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Found 50 results

  1. Read on Bloomberg Business on March 31, 2015: "Stuck in Seattle--The Aggravating Adventures of a Gigantic Tunnel Drill" Notably, the Montreal Metro Laval Extension is included in a list of cost overruns in mega projects.
  2. 1. Mont Tremblant-Mirabel-Montreal-Boston-New York 2. Quebec-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor-Detroit-Chicago 3. Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo-New York-Washington Honestly not sure how many different ways I can have it work out. Would be interesting to see this as a maglev project, would cost a fortune, but would be nice having all these cities finally connected by rail. For sure certain cities would still be faster by plane. Life Ottawa to Washington, probably better by plane.
  3. The world's big digs http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/19/f-big-digs.html Last Updated: Monday, June 23, 2008 | 10:26 AM ET CBC News Construction on Montreal's Honoré Mercier Bridge, billed as Canada's largest bridge repair, has a price tag of $66 million for its first phase. Work is expected to last until 2011. It's a big endeavour, to be sure. But it still pales in comparison to the scope of massive projects planned or underway around the world. Consider China's $63-billion — yes, billion — water diversion project, or Canada's own ambitious plans for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Many of these projects break new ground, figuratively as well as literally, in striving to set new world standards. They want to be tallest, widest, first or most expensive works of their kind. Here are some of the world's biggest digs, either underway or planned: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- China: north-south water diversion Estimated cost: $63 billion With this massive hydro-engineering plan, China seeks to deliver water from the water-rich Yangtze River area in the south to parched regions in the country's north and west. In essence, the Chinese want to build a series of new, artificial rivers. Adopted in 2002, the ambitious plan calls for three water routes to eventually be built. Planners hope that the 1,250-km central and 1,150-km eastern routes will divert 13 billion cubic metres of water to Beijing and other northern cities by 2010. Due for completion in 2050, the western route cuts through the mountains of Tibet to reach China's arid northwestern provinces. If completed as planned, all three routes would carry a torrent of water as powerful as the flow of the Yellow River, China's second-longest waterway. The key word is "planned": Parts of the project have been delayed by technological and financial difficulties and concerns over water pollution, state media has reported. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Vancouver: 2010 Olympic infrastructure Estimated cost: $2.6 billion Two major projects are transforming transportation in British Columbia's Lower Mainland in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The 80-kilometre Sea to Sky highway, from Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is being improved at an estimated cost of $600 million. New passing lanes are being added and some sections straightened to improve safety. The new Canada Line, meanwhile, will provide a 19.5-km rail link between Vancouver and the city's international airport in Richmond. Completion of the 16-stop line is expected in 2009 in advance of the beginning of the Games. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Panama: Panama Canal expansion Estimated cost: $5.25 billion Workers use heavy machinery at the site of the Panama Canal expansion project in Panama City on April 28, 2008. (Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press) Approved in a 2006 national referendum, this project will be the largest improvement in the historic waterway's history. The canal's locks will be widened by 17 metres to 50 metres to accommodate modern ocean-faring vessels. By the time of its expected wrap-up in 2014, officials expect the canal's shipping capacity will be doubled. That will be good news for the ships who make the 14,000 annual trips through the 82-km-long canal. The smaller waterway has forced costly queues in recent years. If finished as planned in 2014, the expansion will open at the same time as the Panama Canal's 100th anniversary. It was originally built by the Americans and French and transferred to full Panamanian control in 1999. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- United Arab Emirates: Burj Dubai Estimated cost: $4 billion With their ultra-tall Burj Dubai, Emaar Properties want to do more than part the clouds with their building. The developers want to make a statement. A big statement. Even while still under construction, the Burj Dubai is already the world's tallest free-standing structure, eclipsing Toronto's 553-metre-tall CN Tower in September 2007. When completed in late 2009, the building will exceed 800 metres and house offices, a glitzy hotel and residential space. By then, the skyscraper will have consumed 330,000 metric tonnes of concrete, 39,000 metric tonnes of steel rebar and 142,000 square metres of glass, and 22 million worker hours of labour. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Algeria: east-west highway Estimated cost: $13 billion Flush with a windfall of oil and gas revenues, the Algerian government has embarked on a $144-billion project to upgrade the country's public works. Schools, hospitals and a subway for the capital, Algiers, are all being built. A cornerstone will be the east-west highway that will span more than 1,200 km across the country, connecting the Tunisian border in the east with Morocco in the west. Expected to be completed in 2010 and financed completely by the government, the roadway will also connect Algiers and other major cities in the country's north. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- China: Three Gorges Dam Estimated cost: $25 billion Spanning the Yangtze River, Three Gorges is 210 metres high and more than two kilometres long. Critics call it an environmental nightmare, but China's leaders believe it will control flooding along the Yangtze, harnessing an estimated 18,000 megawatts of power by its eventual completion in 2009. However, the dam has displaced more than one million people and it's estimated rising waters will submerge 1,200 towns and villages. Work began in 1993 on the project which, when complete, will produce three times the capacity of Canada's Churchill Falls generating station in Newfoundland and Labrador. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Moscow: Crystal Island Estimated cost: $4 billion Once completed, this sprawling residential and commercial complex near the heart of Moscow is expected to be one of the world's largest and most expensive buildings. British architect Norman Foster has drafted plans for a tent-like structure with 2.5 million square metres of ground space set around a 450-metre peak. As planned, Crystal Island would include an observatory deck near the top, as well as apartments, entertainment facilities and sports complexes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- San Francisco: Bay Bridge Estimated cost:$6.3 billion Upon its completion in 1936, the Bay Bridge was hailed as an engineering triumph, spanning the 13 kilometres between San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. But a major 1989 earthquake, which caused extensive damage to the bridge, drove home the need for repairs to guard against future temblors. So this massive repair project was drawn up. The eastern span will be entirely rebuilt and its western portions greatly overhauled. Work on the bridge, which carries an estimated 280,000 cars per day, is expected to wrap up in 2013. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Australia: Brisbane bypass tunnel Estimated cost: $3 billion This big dig will eventually deliver Australia's largest tunnel, built under the streets of the city of Brisbane. Named the Clem Jones Tunnel after a popular former mayor, it will provide another north-south traffic artery through the city. The goal for completion is the end of 2009. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Italy: Strait of Messina Bridge Estimated cost: $9 billion Since Roman times, Italian leaders have dreamed of a fixed link between the mainland and the island of Sicily. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to bring such a plan to life after his election in 2001, only to have it scuppered after a change of government in 2006. The April 2008 election restored Berlusconi to power and gave the idea a second life. The new plan calls for a 3.3-kilometre suspension bridge — it would be the world's longest, besting the current world record holder by almost 1.5 kilometres. Construction could begin in 2010 and wrap up by 2016, a government official says. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Las Vegas: CityCenter Estimated cost: $9 billion Dubbed a "city within a city" on the famous Las Vegas Strip, this monster complex will combine a resort casino called Aria, along with several other hotels and residential buildings. CityCenter will cover 76 acres after its expected completion in 2009. A little more than 46,000 square metres of space will be dedicated to The Crystals, a complex featuring restaurants, retail and other entertainment. The project will employ about 7,000 construction workers, according to the developers.
