Pandemics and Land Planning Article

The following article comes to us from the New York Times. Pandemics have been a part of human history for as long as there have been humans. There is a green light after the red…

Can City Life Survive Coronavirus?

Cities are epicenters of capital and creativity, designed to be occupied collectively. Pandemics are anti-urban, preying on our human desire for connection.

The empty business district of La Defense in Paris, on Monday.
Credit…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times
It’s becoming harder by the hour to find the new normal.

We need each other in a crisis like this, but we rightly fear congestion. France and Spain have ordered all cafes and restaurants shut down. In New York, it’s the same, with museums and Broadway theaters on hiatus. Mosques have closed in several countries, churches have canceled masses, and the pope prohibited the public from Holy Week celebrations.

Traditionally, we seek solace in religion, sports, entertainment and in the promise that modern science and societies provide all the tools needed to solve any problem.

particular, urban life. Historians tell us that cities emerged thousands of years ago for economic and industrial reasons — technological leaps produced a surplus of agricultural goods, which meant not everyone had to keep working the land.

Still, cities also grew, less tangibly, out of deeply human social and spiritual needs. The very notion of streets, shared housing and public spaces stemmed from and fostered a kind of collective affirmation, a sense that people are all in this together.

Pandemics prey on this relentlessly. They are anti-urban. They exploit our impulse to congregate. And our response so far — social distancing — not only runs up against our fundamental desires to interact, but also against the way we have built our cities and plazas, subways and skyscrapers. They are all designed to be occupied and animated collectively. For many urban systems to work properly, density is the goal, not the enemy.

Of course, we now have teleconferencing and an abundance of social media and other forms of remote, digital interaction. We had already drifted toward a kind of social distancing by living increasingly on our phones and in virtual communities, bingeing on Netflix.

Alexanderplatz, a large public square in the center of Berlin, on Sunday.
Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times 

The technology we consume today increasingly consumes us, for good and ill. It is escalating our anxieties with unending access to information and misinformation alike. But technology is also allowing many of us to carry on with certain kinds of businesses and act globally in ways we couldn’t have imagined a generation or two ago.

Even so, we still need one other, not just virtually. Ezra Klein in Vox raised the prospect of social distancing causing a “social recession,” a kind of “collapse in social contact that is particularly hard,” he wrote, “on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness — older adults and people with disabilities or pre-existing health conditions.”

There is evidence for this. Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University, wrote a book about a heat wave in Chicago in 1995, during which 739 people died. That event proved lethal among elderly Chicagoans living in poor, segregated neighborhoods that afforded residents little social contact.

But older Chicagoans living in similarly poor, crime-ridden communities who had access to what Mr. Klinenberg calls a robust “social infrastructure” — a network of “sidewalks, stores, public facilities and community organizations that bring people into contact with friends and neighbors” — died at a markedly lower rate.

Now those very forms of social interaction put people at greater risk. That’s one reason affluent New Yorkers with second homes in the countryside have been quitting the city in recent days like medieval characters in Boccaccio’s “Decameron” facing the Black Death.

During the last century, millions of urban-dwelling Americans fled to the suburbs. Cities cleared old neighborhoods and replaced them with giant housing projects in vast empty spaces, arguing that crowded urban slums had become petri dishes for disease.

But people have been moving back into cities even as technology has created myriad new ways of connecting remotely. Cities have become epicenters of new capital and creativity, because proximity breeds serendipity and strength, from which new ideas and opportunities arise.


The Great Court in the British Museum in London, on Monday.
Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times 

Economists have talked about this urban migration in terms of dollars and cents. But the human value of shared space is ultimately incalculable. After 9/11, I visited the Islamic galleries at the Metropolitan Museum, where crowds had gathered. I asked some people there what brought them to the museum. They said they wanted to remind themselves of life and beauty and tolerance, and to seek strength in one another.

During the blitz of London, in World War II, the British Home Office ordered all theaters, concerts halls, movie houses and other public gathering spots shut, leaving residents to meditate on their grim fate at home.

The exception was London’s National Gallery, whose director persuaded authorities to let him keep one painting on public view (the picture was periodically changed, so people had reason to return). The gallery also organized a series of lunchtime classical music concerts.

Going out meant risking life and limb. But Londoners waited in lines that stretched out the front door of the gallery and across Trafalgar Square, hoping for seats. When a German munition fell on the gallery shortly before one concert, the audience and musicians relocated across the square to South Africa House. A few days later, when a 1,000-pound unexploded bomb was discovered in some rubble outside the gallery, the event was moved to a distant room and no one budged when the device was detonated during a Beethoven quartet.

