A Mass-Transit Proposal To Connect A City Using Aerial Gondolas | Co.Design

Austin’s proposed gondolas. From fastcodesign.com.

This post from Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan of Fast Company details designer Micheal McDonald’s proposal for a system of aerial trams as a new public transit element in Austin, Texas. This is an interesting alternative to expensive and legally problematic traditional systems such as light rail or subways. You would only need to buy up the land for the towers and stations, although air rights over existing structures could be an issue.

The Portland Aerial Tram. From wikipedia.org.

The tram would be far from the first one in North America. Portland’s Aerial Tram is one of the best ways to take in views of the city, and New York’s Roosevelt Island Tramway connects the island to the rest of New York’s extensive transit system. Other trams are popping up in London, with the new Emirates Air Line, and in various cities in France. What sets the Austin proposal apart from these lines is that it is not a single line, but a network of aerial trams. To see something like this, you need to go to South America.

Caracas Metrocable. From wikipedia.org.

Caracas, Venezuela, MedellĂ­n, Columbia, and Rio de Janeiro have tramway networks, mostly connecting the informal communities on steep hillsides to the more central, developed parts of the city. Part of the reason these systems were chosen was because the roads and paths in these communities are too narrow for a bus to get through, and to condemn enough houses to build a street would be expensive and displace thousands, whereas building towers displaces very few. The terminals have in many cases been integrated with new public uses such as libraries and sports fields. While roads in Austin are plenty wide for buses, one advantage that the designer of Austin’s proposal points out is that trams can create shortcuts by moving diagonal to the grid over existing development, straight to its destination.

This proposal is in its early stages, and as a newer technology it has a lot of challenges to face. Securing air rights would be a major issue, and even if it were built, people may be apprehensive to try a new system. On the other hand, the novelty of it may draw users that otherwise would not be inclined to use public transit. I drove out of my way to use Portland’s Aerial Tram because it gives you a completely new perspective on the city. Austin’s tram system, if ever built, could have the same effect.


Parking Spaces Become Park Spaces Downtown | Environment | Downtown News

Park(ing) Day in Vegas. From 8newsnow.com.

I’ve honestly been a bit disappointed in the lack of Park(ing) Day images I’ve seen so far. They are just starting to trickle in, and I hope that maybe after the weekend’s over we’ll see some more. I did see one article yesterday from Louisville where they did some really great stuff, but they wouldn’t let you imbed anything, so I didn’t put it up. The image above, as well as this post from Natalie Cullen, show some Park(ing) Day interventions in Las Vegas which were pretty cool. I re-tweeted a few images I saw on Twitter (@DavidBMunson) that you can check out. I know that Park(ing) Day is getting bigger every year, so hopefully we’ll see more interventions soon.


SWA installation in LA. From waltercomms.wordpress.com.

We’ve got some new Park(ing) Day images! First, this post includes images of Park(ing) Day installations in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Installation in Morgantown, WV. From thedaonline.com.

And these installations aren’t just for the big city! This one came from Morgantown, West Virginia, home of WVU. I still wanted more though, so hopefully that’s not all.


Park(ing) Day Phoenix. From streetsblog.org.

Ah, and here is a good cache! Streetsblog put together a compilation of installations from Jacksonville, Oakland, Nashville, Dayton, Austin, Phoenix, Portland (ME), and Cleveland.

The Waller Creek Conservancy Design Competition Final Four

MVVA’s plan for Waller Creek, Austin, Texas. From wallercreek.org.

I recently found my way to the website for the final four proposals for the redevelopment of Waller Creek in Austin, Texas. First of all, wow, there are just some really lovely renderings from this competition. I always like MVVA‘s renderings, but the other four competitors have really given them a run for their money. Take a look, they are wonderful. However, I can’t help but feel that they are just different approaches to the same thing: a big landscape urbanist-style river park. Now I don’t know a lot about Austin, or really anything about the Waller Creek, so if anyone from the area reads this, please comment, and do so extensively and critically. But as nice as all of these proposals are, I wonder why there isn’t one this far in the process for a true urban riverfront. There are of course classic examples from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and Britain, but in Austin, you don’t even have to go that far: possibly the best riverfront in the United States is just up the road in San Antonio. This sort of urban amenity right on the water is fairly rare in America, I would love to see more of it, and I think the fact that it isn’t even on the table is a missed opportunity for Waller Creek.

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