Are bicycles a valid transportation option?

In an August 15th interview with Gwen Ifill on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer", Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters hinted that too much federal money was being spent on bike trails and that was partially responsible for the bridge collapse in Minnesota. In the interview she said, "I think Americans would be shocked to learn that only about 60 percent of the gas tax money that they pay today actually goes into highway and bridge construction. Much of it goes in many, many other areas." She continued on to explain that "there are museums that are being built with that money, bike paths, trails, repairing lighthouses. Those are some of the kind of things that that money is being spent on, as opposed to our infrastructure." You can read the transcript of the entire interview here. You can also read a story about the interview at Salon.

I found Secretary Peters' comments particularly interesting since I just spent a week in Copenhagen, Denmark at a conference. discussing the Future of Cities. It was widely agreed that alternative forms transportation were key to the development of sustainable cities. It was also interesting to learn that in Copenhagen nearly 40% of residents ride their bikes to work. If I remember correctly the breakdown was something like 37% bike, 33% car, and 30% mass transit. Also, in about a month my office will be moving and I will start commuting to work on bike as well.

What do you think? Are bikes a viable transportation option in Tampa Bay? Should 60% of the gas tax be used on building highways? Or should a higher percentage be used for mass transit? What about congestion taxes? They seem to be working great in London and soon may come to fruition in NYC?


engineer vs architect

A receptionist at a contractor's office today asked me, "What's the difference between a structural engineer and an architect?" I laughed in my head, and tried to not be too taken back.
Then I began wondering, what IS the difference. Turns out her question was extremely valid.
According to city's permit office, either an architect of professional engineer can sign and seal drawings. There is no clear designation for when an architect is required to receive a permit. So if an architect is not required for permit (which is the single document that every building requires), then when is an architect required?
It happens every day, buildings are built all around us with no architect involvement. Not just is suburbia, but in urban infill, on main streets, in long established neighborhoods. The ARC does not even require an architect be involved. They are the ARCHITECTURAL review commission.
How did we become so marginalized? Is it because most architects would not want to touch a single family tract house? Is it because of our egos? Is it because big corporations have taken over design, i.e. Target, IKEA, Home Depot, and home design software? Is it because so many contractors and engineers are ready to get dirty and get the job done, while we are worried about AIA contract documents and liability?
How do we get back in the game and truly effect a larger portion of the built environment?

hyde park village

Is it me or does it just take forever to get something done in Tampa?
3 years ago I first heard of the changes coming to Hyde Park Village. The movie theater was closed last year to prepare for the changes coming. and, then, nothing.
The developer has now presented another new scheme hoping for resident approval. see stpete times article.
After this presentation, three additional presentations are required, with one being in December. The redevelopment plans were first announce in February of '06.
Go here to see the May plans on the Old Hyde Park Village website.
From the 'pretty' watercolors the design is decent. CGHJ will definitely pull out a quality design. The important part is the density and creating a streetscape with buildings that are taller than the current single story. The vignettes definitely show a more 'urban' or 'village' feel. Mediterranean without being too literal.
Hopefully we will see construction before 2010.


Art on Friday!

Nueva Evolucion
Friday, September 28, 2007 6pm-10pm
The West Tampa Center for the Arts
At the Historic Former Santaella Cigar Factory
1906 N. Armenia Avenue Tampa, FL 33607813.453.4381
Additional info:

Down with the man

Or at least go to the man when he is offering free stuff…


Yes it is free and works with MS files.

Open source baby!


Cool websites to waste time

VĂ©rifiez-le dehors!

For present chaos in eye crack design from a-z and around the world:
***************************************************************and so on
Another, one of my personal favorites. This kid is pretty funny, sarcastically highlighting his personal relationship with design along with some bizarre articles. If you explore his site, he also offers tips for computer users, including links to open-source-ware.

florida green buildings forum

The Florida Building Commission is sponsoring a forum on Monday, October 1, 2007 in Tampa, FL, to discuss local government ordinances supporting Building Green and state support of public awareness of Building Green. Interested parties are invited to make recommendations that will be evaluated in the development of a model ordinance for local governments. For more information, visit: http://consensus.fsu.edu/FBC/ECW.html

In other related GREEN news.
October 11, USF & Emerging Green Builders, A conversation on Green Building
October 17, GreenDrinks at McDintons irish pub tampabaygreendrinks@gmail.com
October 23, Green Dividend, hosted by Tampa Downtown Partnership


Ruskin House completed

The long awaited "Ruskin House" by Mike Calvino is complete. Join Mike and others for a final tour before the owner's take full occupancy.
Congrats to Mike Calvino on a job well done, contributing to modern architecture in the bay area, and bringing a whole new meaning to design/build.


one bay workshops announces for community involvement

Please join OneBay to participate in a county-wide Reality Check Tampa Bay exercise. Using engaging materials including Legos®, ribbons, and county maps, participants will make decisions about where and how each county should grow in relationship to the region. Participants will have the opportunity to review the guiding principles set by the regional Reality Check participants and comment and vote on these principles. The tabletop exercise, designed by the Urban Land Institute, educates participants about the interrelationship among regional land use, transportation systems, and natural resources. Input received from each of the seven county workshops will be used to create alternative growth scenarios for the Tampa Bay region.
Pinellas County - Thursday, October 4, 2007

Click Here to RSVP or Call Katie Nohe at (813) 872-2814


tampa park(ing) day

downtown will get a bit more green space, if at least for one day. here.

Tampa Small | urban charette making the rounds

“Do we really need another group joining the downtown design conversation?” The Urban Charrette makes the case for having the right voices at the table. Young, talented urban planners and architects add a dimension of expertise and creativity to the conversation that is worth hearing, and currently missing.

Urban charette has made more news with the design forum held last weekend. see article in creativetampabay. Seems like last weekend's event was very successful. Let's see where this group goes!


tampa history center moves forward

Contractor has been awarded for the Tampa History Center. full story
One more piece of the Riverwalk puzzle is falling into place. Construction to be completed by the end of 2008. (Superbowl time)
Go here for some design images. Personally the siting of the museum is more important than the actual building. Its interface with Channelside, the forum and the river are the keyes to its success. I would be interested to see some site plans, but have not found any yet.
Story in the trib


central park village plans unveiled

Found a link to some master planning images of the Central Park redevelopment area. The dates on the images are old, but these are the first images I have seen. The redevelopment area is immediately north of downtown. It is pretty much a link between downtown and ybor city.
The work is done by locals, Collman & Karsky. 2,000 residential units, retail, greenspace and a grocery store within 5 years? OK, sure...
The design is pretty typical Tampa, I was hoping for something cooler, but given the location and attention the project is getting, expected something exactly like this.
Hopefully this project will get off the ground unlike the seemingly stalled Heights project.
Thoughts? Concerns?


The Municipal Art Society of New York

We are not NYC,

but I thought this was a nice example of a non-profit getting involved in their home place.
A suite of programs include maintaining public art, re-energizing neighborhoods, funding efforts and coaching, encouraging those with relevant professions to get involved.

The ideas and passion are here:

^Up^Keep Art

East River Charrette


'The Municipal Art Society of New York is a private, non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote a more livable city. Since 1893, the MAS has worked to enrich the culture, neighborhoods and physical design of New York City. It advocates for excellence in urban design and planning, contemporary architecture, historic preservation and public art.'