Urbanisms Pivot Point: A Must Read Article!

This article is a MUST READ on where CNU is pushing and heading for the future.
Urbanists and planners now are saying that we should not allow any removal of existing building stock and should push to re energize our existing cities!


The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

The article also suggests buying this book. I know I will be picking it up this week.

New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, 4th Ed.


By Robert Steuteville, Philip Langdon & special contributors.


Nantucket vs. Buffalo: Embracing Preservation

What a magical little place Nantucket is.

The design standards and strict preservation efforts have helped to preserve this incredible little island.. It’s sorta like a time capsule of history and memories. (see photos below!)

Nantucket History 101:

The Nantucket history is pretty incredible. Nantucket gained its wealth through the whaling industry during the 1700s. It was the place to be. Well, once it lost its whaling significance in the mid 1800s due to whale herd decline and port issues, a focus was placed on tourism/preservation of its building stock and history which is the reason Nantucket is where it is today. Today, Nantucket has over 800 pre civil war era buildings intact! It’s new builds are held to strict design standards and look exactly like the old ones. The island does not allow chain “box” stores to help ensure the old, historic buildings and shop fronts will be secured. The emphasis on preservation is almost extreme, but necessary, as the tourists come because of the islands differences and historic sites.

So how does Buffalo relate to Nantucket?

The loss of whaling really kept the houses intact because there was very little money available to rehab. Sounds sorta like buffalo, right? We have so many incredible historic houses because there wasn’t a lot of money to change them.. We even have one of the oldest lighthouses in the country that could be a tourist attraction but it’s closed off to the public..

Today, thanks to the decades of preservation efforts, Buffalo has also seen a property value stabilization and now strong growth of its preservation districts, which is similar to what Nantucket has seen!

Preservation is key…

I found it fascinating to see an entire area that embraced preservation and strict design standards for new and old buildings which has helped to stabilize, grow and maintain the success of Nantucket.

Buffalo can do this! We have the buildings and the grassroots preservation groups/efforts in place, now we need the infrastructure from a policy level(preservation plan, inventory of building stock, top 10 to save etc..) and a culture/community that fully embraces our history.

Todays million dollar question:

How can we get the Buffalo folks who are “broken” on Buffalo to believe in Buffalo, once again? When people believe they can, they do. If you believed in Buffalo, you would do things to make it better, right? The preservation naysayers say “tear it down” but how can we educate them on the economic benefits of preservation? How can they embrace our history and love our old buildings once again? If we figure it out, preservation will surly see increased community and governmental support.
So, how to we “fix” the broken people?!!??
Give me your ideas, thoughts and concerns, people! ūüôā







Nantucket Update!

This place is the most dreamy place I’ve ever been. I’m so happy Jason wanted to share this special place with me.
My next post will be specifically on buildings here in Nantucket. More to come…





Heading to Nantucket!

Nantucket here I come!

Ps.The entire island is a historic district… Can’t wait to explore!


Pushing the Urbanism/City Agenda in the Building Science World at NESEA BE13

I wrote this blog post last week for the NESEA site. NESEA is allowing me to co chair a “Cities” track that talks about urbanism, cities and energy efficiency! Its really the next step from my keynote, which you can read here.¬†I am really excited. This is a big deal for the building science world. Send your proposals in!

Retrofitting for Resilience: Cities
Resilience of Cities: Be Urban. Be Environmental. Be Smart. Be Resilient. Be Sustainable.

This year in preparation for BE 13 at NESEA we are opening the dialogue to discuss the ultimate form of sustainability. Sustaining ourselves through good planning, smart building and ultimately being resilient to whatever our climate throws our way.

At NESEA BE12, the keynote speakers discussed the occupy movement, insulation, solar parking lots and city planning initiatives. All of these things discussed happen in cities, therefore we bring you the newest NESEA track for Building Energy 13 ‚Äď Retrofitting for Resilience: The City Edition.¬†ultimate form of sustainability. Sustaining ourselves through good planning, smart building and ultimately being resilient to whatever our climate throws our way.

