Elsevier Transport launches "Journal of Urban Mobility"

Elsevier Transport announced the launch of the Journal of Urban Mobility. This new open access journal will publish contributions in all areas of urban mobility that accelerate solutions that improve our collective use of livable urban spaces.

The Journal of Urban Mobility is a fully Open Access journal, initiated and supported by the EIT Urban Mobility, offering prompt publication and wide dissemination of new urban mobility research to a global audience. The journal publishes peer-reviewed contributions in all areas of urban mobility that will accelerate solutions that improve our collective use of livable urban spaces, while ensuring accessible, convenient, safe, efficient, sustainable and affordable multimodal mobility. The journal is unique in that it takes a systemic approach to urban mobility and encourages multi- or cross-disciplinary triple-helix publications, bringing together academics and practitioners, businesses (industry and small-and-medium-sized companies) and cities.

Urban Mobility
Photo by Kumpan Electric on Unsplash

Submissions are welcome in areas including, but not limited to:

The journal invites conceptual innovations and theoretically informed advances on urban mobility, empirically-oriented contributions, best urban mobility practices (stemming from start-ups and scale-ups), short reports on collaborative activities focusing on research, technology, societal innovation and governance, project summaries, discussions of new research data and case studies.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a leader in information and analytics for customers across the global research and health ecosystems. Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society.

About the Journal of Urban Mobility

The Journal of Urban Mobility is supported by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). EIT Urban Mobility acts to accelerate positive change on mobility to make urban spaces more liveable. Learn more: eiturbanmobility.eu

Opinion: Queen’s Park is changing Toronto’s plans – and that’s not all bad

"The City of Toronto and Queen’s Park are at odds. It’s a familiar pattern during the reign of Premier Doug Ford: His Progressive Conservative government has stomped on the city’s toes.

The issue this time is land-use planning. Last week, the province approved three development projects for the city’s downtown, using a tool called a “ministerial zoning order” to override the city’s own process. Local councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam complained of “Premier Ford’s contempt for the City of Toronto’s ability to govern our own affairs.”

There’s no doubt that Mr. Ford has shown such contempt: For starters, he chopped the city’s council in half during an election. But land-use planning isn’t an issue that breaks along normal partisan lines. This move by Queen’s Park promises housing, including substantial affordable housing, in exactly the right place. And it raises a good question: Why is it so hard to deliver such things in Toronto?

The three projects are all in the Distillery District and the adjacent West Don Lands neighbourhood, on the eastern edge of downtown, near a wealth of planned transit stations and the new East Harbour office district. They’re on provincial land, and the first two have active development applications that include affordable housing.

125R Mill Street development, Toronto by architects Henning Larsen
125R Mill Street development, by architects Henning Larsen

One is a three-building set, mostly on Front Street, up to 13 storeys tall. The second, on Mill Street, is a six-storey office building with two residential towers, and the third is a 50-odd-storey building on Eastern Avenue, for which there is still no public proposal.

Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the issue is speed. “We’ve made it clear that we are going to reduce unnecessary delays and deliver affordable housing in this province,” he said in an interview. He said the three projects together will deliver roughly 2,000 market-rate apartments and 1,000 affordable ones, secured through agreements between the province and the developers.

The developers on the first two projects are a partnership of Dream Unlimited, Tricon Capital and Kilmer Group. They’re already building next door, in another part-affordable building of high-design quality.

Joe Cressy, the local councillor for most of the area, said this move is unnecessary. It “has reduced the city’s ability to secure and ensure the social infrastructure that is necessary to create a livable community,” Mr. Cressy told me. “These projects were already moving fast."

But that depends what you mean by “fast.” It often takes three years for a development project in Toronto to get city approval (and more to actually begin construction). Of the West Don Lands projects, one has been with the city since early 2019. It was about to be approved by city council. That makes an 18-month process – for a project with 30 per cent affordable housing, excellent public space and exemplary architecture. The next project, on Mill Street, has been with the city for six months. The third hasn’t even been publicly proposed yet.

So the province’s move sped up the last two by one or two years, maybe more. That’s a significant saving of time and therefore money. And it’s rare. In Toronto’s opaque and complex planning system, almost nothing is approved without long negotiation."

