Current Affairs

"A Renaissance Runs Through It--What Pittsburgh’s latest comeback tells us about urban revitalization"

Detailed analysis of what has worked and what hasn't in reviving Pittsburgh. Some of the choicest bits:

They’d been too busy imagining what East Liberty should look like instead of observing what was going on in the street—how developers and customers and tenants behaved in the current market. “Test to the market” became ELDI’s new mantra, and it led to some new strategies. . . . 

“We realized that crime is a non-negotiable,” says ELDI’s deputy director, Skip Schwab. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re high-income or low-income, black or white, homeowner or renter, people don’t want to move into a neighborhood that is unsafe. . . .

What can other cities learn from Pittsburgh’s renaissances? The first lesson is the one that Jane Jacobs saw early on: beware of master planners, especially when they’re spending other people’s money.

And that brings us to the second lesson from Pittsburgh’s renaissances: the master planners never go away—they just change tactics.


"The Enemies of American Infrastructure"

Just sad:

Keystone Pipeline, everyone supported quickly constructing towers to replace the World Trade Center towers lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. One may assume that in the aftermath of 9/11, designs, bids and permitting were fast-tracked, yet it took more than five years before construction began. Freedom Tower, the dazzling replacement to the Twin Towers, didn’t open until 2014, just over 13 years after the towers fell.

By contrast, the Empire State Building was built in 14 months. And while Freedom Tower undoubtedly is constructed to higher modern standards, the added time necessary to meet those by now should be offset by equally more advanced construction practices. A more current example would be the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. This megastructure, more than twice the height of Freedom Tower, was built in just under six years.