Why Bikes are Good for Brevard County

Walkable Brevard

By Wigdan Al-Guneid, June 2, 2014

For the first 100 years following its invention in the early 19th century the bicycle was a very popular way for people of all ages to exercise, explore, and commute.  After the introduction of cars in the U.S., however, bikes took a back seat.  Cars gave people a different kind of power and freedom, and quickly turned bikes into an item used strictly for leisure or exercise.



Since that time American cities and lifestyles were changed forever. Suburbs spread out to sprawl endlessly away from their core downtowns. People started spending more and more time behind the wheel, more than ever! This turned out to be a bad idea for human beings as we are social and active creatures by nature. Suburban isolation turned obesity and depression into epidemics in this country as it decreased social interaction with our neighbors and increased car dependence…

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History of Cocoa Beach ,on the brink!

People measure history of a place with the amount of artifacts it has. Recently I have been following the heart breaking news on the demolition of The Prentice in Chicago, and followed by the controversy of demolishing the folk museum in NYC I could not help but to reflect and think of similar examples in history and around the globe. I could not think of any project that I know that was a replacement to a landmark and was better than it’s previous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA prentice_tower_01

I am not talking here about little cookie cutter houses or strip malls around suburbs. (I would actually prefer if they rip them off out of the ground and through them to the dogs!) However, am talking about projects that enhance the public realm, and encourage you to talk about them and become an essential memoire of the city’s history.

Here in Central Florida, the glass bank building had been at the center of a big discussion between demolishing a building that historically hosted stars Like Frank Senatra and Bob Dylan in lavish parties celebrating each time a missile went up with the famous space coast astronauts. It was big part of people’s memories.  It had a restaurant on the rooftop of the building with view to the Banana River. Unfortunately, the building lacked maintenance and with years of continuous weathering and hurricanes demolishing became a reality the owners had to face. To add more darkness to that, sadly, its owner committed suicide, at his penthouse in the building itself, after continuous failure to change the decision. He called it home since the eighties of last century.


The current Situation of the Glass Bank

The current Situation of the Glass Bank

Demolishing has more disadvantages than benefits. First, it is a valuable piece of the history of Cocoa Beach city. A city that is relatively new and thrives because of tourism!

Second, the scale of the building and its architectural setting is very different to anything else around it. Drive around the beach towns in Central Florida and see for yourself, see how unique this building is.The architectural style belongs to the Brutalist Architecture movement that grew in between the 1950s-1970s. This building was built during the 1960s, which is a perfect witness for the change of times. Construction was with Cast in place concrete, which means the builders created specific molds just for that building to let those curves gracefully stretch upwards.

This building is one of few buildings in Cocoa Beach that is mixed use. This is a great potential for renovation and rehabilitation of the whole area around it.Brave developers and the people who care about Cocoa Beach history and economy should stand up together to bring this building back to its old glory.  Designers and Architects in Central Florida, our community should start a competition to gather best ideas to renovate the building. There is so much can be done to create a truly Sustainable and green architecture out of that big structure, besides it could be a facilitator to a bigger projects in Cocoa beach and Central Florida.

History is what fuels the future, how do we want the future to be?!


If you have a sketch, or drawing proposal that you would like to share on my blog please do so! Be in touch with me on my twitter @ WigdanGuneid or through the blog.Thanks!



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Atlantis Theme & Design…

What is that about hotels that we like so much?

Is it just the feeling that we are in a trip or that it is something about the design its self.

Hotels can be categorized into different types, some of them are geared more for business trips and conferences, some are for family entertainment and tourism, and some just simply to sleep-in for one night, and you notice that rooms are smaller and simpler.

However, some hotels are considered as destinations to go to, the Atlantis in the Caribbean is one of them.

This hotel, takes the essence of the Atlantis myth, the continent that sank thousands of Years ago, according to the old Greek methodology.

As you hop in the Atlantis, you sense the dramatic ambiance in the lobbies, entrances, and with the integration of landscape with the biggest aquarium in the world around the whole hotel.

This Themed architecture is blended very well with sophisticated materials, and elements of design, that brings richness to the overall environment and truly makes people’s experience enjoyable.

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Fast pass to Miami Architecture


There is no question that Miami is the art-deco capital of the world.

You like this style of architecture or you hate it, this style is part of the architectural identity of city of Miami, and so, many new buildings are adapting to that style too.

Miami is a relatively new city. It flourished back in the early 20th century when  rich business men from up-north started to visit to escape the long dull winter season, those , including Al Capone, the famous Chicagoan mafia leader, bought properties and encouraged businesses to come to Miami.

The architectural style in Miami is more adventurous let’s say , you will find the art-deco dominating in the city center, and the more further you go out, it starts to be more modern , and of course some buildings have an old Spanish feel to them too due to the presence of a big latin american community out there.





