Ashmont Trolley (My Ninjas, Please)

[image: a ninja awaiting the Red Line]

Welcome to Ashmont, the Southern end of Boston’s Red Line. Currently under renovations, they’re finally starting to to wrap it up and finish the project – something I hope to bring you some info on in the near future. Today, however, I’d like to focus on the ridiculousness that is the ‘high speed trolley’ that runs from Ashmont to Mattapan. Now you need to understand – I would rather not talk trash. In fact I look forward to the station itself being finished, so I can snap a few photos and give readers a general rundown of a project which I think has done a lot to revitalize the entire Ashmont / Peabody Square area. But for right now, follow me on this journey of foolishness.

For those of you who don’t know, the ‘high speed trolley’ running from Ashmont  [located in Dorchester] to Mattapan Square is an extension of the MBTA’s Red Line – which, off the top of my head, serves 7 stops [not including Ashmont itself]. The trolley is quite popular, as it connects both Mattapan and Milton [a suburb to Boston’s South] with the Red Line – the train downtown is always busy in the mornings & evenings with additional commuters from the trolley. So when Ashmont was slated for renovations & redevelopment, the trolley line was included in these plans – and was actually the first thing to get a makeover. The stops were cleaned-up, some ‘antique’ trolleys were brought back into service, and the trolley stop and turnaround at Ashmont were completely redesigned and rebuilt. Everything looked fine [not great, but fine], and things seemed to be moving along at a pace that we’ve all come to expect with a government project.

And then the noise started.

[image: the T wasting my money]

Yeah, I’m talking literal ‘noise’ – as in ear splitting shrieks of pain coming from the tracks. Loud enough to be kind of physically uncomfortable when you’re on the trolley. Loud enough that I can here the trolley from my apartment – which is something like 1/3 of a mile away – but not the train [I mean, I can hear both at times – but mostly I here the shrill echo of the trolley]. The noise had been measured at over 110 decibels at the station, and over 100 decibels at nearby homes.

The problem? The track at the turnaround [seen above] has a diameter that is too tight – trolley is at an awkward angle while going around, causing more friction between wheel and track, blah blah blah – super loud noise ensues. Did someone let the intern design this portion of the track? What the hell happened here?

Well obviously whoever is responsible is in the wind – since in the Bean you can literally build something that kills someone and skate. As blaming someone won’t help anyway, a solution is worked out – after two different systems involving automated greasing of some sort fail, the T falls back on insulated blankets and sprinklers that keep the tracks/wheels wet. SPRINKLERS AND BLANKETS. This is a project coming in just under $50 million dollars [maybe more?], and the solution is the aesthetically-depressing / intelligence-insulting blanket-covered water-drenched fence seen above.

My ninjas, please.

Seriously, I don’t even have a point that I’m moving towards here – I just want everyone reading AMNP to know about the ridiculousness going on in Dorchester, and to understand what kind of crap karma you generate when your design isn’t up to snuff. Imagine owning a home where every 15 minutes or so all day long you have to deal with 110+ decibels of fingernails on a chalkboard – all because someone either cut corners or had their trig confused.

Consider this when discussing fast-tracked infrastructure projects to boost the economy. Not because we shouldn’t support them, but because they need to be watched carefully.

My favorite part of this story? A State Senator suggested we put in a Disney-style monorail a ‘middle ground’ type solution. A FECKIN’ MONORAIL!

::note: I promise that I have a cheery, positive post on Ashmont’s redevelopment as a whole in the works – I’m just waiting for them to complete the finish work::

Posted: August 2nd, 2010
at 11:09pm

Tagged with , , , , ,

Categories: architecture,my ninja, please,transit,design,criticism

Comments: 2 comments

I Ain’t Dead Yet…

April 12th… that was my last post here at AMNP, a fact that I’m not particularly proud of. I really wish I could say I had a good reason – like I had been on retreat in the woods, meditating and honing my ninja & architectural skills – but that’s not the case. Unfortunately, I’ve just been lazy [in terms of AMNP, anyways]. Oddly enough, when you’re out of work for a prolonged time getting back to the grind leaves you feeling much busier than you had before the layoff – or at least that’s what happened in my case. Having recently received some comments & emails asking what exactly the deal is, I’ve decided to get my act together.

