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Saturday, June 30, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 4

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL
The 600 USD included transfer to and from Ataturk airport and coach seats on a larger than I imagined jet to Nevsehir Airport.

It also covered transfer from that Cappadocia area airport to my hotel and back, plus two full days of touring itinerary with an English speaking guide.

Best of all, the extra 100 or so I spent got me a prime room at Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel. 


Now there are hundreds of cave hotels in Cappadocia, but few are a 4 to 5 star that Yunak is.

Friday, June 29, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 3

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


I was staying in an area on the tramway in Sirkeci. All of my previous taxis, Ubers and drivers dropped me off blocks from my hotel. Pickups were more strung out delayed and confusing.

Yusuf assured me that my driver would be at the door of my hotel, plus he would call ahead to let the front desk know if he was arriving late at all.
This gave me such comfort and assurance.


Through a smart phone, while tidying up my room, doing some light sink laundry, organizing my receipts and recharging my camera batteries on the middle day of a 14-day trip, Efendi completed the itinerary.


Even though I could easily call up word docs and PDFs on my phone, Yusuf personally delivered a print out to my hotel and insisted the front desk place it in my room.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 2

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


Let me state up front, I'm a very independent traveler. I have seen vast parts of Europe, Latin America and far beyond -- with or without any local language skills -- on my own.

I have booked daring travel way back before we had the internet, trip advisor and all the online ways of doing research.


So to like a package tour, it had to be near perfect.


Right off the bat, Yusuf found a 3-day, 2-night visit for about 500 USD. That was the price I would pay just for round trip flights, had I booked on short notice on my own.


We ultimately settled on a package costing roughly 600 USD (we could have gone as remarkable low as nearly 400 USD) to ensure a great time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

CAPTIVATING CAPPADOCIA -- 1

THANKS TO EFENDI TRAVEL


Yusuf Karaca of Efendi Travel in Istanbul Turkey created a luxury package to Cappadocia in the span of three short hours, for a reasonable price.

I was in Istanbul and though I could spend a month in the city without getting bored, I started wondering if I should see something more. It is a 12+ hour flight from Miami, so when would I be back?

I decided Cappadocia would be perfect. Because Tom Brosnahan's Turkey Travel Planner is my bible for travel in Istanbul and beyond, I took his advice to contact Efendi.

I sent a simple email to info@efenditravel.com   

Within minutes, Yusuf was emailing. There were no sales come-ons, attempts to upsell or to pressure me to close the deal.

There was, a pending deadline, because I was aiming to leave about 48 hours after contacting Efendi.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

MIAMI TODAY: CONGRATULATIONS ON 35 YEARS OF SUCCESS


HAPPY TO SHARE MY TESTIMONIAL


Since I arrived in Miami election day 2000, Miami Today has been my go-to source for coverage of government, development, design, planning and all relevant urban affairs.

As a former journalist, I appreciate Miami Today's unbiased approach to concise, clear writing about the topics that are of interest to all key decision makers in Greater Miami.

As a marketer of professional services, my first thing after breakfast move 52 Wednesdays per year is to go online to read Miami Today.

It provides me with job leads, key intelligence and trends. Even if it doesn't lead to a direct business opportunity, Miami Today keeps me well-informed for that in the hallway, pre-meeting banter that can ultimately lead to a winning project.

Steve Wright
Communications Leader
PlusUrbia Design
Miami

Monday, June 25, 2018

CORAL GABLES BID

MEMBER WORKSHOP


The Coral Gables BID hosted a workshop in which merchants and property owners came together to share their vision for the future of the Coral Gables Downtown.


PlusUrbia Design helped facilitate the workshop, which was held at the Coral Gables Museum.


https://plusurbia.com/coral-gables-bid-member-workshop/

Saturday, June 23, 2018

PLANNING UNDERWAY FOR NEW TRI-RAIL TRAIN STATION

Near 79th Street

Residents of Miami’s Little River neighborhood are being asked to help plan for a new Tri-Rail stop in the 79th Street area.


Architect Plusurbia Design is now conducting workshops and surveys to help shape the design of the station, which will be located on the Brightline tracks.

The first workshop was conducted over the weekend, and another is planned in the coming weeks.

