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New Book: ‘Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges’ by June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones

April 12, 2021 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges’ by June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones

One of the most important issues facing regions in the coming decades will be the enormous amount of land around the inner core that was developed in a manner that exacerbates current & future problems. Suburbia everywhere will need to be retrofitted.

In 2009 I posted about a new book addressing this topic, see: Book Review; Retrofitting Suburbia, Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.

Now June Williamson & Ellen Dunham-Jones are back with 32 case studies where the retrofitting principles have been applied.

This amply-illustrated book, second in a series, documents how defunct shopping malls, parking lots, and the past century’s other obsolete suburban development patterns are being retrofitted to address current urgent challenges they weren’t designed for: improving public health, increasing resilience in the face of climate change, leveraging social capital for equity, supporting an aging society, competing for jobs, and disrupting automobile dependence.

Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges provides summaries, data, and references on how these challenges manifest in suburbia and discussion of successful urban design strategies to address them in Part I. Part
II documents how innovative design strategies are implemented in a range of northern American contexts and market conditions. From modest interventions with big ripple effects to ambitious do-overs, examples of redevelopment, reinhabitation, and regreening of changing suburban places from coast to coast are described in depth in 32 brand new case studies.
• Written by the authors of the highly influential Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs
• Demonstrates changes that can and already have been realized in suburbia by focusing on case studies of retrofitted suburban
places
• Illustrated in full-color with photos, maps, plans, and diagrams

Full of replicable lessons and creative responses to ongoing problems and potentials with conventional suburban form, Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges is an important book for students and professionals involved in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, development, civil engineering, public health, public policy, and governance. Most of all, it is intended as a useful guide for anyone who seeks to inspire revitalization, justice, and shared prosperity in places they know and care about. (Wiley)

University City’s plan to replace a strip shopping center and modest houses with a big box Costco isn’t what the authors are advocating.

Here are the 32 case studies examined in this book:

  1. Case Study II.1   Aurora Avenue North, Shoreline, Washington
  2. Case Study II.2   Hassalo on Eighth and Lloyd, Portland, Oregon
  3. Case Study II.3   Lake Grove Village, Lake Oswego, Oregon
  4. Case Study II.4   Phoenix Park Apartments, Sacramento, California
  5. Case Study II.5   Parkmerced, San Francisco, California
  6. Case Study II.6   The BLVD, Lancaster, California
  7. Case Study II.7   TAXI, Denver, Colorado
  8. Case Study II.8   Guthrie Green, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  9. Case Study II.9   La Gran Plaza, Fort Worth, Texas
  10. Case Study II.10 The Domain, Austin, Texas
  11. Case Study II.11 ACC Highland, Austin, Texas
  12. Case Study II.12 Mueller, east Austin, Texas
  13. Case Study II.13 Promenade of Wayzata, Wayzata, Minnesota
  14. Case Study II.14 Maplewood Mall and Living Streets, Maplewood, Minnesota
  15. Case Study II.15 Baton Rouge Health District, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  16. Case Study II.16 Uptown Circle, Normal, Illinois
  17. Case Study II.17 One Hundred Oaks, Nashville, Tennessee
  18. Case Study II.18 Historic Fourth Ward Park, Atlanta, Georgia
  19. Case Study II.19 Technology Park, Peachtree Corners, Georgia
  20. Case Study II.20 Walker’s Bend, Covington, Georgia
  21. Case Study II.21 Downtown Doral, Doral, Florida
  22. Case Study II.22 Collinwood Recreation Center, Cleveland, Ohio
  23. Case Study II.23 The Mosaic District, Merrifield, Virginia
  24. Case Study II.24 South Dakota Ave and Riggs Road, Fort Totten, Washington, DC
  25. Case Study II.25 White Flint / The Pike District, Montgomery County, Maryland
  26. Case Study II.26 The Blairs, Silver Spring, Maryland
  27. Case Study II.27 La Station – Centre Intergénérationnel, Nuns’ Island, Verdun, Quebec
  28. Case Study II.28 Bell Works, Holmdel, New Jersey
  29. Case Study II.29 Wyandanch Rising, Town of Babylon, New York
  30. Case Study II.30 Meriden Green, Meriden, Connecticut
  31. Case Study II.31 Cottages on Greene, East Greenwich, Rhode Island
  32. Case Study II.32 Assembly Square, Somerville, Massachusetts

I’m familiar with two of these, I experienced the “before” of #1 years ago, and #16 in 2012. Aurora Avenue in Seattle and the suburb of Shoreline is like arterial roads everywhere: awful. When I last saw it we drove to a Home Depot. From reading the case study I know the portion of Aurora Ave in Seattle is unchanged, but a stretch north from the city line has been improved. To a motorist driving by you might not notice the physical changes, but pedestrians will immediately tell it is less hostile. Motorists will notice more humans actually walking.

