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Found 78 results

  1. Le discours de l'ancien patron de la Caisse, Henri-Paul Rousseau, n'a pas répondu à toutes les questions selon le Parti québécois, qui réclame toujours la tenue d'une commission parlementaire. Pour en lire plus...
  2. Valeurs mobilières: Ottawa prépare une commission nationale Publié le 22 juin 2009 à 16h09 | Mis à jour le 22 juin 2009 à 18h33 La Presse Canadienne Ottawa Le gouvernement fédéral a fait un pas de plus vers la création d'un organisme national de réglementation des marchés financiers en annonçant lundi la mise sur pied d'un bureau de transition dont le mandat sera de coordonner le projet avec les provinces et avec l'industrie. Ce bureau sera présidé par l'ancien président de la Commission des valeurs mobilières de la Colombie-Britannique, Doug Hyndman. Il sera secondé par le Torontois Bryan Davies, qui occupe depuis 2006 le poste de président du conseil de la Société d'assurance-dépôt du Canada. Le ministre des Finances Jim Flaherty a assuré que l'adhésion au futur organisme de réglementation serait volontaire et que le Québec - qui s'y est toujours opposé - pourrait choisir de rester à l'écart. Il ne perd cependant pas espoir de voir un jour la Belle Province rentrer dans le rang. «Nous ne claquons la porte au nez de personne. Je rêve du jour où nous aurons un organisme de régulation vraiment national», a-t-il insisté lors d'un point de presse à Ottawa. Pour le ministre, la création d'une commission nationale contribuera à la consolidation de l'État canadien. Il a toutefois insisté lundi pour dire qu'il faudrait respecter les expertises et les spécificités régionales tout au long du processus. Le gouvernement du Québec n'a cependant pas semblé rassuré par ces propos. Le grand argentier de la province, Raymond Bachand, craint que le projet de régulateur national crée de l'incertitude sur les marchés à un bien mauvais moment. «La dernière chose dont on a besoin c'est un débat de structures. Moi j'ai besoin que mes autorités de valeurs mobilières et les commissions des autres provinces concentrent 100 pour cent de leur énergie sur la réglementation, la surveillance des marchés et faciliter la reprise économique», a-t-il martelé. Le ministre Bachand a ajouté que, s'il le fallait, Québec pourrait se tourner vers les tribunaux pour faire valoir son point de vue et défendre son Autorité des marchés financiers. L'annonce de Jim Flaherty n'a pas non plus été bien accueillie par les partis d'opposition à Ottawa. Pour le Bloc québécois et le Nouveau Parti démocratique, la création du bureau est une manoeuvre de plus pour faire pression sur les «provinces récalcitrantes». «C'est de la provocation», a résumé le leader parlementaire du Bloc québécois, Pierre Paquette, en entrevue à La Presse Canadienne. «On n'est pas dupes du tout. Le caractère volontaire, c'est tout simplement pour s'assurer d'isoler le Québec et d'éventuellement le forcer à intégrer cette commission-là», a-t-il ajouté. De son côté, le chef-adjoint du Nouveau Parti démocratique, Thomas Mulcair, reproche à Ottawa d'empiéter encore une fois dans un champ de compétence exclusive des provinces. Les deux hommes se sont par ailleurs dits «outrés» que le ministre Flaherty ait attendu que les travaux parlementaires soient suspendus pour faire son annonce. «Il n'a même pas eu le courage de soulever le débat pendant que la Chambre siégeait encore. Il a attendu le premier jour où la Chambre ne siège plus», a souligné M. Mulcair, qui est le seul député néo-démocrate du Québec. Le projet d'un organisme national est cher aux yeux des conservateurs et particulièrement du ministre Flaherty, qui en a fait l'une de ses priorités depuis son arrivée en poste en 2006. L'industrie des services financiers, très largement basée à Toronto, en a aussi fait l'un de ses chevaux de bataille depuis quelques années. Les libéraux, qui ont longtemps été favorables à l'idée d'un organisme pancanadien de régulation des marchés, ont récemment indiqué qu'ils avaient désormais des doutes et qu'ils préféreraient demander à la Cour suprême de se pencher sur la constitutionnalité du projet avant de se prononcer. Actuellement, chaque province et territoire est responsable du commerce des valeurs mobilières à l'intérieur de ses frontières. Plus de 85 pour cent des inscriptions et des transactions réglementées sont toutefois sous la juridiction de la Commission des valeurs mobilières de l'Ontario.
  3. California Cities Face Bankruptcy Curbs By BOBBY WHITE MAY 28, 2009 As California seeks more funds from its cash-strapped cities and counties to close a $21 billion budget deficit, some state legislators are pushing a plan that could compound municipalities' pain by making it tougher for them to file for bankruptcy. The bill would require a California municipality seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to first obtain approval from a state commission. That contrasts with the state's current bankruptcy process, which allows municipalities to speedily declare bankruptcy without any state oversight so that they can quickly restructure their finances. The bill, introduced in January, has passed one committee vote and could reach a final vote by mid-July. The bill was sparked by the bankruptcy filing last year of Vallejo, Calif., just north of San Francisco. Vallejo's city leaders partly blamed work contracts with police and firefighters for pushing the city into bankruptcy, and won permission from a bankruptcy court in March to scrap its contract with the firefighters' union. That spurred the California Professional Firefighters to push for statewide legislation to curtail bankruptcy, said Carroll Willis, the group's communications director. "What we don't want is for cities to use bankruptcy as a negotiating tactic rather than a legit response to fiscal issues," he said, adding that he worries cities may work in concert to rid themselves of union contracts by declaring bankruptcy. If the bill passes, it could hurt cities and counties by lengthening the time before they can declare bankruptcy. That creates a legal limbo during which a municipality is more vulnerable to creditors. The proposed state bankruptcy commission would be staffed by four state legislators, which some critics worry could politicize the bankruptcy process. "This bill is impractical," said John Moorlach, a supervisor in Orange County, Calif., which filed for bankruptcy in 1994. "In many instances, haste is important. If you can't meet payroll but have to delay seeking protection, what do you do?" California towns and counties face a catalog of troubles. Earlier this month, voters rejected five budget measures, sending the state deficit to $21 billion. To overcome the gap, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed borrowing $2 billion from municipalities, using a 2004 state law that lets California demand loans of 8% of property-tax revenue from cities, counties and special districts. But that proposal lands as California municipalities are already facing steep declines in tax revenue because of the recession. Dozens are staring at huge deficits, including Pacific Grove and Stockton, which have publicly said they are exploring bankruptcy. Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, a Democrat who introduced the bankruptcy bill, said the initiative is needed to protect the credit rating of California and its ability to borrow and sell bonds. Mr. Mendoza added that he wants to avoid bankruptcy's repercussions on surrounding communities by offering a system that examines all of a municipality's options before filing for bankruptcy. "Municipalities should have a checks and balance system in place based on the fact that all economies are interconnected," he said. Dwight Stenbakken, deputy executive director for the California League of Cities, a nonprofit representing more than 400 cities, said the group is lobbying against the bill because "there's nothing a state commission can bring to the process to make this better." Write to Bobby White at [email protected]
  4. http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100505/mtl_building_100505/20100505/?hub=MontrealHome Surprise surprise.
  5. Québec est disposé à se rendre jusqu'en Cour suprême pour empêcher Ottawa d'aller de l'avant avec son projet de création d'une commission pancanadienne des valeurs mobilières. Pour en lire plus...
  6. La Commission de la construction du Québec indique que le nombre d'heures travaillées dans la construction commerciale, institutionnelle et résidentielle est en hausse par rapport à la même période l'an dernier. Pour en lire plus...
  7. Ce contrat a été signé avec la Federal Communications Commission (FCC) des États-Unis. CGI fournira un logiciel de gestion financière et une solution d'hébergement. Pour en lire plus...
  8. Energie atomique du Canada (EACL) et SNC-Lavalin ont signé, samedi à Amman, en Jordanie, un protocole d'entente de partenariat avec la Commission de l'énergie atomique de Jordanie. Pour en lire plus...