"If the city doesn’t add a couple of thousand sizeable developments, at a much faster pace than it is currently building, the current housing shortage will only grow. And any serious climate-change policy for Toronto and Ontario should mean even more development in the central city, where residents can (and do) live car-free in smaller homes."

Places: Refuge and Fortification

"To some the border is a zone of cultural hybridity and economic exchange; to others it is the unruly periphery, a playspace for legalized vice and sex tourism"

1. Tucson, Arizona, October 2020

"The 1,900-mile border between the United States and Mexico, running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, is much more than the mutual demarcation of national sovereignties. To many historians, the border embodies what Noam Chomsky has called an “architecture of violence” and internal militarization, rooted in centuries of conquest and the doctrine of manifest destiny. To other scholars and critics, it is a liminal zone of cultural hybridity, economic exchange, and social interplay. Decades ago the anthropologist Fernando Ortiz characterized the border as a “transcultural space”; to the feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa, it is the “borderlands” where races mix, a frontier at once physical and psychological, where “two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch.”

For others, the border is ever the unruly periphery, the playspace for legalized vice and sex tourism, what historian Dominique Brégent-Heald has called “commodified transnational eroticism.” Yet the region is increasingly understood as a sphere of influence in its own right. The planning historian Lawrence Herzog has described the border city as the “transfrontier metropolis,” an international zone of trade, industry, consumption. 2 Today the border is indeed rife with the contradictions of global capitalism; it is where commerce flows freely while people do not, where corporate hegemony and economic inequity, political instability and organized crime, environmental degradation and global warming, are experienced with especially brutal force. [...]"

Refugee march, after crossing the Tijuana River, November 25, 2018
Refugee march, after crossing the Tijuana River, November 25, 2018

2. Tijuana, Baja California, November 2018

"A young man from Honduras approached me and asked, tentatively, ¿Cómo podemos cruzar la frontera? “How can we cross the border?” Aquí no es posible. La frontera es demasiado fuerte, I answered. “Here it’s not possible. The border is too strong.”

It was November 2018, and I was in Tijuana, a city I have visited frequently over the past decade for ongoing research and professional collaboration. As it happened, that was when the caravan of almost 8,000 migrants that had started to form a month earlier, in San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras, started to arrive in Tijuana, intent on reaching the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry. Many of the migrants were women and children, fleeing poverty and violence and seeking asylum; some identified as LGBTQ; most had made the 2,700-mile journey on foot. Media coverage was intense, and the northward journey of the migrants was paralleled by the mobilization of several thousand U.S. troops — the first time in decades that active-duty soldiers were sent to the border — and the increased fortification of the 50 land ports along the international boundary. Already flanked by imposing steel fencing, surveilled through real-time video feeds and motion sensors, and staffed with more than 21,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, the ports were now being fortified with concrete barricades and concertina wire, which were described by one news outlet as “the most visible result” of the costly military deployment.

San Ysidro Land Port of Entry
San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, during the hours when the port, the busiest land crossing in the western hemisphere, was closed by the U.S. government.

3. El Tejocote, Guerrero, August 2019

"Marcos and Cecilia live close to the sky, more than 7,000 feet above sea level, on a north-facing ridge at the edge of their campo in the pueblo of El Tejocote. The tiny community, with just a few hundred souls, is located in Guerrero, in the midst of the Sierra Madre del Sur, some 130 miles east of the state capital, Chilpancingo, and worlds away from the coastal resort of Acapulco. A drone’s-eye view would show the mountainous terrain as a patchwork of cleared land and cloud forest, with stands of pine and oak giving way to fields planted with poppies and corn.

I spent several days with Marcos and Cecilia in their compound, a loose arrangement of small adobe structures with tin roofs, bordered by subsistence plots of corn, squash, and beans. Born and raised in El Tejocote, Marcos and Cecilia are both in their thirties; they built the place themselves and live there with their four children, Marcos’s father, a flock of chickens, and a cat. Vines of morning glory climb the adobe. Inside, the rooms are decorated with school portraits and silk flowers, and with images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Jesus Christ, and Jesús Malverde, the legendary outlaw folk-hero known as the “angel of the poor,” and sometimes as the “narco-saint.”

Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will be the world's longest immersed tunnel

"After more than a decade of planning, work has begun on the world's longest immersed tunnel. Descending up to 40 meters beneath the Baltic Sea, Fehmarnbelt Tunnel will link Denmark and Germany, slashing journey times when it opens in 2029.The tunnel, which will be 18 kilometers (11.1 miles) long, is one of Europe's largest infrastructure projects, with a construction budget of over €7 billion ($8.2 billion).

By way of comparison, the 50-kilometer (31-mile) Channel Tunnel linking England and France, completed in 1993, cost the equivalent of £12 billion ($15.5 billion) in today's money. Although longer than the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, the Channel Tunnel, was made using a boring machine, rather than by immersing pre-built tunnel sections.

It will be built across the Fehmarn Belt, a strait between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland, and is designed as an alternative to the current ferry service from Rødby and Puttgarden, which carries millions of passengers every year. Where the crossing now takes 45 minutes by ferry, it will take just seven minutes by train and 10 minutes by car."

A new harbor is under construction in Rødbyhavn, on Lolland. This rendering shows the harbor and the factory that will be built behind it
A new harbor is under construction in Rødbyhavn, on Lolland. This rendering shows the harbor and the factory that will be built behind it | Image © Femern A/S

Fehmarnbelt Tunnel: work begins

"The project dates back to 2008, when Germany and Denmark signed a treaty to build the tunnel. It then took over a decade for the necessary legislation to be passed by both countries and for geotechnical and environmental impact studies to be carried out.

While the process is complete on the Danish side, in Germany a number of organizations — including ferry companies, environmental groups and local municipalities — have appealed against the approval of the project over claims of unfair competition or environmental and noise concerns.

A preliminary ruling is expected before the end of the year; although it won't be able to stop or alter the project significantly, it could mandate further impact studies before construction can begin in Germany."

Public Review begins for DCP’s Important Zoning for NYC Coastal Flood Resiliency

City Planning Commission (CPC) Chair Marisa Lago announced the start of public review for Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency (ZCFR), newly proposed citywide zoning rules that would result in buildings that are better able to withstand and recover from major disasters and sea level rise and which will also translate to lower flood insurance costs.

As we near its eight-year anniversary, Hurricane Sandy continues to serve as a painful reminder that we must continue to adapt to the ever-so-real threats of climate change. This includes updating our zoning to help New Yorkers build, and rebuild, more resiliently. This new zoning makes floodproofing in New York City’s neighborhoods much easier, whether you’re building a new home or apartment building, expanding your business, or simply elevating your boiler,” CPC Chair Marisa Lago said. “This new zoning also provides needed flexibility to address all types of future disasters, whether another climate event or today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Discovery Day at Freshkills Park, Staten Island
Discovery Day at Freshkills Park, Staten Island

ZCFR reinforces one of the most important lessons from Hurricane Sandy: Strong building codes make a big difference.

Currently, buildings are restricted by zoning regulations that do not take resiliency into account and thus force New Yorkers to choose between interior space and resiliency improvements. ZCFR will make it easier for buildings to meet or exceed modern resiliency codes without sacrificing their basement, for example, by adding some much-needed zoning flexibility.

Critically, the proposal will limit construction of new nursing homes in high-risk areas because of their vulnerable residents.

New York City has 520 miles of coastline, making many neighborhoods vulnerable to flooding during storm events and sea level rise. The proposed rules cover an area that is home to 800,000 New Yorkers, more people than live in Boston and two times as many as in New Orleans. Because the proposal is a citywide text amendment, all 59 community boards and all five borough presidents are required to weigh in on the proposal.

Hunter's Point South Park, Phase II under construction - Public Review begins for DCP’s Important Zoning for NYC Coastal Flood Resiliency
Hunter's Point South Park, Phase II under construction

DCP is also releasing Floodplain by the Numbers, a report highlighting the long-term recovery progress and resiliency challenges facing the city’s diverse waterfront communities, including the fact that homes built prior to flood-resistant codes suffered higher average costs more than double those constructed to modern resiliency standards. 

