GOOD Ideas for Cities event a blast!

We’ve been busy at work on the submittal for the GOOD Ideas for cities proposal for bike infrastructure.

Scout Books created custom notebooks for the event

Scout Books created custom notebooks for the event

The event was a great success – and the conversation for new bike concepts in Portland and beyond, mixed with some luck and political will, has the potential to elevate the conversation and adopt some new infrastructure changes to make Portland not just a great bike city, but one that can truly hold the distinction as being ‘World Class’.  Thanks again to Jonathan Maus from Bikeportland.org – our urban leader who posed our question.   The event, which took place at ZIBA Design’s slick new office space, was sold-out and the crowd got into the proposals (including Weiden + Kennedy, Ziba, Sincerely Interested, THINK.urban, ADX, and the Official Manufacturing Company), kicked off by Alissa Walker from GOOD

The event was captured my Sarah Mirk of the Portland Mercury, who documented the proposals and snapped the following pic of our slide-show, along with a brief summary:

“CHALLENGE (from BikePortland.org editor Jonathan Maus): How can we create a major new bikeway that helps make bicycling as visible, safe, convenient, and pleasant for as many people as possible?
IDEAS (from PSU grad student nonprofit THINK.Urban):  “Take a cue from Europe and build two-way cycletracks on Portland’s biggest streets. The two-way lanes would be separated from cars on streets like Sandy, Broadway, and Hawthorne, by a grassy median. “Prioritize bikes on the same level as cars. People are tired of looking at Europe. We want to see these things here now.”

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Posting has lagged a bit, but that should change now that we’re moving on to some new things.  Stay tuned as we will post some of the ideas from the proposal, along with the PDF of the presentation, during the next week or so.

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GOOD Bicycle Transportation

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“What we’re missing is a a truly game-changing bikeway that connects a Portland neighborhood to the city center

Our challenge is set.  As one of the creative teams working on the GOOD Ideas for Cities, we are tasked with coming up with the future of bicycle transportation in Portland.  As envisioned by our local expert liason, Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org the scenario is this:

TRANSPORTATION

When it comes to bicycle transportation, Portland is at a crossroads. We are known worldwide as a bike town; yet we have stalled when it comes to building a network of truly world-class bikeways in the central city. We have picked all the low-hanging fruit. Now it’s time to do the big projects that present a challenge to politicians and the status quo, but that also present an exciting opportunity for the health of our city. But what we’re missing is a a truly game-changing bikeway that connects a Portland neighborhood to the city center. How might we create a major new bikeway that helps make bicycling as visible, safe, convenient, and pleasant for as many people as possible?

Recent historical trends show that while auto use seems to have plateaued, bike use has skyrocketed and shows little sign of tapering off. The biggest risk to making even more significant jumps in bike use is that the vast majority of Portlanders simply feel afraid to ride a bike close to auto traffic. The City of Portland and other local agencies already know what to do and we have some great examples already deployed: the cycle tracks on SW Broadway near PSU and on SW Moody toward the South Waterfront district come to mind. However, those facilities lack connections to the rest of the network and in the case of PSU, they are woefully underdesigned. They are both islands of possibility amid a sea of reality.

The neat thing about this challenge is that in many ways we know what success could look like. Many of our local leaders have been to places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam where bicycling in dense urban environments isn’t just viable, it’s prioritized over auto access. The result is happy, healthy citizens, fewer transportation costs for everyone, and much more efficient and livable city. How do we help Portland move towards that same bicycle-centric reality?

One of the resources that Maus mentioned is the NACTO Urban Biking Design Guide (image excerpt above), of which included Portland transportation planners and traffic engineers were part of a major effort to bring cities across the country together to create a design manual that frees them from the shackles of outdated, state-run, auto-centric design guidelines.

We have until February 16th to prepare concepts, where they will be presented alongside the rest of the teams working on their specific issues.  Stay tuned for more info!

Very GOOD news!

The results are in, and the THINK.urban team of Jason King, Allison Duncan and Katrina Johnston is one of the groups that will be presenting as part of the GOOD Ideas for Cities event in Portland, being held on February 16th at Ziba and hosted by Portland State University Graphic Design Department.

From the GOOD site, here’s the all-star list of creative teams who will be presenting that night.

Wieden + Kennedy:  Nick Barham, Eugenie Frerichs, Bernadette Spear, Seth Weisfield, Igor Clark, Patrick Nistler, Jamie Ostrov, Joseph Limauro, Matt Brown

Official Mfg. Co.:  Mathew Foster, Jeremy Pelley, Fritz Mesenbrink

Ideas for Cities from Ziba:  Carl Alviani, Ryan Coulter, Steve Lee

Team ADX:  Building a Community of Thinkers and Makers: Eric Black, Kelley Roy, Greg Simons, Sean Barrow, Simon Yuen, Sarah Thilman, Tyesha Snow, Iain Thatcher, Max Miller

THINK.urban: Jason King, Allison Duncan, Katrina Johnston

New Approaches to Public Space:  Nicole Lavelle, Sarah Baugh, Justin Flood

It’s an honor to be in such esteemed company, and we’re excited to find out the specific issue we will be tackling for the event.  We will be getting the problem early in 2012, and will have 6 weeks to generate ideas for the February presentation.  Stay tuned for more on this.