  9. Estimant qu'il convient d'injecter, outre des liquidités, de la crédibilité au secteur financier, la Commission européenne souhaite une réponse internationale et des changements à long terme pour contrer la crise. Pour en lire plus...
  10. Le président de la Commission bancaire du Sénat américain a jugé «inacceptable» mardi le plan de sauvetage du secteur financier mis au point par l'administration Bush. Pour en lire plus...
  11. La Commission européenne a envoyé une «lettre de grief» à Microsoft pour lui signifier ses soupçons d'un abus de position dominante dans l'intégration systématique d'Internet Explorer à Windows. Pour en lire plus...
  12. Des travailleurs de la succursale de Hull à Gatineau obtiennent le feu vert de la Commission des relations du travail pour négocier leur première convention collective. Pour en lire plus...
  13. Presse Canadienne (PC) Jocelyne Richer 09/10/2007 17h38 - Mise à jour 09/10/2007 18h12 Au Québec, la liberté religieuse sera bientôt subordonnée à l'égalité entre les hommes et les femmes. Pour transformer ce principe en réalité, le gouvernement Charest fera en sorte d'amender la Charte québécoise des droits de la personne, et ce, aussitôt que possible. C'est ce qu'a indiqué le premier ministre Jean Charest, mardi, en disant vouloir procéder rapidement, dès cet automne, avant même le dépôt du rapport de la commission Bouchard-Taylor sur les accommodements raisonnables. M. Charest a dit juger que l'égalité entre les sexes était un principe «tellement important dans notre société» qu'il ne devait souffrir aucune équivoque. En agissant de la sorte, Québec veut donc envoyer un message clair sur ses priorités et endosser sans réserve l'avis émis récemment sur le sujet par le Conseil du statut de la femme. «C'est une recommandation que nous pensons être très intéressante. Nous nous penchons actuellement là-dessus», a déclaré M. Charest, en conférence de presse, en marge d'une réunion du caucus des députés de sa formation politique. «On n'aura pas besoin d'attendre les recommandations de la commission Bouchard-Taylor», a-t-il tranché, ajoutant que, dans ce dossier, son gouvernement était «très intéressé à bouger». Les propositions d'amendement à la Charte des droits présentées par son gouvernement risquent de constituer une des pièces majeures de la nouvelle session parlementaire, qui débutera le 16 octobre. Reste à savoir comment réagiront les deux partis d'opposition. En choisissant de donner préséance à l'égalité entre les sexes sur la liberté religieuse, Québec s'alignera sur la Charte canadienne des droits qui comporte également une disposition en ce sens. Dans son avis, le Conseil du statut de la femme demande notamment que les représentants de l'Etat, comme les enseignants, les fonctionnaires et les policiers, ne puissent porter de signes religieux ostentatoires dans l'exercice de leurs fonctions. Ainsi, les professeurs ne pourraient pas porter le voile islamique. De même, un client d'un organisme gouvernemental ne pourrait exiger d'être servi par un homme plutôt qu'une femme pour des raisons religieuses.
  14. Je n'ai pas trouvé de thread pour ce projet de réno. LaPresse parle de ce projet aujourd'hui Publié le 08 mars 2014 à 09h08 | Mis à jour à 09h09 Conversion d'un monument historique en condos par Karsten Rump L'ordonnance de fermeture du chantier des Appartements Bishop Court, angle Bishop et De Maisonneuve, a pris effet à la fin février, mais elle vient tout juste d'être officiellement enregistrée au palais de justice de Montréal. PHOTO OLIVIER PONTBRIAND, LA PRESSE VINCENT LAROUCHE La Presse La Commission de la construction du Québec ordonne l'arrêt immédiat des travaux de conversion d'un monument historique de grande valeur au centre-ville de Montréal, après avoir constaté que l'ancien «roi des peep-shows» de la métropole tentait d'y aménager des logements en usant de procédés douteux. L'ordonnance de fermeture du chantier des Appartements Bishop Court, angle Bishop et De Maisonneuve, a pris effet à la fin février, mais elle vient tout juste d'être officiellement enregistrée au palais de justice de Montréal. Le bâtiment de style néo-Tudor, classé «monument historique» et «immeuble de valeur patrimoniale exceptionnelle» par le gouvernement du Québec, a été construit en 1904 par les architectes Saxe et Archibald. L'Université Concordia y a longtemps eu des bureaux, puis elle a vendu l'immeuble pour 3,2 millions de dollars en 2010. D'importantes rénovations ont été entreprises pour y aménager des logements de prestige. Après une série de mésaventures financières et de problèmes avec des entrepreneurs en construction qui disaient ne pas avoir été payés, le projet a atterri entre les mains de l'homme d'affaires Karsten Rumpf. Rumpf avait été baptisé «le Roi des peep-shows» par le magazine Affaires Plus au cours des années 1990, car il était le plus important propriétaire de cinémas XXX à Montréal et Hamilton. Aujourd'hui, son adresse correspond à une boîte postale de Nassau, aux Bahamas, et l'homme s'est recyclé dans la gestion d'un imposant parc immobilier. Son représentant à Montréal n'a pas répondu à nos appels hier. La Commission de la construction dit avoir inspecté le chantier des Appartements Bishop Court à plusieurs reprises. Ses inspecteurs étaient mal reçus et avaient du mal à pénétrer sur les lieux et y ont découvert des travailleurs sans cartes de compétence. Pire, les travaux n'étaient même pas supervisés par un entrepreneur accrédité en bonne et due forme, selon eux. «Ils ont aussi constaté des problèmes qui pouvaient porter atteinte à la sécurité à cause des installations électriques», raconte Simon-Pierre Pouliot, porte-parole de l'organisme. Le propriétaire devra maintenant convaincre la Commission qu'il a régularisé la situation avant de pouvoir reprendre les travaux.
  15. Révision de la carte électorale du Québec - La Commission de la représentation électorale rend public son programme de travail pour l'année 2008 :quebec: :quebec: QUÉBEC, le 22 janv. /CNW Telbec/ - Le directeur général des élections du Québec et président de la Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE),Me Marcel Blanchet, rend public le programme de travail de la Commission pourl'année 2008, une démarche qui mènera à la révision de la carte électorale duQuébec, afin d'assurer une représentation juste et équitable des électrices etdes électeurs, en tenant compte notamment de la croissance et de ladécroissance de la population dans certaines régions. En vertu de la Loiélectorale, la carte électorale doit être revue à toutes les deux élections,la dernière révision remontant à 2001. Le défi que doit relever la CRE est d'assurer la représentation effectivedes électrices et des électeurs, que l'on atteint en tenant compte del'égalité du vote entre les circonscriptions et de facteurs d'ordredémographique, géographique et sociologique. Ainsi, lors de l'établissement dela carte, la CRE doit composer avec des changements démographiques, lescaractéristiques de la population, la spécificité du territoire, de même queles critères de délimitation que la loi lui impose. Compte tenu deschangements survenus depuis l'adoption de la dernière carte électorale, la CREdevra apporter des modifications majeures à celle-ci, car le déséquilibreentre certaines circonscriptions est devenu beaucoup trop important. «Si la CRE a les pleins pouvoirs pour décider de la nouvelle carte, aindiqué Me Blanchet, elle prend cette décision en passant par un imposantprocessus de consultation.» En effet, plus de 20 auditions publiques seronttenues ce printemps à travers tout le Québec. Pour leur part, les députées etdéputés de l'Assemblée nationale auront deux occasions formelles de formulerdes commentaires sur la proposition de la CRE. Voici les grandes étapes devantmener à l'entrée en vigueur d'une nouvelle carte électorale : << - Mars 2008 : dépôt à l'Assemblée nationale d'un rapport préliminaire, autrement dit de la proposition de carte formulée par la Commission de la représentation électorale; - Avril à juin 2008 : tenue d'une vingtaine d'auditions publiques sur tout le territoire québécois lors desquelles l'ensemble de la population sera invitée à commenter le projet de carte électorale; - Juin 2008 : étude du rapport préliminaire de la CRE par la commission de l'Assemblée nationale, lors de laquelle tous les élus intéressés auront l'occasion de commenter la carte proposée; - Juillet à octobre 2008 : étude par la CRE de l'ensemble des représentations formulées sur le projet de carte électorale; - Octobre 2008 : dépôt à l'Assemblée nationale du rapport présentant la proposition de la CRE; - Octobre 2008 : débat de cinq heures à l'Assemblée nationale sur le projet de carte électorale; - Fin novembre 2008 : publication de la décision finale de la CRE à la Gazette officielle. La nouvelle carte entrera en vigueur au moment de la dissolution del'Assemblée nationale, en autant que cette dissolution n'intervienne pas avantl'expiration d'un délai de trois mois suivant la publication à la Gazetteofficielle. Si des élections générales devaient être déclenchées avant la fin de cettedémarche, les travaux de la CRE seraient interrompus, et les électionsauraient lieu avec la carte électorale qui était en vigueur lors du dernierscrutin, en mars 2007.
