PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • Lynn Williamson and Jim Pecora of the Free Library of Philadelphia at Coleman Library. (Emily Brooks/for NewsWorks)

Germantown plans for a summer without a neighborhood library

Members of the Germantown community and library staff  gathered in the meeting room of the Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library on Wednesday to come up with a contingency plan for…

    • Vacant land behind the former site of the Queen Lane Apartments is part of the proposed play space area. (Jimmy Viola/for NewsWorks, file)

PHA agrees to maintain outdoor space near Queen Lane apartments site

They came ready for a fight, but walked away with a compromise. On Thursday, Germantown residents packed courtroom 414 in City Hall for the start of a trial aimed, on paper,…

    • South 13th Street puddle, Photo by Philadelphia Photos

Streets Dept. Summer Construction Update: Potholes (still), 41st Bridge, trails, roads and more

Every now and again, we like to check in with Philadelphia Streets Department Chief Engineer, Darin Gatti, to find out what the boys in neon green and safety-cone orange are up…

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ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE

Infrastructure like roads, water pipes, and sewage systems is simultaneously the most crucial element of urban form while also being the least appreciated.  These forms often run below ground and out of sight and are typically paid for by government agencies, so builders and users alike often take their efficient construction for granted.  However, most infrastructure is very expensive to produce and absolutely necessary for successful urban design. Though its form is rarely seen or acknowledged when it’s working properly, its function can make even the most beautiful of streets an experiential nightmare.  It represents the building blocks of our built environment, and therefore typically comes first in most urban construction.


An important discourse on infrastructure planning, especially in today’s times of factoring energy consumption into the planning process, comes from the suburbs, where low-density developments are built on undeveloped land without previously laying the infrastructure foundation necessary to ensure that the homes are habitable. The sprawl requires local governments to extend public services out to reach these faraway developments, the cost of which can be exorbitant.  In fact, the square footage necessary to connect these distant communities often yields projects that are too expensive to cover with tax payments.  The current trend in planning toward “smart growth” initiatives encourages building in previously developed areas.  These areas are typically well-served by traditional forms of infrastructure.  This infrastructure provides important connections, but it is often aging and therefore requires millions of dollars in upkeep and maintenance, which city governments cannot afford on their own.  This is why infrastructure was central in President Obama’s economic revitalization strategy, highlighted by the “stimulus” bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE

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