Point is – AMNP ain’t dead yet, #*%$#@!!

Without going too far down the ‘what is a blog’s purpose’ rabbit hole [in this post], I’ve found myself wondering what function AMNP actually plays in the wider architectural interwebs. I feel as if since this site was founded (end of 2006) the architecture blogosphere has exploded in size, only to shrink back down a bit as some of the larger sites have settled in and mastered a model of multiple posts a day that seemed hard to compete with. I was thinking about this fact, wondering why I’d bother continuing AMNP when someone like Arch Daily rocks 10 articles a day – only to stop, slap myself, and realize that I was a ninja, dammit [the HNIC also recently suggested I was being a b!tch, which was motivational].

I’m not sure exactly where I’ll take the site from here, but I’ll feel it out – and I’m pretty confident you’ll let me know if I’m doing it wrong. Only thing I’m sure of is that architecture and blogs need ninjas, and if Archi-Ninja can’t pick up the slack while I’m on hiatus then I need to make a comeback [yes, Linda, I just called you out like that].

Sorry, but this self-indulgent post is all you’re getting for today. We’ll be back with the realness tomorrow, my ninjas.


~ your friendly neighborhood orangemenace

Posted: August 1st, 2010
at 11:35pm

Tagged with , ,

Categories: MNP

Comments: 3 comments

Ninjas on the ‘Net

[US Population and Growth Trends, via]

Here’s a question for those of you readers fortunate enough to be employed: are you more or less busy than you were before the economy fell apart? By which I mean – after your firm shed employees, how much slack did you have to pick up? I haven’t personally encountered much more workload since returning to work, but I know others who are expected to do the same work as before the crash, in the same timeframe, with half [at best] the staff. For starters, these aren’t the greatest of working conditions – even longer days, probably a pay cut, basically more responsibility with no benefits – but more importantly, how will this affect the value of our profession’s work in the future? I’d be interested to know how / if previous economic downturns have affected clients [developers in particular] willingness to pay for services. I know I’ve brought this up before, in terms of the future affect of working for free – but what I’m wondering now is if clients will pay a larger staff for what a smaller team is producing during the economic slump.

Per usual – on to the links. If you come across something on the interwebs that you think should appear on AMNP – as a post, as part of Ninjas on the ‘Net, or as a quick sidebar link – drop me an email at – or hit me up on Twitter(

– UN meets on Haiti, doesn’t bring in citizen input? [Toronto Star]

– housing Haitians in used tires? (my ninjas, please) [Treehugger]

– what parts of the US survived the housing bubble? [WSJ]

– Geithner promises more infrastructure money [WSJ]

– what PBS left out of Pei documentary [Washington Post]

– Gehry’s Brain Health center [Las Vegas Sun]

– your unpaid internship is probably illegal [NY Times]

- extracts of local distance (wicked cool) [Archidose]

– Shannon Rankin manipulates maps [BLDGBLOG]

– why Ouroussoff isn’t good enough [design observer]

- construction halted on Toyo Ito’s Relaxation Park [design boom]

– 9 year old tower to be demolished [the Seattle Times]

- taking back Detroit [Time]

– ‘bloated’ Eisenhower memorial? [Washington Post]

– and oh yeah, I’m in love with Heatherwick’s UK pavilion

Posted: April 12th, 2010
at 10:51pm

Categories: Ninjas on the 'net

Comments: 3 comments

Retrofitting Suburbia


Ellen Dunham-Jones takes you through retrofitted suburbia, transforming dead malls into buzzing downtown centers.