  16. Les Producteurs laitiers du Canada réclament de la Commission canadienne du lait qu'elle décrète une augmentation immédiate de 3,5 cents le litre. Pour en lire plus...
  17. Le Technoparc pourrait être contaminé Michel Bellemare La Presse Canadienne Le sol du Technoparc de Montréal situé entre les ponts Champlain et Victoria, à la hauteur de Pointe-Saint-Charles, contiendrait de quatre à huit millions de litres de carburant diesel et de une à deux tonnes de biphényles polychlorés (BPC) dont une partie s'échappe dans le fleuve Saint-Laurent à proximité. C'est ce que révèle un dossier rendu public lundi par la Commission de coopération environnementale, l'organisme nord-américain de surveillance de l'environnement. Le dossier repose sur un rapport préparé en 2003 par cinq organisations canadiennes et américaines de protection de l'environnement, soit Waterkeeper Alliance, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Société pour vaincre la pollution, Environmental Bureau of Investigation et Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper/Save the River!. Ces organisations font état de résultats d'échantillonnages indiquant que les concentrations de BPC détectées dans les rejets du Technoparc sont jusqu'à 8,5 millions de fois plus élevées que ce que prescrivent les Recommandations pour la qualité des eaux au Canada. Les auteurs mentionnent également que des concentrations élevées d'autres polluants toxiques ont été détectées dans les échantillons. Le secteur du Technoparc, qui s'étend sur environ deux kilomètres de longueur et 500 mètres de largeur, a été aménagé à partir du XIXe siècle à même le lit du fleuve par l'apport de matériaux de remblai et de déchets domestiques et industriels. Il a par ailleurs pendant une centaine d'années eu une vocation principalement ferroviaire avec l'exploitation par le Canadien National et ses prédécesseurs d'une immense cour de triage. Une partie du site a servi de stationnement durant l'Expo 67. Le dossier permet d'apprendre en outre qu'Environnement Canada a mené une enquête sur les rejets du Technoparc en 2002 et 2003 mais que cette enquête n'a pas permis de déterminer la source de la contamination et a été close. Les auteurs allèguent également que les mesures prises par la Ville de Montréal, actuel propriétaire du site, pour contenir les rejets, à savoir l'installation de barrages flottants, le pompage des substances polluantes ou l'utilisation de tampons abbsorbants, n'ont pas donné les résultats escomptés. Les cinq organisations environnementales ayant sonné l'alarme soutiennent que l'inaction gouvernementale dans ce dossier constitue une omission du Canada d'assurer l'application efficace de sa Loi sur les pêches. La Commission de coopération environnementale, créée en vertu de l'Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, n'a pas le mandat de critiquer ses pays membres, soit le Canada, les États-Unis et le Mexique, mais peut publier les «communications» de citoyens (ou de groupes) et des «dossiers factuels» comme dans le cas du Technoparc. La Commission a précisé en publiant le dossier factuel relatif au Technoparc de Montréal que celui-ci fournit de l'information qui aidera à déterminer si le Canada omet d'assurer l'application efficace de ses loi de l'environnement relativement aux questions soulevées par Waterkeeper Alliance, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Société pour vaincre la pollution, Environmental Bureau of Investigation et Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper/Save the River!. http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20080624/CPACTUALITES/80624011/6730/CPACTUALITES
  18. http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/dossiers/commission-charbonneau/201210/15/01-4583463-zambito-le-maire-vaillancourt-touchait-25-des-contrats-a-laval.php L'administration du maire de Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt, touchait 2,5% du montant des contrats octroyés à un cercle d'entreprises en construction, selon l'ex-entrepreneur Lino Zambito qui témoigne devant la commission Charbonneau. «À Laval, c'était clair, il y avait une ''cut'' de 2,5% que les entrepreneurs donnaient au maire de Laval, M. Vaillancourt, par le biais d'un intermédiaire», a déclaré M. Zambito. L'homme a poursuivi ce matin son témoignage devant la Commission en abordant l'octroi des contrats à Laval. L'ex-entrepreneur dit avoir rapidement réalisé après avoir fondé sa compagnie, Infrabec, qu'un cercle fermé d'entrepreneurs obtenait la majorité des contrats de construction sur l'île Jésus. Le cercle d'entreprises obtenant la quasi-totalité des contrats était composé des entreprises Construction Louisbourg, Poly Excavation, Nepcon, Mergad, Timberstone, Giuliani, Sintra division Laval, Gilles Dufresne Asphalte, Jocelyn DufresneInc. Plusieurs d'entre elles ont été perquisitionnées la semaine dernière, alors que la commission Charbonneau et le témoignage de Lino Zambito prenaient une pause. Il a fréquemment reçu des appels de ces entrepreneurs pour lui demander de «se tasser». Lino Zambito dit avoir accepté, mais avoir démontré son intérêt pour lui aussi décrocher descontrats en échange de sa collaboration. En 2002 ou 2003, on invite l'ex-entrepreneur à se rendre à l'ouverture d'un nouveau magasin à Dollard-des-Ormeaux appartenant à la famille de Gilles Vaillancourt. Le maire de Laval est présent et rencontre Lino Zambito à la fin de l'inauguration. Il lui aurait alors dit : «Ta job, ton contrat s'en vient sous peu. Les gars vont te dire lequel.» Peu de temps après, il était informé qu'il obtenait le contrat pour un projet sur le boulevard Cléroux. Lino Zambito dit vite avoir déchanté, le chantier ayant présenté plusieurs imprévus. L'ex-entrepreneur affirme avoir réalisé pour 400 000$ de travaux supplémentaires au contrat. Pour obtenir paiement, il affirme avoir eu à verser un pot-de-vin de 25 000$ au maire Vaillancourt. L'argent n'a pas été versé directement au politicien, mais à l'aide d'un intermédiaire, Marc Gendron de la firme de génie Tecsult. Le témoignage de M. Zambito se poursuit à 14h. On se penche sur le ministère des Transports.