Planning is being funded by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, and the City of Miami. Planning is also underway for a Midtown Miami station and a Downtown station.

Plusurbia principal Juan Mullerat told The Next Miami that planners are depending on resident and stakeholder input to understand their vision, and participation is highly encouraged.

-- the Next Miami

An online survey is ongoing at:


Friday, June 22, 2018

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AT PLUS URBIA DESIGN


Juan Mullerat spoke at EF Global Career Seminars


PlusUrbia’s Juan Mullerat will be spoke at the EF Global Career Seminar in Miami.

The two-day seminar is exclusively for EF students. 

The seminar partners with renowned companies and invites industry professionals to give students a unique opportunity to advance their international career and network with peers and experts.


https://plusurbia.com/juan-mullerat-to-speak-at-ef-global-career-seminars/

Thursday, June 21, 2018

URBAN LAND INSTITUTE


Florida Summit Panel


PlusUrbia’s Juan Mullerat was part of a panel discussing redevelopment at the ULI Flrorida Summit in Naples, Florida.

The panel focused on approaches to help community leaders understand and support redevelopment efforts in urban areas through urban design and communication through graphics.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

CONGRATULATIONS EILEEN HIGGINS

A PROGRESSIVE LEADER IN DISTRICT 5 FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TWO DECADES
We are proud to have voted for a Miami-Dade Commission candidate who will lead for the people -- not for lobbyists, developers, vendors and other insiders.

From one Ohio (Akron) native who speaks Spanish (barely) to another, kudos.

If you ever need advice on universal design, inclusive mobility or creating a better built environment for people with disabilities, please reach out to me.

My 30 years as a journalist, policy advisor and urban design communicator have all been dedicated to making things the best for those who need improvements the most.

From Casa Gringo (at the southwest corner of Bryan Park that we fought fiercely to protect from development), to La Gringa, felicidades.

https://www.eileenhiggins.com

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article213376864.html

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/eileen-higgins-wins-miami-dade-county-commission-seat-for-district-5

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/393162-dem-defeats-republican-running-to-replace-husband-who-held-seat-for



Monday, June 18, 2018

RIP JOHN FREGONESE

HE MADE HIS POSITIVE MARK ON THE BUILT 
ENVIRONMENT FOR FOUR DECADES
Lucy Minogue Rowland, a dear, sweet librarian by training and career – who facilitates an online list serve that serves as a forum for Urban Designers and those who love urban places and want to make them better – posted the sad news of John Fregonese’s passing.

I met him in spring 2010, when I was freshly dismissed from the City of Miami – after nearly a decade of service – because my boss was termed out of his City Commission seat and he lost the mayor’s race.

Trying to figure out what my next step was (after a decade plus as an urban affairs journalist and nearly a decade as an urban policy advisor), I drew an invite from Anthony Flint (a former urban affairs journalist and public servant) to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge.

Eager to network and make it to greater Boston, despite the near freezing temps on my Miami skin, I accepted the invite and prepared to see Miami Mayor Manny Diaz -- the leader my boss campaigned to replace at the end of Manny’s term limits – speak about Miami 21, the form-based code that I worked on as a freelancer then oversaw as a policy advisor for the chairman of the City Commission.

One day of speakers, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, featured John Fregonese. Somebody next to me in the audience whispered that Frego, as friends called him, had a unique heritage in that his mother Faith Domergue was a Hollywood actress and a protoge' of Howard Hughes and his father, Hugo Fregonese, was an Argentinian and Hollywood director.

John wowed me with visualizations that spoke to walkability. Some might even say his presentation was a prelude to what we today call complete streets. I approached him after the panel program and introduced myself.

I loved a minute-long video clip that he showed, possibly made by Disney Studios in the 1950s, of a future world where everyone got around via Jetsons-like pods. The pods pulled right up to school desks, negotiated shopping aisles and parked right at dead’s work desk.

At the end, John wryly observed “apparently, the best possible future involved no use of the legs at all,” to a roar of laughter from the pedestrian-sympathetic crowd.

I found John’s email on the Lincoln Institute’s conference materials and asked for the clip. While I was reinventing myself as a content creator and marketer of professional services, I showed the clip in some of my mini presentations. I think I even took it to a public sector job interview and showed it, herky jerky, on a laptop that then was top of the line, but now would have a joke of a processor.

