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  • Gallery 27: Rethinking the Architectural Exhibition » CSBE
    Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Gallery 27 Rethinking the Architectural Exhibition Gallery 27 Rethinking the Architectural Exhibition Urban Crossroads 117 View of the central hall in the Gallery 27 exhibition Jordan has a lively and impressive architectural scene This is particularly remarkable considering the country s relative youth its small size and its limited material resources The architects of Jordan have carried out interesting experiments that have developed a unique architectural identity These experiments have incorporated diverse sources including the building material of stone the architectural heritage of Greater Syria as well as the various traditions of Western modernism Although lively Jordan s architectural production remains weakly documented It is true that monographs have been published on three of the country s architects Rasem Badran Sahel Al Hiyari and Jafar Tukan The full story of Jordanian architecture however remains in need of further exploration Even concerning exhibitions on Jordan s architecture the only one that comes to mind is that organized a few years ago at the French Cultural Center on the work of Jafar Tukan Within this overall context Gallery 27 the exhibition on the work of architect Farouq Yaghmour of Yaghmour Architects Planners and Engineers is particularly significant The exhibition was organized to inaugurate Yaghmour s new offices The old offices had been located in a commercial building along Gardens Street In the fall of 2010 the practice moved to a beautiful 1940s house in Jabal al Weibdeh one of Amman s older districts Yaghmour and his staff renovated the house adding a few elegant contemporary touches to it not only to accommodate office and studio space but also to feature a sizable area dedicated to cultural events The Gallery 27 exhibition is located there The exhibition is very much a result of a process of self reflection that Yaghmour carried out with his daughter Rula an architect in the early stages of her career and members of his office staff In developing the exhibit they looked into how they may best present a diverse body of work that has been carried out over the period of 27 years since Yaghmour established his office thus the name of the exhibition Gallery 27 It also expresses the geographic diversity of the office which has expanded over the years beyond Jordan to branch out in Palestine and the United Arab Emirates One particularly refreshing characteristic of the exhibition is that it does not merely categorize the over fifty architectural urban and landscaping works it includes according to chronology and or building type but also identifies ten themes that Yaghmour s team felt best represent the office s architectural journey The exhibition space contains five rooms These rooms follow the three bay plan common in the houses of Amman and other parts of Greater Syria until the 1940s

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/gallery-27-rethinking-the-architectural-exhibition/ (2016-02-13)
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  • The University and the City » CSBE
    The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads The University and the City The University and the City Urban Crossroads 116 During the past few months I have had the opportunity to attend academic meetings at both Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania in the United States Both are highly regarded universities that are centrally located in their cities New Haven and Philadelphia The areas where the two universities are located however underwent significant decline during the post world II period particularly since the 1960s Such urban decline affected other great American universities including the University of Chicago Columbia University in New York and The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore In all these cases the story is a similar one A very simple version of it is as follows because of a number of factors such as the significant increase in automobile ownership the middle and upper class inhabitants of the areas around those universities moved out from the center of the city to its edges or to the suburbs The few who moved in their place came from much lower socio economic levels A good number of buildings became dilapidated many were abandoned Crime levels rose drastically and these areas essentially became uninhabitable The high crime levels directly affected those universities It was often unsafe to even walk from one campus building to the other Such conditions continued into the 1990s but since then have undergone considerable transformations This is very much connected to the revival of American city centers that has taken place over the past fifteen years Of significance however is the role that urban universities have played in this revival During my recent visit to the University of Pennsylvania I attended a presentation that a university staff member made about the active role the university played in rejuvenating the part of central Philadelphia around the university or what is known as University City He mentioned how the university bought properties around the campus Not only did it construct the buildings it needed for its expansion on those properties these well established universities continued to expand and grow even during that period of urban decline but also carried out projects that helped University City re emerge as a vibrant urban district The university accordingly renovated a number of buildings and built new ones that housed residential retail and office functions It rented out apartments at subsidized rates to ensure that