  19. How Skyscrapers Can Save the City BESIDES MAKING CITIES MORE AFFORDABLE AND ARCHITECTURALLY INTERESTING, TALL BUILDINGS ARE GREENER THAN SPRAWL, AND THEY FOSTER SOCIAL CAPITAL AND CREATIVITY. YET SOME URBAN PLANNERS AND PRESERVATIONISTS SEEM TO HAVE A MISPLACED FEAR OF HEIGHTS THAT YIELDS DAMAGING RESTRICTIONS ON HOW TALL A BUILDING CAN BE. FROM NEW YORK TO PARIS TO MUMBAI, THERE’S A POWERFUL CASE FOR BUILDING UP, NOT OUT. By Edward Glaeser IMAGE CREDIT: LEONELLO CALVETTI/BERNSTEIN & ANDRIULLI IN THE BOOK of Genesis, the builders of Babel declared, “Come, let us build us a city and a tower with its top in the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.” These early developers correctly understood that cities could connect humanity. But God punished them for monumentalizing terrestrial, rather than celestial, glory. For more than 2,000 years, Western city builders took this story’s warning to heart, and the tallest structures they erected were typically church spires. In the late Middle Ages, the wool-making center of Bruges became one of the first places where a secular structure, a 354-foot belfry built to celebrate cloth-making, towered over nearby churches. But elsewhere another four or five centuries passed before secular structures surpassed religious ones. With its 281-foot spire, Trinity Church was the tallest building in New York City until 1890. Perhaps that year, when Trinity’s spire was eclipsed by a skyscraper built to house Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, should be seen as the true start of the irreligious 20th century. At almost the same time, Paris celebrated its growing wealth by erecting the 1,000-foot Eiffel Tower, which was 700 feet taller than the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Also see: Interactive Graphic: How High Can We Go? The ceaseless climb of the world's skyscrapers is a story of ever-evolving challenges. Here's how we reached the heights we have—and where we might go from here. Since that tower in Babel, height has been seen both as a symbol of power and as a way to provide more space on a fixed amount of land. The belfry of Trinity Church and Gustave Eiffel’s tower did not provide usable space. They were massive monuments to God and to French engineering, respectively. Pulitzer’s World Building was certainly a monument to Pulitzer, but it was also a relatively practical means of getting his growing news operation into a single building. For centuries, ever taller buildings have made it possible to cram more and more people onto an acre of land. Yet until the 19th century, the move upward was a moderate evolution, in which two-story buildings were gradually replaced by four- and six-story buildings. Until the 19th century, heights were restricted by the cost of building and the limits on our desire to climb stairs. Church spires and belfry towers could pierce the heavens, but only because they were narrow and few people other than the occasional bell-ringer had to climb them. Tall buildings became possible in the 19th century, when American innovators solved the twin problems of safely moving people up and down and creating tall buildings without enormously thick lower walls. Elisha Otis didn’t invent the elevator; Archimedes is believed to have built one 2,200 years ago. And Louis XV is said to have had a personal lift installed in Versailles so that he could visit his mistress. But before the elevator could become mass transit, it needed a good source of power, and it needed to be safe. Matthew Boulton and James Watt provided the early steam engines used to power industrial elevators, which were either pulled up by ropes or pushed up hydraulically. As engines improved, so did the speed and power of elevators that could haul coal out of mines or grain from boats. But humans were still wary of traveling long distances upward in a machine that could easily break and send them hurtling downward. Otis, tinkering in a sawmill in Yonkers, took the danger out of vertical transit. He invented a safety brake and presented it in 1854 at New York’s Crystal Palace Exposition. He had himself hoisted on a platform, and then, dramatically, an axman severed the suspending rope. The platform dropped slightly, then came to a halt as the safety brake engaged. The Otis elevator became a sensation. In the 1870s, it enabled pathbreaking structures, like Richard Morris Hunt’s Tribune Building in New York, to reach 10 stories. Across the Atlantic, London’s 269-foot St. Pancras Station was taller even than the Tribune Building. But the fortress-like appearance of St. Pancras hints at the building’s core problem. It lacks the critical cost-reducing ingredient of the modern skyscraper: a load-bearing steel skeleton. Traditional buildings, like St. Pancras or the Tribune Building, needed extremely strong lower walls to support their weight. The higher a building went, the thicker its lower walls had to be, and that made costs almost prohibitive, unless you were building a really narrow spire. The load-bearing steel skeleton, which pretty much defines a skyscraper, applies the same engineering principles used in balloon-frame houses, which reduced the costs of building throughout rural 19th-century America. A balloon-frame house uses a light skeleton made of standardized boards to support its weight. The walls are essentially hung on the frame like a curtain. Skyscrapers also rest their weight on a skeleton frame, but in this case the frame is made of steel, which became increasingly affordable in the late 19th century. THERE IS A lively architectural debate about who invented the skyscraper—reflecting the fact that the skyscraper, like most other gifts of the city, didn’t occur in a social vacuum, and did not occur all at once. William Le Baron Jenney’s 138-foot Home Insurance Building, built in Chicago in 1885, is often seen as the first true skyscraper. But Jenney’s skyscraper didn’t have a complete steel skeleton. It just had two iron-reinforced walls. Other tall buildings in Chicago, such as the Montauk Building, designed by Daniel Burnham and John Root and built two years earlier, had already used steel reinforcement. Industrial structures, like the McCullough Shot and Lead Tower in New York and the St. Ouen dock warehouse near Paris, had used iron frames decades before. Jenney’s proto-skyscraper was a patchwork, stitching together his own innovations with ideas that were in the air in Chicago, a city rich with architects. Other builders, like Burnham and Root, their engineer George Fuller, and Louis Sullivan, a former Jenney apprentice, then further developed the idea. Sullivan’s great breakthrough came in 1891, when he put up the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, a skyscraper free from excessive ornamental masonry. Whereas Jenney’s buildings evoke the Victorian era, the Wainwright Building points the way toward the modernist towers that now define so many urban skylines. Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead is believed to be loosely based on the early life of Sullivan’s apprentice Frank Lloyd Wright. Sullivan and Wright are depicted as lone eagles, Gary Cooper heroes, paragons of individualism. They weren’t. They were great architects deeply enmeshed in an urban chain of innovation. Wright riffed on Sullivan’s idea of form following function, Sullivan riffed on Jenney, and they all borrowed the wisdom of Peter B. Wight, who produced great innovations in fireproofing. Their collective creation—the skyscraper—enabled cities to add vast amounts of floor space using the same amount of ground area. Given the rising demand for center-city real estate, the skyscraper seemed like a godsend. The problem was that those city centers already had buildings on them. Except in places like Chicago, where fire had created a tabula rasa, cities needed to tear down to build up. The demand for space was even stronger in New York than in Chicago, and skyscrapers were soon springing up in Manhattan. In 1890, Pulitzer’s World Building had some steel framing, but its weight was still supported by seven-foot-thick masonry walls. In 1899, the Park Row Building soared over the World Building, to 391 feet, supported by a steel skeleton. Daniel Burnham traveled east to build his iconic Flatiron Building in 1902, and several years later, Wight’s National Academy of Design was torn down to make way for the 700-foot Metropolitan Life tower, then the tallest building in the world. In 1913, the Woolworth Building reached 792 feet, and it remained the world’s tallest until the boom of the late ’20s. IMAGE CREDIT: GIANLUCA FABRIZIO/GETTY IMAGES THOSE TALL BUILDINGS were not mere monuments. They enabled New York to grow and industries to expand. They gave factory owners and workers space that was both more humane and more efficient. Manhattan’s master builders, such as A. E. Lefcourt, made that possible. Like a proper Horatio Alger figure, Lefcourt was born poor and started work as a newsboy and bootblack. By his teenage years, he had saved enough cash to buy a $1,000 U.S. Treasury bond, which he kept pinned inside his shirt. At 25, Lefcourt took over his employer’s wholesale business, and over the next decade he became a leading figure in the garment industry. In 1910, Lefcourt began a new career as a real-estate developer, putting all of his capital into a 12-story loft building on West 25th Street for his own company. He built more such buildings, and helped move his industry from the old sweatshops into the modern Garment District. The advantage of the garment industry’s old home downtown had been its proximity to the port. Lefcourt’s new Garment District lay between Grand Central and Pennsylvania stations, anchored by the rail lines that continued to give New York a transportation advantage. Transportation technologies shape cities, and Midtown Manhattan was built around two great rail stations that could carry in legions of people. Also see: City Limits: A Conversation With Edward Glaeser The author comments on preserving Paris, the hazards of housing projects, and why measures aimed at saving our cities may actually threaten their