In the garden of EPCOT.

Walt Disney - Wikimedia Commons, 02/18/2014

Walt Disney – Wikimedia Commons, 02/18/2014

The Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow (EPCOT) was Walt Disney’s unrealized dream. Sure, there’s a place called EPCOT down there in Orlando located within the vast city-unto-itself of Walt Disney World, but it isn’t Walt’s EPCOT. It aims in the same direction, but misses the mark by several yards. How so? Because Walt’s idea wasn’t a theme-park that resembled a City of Tomorrow, it was a City of Tomorrow that just happened to be planned near his theme parks. It was an actual plan for a technologically forward and green society that could be the model for the rest of the United States. The vision was huge – Walt didn’t do small. Interestingly enough, the idea wasn’t altogether new (then or now). In fact, Disney owes a great deal of his imagined City of Tomorrow to Ebenezer Howard and folks like Le’Corbusier’s Radiant City. We can’t talk about the future without talking about the past, it seems, and these imagineers seem to make that point clear. Lets take a look at some really nifty links, videos and articles that draw a line from the Garden Cities of Howard to the imagined implementations of the Disney age (and beyond), and other designs that have seen a similar influence.

Oh, and, please keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times – for your safety, of course! Continue reading

Rex the Red

Official Portrait

Rexford Guy Tugwell (1891 – 1979)
(Official Portrait, Library of Congress)
http://1.usa.gov/1n7v75l

I 
am 
big
 and 
well
 made,

I
 bend 
the
 forces
 untamable;

I
 harness 
the 
powers 
irresistible,

I 
am 
sick
 of 
a 
nation’s 
stenches,

I
 am
 sick
 of propertied 
czars,

I
 have 
dreamed
 my 
great
 dream 
of
 their 
passing,

I
 have
 gathered
 my 
tools
 and 
my 
charts;

My
 plans
 are 
fashioned
 and 
practical;

I
 shall
 roll
 up 
my 
sleeves — make
 America 
over!

 “The Dreamer” (Rexford Guy Tugwell, 1915)

By all accounts, Rexford Tugwell was one of the first preeminent modern planners in America — the very type of intellectual superman he wrote about in his poem for his school paper in 1915. An academic star, prolific author, and professor of Economics at Columbia, in 1933 Tugwell was recruited by President Roosevelt to serve in his newly created “Brains Trust”. This group was composed of a number of highly respected intellectuals whom the president would come to rely upon for advice as he worked to steer the country out of the Great Depression. When Roosevelt asked Tugwell if he wanted a job in his administration he asked for only one position — undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture in order to work on agricultural economic reforms. Continue reading

Community choices for Idaho: Idaho’s community program

At the annual conference of the Idaho chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-Idaho), Ted Vanegas  presented on the Community Choices for Idaho (CCI) program. A Senior Transportation Planner with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), Vanegas used this session to share the history of the program and how it advances ITD’s strategic goals of mobility, safety, and economic opportunity. Continue reading

Greening of our rooftops

When planners are discussing sustainability, the topic of green roofs may pop up… the possibilities and challenges. If your first thought of green roofs are lawns on top of buildings, keep in mind that they can range from sparse installations with a couple inches of dirt and ground cover, to roofs with many feet of soil and mature trees. While some green roofs use plants that do not require irrigation, the basic idea is to load dirt, plants, and water on top of a building. Done well, there are many benefits. Done poorly, they can be expensive mistakes. Continue reading

Gondolas to the rescue

Could gondolas be part of the solution to alleviating urban congestion? Urban gondolas are one of the fastest growing transportation methods in the world, according to Steven Dale of the Gondola Project. Much of the appeal comes from low-cost construction and the ability to use air space rather than scarce ground space. Many cities adopting this technology are in developing nations, likely due to the technology’s relatively low cost and quick installation. Continue reading

Urbanization in Asia

world image asia

Asia at night. Photo from flickr.com. (12/2/13)

The most important urban planning decisions in the history of mankind will be made over the next 20 years. These decisions will be made on how to efficiently and sustainably plan for the rapid urbanization of Asia. As the region grows and becomes more progressive, so too will its urban population. From 2010-2050 the region’s urban population is expected to grow by 21%, adding an additional 1.1 billion new urban residents in the next 20 years alone. Asia will account for over half of the world’s city dwellers by 2025. Ensuring proper strategies for these urban areas will prove absolutely vital not only for the new Asian urban population, but also for the world at large. The outstanding growth of Asia is bound to create great international tension as these cities compete for resources needed to support them.  Effective and sustainable urban planning is greatly needed to mitigate many of the mounting challenges and ensure a higher quality of life for Asian urbanites. Failure to adequately plan for and continuing current development trends will cause monumental implications for this massive population. Continue reading

“Wait…we’re landing, where exactly?”

Courchevel Altiport, France - Wikipedia, 12/01/1013

Courchevel Altiport, France – Wikipedia, 12/01/1013

As far as we know, humans did not evolve biologically to achieve flight. When we noticed this perceived abject failure of evolution, we effectively changed the rules. We didn’t need to flap our arms, we just invented things that flew – and now those things fly faster, higher, and farther than any biological creature on the planet. Manifest destiny. When we achieved this, we found a new way to touch and affect faraway areas in a fraction of the time, and with an exponential increase in logistical capability. It created the super-connected world of human existence that we still thrive in. However, the miracle of human flight immediately comes with a complication: just because there are people at a particular place on the Earth doesn’t mean that naturally favorable terrain for take-offs and landings exists at that location.

No worries, world traveler. With our innovation and ingenuity, we have managed to get literally tons of supplies, people and resources to and from the most secluded, inaccessible and dangerous environments. Recommendation before continuing this post: open up Google Earth’s terrain view as you read along.

Continue reading