Infrastructure


What Running Out of Power in a Tesla on the Side of a Highway Taught Me About the Road Trip of Tomorrow

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April 29, 2014
Charging fast and breaking down in the early days of the electric roadtrip

It's 209 miles from the parking lot of a Chili's in Barstow, California, where we are, to the parking lot of a Carl's Jr. in Kingman, Arizona, where we need to go. I'm in a rented Tesla Model S, a sleek, battery-powered electric vehicle, with a travel companion. We're just about fully charged, and the car estimates it can travel 247 miles before we need more juice. That's a buffer of 38 miles, which should be more than enough to reach Kingman. We'll soon realize it isn't.

Urban Infrastructure: What Would Nature Do?

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January 29, 2013
When urban infrastructure meets nature’s designers, amazing things can happen

We humans are problem solvers. We’re doers. We encounter challenges and complicated situations and we find ways to surmount them—crafting tools, erecting bridges, programming computers. We’ve innovated and designed our way out of countless predicaments and, dammit, we will forevermore.

We are also hopelessly arrogant.

See, we humans sometimes forget that we are not the only innovators and designers out there. We’re not the only ones able to creatively adapt our way through tricky or threatening conditions. We forget about nature.

Don't Hide Cell Phone Antennas, Embrace Them

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July 2, 2012
Calling for better designed telecommunications infrastructure.

The mobile phone in your pocket or purse is part of a vast communications system that is mostly beyond our vision, much like the internet. But as journalist Andrew Blum explains in his new book Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the bits and blogs of the seemingly wireless internet still travel to us on hard infrastructure and get stored in physical places. Similarly, the voices and texts and data that we regularly zip back and forth on our cell phones travel as radio waves we can't see and are connected through fiber optic cables buried beneath our feet.

Water Planning After the Age of Infrastructure

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December 14, 2009
Despite geologic barriers and in the face of scientific advice, huge infrastructure projects of the 20th century brought water to the arid Southwest and fueled the growth of a megaregion. But now that era of infrastructure-enabled growth is over, leaving planners, developers and policymakers looking for new ways to sustain growth and rising demand amid diminishing resources.

With the one arm he had left after fighting for the Union during the Civil War, John Wesley Powell led a team of 10 men and four boats on what was likely the most extreme and adventurous fact-finding mission since Lewis and Clark stumbled upon the West Coast of North America. It was 1869, and this was neither the first nor the last river voyage Powell would command.

Transforming Blight Into a Destination

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November 14, 2011
A look at the increasing role of "lansdscape infrastructure" in cities.

Alleyways. Drainage canals. Electricity transmission corridors. Spaces like these exist in cities all over the world, and almost always they are only exactly what they seem: alleyways, drainage canals, electricity transmission corridors. But in a physical sense, they offer many more opportunities. That alley could be a stormwater absorption area. A drainage canal could become a waterfront. A transmission corridor could become a linear park.

Make No Small Plans

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April 28, 2011
Grounding architecture within a larger building ecology.

Regional issues such as stormwater treatment and energy production have become major elements of the design of architectural projects, even at a very small scale. As demand for natural resources rises and the impact of pollution spreads, taking these issues into consideration is likely to become a more important part of urban planning and architecture. This year’s national AIA convention recognizes the shift with its theme “Regional Design Revolution: Ecology Matters.”

But many argue that the long-term thinking of regionalism is still a burgeoning concept.

The Infrastructural Benefit of South Africa's World Cup

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May 10, 2010
Next month's World Cup in South Africa will bring a lot of attention to the country, and a lot of opportunity. Though many hope the country will see an economic benefit, the biggest impact is likely to be the creation of urban infrastructure.

In one month, the world's most popular sporting event will begin, drawing billions of spectators to screens all over the planet. In another month, it'll all be over.

Megaregions and Megaproblems

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June 25, 2009
As America's metropolitan areas meld into "megaregions", officials and policymakers will need to figure out how to deal with their shared and growing infrastructure problems. Consider the ball rolling.

The growing population of America is creating major metropolitan regions that can span state lines and encompass tens of millions of people. These emerging regions are projected to continue to grow, and as they do, their infrastructure is expected to struggle to keep up with the pace of expansion. In areas like transportation, energy and water, how these regions meet the needs of the near future is a question nobody quite knows how to answer.

Masterplanning the Architecture of the Near Future

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June 18, 2009
As the population rises, underused and empty spaces are going to fill in. How well the transition works depends on shifts in demographics and infrastructure, as well as architecture. A studio of UCLA architecture students were asked to plot that transition. But before they could be architects, they had to be planners.

It started with the masterplanning. Then, there was the city block. Then the buildings took a general form. If there was time, the buildings would get their details, like structural specification. But there wasn't a whole lot of time.

Probably not what you’d expect from an architecture course.

Top Planning Issues Of 2008

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January 1, 2009
Over the course of the year, the Planetizen staff editors review and post summaries of hundreds of articles, reports, books, studies, and editorials related to planning and urban development. Now, we take a look back at 2008 and the trends and issues that defined the year in urban planning.

The economy and the housing market dominated the news this year, but there was also a considerable amount of coverage related to the Presidential election and President-elect Barack Obama. Transportation investment and city living were also major themes of the year. Read the full summaries below to see how these stories played out in 2008...