Posts from the Friday Five Category

It Takes More Than Bollards to Build a Bike Paradise: “Some cycling capitals are less well known. Take Nijmegen, a mid-sized Dutch city near the German border, where bikes boast an inner-city modal share of 60 percent. Last year, the Cyclists’ Union of the Netherlands voted it the best bike city in the country (and thus probably the universe)—toppling other towns that regularly garner international praise. What’s the city’s secret? A new documentary by Streetfilms shot during Velo-City, an international biking conference recently held in Nijmegen, hits on key points.”

Atlas for the End of the World: “Coming almost 450 years after the world’s first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation’s 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.”

LANDSCAPE: All Night Menu Stirs the Plot: “Here’s how Sam Sweet describes his All Night Menu project: “A periodic index of lost heroes and miniature histories. Its only objective is to make the invisible equal to the visible.” The series of five handmade booklets explores Los Angeles’ sprawl with gritty elegance. Each story unveils multilayered narratives from otherwise overlooked corners. On this episode of LAndscape, Sweet joins Frosty on a jaunt around Los Angeles to flip some stones. Hear about the extraordinary, unsung characters who’ve roamed these streets and the music that moved them.”

California Plant Communities by Zipcode:
These lists are an attempt to define what plant community(ies) exist for every city, town and zipcode in California. Although we’ve traversed most of California, it seems humanly impossible to track every road and village in one lifetime. Works like Munz’s California Flora, McMinn’s Shrubs of California, Abram’s Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States, or the original Jepson Manual (Manual of the Flowering Plants of California, by Willis Linn Jepson) continually amaze me with how few hillsides they missed. They didn’t have zipcodes then.”

The Last House On Mulholland – HOME: Stories from LA: How will we live in 20 years? Or 50? Or 100? A one-of-a-kind, only-in-LA plot at the very end of Mulholland Highway inspired some of the world’s best designers to think hard about the home of the future, in Los Angeles and beyond.

This Is How Hot Your City Could Be By The End Of The Century: “A new map shows the predicted summer temperature changes in cities around the world, along with what might happen instead if the world manages to make moderate cuts in emissions roughly in line with what’s planned in the global Paris agreement.

Why L.A. Has Clashing Street Grids: “Several distinct political and cultural regimes have passed through Southern California, and each has left its unique mark on the region’s built environment. The result—clashing street grids, along with errant boulevards defying the grids’ attempts at order—is a palimpsest of past cultural influences on the Los Angeles cityscape.”

Here’s every total solar eclipse happening in your lifetime. Is this year your best chance?: “On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the continental United States. It’ll be the first to traverse coast to coast in nearly a century. There will be 69 total solar eclipses visible from somewhere on the planet in the next 100 years, but only a few will be visible from North America. See how many total solar eclipses are left in your lifetime:”

How Baxter Became One of L.A.’s Steepest Streets: “From Dead Man’s Curve on Sunset to the impossibly short on-ramps of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, Los Angeles roadways offer many opportunities for white-knuckled motoring. But perhaps none is as terrifying – or as thrill-inducing – as Baxter Street. Today, the city caps street grades at 15 percent, and new roads generally conform to the contours of the landscape. So how did such a street as Baxter ever get built?”

Behind the Scenery: The Subtle Art of Crafting Public Wilderness Trails: The National Trails System‘s 30 Scenic and Historic routes alone span over 50,000 miles, longer than the entire Interstate Highway System. Extending across all 50 states, the National Recreation Trails network contains over 200,000 additional miles of public pathways. A person could walk these trails continuously for years and still experience only a fraction of the total system.

What 20 L.A. Neighborhoods Look Like Through The Eyes Of Metro Artists: : “Since 2003, Metro has been commissioning artists to create unique visions of different L.A. neighborhoods and communities for their “Through the Eyes of Artists” series. Created in the tradition of colorful travel destination posters, the works are displayed on board Metro trains and buses and intended to encourage riders to explore new destinations within the transit agency’s ever-expanding network.”

The Otherworldly Landscape of the Salton Sea in Photos: “The Salton Sea is about 150 miles southeast of Los Angeles, but its landscape could be from another world. Once-bustling marinas in California’s largest lake, located along the San Andreas earthquake fault, are now bone-dry.”

10 Reasons Architects Should Play More Video Games: “As Architects, we often consider several creative pursuits, such as sketching, painting and sculpting, as ways to develop our creative processes and hone our craft. But, have you ever considered that playing video games could hold the same benefits? Probably not, but here are 10 reasons why you should start to.”