survival. Over the next 20 years, Lefcourt would erect more than 30 edifices, many of them skyscrapers. He used those Otis elevators in soaring towers that covered 150 acres, encased 100 million cubic feet, and contained as many workers as Trenton. “He demolished more historical landmarks in New York City than any other man had dared to contemplate,” TheWall Street Journal wrote. In the early 1920s, the New York of slums, tenements, and Gilded Age mansions was transformed into a city of skyscrapers, as builders like Lefcourt erected nearly 100,000 new housing units each year, enabling the city to grow and to stay reasonably affordable. By 1928, Lefcourt’s real-estate wealth had made him a billionaire in today’s dollars. He celebrated by opening a national bank bearing his own name. Lefcourt’s optimism was undiminished by the stock-market crash, and he planned $50 million of construction for 1930, sure that it would be a “great building year.” But as New York’s economy collapsed, so did his real-estate empire, which was sold off piecemeal to pay his investors. He died in 1932 worth only $2,500, seemingly punished, like the builders of Babel, for his hubris. I suspect that Lefcourt, like many developers, cared more about his structural legacy than about cash. Those structures helped house the creative minds that still make New York special. His most famous building, which doesn’t even bear his name, came to symbolize an entire musical style: the “Brill Building Sound.” In the late 1950s and early ’60s, artists connected in the Brill Building, producing a string of hits like “Twist and Shout,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” and, fittingly enough, “Up on the Roof.” Cities are ultimately about the connections between people, and structures—like those built by Lefcourt—make those connections possible. By building up, Lefcourt made the lives of garment workers far more pleasant and created new spaces for creative minds. NEW YORK’S UPWARD trajectory was not without its detractors. In 1913, the distinguished chairman of the Fifth Avenue Commission, who was himself an architect, led a fight to “save Fifth Avenue from ruin.” At that time, Fifth Avenue was still a street of stately mansions owned by Carnegies and Rockefellers. The anti-growth activists argued that unless heights were restricted to 125 feet or less, Fifth Avenue would become a canyon, with ruinous results for property values and the city as a whole. Similar arguments have been made by the enemies of change throughout history. The chair of the commission was a better architect than prognosticator, as density has suited Fifth Avenue quite nicely. Also see: Gallery: The Architecture of Louis Sullivan Historic photographs of some of Louis Sullivan's most renowned and intriguing buildings. The Atlantic on Skyscrapers and Cities Writings by Robert Moses, Richard Florida, Witold Rybczynski, Philip Langdon, and others, from the Atlantic's archives. In 1915, between Broadway and Nassau Street, in the heart of downtown New York, the Equitable Life Assurance Society constructed a monolith that contained well over a million square feet of office space and, at about 540 feet, cast a seven-acre shadow on the city. The building became a rallying cry for the enemies of height, who wanted to see a little more sun. A political alliance came together and passed the city’s landmark 1916 zoning ordinance, which allowed buildings to rise only if they gave up girth. New York’s many ziggurat-like structures, which get narrower as they get taller, were constructed to fulfill the setback requirements of that ordinance. The code changed the shape of buildings, but it did little to stop the construction boom of the 1920s. Really tall buildings provide something of an index of irrational exuberance. Five of the 10 tallest buildings standing in New York City in 2009—including the Empire State Building—were completed between 1930 and ’33. In the go-go years of the late ’20s, when the city’s potential seemed unlimited, builders like Lefcourt were confident they could attract tenants, and their bankers were happy to lend. The builders of the Chrysler Building, 40 Wall Street, and the Empire State Building engaged in a great race to produce the tallest structure in the world. It is an odd fact that two of New York’s tallest and most iconic edifices were built with money made from selling the cars that would move America away from vertical cities to sprawling suburbs. As it turned out, the winner, the Empire State Building, was soon nicknamed the “Empty State Building”—it was neither fully occupied nor profitable until the 1940s. Luckily for its financiers, the building’s construction had come in way below budget. New York slowed its construction of skyscrapers after 1933, and its regulations became ever more complex. Between 1916 and 1960, the city’s original zoning code was amended more than 2,500 times. In 1961, the City Planning Commission passed a new zoning resolution that significantly increased the limits on building. The resulting 420-page code replaced a simple classification of space—business, residential, unrestricted—with a dizzying number of different districts, each of which permitted only a narrow range of activities. There were 13 types of residential district, 12 types of manufacturing district, and no fewer than 41 types of commercial district. Each type of district narrowly classified the range of permissible activities. Commercial art galleries were forbidden in residential districts but allowed in manufacturing districts, while noncommercial art galleries were forbidden in manufacturing districts but allowed in residential districts. Art-supply stores were forbidden in residential districts and some commercial districts. Parking-space requirements also differed by district. In an R5 district, a hospital was required to have one off-street parking spot for every five beds, but in an R6 district, a hospital had to have one space for every eight beds. The picayune detail of the code is exemplified by its control of signs: For multiple dwellings, including apartment hotels, or for permitted non-residential buildings or other structures, one identification sign, with an area not exceeding 12 square feet and indicating only the name of the permitted use, the name or address of the building, or the name of the management thereof, is permitted. The code also removed the system of setbacks and replaced it with a complex system based on the floor-to-area ratio, or FAR, which is the ratio of interior square footage to ground area. A maximum FAR of two, for example, meant that a developer could put a two-story building on his entire plot or a four-story building on half of the plot. In residential districts R1, R2, and R3, the maximum floor-to-area ratio was 0.5. In R9 districts, the maximum FAR was about 7.5, depending on the building height. The height restriction was eased for builders who created plazas or other public spaces at the front of the building. While the standard building created by the 1916 code was a wedding cake that started at the sidewalk, the standard building created by the 1961 code was a glass-and-steel slab with an open plaza in front. NEW YORK’S ZONING CODES were getting more rigorous, but so were other restrictions on development. After World War II, New York made private development more difficult by overregulating construction and rents, while building a bevy of immense public structures, such as Stuyvesant Town and Lincoln Center. But then, during the 1950s and ’60s, both public and private projects ran into growing resistance from grassroots organizers like Jane Jacobs, who were becoming adept at mounting opposition to large-scale development. In 1961, Jacobs published her masterpiece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which investigates and celebrates the pedestrian world of mid-20th-century New York. She argued that mixed-use zoning fostered street life, the essence of city living. But Jacobs liked protecting old buildings because of a confused piece of economic reasoning. She thought that preserving older, shorter structures would somehow keep prices affordable for budding entrepreneurs. That’s not how supply and demand works. Protecting an older one-story building instead of replacing it with a 40-story building does not preserve affordability. Indeed, opposing new building is the surest way to make a popular area unaffordable. An increase in the supply of houses, or anything else, almost always drives prices down, while restricting the supply of real estate keeps prices high. The relationship between housing supply and affordability isn’t just a matter of economic theory. A great deal of evidence links the supply of space with the cost of real estate. Simply put, the places that are expensive don’t build a lot, and the places that build a lot aren’t expensive. Perhaps a new 40-story building won’t itself house any quirky, less profitable firms, but by providing new space, the building will ease pressure on the rest of the city. Price increases in gentrifying older areas will be muted because of new construction. Growth, not height restrictions and a fixed building stock, keeps space affordable and ensures that poorer people and less profitable firms can stay and help a thriving city remain successful and diverse. Height restrictions do increase light, and preservation does protect history, but we shouldn’t pretend that these benefits come without a cost. IMAGE CREDIT: RAEFORD DWYER IN 1962, IN response to the outcry over the razing of the original Pennsylvania Station, which was beautiful and much beloved, Mayor Robert Wagner established the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1965, despite vigorous opposition from the real-estate industry, the commission became permanent. Initially, this seemed like a small sop to preservationists. The number of buildings landmarked in the commission’s first year, 1,634, was modest, and the commission’s power was checked by the city council, which could veto its decisions. Yet, like entropy, the reach of governmental agencies often expands over time, so that a