Monthly Archive: August 2017

viereck’s ‘house t’ coalesces its interior living space with the surrounding nature

the upper level determines the approximately 120 m² generously designed living space, extendable into a surrounding terrace, from which you get a great view through the garden below.

The post viereck’s ‘house t’ coalesces its interior living space with the surrounding nature appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.

Llywelyn James proposes affordable cantilevered housing for London’s brownfield sites

30,000 2020 by Llywelyn James

Royal College of Art architecture graduate Llywelyn James has proposed a series of elevated residential blocks for an undeveloped brownfield land near Thamesmead in London to aid the city’s housing crisis. Read more

Small Banks Made a $550 Million-Plus Difference in Distressed Neighborhoods

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Last week, the U.S. Treasury recognized the efforts of 102 (mostly small) banks making loans and investments in some of the nation’s most economically distressed areas.

As a group, the banks provided $550.8 million in loans to 3,181 businesses and $37 million in loans to 2,193 residents in target communities in 2015. The target communities are census tracts where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line and the unemployment rate is at least 1.5 times the national rate.

Out of the 102 banks, 97 had less than $1.2 billion in assets, meaning they are federally classified as intermediate or small banks. Of those, 61 were classified as small banks, with less than $300 million in assets. For context, the average bank size is around $3.3 billion in assets.

The 102 banks are recipients of the Bank Enterprise Awards (BEA) program, administered by the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, an arm of the U.S. Treasury that supports the community development finance sector. The program provides modest financial incentives for federally insured banks to support access to capital and financial services in distressed communities. In addition to loans and investments for people and businesses, the program awards banks for providing specialized loan products, checking or savings accounts, or financial counseling tailored to the needs of residents. Finally, it also recognizes banks for making grants, loans, investments or technical support to federally certified CDFIs.

This year, the BEA program awarded a total of $18.6 million to the 102 banks, in amounts from as little as $12,000 up to a maximum of $227,282.

While that’s not a ton of money, even for a small bank, the CDFI Fund calculates awards for each bank based on how much it has increased any of the above activities from one time period to the next. In this case, the CDFI Fund compared each bank’s activities in 2015 to 2014. Collectively, comparing 2015 to 2014, the 102 banks increased lending to businesses and residents of distressed communities by $308.2 million, increased loans and other support to CDFIs by $49.8 million, and increased the value of financial services provided to target community residents by $3.5 million.

Nineteen BEA program recipients are also minority-depository institutions, meaning they are owned by members of a racial minority or their boards are primarily made up of members of a racial minority. Ten of those are black-owned or black-led banks: Broadway Federal Bank in Los Angeles; Carver Federal Savings Bank in Harlem, NYC; Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia; Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta; Commonwealth National Bank in Mobile, Alabama; Harbor Bank of Maryland in Baltimore; Liberty Bank & Trust in New Orleans; Mechanics & Farmers Bank in Durham, North Carolina; Metro Bank in Louisville; and Boston-based OneUnited Bank.

Since 2009, BEA recipients have been required to use award dollars to further support BEA-eligible activities. OneUnited Bank, currently the country’s largest black-owned bank, plans to use its award dollars to provide financial support for community-based partner organizations that are partnering with the bank to support first-time homeownership among black households in Boston, Los Angeles and Miami, where the bank has branch locations.

In Miami, for example, OneUnited works with the Haitian-American Community Development Corporation (HACDC) to support homeownership. Miami’s real estate market is attracting buyers from all over the world, and some are competing directly against these same first-time homebuyers, as HACDC Executive Director Samuel Diller told me last year. Foreign buyers often deal in all-cash transactions, no bank needed.

“One of the challenges we have in Miami is there are a lot of cash buyers that are pushing up prices and competing with first time homebuyers,” says Teri Williams, COO and president of OneUnited.

Williams was in Miami over the weekend to help run a Saturday morning homeownership workshop in Liberty City, a neighborhood that is 94 percent black, with a median household income of $18,809. The BEA award comes at a key moment for OneUnited, says Williams, as the bank aims to ramp up its first-time homeownership lending as a way to address the racial wealth gap. Median net worth for white non-Hispanic households in the U.S. is $132,483, compared with $9,211 for black households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest figures.