This new track can go anywhere because there is an enormous amount of material to cover and only 6 sessions. We wanted to take a moment to give your ideas as to where we would like to see this track go which is open but not limited to our ideas. We want YOUR ideas on retrofitting for resilience in our cities.

First thing, lets define resilience: the power or ability to return to the original form, position,etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

Now here are our ideas for sessions organized by themes ‚ÄĒ presented to spark thinking. Go beyond these ideas and tell us what you want to do! The proposals are due¬†June 15, 2012. ¬†You will find the complete RFP, describing the conference, and the response form at the¬†NESEA¬†website.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Bernice Radle: Bernice@buffalo-energy.com

Robert Leaver: rleaver@newcommons.com

Ideas for sessions/discussions: 
Urban Planning

Promoting energy efficient housing, smart growth and urbanism is the ultimate sustainable/resilient environment which can only happen in cities!

  • Resilient community based planning initiatives?
  • Historic preservation
  • Urban planning initiatives ‚Äď cities ‚Äď form based codes, historic preservation, smart growth
  • Getting away from the car
  • European initiatives on resilience in cities?
  • Regionalism/urban planning
  • Landbanking ideas
  • Urban agriculture
  • Policy ideas on promoting resilience? What are cities doing? Federal government? Regional initiatives?
  • Urban metabolism (new work at Harvard)
  • Multiple urbanisms: new, landscape, ecological and sustainable with Margarita Iglesia at BSA this spring

Energy Efficiency

  • How can we retrofit our existing buildings and design new builds with greater efficiency? What is being done to our building codes? Mass Stretch Codes? IECC?

Weather/Climate Change/Technologies

  • In one session with a structural engineer, civil engineer and public health official‚Ķwhat ha
  • ppens to Boston in 3 scenarios: a category III hurricane hits; 20 inches of rain in one week; 25 day heat wave‚ĶHow ready is it now? ¬†What has to change to be ready?
  • Surging seas and cities
  • ‚ÄúTransportable technologies‚ÄĚ ¬†‚Äď what can we do in the NESEA region that will help other global regions with resilience and adaptation?
  • NYC is investing 1.5 billion to upgrade its infrastructure to be a green infrastructure ‚ÄĒ the basic idea is to rely more on nature as NYC did when the original grid was laid out
  • Case Studies/Results/General Initiatives
  • Individual habits, case studies, initiatives that promote resilience?
  • What are cost effective solutions that can help promote resilience?

Bethlehem Steel Vigil

This happened last night.

Let’s hope tonights protest at the Lackawanna city council meeting will be effective with stopping the demolition!



Fighting to Save the Bethlehem Steel’s Administration Building

I hope this isn’t the last time I see this building.. ¬†but lets fight until the very end, anyway! This one is not disposable.

VOICE YOUR SUPPORT for saving the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building!

Contact City Officials:
– Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski
– Phone: 716-827-6464
– Email: mayor@ci.lackawanna.ny.us

– Council President Henry Pirowski
– Phone: 716-827-6489
– Email: citycouncil@ci.lackawanna.ny.us

– Code Enforcement Officers: Joseph Geyer and Steve Bremer
– Phone: 716-827-6474
– Email: codeenforcement@ci.lackawanna.ny.us

And send PBN (jwilson@p-b-n.org) your letters of support and we’ll post them later today for all to see!

Getting Our Demolitions Under Control!

Over the last two days, the preservation community has been scrambling to pursuade the Lackawanna government to stop the¬†demolition on the beautiful Bethlehem Steel Administration Building. We didn’t know it was coming that fast, no one was told and now we are in reaction mode. Most importantly, the demo contract has been given and there is very little we can do to stop this.

The problem is this. If there is a building that can be saved, we are either reacting to something else being demolished or we are so overwhelmed with other preservation issues that we cannot be proactive as a preservation community. This is not good.