mild, almost symbolic group can come to influence vast swaths of a city. By 2008, more than 15 percent of Manhattan’s non-park land south of 96th Street was in a historic district, where every external change must be approved by the commission. By the end of 2010, the commission had jurisdiction over 27,000 landmarked buildings and 101 historic districts. In 2006, the developer Aby Rosen proposed putting a glass tower of more than 20 stories atop the old Sotheby Parke-Bernet building at 980 Madison Avenue, in the Upper East Side Historic District. Rosen and his Pritzker Prize–winning architect, Lord Norman Foster, wanted to erect the tower above the original building, much as the MetLife Building (formerly the Pan Am Building) rises above Grand Central Terminal. The building was not itself landmarked, but well-connected neighbors didn’t like the idea of more height, and they complained to the commission. Tom Wolfe, who has written brilliantly about the caprices of both New York City and the real-estate industry, wrote a 3,500-word op-ed in The New York Times warning the landmarks commission against approving the project. Wolfe & Company won. In response to his critics in the 980 Madison Avenue case, of whom I was one, Wolfe was quoted in The Village Voice as saying: To take [Glaeser’s] theory to its logical conclusion would be to develop Central Park … When you consider the thousands and thousands of people who could be housed in Central Park if they would only allow them to build it up, boy, the problem is on the way to being solved! But one of the advantages of building up in already dense neighborhoods is that you don’t have to build in green areas, whether in Central Park or somewhere far from an urban center. From the preservationist perspective, building up in one area reduces the pressure to take down other, older buildings. One could quite plausibly argue that if members of the landmarks commission have decided that a building can be razed, then they should demand that its replacement be as tall as possible. The cost of restricting development is that protected areas have become more expensive and more exclusive. In 2000, people who lived in historic districts in Manhattan were on average almost 74 percent wealthier than people who lived outside such areas. Almost three-quarters of the adults living in historic districts had college degrees, as opposed to 54 percent outside them. People living in historic districts were 20 percent more likely to be white. The well-heeled historic-district denizens who persuade the landmarks commission to prohibit taller structures have become the urban equivalent of those restrictive suburbanites who want to mandate five-acre lot sizes to keep out the riffraff. It’s not that poorer people could ever afford 980 Madison Avenue, but restricting new supply anywhere makes it more difficult for the city to accommodate demand, and that pushes up prices everywhere. Again, the basic economics of housing prices are pretty simple—supply and demand. New York and Mumbai and London all face increasing demand for their housing, but how that demand affects prices depends on supply. Building enough homes eases the impact of rising demand and makes cities more affordable. That’s the lesson of both Houston today and New York in the 1920s. In the post-war boom years between 1955 and 1964, Manhattan issued permits for an average of more than 11,000 new housing units each year. Between 1980 and ’99, when the city’s prices were soaring, Manhattan approved an average of 3,100 new units per year. Fewer new homes meant higher prices; between 1970 and 2000, the median price of a Manhattan housing unit increased by 284 percent in constant dollars. The other key factor in housing economics is the cost of building a home. The cheapest way to deliver new housing is in the form of mass-produced two-story homes, which typically cost only about $84 a square foot to erect. That low cost explains why Atlanta and Dallas and Houston are able to supply so much new housing at low prices, and why so many Americans have ended up buying affordable homes in those places. Building up is more costly, especially when elevators start getting involved. And erecting a skyscraper in New York City involves additional costs (site preparation, legal fees, a fancy architect) that can push the price even higher. But many of these are fixed costs that don’t increase with the height of the building. In fact, once you’ve reached the seventh floor or so, building up has its own economic logic, since those fixed costs can be spread over more apartments. Just as the cost of a big factory can be covered by a sufficiently large production run, the cost of site preparation and a hotshot architect can be covered by building up. The actual marginal cost of adding an extra square foot of living space at the top of a skyscraper in New York is typically less than $400. Prices do rise substantially in ultra-tall buildings—say, over 50 stories—but for ordinary skyscrapers, it doesn’t cost more than $500,000 to put up a nice 1,200-square-foot apartment. The land costs something, but in a 40-story building with one 1,200-square-foot unit per floor, each unit is using only 30 square feet of Manhattan—less than a thousandth of an acre. At those heights, the land costs become pretty small. If there were no restrictions on new construction, then prices would eventually come down to somewhere near construction costs, about $500,000 for a new apartment. That’s a lot more than the $210,000 that it costs to put up a 2,500-square-foot house in Houston—but a lot less than the $1 million or more that such an apartment often costs in Manhattan. Land is also pretty limited in Chicago’s Gold Coast, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Demand may not be the same as in Manhattan, but it’s still pretty high. Yet you can buy a beautiful condominium with a lake view for roughly half the cost of a similar unit in Manhattan. Building in Chicago is cheaper than in New York—but it’s not twice as cheap. The big cost difference is that Chicago’s leadership has always encouraged new construction more than New York’s (at least before the Bloomberg administration). The forest of cranes along Lake Michigan keeps Chicago affordable. Most people who fight to stop a new development think of themselves as heroes, not villains. After all, a plan to put up a new building on Madison Avenue clearly bugs a lot of people, and preventing one building isn’t going to make much difference to the city as a whole. The problem is that all those independent decisions to prohibit construction add up. Zoning rules, air rights, height restrictions, and landmarks boards together form a web of regulation that has made building more and more difficult. The increasing wave of regulations was, until the Bloomberg administration, making New York shorter. In a sample of condominium buildings, I found that more than 80 percent of Manhattan’s residential buildings built in the 1970s had more than 20 stories. But less than 40 percent of the buildings put up in the 1990s were that tall. The elevator and the steel-framed skyscraper made it possible to get vast amounts of living space onto tiny amounts of land, but New York’s building rules were limiting that potential. The growth in housing supply determines not only prices but the number of people in a city. The statistical relationship between new building and population growth within a given area is almost perfect, so that when an area increases its housing stock by 1 percent, its population rises by almost exactly that proportion. As a result, when New York or Boston or Paris restricts construction, its population will be smaller. If the restrictions become strong enough, then a city can even lose population, despite rising demand, as wealthier, smaller families replace poorer, larger ones. Jane Jacobs’s insights into the pleasures and strengths of older, shorter urban neighborhoods were certainly correct, but she had too little faith in the strengths of even-higher density levels. I was born a year before Jacobs left New York for Toronto, and I lived in Manhattan for the next 17 years. Yet my neighborhood looked nothing like low-rise Greenwich Village. I grew up surrounded by white glazed towers built after World War II to provide affordable housing for middle-income people like my parents. The neighborhood may not have been as charming as Greenwich Village, but it had plenty of fun restaurants, quirky stores, and even-quirkier pedestrians. The streets were reasonably safe. It was certainly a functioning, vibrant urban space, albeit one with plenty of skyscrapers. WHEN BARON HAUSSMANN thoroughly rebuilt Paris in the mid-19th century at the behest of Napoleon III, he did things unthinkable in a more democratic age: He evicted vast numbers of the poor, turning their homes into the wide boulevards that made Paris monumental. He lopped off a good chunk of the Luxembourg Gardens to create city streets. He tore down ancient landmarks, including much of the Île de la Cité. He spent 2.5 billion francs on his efforts, which was 44 times the total budget of Paris in 1851. All of that spending and upheaval turned Paris from an ancient and somewhat dilapidated city of great poverty into an urban resort for the growing haute bourgeoisie. He also made Paris a bit taller, boosting the Bourbon-era height limit on buildings from 54 feet to 62 feet. Still, relative to cities built in the elevator-rich 20th century, Haussmann’s Paris stayed short, because people needed to climb stairs. Height restrictions were lifted in 1967, and construction of Paris’s first proper skyscraper, the 689-foot Montparnasse Tower, didn’t begin until 1969. Two years later, Les Halles, a popular open-air marketplace, was wiped away and the futuristic Centre Pompidou museum was begun. But these changes rankled those Parisians who had gotten used to a static city. The Montparnasse Tower was widely loathed, and the lesson drawn was that skyscrapers must never again mar central Paris. Les Halles was sorely missed, in much the same way that many New Yorkers mourned the demise of