular Science addresses. The Dirt reports that the city council of Portland, Oregon has just announced $613 million in funding for future bike infrastructure investment to their city over the next 20 years. The article also notes that Los Angeles is said to be seriously considering a huge new fund to expand self-propelled transport.
The Mayor’s office unveiled new plans for three parcels of land in Coney Island this week: Luna Park and the Scream Zone. The city, in conjunction with Central Amusement International, plans on opening Luna Park by Memorial Day of this year and the Scream Zone by summer 2011. Bloomberg has promised 330 new jobs, an emphasis on local hiring, and significant infrastructure investments — and a human slingshot. (Speaking of dangerous-sounding Coney Island rides, Boing Boing uncovered a 1931 article about the safety mechanisms implemented in classic Coney rides.) Then, for international amusement park news, check out Treehugger’s profile of the Ghost Train Park in Lima, Peru, a repurposed public space designed by Basurama using an abandoned electric train line and reused or recycled materials.
If anyone has trouble believing that the way we construct our built environment has significant impact on a large scale, take a look at this report by The Ecological Society of America. Québécois biologist André Desrochers has found that landscape changes caused by humans have altered the wing shapes of songbirds in the northeastern region North America in only the past hundred years. Apparently this is consistent with the “habitat isolation hypothesis.” In other words, the patterns of human settlement have directly caused songbird evolution in a biological attempt to mitigate the negative effects of habitat change. Ponder that over the weekend.
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The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.