What we need is an Anti Demolition Organization of Buffalo. A group that governments can call on to help market these buildings, to give public outreach and to stop/avoid  the most important buildings from being demolished on a Friday afternoon. A group that someone can call for a status update, to express concern and to potentially express interest in purchase! One group.. One phone number.. Simple, easy and to the point.

Right now, if you are interested in a house on the demo list – you would call the city. It would be sorta a headache because you don’t know who to talk to there or what to ask.. BUT what if you could call the demolition task force and say “tell me about this building” and their answers were solved? A group who knows the city processes, who to call to stop demolitions and who to call upon for resources, funding and insurance issues.

Furthermore, what if we could guide them down the best path to purchase it, which would take stress off of the cities hands. The dialogue could be between city and the group, eliminating the stress, headache and annoyances that the potential owner would deal with. Working together would be key and it could be done. ¬†I mean, what if a weekly newsletter to talk about buildings that are important and push for marketing the most important ones? Or someone was there to document the success stories that we have? So many ideas are flowing right now…

Seriously, think about it. This could be a small group within PBN or even BYP could take it on. But it would have to be a small, dedicated group that would have to be focused on just that – stopping demolitions and getting these houses back on the tax rolls. We are too often scrambling and being reactive. Once we stop reacting and being proactive, we will be able to save buildings more and have our focus on marketing and getting the vacant properties some love.

There are so many other things that need to be done to control the demolitions.. however, establishing a group that can support and handle these buildings should be the first initiative. Just a thought. Who is up to start something like this??!!!?

Photo courtesy of Meagan Baco, Buffalo’s Young Preservationists

OWN IT. Tips on getting paid to do what you love.

If you think you can hand your resume to someone, interview and get a job – you are crazy. Not in this world that we live in. Not in this economy.

The one thing I can say is you NEED to get involved. Jobs just don’t appear. You have to open your own door. We have the internet here so you can start a blog in your field, contribute towards facebook group chats, blogs, even events and you don’t have to be in Buffalo to do it! Get your name out there. Open yourself to doing a lot of FREE work because ultimately, people will see your hard work and hire you permanently. Buffalo is a great place where it doesn’t take that much to OWN something so you should OWN whatever you do. OWN IT. Don’t be afraid to over extend, to volunteer a lot, to get involved in an organization that you like… It will all pay off in the end.

Top Tips:

Here are a couple things that you should do to secure a solid career oriented job. This is for any type of job.

1. Get Involved!

2. Intern/Volunteer as much as possible.

3. Become active in a major organization in your field.

4. Call, email – bug people to follow up on your internship/job request.

5. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Ask around. Buffalo may take a while but it will be worth it.


Here are some qualities people are looking for when hiring: Passion, enthusiasm, having an open mind, intelligence. You probably hear that all the time but it is very true. I am not always looking for the more experience but someone who can learn, listen and love what they are doing. Young people are the best at this because they can be molded and taught easier than older people – most graduates are at an advantage!

Ideas for Involvement:

For all the urban planners, architects, preservationists, Buffalo lovers, real estate people out there – join Preservation Ready Sites and get on the dialogue, write for Buffalorising, start getting involved with PBN, BYP or ULI or even environmental groups like WAG or WNYSEA. Each connection, each new contact brings you closer to success.

Case Studies/Examples

Just to give you some examples.. It took Chris Hawley five years to pursue his urban planner career at city hall. Many of his contacts were found working at Spot Coffee. Dana Saylor opened her own company to do historic research and her connections and contacts have helped her along quite nicely!  Mike Puma dedicated himself to Preservation Studios and Buffalorising so much that Preservation studios hired him out of the box. Myself, I pushed for an internship at NYSERDA that ultimately gave me my experience for my career. I sent one email to my boss to tell him I was looking and I was hired the next week. Creighton Randall started his own carshare company РBuffalo CarShare!

The list goes on and on… If I can connect you to anyone.. just let me know. berniceradle@gmail.com