Walking around in town at night is a wonderful experience,   the buildings are all dressed with colorful lights, and what looks cheesy and ordinary in the morning looks glamorous and fancy at night.



The city looks very different at night!

The city looks very different at night!


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Highline photographic details-NYC

Something about cities likeNYC makes you in touch with the energetic part of yourself, it feels like you are on a constant thirst for more things to see, do, and eat!

Once I stepped into the city that doesn’t sleep, there absolutely no time to get tired. My trip was architecturally intense. Although the weather was very cold, I still enjoyed every single bit of it. Thanks to Virginia Duran’s NYC’s architectural map that I uploaded from her blog. It really helped to make the best of my short visit as it was easy to upload it into my phone through Google map, and find out the distances between the must see buildings in most of the neighborhoods.

There is so much to see in NY; however, being an IIT graduate, a school famous for Mies’s’s architecture’s college; architectural details are a big deal of the work/learn process; I think I became a detail obsessed!

With that being said, my trip to the Highline Project, done by James Corner Field Operations was mostly documenting all of that gorgeous wood furniture, landscape integration with flooring. The project was originally an old train rail that was re-designed to become a park. Many parts of the older rails still appear in the garden to remind us of its history, and was integrated with the furniture and flooring. It’s truly an Industrial garden.

The Highline project is one of my favorite urban design and landscape projects. It is a popular example of the urban landscape movement(New Urbanism), where landscape becomes an integral part of urban development, and not just “decoration”. The rehabilitation of the train rail running in Chelsea neighborhood had immensely improved the area. Many real estate/commercial development were encouraged to move there, including the pretty Jean Nouvel building, and Frank Gehry Office building, right across of this elevated garden.

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Urban furniture in its best! the combination of steel and wood and its integration with the garden is beautiful
Urban furniture in its best! the combination of steel and wood and its integration with the garden is beautiful
Old train's rail was re-used and integrated with its surrounding, creating sort of an "Industrial garden"

Old train’s rail was re-used and integrated with its surrounding, creating sort of an “Industrial garden”



What I love about this are the sliding wheels that enables the chairs to move.This is a smart use of the older train rails

What I love about this are the sliding wheels that enables the chairs to move.This is a smart use of the older train rails

Engraved rustic copper tiles

Engraved rustic copper tiles

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Animation for Yoga Center in Florida-My design

This project was part of my studio work while a student at IIT. The project is for a Yoga Center with Hotel Facilities , Meditation rooms, Restaurant,and an administration. In my design I was trying to make the maximum use of site location to make it more sustainable .


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Diversity is the answer

The “brain drain”, an expression you will hear over and over in discussions related to the economy and job market here in the Space Coast, for the ones who didn’t hear it yet , it refers to the tech professionals and engineers who left(and still leaving )right after the NASA shuttle program stopped. While there are many discussions on moving private companies to come to the space coast, however “brain gain” for other professions is still not part of the discussion.

Bringing more companies to the area is definitely a good idea, adding more of the same thing might not. After all, the reason of why Brevard County had been hit so bad is that almost 10000 employee had been laid off from NASA alone.   Diversity is crucial in bringing different professions into play to help the economy of a place and creates several secondary and tertiary industries besides it. This accordingly makes a diverse area with thriving businesses.   Improving the area’s urban fabric is a solution to encourage new and diverse industries to emerge in the Space Coast,and is a great start to make the area more valuable for entrepreneurs and business men.

Transportation and Culture need to be applied as main economical drivers as they could bring many jobs from different professions to the area. Small businesses could essentially rely on them, and most importantly, bringing them to an area full of technology experts will create fertile soil for innovative startups.

The Urban fabric in the Space Coast is very car-driven, except of some pocket areas such as with the art district in Melbourne, old town of Melbourne, and Downtown of Cocoa Beach. You can’t get there without driving quite a distance too. Short distance commute and  accessible transportation is one of the reasons behind growing small businesses as it brings power to low income people and enables them to go far places for jobs. Businesses flourish by becoming more accessible for people from further places as well. Mass transportation doesn’t always have to be remembered as the crowded buses with 20 mints wait under the sun. It could be more than that. Think of Water taxis, and light rail system connecting the space coast together into one big network of transportation.

Moreover, culture is an important aspect of a city’s attractiveness. Its heritage and identity is an essential part of what makes it a special place.  Space Coast can create a niche for itself among other competitive cities, like Dallas for example ( where they also enjoy low taxes, warm weather, and no state tax) with their space exploring heritage, and even embrace climate extremes such as having Hurricane museum, or a hurricane festival?

