New York City Sea Level Rise Preparedness

The Times reports on lagging measures and levels of preparedness relating to sea level rise and storm surge risk in New York City and in particular, areas like the South Bronx and parts of Brooklyn where the city’s industrial waterfront is especially at risk. Amazingly, New York City is second only to New Orleans in the U.S. for the city with the most number of people living within four feet of sea level.

Revisiting the Tower in the Park

Those wonky kids at Interboro are developing research on NORCs or Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities into a book on the design of cities for aging populations. Among the interesting findings: As it turns out, the oft-maligned tower in the park/superblock model so commonly associated with the shortcomings of Corbusian planning and the alienating dimensions of Modernism have frequently evolved into places where the social fabric of the city is preserved and enhanced for that aging population. Far from being spaces of isolation, these complexes seem to be incredibly effective at maintaining and strengthening social ties for a demographic will represent about one-fifth of  the U.S. population by 2020.

More at Dwell.

World’s Largest Ultraviolet Water-Cleaning Plant Coming to NY

New York is set to open the world’s largest ultraviolet (UV) drinking water disinfection plant in two months in order to rid the city’s drinking water of cryptosporidium, giardia and other harmful pathogens. The Catskill–Delaware Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility will be equipped with 56 massive UV units which will be used to kill waterborne pathogens in water from the city’s major sources – the Delaware County and Catskill watersheds. When it is activated in two months, the plant will process up to nine billion liters of H2O daily.

Read more: NYC To Open World’s Biggest Ultraviolet Water-Cleaning Plant | Inhabitat New York City

Ship leaking oil off New Zealand breaking apart

TAURANGA, New Zealand – A cargo ship that has spilled hundreds of tons of oil since striking a reef off New Zealand’s coast appeared to be breaking up in heavy seas, as its captain faced criminal charges in court Wednesday.

A vertical crack was apparent from the deck to the waterline of the Liberian-flagged Rena, which ran aground Oct. 5 on Astrolabe Reef, 14 miles from Tauranga Harbour on New Zealand’s North Island. About 70 containers have fallen off the deck of the 775-foot vessel as it has listed increasingly in the worsening ocean conditions. via CBSNEWS



Mapping the Cotton Kingdom

Fredrick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York’s Central Park, published a map identifying slave labor as the single most damaging influence on the southern economy prior to the secession.  The map was crafted from the 1850s census data since the 1860 data was determined to be insufficiently organized.  An article on the Cotton Kingdom map was recently published in the New York Times.

Satellite Sentinel Project

The Satellite Sentinel Project is a non-profit organization using real-time satellite imagery to influence politicians, inform the public, and provide evidence of war crimes with the goal to deter war between North and South Sudan.

NYC Arrested Development

Manhattan Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is calling attention to the 129 stalled construction sites in Manhattan in a 44-page report with the Curbed-approved title “Arrested Development.” Besides the bad publicity generated by a bunch of unfinished construction zones, the sites are neighborhood eyesores. Gothamist relays that “37% of these sites had problems with litter, 60% had fencing that was in disrepair or vandalized, and half of the sites had sidewalk obstructions.” In an offensive maneuver, Stringer proposes legislation permitting the city to partner with developers to convert stalled sites into temporary public spaces, similar to programs in San Francisco and Seattle that have turned dead zones into “vibrant street environments” in the form of food vendors, parking, performing arts spaces, and greenmarkets.

via curbed

Public Art and Graffiti Maps

WNYC has created a map of cool, historical graffiti in New York dating at least to Keith Haring’s 1986 “Crack is Whack” mural at Harlem River Drive.

Also fun: Brooklyn Brainery’s Public Art Map

NYC Stillspotting

To a Great City, the second edition of stillspotting nyc, is a collaboration between composer Arvo Pärt and NYC/Oslo architectural firm Snøhetta. It consists of five stillspots—specially chosen locations where “locals and visitors can escape, find respite, and make peace with space in this ‘city of 8 million.’” Each location is coupled with a composition by Pärt (which is either playing out of speakers or an iPod provided by one of the many friendly, helpful stillspotting volunteers) and adorned with at least one weather balloon. Yesterday, intern Jeremiah Budin embarked on a journey to visit each stillspot, turning emotion and gravitas into a handy ranking guide.

via curbed

IBM THINK Exhibition at Lincoln Center

The IBM Think Exhibit runs from September 23rd to October 23rd and is located at the Lincoln Center parking garage on Jaffe Drive.