As you can see in the photograph of two structures in the Rockaway section of Queens below, on the left, homes constructed prior to modern resiliency codes suffered far more damage than buildings constructed to today’s resiliency standards, like the one seen on the right.

ZCFR would improve and make permanent resilient zoning provisions initially put in place to help the city recover from Sandy. Since 2016, planners at the Department of City Planning have spoken with about 3,000 New Yorkers at more than 225 events, including with elected officials, community boards, civic associations, non-profits, architects and engineers, garnering ideas and feedback from the public to develop and strengthen the proposal.

The proposal’s four main goals:

New York City

In parts of the city that fall within the 1% floodplain, ZCFR would limit the siting of new nursing homes to lessen both the health consequences and logistical challenges of evacuating this particularly vulnerable population. Existing nursing homes in the floodplain can build enlargements of up to 15,000 square feet, allowing for modest improvements like resiliency measures. 

Through these changes, ZCFR expands temporary rules that were adopted by the City in 2013, months after Sandy. The temporary rules are set to expire one year after FEMA’s new flood maps are released, likely in 2024. 

Most of New York City’s homes and buildings were constructed at a time when we knew far less about the threats posed by flooding,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. “These new, more flexible rules were designed with climate change in mind and will make it easier for New Yorkers to strengthen their buildings with resiliency retrofits. We encourage all New Yorkers to learn more about their flood risks at FloodHelpNY.org and to enroll in flood insurance.” 

We’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact climate change can have on our City’s coastal communities,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “We commend the Department of City Planning for proactively working to help New Yorkers in flood-prone neighborhoods better protect their homes and livelihoods.”

Public Review begins for DCP’s Important Zoning for NYC Coastal Flood Resiliency

In addition to ZCFR, DCP is also starting public review for zoning changes in three neighborhoods as part of DCP’s Resilient Neighborhood Initiative – Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, and Old Howard Beach in Queens. These actions address resiliency challenges that are specific to the conditions found in these areas:

The launch of the seven-month public review process starts the clock for ZCFR, as well as the three neighborhood-specific actions. ZCFR will go to all 59 Community Boards for review, followed by the five Borough Presidents and Borough Boards. The three neighborhood-specific actions will only go before their respective local Community Boards and Borough Presidents. ZCFR and the three local actions will then go to the City Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote, followed by the City Council.

Detroit Waterfront District Design Competition

This is a story that few people are happy to tell. It is a story that shining downtown skyscrapers hide. However, the deep wounds on the huge body of Detroit Waterfront prove it happened and still endures: countless battered dwellings, empty streets and abandoned buildings scar the city.  

It is difficult to tell how “the arsenal of democracy” – Detroit grew to be known as this in the early 1940s- transformed into the largest modern-day ghost city. Yet, history is full of contrasts. The pendulum of time often changes its direction. Time and again, where a void is created an opportunity arises.    

Detroit Waterfront District Design Competition

Indeed, over the last years strong winds of change have been whipping the city. They have blown the fog of the past away and dispersed the mist of decay stifling Detroit’s development for decades. As a result, many of the voids of the city – the wounds generated by depopulation and economic crisis- turned into new epicenters of urban regeneration. They became valuable canvas where to paint new masterpieces of contemporary architecture.

Detroit Waterfront District Design Competition

Detroit Waterfront District precisely focuses on the most fascinating canvas of all: the urban void overlooking the river amid downtown skyscrapers. Detroit Waterfront District is the competition promoted by Manni Group in collaboration with Sterling Group to design the future leisure and entertainment heart of the city of Detroit.    

Architects will deal with the area where stood the Joe Louis Arena beside the place where- according to tradition- Detroit’s founding fathers landed. Participants will have the opportunity to design a building complex to redefine the city skyline. They will generate superb architecture masterpieces to become the symbol of the revival of one of the most iconic and controversial cities of the history of the United States of America

Detroit Waterfront District Design Competition

Detroit Waterfront District Competition Details


All the awarded proposals will be transmitted to architectural magazines and websites + international exhibitions  

Detroit Waterfront District Design Competition



Google is planning for a massive mixed-use project in San Jose, California

"Google's revised project proposal includes up to 7.3 million square feet of office space; 4,000 units of new housing; 15 acres of parks and open space; and 500,000 square feet of retail, culture and art space, among other features.

