The study of urban spaces has a long established history. Urban cultural critic, Louis Mumford studied spaces as they related to the function of urban life. Renowned urban researcher William Whyte studied the way the design of spaces affected human behavior. Whyte’s approach harkened back to the days of the environmental design movement, typified by the late 60s/ early 70s teachings at such schools as the University of California Berkley and the University of Michigan. Continue Reading
Must we shop? Our capitalistic society is based on consumption. When the economy gets tough we are given tax breaks and told to “go out and spend” to revitalize the economy. Shouldn’t we be saving? Continue Reading
Alternative Approaches to the Working City
This past week I had an opportunity to visit one of the most pleasant small towns in North America, Mackinac Island, where I participated in the annual conference for the Michigan Municipal League. Even though I have traveled to the Island many times, during this visit I took specific notice of how an auto-free Mackinac functions and how it is considerably different than the majority of places on the continent. Continue Reading
In order for our post-industrial cities to restore their past glories they must embrace their existing conditions. Rather than envying what other cities may have they must become Cities of Opportunity.
The City of Opportunity embraces adaptive reuse and rethinking of place and space as a primary “organizing” theme. Urban areas are uniquely equipped to provide this type of experience because of the concentration of the built “infrastructure” of buildings, open space, and landmarks, which create an environment of intense energy. Detroit needs to look at itself in respect to these new realities. Detroit needs to capitalize on its perceived weaknesses as well as its inherent strengths. Continue Reading
Or: How I Learned to Love the One Story Building
What to do about our foundering commercial thoroughfares?
As the new economy takes shape and we wonder about the future form of our city, architects and urban designers accustomed to tackling large-scaled, bank-financed, building projects will be faced with repairing the urban environment with smaller structures and adaptive reuse projects. The reality of bank lending will tend to favor single function buildings as safer bets, at least in the short term. The availability of financing will have a profound effect on the shaping of our urban environment.