FC: In early 2011, seed money enabled you to get your company, G3Box, off the ground. How is it progressing?
Susanna Young: Right now we’re making a template to give to construction firms. It costs $15,000 to $18,000 to build a clinic. Our goal is to produce one in two to four weeks. We’ll start taking orders in August.
Gabrielle Palermo: We’re also finding shipping partners to haul the boxes to ports in Los Angeles for distribution.
A group of Seattle entrepreneurs has come up with one solution to the urban food desert problem, and it doesn’t involve adding traditional supermarkets to underserved areas. Their new venture, Stockbox Grocers, is taking the favoritebuilding block of the green-building movement—the shipping container—and adapting it into a miniature food emporium, packed from floor to roof with fresh produce and other staples.
"Our goal is to bring food back to communities, and focus on communities that don’t currently have good access to food and are heavily dependent on public transportation," says founder and owner Carrie Ferrence. This week, Stockbox celebrates the opening of a 160-square-foot prototype store in a parking lot in a neighborhood where corner stores are the only source of food. Up to five customers can shop at once, said Ferrence, and only one person is needed to staff the operation.
As Modernist buildings reach middle age, many of the stark structures that once represented the architectural vanguard are showing signs of wear, setting off debates around the country between preservationists, who see them as historic landmarks, and the many people who just see them as eyesores.
The conflict has come in recent months to this quaint village 60 miles north of New York City — with its historic harness-racing track, picturesque Main Street and Greek Revival, Federal and Victorian houses — where the blocky concrete county government center designed by the celebrated Modernist architect Paul Rudolph has always been something of a misfit.
“I just don’t think it fits with the character of the county seat and the village of Goshen,” said Leigh Benton, an Orange County legislator who grew up in the area. “I just thought it was a big ugly building.”
Completed in 1967, the building has long been plagued by a leaky roof and faulty ventilation system and, more recently, by mold; it was closed last year after it was damaged by storms, including Tropical Storm Irene.
Edward A. Diana, the Orange County executive, wants to demolish it, an idea that has delighted many residents but alarmed preservationists, local and national, who say the building should be saved. The county legislature is expected to decide whether to demolish or renovate it next month.
Those who want to save it call it a prime example of an architectural style called Brutalism that rejected efforts to prettify buildings in favor of displaying the raw power of simple forms and undisguised building materials, like the center’s textured facade.
The article does have one great quote that describes both the Sturdy Stone Centre and the Education Building at the University of Saskatchewan.
In an interview Theodore Dalrymple, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute who has written about the architecture of Le Corbusier, described Brutalist buildings as “absolutely hideous, like scouring pads on the retina.”
On a recent crisp afternoon, chainsaw-wielding ice sculptors repaired a giant elephant in the bar of Snow Village—home to one of just two ice hotels in North America.
At the other, Hotel de Glace, 160 miles north in Quebec City, crews pushed mini-snow blowers through the hallways, while monitoring a massive ice chandelier hanging in the lobby.
For the past 12 years, Hotel de Glace enjoyed a monopoly in ice tourism on the continent. But this winter, after upstart Snow Village opened its doors, both are scrambling to distinguish themselves in this super-niche market.
Tammy Peddle, a Snow Village spokeswoman, plays down any rivalry. There is "no conflict" between the two, she says in an email. "We have an entire village where you can eat, sleep, visit, play…they have a hotel."
"We are the standard," says Hotel de Glace founder and president Jacques Desbois.
Both tout the uniqueness of spending a night in a cold, dark room entirely made of ice and snow, with no electricity. It is generally not a market with a lot of repeat customers.
"A must do," wrote Martin and Tonia from Spain, in the guest book of the Hotel de Glace. "Once."
"What we’re selling is not accommodation," says Snow Village proprietor Guy Belanger. "It’s an experience."
Back to my idea. I was reading about igloo makers and after talking to friends who have gone ice camping and stayed quite warm with just a candle and body heat that guys in the shelter would probably prefer their own igloo to living in a dorm. I remember joking about the idea with guys in the shelter and as long as we could run extension cords for a television and they had access to showers, they actually thought it was a good idea.
