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.”
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?
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
As I have endlessly noted here, our city of Rochester adopted the scorched earth policy for automobility at an early moment: streetcars removed in 1941, subway demolished in 1956, expressways as our emerald necklace in the 1950s, a mid-century Inner Loop that strangled our central city, demolition of everything possible downtown in favor of parking, … Continue reading Rearranging the Grid
Where do I walk? Why do I have to walk in the aisles with the cars? Why are there so few trees? What was here before? I can’t find my car. Why did this place flood? Seems like a long walk to the store. Do you think it’s safe at night? Doesn’t anyone park here … Continue reading Wish You Were Here?
Recently I have found myself considering an unusual and interesting housing type, one which must exist in other places but has a special character and presence here in Rochester. Here is an example: This is a double house, or duplex house. It looks like a large single-family home, but it is actually two units. We … Continue reading Make Mine a Double
We are all now well schooled in the notion that Portland, Oregon is the model of current 21st century urbanism in America. Portland, at sunrise. It is a city known for its excellent transportation infrastructure, its many walkable neighborhoods, its tree lined streets, great parks, lovely historic resources, and the liberal and open culture that … Continue reading Portland: Can there be a detour ahead?
I have just finished reading Dan Albert’s wonderful history of the car, entitled “Are We There Yet: The American Automobile Past, Present, and Driverless.” I recommend that you spend some time with this excellent work of social, technological and cultural history. As I read, I was struck by two significant facts. First: car makers make … Continue reading We Aren’t There Yet
Here in our city, we live on a street that is a prime conduit for zooming rush-hour traffic attempting to avoid congestion. The phenomenon is called rat running, and we have some pretty fast rats. We yell at the drivers, we write letters to the City, we try to organize our neighbors, but the street … Continue reading Rat Running, City Streets and the Urban Grid
Xi'an, China. Most of us live inside the gravitational pull of cities. Today, 54 percent of the world’s population resides in urban areas. In 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population is projected to be urban. Presently, the most urbanized regions include Northern … Continue reading A Better Life in the City – the Endless Search for Urban Excellence