Williams says they are focusing on doing outreach based on a legacy view of wealth, rather than a more typical focus on navigating the homeownership process and paperwork. Hopefully, it will help generate more demand for homeownership among a population that has been excluded from it for a generation or more.

“It truly is something that has to be triggered. A lot of us, our parents didn’t own homes,” says Williams.

Funding limits keep the program from doing more. Although the CDFI Fund caps award amounts at a certain level each year, it calculates a full award amount that each bank is eligible to receive based on how much it increases its BEA-eligible activity. If there was no cap, the BEA program would have awarded more than $271 million from 2012 to 2014; instead, it only awarded $53 million.

Iowa License Plate Vote Reflects Midwest Urbanization

A fairgoer looks at new Iowa license plate designs at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa is decidedly less urban than the country as a whole, but a new license plate celebrates the state’s cities, and may be evidence of shifting public opinion toward urban centers and all that they represent.

The new license plate will feature a design that builds on Iowa’s last license plate, rolled out in 1997. The so-called “town and country” theme showed a pastoral farm landscape complete with silos and a barn in the foreground, with the white outline of a distant city behind it.

The new design, which has been christened “city and country” instead, shows two outlines taking up equal space near the top of the plate — a barn and sleek new (perhaps energy-generating) windmill and a dense cluster of skyscrapers.

Residents voted on the license plate theme in an online poll held in conjunction with the county fair, the Des Moines Register reports. “City and Country Reboot” received 113,299 votes. “Flying Our Colors,” a theme showing the American flag and an eagle, came in second and “The Great Wide Open,” which showed only green, rolling plains, came in third.

Reaction to the new design has been mixed, and some have taken to social media to lambast the graphics. Others have pointed out that Iowans were given the chance at red, white and blue — and shied away.

The best thing about the eclipse? For 2 minutes we won’t be able to see the new Iowa license plate designs.

— Brad Dickson (@brad_dickson) August 11, 2017

The new urban skyline and tweak from “town” to “city” may not mean much, but in a state where the urban-rural divide (and its political and cultural implications) is on such stark display, it’s hard not to read at least a little something into it.

Two New Bronx Murals Encourage Pedestrians to Take the Stairs

Mural by Josie Gonzalez (Credit: The New York City Department of Health) 

Two bright new murals ascending outdoor staircases in the South Bronx were commissioned not just to beautify the streetscape, but, hopefully, to encourage exercise as well.

The murals, funded by KaBOOM!, were spearheaded by the New York City Departments of Health and Transportation to address the fact that obesity rates in two South Bronx neighborhoods — Morrisania and Crotona — are the highest in the city, at 35 percent. The hope, as Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett explained in a statement, is that “adding colorful murals is a way to encourage people in the South Bronx to take the stairs every day.”

Mural by Diana Perea (Credit: The New York City Department of Health) 

The murals are titled “Blue-Winged Warbler,” painted by Diana Perea, and “Rise Up,” created by Josie Gonzalez. Perea’s mural, which can be found at Third Avenue and Weiher Court, depicts the titular bird, which is native to the Bronx, in bright yellow with deep blue wings.

Gonzalez’s mural, installed at Third Avenue and 164th Street, features a mythical bird inspired by images of the Phoenix, Thunderbird, Puerto Rican parrot and Quetzal, which are all “symbols of power and freedom in indigenous, Spanish-speaking communities,” Gonzalez says in the release.

The two artists were selected through an open call led by the nonprofit ArtBridge. They partnered with DreamYard, a South Bronx-based youth arts organization, to host a series of workshops that inspired their designs. The murals are set to remain through July 2018.

This isn’t the first time the Bronx has used the built environment to take on complex public health issues. As Next City covered in 2015, one ambitious project aims to track metrics like asthma rates and pedestrian injuries related to infrastructure upgrades like new park space or improved bike paths and walking trails. A plan to improve access to recreational space on Randalls Island also seeks to improve community health.