M.I.A.’s New York Times Magazine Shoot With Ryan McGinley

Permalink

Crowdsourcing and design – can we afford not to be involved? | Australian Policy Online

Crowdsourcing design is becoming a big issue in design practice. Ross Dawson from Trends in the Living Networks recently wrote an article on how Australia is becoming a global hub for crowsourcing platforms.

Over the past 12 months, new and re-launched companies have sharpened their offer to enable us all to access an enormous market of creatives who are willing to become part of the crowdsourcing game. I'd like to discuss a few models here:

How Portland Sold Its Banks on Walkable Development

Gresham_Crossings_Cropped.png

How Portland Sold Its Banks on Walkable Development

by Noah Kazis on May 25, 2010

Gresham, Oregon used to look like your typical suburb. Lots of lawns and lots of parking. When Portland’s MAX light-rail line expanded to Gresham, developers saw an opportunity to bring something different: walkable development. But a downturn in the local real estate market interceded. One developer trying to build a four-story condo project decided that he’d be better off with a video store surrounded by surface parking.

The Crossings at Gresham brought transit-oriented development to Portland’s suburbs, opening the door for financing to flow to similar projects. Image: Myhre Group Architects.

Metro — Portland’s regional government — decided that wasn’t good enough. They bought the site outright. Then Metro proceeded to double down on the original plans for the project, which it called The Crossings. Four stories became five, making the development the tallest building in Gresham. Condos became a mixed-use development with ground-floor retail, sidewalk cafés and engaging street-level facades.

There was still one big problem: financing. Charlotte Boxer, director of commercial real estate at Pacific Continental Bank, was skeptical of Metro’s project. “What would draw people to live there, or what would make a retailer decide to lease there?” she asked. “There was substantial risk on Metro’s part and on ours as the lender, because we had no comparables to go to that would say this would work.” For the project to succeed financially, they’d have to charge rents 25 percent higher than the going rate in Gresham, for a type of development no one had ever tried there.

In many parts of America, efforts to build transit-oriented, walkable communities are foiled because financing can’t be secured for projects that differ from the templates lenders have become used to since World War II. In Salt Lake City, for example, the local government’s push for transit-oriented development has been stymied because local banks won’t lend to projects without huge parking lots.

Why do lenders balk at development that reduces car dependence? In a word, inertia. “The lending industry appears to be very conservative, if your
definition of conservative is doing the same thing this year as you did
five years ago,” said David Goldstein,
the co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s energy
program and an expert on environmental real estate financing. Because banks have no institutional memory of lending to transit-oriented
development, they are reluctant to do so going forward.

In Portland, officials and activists have begun to escape this cycle. The policies they’ve pursued to foster walkable development are instructive for many American cities looking to grow without making traffic congestion worse.

Even in transit-rich New York, economic development officials have subsidized developers who import car-oriented standards. They are happy to secure favorable lending terms, underwritten by the U.S. government, for multi-story parking decks. It’s safe to say that goals like enhancing the pedestrian environment or attaining sustainability targets are not motivating these decisions. Portland development officials do things differently. When planners there decided that urbanism and sustainability were good outcomes, they went out and started convincing lenders to change the way they do business.

Megan Gibb runs Metro’s transit-oriented development program, which works with developers and offers financial incentives for TOD. The Crossings, for example, received discounted land, tax breaks, and other financial incentives from Metro. ”Our whole program is to build more market-comparables,” said Gibb. “The more TOD projects there are, the more it builds on itself.” Each project that gets built makes the next one easier to finance.

Gibb also highlighted the centrality of public-private partnerships to Portland’s success. According to Gibb, banks normally look at standard, car-oriented development models and say, “We know this worked in the past. Why would we want it to be any different?” When the public sector commits to smart growth, however, bankers instead see that the government “thinks this is really important and is willing to put their money where its mouth is.” For financial institutions that are often quite risk-averse, government action provides the security necessary to move forward.

John Warner, who manages most of the TOD projects at the Portland Development Commission, argues that at first, government may have to push the envelope to convince banks that walkable development pays off. “Until you’ve got examples that lenders can look back in time at,” he said, “you have to be doubly conservative and oversubsidize something to prove the concept.” Warner added that in Portland, where lenders have bought into a consensus about the need for sustainable development, they’ve been able to walk back many subsidies.

At The Crossings, Metro’s vision — and incentives — turned the project into reality. Financially, it’s a complete success, with 100 percent occupancy and a sizable waiting list. It’s won awards for transit-oriented design and earned the praise of Gresham’s residents and politicians. Perhaps most importantly, however, it set an example.

