News Highlights of the Week: September 8 – September 14, 2007

September 14, 2007

by James Murdock

Editor’s note: You may read the news digest below or listen to it, plus other news headlines from, as a podcast by clicking this link.

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“From pariah state to Côte d’Azur,” is how The Times of London, in a September 11 article, described Libya’s newly unveiled $3 billion plan to develop 180 miles of its northeast coastline into an ecologically sensitive tourist hotspot. The Guardian, preferring on September 12 to employ the correct color rather than metaphor, noted that “green is big in Libya.” The massive scheme will cover a 2,000-square-mile area of the country’s Green Mountain region and will include the creation of a new national park, construction of luxury hotels and ecotourism resorts, and protecting ancient Roman ruins. Although specific details about the project have yet to be determined, the Guardian added, “leading the whole plan is Britain’s ubiquitous architectural troubleshooter, Norman Foster.”

Libya is far from alone in spending large sums on ecologically minded development. Malaysians heard from Asymptote’s Hani Rashid this week about his designs for Penang Global City Centre, a $7 billion carbon-free city to be built on the 260-acre site of former racetrack on the island of Penang, The Star reported September 11. The project is anticipated to help the island’s economy, according to a September 13 article in the New Straits Times, and could take up to 15 years to be finished. But not everyone is looking forward to it. The Inter Press Service reported September 12 that locals and environmentalists are upset because despite four years of behind-the-scenes planning, their input was not sought until “the eleventh hour.” They’re also concerned about the impact of the development’s anticipated 33 towers, each rising more than 40 stories.

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Although board members of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority are not scheduled to vote until next week on three proposals for a 40-acre transit hub and skyscraper in downtown San Francisco’s South of Market district, a jury advising the board came out in favor of the scheme by architect Pelli Clarke Pelli and developer Hines. The jury deemed this proposal superior “on all counts—aesthetics and functionality as well as economics,” the San Francisco Chronicle wrote on September 10, adding that Hines is offering a whopping $200 million more for the development rights than its rivals. Placing second was the scheme by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Forest City, which offered $145 million, and third was Skidmore Owings & Merrill / Rockefeller Development Group, offering $118 million. While the Transbay board pledged to value public input—which, as RECORD reported last month, has been substantial—the Chronicle noted that “the jury’s emphatic endorsement of the Hines-Pelli team suggests that it will be a hard choice to overturn.”

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