When I drive back to Oklahoma City to visit family & friends, hopefully later this year, I’ll stop in Tulsa to visit an aunt and see #8 and sites in adjacent Greenwood (site of the Tulsa race riot). I’d love to visit each of these case studies.

If I hadn’t had a stroke in 2008 I would’ve enjoyed working on retrofitting suburbia.

— Steve Patterson

 

The St. Louis Region Needs a Moratorium Stopping Construction of New Gas Stations

March 31, 2021 Big Box, Books, Central West End, Featured Comments Off on The St. Louis Region Needs a Moratorium Stopping Construction of New Gas Stations

Earlier this month a city in Northern California has done what other municipalities should do: ban the construction of new gas stations.

The city of Petaluma has become the first in the nation to ban the construction of new gas stations in the city, as part of its aggressive goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

On Monday night, the city council unanimously approved the measure with a second reading of the ordinance, effectively adopting the ban immediately.

The ordinance was widely embraced, as the city council said it faced no opposition.

In a city of some 60,000 residents, covering 14.5 square miles, Petaluma currently has 16 gas stations with another previously approved filling station on the way.  (Source)

It’s foolish to keep devoting more and more land & money into a business model that’s in decline. As vehicles have gotten more efficient gasoline sales have been in decline, as electric vehicles begin to  flood the market gasoline sales will continue falling off. One estimate is 60%-80% of existing gas stations could close by 2035.

Petaluma California is similar in land area & population to the St. Louis suburb of Florissant. By my count Florissant also has 17 gas stations.

Our region has food deserts, but not gas station deserts. Gas stations, mostly large convenience stores that also sell fuel, are everywhere. Former gas stations, vacant & repurposed, are also everywhere.

These will not be repurposed later into EV charging stations as EVs are recharged overnight, at home. Yes, eventually EV batteries will be able to be charged significantly faster, but by then cars will either be owned by ride share companies or it can go off on it’s own and park on a charging pad while you work.

Newer has station in the suburb of Rock Hill, MO replaced a historic stone church.
A closed gas station on the NE corner of Compton & Chippewa.
Former BP gas station at Lackland & Midland, it closed sometime between 2008 & 2012.
The vacant gas station at 2418 N. Florissant was built in 1972.
The urban Arlington Grove Apts as seen from the auto-centric gas station across the street.

Gas stations are a blight, a big hole in the urban fabric. They’re anti-pedestrian. These should no longer be built in the city, county, or region. A big part of why Petaluma banned new gas stations is a grassroots organization called Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations — we need a similar effort here.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book: ‘Gray to Green Communities: A Call to Action on the Housing and Climate Crisis’ by Dana L. Bourland

March 22, 2021 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘Gray to Green Communities: A Call to Action on the Housing and Climate Crisis’ by Dana L. Bourland

Quality affordable housing is an issue coast to coast, in booming & stagnant markets alike. A new book looks at the subject:

US cities are faced with the joint challenge of our climate crisis and the lack of housing that is affordable and healthy. Our housing stock contributes significantly to the changing climate, with residential buildings accounting for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. US housing is not only unhealthy for the planet, it is putting the physical and financial health of residents at risk. Our housing system means that a renter working 40 hours a week and earning minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in any US county. 

In Gray to Green Communities, green affordable housing expert Dana Bourland argues that we need to move away from a gray housing model to a green model, which considers the health and well-being of residents, their communities, and the planet. She demonstrates that we do not have to choose between protecting our planet and providing housing affordable to all.

Bourland draws from her experience leading the Green Communities Program at Enterprise Community Partners, a national community development intermediary. Her work resulted in the first standard for green affordable housing which was designed to deliver measurable health, economic, and environmental benefits.

The book opens with the potential of green affordable housing, followed by the problems that it is helping to solve, challenges in the approach that need to be overcome, and recommendations for the future of green affordable housing. Gray to Green Communities brings together the stories of those who benefit from living in green affordable housing and examples of Green Communities’ developments from across the country. Bourland posits that over the next decade we can deliver on the human right to housing while reaching a level of carbon emissions reductions agreed upon by scientists and demanded by youth.