Of course I was only kidding but they were not, it is one of the reasons why when the weather warms up in spring, why people are moving back out to the encampments along the tracks and along the river. It isn’t that they want to stay outside it is for them preferable to sleeping in a warm bed but in a congregate setting.
One of the things that I am thrilled that The Lighthouse did is with the new women’s emergency shelter, it is still congregate settings but with three times the space as the old women’s dorm, they are only adding three new beds and using room dividers. Being homeless is hard enough and in an emergency, there will at least be a nice place to stay.
So last week I had a great offer to test drive a 2012 Ford Focus. Here are my thoughts.
Design means something at Ford again. It’s just not the exterior, it’s everything. I was watching a CNBC program on Ford a couple of years ago and the engineer was talking about how important it was to get the small things right which is something that for a long time, the Big Three wasn’t getting right. Initial quality wasn’t that great and their cars didn’t look that great outside of their trucks and SUVs. Who was passionate and excited about a 2002 Ford Taurus?
Somewhere during the financial crisis, instead of begging for bailouts, Ford decided to design cars. Looking back at it, it was the right move as the styling on the Ford Focus actually inspired some emotion out of me, despite being an entry level sedan. Maybe the reason that the car is actually German engineered but whatever reason, I loved to get up in the morning, look out and see the Focus there. It’s that nice looking.
The car was silver, slight tint on the rear window and the SEL version. It looks exactly like the Ford Focus in the photo except that car is on a gorgeous background and finding something nice as a background in Saskatchewan during February was a hard challenge. There just was no way to get it inside the Mendel’s Conservatory. So just envision it slightly dirty and on a grey background with a guy that looks like me wishing he was in a warmer climate.
While design is so subjective, it is a similar size to the Chevrolet Cruz while it offers up a lot more refinement and finish. The styling looks original and fresh, which is something that you can’t say about many other American automakers. Like I said, Ford found it’s design chops.
The car as reviewed had cloth seats and if I owned the car, I would buy car seat covers on it since I have two boys, two sloppy boys.
I am 6’4 tall and I don’t have a slight build so room is an issue. My 1993 Ford Escort wagon was way to short for me while my beloved 1993 Ford Festiva was more than adequate so I was quite curious how the Ford Focus was going to fit. To my surprise there was more than enough room for me and more than enough room for me to put my seat too far back. I think anyone under 6’8 would fit comfortably in the car. If Dave King was a little closer I would test out my theory that both of us could fit in the car comfortably. My thanks for Ford for hiring taller engineers. My back, neck, and shoulders thank you. We did take it for lunch and there were no complaints from my co-workers in the backseat.
As for the family, Mark (11 years) old and Oliver had a lot of room. I never thought about it but Mark was the one that sat behind me and he never complained about room and I never felt his knees in my back. The trunk was impressive and had more than enough room to hold a couple of coolers and duffle bags for a weekend trip if we had headed to the the cabin.
Of course the big marketing point of Ford cars was Ford Sync. I got into the car and immediately gave it an order. Nothing. Gave it another order. Nothing. Tried again and again. Not a single response. Looked for a manual, none was in the car. I looked around and finally found the Ford Sync paddle that was on the steering wheel. After feeling like an idiot, the Sync helped me figure it out. We had some good trips together and some that I struggled a bit with.
Well I finally got it. Once I got used to it, the Sync was actually quite useful, especially when sync’d up to my phone or iPod. I never took it on a long road trip but if I had, it would have been even more useful. Since I don’t use a hands free, I ignore my phone when in a car (it can wait). To have it connected to Sync and use it to take calls easily and safely was well worth the money for it. The one thing the video does show is the fun of my family trying to confuse the Sync and ask it a series of question on the meaning of life. It controls the temperature well but could use some refinement in answering existential questions.
As for the GPS, I have never ever needed to use a GPS, even when in strange cities (it’s called a map folks, study it). It was a neat feature but not one that I needed. That being said, I have friends who can’t find their bathroom without one so there is a market for it.