We kept in touch. I had been to Buenos Aires shortly before I met John and he was interested in the days of photos I took while on the back stretches and least-touristed parts of El Tigre.

As a word person, I always have sought mentors, collaborators and helpers that are visual. John certainly filled that role.

We never saw each other again in the flesh. Thumbing through my emails, it looks like we last had a flurry of e-chats in summer 2014, shortly before I became the Communications Leader of Miami’s PlusUrbia Design – where we’ve won a national APA award for Urban Design and been honored with 10 other design awards in the past three years.

I copied John’s irony-filled, archived city of the future video clip from desktop to desktop. Again, he had no hand in creating it – but he sure did a good job of curating it and underscoring its ironies and influence on mid 20th century ruinous highway and civic design.

His kindness and creativity had a huge influence on my transition to using my storytelling ability to support the creation of healthy, context-sensitive design.

Descanse en paz, amigo Frego


Sunday, June 17, 2018

PLUSURBIA RECEIVES MIAMI TODAY GOLD MEDAL AWARD

URBAN DESIGN STUDIO HONORED FOR CONTEXT-SENSITIVE DESIGN

PlusUrbia Design was honored by the Miami Today‘s 2018 Gold Medal Awards competition earning the Bronze Medal for an organization.

Our boutique studio was eligible for the award because it won the 2017 American Planning Association’s APA National Economic Development Plan Award for its Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District plan. PlusUrbia earned the Gold Medal Award for its context-sensitive, community-based planning. 

It submitted a brief portfolio to the Miami Today judges that emphasized innovative urban design that promotes multimodal mobility, affordability, and connectivity that enhances quality of life. Our studio has emphasized healthy living through access to open space, public transit, affordable housing, mixed-use development, active recreation and safe complete streets.

“My father, a lawyer and published author, wrote about ethics and the social role and responsibilities of Corporations, instilled in me a sincere sense of Community Service,” said PlusUrbia Founding Principal Juan Mullerat. “This instilled in me this sense of service, which we practice in our studio through non-profit projects.”

PlusUrbia has donated more than 1,000 professional hours to the ongoing Master Planning for a Healthy and Resilient Little Havana, in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Health Foundation of South Florida. 

Our 12-person studio has devoted more than two years listening to residents and crafting an Action Plan to improve the lives of one of the poorest, most unique, socially and demographically rich neighborhoods in the nation.

“Our office has worked very hard and continues to push the envelope, delivering innovative solutions on issues that shape our built environment,” Mullerat said. “Our projects focus on transportation, affordable housing strategies, open space – all of which have profound impact on everybody’s life.”

Whether it is a Transit Oriented Development, Community Redevelopment Agency, Business Improvement District, Transit Corridor, Action Plan or Visioning Exercise – PlusUrbia’s work focuses on outcomes that support healthy living in urban areas.

Miami Today, celebrating its 35th year, is a weekly newspaper that reaches more than 68,000 readers and covers government, development, design, real estate, business, finance, health care and related issues that impact the future of Miami.




Saturday, June 16, 2018

YES WE ARE CRAZY CAT PEOPLE

CARING FOR A DOZEN OUTSIDE CATS AT A TIME





Cat Daddy Steve hugging Dusty the ginger stray cat in Little Havana. 

Just a few hours after she got spayed at Meow Mobile by @thecatnetwork

Lots of love for her first time indoors.


Friday, June 15, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 19


Resources:

• Liquid Planning Detroit: 
www.made-studio.org/liquid-planning-detroit

• Washington Monument: 
www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

• Bryant Park: 
www.bryantpark.org

• Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates: 
www.mvvainc.com

• HNTB: 
www.hntb.com

• MAde Studio: 
www.made-studio.org

• The Olin Studio: 
www.theolinstudio.com

• Krueck and Sexton Architects: 
www.ksarch.com

• MIG: 
www.migcom.com

Wright, president of Steve Wright Marketing Communications, injects storytelling and inclusive design into the marketing of architecture, town planning, civil engineering, landscape architecture and related professional services. He can be reached at stevewright64@yahoo.com



Thursday, June 14, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 18


BERKELEY

Goltsman and MIG fellow partner Tim Gilbert, MIG’s director of Universal Design Services, both are active in the re:Streets project, a movement to design complete streets that accommodate people of all ages and abilities. 

