September 27: Age of sustainable infrastructure | Obama Administration on zoning | Playable streetscapes

Both Clinton and Trump have said it’s time to reinvest in America’s infrastructure, but an opinion piece in the Boston Globe argues they’re not thinking big enough. Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, says it’s one thing to keep up with the estimated $3 billion near-term investment to fix our roads, bridges, power grid, water and waste systems, but it’s another to plan for a deep future. He calls for us plan for an age of sustainable infrastructure that’s high-tech, shared, environmentally safe, and promotes public health.

The Obama administration waded into the zoning fray, providing a “toolkit” advising cities on ways to build more with less red tape, Politico reports. The goal is to increase supply of housing through increased density, faster permitting, less restrictions, and reducing friction from NIMBYs. “Zoning policy might seem picayune for a president, but eight years after the foreclosure crisis left the country littered with empty homes, the country is facing a critical housing shortage in its most vibrant job centers. The result is soaring rents, growing income inequality and sputtering economic growth nationwide. By one estimate, barriers to development in major cities have shaved as much as $1.95 trillion a year off U.S. economic growth.”

Among 50 winners in the national Play Everywhere Challenge were three winning designs for spaces in West Philly, Curbed reports. Winners get financial support to bring their designs to life. We’ll see a Playable Sidewalk on Lancaster Ave., an Urban Thinkscape at 40th and Lancaster, and a Play Parklet in University City.

Jared Brey looks at the temptation for developers to sill treat the Delaware Waterfront as a blank canvas despite the civic vision, master plan, and zoning overlay crafted by input from thousands – constraints geared at creating a new urban waterfront.

Cory Popp’s videos of Philly showcase the city’s best angles, so why are they so hard to love? Max Marin unpacks this tension – namely that we know these beauties show such an incomplete view of our complex, two-headed city. Or as Marin puts it, “many Philadelphians share a city in name only.”

After five months closed, the Walnut Lane Bridge over the Wissahickon reopens today, but construction will continue on sidewalks, lighting, and bridge decking.

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