Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama, Green Bailouts and Pecha Kucha

Forthwith, some links to tide you over the upcoming blog-less days. And remember, just because I link to a piece doesn't necessarily mean I agree with all the ideas therein. So Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Merry Kwanzaa, Festive Festivus and see you in a week or so.

More on speculation about Obama's to-be-named director of urban policy. One name being mentioned to run it, says Jeff Byles in The Architect's Newspaper, is Bruce Katz, the Brookings Institution’s chair in urban and metropolitan policy (Katz has called such speculation “premature”).

“This will be the first time in my professional life that we’ve had a president who comes from a city and has a strong urban agenda,” said Thomas Wright, executive director of New York's Regional Plan Association. “That position is not going to be your grandparents’ urban policy.”

Here's some wonderfully snarky comments on architecture in Russia from Russia! Magazine. It's courtesy of one of my regular readers, "Jumper." http://readrussia.com/winter_09_06.htm

More advice to Obama, this from John Norquist, former Milwaukee mayor and now president of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Courtesy of New Urban News:

"Green the bailouts. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may again be needed to ensure liquidity in mortgage markets, but now that the government fully controls them it should remove provisions that prohibit Fannie and Freddie from involvement in buildings that are less than 75 percent residential. That makes mortgages for McMansions in far-flung exurbs easy to write, but makes purchasers of condominiums in many mixed-use buildings scramble for non-conventional financing. A three-story building with condos upstairs and a small grocery store like Trader Joe’s on the first floor would be a godsend in a place like Iowa City or Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood, but Fannie and Freddie need to make it easier to finance."
Full version of Norquist's letter here.

A not-new but still interesting piece in Wilson Quarterly (courtesy of the ever-interesting Joe-at-the-front-desk) on a traffic engineering guru, the late Hans Monderman. (Contains this fabulous factoid: Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was trained as a traffic engineer. Go figure.) Monderman's most famous maxim was that traditional traffic safety ­infra­structure —warning signs, traffic lights, metal railings, curbs, painted lines, speed bumps, and so ­on — ­is not only often unnecessary, but can endanger those it is meant to protect.

Last, though not least, a reminder to the visually talented among you, from Manoj Kesavan, founder of http://www.point8.org/ : There's a Pecha Kucha night Jan. 15, starting at 7:30 p.m., at Alive (2909 NoDa). Pecha Kucha is a sort of open-mike night for visual presentations. You're limited to 20 slides, 20 seconds each. Deadline for sending your presentations is 5 p.m. Dec. 31.

Want to know more? See www.point8.org/pechakucha/ or e-mail present.pkn@point8.org