Private vs Public Money for Parks

New York Times recently published When Parks Must Rely on Private Money by DIANE CARDWELL concerning the struggles of cities to fund the construction and maintenance of parks throughout the USA. Many parks are funded through selling of land or revenues generated by carparks or taxes from new nearby developments and others are funded by residents and companies donating funds in return for naming rights or plaques. Cardwell cites examples of parks that have been constructed with the use some private funding including Millennium Park in Chicago and the Highline and with the tradeoff causing issues in some cities.

The article stimulated a few ideas I have had during my career. I find that funding of new or redevelopment of parks is a often a fine line between private and public funding, which often blurs the line between public and private space. Private funding often causing issues with residents because of naming or commercial activities in the new park that create a private area.

An ever-growing trend for cities around the world is to justify the cost of construction and maintenance of parks through inclusion of private funding or commercial activities such as paid parking garages, retail shops, restaurants, or areas that are commercialised for entertainment(concerts, festivals, etc). How to strike a balance between private and public funding is very complicated process for each city and requires research and consultation.

Many cities find it hard to redevelop parks with the use of public money as it is often controversial as parks are sometimes seen by residents as non-essential. Residents see hospitals, schools, and police as essential services within the community whereas parks are seen as non-essential and that public monies would be better spent on other services. To avoid this cities seek private funding in return for naming rights or a commercial development on or near the  park. Now the question is how far to go with private funding and how much is the park compromised by accepting the funding in return for naming right or commercial development?

This issue of public and private funding will become more and more prevalent around the world as developers of retail and residential developments blur the line between public and private space by creating spaces in developments that are town squares and parks that can be accessed by the public. This blurring will cause some confusion with city residents as to what is public space and what is private. It also raises the question – Are developers going to develop parks and maintain them or will it always remain the domain of the local government?

Private development of public parks as apart of residential developments or commercial developments, which are then handed to government after certain period is already occurring in some parts of the world. Will this become a growing trend across cities for small and large parks? Or will it remain only in residential developments?

By Damian Holmes

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£1.5 billion contract awarded for regeneration of Elephant & Castle

London Borough of Southwark announced that they have awarded the £1.5 billion (circa A$2.7 billion) regeneration of Elephant & Castle to Lend Lease.

The project is one of the most significant schemes of its type in Europe, comprising over 300,000 square metres of new build, mixed-use development, together with major infrastructure improvements and a range of enhanced community facilities. The location, within two miles of London’s West End, is unrivalled for a development of this scale.

The scheme comprises six phases. The first phase demolition is scheduled to commence in February 2010. Detailed planning consent for the first phase is expected to be achieved by April 2011. Both parties have expressed their commitment to work together on the redevelopment of all six phases of the site.

SOURCE: Lend Lease

IMAGE SOURCE: Elephant & Castle

Architects ask for CIP stimulus for design work

Architects in Nevada are pleading for local and state governments to allocate capital improvement program(CIP) funds for design work that are needed to create and save jobs in the architecture and construction industry.

Nevada has been heavily hit by the Global Financial Crisis as it is highly dependent on revenues generated from conventions, gambling and nearby natural tourist attractions. Conventions and Tourism in the USA has been hit hard as people are save money by having vacations closer to home and companies are reducing convention spending across the board.
Decreased spending and planning for future private sector buildings has occurred due shifts in the market. Vacancies have increased at hotels and office buildings and there has been recent increase in available space coming on the market including MGM City Center which opens in December. These market shifts and reduced demand have caused wide-spread unemployment in the construction industry in Nevada up to 65% in some cities.

Architecture organisations including the AIA have meet congressional and state legislators to try and get some funds from the state capital improvement program moved forward to the coming fiscal year to fund design work for future buildings to stimulate the economy to get designers working which will then flow on to the construction industry.

The AIA argue that although the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimlus Package) has funded some ‘shovel-ready’ jobs the design & construction work. However, this work will evaporate soon and the state of Nevada needs to spend money now and in 2010 to create a sustainable future for the construction industry. The AIA hopes that the state can spend money on institutional retrofits for renewable energy and making buildings green as this will create more jobs long term than the stimulus money that is currently geared toward residential that create little economic growth.

What do you think?
Will this create a sustainable future for the design and construction industry or or is this merely a band-aid aid solution?
Have architectural practices and construction industry create a supply that Nevada will never demand again?
Do the architectural practices and architects of Nevada need to seek work outside of their state or relocate to survive?
Should the government seize the opportunity and great a green state with retrofitted green buildings with reduced emissions powered by renewable energy?

Read the article that inspired this post – – Architects group seeks stimulus cash, arguing that drawing begets building

On the positive side MGM Center is expected to increase visitation to Las Vegas by 5-10% according to this article in the Wall Street Journal – City Center Could Make or Break Las Vegas

capital improvement program

Construction Week (Middle East) releases Salary survey

Construction Week (Middle East) have just published the results of a salary survey held from April to September this year. The main findings of the survey is that most people are experienced and the UAE is not a place for first-jobbers. People consistently worked longer than 40 hour per week and have salaries in construction(including Architects) on average between $4500-$6047 (USD) month across the six GCC countries. The results also outline expectations for pay rises, housing, current pressures and other interesting information.

For more information go to the two articles at the [SOURCE: Construction Week (Middle East)]

1. Survey Analysis – Construction Week (Middle East)
2. Detailed Results – Construction Week (Middle East)

By 2018 China Will Pass U.S. As Preeminent Construction Market

A report was recently released by Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics titled Global Construction 2020 which gives a global forecast for the construction industry until 2020.

Include in the report summary are some interesting insights into the coming decade of construction.

Currently the global construction market is worth 7.5 trillion dollars (at 2008 prices) and will grow by 69.3% to 12.7 trillion by 2020(at 2008 prices).

The report states that the US, UK, Canada & Australia will rebound quicker than other developed countries. However, developing countries such as India & China will have quicker growth in the next decade than developed countries and that the China construction market is forecasted to exceed the USA by 2018.

Output in India will be accelerate quicker than China and that emerging markets construction output will be exceed 3 times that of developing countries over the next decade.

read more  about the report at the SOURCE: Global Construction 2020
found via ENR: Engineering News Record

AECOM wins US$60-million Kai Tak redevelopment project

Image via Wikipedia

AECOM Technology Corporation (NYSE: ACM), a leading provider of
professional technical and management support services for government
and commercial clients around the world, announced today that it has won
key contracts worth US$60 million from the Hong Kong Special
Region to provide infrastructure design and construction
supervision consulting services for the landmark Kai Tak redevelopment

The aim of the effort is to transform the old Kai Tak Airport site into
a vibrant community supported by a variety of commercial, social and
recreational facilities. AECOM’s work will encompass urban design;
landscape, road, drainage and sewerage works; sewage pumping stations;
water supply systems; and dredging and treatment of contaminated

“We are proud to contribute our expertise to this landmark project,”
said John M. Dionisio, AECOM president and chief executive officer.
“This exciting project provides an excellent example of how AECOM is
able to leverage our global expertise and presence to serve our clients.”

Construction is scheduled to be implemented in phases during 2011. The
project’s public park is expected to be completed during 2012, while the
overall effort is scheduled to be completed during 2018.


Atkins set to poach talent from design-led practices

A view over Glasgow from Queen's Park in the c...Glasgow – Image via Wikipedia

Building Design reports

The country’s biggest employer of architects has set its sights on wresting design-led work away from “complacent” signature practices by recruiting more creative designers……..
A team led by Atkins recently beat five others, including Frank Gehry, to land a £300 million new college campus in Glasgow……

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