The war shook the confidence of free and open democracies to survive a grave global threat. Modest though they were, the concerts gave Londoners hope, reminding them why they lived there and together.

Today’s threat is altogether another sort of challenge to solidarity and our way of life. It is not a heat wave or a blitz. It can’t be mitigated by going to concerts or museums. It requires isolation.

We will need to figure out a different approach, together.

SDSU Stadium Update

Project Design Consultants is providing a wide range of professional services for the development of the new Aztec Stadium and the surrounding area. This article appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Keeping up with the stadium
Tracking Mission Valley progress since construction began on new SDSU home
The new stadium will lay north and south, in the northwest corner of the parking lot in Mission Valley. (Kirk Kenney U-T)

Editor’s note: San Diego State aims to build its new 35,000-seat stadium in time for the football team’s season opener against Arizona exactly two years from today — Sept. 3, 2022. The Union-Tribune will do monthly updates tracking the stadium’s progress.

Home games for the San Diego State football team figured to look and feel different this fall even before a pandemic prompted a postponement.
With construction commencing three weeks ago on SDSU’s new Mission Valley stadium, players, coaches and fans were in for a much different home-game experience.
SDSU’s traditional Warrior Walk into SDCCU Stadium before games goes right down the middle of what now is a construction zone in the western portion of the parking lot. The Aztecs will now enter at SDCCU’s eastern tunnel.
The new stadium will be built a long throw from the current one, just northwest of the facility that opened 53 years ago.
The construction footprint is fenced off north and south from Friars Road to the trolley bridge. Its eastern edge borders the property’s main entrance and runs along the road of the stadium’s inner circle. The western edge is parallel to the parking lot’s outer perimeter.
Heavy equipment moved in moments after the city handed over the keys to the place. In the past 21 days, light poles have been removed, along with curbs, sidewalks and parking lot asphalt.
Most of the lot has been dug up and much of it removed (the media parking area formerly located at H1 is now piled high with debris).
A pair of specialized construction vehicles continued the monotonous task of going back and forth digging up the asphalt, tilling the soil such that it resembled farmland prepared for planting.
The fencing and trees that separated the inner and outer parking lots are gone.
So, too, are the section signs that identified where to meet for pre- and post-game tailgates.
At least one of the signs is headed home with an Aztecs fan.
“We had one person who is making a significant gift ask for their parking sign,” said John David Wicker, SDSU’s director of athletics. “I don’t recall which one it was, but we’ll make it happen.
“We’re open to accepting significant gifts and figuring out a way to get tailgating signs.”
After the last game of the 2021 season is played at SDCCU Stadium, other mementos from inside the stadium will be auctioned off as well.
“We’re going to do a seat sale in some way, so be on the lookout for that,” Wicker said.
Wet and dry utilities have been located and trenching has begun for relocating them.
Since the 2020 football season has been postponed until spring — if then — the Aztecs didn’t have to worry about getting the stadium game ready for Saturday, which was originally scheduled as the team’s season opener against Sacramento State.
No events have taken place inside the stadium this year, so there were going to be some anxious moments making sure the electricity still worked and the toilets still flushed.
Would anyone have been surprised come kickoff if fans were asked to point their car headlights toward the field?
In previous years, Section D1 would be crowded with carnival rides as part of Aztec Village.
On Monday, much of the area was piled high with dirt from an adjacent area that was being trenched.
That day, two people (ecological and cultural observers) sat in chairs not far from the SDSU ticket office, peering through the green wind screen to watch the digging.
One of those watching wore a red and yellow vest that read Native American Monitor on the back.
Dairy farms populated Mission Valley in the years leading up to the construction of then-San Diego Stadium, but the river valley was home to Kumeyaay villages in the centuries before that.
After groundbreaking ceremonies Aug. 17, Wicker said the area’s history will be detailed at the new stadium.
“We’re trying to tell the story of Mission Valley,” he said. “This was Kumeyaay land to begin with, and then dairy farms and then you’ve got a great stadium.
“It’s not so great right now, but it was a great stadium and you think of all the events it hosted. So we’re going to be able to tell that story throughout the building.”
Added Wicker: “We’re going to go through and pull out different parts of the stadium that have some type of memory attached to it and we’re actually going to put that in the new stadium as part of our brand story.”
A Stadium Cam was expected to be in place by now and live streaming for fans to follow the progress of construction, but a school official said Wednesday that they are “working through cam technology and think we will have that figured out in the next couple of days.”
Next 30 days: The plan is to continue site preparation, with parking lot demolition and trenching for relocation of utilities as well as site excavation and accumulation of dirt for grading and leveling. Dirt will come both from onsite “borrow pits” as well as offsite sources.

