Jan Gehl to give lectures at University of Saskatchewan

Jan Gehl is giving two lectures at the University of Saskatchewan as apart of the Great Spaces lecture series from the University of Saskatchewan. Sponsored in part by the Regional & Urban Planning (RUP) in the College of Arts & Science, an internationally-renowned leader in urban design and architecture, Jan Gehl, will be visiting Saskatoon Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Jan Gehl is an architect whos vision is to create better cities. Aspiring to create cities that are lively, healthy, diverse, sustainable and safe – and thereby improve people’s quality of life.

The symposium features the following two lectures, both of which are open to the public:
Presentation Part I: Monday, Aug. 31 at 7:30,
Presentation Part II: Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 7:30
Frank & Ellen Remai Arts Centre, 100 Spadina Crescent East, Saskatoon
Cost: per presentation – Students $7, Public $12; package for both presentations – Students $12, Public $22

For more information goto the lecture webpage

To purchase tickets go to www.picatic.com

SOURCE: University of Saskatchewan via The Sheaf

Expo Wetland to be used for toilet flushing

A wetland park will be built by the City of Chengdu on the 2010 Expo site in Shanghai that will use soil and vegetation to purify site rain water that will be used toilet flushing. The wetland park wil be 2,680 square metres on the Puxi section (north)  and also include underground water tanks as apart of the system. The wetland will consist of 16 terraced ponds planted with 60 plant and tree species over 1,200 square metres of the wetland. Water from the wetland will also be used in a fun ‘piano keyboard’ that will spray water when people step on the keys.

SOURCE: Shanghai Daily

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

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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