"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
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
Why did we decide to sacrifice our cities for the sake of cars?
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
"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
Recently I discovered the existence of a new kind of streetcar - the Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit tram, which has been dubbed ART. The system was developed in China and is trackless - it operates on existing streets (!!). The system has a cost of about one tenth (!!!) of railbound streetcars and it can … Continue reading Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch
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….