  4. jesseps

    Rogers Vision

    Anyone try it out? Rant: I just wish we could sort of get a decent rate for surfing the net with our phone. One thing I noticed that the Vision (3G) is on the same network at the wireless internet (pc cards) or so I think. 1GB for $65. Something similar for consumers and not business oriented people, probably cost over $500. Plus 1GB surfing on the phone seems reasonable, it is like 30 MB a day for about $2.
  5. http://www.citylab.com/politics/2014/07/paris-wants-landlords-to-turn-vacant-office-space-into-apartmentsor-else/374388/ Paris Wants Landlords to Turn Vacant Office Space Into Apartments—Or Else The city has a surplus of empty commercial buildings that could better serve as residences. And it plans to fine owners who don't convert. FEARGUS O'SULLIVAN <figure class="lead-image" style="margin: 0px; max-width: 620px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Oxygen, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px;"><figcaption class="credit" style="color: rgb(153, 153, 153); font-size: 0.82353em; text-align: right;">Justin Black/Shutterstock.com</figcaption></figure>Leave your office space unrented and we’ll fine you. That’s the new ruledeclared by the city of Paris last week. Currently, between six and seven percent of Paris' 18 million square meters of office space is unused, and the city wants to get this vacant office space revamped and occupied by residents. The penalties for unrented space will be as follows: 20 percent of the property’s rental value in the first year of vacancy, 30 percent in the second year and 40 percent in the third year. The plan is to free up about 200,000 square meters of office space for homes, which would still leave a substantial amount of office space available should demand pick up. The city insists that, while the sums involved are potentially large, this isn’t a new tax but an incentive. And, if it has the right effect in getting property re-occupied, may end up being little-used. Landlords' groups are taking the new plan as well as can be expected. They’ve pointed out that, while the cost of the fines might be high, it could still cost them less to pay them than to convert their properties to homes. According to a property investor quoted in Le Figaro, the cost of transforming an office into apartments can actually be 20 to 25 percent more expensive than constructing an entirely new building. Many landlords might be unwilling or unable to undertake such a process and thus be forced to sell in a market where, thanks to a glut of available real estate, prices are falling. There is also the question of how easy the law will be to enforce: Landlords could rent out vacant properties at a token rent simply to avoid the vacancy fine. <aside class="pullquote instapaper_ignore" style="font-family: Bitter, Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 2.11765em; line-height: 1.05556; border-top-width: 5px; border-top-style: solid; border-top-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); padding: 25px 0px; margin: 30px 0px;">As Paris becomes a laboratory for new legislation to make homes more plentiful and affordable, other European cities would do well to watch it carefully. </aside>It’s too early to see if these predictions will come true, but past experience in smaller French property markets suggests it won’t. The fines have already been introduced elsewhere in France: in the country’s fourth city of Lille (governed by the Socialist party) and in the Parisian satellite town of St Quentin-en-Yvelines (governed by the right wing UMP). So far, neither has experienced a legislation-exacerbated property slump. It’s also fair to point out that Paris is asking for a round of belt tightening from pretty much every group involved in the city’s real estate. The new levy is part of a plan announced last month that will also pressure state and semi-public bodies to release Parisian land for home building. Paris has some fairly large reserves of this, including space currently owned by the state health authority, by the national railway network and by the RATP—Paris’ transit authority, on whose unused land alone 2,000 homes could be built. In the meantime, stringent planning laws are also being relaxed to cut development costs for office converters. They will no longer, for example, be obliged to provide parking spaces for new homes, as they had been until the law change. Finally, starting next year, landlords will get an incentive to rent their properties to financially riskier lower-income tenants by having their rents and deposits guaranteed by a new intermediary, a public/private agency called Multiloc. Coming on top of laws that have relaxed building-height restrictionson the Paris periphery, it’s clear that, for Paris developers and landowners, there’s a decent ratio of carrot to stick. But will it all work? At the very least, Paris deserves recognition for being proactive, especially on a continent where many cities’ grip on the property sector is floundering. Berlin has recently had major new homebuilding plansrejected by residents (for good reason—they were due to get a bad deal), while the U.K.’s number of newly built homes has actually gone down, despite property prices continuing to rise sharply. As Paris becomes a laboratory for new legislation to make homes more plentiful and affordable, other European cities would do well to watch it carefully. (Photo credit: Justin Black/Shutterstock.com)
  6. monctezuma

    Apple new HQ

    Foster’s Apple Headquarters Exceeds Budget by $2 Billion © Foster + Partners, ARUP, Kier + Wright, Apple The estimated cost of Apple’s Cupertino City headquarters has escalated from an already hefty price of $3 billion to $5 billion (more than $1,500 per square foot), reportedly pushing back the original completion date to 2016. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working with lead architect Foster & Partners to shave $1 billion from the “ballooning budget”. Most of the cost is seemly due to Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish”, as the tech legend called for the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith to be clad 40-foot panes of German concave glass, along with its four-story office spaces be lined with museum-quality terrazzo floors and capped with polished concrete ceilings. Although lambasted for his ambitious plans and “doughnut-shaped” design, Steve Jobs wanted to create a masterpiece that looked as good as it functioned, just like his products. During a 2011 presentation to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs stated, “This is not the cheapest way to build something… there is not a straight piece of glass in this building.” He continued, “We have a shot… at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it.” © Foster + Partners, ARUP, Kier + Wright, Apple The spaceship-like headquarters, as Jobs would describe, is intended to accommodate more than 12,000 employees. It will be one of six visible structures planned for the 176 acre parcel - including the headquarters, a lobby to a 1000-seat underground auditorium, a four-story parking garage near Interstate 280, a corporate fitness center, a research facility and central plant - all of which will be accessed by a network of underground roads and parking lots, hidden by 6,000 trees. In addition, Jobs envisioned the campus to achieve “net-zero energy” by offsetting energy use with 700,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels (enough to generate 8 megawatts of power), along with additional contracts for solar and wind power, climate responsive window dressings, and more (additional project information, including plans and images, can be found here). © Foster + Partners, ARUP, Kier + Wright, Apple Despite the cost, Bloomberg states, “There’s no indication that Apple is getting cold feet.” Site excavation is planned to commence in June. In related news, Facebook’s quarter-mile-long West Campus by Frank Gehry was just awarded approval from city council. All the details here. Reference: Bloomberg
  7. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/fp/Quebec+brewers+froth+over+cheap+beer/4072041/story.html#ixzz1AJsv4pHS
  8. I have wondered about this for quite sometime. A recent trip to europe only made me more aware of it. Why do we, in Montreal, have such large suburban trains? This in comparison to paris for example. here the new bimodal locomotives for the AMT as oposed to this: Pictured above is a Parisian RER train. They run on their own tracks as well as SNCF tracks. They appear to be between a conventional metro and a regular train in size. Meanwhile our AMT trains seem to be regional trains. I wondered why are OUR suburban trains so large and cumbersome, requiring locomotives and what not, while elsewhere they are light and quick. It certainly is not a distance issue, as the parisian RERs run MUCH farther distances than our AMT trains. It does not seem to be a cost issue either. And while i am aware that not all AMT lines are electrified, they very well should be. the whole point of public transport (as i see it) is to move people in a way that reduces congestion and pollution. I use the paris example, but other cities as copenhaggen or london have similar suburban trains to those in paris.