More than half of the Downtown West project will be allocated for residential and public space and include features such as childcare centers, outdoor learning centers and ecological viewing stations, said Alexa Arena, Google’s district lead for San Jose in a video.

San Jose Planning - The Downtown West Master Plan
Downtown West varies from north to south and east to west, with different degrees of natural and urban character, with each area supporting its surrounding area, within a 20-minute walk radius, to become a seamless addition to the neighborhood

The design "leans heavily on the desire for people to have access to nature even in center cities," she said. "We think this is critically important to help people live healthy and resilient lives."

Australia-based contractor Lendlease will provide master planning, entitlement and development services for the project, as part of the contractor’s $15 billion deal with Google to develop 15 million square feet of residential, retail, hospitality and other projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. The partnership with Lendlease is part of Google's commitment to build 20,000 homes in Silicon Valley to help ease the persistent shortage of housing in the area. 

Miami's Vision for an intercity network that people could bike and walk

"Under an elevated rail line in Miami, a new park will open this fall with a 10-mile path dedicated to walking and biking. It’s an infrastructure improvement for Miami cyclists, but it’s also part of a larger, interstate network of trails that will eventually make it possible to ride from Florida to Maine with little interaction with cars. And even that enormous project is itself just a small part of an even bigger dream: a network of protected bike lanes connecting cities across the country, making it possible to bike from city to city—and ocean to ocean—safely.

Called the Underline, the park in Miami will link into the East Coast Greenway project and is an example of the kind of trail that could form car-free connections across the entire country. “The projects are out there,” says Dennis Markatos-Soriano, East Coast Greenway Alliance executive director. “They just need the funding to complete design and construction.”

Brickell Backyard outdoor gym, Miami
Brickell Backyard outdoor gym

The group is now advocating for a greenway stimulus as a way to create a full national network of connected bike and pedestrian paths while simultaneously helping the economy recover from the pandemic. Ten billion dollars invested in greenways, Markatos-Soriano says, could support 170,000 jobs across the country. It could also generate another $100 billion in health and environmental benefits.

Other ambitious greenway projects are underway, including the Great American Rail-Trail, a cross-country path that aims to connect Washington, D.C., with the State of Washington. More than 1,900 miles of the likely route are already open for biking; the total route will cover 3,700 miles; the East Coast Greenway, traveling up and down the East Coast, has 1,000 miles completed out of 3,000. But the new push for more greenways envisions building the paths everywhere, making it possible to bike to a nearby city as easily as driving."

San Bernardino, California to update its general plan

Brian Whitehead from The San Bernardino Sun reports that PlaceWorks, a Santa Ana based firm, to write the general plan that was last updated in 2005.

"PlaceWorks, with whom elected officials contracted last week for $3.6 million, also will create a specific plan for downtown and update the city’s Development Code.

San Bernardino last updated its general plan – a long-range policy document that steers future growth and development – in 2005, and while myriad factors in recent years have necessitated updates, the cash-strapped city has been unable to do so.

With an assist from Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, the state’s current budget allocates $3 million to San Bernardino to amend its general plan. The city also has received a $625,000 state grant to craft a strategy for downtown development.

Councilman Jim Mulvihill last year called the $3 million a “lifesaver.”

While the Santa Ana firm’s $3.6 million bid was not the cheapest of the five up for consideration last week, city staffers recommended PlaceWorks based on its knowledge of San Bernardino, its responsiveness and attention to detail.

Additionally, the PlaceWorks team includes members of Rancho Cucamonga-based National CORE, a planning and development firm known for its public outreach and community engagement efforts.

Such work, city leaders have said, is paramount for a project so extensive."

Will the EU's Green Deal sets off another Bauhaus Movement?

"A century ago, the Bauhaus school brought together artists and architects like Paul Klee, Lilly Reich and Mies van der Rohe who challenged traditional orthodoxy and reshaped the West through their Modernist designs. Now the European Union sees a chance to create a new common aesthetic born out of a need to renovate and construct more energy-efficient buildings.