After decades of streets being designed to serve only automobiles — at the peril of pedestrians — re:Streets aims to add bike paths, wide sidewalks and other mobility 

enhancements that safely serve children, people with disabilities and elderly folks on foot.

Goltsman, like many forward-looking architects and landscape designers, believes in creating public spaces that are friendly, inclusive, and aesthetically pleasing to everyone. 

And in the re:Streets Project, this begins with providing safer, more accessible streetscapes, another huge issue that can be solved by Universal Design.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 17


ALWAYS A DREAM PLAY PARK

MIG has designed dozens of barrier-free parks and written accessible recreation guidelines for several agencies. One of its more recent projects was the one-acre Always a Dream Play Park in Fremont, Calif., funded by Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation.

The park has rubber mounds that a wheelchair user can navigate, as well as a small hill that can be traversed via gentle slopes.

“We like topography because it adds a different dimension to the environment,” Goltsman says of the park that integrates universal design into misters, water cannon play areas, swings with enhanced back support and a big slide.

 “We always try to get kids as high as we can, so they can roll onto bridges, ramps and other features.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 16


MIG

Berkeley-based MIG was founded in 1982 to focus on planning, designing and sustaining environments that support human development, so it is natural that inclusivity is ingrained in the firm’s DNA.

“Our designs have always been for everybody, so it wasn’t a difficult stretch when Ron Mace came out with universal design,” says firm co-founder Susan Goltsman, who sat on the Federal Access Board and helped to develop ADA guidelines for children’s environments.

Monday, June 11, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 15


DENISE ARNOLD, ARCHITECT

To Arnold, who also worked to place wheelchair-accessible beach mats that lead directly into Lake Michigan in several Chicago city parks, universal design is a must.

“It’s about quality of life and being able to participate in the urban realm that’s part of an integrated life and not being excluded or ostracized,” she says. 

“It’s about approaching design in a way where you’re inclusive from the start.”

Sunday, June 10, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 14


CATALAN ARTIST JAUME PLENSA

“The fountain is the coolest thing in the world, and the reflecting pool has no more than a quarter-inch lip at any place,” Arnold says of the grand piece of usable public art.

“The fountain has giant glass block towers where water spouts 12 feet high off the ground and comes down on kids. It is a completely accessible mini-water park. 

You see people of all abilities running around that fountain and playing in it.”

Saturday, June 9, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 13


CHICAGO

“My office saw the original plan with grand staircases and other barriers to mobility and said ‘no way are you going to build a big park in downtown Chicago with stairs that are not accessible to people with disabilities,’” says Denise Arnold, a private practice architect and inclusive design specialist who worked for Chicago’s large and influential Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities while Millennium Park was being developed.

The Crown Fountain, designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects of Chicago, is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of 50-foot glass brick towers that display digital videos on their inward faces.

Friday, June 8, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 12


MILLENNIUM PARK FOUNDATION

Chicago’s 25-acre Millennium Park earned a Barrier-Free America Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America — presented to architect Edward K. Uhlir, executive director of the Millennium Park Foundation.

The park’s original grandiose design featured lots of grand staircases and other elements that were not conducive to universal design. 

The late Uhlir is credited with working with additional designers to greatly increase accessibility via ramps, gentle slopes and barrier-free play areas.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 11


OLIN STUDIO

Many architects and planners have claimed that historic properties in urban locations are impossible to retrofit using universal design principles. The innovative team at Olin disagrees.

“Olin has worked on many historic properties and has retrofitted them with paths and plazas that slope less than 5 percent, or with ramps that look like they were original to the design,” McGlade says.

“An example of the latter is the ramps we designed for Bryant Park in New York City, which connect the upper dinning terrace to the mid-level walkways under the trees and at the lowest level lawn area.

The ramps were blended into the original ornamental stonework with granite balustrades that are copied from those elsewhere in the park, but modified for the sloping ground plane of the ramps.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 10


PHILADELPHIA

The Olin Studio in Philadelphia has redesigned a number of landmark public spaces to increase universal design elements.

Firm founder Laurie Olin’s redesign of the Independence National Historic Park at Independence Hall features walkways so gently sloped that there are no ramps per se.

