Celebrate ten years of Urban Omnibus and support ten more years of fresh, independent perspectives on citymaking with a donation today!
THE ENERGY REPORT
Continuing on their Roadmap 2050, AMO teamed up with WWF and Ecofys to envision a world completely run by renewable energy in the next forty years. Today, the organizations collaboratively launched The Energy Report – a comprehensive plan to harness and proliferate renewable energy that aims to convince governments and business of the economic benefits of sustainability. The report is replete with infographics and images communicating the potential for energy production and its cultural implications. “Through the realization that future energy provision really is a universal issue which must be addressed at a global scale, we have developed a new perspective on the world,” AMO’s Reinier de Graaf claims. But, lest you think a well-designed pamphlet can fix the world, John Thackara unpacks The Energy Report in a Design Observer essay questioning the feasibility of implementing the report’s recommendations. Thackara decries the report as a “tragedy for WWF,” and through a careful meditation on the real repercussions of renewable initiatives – like spreading millions of wind turbines off our shores and through our forests – demonstrates that sustainability is rife with complexities best addressed by interrogating the “energy-intensive way of life that a spoiled 20 percent of us across the industrial world take for granted.”
CHOKE POINTS AND KILL SWITCHES
Following the Egyptian government’s severing of the country’s internet connection, journalist and Omnibus contributing editor Andrew Blum examines the vulnerability of our online access in an Atlantic editorial covering Verizon’s purchase of computing company Terremark. Blum’s piece is an important reminder of the tangibility and physicality of information exchange. The internet is indeed a network of networks and, in America, one with “choke points” and “kill switches” located in Terremark’s highly-guarded Miami building. And when the locus of the most open medium of communication is bought and sold, it’s worth taking note.
The Boston Globe recaps the debate between New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism in a well-balanced article outlining the history of two movements over the last 30 years. Cambridge and the “intensely confident” Charles Waldheim may be the epicenter of Landscape Urbanism, but the school of thought has recently gained international traction — most significantly in the halls of urban planning programs, as writer Leon Nayfakh points out — and is vying to replace New Urbanism as the popular planning paradigm. With the ever-increasing relevance of environmental concerns in design, Nayfakh’s piece is a welcome revisitation of the laudable intentions behind the two schools of urbanism, and sheds light on their drawbacks (the hubris of the master plan and perpetuation of suburban sprawl among them). For more on the contentious debate between the two camps, read Genevieve Sherman’s analysis of the Harvard Design School’s 50th anniversary conference and the conversation it generated.
A lot of updates on projects and happenings we’ve recently covered came across our desks this week. Here’s a brief rundown of the highlights:
In light of this week’s feature Project Neon, we thought we’d share Chateau Bezerra’s On Melancholy Hill – NYC Lights, a music video made entirely from footage of New York’s neon signage. (Embedded above.)
Two weeks ago, we saw a preview of Alexander Chen’s in-progress musical subway map, “Conductor.” The project is now live on his site, so play away! At least the subway inspires mirth in some fashion — Governor Cuomo this week announced a decision to cut $100 million in transit dollars in efforts to balance the State’s budget, which looks grim for the MTA’s promise to improve service but not hike fares.
If you enjoyed reading Alan Rapp’s review of “Unseeing Modernism,” an exhibition of Ezra Stoller’s architectural photography at the Yossi Milo Gallery, check out A Daily Dose of Architecture’s notes on “The Photography of Ezra Stoller,” a recent Center for Architecture panel discussion that brought together Erica Stoller, Kenneth Frampton, Brook Mason and John Morris Dixon, moderated by James Sanders.
Superfund! Next Tuesday, February 8th, at 6:30pm the Museum of the City of New York is hosting a panel discussion entitled “NYC Superfund: Toxic Solution or Toxic Label?” that ponders what the recent Superfund designations of Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal will mean for residents, real estate development, and the natural environments themselves. Reservations required: 917-492-3395 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $6 for museum members, $8 for non-member seniors and students, $12 for non-members — but only $6 when you mention the Architectural League or Urban Omnibus. Thanks MCNY!
And then next Wednesday, February 9th, the Omnibus’ own editor Cassim Shepard will respond to a show of visual artists at the BRIC Rotunda Gallery. The panel discussion is titled “Taking, Leaving, Moving: mobility, evocative objects and a sense of home” and begins at 7pm.
GONG XI FA CÁI
Yesterday we kicked off the Year of the Rabbit. On Sunday, Chinese New Year parades and cultural festivals will take place in both Manhattan’s and Flushing’s Chinatowns. Gong Xi Fa Cái!
The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.
The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.