Inside, Outside, Rooms, Memory.

“Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.” Zadie Smith Two memories emerged with startling clarity recently. Prompted by a television program, and for reasons which I do not understand, I was at once transported to Louis Kahn's Unitarian Church (1962), where an orchestra was performing on the screen and, … Continue reading Inside, Outside, Rooms, Memory.

Future Perfect. Simple.

I will be brief. For once. Last Month here I described various more or less (mostly less) attractive visions for a livable, durable and workable city of the future. Most of what I could find as I searched for places that looked like somewhere some of us might enjoy, might call lovely, might call home, … Continue reading Future Perfect. Simple.

Future Past, Future Perfect

In an attempt - perhaps futile - to find enthusiasm and hope for what lies ahead for us Earthlings, I have been re-examining all kinds of depictions of the 'Ideal City of the Future.' Images of dystopia hugely outnumber anything even moderately resembling a happier urban model for better days. This is a sad but … Continue reading Future Past, Future Perfect

A Time in the South: Charleston and Williamsburg

We have recently returned from a time in Charleston, SC and Williamsburg, VA. I wanted to offer a few thoughts about our travels and a few reactions to what we observed. I will begin in Charleston. Encountering any urban region in our time nearly always involves cars. This seems obvious: I note this as an … Continue reading A Time in the South: Charleston and Williamsburg

City in Front, City in Back

It is easy to imagine that the streets of our neighborhoods, the sidewalks, the parkways (optimistically called tree lawns here), and our front porches could and should become more active and more suitable for sitting, standing to discuss the news of the day with neighbors, walking and strolling and biking. We have talked here often … Continue reading City in Front, City in Back

The Quiet City, The Future City

"Maybe the future is bad. But there's a future beyond that, right?" Yuno Gasa. First there is the city that we have constructed. Next is the city of the present, a quiet city, a city of stillness, anxiety and waiting. As we are confining ourselves indoors, we ask ourselves about life in our present cities. … Continue reading The Quiet City, The Future City

“That’s not writing, that’s just typing.”

An ancient definition of architecture suggests that three terms best pertain: Commodity (convenient, functional, useful), Firmness (lasting, robust, sturdy, resilient) and Delight (attractive, beautiful, harmonious, graceful).  Though this characterization of the art of building has been with us since the 1st century BCE, it has proven to be extraordinarily durable. Its author, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio … Continue reading “That’s not writing, that’s just typing.”

Which “We” Are Really All In This Together?

Peshwar, Pakistan. Baltimore. Shibam, Yemen. Iftar in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Image by Ulet Ifansasti for the NYT. Hutong in Beijing. Image for the NYT. NYC. Image by Niko Kallianiotis. Manila Slums. Rochester, NY. Photo for the D&C. Lagos, Nigeria, image by Edward Burtynsky. Kabul, image by Jim Huylebroek for the NYT. Image by Niko Kallianiotis. Cape … Continue reading Which “We” Are Really All In This Together?

The Public Realm Reclaimed – At Last

Rochester's public realm: reclaimed during a pandemic. Image by Maria Furgiuele And Chicago's, in Ravenswood. Image by Jim Peters In the end, my years-long campaign to alter the presence of the automobile in our cities has always had two underlying and perhaps not very well hidden objectives. First has been a desire to reclaim and … Continue reading The Public Realm Reclaimed – At Last