SDSU Construction Groundbreaking!

Project Design Consultants has been an integral component of the design team for SDSU Mission Valley. The following article was prepared by the SDSU News Team.  Click on the video link below.

It’s Official: Construction Underway at SDSU Mission Valley

With the first shovels in the ground at the Mission Valley stadium site, the long-term vision for a campus expansion, new stadium, Innovation District, and River Park is now under construction.
By SDSU News Team
San Diego State University held a groundbreaking event this morning to celebrate the university officially taking ownership of the Mission Valley stadium site, commemorating the launch of a new era for the greater San Diego region. This is a historic time for the university and the city. SDSU Mission Valley will deliver immense benefits to the community for generations to come.
“Today marks a milestone moment for San Diego State University and the City of San Diego,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “With today’s groundbreaking we begin the work to expand SDSU’s educational, research, and entrepreneurial missions. SDSU Mission Valley also addresses the realities of the past few months and the need for new streams of revenue to support higher education opportunities for all.”
As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and as the stadium site is now an active construction site, the event was not open to the general public. Instead, the number of in-person speakers and invited guests was restricted to maintain full compliance with the county’s public health guidelines. Prior to the groundbreaking event, SDSU organizers consulted closely with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to ensure said guidelines were observed.
In the best interest of individual safety, health, and well-being, SDSU invited the campus and San Diego communities to virtually participate in the milestone occasion via livestream.
Tom McCarron, SDSU’s senior vice president for SDSU Mission Valley, kicked off the event expressing his gratitude. He acknowledged the collective years-long efforts of all those involved in the project, from conception to realization for their critical and steadfast support.
“This is truly a momentous day in the history of our university and the city of San Diego,” McCarron said. “Today we celebrate the commencement of construction of SDSU Mission Valley, Aztec Stadium, and the River Park.”
In addition to the significant land development, the project will be transformational for the community. SDSU Mission Valley is projected to expand the university’s economic impact in the region by $3 billion annually.
“What happens on the ground right here, beneath our feet will elevate San Diego State and elevate San Diego in ways that we can’t possibly imagine,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “San Diegans should take great satisfaction in knowing that the future of this land is finally set as a place where education, athletics, and the community will thrive side by side for generations to come.”
California State University Board of Trustees Member Jack McGrory thanked Mayor Faulconer and all those involved in the success of the project. McGrory also gave mention to the rich history of the stadium site and the bright future.
“Today is a celebration of higher education and community,” McGrory said. “For 55 years we have enjoyed this fabulous place, this ocean of asphalt and concrete that is visible from outer space. Today we take the first steps in transforming this place into a center of knowledge and engagement.”
Upon breaking ground, one of the first major construction projects to undergo development, in addition to the River Park, will be the highly anticipated Aztec Stadium, which is scheduled for completion in Fall 2022.
“We are building a stadium for Aztec football, international and professional soccer, concerts, and any other event you can think of,” said SDSU Athletic Director John David Wicker. “A world class 35,000-capacity stadium designed to offer the amenities fans expect today. This is the most important sports and entertainment venue in San Diego since Petco Park and will be 365 days a year use for campus and our community.”
SDSU Mission Valley will create new educational experiences, foster research, advance technology, facilitate internships, and provide new educational opportunities. The outcome of this expansion will allow the university to gradually increase enrollment by up to 15,000 students.
“As a student, I am excited that this project will provide more opportunities for students to attend SDSU, achieve their goals of higher education, have access to affordable and convenient housing opportunities, and contribute to a more environmental sustainable community,” said Associated Students President Christian Holt.
Additional remarks were made both in-person or via video by California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees member Adam Day; San Diego City Council members Georgette Gómez and Barbara Bry; interim vice president for research, Hala Madanat; Aztec Stadium donor, Dianne Bashor; chair of The Campanile Foundation, Jerry Sanders; and alumni and long-time SDSU supporter, Nikki Clay.
The groundbreaking ceremony concluded with the participants taking part in a ceremonial first “shovel in the ground.”
While this was not the groundbreaking event originally envisioned, the community was able to join together online to honor this significant achievement.
Construction will begin in earnest by Clark Construction with grading and infrastructure work, the stadium, and the River Park. Clark Construction is expected to employ an estimated 3,500 to 5,550 workers through both the stadium and site development.
Newly launched FacebookInstagram, and Twitter channels will provide SDSU Mission Valley updates, information, and features. Please also continue visiting the SDSU Mission Valley website, as it is regularly updated.