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News & Notes

Regional bike path would include Fall River, Cape Cod [South Coast Today]

Thus was born the SouthCoast Regional Bikeway Summit, a Feb. 15 event that will gather representatives from this region and others to discuss creating a regional bikeway. Sponsored by Mass in Motion, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, UMass Dartmouth and the Council on Sustainability, the summit will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center in Fall River.

On the table that day will be a vision to create a bike trail network that extends from Swansea to Wareham and north to Taunton and Mansfield, ultimately connecting with paths in Rhode Island and on Cape Cod.

“From Providence to Provincetown, that’s the way we sort of coin it,” said [Mass in Motion coordinator Pauline C.] Hamel. “And we’re not just talking about biking. These are intermodal pathways for walking, pushing strollers, wheelchairs — there’s a lot more to it.”

European Urbanism: Lessons from a City without Suburbs [Planetizen]

While searching for policies and levers to stem new or to retrofit existing suburbs, it might also be instructive to look for precedents, real examples of a city as it would be on arrival at the “end of the suburban project”. Precedents not only would lure planners and people by the power of their images but could also become practical guides. A contemporary precedent, were it to be found, would have great convincing power since it would have dealt with the modern issues of mobility, accessibility and commerce.

Reassuringly, at least one such city does exist: one that has reformed its suburbs to the point where they are indistinguishable from the mother “city” – Athens, Greece. This article looks at this example, attempts to draw lessons and raises disquieting questions.

New evidence cities rule and suburbs drool [Grist]

Suck it, Thoreau: Looks like big cities are the way to go if you’re looking to lower your environmental impact. According to a new study published in the journal Environment and Urbanization, carbon emissions in cities are lower than in the car-dependent burbs.

R.I. DOT leaves highway logo fee discussion to legislature [Providence Business News]

After facing fierce opposition from business owners, the R.I. Department of Transportation has backed down from a plan to charge businesses whose logos appear on informational signs along the state’s highways.

Community celebrates arts center [Brown Daily Herald]

About 350 attendees explored the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at its dedication ceremony last night, taking in the wide variety of student artwork — incorporating visual art, sound, video, dance and sculpture — that adorns the latest addition to the campus.
The building — which has been open for classes since Jan. 26 — will not be host to any one department, but will “manifest new modes of dialogue between different disciplines,” said Richard Fishman P’89, director of the Creative Arts Council and a professor of visual art, who has championed the building since long before it existed.

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2 Responses to News & Notes

  1. Eric February 12, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    That new arts center at Brown is an instant eyesore. I may even detest it more than the Chace Center, and that’s saying a lot. It seems to me that the goal of architecture should be to design a visually appealing structure that meshes well with its surroundings. This new abomination fails on both counts.

  2. Peter Brassard February 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    @ Eric – Are you saying that postmodern architecture is the only solution for Providence or that the goal for architecture is to be bland and histrionic? If that\’s your argument, the Industrial Trust/Bank of America tower should never have been built because it was too radical and in no way meshed with its surroundings in the late 1920s. The same could be claimed for the State House, which compared to its Smith Hill neighborhood of wood frame three-deckers is a neoclassical behemoth, though extremely elegant. What if people challenged late 19th century house design because it used gaudy ornamentation and had high floor-to-floor heights, which didn’t really fit in with previous Federal and Colonial styles?

    Is it better to pile on tons of precast concrete onto facades pretending to be limestone or to erect phony factory built concrete panels with bricks glued onto the facade surface and erected by crane, as was the case with the Westin, to adhere to a specific narrow idea of what is perceived to mesh or fit in? Does it really fit in? Is it authentic?

    Whether anyone likes the Brown building or not, this is really a discussion about style and taste. There will always be varied opinions for and against. What the Brown building does do is relate to neighboring institutional and commercial buildings in height and bulk, which is one principle of good urban design. Historically older cities have always been comprised of collection of varied styles. The Brown building and the Chase Center reflect current architectural ideas. Only time will prove whether they are good designs or eyesores. Both mesh within the scale of their neighborhoods and the city.

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