the old Penn Station. France is a far more regulatory country than America, and when its rulers decide they don’t want change, change will not occur. In 1974, a height limit of 83 feet was imposed in central Paris. But while these rules restricted height in old Paris, they let buildings grow on the periphery. Today, the majority of Paris’s skyscrapers are in relatively dense but far-flung complexes like La Défense, which is three miles northwest of the Arc de Triomphe. La Défense is as vertical as central Paris is flat. It has about 35 million square feet of commercial space and the feel of an American office park. Except for the distant view of the Arc, administrative assistants drinking lattes in a Starbucks there could easily be in a bigger version of Crystal City, Virginia. La Défense addresses the need to balance preservation and growth by segregating skyscrapers. In some senses, it is an inspired solution. People working there can still get to old Paris in about 20 minutes by Métro or in an hour on foot. That Métro line means that businesses in La Défense can connect with the all-important French bureaucracy that remains centered in the old city. La Défense is one of Europe’s most concentrated commercial centers, and it seems to have all of the economic excitement that we would expect from such a mass of skilled workers. The sector enables Paris to grow, while keeping the old city pristine. But building in La Défense is not a perfect substitute for new construction in the more-desirable central areas of Paris, where short supply keeps housing prices astronomical. The natural thing is to have tall buildings in the center, where demand is greatest, not on the edge. The lack of new housing in central Paris means that small apartments can sell for $1 million or more. Hotel rooms often cost more than $500 a night. If you want to be in the center of the city, you’ll have to pay for it. People are willing to pay those high prices, because Paris is so charming, but they wouldn’t have to if the city’s rulers hadn’t decided to limit the amount of housing that can be built in the area. Average people are barred from living in central Paris just as surely as if the city had put up a gate and said that no middle-income people can enter. For the world’s oldest, most beautiful cities, La Défense provides a viable model. Keep the core areas historic, but let millions of square feet be built nearby. As long as building in the high-rise district is sufficiently unfettered, then that area provides a safety valve for the region as a whole. The key issue with La Défense is whether it is too far away. Its distance from the old city keeps central Paris pristine, but it deprives too many people of the pleasures of strolling to a traditional café for lunch. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to balance the benefits of providing additional desirable space with the need to preserve a beautiful older city. I wish that some developments like La Défense had been built closer to the center of Paris. But I also understand those who think Paris is so precious that more space should be maintained between the developments and Haussmann’s boulevards. Paris, however, is an extreme case. In much of the rest of the world, the argument for restricting development is far weaker. And nowhere have limits on development done more harm than in the Indian mega-city of Mumbai. IT’S A PITY that so few ordinary people can afford to live in central Paris or Manhattan, but France and the U.S. will survive. The problems caused by arbitrarily restricting height in the developing world are far more serious, because they handicap the metropolises that help turn desperately poor nations into middle-income countries. The rules that keep India’s cities too short and too expensive mean that too few Indians can connect, with each other and with the outside world, in the urban places that are making that poor country richer. Since poverty often means death in the developing world, and since restricting city growth ensures more poverty, it is not hyperbole to say that land-use planning in India can be a matter of life and death. Mumbai is a city of astonishing human energy and entrepreneurship, from the high reaches of finance and film to the jam-packed spaces of the Dharavi slum. All of this private talent deserves a public sector that performs the core tasks of city government—like providing sewers and safe water—without overreaching and overregulating. One curse of the developing world is that governments take on too much and fail at their main responsibilities. A country that cannot provide clean water for its citizens should not be in the business of regulating film dialogue. The public failures in Mumbai are as obvious as the private successes. Western tourists can avoid the open-air defecation in Mumbai’s slums, but they can’t avoid the city’s failed transportation network. Driving the 15 miles from the airport to the city’s old downtown, with its landmark Gateway of India arch, can easily take 90 minutes. There is a train that could speed your trip, but few Westerners have the courage to brave its crowds during rush hour. In 2008, more than three people each working day were pushed out of that train to their death. Average commute times in Mumbai are roughly 50 minutes each way, which is about double the average American commute. The most cost-effective means of opening up overcrowded city streets would be to follow Singapore and charge more for their use. If you give something away free, people will use too much of it. Mumbai’s roads are just too valuable to be clogged up by ox carts at rush hour, and the easiest way to get flexible drivers off the road is to charge them for their use of public space. Congestion charges aren’t just for rich cities; they are appropriate anywhere traffic comes to a standstill. After all, Singapore was not wealthy in 1975, when it started charging drivers for using downtown streets. Like Singapore, Mumbai could just require people to buy paper day licenses to drive downtown, and require them to show those licenses in their windows. Politics, however, and not technology, would make this strategy difficult. Mumbai’s traffic problems reflect not just poor transportation policy, but a deeper and more fundamental failure of urban planning. In 1991, Mumbai fixed a maximum floor-to-area ratio of 1.33 in most of the city, meaning that it restricted the height of the average building to 1.33 stories: if you have an acre of land, you can construct a two-story building on two-thirds of an acre, or a three-story building on four-ninths of an acre, provided you leave the rest of the property empty. In those years, India still had a lingering enthusiasm for regulation, and limiting building heights seemed to offer a way to limit urban growth. But Mumbai’s height restrictions meant that, in one of the most densely populated places on Earth, buildings could have an average height of only one and a third stories. People still came; Mumbai’s economic energy drew them in, even when living conditions were awful. Limiting heights didn’t stop urban growth, it just ensured that more and more migrants would squeeze into squalid, illegal slums rather than occupying legal apartment buildings. Singapore doesn’t prevent the construction of tall buildings, and its downtown functions well because it’s tall and connected. Businesspeople work close to one another and can easily trot to a meeting. Hong Kong is even more vertical and even friendlier to pedestrians, who can walk in air-conditioned skywalks from skyscraper to skyscraper. It takes only a few minutes to get around Wall Street or Midtown Manhattan. Even vast Tokyo can be traversed largely on foot. These great cities function because their height enables a huge number of people to work, and sometimes live, on a tiny sliver of land. But Mumbai is short, so everyone sits in traffic and pays dearly for space. A city of 20 million people occupying a tiny landmass could be housed in corridors of skyscrapers. An abundance of close and connected vertical real estate would decrease the pressure on roads, ease the connections that are the lifeblood of a 21st-century city, and reduce Mumbai’s extraordinarily high cost of space. Yet instead of encouraging compact development, Mumbai is pushing people out. Only six buildings in Mumbai rise above 490 feet, and three of them were built last year, with more on the way as some of the height restrictions have been slightly eased, especially outside the traditional downtown. But the continuing power of these requirements explains why many of the new skyscrapers are surrounded by substantial green space. This traps tall buildings in splendid isolation, so that cars, rather than feet, are still needed to get around. If Mumbai wants to promote affordability and ease congestion, it should make developers use their land area to the fullest, requiring any new downtown building to have at least 40 stories. By requiring developers to create more, not less, floor space, the government would encourage more housing, less sprawl, and lower prices. Historically, Mumbai’s residents couldn’t afford such height, but many can today, and they would live in taller buildings if those buildings were abundant and affordable. Concrete canyons, such as those along New York’s Fifth Avenue, aren’t an urban problem—they are a perfectly reasonable way to fit a large number of people and businesses on a small amount of land. Only bad policy prevents a long row of 50-story buildings from lining Mumbai’s seafront, much as high-rises adorn Chicago’s lakefront. The magic of cities comes from their people, but those people must be well served by the bricks and mortar that surround them. Cities need roads and buildings that enable people to live well and to connect easily with one another. Tall towers, like Henry Ford II’s Renaissance Center in Detroit, make little sense in places with abundant space and slack demand. But in the most desirable cities, whether they’re on the Hudson River or the Arabian Sea, height is the best way to keep prices affordable and living standards high. THE