The case against globaloney -At last, some sense on globalisation

Some interesting stats from Schrunmpeter of The Economist

GEOFFREY CROWTHER, editor of The Economist from 1938 to 1956, used to advise young journalists to “simplify, then exaggerate”. He might have changed his advice if he had lived to witness the current debate on globalisation. There is a lively discussion about whether it is good or bad. But everybody seems to agree that globalisation is a fait accompli: that the world is flat, if you are a (Tom) Friedmanite, or that the world is run by a handful of global corporations, if you are a (Naomi) Kleinian.

Pankaj Ghemawat of IESE Business School in Spain is one of the few who has kept his head on the subject. For more than a decade he has subjected the simplifiers and exaggerators to a barrage of statistics. He has now set out his case—that we live in an era of semi-globalisation at most—in a single volume, “World 3.0”, that should be read by anyone who wants to understand the most important economic development of our time. Continue reading

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Electric Car Infrastructure Developments Highlight Potential for EVs in the America

Is this the future creeping up on us ever so slowly – I can’t imagine a local petrol company putting a charging station on its forecourt here yet – by ECPA Urban Planning via Sustainable Cities Collective 

A ChargePoint(R) EV charging station in Oregon (Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons User M.O. Stevens)

On Wednesday, the first quick-charging station for electric vehicles Latin America opened in Santiago, Chile, the Wall Street Journalreported. The station, which can charge electric cars to 80% capacity in 30 minutes, is housed in one of Brazilian state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s gas stations. At the opening ceremony, President Sebastián Piñera proclaimed, “The day we can use this technology in massive quantities, we’re going to leap forward in protecting the environment, reducing pollution in our cities and improving people’s quality of life.”

While Japan dominates the market with 600 charging stations – there are just over 40 stations combined in all other countries – electric car infrastructure is developing across the Americas. Hawai’i has implemented ten charging stations on Oahu through a collaboration among Better Place, resort hotel chains, the Hawaiian Electric Company, and the Hawai’i Renewable Development Venture. Ten charge stations were launched this week, and the project also includes seven electric cars that will be used primarily as fleet vehicles for Hawaiian Electric and hotel guest shuttles. The Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa will monitor usage and performance of this pilot initiative. Business Week reported that Better Place plans to open 130 additional stations by early 2012 – an initiative welcomed by political leaders in Hawai’i, where the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas reached $4.49 on Tuesday, the highest in the nation.

In New York City, Icon Parking Systems – which operates over 200 facilities in Manhattan – announced charging stations are now availableat another parking garage as part of an ongoing partnership with Car Charging Group. The new charging unit, part of the ChargePoint® Network, is open to EVs from all manufacturers and features conveniences such as variable fees for usage, access without subscriptions, 24/7 driver support, and smartphone applications that allow users to find unoccupied stations.

This week’s developments are promising signs of the potential for EVs in the Americas. The “Electric Vehicle Study” by Zypryme Research reported that 2011 will be a “breakthrough year for the Smart Grid…[and] a history maker for the electric vehicle (EV) industry” as numerous automobile manufacturers will be launching EVs into the mainstream market. Almost 40% of respondents to the Zypryme survey stated they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to purchase an EV in the next two years, with one-third of all respondents indicating they will pay a premium for an electric vehicle.

Featured Image, front page: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) diagram (Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons user Matt Howard)

About ECPA Urban Planning

The American Planning Association (APA), with the support of the U.S. Department of State, promotes urban planning as a tool to foster sustainable, climate-proof development across the Americas. APA leads activities and programs designed to advance institutional capacity and improve long-term access to planning expertise and technical assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean.


The rousing success of DC’s Capital Bikeshare

Capital Bikeshare (By: DC DOT)

In contrast to the apparent teething problems of London’s Bike Sharing program,  Washington seems to be succeeding according to  Kaid Benfield  on Sustainable Cities Collective

Capital Bikeshare, Washington’s wildly popular bikesharing program, now claims to have nearly 11,000 members and 1100 bikes in circulation from “over 110” self-service stations placed strategically around the city and Arlington, Virginia.  (There’s a certain binary quality and similarity to those numbers, no?)

According to an article written by Ashley Halsey III and published over the weekend in The Washington Post, “more than 300,000 rides have been logged since the program launched September 20, and people were using the bikes an average of 3,000 times a day in mid-April.”  a Capital Bikeshare station (by: James D. Schwartz, creative commons license)No wonder I seem to see them everywhere.  The program’s web site says that one can join for 24 hours, 5 days, 30 days, or a year, and have access to the bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The popularity of the program is due to the attractiveness of the sturdy red bikes – every distinctive Capital Bikeshare vehicle on the street is a rolling advertisement for the program – and its incredible convenience.  The system is very easy to use, and riders may pick up a bike at any station and drop it off at any station, perfect for short, one-way trips.  The first 30 minutes of each trip are free, making a year’s membership a bargain for $75 if one uses the bikes for in-city commuting and errands.  Each additional 30 minutes incurs an additional fee.  Continue reading

Madrid Replaces a Highway with Park Space -West8 collaborate with MRIO Arquitectos

Could Cape Town ever consider replacing the Foreshore freeway with a new urban park linking the city again to its real waterfront – the harbor which was lost when the ‘foreshore’ was created in the golden days of Modernism? In Madrid West8 collaborate with MRIO Arquitectos : by the polis blog 


After eight years of delays, traffic jams, noise and dust the last section of Madrid Rio— a combined infrastructure and public space project — was finally opened to the public on April 15. In the 1970’s Madrid was cut off from the (already forgotten) Manzanares river by the construction of the M30 ring motorway. Although this separation of city and waterfront was a common phenomenon in many cities around the world in the mid-20th century, Madrid’s “waterfront” went through the middle of the city, not at the edge; Madrid lost not only its river — it was cut in two. Neighborhoods once just over the river were instantly relegated to the periphery.