The proposal for energy retrofits is part of the climate actions at the core of the EU’s 1.8 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) coronavirus recovery plan and could result in a sweeping architectural makeover, one that leaders have compared to a new Bauhaus movement for the continent. One schedule calls for renovations of as much as 2% of the continent’s building stock every year. That type of “renovation wave” would advance the goal of making Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and could present an opportunity for a symbolic transformation as well.

Green Deal sets off a Second Bauhaus Movement
Bauhaus Archive, Berlin, Germany | Photograph © Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

“We need to give our systemic change its own distinct aesthetic — to match style with sustainability,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, during her state of the union address at the European Parliament Plenary on Sept. 16. “This is why we will set up a new European Bauhaus — a co-creation space where architects, artists, students, engineers, designers work together to make that happen.”

Details of this agenda are still being negotiated, but in pointing to the Bauhaus — the Weimar-era school that churned out influential thinkers in design, architecture and craft until it was forced to close by the Nazi regime in 1933 — commissioners summon a legacy with a powerful grip on the imaginations of Europeans (and others). The sheer scope of climate actions under consideration could give lawmakers, engineers and architects an opportunity to build toward a shared continental vision.

The commission will unveil the details of the renovation wave initiative, part of the European Green Deal, on Oct. 14. For now, it’s not shying away from an aesthetic commitment of some kind."

A hot new idea in city planning: build the way we did 100 years ago

"The concept is known as “the missing middle.” It refers to apartment buildings of middling scale, which were common in 1920. They’re a bit larger than houses but smaller than towers. They have been missing from cities for three generations; city leaders have been determined to “protect” house neighbourhoods from these apartments.

The term “missing middle” was coined by California-based planner Daniel Parolek, who argues in his new book that we need to bring these structures back. He’s right. But that alone will not solve the housing crisis in prosperous cities.

“Over the past half-century, we’ve forgotten how to build this way,” Mr. Parolek said in a recent interview. “And now we have a mismatch between the housing people want and the housing people need.”

His new book, Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis, is a crisp and clear explanation of the idea. In it he explains why it matters now, and how – through big changes and subtle policy tweaks – people in government can bring these buildings back.

Mr. Parolek’s agenda is conservative and cautious. “Missing middle” buildings are generally four storeys or less, not too wide and roughly the scale of houses. They have a low “visual density,” he writes. In other words, people don’t perceive them as being full of people, and yet they typically contain four to a couple dozen apartments.

New York City finally has a permanent Open Streets Program

Last Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city of New York's Open Restaurants on Open Streets program will be extended through the winter months and be made permanent in the city.

The news which was announced during an interview with Brian Lehrer on his WNYC radio show, was quickly picked up and amplified by the local urbanism news industry.

Reporting for Eater New York, Luke Fortney and Erika Adams described the details of the plan:

" Under the new rules, restaurants will be allowed to keep sidewalk and curbside dining going indefinitely. The city’s Open Streets program, which designated dozens of city blocks to shut down to car traffic for dining in the street over the summer, will also be made a permanent fixture. “This will really help us as an important part of how we recover as a city,” de Blasio said.

Restaurants will also be able to expand their frontage space to include seating in front of adjacent businesses if those landlords and tenants are open to it, the mayor said. He also stipulated that for restaurants that conduct outdoor dining in the winter, the space has to be kept “more open” to allow enough airflow. If the area is fully enclosed to better heat the space, those dining areas have to adhere to the same seating restrictions as indoor dining, which will start at 25 percent capacity next week.

"Even though indoor dining is set to return on September 30, many restaurant owners still say that outdoor dining is crucial to surviving through the winter. More than 1,700 restaurants and bars have closed in New York City since the start of the pandemic in mid-March, many citing the inability to pay rent from takeout and delivery services alone. Those that remain open have said that they’re clinging to all forms of revenue right now, even those with weeks-out reservations.

In August, de Blasio committed to bringing back outdoor dining next year tentatively starting on June 1, and earlier this month he said the city’s outdoor dining program “should become” a permanent seasonal tradition, recurring annually.