Boxer, the initially skeptical executive at Pacific Continental Bank who provided The Crossings’ financing, now says she is “very proud to say I have financed the project.” She also calls it “truly pioneering,” providing a model for how to bring walkable development to suburban locations. The Crossings, itself possible because of the successful projects that preceded it, helped pave the way for more and better transit-oriented developments that followed.

The Beranger condos, a new transit-oriented development in Gresham, wouldn’t have been possible without The Crossings’ success. Image: Gresham Downtown Development Association.

Even in Portland, though, proponents of walkable development have more convincing to do. One bank that’s played a central role in financing urban-style housing near transit, ShoreBank Pacific, is still getting accustomed to projects with less parking, for instance. “Having no parking for a business is still a pretty challenging place to be,” said ShoreBank VP Bonnie Anderson.

Moving forward, then, Portland will have to craft policies that expand the comfort zone of lenders. Gibb and Anderson saw shared parking and car-share as tools to mitigate banks’ fears about financing projects with fewer parking spaces than normal.

There are also structural reasons that banks avoid transit-oriented development, which can’t be overcome by building a few market comparables. Because profits from transit-oriented development tend to materialize more slowly than from typical suburban development, new financing methods are needed to make TOD more attractive to lenders. And of course, banks respond to the regulatory environment. Portland makes many developers adhere to principles of walkable development near transit lines.

It’s true that Portland area bankers have yet to embrace the full range of development needed to reduce car-dependence. But as the region attempts to grow sustainably, it benefits immensely from development officials like John Warner, who talks passionately about “the community organizing needed to get all the stakeholders on board with the absolute necessity of transit-oriented development.” While here in New York, where growth is ostensibly shaped by a citywide sustainability plan, the chair of the local Economic Development Corporation still thinks that not providing enough parking is “the worst thing we could do.”

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

set + drift: shopping cart farming

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Op-Ed: Building a creative city in SMH

I’ve just had an opinion piece published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald on the idea of creative cities, check it out! I’ll post full text shortly.

Soft Candy 092

Permalink

Elle China

Permalink

Elle China

Permalink

(watching Birthday Suit at RAFW)

Permalink

iphone telephone

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Stylist Du Jour Masha Orlov’s Closet

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Gian Carlo Drueco with md. Valeria Efanova

Permalink

Mario Sorrenti md. Natasha Poly in ‘Plage Privee’ for Vogue Paris

Permalink

Update to: Creative Cities East Asia

I’ve just posted a comprehensive overview of the top 12 entries in the Show Us Your City competition I developed as part of the Creative Cities East Asia project.

We received entries from Australia, China, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, The Philippines and Singapore. They took many different forms, from photographic series to short films, blogs and maps, surveys and essays. They’re all extraordinarily personal and offer insights into creative communities at a grass roots level, whether focusing on creative workspaces, industry precincts, transport and development issues or social and cultural connections.

We’ll be announcing the winner shortly. The winner will be travelling to the UK, courtesy of the British Council, and will document a series of programs around the idea of “The Welcoming City” at the London Festival of Architecture 2010.

In other good news, this project has been extended and so I look forward to exploring the creativity of our region through this platform for a few more months…

An overview of twelve outstanding entries in the CCEA Show Us Your City competition

Amanda Norgaard: Dazed & Confused May 2010

Permalink

Rackk and Ruin

Permalink

grey magazine (from so much to tell you)

Permalink

Sometimes I just need quiet – Samuel Hodge

Permalink

Samuel Hodge

Permalink

Samuel Hodge

Permalink

Eduardo Rezende

Permalink

Emma Summerton, md. Abey Lee Kershaw for i-D

Permalink

Currently working on: Creative Sydney 2010

I  am developing the program and establishing relationships with participants and partners in preparation for Creative Sydney, taking place from June 4 – 13.

Part of Vivid Sydney, Creative Sydney launched last year as a one-of-a-kind event bringing together the spectrum of local creative industries, connecting around discussions on how to make Sydney a better place for innovation and creative enterprise.

We attracted close to 10,000 attendees to our 19 free events in 2009, and engaged with close to 300 local creative practitioners and businesses. This year it’s all going to be bigger and better.

www.creativesydney.com.au

Creative Sydney builds Sydney’s international presence as a creative hub and sparks lasting connections between the people who drive creative culture. Creative Sydney is part of Vivid Sydney (27 May-21 June), our annual festival of light, music and ideas. Follow us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook or sign up to the email list. We’ll be announcing the program soon.

Creative Sydney 2009

Gemma Smith "Boulder"

Made from plexiglass, the Boulders reflect only the colours surrounding them to achieve their vividness and contain no inherent pigments. A true master of colour Smith’s practice has again evolved, harnessing now the physical, although not always considered source of colour: light.

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »

Untitled

Permalink

| Leave a comment  »