  9. http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100505/mtl_building_100505/20100505/?hub=MontrealHome Surprise surprise.
  10. By MESFIN FEKADU, Associated Press Writer Sat Mar 21, 7:18 am ET NEW YORK – As a steady stream of celebrities pay their last respects to Natasha Richardson, questions are arising over whether a medical helicopter might have been able to save the ailing actress. The province of Quebec lacks a medical helicopter system, common in the United States and other parts of Canada, to airlift stricken patients to major trauma centers. Montreal's top head trauma doctor said Friday that may have played a role in Richardson's death. "It's impossible for me to comment specifically about her case, but what I could say is ... driving to Mont Tremblant from the city (Montreal) is a 2 1/2-hour trip, and the closest trauma center is in the city. Our system isn't set up for traumas and doesn't match what's available in other Canadian cities, let alone in the States," said Tarek Razek, director of trauma services for the McGill University Health Centre, which represents six of Montreal's hospitals. While Richardson's initial refusal of medical treatment cost her two hours, she also had to be driven to two hospitals. She didn't arrive at a specialized hospital in Montreal until about four hours after the second 911 call from her hotel room at the Mont Tremblant resort, according to a timeline published by Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper. Not being airlifted directly to a trauma center could have cost Richardson crucial moments, Razek said. "A helicopter is obviously the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B," he said. After Richardson fell and hit her head on a beginner ski slope at the Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec, the first ambulance crew left upon spotting a sled taking the still-conscious actress away to the resort's on-site clinic. A second 911 call was made two hours later from Richardson's luxury hotel room as the actress deteriorated. Medics tended to her for a half-hour before taking her to a hospital about a 40-minute drive away. Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Ste-Agathe does not specialize in head traumas, so her speedy transfer to Sacre Coeur Hospital in Montreal was critical, said Razek. "It's one of the classic presentations of head injuries, `talking and dying,' where they may lose consciousness for a minute, but then feel fine," said Razek. Richardson, 45, died Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. The New York City medical examiner's office ruled her death was an accident. On Friday evening, Richardson's husband, Liam Neeson, looked distraught but grateful for the outpouring of sympathy as he greeted grieving family members and friends who attended a private viewing for his wife. Neeson was the last to leave the viewing at the Upper East Side's American Irish Historical Society, where he was joined by the couple's sons, — Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12 — as well as Richardson's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and sister, Joely Richardson. An array of famous friends came to express their sadness about the family's sudden loss. Neeson hugged friends as he left the society's building at 8:40 p.m., after more than six hours of receiving condolences from friends including Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, Matthew Modine, Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Also among the stream of visitors were Kenneth Cole, Laura Linney, Fisher Stevens, Howard Stern, Stanley Tucci, Julianna Margulies and Mathilde Krim of the American Foundation of AIDS Research — amfAR. Richardson had served on the charity's board of trustees since 2006. "She looked incredibly beautiful," Krim said, adding that everyone appeared to be in shock and Neeson looked distraught as he received everybody. Theaters in London's West End dimmed their lights Friday to mark Richardson's death, just as Broadway theaters did Thursday. In a tribute to the stage and screen actress, the lights were lowered before the curtains went up on evening performances. ___ Associated Press writers John Carucci in New York and Amy Lutz at Mont Tremblant contributed to this report. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090321/ap_en_mo/natasha_richardson
  11. Hi everyone, My husband and I are going to pick the finishes for our condo soon and I was wondering whether most people stuck with the standard finished or chose upgrades? We are purchasing to live in the condo for at least 5 years. In terms of backsplash/tiles, have any of you noticed a difference between standard vs upgrade? Also, I wanted to extend the kitchen cabinets to cover more of the space, possibly extend the island and change the faucet/sink. Will this cost me an arm and a leg? Any advice would be very appreciated! Thanks
  12. I've consulted the following document: http://www.stat.gouv.qc.ca/statistiques/population-demographie/bilan2015.pdf Page. 82 in 1996/1997 Quebec recorded its worst interprovincial demographic losses. In 2013/2014, we're getting very close to historical records. Not good. Toronto is uncorking the champagne at our cost.
  13. Any guesses on what will become of the Royal Vic once the MUHC moves to the Glen Campus? http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2013/03/07/condos-parkland-hogwarts-castle-recycling-the-royal-victoria-hospital-one-idea-at-a-time/ http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2013/03/05/whats-next-for-the-royal-victoria-hospital-who-decides/ http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2013/03/11/royal-victoria-hotel-dieu-mount-royal-montrealers-must-demand-a-say/ http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Railway+baron+family+wants+maintain+spirit+Royal+site/8053827/story.html http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2013/03/04/mount-royal-after-the-royal-vic-what-do-you-want-for-your-mountain/ It's actually patently ridiculous that this facility is still being used as a hospital, that would be like using a Ford Model T as an ambulance in 2013. Converting to condo is probably out of the question too given the extraordinary cost and the terrible layouts that it would yield. My guess is that the city, the provincial government nor McGill will want to pay for refurbishment or upkeep and it will become a dilapidated eyesore because Heritage Montreal and the like will oppose anything and no one will dare touch it!! *my apologies if this thread already exists anywhere or belongs to another category
  14. 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/
  15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4W_F1RKR0A I don't think anyone here would like this. It would beat living in apartment thats for sure. Plus if it cost like US$500,000 in Tokyo. It can't be that expensive here.