Canada Embassy in Beijing set to be redesigned

"Even amid frosty relations with China, Ottawa is looking to make a big “medium- to long-term investment” in its Beijing embassy to relieve “growth pressure” on the mission, according to a request for proposals posted by the federal government.

Ottawa is looking for a company in China to help put together a “forward-looking, ambitious, integrated and coherent” master plan to renovate its four-acre compound – partly to address the property’s evident security flaws.

In fact, a former ambassador to China said any new master plan for the embassy has to take into account “the security challenges that China poses.”

The request for proposals was posted to a government contracting site Tuesday and is seeking architects, engineers and urban planners to help design renovations and expansions that would maximize the use of the embassy grounds. A master plan, worth about $100,000, is expected to be delivered within a year of the contract being awarded.

“As one of the [Government of Canada’s] priority relationships, it is anticipated that the Beijing Mission will continue to see program growth in the short to medium term,” the documents say.

It’s a bullish vision for an embassy that has become emblematic of Canada’s fits-and-starts relationship with China. The embassy has grown, taken on new staff and added new programs, even as successive governments have grappled with Beijing’s abhorrent human-rights record.

New buildings were erected as part of initiatives to attract trade, investors and skilled immigrants, but they have become “overcrowded” over the past two decades, the solicitation documents say. A master plan for the embassy was drawn up in 2011 but never implemented.

The new expansion plans come as Ottawa appears paralyzed in its approach to President Xi Jinping’s government. A free-trade agreement and an extradition treaty have notionally been put on ice after a diplomatic row over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of Washington. Since then, Ottawa has been trying, without success, to free Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were apparently detained in retaliation.

Still, Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, believes “the weight of the world is shifting and has shifted toward Asia, so we need to do more in China,” according to a speech he delivered last week.

The solicitation documents prepared by Global Affairs Canada certainly suggest there will be plenty of work for the mission on Dongzhimen Outer Street."

"The trade mission has been housed in temporary accommodations for more than a decade, and “a number of offices still contain bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures from the original residences,” the solicitation documents note.

Part of the mission had to be torn down and rebuilt around 2000, after earthquakes compromised the foundation. At least one of the new buildings, however, has seen “rapid deterioration” due to “the high pollution levels and poor quality of materials available locally.” The age and condition of the chancery, which houses the diplomatic mission, is also “of particular concern.”

The documents also reveal that Canada has had trouble recruiting and retaining staff at the embassy because of the poor quality of Beijing’s air, which has had a negative impact on employees' health and “overall morale,” the documents say. Air filters and monitoring equipment were installed in the official residences, and staff were provided masks."

How Henning Larsen Architects Plan for Human-Scaled Mobility in Cities

Since the beginning, Henning Larsen’s philosophy has been guided by the drive to improve communities through thoughtful knowledge-based designs. This has been just as true for a small townhall on the Faroe Islands, like Eystur, as it is for other masterplans in cities across the globe. 

At the urban development scale, HLA brings a sensitivity to community and context that is an integral part of the Scandinavian design tradition. Sustainability is the jumping off point for any project, and mobility is often a key player in that strategy. The way people are able to move around a space, community, or city can be a decisive factor in the design’s sustainability. Whether it is a small community in Denmark or a Chinese megacity, the designs seek to bring human-scaled sustainable solutions wherever they are needed. 

Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City
Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City

1. Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City

The approach to Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City emphasized the human dimension within a 20-million-person megacity. Effectively reclaiming the entire ground level for pedestrians, the masterplan affirms there is no reason to exclude large-scaled cities from human-scaled mobility solutions.

Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City
Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City

The masterplan substitutes the traditional car-oriented urban typology for a dynamic play of scales between towers and smaller buildings woven together by intimately sized alleys. Cars and large shopping malls are relegated to a network of underground roads and retail arcades, creating an eye level urban experience dominated by cultural institutions, civic functions, and public plazas.

Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City defines a new urban strategy for China centered around livability and mobility.

2. Bodø

Taking into account both the challenges and opportunities of an Arctic climate, Henning Larsen have designed a high-capacity public transit network for all-season use, just in time for the northern Norwegian city to claim the title of European Capital of Culture 2024.


