27 April 2016

Garden Bridge

Thomas Heatherwick's proposal for a Garden Bridge across the Thames has reached another milestone with the signing of a construction contract for the project. If you haven't been following the project, Heatherwick has proposed a new green bridge in central London. The amount of trees and soil proposed on this bridge are quite substantial and will require a feat of engineering to support the weight. To explain the scale of what they are trying to do, they have generated an infographic.


There are a lot of different aspects to the project. Other news outlets (like CNN) are making a big deal about the project's inspiration derived from the movie Titanic. But there is also a concern about how much green space will be lost to make this artificial green space.

Stay tuned.

26 April 2016

Houston's planning and flooding problems

The Houston Chronicle published a column from John Jacob about how the city's laissez-faire approach to planning has backfired and created a city with substantial environmental planning problems. Particularly, the column says Houston has developed their wetlands and floodplains without mitigation and has placed thousands in danger. Meanwhile the city is letting developers build homes that no one will want in a few decades.

So what alternative is there? Jacob proposes...Transfer of Development Rights.

25 April 2016

Panel on Post-industrial Public Landscapes

Rutgers University - Landscape Architecture Common Lecture
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Loree Building - Auditorium 022, Cook Campus (click for Rutgers Map)

As part of common lecture series, the folks from the Forest Service, NYC Parks and CUNY who have been part of the Freshkills Park and the folks from Rutgers and Montclair State University, who have worked on Liberty State Park will be available to talk from 2-4 before the presentation in Room 148, Blake Hall.

Parking for visitors will be in Lot 87 at Blake Hall. It’s just a short walk to the Loree Building – right along Red Oak Lane.

19 April 2016

The story behind Kelo

When we talk about Supreme Court cases in planning, it often seems like they are truly an unique local conflict that was so fiercely fought that the Supreme Court's involvement seemed inevitable. Afterwards, many decisions seem accepted as inevitable and unquestionable.

But reading about Kelo v. New London, we see that the way the case bubbled up and how the decision was received are not like that at all.

Ilya Somin is a Professor of Law at George Mason who blogs for the Washington Post on this topic. He wrote a series of posts last year when his new book on the case was released. One of the posts provides insight into how such an obscure case became a foundational decision on eminent domain and property rights. He followed up with a detailed post about the public and political response to the decision.

He also has blogged responses to comments by Donald Trump on eminent domain. First, when Trump told an interviewer that eminent domain "is not taking property." And a second time when, during a primary debate, Trump said that the property owner "gets a fortune."   Finally, you can watch a short news video about the Trump case.

06 April 2016

Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton continues to be in the news as a project. But readers can go back to the notable 1997 report on Steinitz's Alternative Futures project online. The report has aged well. It is fascinating to look at the section on implementation which still reads as if it were current today.

Building a healthier community

Physical activity is one of the important ingredients of a healthier community. Princeton University is copying the bike rental programs of larger cities (NYC, DC, Minneapolis) with an on-campus bike rental system. The program, started in 2014, encourages students to be active. And, in a sense, it makes the entire community a little more accessible since it expands the distance that students can easily cover.

05 April 2016

MLUL and related links

The basis of much of local planning in New Jersey is the Municipal Land Use Law, usually lovingly referred to as the MLUL. You will notice that the ANJEC guide we mentioned in class only makes it to the second paragraph before citing the MLUL.

And NJ.com has just posted a NJ Geography quiz with lots of municipal madness questions. Did they spy on our class lecture yesterday?  Well, they have written about it plenty oin 2011 or in 2015.  (or the NYTimes in 1998 and in 2007)

It is a New Jersey story.

04 April 2016


Since our last exam, we have talked about the following RotD's:

1. Books (including Outside Lies Magic and The Pine Barrens)
2. Newspapers
3. Master Plans
4. American Memory
5. Ordinance.com
6. eGov

Daniel Burnham

Daniel Burnham famously said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty."

 But do you realize how grand his plan was? The entire Plan of Chicago (1909) is available online. The images are still remarkable and his writing holds up well. The eighth chapter sets out six goals the plan seeks to accomplish and all six are achieved to some degree.

As an aside, Variety reports that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are making a film dramatization of the book, The Devil and the White City. No word who will be playing Daniel Burnham. Based on the painting below, who do you think it should be?

Sommerfrische lecture

Christian Lippman

Technische Universität Berlin


Dr. Christian Lippmann has a long standing research interest in ecotourism and the impact of touristic ideals on landscape planning. Besides his “day job” as owner and CEO of a Berlin consulting firm focusing on organizational development, he recently completed his Ph.D. at Technische Universität Berlin with the title: “Sommerfrische as a spatial symbol of bourgeois life style - the social construction of touristic rural space”.

Sommerfrische is a particular German tourism phenomenon dating back to the turn of the last century, describing (petite) bourgeois spending parts of the summer in the country. The presentation will focus on space and architectural structures which are commonly identified as "rural“ or "pastoral“ and which are considered touristic destinations. The outcome will be a deeper understanding of the cultural perception of such destinations and why they are considered beautiful and picturesque locations.

01 April 2016

Coordinate of the Year

Places and Spaces is happy to announce that this year's winner of the Coordinate of the Year is...

(drum roll)


After a few years of dominance by Longitude, it is exciting to see the return to prominence by Latitude. Its emphasis on the vertical is inspiring to us all. And, of course, we wouldn't have the horse latitudes without it. Another past winner, the Cartesian coordinate X, congratulated the winner noting Latitude's important work in navigation.

Congratulations Latitude! 2016 is going to be a special one.