A Flower Belongs in a Meadow: “Kazuyuki Ishihara is known around the world for his garden designs. He has won 8 gold medals in various categories at London’s annual Chelsea Flower Show since 2006. In 2016, he received the President’s Award, an honor given to a work chosen from all categories. This year, Ishihara is competing once again, aiming to be the first person to win the President’s Award twice in a row. Tune in and watch his gardening magic.”

One Less Car-centric City: Our new favorite urbanism podcast. “How can we reimagine our streets and turn them into dignified, safe, and healthy places for people? Oslo is on its way to transforming its downtown into a completely car-free district, in an ambitious plan to make the city even healthier through walking, cycling, and public transportation. But even in Oslo they can encounter the usual problems when it comes to business owners and parking concerns.”


Cruising a Superhighway Built for Bikes: “Imagine a world where a safe, usable bike route between neighboring towns isn’t good enough because there are stoplights interrupting it. That world is the Netherlands, where such “inadequacies” are recognized and responded to with full-throated government support. That’s how they build projects like the RijnWaalpad, an 11-mile cycling highway that sails between the southeastern cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen without a single stop.”

Being Hear – Preventing the all-consuming sound pollution of modern life starts with listening to nature: “At once a profile, a guided meditation and a call to action, Being Hear follows Hempton as he records sounds on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula – a National Park that contains the continental United States’ only rainforest. Combining Hempton’s measured words with striking scenes and sounds of the park’s lush vegetation, rippling waters and diverse animal life, the film suggests that ensuring that parts of nature remain untouched by human sound starts with us listening attentively and with intention.”

Best Places To Be Alone In Los Angeles: “Los Angeles is a massive city, where millions of residents shuffle from one place to the next and hustle to pay exorbitant rents. The proliferation of health-oriented activities and services in the city is sometimes a huge help, but often they’re massively popular and packed with people—a.k.a. the opposite of relaxing. So where do you go when you need some time away from your hectic life and all the people within it?”

MVRDV transforms 1970s highway into “plant village” in Seoul: “South Korea’s answer to New York’s High Line, the 983-metre-long park occupies a stretch of the 1970s highway destined for demolition. It now contains 24,000 trees, shrubs and flowers set into cylindrical planters.”

Nick Hummingbird of Hahamongna Native Plant Nursery: The Hahamongna Native Plant Nursery, located in Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park is only two years old, but the watershed is ancient. “I utilize my culture to teach people. I don’t tell them all our secrets, because there’s always room for exploitation, [but] I teach them a little bit so that they bring the plant and put it in their yard, and it opens up a door. They see the hummingbird come, and then they may use that plant for a tea or something and it works for them, and then they want to learn more. I call it the gateway drug – the gateway plants to the rest of the plants.”

Image: Park 101

Downtown Freeway Cap Park Reemerges: “The proposal to build park space above the U.S. 101 freeway’s Downtown Slot has been quiet for some time, but don’t count the project as dead quite yet. Representatives of Park 101 have begun circulating updated information on the project, which would cap four blocks between Grand Avenue and Los Angeles Street.”

As the Public Realm Merges With the Workplace, How Will Our Cities Change?: “Parks, plazas, courtyards, and semi-public places like cafés are often full of people working. Knowledge workers require significant flexibility in where and how they conduct collaborative versus focused work, and they need spaces to recharge; the public realm may help meet these demands. While an understanding of the motivations that drive knowledge workers is best left to further research, their participation in the public realm is undeniable, reflecting its value in the creation of intellectual capital.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti Thinks A Monorail Might Be The Answer To L.A. Traffic: “On KNX-AM, Garcetti praised the efficiency of a new monorail system in China, pointing to evolving technology from BYD Motors—a Chinese electric car and bus company that opened a North American headquarter in Downtown L.A. in 2011—as an improvement that could make the future of the Los Angeles monorail more viable.”

An Ohio City is Turning an Unused Highway Into a Pop-Up Forest: “Akron, Ohio hopes to fight urban inequality by removing a divisive highway. Other cities across America are looking into doing the same.”

In Praise of June Gloom, L.A.’s Most Underappreciated Weather Event: “People may praise L.A.’s copious supply of sunshine or wax poetic about the Santa Ana Winds, but if there’s one weather event in Southern California that is woefully underappreciated, it’s June Gloom. It’s the calm before the summer swelter, the two or three months of moody and mild weather that precede the scalding months of July, August and September.”