Coney Island’s Invisible Towers


If there’s an upside to the city’s deliberate pace, it’s that if the market for Coney condos never recovers to pre-crash expectations, then taxpayers save the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to build the infrastructure to support the influx of new inhabitants. (The $95 million the city spent to relieve Sitt of his stretch of the amusement district, though, is a sunk cost.) The downside is that then the last ten years of upheaval on Coney Island has failed to achieve its primary goal.

Source: The Brooklyn Bureau.

72 Hour Challenge


Over three days and three nights, Team Better Block invites you and your team to make-over Ross Avenue from Pearl Street to Washington Street into a welcoming, comfortable and vibrant boulevard. Form a team today and will give you the canvas to make a great place.  We have provided five segments for you to strut your creative skills. The general form of boulevard makeover includes a market, gallery, music venue, food court and transit plaza

[Link to 72 Hour Challenge]

Bottom-Up Growth in New Orleans


Much is being said about the grand libertarian experiment in rebuilding New Orleans. We saw how reforming the education system was considered a case against public education and overall government intervention. Nicole Gelinas at the City Journal looks at the urban renewal efforts in New Orleans that are taking a similar libertarian slant and at how the city is evolving post-disaster. Although also a firm believer in the free market mechanisms and individual choice, it is not that simple in New Orleans and the rant against planners might be slightly misplaced. The decentralized planning system hasn’t exactly worked wonders in Houston at least in terms of creating a sense of place or identity.

As John McQuaid at Huffington Post points out, the basic problem of New Orleans is “its siting, mostly below sea level, on an eroding, hurricane-prone river delta.” This context demands state and federal intervention if at all New Orleans should be considered suited for habitation. Man’s desire for controlling nature to suit his habitation needs does not necessarily triumph’s nature eventual dominance. I’ve no strong opinions whether New Orleans should or should not be developed but if it is meant to be built through a bottom up approach, it should continue on that path even in eventuality of a natural disaster.

Update: Nicole writes in to mention that she believes in good government that maintains flood control infrastructure and protect citizens from crime. I agree but like any rational entity, government will not giveth unless it can taketh even it means control over planning processes. Extremes in governance systems be it totally state-controlled or completely individualistic may not work and efforts should be made to find an amicable middle-ground.

Demolition from Ground Up


Building demolitions in urban areas as part of redevelopment have always been messy affairs although well planned (and executed) implosions can be quite dramatic. However, just as that credit card company[I forget which] commercial shows that buildings aren’t built top down, buildings similarly cannot be demolished bottom up. Or can they?


This amazing feat of dismantling an existing building from ground up is being done in the heart of London. Why from ground up instead of the traditional way? Because when the P&O building was constructed in 1965, each floor was hung from a huge beam at the top of the tower and supported by the central core [source]. Thus the building is being dismantled a floor at a time from the bottom while exposing the central core. After all floors have been removed, the central core will be demolished the old fashioned way.

Anyway, until the building is entirely dismantled, it certainly looks cool and literally stands like a piece of art in central London. Too bad it won’t last long.