“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.
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
“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.”
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
Our Grid of Streets, Blocks, and Buildings, And at Last, No Cars….
First, a Prologue. We here at A Town Square are in a CDC quarantine: we had spent time in the wonderful cities of Madrid and Valencia, left at the last possible moment as the Spanish nation locked itself down, and arrived in the US to be told that we would be spending a couple of … Continue reading Our Grid of Streets, Blocks, and Buildings, And at Last, No Cars….
Make Mine a Double
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
A Better Life in the City – the Endless Search for Urban Excellence
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
With the City in Mind
I was going to say that most of us carry a city around in our heads - a city we imagine, filled with places that we conjure, we seek, we occupy in our reveries. But maybe most of us don't. Maybe it's just me. In any event, whether you do or you don't, I do, … Continue reading With the City in Mind
Present City, Future City: India
In the Old City, Ahmedabad. In February and March we spent a month visiting seven cities across India, from south to north, from west to east. Our time there was completely exceptional: invaluable, surprising, educational, revealing, depressing, infuriating, eye-opening and more. I continue to reflect on those days, and it has taken me until now … Continue reading Present City, Future City: India
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
I'll make this short. For years now, the City and Paetec, a major corporation here, have been wrangling with each other. Paetec has wanted to build a new headquarters, and the City has wanted to woo Paetec downtown, to the site of a former enclosed, and failed, mall called Midtown Plaza (worth much further discussion, but I am … Continue reading The Good, the Bad, the Ugly