Get Involved with Los Angeles Walks to Help Make the City More Walkable
- Alissa Walker wrote in Walking, Los Angeles and Urban Design
Walking is a “magic app” that builds a healthier, safer, more vibrant city. Plus, walking connects us to our communities, puts us in contact with our neighbors, builds social capital and raises civic awareness. Plus, it’s fun.
We’re organizing a campaign to get more Angelenos walking and make L.A. more walkable. If you sign up on our site at losangeleswalks.org, you can join walks and community events around L.A. throughout the year! Get involved with us and start walking!
Continue to kickstarter.com
Sim City: An Interview with Stone Librande - Venue -
Great interview with a Sim City designer by the Venue team. I found this bit about parking pretty interesting (and a bit sad):
Geoff Manaugh: While you were making those measurements of different real-world cities, did you discover any surprising patterns or spatial relationships?
Librande: Yes, definitely. I think the biggest one was the parking lots. When I started measuring out our local grocery store, which I don’t think of as being that big, I was blown away by how much more space was parking lot rather than actual store. That was kind of a problem, because we were originally just going to model real cities, but we quickly realized there were way too many parking lots in the real world and that our game was going to be really boring if it was proportional in terms of parking lots.
Manaugh: You would be making SimParkingLot, rather than SimCity.
Librande: [laughs] Exactly. So what we do in the game is that we just imagine they are underground. We do have parking lots in the game, and we do try to scale them—so, if you have a little grocery store, we’ll put six or seven parking spots on the side, and, if you have a big convention center or a big pro stadium, they’ll have what seem like really big lots—but they’re nowhere near what a real grocery store or pro stadium would have. We had to do the best we could do and still make the game look attractive.
Last summer, we wrote about a DIY aerial mapmaking kit from The Public Laboratory for Open Science and Technology that enables anyone with $95, a camera, and some helium to become a citizen cartographer. The project empowers people to document events (oil spills, Occupy protests) that official mapmakers might overlook. But this kind of grassroots aerial surveying (distinct from other forms of grassroots mapping) also has another benefit: It produces bird’s-eye images that are sharper and more beautiful than airplanes and satellites can capture.
To that end, a cache of more than 100 maps from the Public Lab project have now been incorporated into Google Earth itself, signaling some nice recognition of rogue mappers (and their DIY data) by the biggest commercial behemoth in the field. If you happen to stumble in your Google Earth wanders across a patch of surprisingly high-resolution landscape, you may be looking at a Public Lab contribution. Or, if you want to go looking for these images with a little less happenstance, you can also find all of them indexed in this Google Earth KML file.
(via DIY Mapping Goes Mainstream - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities)
For the last ten months or so, I’ve been watching from afar the development of ground forms and landscapes for a game called Sir, You Are Being Hunted, from Big Robot. Big Robot, of course, is a small game design firm founded by Jim Rossignol, who has guest-posted here on BLDGBLOG a few times over the years and who I interviewed back in 2009 about his book This Gaming Life.
What I’ve been captivated by is the so-called British Countryside Generator, a “procedural world engine” using “spatial division maths” that allowed Big Robot to generate aesthetically recognizable rural British landscapes.
“I’ve worked on a number of procedural world generation tools before,” coder Tom Betts explains on the Big Robot blog, “but this particular engine is unique in that the intention was to generate a vision of ‘British countryside,’ or an approximation thereof.”To approach this we identified a number of features in the countryside that typify the aesthetic we wanted, and seem to be quintessential in British rural environments. Possibly the most important element is the ‘patchwork quilt’ arrangement of agricultural land, where polygonal fields are divided by drystone walls and hedgerows. These form recognizable patterns that gently rise and fall across the rolling open countryside, enclosing crops, meadows, livestock and woodlands. This patchwork of different environmental textures is something that is very stereotypically part of the British landscape. I looked for a mathematical equivalent we could use to simulate this effect and quite quickly decided upon using Voronoi diagrams.
The basic topology is thus established, one that, despite its mathematical abstraction, “looks remarkably like… the British countryside.”
(via BLDGBLOG: British Countryside Generator)
Joe Minter’s African Village in America - NYTimes.com -
“It just went down. Everything in Birmingham is going down.”