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/the-university-and-the-city/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Managing Amman » CSBE
    Arabic يمكن قراءة هذا المقال أيضا باللغة العربية Amman will be getting a new mayor At such a time city residents begin to look back assessing the performance of the outgoing mayor They also begin to look into the future predicting what policies and approaches the new occupant of this important position may take I had the opportunity to interact with outgoing mayor Omar Maani a few years ago when I served on a committee connected to the Greater Amman Municipality I found him energetic and dedicated and one who thought strategically about the long term evolution of Amman During his five year tenure he managed to implement a number of worthwhile accomplishments he established controls over the unregulated spread of high rise buildings he removed the overwhelming number of commercial signs that littered the facades and tops of buildings he greatly improved the signage system for street names and building numbers and he ensured that Amman s first fully pedestrian street Wakalat Street was realized Maani also started two long term initiatives whose results will only become apparent in the future The first is the Amman Bus Rapid Transit system which currently is under construction The second is the Amman master plan If the first is completed and managed successfully and if the second ends up being implemented and turns out to be well thought out Amman will have Omar Maani to thank Although substantial and impressive these accomplishments unfortunately are dwarfed by the overwhelming urban challenges that Amman is facing No matter how effective and energetic Amman s mayor may be and Maani is both the city had reached a point during the 1990s after which it essentially has become unmanageable It simply has grown too much and has grown too quickly Over the past two decades or so Amman on the one hand has emerged into an increasingly cosmopolitan center that is economically and culturally lively and diverse and that offers considerable consumer and entertainment amenities to its residents On the other hand the urban management of Amman has been undergoing considerable deterioration Traffic congestion has progressively gotten worse to reach unbearable levels Public transportation is of very poor quality and is only used by those who are unable to afford any other transportation options The state of garbage collection and street cleanliness in Amman has been falling behind year after year It also is a disgrace that Amman still does not have a municipal recycling system Amman s public green areas remain too few and far in between particularly on the neighborhood level Moreover Amman continues to be overwhelmed by uncontrolled and chaotic expansion This expansion is eating up valuable and scarce agricultural land and is making the city too expansive to allow for ease of movement in it And of course there is Amman s notorious pedestrian problem Because of the city s reckless driving dysfunctional sidewalks heavy levels of vehicular exhaust fumes and lack of pedestrian crossings moving on foot for any significant distances

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/managing-amman-also-available-in-arabic/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Tales from Two Cities: Tunis and Cairo » CSBE
    Tunis and Cairo Tales from Two Cities Tunis and Cairo Urban Crossroads 114 Egyptians congregating in Tahrir Square Cairo AP photo by Tara Todras Whitehill Over the past few weeks we all have been glued to media outlets following up on how the people in countries in the Arab World broke the barrier of fear and rose up demanding their freedom and dignity and calling for democracy Much has been said about those unfolding historic events and much more still will be said As someone interested in the making of the city my remarks will deal with the relation between these popular uprisings and the city particularly Tunis and Cairo Anyone watching the footage of events in them couldn t but notice the intimate connection between these uprisings and specific spaces and places of the city In Tunis a main location of the people s revolution has been Habib Bourqiba Avenue the wide tree lined thoroughfare dating back to the French Colonial period It is a monumental space with wide sidewalks that extends about 1 6 kilometers in length Its western end is where modern Tunis meets the traditional Medina In Cairo few scenes are as memorable as that of the hundreds of thousands of Egyptians congregating in Tahrir Liberation Square transforming it into a nucleus for a new Egypt in the making The square was created when Cairo was remade along the model of Paris during the 1860s and 1870s under the orders of Egypt s ruler Khedive Ismail Other places at which Cairenes have gathered during their revolution include Tal at Harb Square named after the famed early 20th century Egyptian industrialist and nationalist Another location is the Egyptian Radio and Television building also known as Maspero after the French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero The landmark modernist highrise building which was completed in 1960 is prominently located in Cairo along the Nile And of course there is the Presidential Palace in the Cairene suburb of Heliopolis The complex used to be the luxurious Heliopolis Palace Hotel When completed in 1910 it was the world s largest hotel All these spaces and landmarks cannot be separated from the momentous events that took place in these two cities Cities need spaces and places where people can come together to express opinions and exchange ideas Repressive regimes prohibit such a use of spaces and places as was the case in Tunisia and Egypt They do not allow people to congregate en masse in public spaces except to take part in government controlled events They also do not allow the free expression of opinions in other locations where people come together such as universities and lecture halls Moreover what is presented in local radio and television is controlled by the state and these therefore cannot function as free forums for presenting and debating ideas This is why protesters in Cairo demonstrated in front of the Radio and Television building it was a primary symbol of state repression The one urban place the regimes