The heated seats were a nice feature, especially their control which made it easy to discreetly turn up the heated seats on Wendy without her noticing I did it. Yes I am that childish.
It has a backup camera. Having never backed into anything, it wasn’t really a needed feature but again, Ford did a nice thing with this. It projects the path of your car which lets you know if you are going to make it out of that spot. For a feature that I never thought I would need, I liked it.
Off Road Performance
I did the kind of take the Ford Focus off-roading. I took it down the ungraded side streets of Mayfair and Caswell Hill. The ruts are worse than anything you will ever see a SUV drive through on television. While the ride was rough, the car held together, something that can’t be said for some cars driving to and from work on Saskatoon streets. Actually the car took the worst that Saskatoon streets could toss at it and handled it quite well. The traction control was great on Saskatoon’s icy streets and the anti-lock breaks worked as expected in a variety of slippery road conditions.
The other test you will never see in a magazine is the parking at The Lighthouse test. In the back our parking spots are elevated on a slope and often icy. The traction control got me up the slope and parked. It succeeded where more than one SUV has had to be kicked into four wheel drive to park.
This is the one area that the car didn’t impress me much. In accelerating quickly on the highway, the transmission shifted up so many times that it really impacted acceleration. Not only that but I found it quite disorientating. While my Mazda Protégé is a standard, I am not one to over-rev it but the Focus seemed to be shifting at way too low of RPM and didn’t seem to realize that I was trying to go fast, not save fuel efficiency. This was the one thing that I didn’t really like about the car which was brought up in a couple of reviews, the transmission does seem a little odd.
The good news is that it is a firm ride which I have always liked. On a winding road, the Ford is enjoyable and pleasant to drive. It doesn’t sway in corners and features responsive steering. I liked how to felt to drive, both in town and out of town. With it’s sunroof, it would be a great vacation car, a car that you wanted to take on a long summer road trip.
Would I buy one? Yes I would but I would get the six speed manual transmission. I prefer a standard but other than that, there wasn’t anything on the car that I didn’t like. I took a Cruz and Camry out out for a test drive this week and of the three, the Focus gave the nicest ride and overall experience. It’s worth checking out if you are in the market for a new vehicle. It also gives me faith in Ford’s long term survival if these are the cars that it is making now.
"Let’s look at the building technology," says Holmes, whose ideal First Nations home would be about 1,100 square feet and built with wood and other materials that won’t burn or be susceptible to mould.
"I don’t care if you want a box. I don’t care if you want it off the ground. I don’t care if you want a foundation. It’s using all the products that make sense, nothing but mould-free, nothing but zero VOCs [volatile organic compounds]. This is not hard."
Holmes, who is also an adviser on a 90-unit affordable housing project for seniors in Edmonton that is a partnership involving the city and the Métis Capital Housing Corporation, has no patience for any argument that his ideas will cost too much.
Sure, mould-free drywall might cost 50 cents or $1 more per sheet than standard drywall, Holmes concedes, but will pay off in the long term, especially considering the number of homes on First Nations reserves that need renovation only a few years after being built. More than 40 per cent of the existing homes on reserves need major repairs, compared with seven per cent off reserve, according to a government-commissioned assessment of First Nations housing.
"Look at the cost of taking it down and doing it again," Holmes said. "There’s no comparison."
For Holmes, helping First Nations improve their housing stock extends far beyond choosing the right wood and drywall or hammering nails.
"The smartest thing we can do is to teach the First Nations how to do it," says Holmes. "When they do it themselves, they have pride, and they care, and that’s what I think is the missing link, not to mention just using the wrong products and building foolishly."
In Saskatoon bridges cost hundreds of millions of dollars, deeply divide the city, and then tend to fall down because they haven’t been properly maintained. The locals of Nongriat in Meghalaya, India have a different approach to infrastructure, they grow it.
They have been doing this for the past 500 years. Some of the bridges are 100 feet long and can hold up to 50 people (which is more than the Traffic Bridge can hold at this time).
Balzac has now been emptied, though, and a spidery mechanical arm tears away at it each day. The towering wall of stained concrete and tile, once 600 feet long and 16 stories high, is to be replaced by a cluster of smaller units, part of a $60 billion nationwide plan to refurbish France’s roughest neighborhoods.
