Last week was awful. So I found it particularly challenging to come up with a topic for today. I am hoping at least one of these shorter topics might be of interest depending on your desire to think about last week or not…
- The West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion has apparently sparked some controversy over zoning. Reading the discussions is both enlightening and frustrating for planners, since there seems to be both fear of land use controls in places that don’t have zoning and also some misinformation swirling about. For instance many commentators mention that perhaps the residential and community facilities were built before or after the plant making one or the other “grandfathered.” [Is “grandfathering” a correct term to use in the absence of land use controls?] Also while perhaps zoning could have helped, all communities have to deal with pre-existing land uses which are often not very compatible, and the real benefit of zoning is less about deciding about what is allowed, and more about creating a standard process for having a reasonable conversation with all parties involved to come up with (and change) land use controls as needed by the community. I do wonder if this past week will increase security/disaster-related design and land use controls in the near future.
- A draft study produced by the MTA’s Transportation Research Board chronicles straphangers’ highly calculated positioning in subway cars to suggest new seat, pole, and door configurations for trains of the future. Drawn from observational studies over a three-week period in 2012, conclusions of the study included the tendency for riders to cluster near doors because of the many “partitions to lean against” and to save time exiting, and New Yorkers’ preference to stand instead of taking a seat between two occupied ones. The authors suggest staggering doors to better distribute passengers throughout the train and creating partitions in the middle of benches to encourage riders to take a seat next to their fellow passengers. Read more about it in the New York Times.
- Poor Santiago Calatrava’s honor has been wounded by claims of shoddy roofs and slippery bridges. This is a shame, his Ysios Winery photographs well and so do his bridges.
- Lastly, my own little moment of zen: Bill Katavalos is one of my favorite humans/thinkers/designers/architects. This is an older article by Debra Gans… I always love to look at the liquid villa drawings and his thoughts are always inspiring.