Ikea Urbanism

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Say what you want about the furniture giant Ikea, but I appreciate their ability to transfer Scandinavian sensibility into modern American urban living (if you’re into that kind of thing). Overstuffed couches? Give me an apartment-appropriate two-seater sofa any day. Even if you throw in a bookcase and area rug you’re still spending less than a Laz-y-boy and it’s more streamlined to boot. At the risk of sounding like an Ikea spokesperson (too late) I just had to jump at the opportunity to comment on some recent news regarding Ikea’s bid to design part of London’s Olympic Park in 2013.

The neighborhood, named Strand East, will be a full-fledged community-oriented development complete with mixed-use buildings, underground parking, a focus on walkability, and a 350-room hotel all covering 26 acres. Of course the focus will also be on affordability, but also sustainability, in that the neighborhood will hopefully provide an attractive addition to the city after the Olympics are over. Typically plans for Olympic “villages” are unsettling: basically hastily built gigantic blocks constructed solely for the purpose of housing a large amount of people for a short amount of time, with little consideration for the city and people already inhabiting it. Honestly, the images released of the plans remind me of Scandinavian urbanism in general: multi-storied buildings line the blocks and public plazas encircling interior communal courtyards.

Some, like The Pop-Up City, have criticized the concept arguing against a one-size-fits-all style of urbanism and Ikea’s flat-packed construction techniques. However, even a quick glance at Ikea’s approach to housing, BoKlok, illustrates ideas that most of us can get behind. In city full of auto-centric planning and suburban sprawl, who wouldn’t want to set down a few terraced houses or apartment buildings focused on people (not cars!), public space, efficient space planning, safety, and renewable materials? These basic concepts in public space and community-oriented development are fantastic; visibility and safety, public space and community, affordable and human-scaled buildings. Unfortunately, people focus on what they think of when they contemplate Ikea-created buildings: flat-packed, generic, and cheaply-built laminate. But with all of the social benefits incorporated in the design, I personally would jump at an opportunity to live in a place like this, and I’d rather have necessary housing built for a single event outlast its original purpose and add to its urban environment.

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Original article here.

GOOD Ideas for Cities

We’re happy to say we submitted our team qualifications for the upcoming event in Portland for GOOD Ideas for Cities.  They are preparing events by looking for innovative creative teams “…designers, architects, artists, filmmakers—anyone who uses creative, visual thinking to solve problems. Teams will be assigned a challenge issued by a local urban leader, then work with that leader to create a potential solution. “

This fits right into the mission of THINK.urban, so we have fingers (and toes!) crossed to see if we can be one of the chosen teams in the categories inculding “transportation, food, environment, education, community, public space, social justice, and economy”.   Some additional info on the event, to be held early in 2012.  We will be there whether we make the cut or not!  You should too!

Portland, Oregon
Thursday, February 16 at Ziba
Hosted by Portland State University Graphic Design Department

The City 2.0

In a somewhat confounding turn, the latest recipient of the TED prize is not a person, but an idea – The City 2.0.   I say confounding because it seems to be an ambiguous take on a prize that essentially has been directed towards those already occupying the upper echelons of celebrity – such as Bono, Bill Clinton, EO Wilson, and Dave Eggers to name a few.  It is also confounding in a positive way, because the idea of opening up TED to a range of ideas and voices beyond those already talking and doing – is a worthy endeavor.  That said, I still like the idea of a prize that is specific to an idea, because it tends to have focus and not be watered down by not trying to accomplish too much – but this will be interesting to see how this works out.

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A bit about the concept of this year’s award:

  • The City 2.0 is the city of the future… a future in which more than ten billion people on planet Earth must somehow live sustainably.
  • The City 2.0 is not a sterile utopian dream, but a real-world upgrade tapping into humanity’s collective wisdom.
  • The City 2.0 promotes innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity.
  • The City 2.0 reduces the carbon footprint of its occupants, facilitates smaller families, and eases the environmental pressure on the world’s rural areas.
  • The City 2.0 is a place of beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life.
  • The City 2.0 is the city that works.

For a prize and network that is so much about individual people and voices it is an interesingtly broad approach.  But as they point out, it is primarily about ideas –  and these are good, lofty, yet general ideas.  While there will be an organized advocacy group of experts, in this case, TED is taking a less direct approach than support of one project, instead looking for a crowd-sourced generator of new ideas based on the general concepts above.  A quick perusal of the conversation to date made for some interesting, but not terribly earth-shattering ideas (sort of like the preponderance of local TEDx talks that seem everywhere), but they are going to be continuing the conversation until the ideas will be announced at the next TED conference in February 2012.  The make-up of the advocacy group will interesting, as it offers the potential for a good combination of new ideas from the larger community and focused into solutions that can work, but will inevitably be influenced in the direction of these visionaries.    Will it lead to the ability to “…craft a wish capable of inspiring collaborative action by many,” as they suggest it could?

Add to and follow the discussion of said ideas here… and check back.  We will.