TagDubai

Burj Dubai quickly renamed Burj Khalifa, then opened

The world’s tallest [man-made anything] opened on Monday.

Fireworks erupted from many floors of the building, but some appeared as if they came from tubes that stretched the entire height (these were probably stroboscope lights). Watch the show on YouTube.

Known for years as Dubai Tower (burj in Arabic means tower), the developers, possibly under pressure from Dubai central government, changed the name to Burj Khalifa the day before its grand opening on Monday, January 4, 2010.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the president of the United Arab Emirates, and the emir of Abu Dhabi. In December 2009, Abu Dhabi “donated” $10 billion to Dubai to help pay off loans undertaken by the state-owned Dubai World.

Interestingly, though, Dubai World does not own and did not develop the skyscraper. (Dubai World is best known for the Palm Islands.)

Find more photos in the Flickr group, Burj Dubai. The replacement group, Burj Khalifa, just started and has six photos as of this writing. And, as usual, the article on Wikipedia is a great place to learn more.

Traffic: It never ends

Automobile congestion on the Kennedy Expressway* (I-90/94), taken from the L tracks above Lake Street in Chicago, Illinois.

Other things that never end (a roundup of sorts):

Tuesday roundup: Getting around

These are the posts about “getting around” I found interesting today. Blogs and the links to the referenced articles are in bold.

“Nowhere does transportation happen for transportation’s sake.” – Professor DiJohn, UIC.

Discovering Urbanism

Have you ever noticed from an elevated train or an airplane the dirt paths and small trails through parks and vacant lots? Like water and electricity, people travel the path of least resistance, with or without a dedicated facility. (Is that why flooding’s so difficult to control?) In the most recent “Google Earth Travelogue,” Discovering Urbanism points out the innumerable walking paths in the quarter mile park or mall between two highways and building corridors in Brasilia, the master planned capital of Brasil. Selected quotes:

I added this comment about how planners can use this “route choice theory” (path of least resistance) to determine where to install paths for bicyclists: “Where should cities build bikeways? Where people want them. And how might we figure where people go, aside from a stated answer survey, we could tag 1,000 random bicyclists with GPS and track where they go. It would probably give us an image like the second one in your post: with yellow lines criss-crossing the city’s street network.”

Jennifer Dill’s study of Portland, Oregon, bicyclists did just that! She asked, “How does the built environment influence bicycling behavior; and what routes did they take?” The project wasn’t used to determine where routes should be built, but how existing routes affect trips. I think the same data the project collected could also be used to answer my question, “Where should cities build bikeways?”

Human Transit

The City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is in the midst of a major transportation upgrade in downtown. They’re converting one-way streets to two way streets with bike lanes and off-peak parking. What a way to “unlock downtown,” says Human Transit.

And they tripled bus capacity on new transit malls with two regular travel lanes in one direction, and two bus-only lanes in the opposite direction. The malls also mixing in staggered bus stops, or groups of stops targeted at a specific area of the city, making “service more legible.” Selected quotes:

  • “…every bus was as slow as the slowest bus.”
  • “Doubling the width triples the capacity.”

I visited Minneapolis in September to explore the Midtown Greenway and Hiawatha light rail. I also rode my rental bike through downtown to get a feel for how another Midwestern city’s downtown lives.

The Transport Politic

Dubai seems to grab way more headlines than its Persian Gulf neighbor, Qatar. But Qatar, with the fastest growing economy on Earth, has decided rail (both passenger and freight) infrastructure is a “crucial element to economic viability.” Some might say the Dubai Metro heavy rail transit line is too late to battle congestion (Reuters). Can Qatar avoid the same fate?

The plan the Qatari government signed with Germany’s Deutsche Bahn is ambitious: “The project will incorporate 180 miles of local light and metro rail for Doha city center, rapidly expanding public transportation offerings for what is now a car-centric place.” Selected quotes:

  • “Deutsche Bahn is laying its reputation — and its money — on the line for this project, which will be its largest-ever foreign investment.”
  • “If a country is defined by the spending it commits to its future, the U.S. is falling behind rapidly.”

I don’t think the United States will start comparing itself it to any Middle Eastern country anytime soon – many in this country still think Iraq was involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Placemaking roundup

A roundup of recent posts on the blogosphere about attempts at placemaking. While engineers, planners, designers, and architects can spend time and money on making a place, only its users have the authority to call it one. How will these “places” fare?

  • Disney will be revamping its stores to match the Apple Stores’ level of attraction and attention by no longer placing the attention on toys, but more on experience and interaction. “Imagination Park” from Brand Avenue.
  • A team led by MIT researchers entered a competition to build a new, permanent, tourist attraction to be built for and after the 2012 Olympics in London. Visitors would ascend one of two 400-foot towers and watch the city from inside plastic bubbles, while on the face of the bubbles, a “mood barometer” would be projected. Read deeper into the project’s beginnings and the people behind “The Cloud” on City of Sound.
  • Two new parks (or plazas?) open in downtown Chicago, Illinois, and both feature boxed up lawns. This new “park” phenomenon helps Lynn Becker refine the definition of a park.
  • Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat changes “tall buildings” standards to now include lowest pedestrian entrance. The result: Trump Tower now taller than Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, China. Burj Dubai still world’s tallest: “John Hancock Center stacked atop Sears Tower.”

Photo of typeset as seating in Printers’ Row Park in Chicago, Illinois. See item three below.

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