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saguez + partners’ reinvented headquarters in paris is a workspace for students and clients

an exemplary growth and social diversity respecting the character of the original structure, saguez & partners’ new building adheres entirely to the district’s sustainable development.

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Boston Officials Dream of a More Powerful Transit Card

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The streets and transit stations of Boston will have to absorb over 100,000 more commuters by 2030 — and if officials stick with the status quo of private vehicles and widened roads the city is, to put it scientifically, screwed. With those numbers no doubt in mind, planners have been experimenting with a number of streamlining innovations to make transit more attractive. The most recent: a super card that commuters could use to pay for the T, a Hubway bike, a Zipcar and possibly even an Uber or Lyft ride.

The card, called somewhat hyperbolically a “key to the city” by Mayor Marty Walsh, would be a “one-stop payment tool that would unlock virtually all forms of public and private transportation in Massachusetts,” the Boston Globe reports.

Other cities have made strides in bundling payment for various transit systems — the Globe mentions Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and Next City has also covered efforts toward universal fare in Seattle and Detroit (as well as the fact that such a system might come with equity concerns, particularly if it were to be centralized on riders’ iPhones).

But the Boston system — which could resemble the current CharlieCard, used by MBTA passengers, or a smartphone app — could be unique in that it seeks to marry public networks with private services like ride-sharing companies. That’s not necessarily a new idea in other counties. For example, Tokyo has a system that allows passengers to pay for coffee and newspapers with their transit cards, according to the Globe. But as Carol Kuester, director of electronic payments at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area, told the paper, such systems require complex business deals that could prove to be a struggle for many American transit operators.

And even Boston’s public systems are difficult to synch up as things stand today. The CharlieCard couldn’t be used to ride the city-owned Hubway without new technology due to how different operators process payments, according to the paper. But officials are planning for a new electronic fare collection system to be implemented by 2020, and that could be a good foundation for the integration project.

Another issue could reportedly be convincing competing companies to join (read: Uber and Lyft), although Kris Carter, co-chair of Boston’s office of New Urban Mechanics, told the paper that execs could probably be enticed by the opportunity to access the MBTA’s daily ridership of 500,000 with more ease — such as in Lyft’s new partnership with Amtrak announced in August.

Detroit Has a New Tool for Fighting Gentrification’s Displacement

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

As officials in Los Angeles and Denver implement linkage fees to grow their supply of affordable housing, Detroit leaders have selected a different tool from the same toolbox: inclusionary zoning.

Developers who receive more than a set threshold of public subsidies — $500,000 from either the city or state and federal programs — will be required to put aside 20 percent of their units (at minimum) for lower income residents going forward, the Detroit Free Press reports. Detroit City Council approved the ordinance last week, which also impacts projects involving city-owned property transferred at a rate “less than true cash value,” according to the Free Press. Council approved a separate ordinance offering increased protections to seniors and low-income residents facing sudden eviction, as well.

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield championed both ordinances, and said at a press conference last week that they were an attempt to fight rising rents and the displacement that so often follows.

“The gentrification that we see in New York, D.C., Chicago and Boston is not welcome in Detroit,” she said.

The proposal originally stipulated that a minimum of 10 percent of the units would be reserved for households at or below 80 percent of the average median income, with another 5 percent going to those at 60 percent or less and a further 5 percent for those at 50 percent or less, the Detroit News reports. But because that formula was “indifferent to the source of funding a particular project may receive,” Council approved an amendment that further broke down the tiers with financial sourcing in mind.

Some developers spoke against the proposal last week, voicing concerns about how it will impact smaller-scale builders and fears that it will limit building and business in the city. Such concerns are nothing new as city governments try to address rising rents. Los Angeles developers have raised many of the same concerns, which tend to harken back to the premise that regulations will limit supply, which will up demand, which will make a housing crisis worse (in very simplified terms).

