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.”
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….
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
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
I checked in to another neighborhood in my imagined city, and found some things that are a bit disturbing. I wonder how this happened....
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
My brother Doug and I got into a discussion of blocks and alleys and urbanism on this Thanksgiving Day. He writes quite wonderfully about his neighborhood in Portland, Oregon: Alameda. You can find his work here: http://www.alamedahistory.org. He said: "'I am also working on something about alleys here in northeast Portland. The earlier neighborhoods … Continue reading A Short, or Even a Long History of Alleys
With as little commentary as possible, here are two views of our city. First, a view from the 1950s or 1960s. Downtown Rochester. Main Street at the bottom of the image, the Genesee River, and Front and Water Streets on either side of the waterfront, running north and south. And the same view in 2016. … Continue reading Front Street – before and after
I made a presentation the other day entitled "Teachable Cities." I looked at 10 cities from around the world that had lessons for us as we shape our own urban places, lessons about water and waterfronts, about cars and traffic, about alternate forms of urban mobility, and about constructing or reconstructing a public realm meant for us … Continue reading The Loss of the Local
"Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real." Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses As the city disappears around us, it is easy to feel lost. This is what I saw today, above, on one of my very regular routes. This is what that place used to look like. … Continue reading The City Disappears