  16. Changing the plans America’s oil capital is throwing up a few environmental surprises Jul 14th 2012 | HOUSTON | from the print edition STEVE KLINEBERG, a sociologist at Rice University, mentions a couple of events that made Houston’s leaders take notice of a looming problem. One was the day, in 1999, when their city overtook Los Angeles as America’s most polluted—evidence that the rise in asthma attacks among the city’s children, and the students passing out on football pitches, were no coincidence. Another was when Houston came up short in its bid to compete to host the 2012 Olympics. No one on the United States Olympics Committee voted for it, despite the fact that Houston had a brand-new stadium and had promised to turn an old sports field into the world’s largest air-conditioned track-and-field arena. At a casual glance, Houston looks much as it ever did: a tangle of freeways running through a hodgepodge of skyscrapers, strip malls and mixed districts. A closer inspection, though, shows signs of change. The transport authority, which branched into light rail in 2004, is now planning three new lines, adding more than 20 miles of track. Most of the traffic lights now boast LED bulbs, rather than the incandescent sort. More than half the cars in the official city fleet are hybrid or electric, and in May a bike-sharing programme began. Every Wednesday a farmers’ market takes place by the steps of city hall. Other changes are harder to see. The energy codes for buildings have been overhauled and the city is, astonishingly, America’s biggest municipal buyer of renewable energy; about a third of its power comes from Texan wind farms. Houston, in other words, is going green. Laura Spanjian, the city’s director of sustainability, says that businesses are increasingly likely to get on board if they can see the long-term savings or the competitive advantages that flow from creating a more attractive city. She adds an important clarification: “We’re not mandating that they have to do this.” That would not go down well. Houston is the capital of America’s energy industry, and its leaders have traditionally been wary of environmental regulation, both at home and abroad. In fact the city has been sceptical of regulations in general, and even more of central planning. Houston famously has no zoning, which helps explain why the city covers some 600 square miles. It is America’s fourth-largest city by population, but less than half as densely populated as sprawling Los Angeles. People are heavily dependent on cars, the air quality is poor and access to green space is haphazard. At the same time, Houston has jobs, a low cost of living and cheap property. Many people have accepted that trade-off. Between 2000 and 2010 the greater metropolitan area added more than 1.2m people, making it America’s fastest-growing city. Still, the public is taking more interest in sustainability, and for a number of reasons. As the city’s population has swelled, the suburbs have become more crowded. Some of the growth has come from the domestic migration of young professionals with a taste for city life. And despite living in an oil-industry hub, the people of Houston are still aware of the cost of energy; during the summer of 2008, when petrol prices hovered around $4 a gallon, the papers reported a surge of people riding their bicycles to bus stops so that they could take public transport to work. The annual Houston Area Survey from Rice’s Kinder Institute also shows a change. This year’s survey found that 56% think a much better public transport system is “very important” for the city’s future. A similarly solid majority said the Metro system should use all its revenue for improvements to public transport, rather than diverting funds to mend potholes. In the 1990s, most respondents were more concerned about the roads. People’s views about houses have changed, too. In 2008 59% said they would prefer a big house with a big garden, even if that meant they had to use their car to go everywhere. Just 36% preferred a smaller house within walking distance of shops and workplaces. By 2012, preferences were running the other way: 51% liked the idea of a smaller house in a more interesting district, and only 47% said they wanted the lavish McMansion. http://www.economist.com/node/21558632
  17. Salut la gagne! Etant à Vancouver, je vais en profiter pour poster des choses qui pourraient être d'intérêt pour Montréal. Vancouver council considers mandatory installation of electric car chargers City could require 10 per cent of new condo parking spots to include electric car chargers BY JOANNE LEE-YOUNG, VANCOUVER SUNJULY 8, 2009 Vancouver city council will soon decide whether to force developers to install electric car-charging stations in at least 10 per cent of all new condo parking lots -- a proposal that's creating a chicken-or-the-egg debate. If the vote goes through Thursday, Vancouver would be the first city in Canada with such a mandate for residential buildings. In addition to the 10-per-cent requirement for condo parking spaces, it would also see the city install a limited number of public charging stations at its EasyPark lots, eventually expand this to include on-street locations, and develop a strategy for retrofitting existing buildings. "Electric cars are coming. They are in Europe and in Japan," said Mayor Gregor Robertson, echoing observers who see that while Vancouver might lead Canada, it would be playing catch up to many cities elsewhere, such as San Francisco and Paris, which already each have hundreds of charging stations and growing culture for electric car use. "We need to be prepared." City staff estimate that the cost of installing chargers for 10 per cent of parking spaces, with allowance for future upgrades, would cost less than 0.5 per cent of the building cost. They believe that, while this would be a new cost to developers, it would "enable early adoption of EVs [electric vehicles] in our community, allow for later expansion as the market demands, allow the development industry to test the market take-up and introduce limited new costs that are not likely to adversely affect land values." The proposal would include an 18-month grace period for these requirements and support "developers to find possible strategies to offset the new incremental costs associated with this infrastructure." This, however, seems to be of little comfort to developers, who would like to see the ratio for charging stations reduced from 10 per cent to five per cent of parking stalls. In April, city staff made a proposal to the Urban Development Institute, which represents developers, that charging infrastructure would be required for 20 per cent of parking stalls. UDI responded that this ratio was too high, "given the cost of providing the infrastructure, the lack of widespread market penetration of the vehicle technology, and BC Hydro's capacity to deliver the additional power required to charge these vehicles." On Tuesday, Jeff Fisher, deputy executive director of UDI, said the organization is working with the city, but has some specific concerns. "We are always supportive of going green and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but we want to make sure that this is the right green-car technology. There are a number out there. We have had hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and concepts like the 'hydrogen highway' for some time. We feel it might be premature to mandate this." He added that while 0.5 per cent of the cost of the building is small, "when you look at the cost of other fees that the industry is facing, in aggregate, it is more significant." Fisher said that, for now, UDI would prefer to see a voluntarily or incentive-based approach to making charging stations available. Part of the conundrum is that there are currently fewer than 10 such electric vehicles in the city. A few months ago, the City of Vancouver and BC Hydro signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors to use its newly-launched iMiev electric vehicle as test run models for their fleets. It's not clear yet exactly how many vehicles this will involve and exactly when they would arrive, but the hope is that orders would quickly increase. Don Chander, past president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, which supports the proposal, said that providing infrastructure for charging electric vehicles in all new multi-family residential buildings is increasingly important as density increases. He added that some 18 major automakers have announced electric vehicle models, making it "urgent to start building this infrastructure." The VEVA estimates that the average cost of implementing EV infrastructure at the time of construction is around $1,500 per parking stall. [email protected] - - - Read Joanne lee -young's blog at vancouversun.com/pacificwaves © Copyright © The Vancouver Sun