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/tales-from-two-cities-tunis-and-cairo/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Commemorating Oleg Grabar (1929 – 2011) » CSBE
    Ever growing Amman Exploring the Early Islamic City Rehabilitating Old Aleppo The Landscaping Challenge If You Can t Maintain It Don t Build It Disposable Buildings Buy Now Pay Later Taking the Bus The Street Where I Live City Infrastructure Underpasses Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Commemorating Oleg Grabar 1929 2011 Commemorating Oleg Grabar 1929 2011 Urban Crossroads 113 Oleg Grabar Photo is courtesy of the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton On January 8 2011 Oleg Grabar passed away With that the field of Islamic art and architecture lost one of its most important figures He had been involved in the field as a researcher author and teacher for almost six decades His contribution to shaping our understanding of the Islamic world s pre modern visual heritage whether works of art architecture or urbanism is immeasurable Oleg Grabar was born in France but lived much of his life in the United States He studied at the University of Paris Harvard University and Princeton University He was a faculty member at a number of prestigious academic institutions He started his career at the University of Michigan He then moved to Harvard University where he became the Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture In 1990 he retired from Harvard and accepted a faculty position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton where faculty members had included luminaries such as Albert Einstein J Robert Oppenheimer John von Neumann and George Kennan The scope of Oleg Grabar s accomplishments is remarkable He was a teacher who taught and mentored many students from different generations and different parts of the world He was an archeologist who spent numerous seasons excavating early Muslim sites in the deserts of Syria And of course he was an author who wrote about a vast variety of buildings from different parts of the Islamic world and about a variety of themes including the communicative role of decoration the symbolism of built form and the relation between architecture and power He considered himself a cultural historian rather than a more narrowly defined historian of art and architecture He therefore examined the various social cultural economic and political forces that define a given society and the visual forms it creates When considering major

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/commemorating-oleg-grabar-1929-2011/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Peeking into the Future: The 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture » CSBE
    the Chinese province of Fujian All photos are courtesy of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Peeking into the Future The 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Peeking into the Future The 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture Urban Crossroads 112 Every three years the Aga Khan Award for Architecture announces a set of winning projects that are exemplars of excellence relating to the built environment in the Islamic world The Award recently announced the winning projects for its 2010 eleventh cycle Out of over 400 projects submitted for the Award the Award jury shortlisted nineteen Of these nineteen high quality finalists five were selected as winners There are numerous ways of reading the significances of this final choice of winning projects made by the Award s nine member jury Although small in number they have much to say For me they illustrate the evolution of very interesting strategies for addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the built environment in the Islamic world and also in emerging countries as a whole These relate to environmental ecological issues to heritage and identity to industrialization as well as to the gradual but definite shift of cultural and economic energy from the West to emerging economies The five winning projects are the Wadi Hanifa Wetlands project in Riyadh the Madinat al Zahra Museum in Cordoba the revitalization of the Ville Nouvelle new city of Tunis the Ipekyol Textile Factory in the Turkish city of Edirne and the Bridge School in Xiashi in the Chinese province of Fujian detailed information on these five projects is available at http www akdn org architecture awards asp tri 2010 The Wadi Hanifa project presents a very effective approach for addressing and reversing the all too common environmental degradation caused by excessive and insensitive urban growth This 120 kilometer long valley next to Riyadh had functioned as a watershed and an oasis that historically supported the city providing it with water and arable land As Riyadh underwent unusually explosive growth during the 1970s and 1980s Wadi Hanifa suffered tremendously It essentially became a dumping ground for all sorts of urban waste emanating from Riyadh including garbage building debris and sewage Over the past decade a plan aimed at developing Wadi Hanifa as an environmental recreational and tourist resource has been implemented The Wadi was cleaned of the garbage and debris that had been dumped into it for decades construction in the Wadi was heavily regulated and illegal building in it was removed Also the Wadi has been revived as a natural conduit for flood water Bio remediation facilities have been installed to begin purifying the one million cubic meters of wastewater that the city pours into the Wadi on a daily basis In parallel to this large scale parks with streams and lakes have been created The Wadi as a result not only has reasserted its historical role as a watershed and an agricultural area but also has emerged as a spacious green breathing