Posted: March 28th, 2010
at 8:39pm

Tagged with , , , ,

Categories: architecture,green arch,housing,urban/master planning,videos

Comments: No comments

2010 Pritzker Winner: SANAA

The 2010 Pritzker Laureate has been named – with this year’s prestigious architecture award going to Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the Japanese duo that form SANAA.

Now I’d like ask you readers a question that was posed to me earlier today: should they have ‘won’? Arch Daily conducted a reader poll, ad SANAA came in second to Steven Holl – so maybe this choice reflects the popularity of SANAA. But check out the list of previous laureates and then consider some names that are missing – Holl, Chipperfield, Toyo Ito… I’m not saying that I feel either way about it, I simply thought it was an interesting question when I heard it earlier today.

Drop a comment and let me know what you think.

Posted: March 28th, 2010
at 7:57pm

Categories: architecture,competitions,starchitects

Comments: 4 comments

Ninjas on the ‘Net

[image: % of US land devoted to corn (gold), wheat (green), soybeans (pink), cotton (blue), hay (yellow), and fruits/nuts/veggies (red) – via]

Alright, so first thing first – working full time again is exhausting. No joke. Not so much the work itself, but the trying to do any of the things I was used to doing during the day AND working? Damn. I don’t know how I did it before. So please excuse AMNP for being even less attended-to than usual.

That said, I have a totally unrelated rant this week. Let’s begin with a question: would you post a fake job opening, say on Craigslist, for a job that you yourself would normally apply – as a means to get your hands on your “competitions'” resumes and portfolio samples? Because this guy here suggests that he might, and that you might think about it if you’re jobless. I mean, wow. My ninja, feckin’ PLEASE. For starters, you are most definitely not a ninja – ninjas, like most architects actually, are far too secure with themselves to fall to these kinds of immoral depths. Consider this: if this clown actually did post a fake job – and people responded – any serious respondents would have crafted a specific letter, resume, etc etc to meet the listed needs/demands. But not only was their time wasted, but this is a serious breach of assumed trust.

Long story short – dude, you’re a dick for even suggesting this, AND I hope that anyone who tries this BS gets accosted by an angry applicant with a T-square.

Lastly, if you come across something on the interwebs that you think should appear on AMNP – as a post, as part of Ninjas on the ‘Net, or as a quick sidebar link – drop me an email at – or hit me up on Twitter( Now on to the linkage.

–  developers want more from the government for, well, developing? [Washington Post]

– sprawl is big government [The American Conservative]

– Israel announces new West Bank settlements while Biden visits (why not just spit in his face?) [NY Times]

burning out? don’t let CAD keep you down []

– mapping Toronto’s sound ecology [FastCompany]

– turn a quarter of Detroit into semi-rural farms? [boingboing]

– Kahn’s Trenton bath house gets a face lift [Architects’ Newspaper]

– incredible aerial photography by David Maisel [loud dreams]

– mini 56 Leonard Street [Archidose]

– super-creepy ‘empty Paris‘ [BLDGBLOG]

– saving Yamasaki’s legacy [The Atlantic]

Posted: March 15th, 2010
at 11:36pm

Categories: Ninjas on the 'net

Comments: 2 comments

George Brown College Waterfront Campus

“There have been a lot of condos built on the lake shore over the past couple of decades, but this may be the first purpose-built facility coming to Toronto’s waterfront at which citizens will be able to (inexpensively) get their teeth cleaned”.

George Brown College in Toronto has commisioned  Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects in collaboration with Stantec Architecture to design its new Urban Health Sciences Campus – aiming for LEED Gold on the waterfront building.

I was initially drawn to the renderings – which are sick, by the way – but the building seems to hold a lot of potential. Picking up on what could be considered a typical wharf building typology, the campus extends in a linear fashion towards Lake Ontario – connecting to a new waterfront park. A ‘public’ podium adresses the waterfront while ‘Health Sciences’ programs occupy the upper levels and the street-side volume, allowing the building to function both as a learning environment and a social hub.