It is hardly the first time such efforts have come to the 4000. Governments have been razing and rebuilding in this neighborhood for 25 years, hopeful that new architecture and new theories about how best to house the poor will solve the problems here. Residents and local officials, though, have few expectations that new walls and fresh pavement, whatever their configuration, can drive a deeper renewal.
“They’re not building shopping centers, they’re not creating jobs for young people,” said Soraya, 42, who was raised in Balzac and now lives nearby, requesting that her last name be withheld for fear of retribution by local thugs. “This will solve none of our problems.”
Balzac will be the fifth tower she has seen fall. Her current residence sits on what was once the site of the Renoir tower, destroyed in 2000. Ravel and Presov came down in 2004. A first tower, Debussy, was dynamited in 1986; the event was broadcast on national television and heralded as the start of a broad urban renewal.
Erected in the 1960s, the 4000 was meant as a utopia, an experiment in social engineering that would rationalize the lives of the immigrant workers it would house.
The theory of the day, drawing on the architectural philosophy of Le Corbusier, held that residential areas ought to remain separate from roads and the workplace, and so the cluster was built as a sort of island; residents trudged across a muddy field to reach the adjacent train station. Each airy apartment was equipped with a bathroom, a relative rarity in Paris at the time. The complex was deemed revolutionary.
A model of the 4000 was exhibited at the Grand Palais in 1961.
Government after government has since pledged to undo the damage they say these structures have done. In 1973, an official directive halted the construction of such housing clusters, deploring their “homogeneity” and “monotony,” and the “social segregation” they imposed.
And yet, while the particular philosophy underlying the 4000 has been disavowed, few French officials have jettisoned a belief in the primacy of architecture in shaping social outcomes, said Marie-Christine Vatov, the editor in chief at Innovapresse, a media group specializing in architecture and urban planning.
“Mixing” and “openness” have replaced “separation” and “uniformity” as the watchwords of the day. But the central lesson of the past decades, Ms. Vatov said, has been the error of such faith in the power of architecture.
“It’s not enough to build in a certain way,” she said, especially without more pointed efforts to improve education and employment.
The origin of the mark goes like this: Knight wanted to differentiate BRS‘s custom product from the ones they were importing from Onituska in Japan: "…so Knight turned to a graphic design student he met at Portland State University two years earlier." One day in 1969, the student, Carolyn Davidson, was approached by Knight and offered $2 per hour "to make charts and graphics" for his business. For the next two years Davidson managed the design work on BRS. "Then one day Phil asked me if I wanted to work on a shoe stripe," Davidson recalled. The only advice she received was to "Make the stripe supportive of the shoe." Davidson came up with half a dozen options. None of the options "captivated anyone" so it came down to "which was the least awful."
How can this type of development be avoided? It will take a conscious effort by City Council to mandate more stringent and enforceable development guidelines, not just for the Warehouse District but all new developments within the city – this hotel would be a poor addition to any street, let alone one where there has been an intent to provide a better interaction between buildings and the street.
These efforts should include a mandate that parking be put underground, that buildings over 3 stories include setbacks from the street to maintain the human scale, and that a minimal amount of street-level interaction be constructed between the ground-floor and outside traffic (be it through commercial/retail space requirements or better design using more inviting materials). Furthermore, enforceable guidelines are needed to prevent the construction of large blank walls along major thoroughfares. These are not revolutionary ideas by any stretch of the imagination. Many Canadian and North American cities have such development bylaws in place.
While some will argue that putting these development controls in place will increase the cost to private industry, potentially discouraging some development, if done correctly it can instill a sense of pride by developers in the City street-scape. Moreover, the long-term benefits of building areas that are inviting and attractive to people will attract higher through traffic beyond 9-5pm. Finally, as Saskatoon is currently the fastest growing city in the country, we have some latitude to impose expectations on those looking to reap the benefits of investing in our city.