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/peeking-into-the-future-the-2010-aga-khan-award-for-architecture/ (2016-02-13)
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  • City Components » CSBE
    Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads City Components City Components Urban Crossroads 111 A few days ago someone asked me what are the physical components of the city As I attempted to answer the question it occurred to me that we do not always give these basic issues the consideration they deserve I will try to do so in this article In essence a city consists of buildings roads and open spaces These components of course occupy a natural setting For Amman it is a hilly terrain surrounding a valley through which a stream used to run The western areas of this terrain are more fertile and receive more rainfall than its relatively arid eastern ones For Cairo this natural setting is the Nile that passes through it bordered by a relatively thin strip of fertile land on each side after which is a vast desert For Beirut it is plain bound by the Mediterranean on one side and the green mountains of Lebanon on the other The city as a physical composition involves interaction between these man made and natural components In a few cases an effort is made so that the man made components respect the natural ones but in most these man made components unfortunately ignore or even destroy the natural ones In Amman the stream is now a sewer line covered by a road network and the city continues to eat up more of the fertile land located to its west In Cairo the thin fertile strips bordering the Nile on each side have been completely built up In Beirut the beautiful forested mountains bordering the city are being devastated by building activity To return to the man made components of the city the buildings are where people carry out most of their daily activities the roads along with the parking areas that accompany them accommodate the vehicles we use to move through the city and the open spaces are where the city and its residents breathe and interact A healthy city is one where there is a balance between the three Its quality of life is undermined when one overtakes the others Too many buildings make for a crowded city Too many roads is a clear indication that movement and transportation in the city is inefficient Too many open spaces negate the city To develop a healthy balance between the three city components many urbanists promote high urban densities The idea is to build up the city as much as possible without overcrowding it High densities allow people to be closer to the various services they need thus easing movement between them However when urban density is fragmented and reduced by roads that means the automobile has taken over the city Under such circumstances streets and parking areas leave little opportunity for people to walk and distances are far too long for people to cover on foot In contrast to conceiving the city as a

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/city-components/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Too Many Short Trips » CSBE
    Old Aleppo The Landscaping Challenge If You Can t Maintain It Don t Build It Disposable Buildings Buy Now Pay Later Taking the Bus The Street Where I Live City Infrastructure Underpasses Everywhere Fixing Sweifieh Urban Solutions Easier Said than Done Amman s Urban Fabric What Went Wrong Energy Consumption in the City Sweifieh A Case of Urban Deterioration The Growth of Buildings A Tale of Two Shops The Economics of Zoning Jabal Amman s First Circle Area Nooks and Crannies Surfaces of the City Concrete Signs of the City Empty Plots Everywhere Amman s Most Beautiful District Amman Street Maps A New Frontier Soundscapes of Amman Airport Road Parking in Amman Privilege or Right Time Zoning To Commute or Telecommute The Shopping Mall Apartment Living Sidewalks of Amman Riyadh Property Rental Laws Beirut Public Transportation Cities of the Arab East Zoning Urban Sprawl The Domination of Amman Introduction An Anatomy of the City Using Public Transportation in Amman Publications Resources Urban Crossroads Too Many Short Trips Too Many Short Trips Urban Crossroads 110 T raffic congestion in Amman Source Jordan Times A simple and effective way of quantifying traffic congestion is by assessing the number and length of car trips that people make Each time a trip is taken a vehicle occupies space on the road thus contributing to traffic congestion The longer the trip the longer is the vehicle on the road and the bigger is its contribution to traffic congestion Encouraging people to limit the number of trips they take in their cars clearly will alleviate this problem The fewer the trips the fewer the cars on the road The more people walk use public transportation or telecommute the less they need to use their cars I had devoted a number of previous articles to improving pedestrian accessibility and public transportation in the city For this article I will discuss solutions that limit the number of trips we take in our cars For example if we can carry out a task online i e via the Internet rather than having to physically go somewhere to do so we are contributing to relieving traffic congestion If items are delivered to us food groceries mail rather than we driving to get them that relieves traffic congestion For example having one vehicle make a trip to deliver pizzas from a restaurant to twenty addresses will contribute far less to traffic congestion than having someone from each of those twenty addresses drive to the restaurant and back to get the pizzas To carry on this line of thinking consider the many little trips we make in Amman on a daily basis to carry out various tasks many of which could and should be accomplished without us having to leave our homes or travel long distances Here are a few of them Think of the times you need to use a post office Mail is not delivered to homes in Jordan We therefore need to go to the post office to get

    Original URL path: http://www.csbe.org/publications-and-resources/urban-crossroads/too-many-short-trips/ (2016-02-13)
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