But regulatory limits and zoning laws that suppress supply (like height and density limits) aren’t necessarily the same thing. Regardless, Detroit’s housing picture is changing, with a recent influx of cash from several high-profile investors and data suggesting that renters are taking up an increasing share of the local market, the population is aging and, troublingly, black home-ownership in particular is waning. The laws’ impacts will undoubtedly be studied, alongside those in Denver and Los Angeles, in years to come.

3 Ways the UN Can Keep Cities at the Center of Sustainability Goals

United Nations General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak the opens the 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly on September 12 at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The 21st century presents us with two new and accelerating challenges: climate change and mass urbanization. The good news is they are connected in ways that solving for both can enhance our future and shape better lives for all. Livable cities lead to lower carbon emissions and dramatic improvements in social, economic and environmental impacts. Treating them and many of the other issues identified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in isolation will never work; cities are the nexus of common solutions to our toughest challenges — poverty, economic development, social integration, environmental degradation, and yes, climate change.

While the UN is structured around worthy challenges — environment, water, women and poverty, to name a few — these agencies too often operate independently. The coalition created at Habitat III was a formative moment for the UN — it recognized, codified and elevated urban form to a profound, crosscutting role in the future of our global community.

The challenge is now to fulfill the vision of what’s been dubbed the New Urban Agenda — to find a way to restructure UN-Habitat to become a focal organization in the effort to build better cities and ultimately better lives. The secretary general appointed me to an independent, high-level panel to evaluate the effectiveness of UN-Habitat in relation to its normative and operational work, governance structure, financial capacity and ability to work with various stakeholders across national, sub-national and local governments. At the heart of our approach were three fundamental strategies: elevate UN-Habitat, integrate its operations across the UN, and refocus its activities.

1. Elevate UN-Habitat. To take on the seminal challenge of reshaping cities around the globe, UN-Habitat must be elevated. Its governance, activities, type of support and public identity has to expand beyond its historic practice. Instead of declining budgets and limited participation by member states, it needs interaction with and support from a much larger group; hence the recommendation to shift from a governing council of 58 to universal membership and governance by the UN General Assembly. And just like cities need support from many stakeholders, the panel saw the need for expanded participation from local governments, a broader range of stakeholder groups, and a growing array of institutions. In short, UN-Habitat’s role and public profile must be transformed.

2. Help UN-Habitat work with other UN agencies. The second strategy is to make sure the UN has a proactive way of coordinating urban policies and operations across all of its agencies. One way to accomplish this is through a new “UN Urban” arm proposed last month. Much like UN Energy, UN Urban would operate as a small, efficient platform in New York to facilitate inter-agency initiatives. This entity is not meant to replace or duplicate the work of UN-Habitat, but to integrate and streamline its efforts.

3. Focus UN-Habitat efforts on systemic work. The final strategy is to shift UN-Habitat’s work focus to “normative” activities that support and guide sustainable urbanism across the globe. This can take many forms: research, developing standards, identifying best practices, demonstration projects, data collection and more. Un-Habitat’s current localized “operational” projects need to clearly reinforce the systemic, normative work.

To seamlessly weave all three strategies together, UN-Habitat needs a new, energized governance structure starting with direct interaction with an urban assembly comprised of all member states. Urbanism is a global challenge, and therefore universal membership is central to its implementation and commitment. UN Habitat should also be directed by a new Policy Board of 20 member states, which would act as an executive board engaged in strategic planning, budget review and interaction with the urban assembly. This small, committed and focused policy board would coordinate the secretariat UN Urban and the existing Committee of Permanent Representatives made up of 94 members located in Nairobi. Finally this policy board would incorporate input of key non-UN stakeholder groups from representatives from metropolitan regions and cities to a range of related NGOs.

In the end, UN-Habitat must engage a broad range of groups and garner global attention and support to be successful. While cities are the nexus of many of our most dramatic challenges, they also represent the opportunity to resolve them with cross cutting policies, programs and urban design. In cities, individual actions can have multiple positive outcomes. The UN is the natural institution to lead the effort to create urban environments that are economically robust, environmentally sustainable, and socially just. A reinvigorated UN-Habitat is the means.