The Madrid Rio project, a six-kilometer linear park spanning the a sunken motorway is the finalization of a plan hatched a decade ago to reconnect the city center and adjacent neighborhoods to the river. Continue reading

Book – Campus and the City

A new book on Urban Design for the Knowledge Society attempts to shed light on this elusive concept- with education in formal academic environments struggling to come to grips with the potential  disintegration of its silo-like towers and speciality ‘ ‘ onthe one hand and the distribution of knowledge everywhere enabled by the internet and Google how do we integrate the city throughout its manifest and intangible aspects into education about something which is forming and flowing so fast as to seem unknowable. From UrbanTick

Knowledge is the recourse of our times. In the form of data and information, knowledge is not only the current hype it is the main topic in many areas. The best illustration for this is probably the rise of Google as a company focusing entirely on the management of knowledge or the popularity of Wikipedia an open source project of recording and arguably generating knowledge.

This shift is however, not entirely reflected in the way education of the next generation. In most countries the education system suffers great cuts and reduction of financial support. Education and the gaining of knowledge is increasingly by officials put as something every person is responsible of gaining themselves, probably from Google and Wikipedia. This leaves of course a big gab between services and users and a lot of people without the basic capacity to take part in this beautiful new world, keeping it an exclusive domain for few.

Campus and the City
Image taken from e-architect / Science City is the development vision for the university campus of the 21st century. The board of governors of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, or ETH Zurich) formulated a strategic vision as the basis for current and future developments. The campus is required to act as an interface between scholarship and society, somewhere the worlds of business, economics, politics and scholarship can interact. The spatial rendering of this vision is a dense fabric of buildings large and small, squares, courtyards and gardens that provide the ideal environment for research, discussion and development. Thanks to its precisely planned connections to the city and other university facilities, the network also extends to the metropolitan level: from Science City to City of Science. This project features in the book in the section ‘Greenfield Campus’.
Continue reading

New CityCenter Brings Green Public Space to Downtown D.C. (via The Dirt)

New CityCenter Brings Green Public Space to Downtown D.C. The 10-acre CityCenterDC, the largest redevelopment project currently underway in any downtown in an American city, looks like a people-friendly design. Incorporating a generous new park and central plaza, along with green roofs and gardens set within commercial and residential buildings, the development may present an improved model for how to integrate sustainable design elements into a dense downtown area. The redevelopment of the site of the … Read More

via The Dirt

E.O. Wilson’s Love Letter to Parks (via The Dirt)

One of the fathers of modern ecology and naturalist comments on the value of nature to our cities and their inhabitants

E.O. Wilson's Love Letter to Parks E.O. Wilson, one of the world's great biologists and a Pulitzer prize-winning author on the natural world, made a case for preserving and investing in the restoration of urban parks at the 70th anniversary of Dumbarton Oaks Park in Georgetown. Designed by renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, the only woman among the founding members of ASLA, the 27-acre park has both formal and natural spaces, including meadows, gardens, dams, bridges an … Read More

via The Dirt

Interview with Joyce Lee, NYC Active Design Program (via The Dirt)

For the ‘well-off” amongst us (comparatively anyway) our mostly sedentary lifestyles, from home in the suburbs in our air-conditioned cars to our offices in the sub-urban office parks and shopping centers, and by car to gym or racing round the peninsula on expensive bicycles and then flopping down in front of TV… a cities design could simply alter how we move around and how we think about our bodies and ourselves.

Interview with Joyce Lee, NYC Active Design Program Joyce Lee, AIA, LEED AP, is the Director of the Active Design Program at the City of New York Department of Design and Construction. Download NYC's Active Design Guidelines for free. Contact Joyce about submitting landscape architecture case studies at adgleadership@ddc.nyc.gov In a recent talk, Dr. Richard Jackson, former head of the National Center for Environmental Health at the CDC, said there are “deep-rooted structural issues with the built … Read More

via The Dirt

Despite Economy, Green Roofs Bloom (via The Dirt)

The benefits of green roofs is well known amongst the design fraternity, but communicating this to developers is a hard sell… so the more we publicize ‘hard facts’ the better.

Despite Economy, Green Roofs Bloom Steven Peck, Hon. ASLA, kicked off the Washington, D.C. meeting of his organization, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, by stating the U.S. green roof market grew 30 percent in 2010 despite the challenging economy. A survey of corporations involved in green roof design and development found that 8-9 million square feet of green roofs were added last year. Much of this growth occured in cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., which offer … Read More

via The Dirt

Where developers drive design

In this interview from Beijing by Brendan McGetrick of domus are we giving the other side of the picture from Kongjian Yu’s views of amore sustainable China and in so doing giving its form to the rest of the world? 

The CEO of SOHO China discusses the fine line between ambition, progress, and controversy

For the first installment in the series, Brendan McGetrick spoke with Zhang Xin, the CEO of SOHO China, the largest real estate developer in Beijing. For the past fifteen years, SOHO has worked to introduce a number of innovations into China’s urban development, emphasizing flexibility of use, expressive design, and public engagement. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of China’s construction industry, the joy of Twitter, and how real estate development is like conducting a symphony.

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