In case you missed it: This week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     An earthship in the desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico.  (AP file image)

    An earthship in the desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico. (AP file image)

    It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood and we have a lot to explore. Grab your favorite cardigan and enjoy.

     If you build it….

    Will they come?How do you transform what was once a port city into a bustling neighborhood with office space, a park, housing, and create a community feeling? That’s the challenge that both HafenCity, a river district in Hamburg, and Allentown’s riverfront both face. Keystone Crossroads continues to explore the Pennsylvania German connection.Is it up to code?To keep up with energy efficiency and safety, most states update their building codes every three years. Pennsylvania hasn’t updated in six years, thanks to a complicated and cumbersome law.

    Will it help the community? Vacant lots have been transformed into community gardens and urban farms. Tiny houses have been considered for cities. But what about urban earthships? Inspired by a documentary, two sustainable buildings in Philadelphia are being made from recycled materials, with tires providing insulation. No machinery or fossil fuels will be used, minimizing the carbon footprint. One earthship will be a community center dispensing holistic medicines, counseling and fruits and vegetables grown from its community garden.

    Can it be temporary and just for the fun of it? That pop-up beer garden you enjoyed this summer or the parking spot turned into a mini-park are part of projects known as tactical urbanism. New Yorker Mike Lydon, author of Tactical Urbanism, was interviewed by Keystone Crossroads in May 2015. He described examples of tactical urbanism in Pennsylvania cities,  and why they are often illegal but eventually embraced by the community.Lydon returned to Philadelphia last week to talk about Park(ing) Day and to discuss the latest in tactical urbanism. (PlanPhilly)

    When should you tear it down?Build huge highways and tall buildings to accommodate a population boom. That was the philosophy of Pittsburgh’s Renaissance, also known as the Modernist Movement of urban renewal. What happens when those big roads and buildings now block access to rivers, industry changes and the population is almost halved? Those are some of the issues examined in an exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Now that Pittsburgh has had its “Dubai moment,” can it rethink how to use these structures without total demolition?

    Park it right here

    There are those who say “meh” to the parklet or the streatery and want a more permanent park. Preferably one that wasn’t a former parking space or close to exhaust fumes and traffic. (NextCity)Seinfeld fans recall George Costanza’s quest for the ideal parking spot. Some cities are making that search challenging, especially university towns. There are pros and cons of parking and how it relates to building design. (CityLab)

    Counting on it

    There are bean counters and then there are volunteer step counters – over 300 of them in Pittsburgh, counting and inspecting the steps of over 700 staircases. Evaluating and maintaining the steps has become a passion for one Pittsburgher and inspired this first comprehensive survey of the city’s “vertical infrastructure.”

    You can count on NewsWorks to cover Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia. From FAQs, to a day-by-day guide of  transit schedule changes, the #popeinphilly team will help you navigate places to park, find restaurants,  and follow the news from afar.Have a great weekend.


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