SUCCESS OF our cities, the world’s economic engines, increasingly depends on abstruse decisions made by zoning boards and preservation committees. It certainly makes sense to control construction in dense urban spaces, but I would replace the maze of regulations now limiting new construction with three simple rules. Also see: The 30 Most Dynamic Cities in the World Grading each metropolis by the growth of its income and employment, a new study found the world's fastest recovering cities are overwhelmingly in three key areas: China and India, Southeast Asian islands, and Latin America The 20 Cities Leading the U.S. Recovery Areas that traded the boom-and-bust real estate business for Meds, Eds, Feds and Enlisteds only got spritzed by the recession while most cities felt the full force of the economic tsunami. First, cities should replace the lengthy and uncertain permitting processes now in place with a simple system of fees. If tall buildings create costs by blocking out light or views, then form a reasonable estimate of those costs and charge the builder appropriately. The money from those fees could then be given to the people who are suffering, such as the neighbors who lose light from a new construction project. I don’t mean to suggest that such a system would be easy to design. There is plenty of room for debate about the costs associated with buildings of different heights. People would certainly disagree about the size of the neighboring areas that should receive compensation. But reasonable rules could be developed that would then be universally applied; for instance, every new building in New York would pay some amount per square foot in compensation costs, in exchange for a speedy permit. Some share of the money could go to the city treasury, and the rest would go to people within a block of the new edifice. A simple tax system would be far more transparent and targeted than the current regulatory maze. Today, many builders negotiate our system by hiring expensive lawyers and lobbyists and buying political influence. It would be far better for them to just write a check to the rest of us. Allowing more building doesn’t have to be a windfall for developers; sensible, straightforward regulations can make new development good for the neighborhood and the city. Second, historic preservation should be limited and well defined. Landmarking a masterpiece like the Flatiron Building or the old Penn Station is sensible. Preserving a post-war glazed-brick building is absurd. But where do you draw the line between those two extremes? My own preference is that, in a city like New York, the Landmarks Preservation Commission should have a fixed number of buildings, perhaps 5,000, that it may protect. The commission can change its chosen architectural gems, but it needs to do so slowly. It shouldn’t be able to change its rules overnight to stop construction in some previously unprotected area. If the commission wants to preserve a whole district, then let it spread its 5,000-building mandate across the area. Perhaps 5,000 buildings are too few; but without some sort of limit, any regulatory agency will constantly try to increase its scope. The problem gets thornier in places like Paris, practically all of which is beloved worldwide. In such cases, the key is to find some sizable area, reasonably close to the city center, that can be used for ultra-dense development. Ideally, this space would be near enough to let its residents enjoy walking to the beautiful streets of the older city. Finally, individual neighborhoods should have more power to protect their special character. Some blocks might want to exclude bars. Others might want to encourage them. Rather than regulate neighborhoods entirely from the top down, let individual neighborhoods enforce their own, limited rules that are adopted only with the approval of a large share of residents. In this way, ordinary citizens, rather than the planners in City Hall, would get a say over what happens around them. Great cities are not static—they constantly change, and they take the world along with them. When New York and Chicago and Paris experienced great spurts of creativity and growth, they reshaped themselves to provide new structures that could house new talent and new ideas. Cities can’t force change with new buildings—as the Rust Belt’s experience clearly shows. But if change is already happening, new building can speed the process along. Yet many of the world’s old and new cities have increasingly arrayed rules that prevent construction that would accommodate higher densities. Sometimes these rules have a good justification, such as preserving truly important works of architecture. Sometimes, they are mindless NIMBYism or a misguided attempt at stopping urban growth. In all cases, restricting construction ties cities to their past and limits the possibilities for their future. If cities can’t build up, then they will build out. If building in a city is frozen, then growth will happen somewhere else. Land-use regulations may seem like urban arcana. But these rules matter because they shape our structures, and our structures shape our societies—often in unexpected ways. Consider that carbon emissions are significantly lower in big cities than in outlying suburbs, and that, as of 2007, life expectancy in New York City was 1.5 years higher than in the nation as a whole. As America struggles to regain its economic footing, we would do well to remember that dense cities are also far more productive than suburbs, and offer better-paying jobs. Globalization and new technologies seem to have only made urban proximity more valuable—young workers gain many of the skills they need in a competitive global marketplace by watching the people around them. Those tall buildings enable the human interactions that are at the heart of economic innovation, and of progress itself. This article available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/8387/ Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/03/how-skyscrapers-can-save-the-city/8387/
  20. Un monorail pourrait réapparaître sur l'île Sainte-Hélène d'ici quelques années, comme au temps de l'Expo 67. Un projet estimé à 185 millions de dollars a été présenté jeudi dernier devant la Commission des finances du Conseil municipal et la Commission d'agglomération sur les finances, à l'Hôtel de Ville de Montréal. Le monorail circulerait sur une dizaine de kilomètres entre les principaux sites d'activités du parc Jean-Drapeau, de l'île Notre-Dame et la Place Bonaventure au centre-ville de Montréal. Ce moyen de transport est donc à l'étude, et recueille déjà des avis favorables. Le directeur général Christian Ouellet en a notamment parlé avec enthousiasme. La Société du parc Jean-Drapeau propose de réaliser plusieurs autres projets en prévision du 375e anniversaire de Montréal, en 2017. On annonçait également lundi matin la venue d'un nouveau président au conseil d'administration de la Société du parc Jean-Drapeau : Normand Legault. D'après un reportage de Benoît Chapdelaine http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/Montreal/2010/10/04/006-monorail.shtml J'aimerais bien voir ça un jour! Mais disons que j'aimerais mieux voir un SLR jusqu'à longueil avant!
  21. Publié le 05 mai 2009 à 00h13 | Mis à jour à 00h17 Québec doit mettre Montréal en tutelle, estime Louise O'Sullivan Catherine Handfield La Presse Louise O'Sullivan, ancienne conseillère municipale et candidate à la mairie de Montréal, a demandé à Québec lundi de mettre en tutelle l'administration du maire Gérald Tremblay jusqu'aux élections du 1er novembre. «Vous n'avez d'autres alternatives que d'imposer la tutelle (...) et de mandater la Commission municipale du Québec pour superviser dorénavant toutes les décisions du comité exécutif et des divers arrondissements», a écrit Mme O'Sullivan dans une lettre adressée à la ministre des Affaires municipales, Nathalie Normandeau. Louise O'Sullivan, qui a quitté l'équipe du maire Tremblay en 2005 et qui a fondé son propre parti ce printemps, demande également de convoquer Gérald Tremblay et ses lieutenants à une commission parlementaire pour faire la lumière sur les controverses qui ont ébranlé la Ville ces derniers mois. «Devant la tournure de plus en plus malsaine que prend chaque jour la saga des scandales entourant l'administration de la Ville de Montréal, je me vois dans l'obligation de vos réécrire pour vous demander d'agir de façon urgente et sévère pour rétablir le climat de confiance envers les actions de nos élus municipaux», écrit-elle. L'ex-conseillère estime que le chef de l'opposition officielle, Benoît Labonté, et le chef de Projet Montréal, Richard Bergeron, ont failli à leur tâche. «Tous les élus ont voté en faveur de projets douteux de l'administration sortante et ce n'est qu'après le travail d'enquête de certains journalistes, particulièrement du quotidien La Presse, que l'opposition a commencé à poser des questions», poursuit-elle. Au cours des derniers mois, les médias ont mis au jour les séjours de l'ancien président du comité exécutif de Montréal, Frank Zampino, sur le yacht de l'homme d'affaires Tony Accurso, alors que la Ville s'apprêtait à octroyer le contrat des compteurs d'eau. Un autre controverse entoure la gestion du projet Contrecoeur par la SHDM, un dossier qui a incité le vérificateur général à recommander la tenue d'une enquête policière.
  22. La ministre des Finances, Monique Jérôme-Forget, annonce qu'il n'y aura pas de commission parlementaire sur les pertes de 40 milliards de dollars à la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Le Parti québécois juge cette décision irresponsable. Pour en lire plus...
  23. La privatisation des hippodromes du Québec et le choix de la firme Attractions Hippiques pour relancer cette industrie sont passés au peigne fin en commission parlementaire par les députés de l'opposition. Pour en lire plus...
  24. Citigroup a conclu un accord avec la Securities and Exchange Commission et d'autres régulateurs, prévoyant le rachat par la banque américaine d'obligations ARS pour un montant pouvant atteindre 20 G$ US. Pour en lire plus...