One obvious exception would be what Mr. Minter calls the African Village in America, and the amazing fabrications he has raised to fill almost every square foot of his consolidated half-acre holding.
It is, by some reckonings, one of the nation’s most extraordinary and least-known sculpture gardens. Here’s a room-size re-creation of the Birmingham jail cell that held Martin Luther King Jr., surrounded by six concrete Dobermans.
There’s a monument to those murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, including 26 pairs of flea-market shoes (“I got them for a pretty good price,” he said) and the raging rubber head of Jesse Ventura.
And everywhere else is welded iron and hand-painted biblical signage and bric-a-brac to overrun a landfill. It seems all but inevitable that Mr. Minter will eventually raise a memorial to the Boston Marathon bombing, although the only clear patch of lawn lies behind the twin towers.
The African Village also stands among the most endangered art environments: Mr. Minter serves as the site’s artist in residence, curator, docent and groundskeeper, and he just turned 70.
His installation represents one of the last great “yard shows” in Alabama, said Emily Hanna, curator of the African and American collections at the Birmingham Museum of Art. This coinage describes the culturally distinct and sometimes visionary home displays of the South.
Related article here.
Weekend Fun: Name That Transit System!
Here’s something a bit different, just for kicks. These extremely abstracted topological diagrams of U.S. rail transit systems were sent to me by Herbie Markwort, who runs the Gateway Streets blog about transportation issues in St. Louis.
Personally, I love the way that these diagrams look. Simplified down to their bare essentials — connecting points and termini — the systems take on an almost runic appearance. As much as possible, the distance between connection points is kept the same in these diagrams, regardless of the length of the lines in real life.
Obviously then, diagram “A” could represent any of the single-line rail systems in the U.S. — Buffalo, Phoenix, Seattle, et al — and diagram “B” represents a system (or systems) with just one branch line extending from a main trunk line. It’s certainly a fascinating way to look at something familiar from a different viewpoint, and had me scratching my head for quite a while before Herbie let me in on the answers.
Let me know what you think they are — reblog, reply, or use the Disqus commenting system to post your answers.
How A Young Community Of Entrepreneurs Is Rebuilding Detroit | Fast Company | Business Innovation -
Paffendorf’s startup, Loveland Technologies, created a website called “Why Don’t We Own This?” It addresses one of Detroit’s biggest problems: abandoned property. Detroit is big, covering 139 square miles, enough to hold Boston, Manhattan, and San Francisco. Yet over the past 60 years, its population has shrunk from 1.8 million to just over 700,000. As a result, thousands of foreclosed, government-owned lots go up for auction for as little as a few hundred dollars. Identifying those properties is a labyrinth for anyone without a real estate license. Loveland’s website provides a simplified and information-rich online map of auction property for anyone looking to buy. Renters, too, can learn if a building is on the verge of foreclosure.
Paffendorf’s website is significant because it represents a new, simplified approach to these problems, from the toilet paper to the schools. Detroit has often sought salvation in big solutions: a car company comeback; the Renaissance Center, a cluster of seven towers downtown; casinos; the 2006 Super Bowl; the 2009 election of Bing, a Detroit Piston star turned steel magnate. Nothing has worked. But the city’s depression—and the depressed real estate prices that came with it—created opportunities. And opportunity lures entrepreneurs. The startup types, like Paffendorf. And the ones with lots of money, like Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the third-largest mortgage provider in the country; he moved 1,700 employees downtown in 2010, giving him 7,000 employees there and making him Detroit’s third-largest landowner (trailing only the city and General Motors). With slicked-back hair and a perpetual poker face, Gilbert has just gotten started on his plan to transform the area.
The question of rendering examined here will encompass the process by which structures and environments are visualized using digital imaging technology, and, from a broader theoretical perspective, the ways in which virtual projections are rendered concrete, born out in the corpus of the city. I will map these relations via an illustrated, episodic case study based in one Brooklyn neighborhood: my own, Williamsburg-Greenpoint and the North Brooklyn waterfront development project.
(via Semiotic Review - Architectural Fictions: Renderings, Rats, and the Virtualization of Urban Space)