Reimaging Urban Infrastructure

March 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Long Beach branch of the US Green Building Council recently hosted a panel discussion on the future of urban infrastructure. The standing-room only event was held in the solarium perched atop the historic Sovereign Building, which provided panoramic views of Downtown Long Beach and the coastline. The three speakers included Studio One Eleven’s Brian Ulaszewski, Stantec Transportation Engineer and Institute of Traffic Engineers President Rock Miller, and Madeline Brozen from the Complete Streets Initiative at UCLA’s Lewis Center.

The discussion ranged in scale from temporary street interventions like parklets to freeway cap projects and removal, all focused on using infrastructure to better serve the needs of people. Concepts such as protected bike lanes, roundabouts, and areas of refuge were identified as facilities that can be transposed onto existing street networks to promote active forms of mobility, while electricity transmission corridors and stormwater management systems could be used to create new open space.

Bulb-outs and parklets contribute to a more human-scale.

In an engaging discussion, Brian cited bold examples of infrastructure; examples were cited from as far as Seoul Korea (freeway removal and river revitalization) to as close as La Canada/Flintridge (the only freeway cap park in Southern California). Rock presented innovative bike facilities in Long Beach, including the sharrows in Belmont Shore and bike boulevard on Vista Street. Madeline teased the audience with the first Streets for People temporary plaza in Silver Lake as well as some less-famous examples of parklets in Istanbul, Turkey.

The content of the presentations paired with the view of the over-engineered Shoreline Drive was a fitting combination to inspire attendees to imagine a future where infrastructure is designed at a more human scale.

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