Via Inhabitat: The IBM THINK exhibition features mobile apps, videos, and a 123 foot-long Data Wall reflecting real-time air quality data from sites throughout Manhattan.

The interactive panels also demonstrate technological sensors currently used to measure our production, consumption, travel, and almost anything else possible. Simulations of viruses spreading, weather predicting algorithms, microscopes and clocks show that the systems can be used and adapted to create a more livable, safer, and more efficient and sustainable world.

Viewers can also watch interviews with heavyweight speakers from the IBM Think Forum in New York including IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, the King of Jordan, and the Presidents of Mexico and the Philippines.

And what is any technological exhibition without the inclusion of social media? Visitors are encouraged to leave their own comments and insight via Facebook, Twitter, dig, delicious and even LinkedIn, building a community dialogue toward a sustainable future.
Read more: IBM’s Interactive THINK Exhibit Uses Real Time Data to Measure NYC’s Traffic, Air Quality & More | Inhabitat New York City

Far From Factory Manufacturing/Newark

The Times reports on the recent development of  far from factory manufacturing/finish facilities located adjacent to the Newark container terminal. Cars and other products from manufacturers like Toyota, which are shipped from elsewhere can are finished with paint and other details between unloading and their final destination, allowing for last-minute customization prior to final delivery.

mark shepard’s CCD-me-not

Prototype umbrella that disrupts the now-near-constant gaze of surveillance cameras from mark shepard’s sentient city survival kit. via Abler

QR Tags hit the Style Section

The Times finally catches on to the boom in QR tags everywhere.

Hacker Week at On The Media

WNCY/NPR’s On The Media is celebrating Hacker Week with segments about software and hardware hacking, as well as a HackWeek Reading List.

Newark Industrial Real Estate

The Times reports on a boom in industrial real estate in Newark and other sites in the New York metropolitan area.

Using Cell Phone Data to Track Epidemics

Via the Times, a contemporary John Snow tale:

Populations on the run during disasters can be tracked by cellphone signals, which could help guide life-saving aid to the right places, a new study has concluded.

For the study, which appeared last week in the journal PLoS Medicine, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Columbia University formulated their idea after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and then tried it out in practice during the cholera epidemic that began there 10 months later.

Refugees can put their lives at risk if they flee beyond the reach of food, water and medical care. Relief agencies guessing where to set up tents must rely on sometimes flawed reports from witnesses, traffic monitors, reporters and satellite and aerial photos.

The researchers collected data on the transmitting towers relaying signals from 1.9 million cellphones. They concluded that 20 percent of the population of the capital, Port-au-Prince, fled after the quake, with most people going to Les Cayes, Leogane and Saint-Marc.

That roughly matched the results of an expensive United Nations survey of 2,500 households.

In the cholera outbreak, which began near Saint-Marc, the researchers tracked cellphone use in real time. Within 12 hours they were able to tell relief agencies where people had gone, which suggested where new outbreaks could start, said Dr. Linus Bengtsson, the study’s lead author.

In that case, only about 3 percent of people fled, many for Port-au-Prince; others moved inland.

Dr. Bengtsson’s group is now creating a nonprofit organization to track cellphone use in future disasters.


Google Data Center Power Usage

The Times reports that Google released previously confidential information today regarding energy consumption at its many data centers.  The company revealed that it consumes almost  260 million watts — about a quarter of the output of a nuclear power plant — in order to run Google searches, YouTube views, Gmail messaging and display ads on all those services around the world.


Google says that people conduct over a billion searches a day and numerous other downloads and queries, and it calculates that the average energy consumption for a typical user is small, about 180 watt-hours a month, or the equivalent of running a 60-watt light bulb for three hours. The overall electricity figure includes all Google operations worldwide, including the energy required to run its campuses and office parks.

NYC Urban Design Week

New York. September 15-20.