Gray to Green Communities will empower and inspire anyone interested in the future of housing and our planet. (Island Press)

Here’s how the book is organized:

Chapter 1: The Problem with Gray
Chapter 2: The Promise of Green
Chapter 3: Learning from the Green Communities Criteria
Chapter 4: The Challenges to Greening Affordable Housing for All
Chapter 5: A Just Future

I have the physical book, but I checked out the ebook from the St. Louis Library too.  You can view a preview on Google Books.

Anyone interested in the subject of housing should read this book.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Candy Men: The Story of Switzer’s Licorice’ by Patrick Murphy

February 18, 2021 Big Box, Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — ‘Candy Men: The Story of Switzer’s Licorice’ by Patrick Murphy
I received a package of Switzer Licorice with the book.

Prior to this new book my only knowledge of Switzer Licorice was the 19th century building in Laclede’s Landing that collapsed during a wind storm in July 2006.

The sweet smell of licorice and the giant candy bar painted on the factory wall at the Eads Bridge remain locked into the collective memory of generations of St. Louisans. Candy Men: The Story of Switzer’s Licorice tells the story of how two Irish-American families began a candy company in the kitchen of a tenement in St. Louis’s Irish slum and showed the world how the American Dream can be built upon a foundation of candy.

In a story that passes through three generations, two World Wars, economic depressions, and labor unrest, the Murphys and the Switzers dedicated their lives to keeping the dream alive until it was put to an end by forces beyond their control. And yet, in an unlikely turn of events, the story continues today with a fresh twist and a renewed life of its own. (Island Press)

Like other recent books, this is largely a family memoir. Within the pages of family stories are insights into St. Louis life for Irish Catholics.

The chapter on Kerry Patch was of particular interest to me as we currently live where the immigrant tenement neighborhood existed. St. Patrick’s church was on the NW corner of 6th & Biddle, St. Lawrence O’Toole church was on the SW corner of 14th & O’Fallon. Not sure if Irish went to St. Joseph’s, but it’s in between at 11th & Biddle. Over the years the Irish of Kerry Patch moved west of 14th, toward Jefferson. St. Bridget of Erin church was on the NE corner of Jefferson & Carr.

I’m still going through the book, I like the stories about the many immigrants making candy in St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

 

Newish Book: ‘Growing Up In Old North St. Louis’, 2nd Edition by Patrick J. Kleaver

February 4, 2021 Books, Featured, North City Comments Off on Newish Book: ‘Growing Up In Old North St. Louis’, 2nd Edition by Patrick J. Kleaver

I receive quite a few new books from publishers throughout each year, but late last year I received an email from a self-published author. Patrick Kleaver invited me to check out the 2nd edition of his book from the library. I’m interested in the perspectives of people who grew up in St. Louis, especially in a neighborhood where I’ve lived so I reserved it and picked it up.

Like a book I posted about last year, ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson, Kleaver’s book is a personal memoir about where the author grew up. Each tells the reader about their family while also describing their neighborhood & experiences. There are many similarities between these two book — especially growing up in a multigenerational home.

Join life-time St. Louisan Patrick J. Kleaver in this UPDATED AND EXPANDED version of his book GROWING UP IN OLD NORTH ST. LOUIS. He reminisces about the good and the bad in the first nineteen years of his life when he lived in that historic St. Louis neighborhood from its heyday in the mid-1950s to its decline in the 1970s. From a detailed description of his house to the neighborhood shopping district originally known as the “Great White Way” (with stops at various neighbors and churches along the way), you’ll feel like you’re entering his life and walking with him on a personally guided tour! In this SECOND EDITION, he includes MORE anecdotes, a MORE detailed history of Old North St. Louis and its historic Catholic churches, MORE photographs (including rarely seen historic ones of streetscapes and church interiors), a MORE DETAILED quick side trip to two other neighborhoods bordering his, and UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION about the status of the various people and buildings mentioned. (Google Books)

As Kleaver points out the city’s 1947 Comprehensive Plan considered the neighborhood obsolete, largely due to how few residences had modern plumbing. Thus, it’s “heyday” was well before the 1950s. Still, he lived in the neighborhood while it went from being highly populated to significantly reduced population either through those who moved, or those forced out by the demolition for the Mark Twain Expressway (aka I-70).

I moved to the neighborhood in the spring of 1991, some of my neighbors had moved their in the late 1970s. It’s very interesting reading the accounts of a person that lived in the neighborhood in the 50s & 60s.  One side of his family lived in Hyde Park, just to the north of Old North, while the other side is from where I live now, Columbus Square.

The Kleaver family lived on Tyler, which is near the southern edge of today’s boundaries for Old North. The house of one of his childhood friends was also one of my favorites. Was — past tense as so much has been lost.

This book is available from the St. Louis Library and online retailers.

— Steve Patterson

 

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