Last week on my way home from work, I was testing out my new Fuji XP 20 camera and I was so dumbstruck by the horrible design that I found myself walking down 22nd Street just take a closer look at the building as I tried to figure out how city planners and city council could allow a hotel placed on top of a parking garage to get the go-ahead, especially right across the street from TCU Place which cries out for the need for street level shopping.
A decade ago I was in Chicago when Mayor Daley decreed that he would freeze all new buildings if architectural guidelines weren’t met. The developers grumbled but complied. The same thing would happen here but council doesn’t want to take a stand against new development. The bigger problem is that the architecture has been so bad in Saskatoon for so long that as citizens we are used to really bad projects going forward (Galaxy Theatre, The Sturdy Stone Centre, Cooperative Building, Radisson Hotel, The Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan), what’s another parking lot with suites?
Great downtowns are built one great building at a time. Mediocre lifeless downtowns are built pretty much the way Saskatoon’s is created.
Check out this video that asks the question, “What makes Helsinki the city with the highest quality of life in the world?” As Monocle says,
Rising from ﬁfth position in 2010, Helsinki outperformed Zürich at number 2 and Copenhagen at number 3 to claim the mantle as the world’s most liveable city. An unorthodox but well-deserving champion, the Finnish capital stands out for its fundamental courage to rethink its urban ambitions, and for possessing the talent, ideas and guts to pull it off.
Urban Islands is an independent cross university program that brings renowned architectural practitioners from around the world to Sydney’s Cockatoo Island. Guest tutors each run an intensive 12 day workshop based at Cockatoo. Through processes of inhabitation and insinuation, each studio will question the nature of place making in an increasingly mediated world. You can read about the 2009 Urban Islands here. via
“Sure, Vancouver is beautiful,” says Kotkin, “but it’s also unaffordable unless you’re on an expense account and your company is paying your rent.” Burdett agrees: “Economically all these cities at the top of the polls are also in the top league.” In fact, it can often be exactly the juxtaposition of wealth and relative poverty that makes a city vibrant, the collision between the two worlds. Where parts of big cities have declined, through the collapse of industries or the fears about immigration that led to what urbanists have termed the “donut effect” (in which white populations flee to the suburbs, leaving minorities in the centres), there is space to be filled by artists and architects, by poorer immigrants arriving with a drive to make money and by the proliferation of food outlets, studios and galleries. These, in turn, attract the wealthy back to the centre, at first to consume, and then to gentrify. Whether in New York’s SoHo, Chelsea or Brooklyn, in Berlin’s Mitte or London’s Shoreditch, Hoxton and now Peckham, it is at these moments of radical change that cities begin to show potential for real transformation of lives, or for the creation of new ideas, culture, cuisine and wealth. Once gentrification has occurred, bohemians may whinge about being priced out, as they always have done but, in a big enough city they are able to move on and find the next spot.
There is one criterion which throws up shockingly counter-intuitive results – beauty. On this criterion alone, almost any Tuscan hill town, perhaps Venice, perhaps Paris, would come out on top, yet none of these are there. Most of the beauty in the cities which occupy the tops of the leagues seem to ghettoise their beauty outside the city. They have convenient escapes, though the most beautiful and enjoyable – Rio, San Francisco and others – are curiously absent from the lists. The problem is that beauty doesn’t do you any good at all. It’s not a factor for the efficient, mid-sized chart toppers – though places such as Zurich certainly have their lovely bits. But it also damages your chances of making it into the disaffected megacities mentioned at the start of this article. The most beautiful cities become monuments to their own elegance, immobile and unchangeable. They cannot accommodate the kind of dynamic change and churn that keeps cities alive. In London, New York and Berlin, it is their very ugliness which keeps them flexible.
This is a weblog about urban issues, technology, & culture published by Jordon Cooper since 2001. You can read about me and the site here and if you are looking for one of my columns in The StarPhoenix, you can find them here.
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JordonCooper.com is a weblog written by Jordon Cooper. The opinions expressed on JordonCooper.com are my own; they do not reflect the views of my employer, my friends, or even my wife. Once I have had enough time to think about them and enough time has passed, they may no longer even reflect my current thinking.