The varying programs – namely the public VS private – are connected via a vertical circulation space that is meant to both connect the ground-plane to the building’s public green roofs, while also providing informal interior spaces for cross-discipline interaction between students, faculty, and visitors. See the section below.

I’d be really interest to see how the connection under the street to the second building is made – if it somehow captures the light and open qualities shown in these renderings, or if its a tunnel…

.:images+info->via Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects

Posted: March 11th, 2010
at 4:51am

Tagged with , ,

Categories: architecture

Comments: 5 comments

Ninja Arithmetic LXVII.5

Our ninja Matt K. – who has submitted a number of Ninja Arithmetic equations – sent me this image last week with the following explanation:

So, I had this idea for the Mercedes Benz building by UN Studio to be a Ninja Arithmetic submission after I saw this [YouTube video embedded below].

However, it turned out more like the image attached, so feel free to use that or make your own off the concept.

It begs the question: if building natural disasters into buildings is the next stage of excess-itecture, what’s next? Will Gehry have artificial tsunamis? Will Zaha build an earthquake simulator?


I think that stands on its own as a post. If any of your architectural musings seem interesting, don’t hesitate to drop me an email at

Posted: March 10th, 2010
at 6:17am

Categories: architecture,my ninja, please,videos,ninja arithmetic

Comments: No comments

reNEWable Times Square

To all our NYC ninjas:

As we’ve all heard, its been decided that the areas on Broadway from 47th to 42nd that were made pedestrian plazas will be permanently converted from streets to public space. While plans are being made for how this should be done, the city is looking for local artists/architects/designers/whoever to submit proposals for temporary surface treatments for all 5 plazas and ancillary spaces.

The final selected design shall be translated into a surface treatment by a contractor selected by the New York City Department of Transportation. The selected artist shall be awarded a design fee in the amount of $15,000 to be funded by the Mayor’s Fund.

The design is expected to be installed by mid-July. The temporary treatment will remain in place for approximately eight months and will be monitored and maintained by the Times Square Alliance. The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, April 16, 2010. Questions and answers will be posted to Details on how to submit questions are contained in the RFP.

The design competition is project of New York DOT in partnership with the Times Square Alliance.  As Business Improvement District for Times Square and Broadway Theater District, the Alliance has conducted a number of studies regarding the pedestrian spaces of Times Square and produces public art projects and events.  Information on these activities is available at

Good luck people – AMNP will post the winners when they’re announced.

.:reNEWable Times Square->

Posted: March 10th, 2010
at 5:00am

Tagged with , , ,

Categories: architecture,urban/master planning,installation,competitions,design

Comments: 1 comment

High Houses

I noticed these images by Lebbeus Woods of his proposed High Houses popping up in a couple places on the interwebs yesterday and figured ‘why not on AMNP, too’. I realize many of you are probably familiar with the project – but I thought some eye candy would hold the site down for the day until I could get some new posts up. Enjoy.

The High Houses are proposed as part of the reconstruction of Sarajevo after the siege of the city that lasted from 1992 though late 1995. Their site is the badly damaged “old tobacco factory” in the Marijn dvor section near the city center.

The concept of the project is simple. The houses rise up high into the airspace once occupied by falling mortar and artillery shells fired by the city’s besiegers in the surrounding mountains. By occupying the airspace, the High Houses reclaim it for the people of the city. Balancing on scavenged steel beams welded end-to-end, they are spaces of a new beginning for Sarajevo, one that challenges—in physical terms—the city’s past and present, aiming at a future uniquely Sarajevan. Stabilized by steel cables anchored to the site, the houses, poised like catapults, fulfill the paradoxical desire to fly and at the same time be rooted in their place of origin.

These houses are not for everyone. Indeed, probably only a few could master their challenges. Yet each mastery would manifest a spirit of courage and inventive skill in the name of all who must reinvent a city transformed by destruction.

.:via->Lebbeus Woods

Posted: March 9th, 2010
at 5:23am

Tagged with , ,

Categories: architecture,housing,towering pagodas,illustration

Comments: 2 comments