A menu of well-connected mobility options ensures ease of access to all public, civic, and cultural institutions of the city, whether it is by walking, cycling, public transit, or car sharing. A network of protected multi-modal transportation hubs links up with community centers such as schools, day care, and elderly care. Where public transport doesn’t reach, e-bikes, car-sharing, or autonomous mobility pods complete the “first and last stretch” commute. The “green shortcut”, a car-free stretch of green space and public parks running through the city, connects the entire city from mountain to sea.


Despite Bodø’s intense winter season, the mobility strategy prioritizes active mobility while limiting private vehicular traffic. By creating a microclimate that optimizes light and minimizes wind and rain we can stretch the seasons for walking and cycling, even for a city within the Arctic Circle. With a high degree of connectivity both within the city and to the urban periphery, the masterplan anticipates the long-term growth of Bodø.

3. Vinge City and Train Station

The proposal for Vinge, Denmark’s largest urban development, will build a new city with mobility, literally, at its core. Rather than have the new train station split the city in half, the station became an opportunity to create a landmark that melds mobility, landscape, and the public realm. A slopping hill arches across the train tracks to create an extended platform at the town’s center; a public plaza and transportation hub in one.  

Vinge City and Train Station
Vinge City and Train Station

The city is an extension of Greater Copenhagen’s “Finger Plan” where small developments grow alongside green corridors. The masterplan for Vinge brings dense and urban infrastructure to the area around the new station while maintaining this integral connection with nature.

4. Vejlands Quarter

The effects of climate change and rapid urbanization demands that they create new urban typologies with a reduced carbon footprint. The Vejlands Quarter, just outside Copenhagen’s center, melds human priorities with the needs of the natural world in a new all-timber district. In keeping with this light-touch philosophy, the porous boundaries between the built and natural world allow residents to easily traverse out to Amager Fælled and, alternatively, plant and wildlife to infiltrate inside.

Vejlands Quarter
Vejlands Quarter

Vejland is broken up into three interconnected regions that create an intimate village setting within the urban district. With a school, day care center, nursing home, and shops, Vejlands is a complete district for its 7,000 residents. Car traffic, which is severely limited in the development, becomes practically superfluous; nature is always present and nothing is more than a 10-minute walk away.  

5. Gdansk Imperial Shipyard

The masterplan for the Gdansk Imperial Shipyard is a case study in how to address two seemingly opposing problems facing cities. On the one hand, preserving a historical industrial waterfront site and, on the other, building a modern-day urban mobility strategy where none existed before.

Gdansk Imperial Shipyard
Gdansk Imperial Shipyard

While maintaining the existing buildings on site, the 400,000 m2 masterplan connects the waterfront and shipyard with the inner city. The mobility strategy is comprised of three major corridors- the promenade, the urban street, and the spine- that limits car traffic while providing a generous pedestrian and cyclists plan that is woven into the city’s existing street structure. In place of a proposed city highway running adjacent to the district, Gdansk Imperial Shipyard now boasts an ambitious goal of one-third of all trips completed by bicycle.

The Imperial Shipyard, already a prominent site in Gdansk history, will become an integrated and vibrant new urban district.

More cities approving bans on development to reduce Gentrification and Displacement

"Seeking to curtail gentrification and displacement, Atlanta and Chicago put construction and demolition moratoriums in place early this year. In Atlanta, construction permits were banned until Dec. 4 to slow investor activity near the western portions of the Beltline, a trail system under construction that is laid over old railroad tracks and driving up the value of real estate everywhere it winds.

Chicago made a similar move, prohibiting until February 2021 demolition of old two- and four-flats, which were being torn down in favor of large single-family houses, in the western portions of the 606 trail. Similar to Atlanta’s Beltline, the 606 is laid out over old rail tracks, in this case elevated ones, providing an urban greenway through several northwest Chicago neighborhoods. In both cases, public investment in the popular trails led to a jump in the value of privately owned real estate."

Lenox Terrace housing complex
A rendering of the proposed Lenox Terrace expansion

"Similar proposals are under discussion in New York, where a major expansion of Harlem’s Lenox Terrace housing complex has led to moratorium calls, and Gainesville, Fla., where student housing at the University of Florida may threaten historically Black neighborhoods."