Parkway planned for Memphis Airport

Ritchie Smith Associates have proposed turning the 2-mile stretch of barren road from Memphis International Airport (the home of Fedex) into a Parkway at a cost of $1 to $2 million dollars. The plan includes planting 2,500 trees, new lighting, signage and some public art. As apart of the masterplan a 180 scupltural lights have been proposed along the Parkway. The plan is to be reviewed by council in mid September.

SOURCE: Memphis Flyer – Seed the Plough

U Va. students to map green spaces

A group of students from the University of Virginia School of Architecture will be mapping green spaces in Strauton to decide how to manage and restore the spaces. The class dubbed Greens Lands is sponsored by the Urban and Community Forestry Program of the USDA Forest Service and the Virginia Department of Forestry. The students will use GIS as there main tool for mapping and assessment.

SOURCE: Newsleader.com – Staunton, U.Va. students team up to map city green spaces

RIBA Future Trends Survey – outlook optimistic

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced its July 2009 results of its monthly Future Trends Survey, marking the start of the third quarter monitoring business and employment trends affecting the architecture profession.

The trends emanating from last month’s survey continue to highlight a steady return to some optimism; only 18 per cent of practices were expecting a decrease in workload, compared to 21 per cent in June. Practices predicting an increase in workload also rose from 31 per cent in June to 31 per cent in July, a further indication that practices continue to grow more confident about their work outlook. The number of staff that are currently underemployed also continued to decrease from 23 per cent in June to 22 per cent in July.

The most significant change in workload predictions has occurred within the public sector, which rose from just 16 per cent in June to 29 per cent in July. There was also an improvement in the commercial sectors, with expectations for growth steadily increasing from 13 per cent in June to 16 per cent in July. However, there was minimal change within the private housing sector, with workload predictions remaining constant at 24 per cent in June and July.

Changes in predictions for staff retention were positive overall, with 11 per cent of practices expecting staff levels to increase over the next three months, compared to 8 per cent in June. The number of practices expecting staff numbers to be cut decreased further from 16 per cent in June to 13 per cent in July; 76 per cent of all practices expected staff levels to remain constant over the next three months, which is a minimal increase from 75 per cent in June.

SOURCE: RIBA

High Speed Rail gathering speed – Op-ed

News in the USA and UK over the last few days has been humming about High Speed Rail initiatives in both countries.

In the USA news is reaching fever pitch over High Speed Rail as the details of submissions for the US Government’s $8 billion high speed rail initiative start to appear.

Routes currently being reported are the $830 million route between Chicago and Detroit a new 110 M.P.H. train that will cut the travel time from Detroit to Chicago from 6 hours to 4 hour.
California  applied for
$1.1 bullion for including San Jose to San Francisco line (Bizjournals),
New York State applied for $565 million of stimulus funds for 38 passenger rail projects (NYDOT),
Pennsylvania submitted applications to the federal government for $28.2 million(PR-USA)
NJ seeks $38.5M in high-speed rail funding (NJBiz)

Virginia wants $75M for high-speed rail (Washington Business Journal)
Maryland seeks $360 million for rail upgrades (The Baltimore Sun)
Texas Requests $1.8 Billion For High Speed Rail Project (KWTX)

Florida asks feds for $270 million for commuter rail (Orlando Sentinel)

These are just some of the submissions for the stimulus. I find it an amazing about of money to spend on commuters across such a vast country. One has to hope that this is not all just spent on high-speed trains between cities but also improving of city suburban rail systems. I look forward to the next round of submissions for more rail stimulus funds in October.

Today in the UK, a report was released by Network Rail for plans of a £34 billion, 200m.p.h. high speed rail line running along the west coast on the UK from London to Scotland. The interesting thing is that the train is not only being seen as a commuter train but also as the low carbon option to cutting emissions from domestic flights, cars, trucks. The train will run from central London to Manchester with a diverging line to Birmingham. The line will then continue to Preston with lines diverging to Warrington and Liverpool after which the main line will continue to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The plans in the USA and the UK are very impressive, however I have wonder how much is achievable with so many projects being submitted at the same time with large monetary figures for high speed rail weighted against the demand over the next 5-10 years for expertise, skilled technicians and engineers. Will there be a shortage or will this put more people back to work?

I think these projects will take a long time to implement as there are a limited number of train companies Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, etc who only have so much capacity within their factories. This factor is critical as currently there is a large demand from China, India, and Brazil for high speed trains and expertise.

I hope that governments will achieve these ambitions not just because it will stimulate the economy of the cities and companies building the networks, but will also have some impact on reducing emissions. Lets’ hope these projects are fulfilled and they don’t get lost inside the bureaucracy of governments.

SOURCES:
Freep.com, BizjournalsNYDOT,, PR-USA NJBiz, Washington Business Journal, The Baltimore Sun, KWTX , Orlando Sentinel, Network Rail (UK)

By Damian Holmes – 26 August 2009

NASA launches ‘Sustainability Base’

Yesterday, NASA’s Ames Research Center held a ground breaking ceremony for its new ‘Sustainability Base’ – a high performance Platinum LEED Rated building in Moffett Field California. The building will feature near zero net energy consumption, use 90 percent less potable water than conventionally built buildings of equivalent size and reduce building maintenance costs.

To help achieve the building’s sustainability objectives, the company will install approximately 72 geothermal wells featuring ground-source heat pumps, and will provide parking and landscaping with California-native plants.

The $20.6 million building  is designed by AECOM and William McDonough + Partners and Landscape Architects – Siteworks.

You can also watch a video about NASA’s Sustainability Base

SOURCE: NASA
IMAGE SOURCE: NASA

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