Inventing events, and festivals on the national level, and make them unique to the area, will successfully promote it for entrepreneurs and young population that finds it appealing to live in a modern area that responds to their aspirations.

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The future of the urban Space Coast area in Florida

It had always puzzled me upon my move to Melbourne, Florida, from Chicago why places grow and flourish to become metropolitan areas and others are destined to stay small if not shrink although they have all the reasons to compete and achieve greatness. I know it might not be fair to compare both, the Space Coast and Chicago due to the major differences between both in population and context. However, I am trying here to make a point, that every place can be great if developments in the bigger scale of the city were achieved.


Space Coast, in my opinion has the potential to be a great place to live and work in, yet it still hasn’t got its full potential. Its location between Orlando and Miami, space program heritage, its touristy qualities, and definitely being a tech corridor of the country and ranked the fourth tech center in the country by Forbes magazine can definitely change its destiny from famously being a retiree destination, and a “Nasa” town alone to be a metropolitan and diverse area.


As we live in a world that is continually urbanizing, it is expected by 2030 that 6 out of 10 people will be living within urban metropolitan areas. Here comes the crucial question, of what will be the future of space coast? And how do its people envision it growing to be like? With growing interest of people into urban areas and all amenities they provide, Space Coast have only one of two options, either to grow and become a metropolis, taking the advantage of what it already have and build on it, or to give its back to urbanization and just stay a retiree haven, risking whatever industries we have here leaving somewhere else. With Cloud technology and the internet, many tech entrepreneurs prefer to live near the bigger cosmopolitan urban areas such as Silicon Valley, Austin, and NYC,Chicago,etc.. for their livability qualities. It is important that Space coast residents realize how decisions made in the city would affect its growth in the next thirty to fifty years from now.

Transportation &Sprawling

Cities have been the centers of population since the beginning of urbanization. Communities flourish and businesses thrive when the right environments are established for them to enhance people’s ability to explore and walk around freely with minimum need of transportation. This could be done in many ways, either by shortening the distance between commercial and residential areas, or by creating a transit system that liberates people from cars and saves them money for gas.

In the case of Central Florida, there is lack of both, the short walking commute distances, and the transit system. This resulted into sprawling into new built areas, while the relatively “older” parts of the cities are still not fully occupied, which made cars an essential item for living comfortably. While cars are essential in all American cities, Central Florida has 20.9% of its population older than 65 years old, and 16.2% are younger than 16 .Assuming that the senior demographics are stable all year around, this unique demographics sets a bigger pressure on the rest who can safely drive to provide the means of transportation to their families, while enabling seniors to live comfortably and dependently as well. In an area of almost 536,357people only, there is no need for urban population to be spread out.

By fully utilizing vacant areas, and allowing for construction of higher buildings to increase the density in established areas, Central Florida could turn itself into a collection of pioneer cities that responds to the demands of the new century challenges where gas prices will only get higher, and become more energy efficient and sustainable. Using new means of transportation can be a success, and in fact it will increase the value of real estate, as it will enable retail to be in a walking distance from transit systems and residential areas. Redevelopment of the built areas and creating reasonable walking/biking distances between them will encourage people to use other means of transportation.

Moreover, its location between Orlando, and Miami, makes it more strategic to be closely connected to them. If we looked back to the history of transportation in the Midwest, it played a big role in people’s lives, moving merchandise and agricultural goods, which revitalized all the rural areas around Chicago.

The growth of a bigger network of transit system will enable creating more businesses, and jobs, and will change the face of Space Coast. Being creative in creating unique transportation is not only a tool of commute, but also a tool to encourage activity, tourism, and construction.

Becoming connected has become more important than ever, in a world of limited resources, and increasing population, thinking of sustainable transportation and car alternatives will create jobs, decrease pollution, and help the Space Coast to become a central addition to the metropolitan area of Florida.



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Innovations in Traditional Masonary Industry


Mud is considered as one of the oldest materials used for construction, it is popular for many reasons; such as it’s low cost, low- maintenance, availability, and does not need highly skilled labors to use it. 30% of the world’s population is using mud for construction. Mud is used intensively in most of the underdeveloped countries, yet there have not been enough innovations on it to reach its full potential. Coming myself from a country that is famous with mud housing towers, Yemen, I recognize how important to improve this material to help underdeveloped countries start producing bigger scale projects and revolve the wheel of development.

This paper explores the innovations done to improve the compressive strength of the mud/clay brick and the potential emergence of a secondary and tertiary industries that rely on recycling wastes coming from Mining and agricultural industries to create building materials. What is available in market, concentrating on types of additives, and their influence on the brick.



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Chicago Urban Migration-Wigdan Al-Guneid,Sakshi Aggarwal

Chicago Urban Migration-Wigdan Al-Guneid,Sakshi Aggarwal.

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