“Olin’s design philosophy is to integrate universal design concepts such as resilience and sustainability into all our projects, whether historic landscapes or brand new and contemporary places, from the very inception of their design. 

We do not design spaces and then go back and figure out how to make them accessible,” says Dennis C. McGlade, president and partner at Olin.

Olin’s landscape design for the security retrofit of the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., made all the paths to the base of the monument accessible — all slopes under 5 percent — while at the same time thwarting terrorists with design elements that prevent them from driving up to the base of the monument.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 9


MAde Studio

In the Detroit Edison Academy site, ramps, retention walls and terraced garden beds connect the school to the Dequindre Cut and beyond to a working urban farm.

“The design of public space is an excellent opportunity to exercise universal design as standard practice,” Arquero says. 

“As we work to bring citizens back to streets, plazas, parks and waterfronts of our cities, universal design provides good insights to increase comfort and safety for a diversity of users. It is about inclusive approaches.”

Monday, June 4, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 8


Detroit

Turning a former railway into a greenway and building frequent, accessible connections to the city fabric was a challenge for MAde’s Liquid Planning Detroit — an effort to reinvigorate the city through public spaces that also address storm water issues and crumbling infrastructure.

“The Dequindre Cut is a project that builds connections, and also celebrates the environment, food, neighborhoods, schools, and farms,” says Arquero. 

“All these elements are the past, present and future of Detroit, and will be linked through this transect. 

Ensuring universal access is key … there is a desire to inhabit the ramps and terraces to enable increased access, connectivity and social interaction.”

At historic Eastern Market, Detroit’s fresh produce, dairy and meat market dating to the 1800s, the cut is nearly 12 feet below grade. 

“In the Eastern Market site, we negotiated the grade change using a series of generous ramps and landings that integrate spaces for sitting, eating and mingling — as an extension of the markets — with spaces for movement in and out of the Dequindre Cut,” says Maigret.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 7


Detroit — MAde Studio

In Detroit, MAde Studio has made universal design a central part in its approach to transform a long-abandoned railway cut into a greenway that provides barrier-free access to historic neighborhoods, some largely vacant and in need of great civic space to spark rebirth.

Architects Jen Maigret and Maria Arquero have designed an urban greenway out of Dequindre Cut, a railway created in the 1920s to move freight to industrial hubs in the growing city.

Near the Detroit River, the cut is at grade, but as it moves north, it is more than 25 feet below grade

Saturday, June 2, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 6


BROOKLYN — MICHAEL VAN VALKENBURGH ASSOCIATES

While some prominent master planners have balked at universal design and fought to build brand new facilities with grand staircases as the prominent entry, with accessible routes hidden off to the side, the Van Valkenburgh firm embraces creative approaches to designing for all.

“In some cases, accessibility requirements provide opportunities to build pathways that are more engaging — for instance, a curved pathway that directs your views to the landscape context rather than a straight procession with an unchanging perspective,” says the Van Valkenburgh team spokesperson. 

“We are strong advocates for building accessibility into the fundamental structure of a project, rather than looking at it as an obligation or an afterthought.

Ultimately, the goal is to make accessibility feel effortless so that everyone can enjoy the landscape on the same terms.”

Friday, June 1, 2018

UNIVERSAL DESIGN: PUBLIC SPACES FOR ALL -- 5


MICHAEL VAN VALKENBURGH ASSOCIATES

Ted Zoli, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award winner who serves as national bridge chief engineer for the HNTB firm, used durable materials in constructing the bridge and made sure that wheelchair users and others with limited mobility would enjoy the same access as runners, cyclists and all visitors.

 “The design is both innovative and unusual, and it blends perfectly with the landscaping in Brooklyn Bridge Park,” Zoli told HNTB Designer magazine.

Van Valkenburgh Associates prefers landscape-based solutions to mechanically-based accessibility, with gentle slopes instead of lifts or elevators. 

“Ramped pathways and bridges are less prone to technical difficulties, and they also create a stronger continuity of landscape experience that is part of the enjoyment of being in a park,” says a spokesperson for the Van Valkenburgh team.

“Once you decide that it is important to connect two spaces through the landscape, it seems worth the effort to make sure that everyone can use it.”