Two items worth sharing:
7000 Series Metro Cars:
Over the weekend, WMATA released a few pictures and some videos (complete with a soundtrack that would make Michael Bay jealous) of the prototype of the 7000 series, currently under assembly in Japan.
The front end of the cars looks sharp – the black background with the white Metro logo is clean and easily read and identified at a distance. Compare against a rendering here.
It’s unfortunate that the side doesn’t share the same clean look. The industrial design of the car body is fine – echoing other transit vehicles (both old and new) with the corrugated steel. The contrast against the smooth finish at the window levels provides a similar effect to the current fleet’s brown stripe.
The car interiors will feature real-time strip maps showing the next stations on the line – early commentary has focused on misspellings.
While the old paint scheme (essentially just the brown stripe) might seem a little dated, the future cars feature this “disco ball” motif around the Metro logo, both inside and out. It’s an upgrade from the hideous “America’s Metro” debacle, but still feels like it will be dated quickly. The large penumbra around the M means that the disco ball on the exterior is centered on the entire carbody, rather than having the M aligned with the windows, as it is now with the brown stripe. The front end of the 7000 car shows the crisp M logo well – I’m not sure why they didn’t keep the same approach with the sides and resorted to this disco gimmick.
The importance of ports:
As each of those new Metro cars is manufactured, they’ll be shipped to the US for final assembly – likely arriving in some large port complex. Will Doig has an interesting article on the battles over waterfront land between maritime uses and real estate interests:
The problem (if you can call it that) is that this is happening just as the maritime industry is booming, thanks to an explosion of cheapo imports from Asia. It’s conventional wisdom that urban industries are dying, but shipping isn’t one of them. Even with the recession, the container trade has doubled since 2000, and 2012 is expected to be another record-breaking year. “I think it’s great to have a park, but you can put a park anywhere,” says Hughes. “There has to be someplace to do this.”
Are cities that place? After centuries of ports fueling urban growth, some people are starting to think: Maybe not anymore. “The scale of port activity requires much more space than it used to,” says Doucet, referring to the massive container ships that require not just deep-water ports, but dry-land acreage and fleets of trucks to unload their cargo. “It’s actually much more practical for ports to be located outside the city center.”
Doig’s article only touches on the changes to the landscapes that the current state of the art of shipping has brought upon our landscapes. The article reminded me of some excellent Mammoth posts on the subject (shipping and border control, the landscape of globalization, and the physical distribution network as a sampling), noting how the economic logic and physical requirements of this type of trade, combined with legal structures and other constraints has created entirely new landscapes.
The key point that Mr. Doucet makes in Doig’s article is that the geography of shipping today is very different from the old landscape of longshoremen working on Manhattan’s docks. Framing the battle over this real estate has something to do with the longevity and ‘stickiness’ of land uses – but often isn’t looking forward to the changing environment such infrastructure is operating in.