  18. Here to stay: the hip anglo By David Johnston, The GazetteJanuary 31, 2009 1:01 PM Ask a couple of twentysomething anglophones like Ryan Bedic and Brian Abraham how many of their friends have left Quebec and you are likely to draw a long pause. It isn’t that they need time to count up all of those who have left. It’s that they have trouble coming up with the name of anyone in their largely English-speaking entourage in Montreal who has left. Bedic, 23, and Abraham, 27, are students at the Pearson Electrotechnology Centre in western Lachine. In the 1970s, it was Bishop Whelan High School, an English-speaking Catholic school where students studied two hours of rudimentary French a week. Like anglo high-school students everywhere in Montreal in those days, the Bishop Whelan kids ended up graduating and finding out that Quebec politics was about to pull the rug out from under their feet. Today, the old Bishop Whelan has been reincarnated as Pearson Electrotech, a vocational-education facility with dual electricity and telecommunication streams – as well as a four-year-waiting list for specialized trade instruction in English. Most students, like Bedic and Abraham, are totally at ease in French, and counting on building careers in Montreal. Bedic says he knows one guy, an engineer, who has left for Saskatchewan. But that, he says, was because someone in his family, who owns a company there, had offered him a job. For his part, Abraham says he can also give one example of a friend who has left Quebec. “But maybe she doesn’t count,” he says, “because she always wanted to travel. She left for Vancouver. Now she’s in Dubai working for an airline.” To stay or not to stay; that has been the question for young anglophones in Quebec, across all education levels, through these past four decades of political change in Quebec. But after 35 years of uninterrupted population decline, the latest census data made public in December 2007 showed a 5.5-per-cent increase in the anglophone community from 2001 to 2006. It was the first census-to-census, five-year growth in the English-speaking community since 1971. Overall, the number of anglos who came to Quebec from other provinces and countries, or who were born here between 2001 and 2006, exceeded the number who left, or who died during these same five years. Within Canada itself, there was still a net loss of anglos to other provinces. But the average annual net loss of 1,700 anglos from 2001 to 2006 was roughly equal to the average loss in just one month in the late 1970s, or one season in the late 1990s. When the new census data came out, anglophone community leaders could hardly believe the statistical evidence of a turnaround. They didn’t know whether to trust the data. Since then, however, there has been a slow acceptance that something relatively encouraging has been happening within the English-speaking community. “It’s still too early to say that we are on a positive track for the foreseeable future,” says Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies. “But there are definitely encouraging signs. Identity is built on events that shape you – and clearly, the dominant event for the anglophone community over time has been the migration phenomenon, and the profoundly negative psychological impact that that has had.” From 1971 to 2001, Quebec’s anglophone population – defined as those who speak primarily English in the home, no matter their ethnic background or mother tongue – declined by 15.9 per cent, from 887,875 to 746,890. During these same 30 years, Quebec’s population rose by 18.2 per cent and Canada’s 39.1 per cent. Ever since the 2006 census, Statcan has reported a new uptick in departures from Quebec. But Statcan analyst Hubert Denis says the rise hasn’t been unique to Quebec. There’s been a corresponding rise in migrations out of Ontario, he says. In fact, Ontario has begun losing more people to other provinces than Quebec is losing – something not seen since the recession of the early 1990s. “There’s something special going on there,” says Denis, citing the decline of traditional manufacturing industries in eastern Canada, as opposed to political or economic uncertainty unique to Quebec. In the case of both Ontario and Quebec, he says, people drifted to Alberta. Both La Presse and Le Journal de Montréal, Montreal’s two largest French-language newspapers, have reported over the past 18 months on a new wave of francophone migration to Fort McMurray and other oil-patch communities in Alberta. By contrast, there has been no anecdotal evidence of a new anglo exodus. Mary Deskin, a real-estate agent with Royal LePage in Pointe Claire, says 2007 was the first year since she started working in the industry in 1990 that she didn’t have a single anglo client who listed a home for sale in order to leave Quebec for another province. It was the same story last year, she says. “My listings have been all upgrades or divorces,” she says. Tom Filgiano, president of Meldrum the Mover, in Notre Dame de Grâce, has also found anglo Montreal to be all quiet on exodus front. “In fact, there is no exodus at all anymore,” he says. “It’s more of a balanced flow now.” Bedic of Pearson Electrotech, who is the son of an anglophone mother from Verdun and an immigrant father from Croatia, says he’s staying put. “I’m pretty confident about finding work in Montreal and building a life here,” he says. Abraham, the son of immigrant parents from Grenada, feels the same way. “French isn’t a problem for me,” he says. “And I like the low cost of living in Montreal.” Richard Bourhis, a professor of psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal who has studied the anglophone community closely, says the low cost of living in Montreal has been an important driver of new anglo population growth. Bourhis isn’t the only demographer who has noticed that the 2006 census showed most of the anglo population growth was concentrated in the age 15 to 24 category. Bourhis says this suggests to him that a lot of young anglos from the rest of Canada have been migrating to Montreal to attend school or just have a good time – sort of like Canadian backpackers going to Europe a generation ago. For some out-of-province students, the cost of university tuition in Quebec is now cheaper than it is in their home provinces. For example, tuition this year is $6,155 at the University of New Brunswick, versus fees of $5,378 that Quebec charges its own out-of-province students (compared with $1,868 for Quebec residents). Many kids from small-town Canada who leave home to go to university have discovered that the cost of off-campus housing and public transit in Montreal are a bargain by Canadian standards. Bourhis says tuition, rent control and heavy taxpayer subsidization of transit have combined to create winning conditions for an influx of young anglos. For young Americans facing even more onerous tuition fees at home, the financial allures of Montreal are that much greater. In 2001, one of these young Americans who drifted up to Montreal was a 21-year-old man from Houston, Tex., named Win Butler, who came up through a Boston prep school to study religion at McGill University. A musician, he created a new band, called Arcade Fire, with a Concordia student from Toronto, and other anglo migrants from Ottawa, Guelph and Vancouver. They were joined in the band by a francophone woman of Haitian origin from the Montreal suburbs. Butler ended up marrying that woman, Régine Chassagne. Today, Arcade Fire is an international sensation. And with other new English-language indie bands like The Dears and The Stills, they have become symbols of a radically new anglo chic. It all came to a sociological climax in February of 2005, when Spin magazine, and then the New York Times, anointed Montreal the next big thing in music, the new Seattle. For anyone who remembers the acute morosity in the English-speaking community after the 1995 referendum, the proposition that Montreal would soon have international resonance because of its English cultural vibrancy would have been preposterous. But Montreal’s essence is still undeniably French, not to mention alluring for anyone who grew up admiring the city from a distance. Tamera Burnett, 22, a third-year McGill University political-science student from Kamloops, B.C., came to Montreal thinking it was a very special place. She first came to Quebec when she was 16, to study French in Jonquière. She’s continuing to improve her French today at McGill, and hopes to study law in Montreal or at the bilingual University of Ottawa. “I’d love to end up in Montreal,” she says. Bourhis, the UQAM professor, is also director of the Centre d’études ethniques des universités montréalaises, a research organization with offices at the Université de Montreal. He and Jedwab are on opposite sides of the spectrum, when it comes to interpreting the 2006 census results. Bourhis thinks the 5.5-per-cent increase is a blip that will wash out over time if the cost of living in Montreal rises to national averages for large Canadian cities, and fewer anglos come to Montreal from other provinces. But Jedwab says the main reason why the English-speaking community is growing isn’t this new influx of young anglos from the rest of Canada. The main reason is that young anglos born and bred in Quebec aren’t leaving anymore, at least not in the numbers that they did a generation ago. The reasons for that, he says, go beyond mere cost-of-living considerations. And they reflect a major shift in perception within the anglophone community, he adds. “This psychology, this sense of persistent losses, has been broken,” says Jedwab. Anglo community leaders aren’t so sure. They’re not comfortable with the notion of a renaissance. Their worry, as Jedwab sees it, is that governments will respond to the census findings of growth by reducing financial support to all the different little anglophone community groups in Quebec. “That’s the concern some people have,” Jedwab says. “And so the good news, in a perverse sort of way, is really bad news. People are afraid that governments will say, “Well, the anglophones are doing very well, thank you very much. What kind of support do they really need anymore?’ ” Robert Donnelly, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, the main umbrella group for all the anglophone community organizations in Quebec, says the census results need to be interpreted with caution. In almost every region of Quebec outside of Montreal, says Donnelly, anglophone populations are continuing to shrink – and shrink fast. Without strong government financial and moral support, he says, English schools, old-age homes, community newspapers and health services in the regions will be severely threatened. “While the numbers are up overall, they mask serious declines outside of Montreal,” says Donnelly, a native of Quebec City, which has a 2 per cent anglo population, down from 40 per cent a century ago. But Donnelly admits that something encouraging does appear to be going on with young anglos in Montreal. “Are we finally moving on beyond Bill 101 and the after-effects of that? Maybe there’s a stabilizing factor that has kicked in,” he says. “We’re hearing less and less about people leaving.” Bill 101 chased away a lot of anglos at first. But over time, the demands of the language law also created the conditions for the rise of a new generation of anglophones more at ease in French than their Bishop Whelan forefathers were in the 1970s. And that has helped make it easier for young anglos today to stay. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  19. Pas de Camion à Déchets dans le QDS Source: Spacing Montreal There aren’t going to be any dump trucks blocking up the streets in Montreal’s new Quartier des Spectacles. Last Wednesday, the City approved a proposition to replace public trash cans with receptacles for garbage, recyclables and compostables, all hooked up to an vacuum-powered collection system. Waste placed in each receptacle would be sucked into a network of underground tubes and transported to a central processing location (possibly located in Place Desjardins). At first glance, this system may seem unduly costly and invasive, not to mention energy intensive. But since the streets in the QDS are already slotted to be ripped up in order to replace ageing sewers, aqueducts and power-lines, throwing in the waste-collection system will only cost an additional $8.2 million (according to a planner who worked on the proposal). Under the new system, garbage collection in the neighborhood would rely on electricity rather than fossil fuels, which may not be a bad idea given the cost and environmental impacts of burning fuel. Most importantly, the new garbage collection system would also apply to residents and businesses located in the Quartier des Spectacles. For instance, the restaurants in Place Desjardins would be able to be compost food scraps, saving several hundred tons of waste from landfills each year. Although Montreal is behind cities like Toronto who offer composting for household waste, this initiative would be the first in North America to offer composting on the public domain and for businesses. ENVAC, the European company that engineers these systems worldwide, built their first trash-vacuuming system in Stockholm in 1961 and it is still in operation (it has an expected lifespan of about 50 years, although that is probably standard for sewers and other infrastructure). Teaching the hoards of drunken festival-goers and clueless tourists to sort trash from recyclables and organic waste is a challenge for the future…
  20. Taken For A Ride In Montreal Warning: Loyal reader ripped off by taxi driver at Montreal Airport. by Wendy Perrin Frequent globehopper Joe_Kayaker reports that he was "taken for a ride" when he landed at Montreal International recently: "It was late in the evening, the shuttle bus to the Airport Novotel had stopped running at 10:00 p.m., and none of the taxis would take me on such a short trip. Grrr. I finally found a taxi driver who would take me. As we were driving to the hotel, he said he didn't understand why the Novotel was called an "airport hotel," since it's not really that close to the airport. We drove for quite a while, and the ride cost $30. When checking into the hotel, I asked how much a cab ride from the airport is supposed to cost and was told, 'No more than $15.' I overpaid by only 15 bucks (well, Loonies), but how does one avoid being taken in by unscrupulous taxi drivers? Thanks, Joe" Joe, you paid $15 in what I call "tourist tax." I've been taken on circuitous routes and overcharged by cab drivers in many a city -- Cairo, Beijing, Moscow, New York -- but I have to say I'm surprised to hear of this occurring in orderly and lawful Montreal. Here's my test-driven advice for avoiding unscrupulous airport cabbies: 1) Ask the hotel in advance how long a taxi ride it is from the airport and what the cost should be. The Hotel Novotel Montreal Aeroport's web site says it's "just 10 minutes" from the airport and provides a map of the route (see left). 2) Before getting into a cab, ask the driver how much the ride will cost. If he quotes a price higher than what the hotel told you, offer your price. Negotiate and reach an agreement before stepping into the cab. 3) When you arrive at your destination, if the driver demands a higher price than was agreed to, ask for a receipt with the driver's name on it, write down his ID number (make known to him that you're recording it), and take out your camera to snap a picture of him and the car. Often, as soon as you pull out the camera, the driver will drop the price. One more thought: If the hotel has a doorman or bellman, see if he can hold the cab while you notify the front desk that you're in the process of being ripped off. I've never done this myself, but I bring it up because a few weeks ago a hotel in Madrid happened to suggest just this. When I called the Tryp Atocha a few days before my arrival in Spain to confirm my online reservation and find out what the length and cost of a cab ride from the airport should be, the front-desk clerk volunteered that if the driver tried to overcharge I should tell the front desk and they would deal with him for me. I got the impression that they had done so for other guests in the past. Hope this helps, Joe. Always good to hear from you. http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/blogs/perrinpost/2008/04/taken-for-a-rid.html?mbid=rss_cntperrin
  21. Quel choix de sujet pour l'article sur Montreal cette semaine dans la section CITIES dans The Guardian quand on compare avec l'article publie sur Toronto ! Jack Todd me déçoit beaucoup ! Welcome to the new Toronto: the most fascinatingly boring city in the world https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/04/new-toronto-most-fascinatingly-boring-city-guardian-canada-week https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/06/40-year-hangover-1976-olympic-games-broke-montreal-canada?CMP=fb_a-cities_b-gdncities#comments Cities Guardian Canada week The 40-year hangover: how the 1976 Olympics nearly broke Montreal The Montreal Olympics left the city with a C$1.6bn debt, a string of corruption scandals, and a creeping sense of economic and social decline. Forty years on, how did the city survive? Mayor Jean Drapeau stands in the Olympic Stadium, Montreal. Photograph: Graham Bezant/Toronto Star/Getty Cities is supported by Jack Todd in Montreal Wednesday 6 July 2016 07.30 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 6 July 201611.17 BST Shares 714 Comments 93 Save for later There is a moment before all our global sporting extravaganzas when it all seems poised on a knife edge. Helicopters hover above the stadium, keyed-up athletes shuffle and bounce with excess energy, and organisers bite their nails as they try to hold down nervous stomachs, worried that despite years of planning and the expenditure of billions, it will all go desperately wrong. Then the trumpets sound, thousands of young people take part in colourful charades, pop stars fight a losing battle with hopeless stadium acoustics – and the Games begin. The formula is pretty much set in stone, but in 1976 Montreal added a wrinkle. On 17 July, with Queen Elizabeth, Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau and 73,000 people looking on, the Greek athletes who traditionally led the Parade of Nations came up the ramp toward the Olympic stadium to find their way almost blocked by construction workers. Out of sight of the cameras and the throng inside the stadium, the staff were frantically wielding shovels and brooms to clear away the building debris left from the manic push to complete the facility on time. In the final scrambling months before the Games, 3,000 labourers had worked in teams 24 hours a day to make it possible for the Olympics to begin at all. They barely succeeded. Two weeks later, when the last athlete had gone home, Montreal woke up to what remains the worst hangover in Olympic history: not just a bill that came in at 13 times the original estimate, a string of officials convicted of breach of trust and the greatest white elephant of a stadium ever built, but a creeping sense of economic and social decline. Forty years on, no other Olympics has so thoroughly broken a city. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The opening ceremony of the 1976 Montreal Games. Photograph: Tony Duffy/Getty Images*** Advertisement When I arrived in Montreal five years earlier, a war resister from Nebraska with little French and less money, the city was enduring its harshest winter on record. Montreal would receive more than 152 inches of snow in 1970-71, including a March blizzard that killed 17 people. The endless snow, in a sense, was a mercy. It turned down the heat on the city’s simmering political crisis, which had boiled over the previous Octoberwhen the terrorist Front du Libération du Quebec (FLQ) kidnapped the British consul, James Cross, and the province’s minister of justice, Pierre Laporte. Prime minister Trudeau responded by imposing martial law. Armoured personnel carriers patrolled the streets and troops detained hundreds of people without charges. The FLQ would murder Laporte on 17 October. They released Cross on 3 December, effectively ending the crisis but leaving the city battered, bruised and tense. Even before the kidnappings, Montreal was jittery from a series of FLQ bombs: 95 in total, the largest of which blew out the northeast wall of the Montreal Stock Exchange. And yet, in those years, the best place to get a sense of what Montreal was and might have been was Le Bistro. It was really Chez Lou Lou, although no one called it that, and it featured more or less authentic Parisian ambience, right down to the surly French waiters. When I could afford it, Le Bistro was my favourite destination on a weekend morning. One especially frigid Saturday, Leonard Cohen sat at the next table with a blonde companion, both of them sporting deepwater tans from the Greek islands, looking blasé about it all. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Leonard Cohen was born in Westmount, Montreal. Photograph: Roz Kelly/Getty ImagesMontrealers could afford to be blasé. The city was everything that Toronto, its rival, 300 miles to the south-west, was not: urbane, sophisticated, hip, a place where you could dine well and party until the bars closed at 3am. In Toronto, they rolled up the streets at 11pm and toasted the Queen at public functions. Montreal was not just the financial capital of Canada, it was also the most European of North American cities, half English-speaking but overwhelmingly French, profoundly cultured and unfailingly elegant, where the old stone of the cathedrals met the Bauhaus steel-and-glass towers of Mies van der Rohe’s Westmount Square. The crowd at Le Bistro was a cross-section of cultural and political life in a city full of tensions, between separatism and federalism, English, French and Jewish, old money and new. There were political tensions that seemed to feed a creative ferment home that produced Cohen, the bombastic poet Irving Layton, the acerbic novelist Mordecai Richler, the politicians Pierre Trudeau and René Lévesque, the actor Geneviève Bujold and the film-maker Denys Arcand. The Olympics can no more run a deficit than a man can have a baby Jean Drapeau, in 1970 When, on 12 May 1970, during the 69th session of the International Olympic Committee held in Amsterdam, Montreal won out over competing bids from Moscow and Los Angeles to be awarded the Games of the XXI Olympiad, it seemed to signal another triumph. The city had hosted one of the most successful World’s Fairs ever in 1967, and a new baseball team, the Expos, began play in 1969, defeating the St Louis Cardinals 8-7 on 14 April at Jarry Park in the first regular season Major League game in Canada. Following those triumphs, the Olympics were sold to the Montreal public as being modest in design and, above all, inexpensive to stage. The mayor, Jean Drapeau – diminutive, autocratic, mustachioed – declared: “The Olympics can no more run a deficit than a man can have a baby.” *** Facebook Twitter Pinterest Leger (left) and Drapeau (right), listen as Taillibert describes the layout of Parc Olympique. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann ArchiveThe 1970 estimate was that the Games would cost C$120m (£65m) in total, with $71m budgeted for the Olympic Stadium itself. Drapeau took a personal hand in the stadium’s design. He and his chief engineer, Claude Phaneuf, selected the French architect Roger Taillibert, who had built the Parc des Princes in Paris and would also design the Olympic Village. Taillibert employed his own team of architects and engineers, and was respected for bringing in projects at, or at least near, budget. (The Parc des Princes, originally budgeted at $12m, cost $18m .) His conception for the “Big O” stadium was grandiose, in a style that might be called space-age fascist: it featured an enormous, inclined tower, the tallest such structure in the world, holding a retractable roof suspended from thick cables and looming over the stadium like a praying mantis over a turtle. There is no evidence, however, that either Taillibert or Drapeau ever had a handle on the management of the various construction sites. There were delays from the very beginning, and construction on the Olympic Park complex (including the Velodrome and Big O) began 18 months late, on 28 April 1973. This put Drapeau right where the powerful and militant Quebec labour unions (the Quebec Federation of Labour and the Confederation of National Trade Unions) wanted him: paying extravagant overtime bills. Out of a total of 530 potential working days between December 1974 and April 1976, the workers would be on strike for 155 days – 30% of the work time available. In one particularly crucial period of construction, from May until the end of October 1975, less than a year before the opening ceremonies were to commence, the unions walked off the job and no work was done at all. Oversight was utterly inadequate on every aspect of the project. During the inflationary 1970s, the price of structural steel alone tripled. In 1973, contractor Regis Trudeau, who had been awarded $6.9m in Olympic construction contracts, built a luxurious chalet costing $163,000 for Gerard Niding, who was Drapeau’s right-hand man and head of Montreal city council’s powerful executive committee. Only when a corruption commission forced his hand, five years later, did Trudeau finally produce a bill charging Niding for the house. Game off! Why the decline of street hockey is a crisis for our kids Read more By 1975, the provincial government had seen enough: they removed Taillibert and formed the Olympic Installations Board (pdf) (OIB) in an attempt to get a handle on the construction. Ironically, no one has since delivered a pithier assessment of the corruption than Taillibert himself. In 2011, he told le Devoir: “The construction of the Olympic Park and stadium showed me a level of organised corruption, theft, mediocrity, sabotage and indifference that I had never witnessed before and have never witnessed since. The system failed completely and every civil engineering firm involved knew they could just open this veritable cash register and serve themselves.” Drapeau himself was never charged or even suspected of personal corruption, but his remark about men having babies came back to haunt him. At the time, the physician Henry Morgentaler was much in the news for openly performing abortions. As the Olympic bill nearly tripled, to $310m, Montreal Gazette cartoonist Aislin drew one of the most famous cartoons of a brilliant career: it depicted a visibly pregnant Drapeau on the phone, saying: “‘Ello? Morgentaler?” *** When the Games finally opened, problems plagued the event itself, too. As it would do with debt, corruption and construction chaos, the Montreal Olympics inspired a trend in boycotts, when 22 African nations refused to participatebecause the IOC would not ban New Zealand for sending the All Blacks rugby team to tour apartheid South Africa. It caught on: western nations boycotted Moscow in 1980 over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and communist nations retaliated in Los Angeles in 1984. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Design Pics Inc/Alamy Stock PhotoMontreal also broke the mould in security. Following the terrorist tragedy at Munich four years earlier, the security bill ended up running to another $100m (more than 80% of what the entire event was initially supposed to cost), not including the cost of the Canadian forces enlisted to help keep order. Meanwhile, some of the athletes were tainted by accusations of doping, including legendary Finnish postman and distance runner Lasse Virén, who was suspected of transfusing his own blood – a practice that was legal at the time, though Viren has always denied it. Far more serious was the treatment of East German athletes, who dominated their events in part because, the world later learned, they’d been fed performance-enhancing drugs for decades, sometimes without their knowledge, under a programme known as State Plan 14.25. Many later suffered psychological problems and had children with birth defects. The struggle in Iqaluit: north and south collide in Canada's Arctic capital Read more In the end, the athletes themselves redeemed at least some portion of the Olympic expense: the Games themselves went off relatively well. If the relentlessly self-promoting American decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner caused a few eyeballs to roll, he was overshadowed by the refrigerator-built Soviet weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev, who repeated his heavyweight gold from Munich and set an Olympic record in the snatch while lifting 440kg. And in the first full day of competition, the 14-year-old diminutive Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci earned a perfect 10 on the uneven bars – she went on to become the 1976 Olympics’ unquestioned individual star. Canada, meanwhile, became the first host nation to fail to win a gold medal on home soil, a feat made no less exceptional for being repeated at the Calgary Winter Olympics 12 years later. The glow began to fade with the closing ceremonies on 1 August. The final tally of the cost for the Olympics was $1.6bn, a more than 13-fold increase, including at least $1.1bn for the stadium alone. In popular lore, the Big O had officially become the Big Owe. When all was said and done, the city was left with debt that took 30 years to pay off. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Nadia Comăneci, of Romania, dismounts during a perfect 10 performance. Photograph: Paul Vathis/AP*** On 15 November 1976, running on a platform of good government in the wake of the scandals and cost overruns, René Lévesque’s separatist Parti Québecois (PQ) won its first provincial election. The PQ’s promise to hold a referendum on leaving Canada touched off a full-scale anglophone panic in bilingual Montreal, especially within the business community. Sun Life, the huge insurance company, was the first of a stream of Montreal-based corporations to move down Highway 401 to Toronto. When the referendum was eventually held in 1980, Lévesque and the “yes” side lost decisively, but by the end of the 1980s Canada’s financial capital had shifted firmly from St Jacques Street to Bay Street, Toronto. Between 1971 and 1981, the English-speaking population of Montreal declined by nearly 100,000; over the next 20 years – which included another referendum in 1995, that only kept Quebec in Canada by a narrow margin of 50.6% to 49.4% – it would shrink by another 100,000. It would take 30 years for the city of Montreal to retire the Olympic debt Like some medieval castle under a warlock’s curse, the Olympic stadium – visible from dozens of different vantage points in the city, an inescapable reminder of what went wrong – continued to be plagued with problems. In the 1980s, the tower caught fire. In August of 1986, a chunk of it fell on to the baseball field, forcing the Expos to postpone a game. In September of 1991, a bigger 55-tonne concrete slab fell on to an empty walkway. The OIB reassured the public no one was underneath it, prompting one columnist to ask: “How do they know?” The retractable roof never happened; instead, an orange Kevlar roof was finally installed in April of 1987. It tore repeatedly, until it was replaced in 1998 by a fixed roof, which cost another $37m. In the winter of the next year, that roof tore under a heavy snow load, sending a small avalanche of ice cascading on to workers preparing for a motor show. To this day, in a northern Canadian city that averages roughly 50cm of snow a month in winter, the Olympic Stadium cannot be used if the snow load exceeds 3cm. The OIB claims the only thing more expensive than a permanent steel roof (estimated cost: $200m-$300m) would be to tear the whole thing down (estimated cost: $1bn). Their figure has been widely debunked. The roof remains in place, and the Big O now lacks a full-time tenant: the Expos played their last game in 2004 and the franchise moved to Washington DC. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The 200,000 sq ft, 65-tonne Kevlar roof at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal was expected to last 25 years. Photograph: Shaun Best/ReutersThe stadium aside, Montreal did get some bang for its Olympic buck. The excellent Claude Robillard Sports Centre in the city’s north end is still used by thousands of athletes, and the one-time Velodrome has been converted to the Biodome, an enormously popular indoor nature museum. The claim has also been made that the Montreal Olympics proper turned a profit, which is true only if you chalk up the various purpose-built venues, the stadium in particular, to infrastructure. In any case, it would take 30 years for the city of Montreal to retire the Olympic debt. A commission headed by superior court judge Albert Malouf to probe Olympic corruption spent three years, and another $3m, before releasing a 908-page report in 1980 that laid blame squarely at the feet of the mayor. Taillibert, Phaneuf and others shared some of the responsibility, in Malouf’s view, but Drapeau was the principal culprit, with his hands-on style and his habit of turning a blind eye to the shenanigans around him. Top officials and contractors were convicted of fraud and corruption. They included Niding, Drapeau’s right-hand man, who was convicted of breach of trust and sentenced to one day in jail and a $75,000 fine, and contractor Regis Trudeau, who also received a one-day jail sentence and a $100,000 fine. Even Claude Rouleau, head of the OIB installed to stop the bleeding, was found guilty of breach of trust for accepting gifts in connection with the Olympic construction and was ordered to pay $31,000. Fining the miscreants, unfortunately, didn’t help pay off much of the debt. In order to rid itself of the Olympic burden city hall had to skimp on urban essentials for years. Even now, with a belated rush to repair its crumbling infrastructure,Montreal is still paying the price for decades of neglect. *** Forty years on, however, Montreal has endured. The sour jokes about the stadium, the corruption and the Olympic debt are now part of the culture. The separatist movement that convulsed the city in the immediate aftermath of the debacle also brought some much-needed social change. Welcome to the new Toronto: the most fascinatingly boring city in the world Read more Montreal survived by reinventing itself on a smaller, more viable scale. If Toronto seized the mantle of Canada’s financial capital, Montreal is the unquestioned capital of culture, a vibrant city of street art, sculpture and world-class jazz, fireworks, comedy and fringe festivals, the city no longer just of Leonard Cohen but of Arcade Fire and Cirque du Soleil. Le Bistro is long gone, but Montreal is still hip, the bars and restaurants and clubs the liveliest in the country, a walking city where the cafes are full all day long and joie de vivretrumps quotidian worries over such inconvenient details as bounced rent cheques and unpaid parking tickets. Montreal remains the polar opposite of money and real-estate obsessed Toronto – though where it was once a smaller, colder Paris, Montreal is now more North American, less European, less blithely certain of its position in the universe. Nevertheless, the Olympic debt is paid, separatism is a diminished force and there is even a tentative plan afoot to bring back the Expos. When spring finally comes after the long winters, there is a buoyant sense of rebirth and confidence in the future. If you can ignore the potholes and the still-simmering controversies over municipal corruption, Montreal is once again a great place to live. But you can’t escape the sense that the city might have had it all. In truth, before the Olympics, it did. Guardian Cities is devoting a week to exploring all things Canada. Get involved onTwitter and Facebook and share your thoughts with #GuardianCanada
  22. Read more: http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/new-green-tax-to-make-electronics-more-expensive-1.957018#ixzz26druCxzC Things just got more expensive again in this province I wonder what else is left for Quebec to tax us on? Quebec could make life harder for consumers buying stuff at Zara, H&M and others, by having a tax on clothes made in China, Bangladesh and other countries.