Urban Design Week is a new public festival created to engage New Yorkers in the fascinating and complex issues of the public realm, and to celebrate the streetscapes, sidewalks, and public spaces at the heart of city life. Through an open-call ideas competition and a rich roster of discussions, tours, screenings, workshops, and events across the five boroughs, UDW will highlight the fact that cities are made by collective effort, and that each of us can play a part.


See the SCHEDULE here.

Reflecting the Stars

The Windmill Factory, a New York-based organization that partners with corporations, non-profits and arts groups to address environmental causes, has proposed a concept taking on the galaxy above the city.

Reflecting The Stars is an interactive, LED-powered project that will raise awareness and teach prevention techniques for light pollution. The installation will take place among 250 decaying pier posts in New York City’s Pier 49 in Manhattan, illuminating and reflecting the patterns of the night sky.

From August-November, 2010, hundreds of solar-powered wireless LED lamps are planned to be installed along the waterway, and visitors will rediscover star formations by pressing buttons on shoreline plaques that will interrupt each lighting group to reveal various constellations.

Light pollution is a timely issue, as many propose that the night sky will vanish in the contiguous United States by 2025. Already, one fifth of the world can no longer see the milky way due to impending city lights or air pollution.

Over the course of the three month installation, RTS expects 2.5 million viewers, 828 shining hours, and 23,040 people interacting with the exhibit.

The Windmill Factory

Reflecting The Stars
via PSFK:

2011 Year-End Exhibition

Pratt’s End of Year Exhibition is opening this weekend, featuring work from Crisis Fronts!


May 14-16, 2011, Higgins Hall Lobby,
Opening Reception – Sunday, May 15, 2pm


Michael Dowlatowski + Katherine Kania

Carla Lores + Michael Yarinsky

Tai-li Lee + Hiram Rodriguez

Patrick Donbeck + Scott Segal

Final Review 2011

Thanks to all of the critics for coming and thanks and congratulations to the students for incredible work, and a tremendous year.

Patrick Donbeck
Michael Dowlatowski
Katherine Kania
Carla Lores
Younglee Lee
Tai-li Lee
Vicky Perez
Arn Regencia
Hiram Rodriguez
Scott Segal
Michael Yarinsky

Maria Aiolova
Gil Akos
Ezio Blasetti
Adam Dayem
Adam Hayes
Abby Coover Hume
Nathan Hume
Haresh Lalvani
Carla Leitao
Ronnie Parsons
Kristin Pape
Shadi Sharokhi
Justin Snider
Jaime Stein
Evan Tribus
Danielle Willems
Soo-in Yang
Richard Yoon

Time Square Air Quality Plazas

According to the most recent New York City Community Air Survey (link here), those Times Square pedestrian plazas are doing their job. The report shows, “After the conversion to a pedestrian plaza, NO pollution levels in Times Square went down by 63 percent while, NO2 levels went down by 41 percent.” Just maybe don’t hang out in all those places around the pedestrian plazas…where the diverted cars are. Via Gothamist

Tomato Banditry

The high price of produce, especially for tomatoes after the deep winter freezes, has attracted more than heightened attention from consumers. A ring of sophisticated vegetable bandits was watching, too. Late last month, a gang of thieves stole six tractor-trailer loads of tomatoes and a truck full of cucumbers from Florida growers. They also stole a truckload of frozen meat. The total value of the illegal haul: about $300,000. Via the Times

Spider Infill

A few weeks after water from the devastating floods in Pakistan began to recede, photographer Russell Watkins traveled to the Sindh province to document humanitarian relief work funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. As he photographed the return home of the 10,000 people who had been displaced across an area the size of Lousiana, Watkins heard about an amazing phenomenon. In the absence of people, spiders had taken up residence in the trees to escape the floodwaters, creating a bizarre and dramatic scene. On visiting the area Watkins found that every single piece vegetation was covered with arachnids. “No one,” says Watkins who has traveled the world photographing relief work, “had ever witnessed anything like this before.” The rainy season dispatched most of the webs, but not before many of the trees, suffocated by the cocoons, had been killed. But there was one benefit. The risk of malaria was much reduced. Presumably most of the disease-carrying mosquitoes had been by caught amongst the spiders’ webs.

Incredible slideshow here.

Time Magazine, via Edwin Lam. Thanks Edwin!