This is the first of six posts that will comprise Six Memos for the Next Architecture. The six memos are titled Restraint, Simplicity, Solidity, Circumstance, Fluency, and Durability. "Renouncing things is less difficult than people believe: it's all a matter of getting started. Once you've succeeded in dispensing with something you thought essential, you realize … Continue reading Six Essays. #1: Restraint
In late 1985, the great writer and thinker Italo Calvino completed a collection of lectures he was scheduled to deliver at Harvard: the distinguished Charles Eliot Norton Lectures. He had five in hand, a subject for the sixth, and a title for the whole: Six Memos for the Next Millennium. On the threshold of his … Continue reading A Voice at the Window: a prologue
Pompey's Theater, 55 BCE Pompey's Theater was built nearly 2,100 years ago, and was the first masonry theater in Rome. When it was completed, it could seat about 20,000 (!) by various estimates, and it covered a almost all of our neighborhood. Our apartment was on stage left, very near to the stage's apron and … Continue reading On the Roman street Where We Live: Pompey’s Theater
"Modernism is clearly expressed by…. the segregation of activities and peoples, the specialization and isolation of professions and the systems they create, the (rapid) centralization of ever larger (capitalist) institutions (and developments), and the monopoly of certain technologies, most notably the car." Peter Calthorpe, The Next American Metropolis. Campo de' Fiori We have just … Continue reading Home from Rome: Surely surviving Modernity
“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.
Artes Perditae is Latin for lost arts. And now it is time for us to find, recall or unearth as many lost arts as we can. We are going to need them. Why? Because as Paul Gilding tells us in his book "The Great Disruption": "We've been borrowing from the future, and the debt has … Continue reading Artes Perditae
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.
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
Recently we got to talking about street scenes common when we were kids, and friend and neighbor Roger Brown told me about trucks like this: In my neighborhood just north of Chicago we never had a grocery truck, though I am sure it would have done well. Or would do well - more about that … Continue reading Word on the Street
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