One of the things that we consistently stress is the need to travel and study varied urban conditions. We believe by studying these conditions that we can inform our projects and extend our experience and specialization beyond our own work. Being able to take an objective look at anonymous works around the global provides us the opportunity to critically analyze these places and transform our analysis into useful lessons. Continue Reading
Part of being a true urbanist involves reading up on current and classic thinking in urban development and planning. As part of what we like to do in this space is to provide guidance for those interested in furthering their understanding of urban issues. To that end we are presenting a few more books (two new offerings and two classics) to look at as you increase your understanding of the urban environment. Continue Reading
This year we want to continue to bring you insights on urban conditions that we believe need to be highlighted. In addition, we will intersperse updates on some interesting and innovative initiatives we are involved in and projects we are working on. This year is setting up to be one where we believe key initiatives in some of our post-industrial urban areas will begin to transform these cities and help them reach their full potential. Continue Reading
There has been a lot written about Detroit lately. Some of it has been overly negative, some of it overly positive. Projects such as Detroit Works seek to rethink the land use patterns of the entire city while organizations such as D-Hive strive to connect energetic young entrepreneurs determined to make a difference in the city. This is the second in a series of posts exposing you to our understanding of the city from the inside (the first post here). Through these posts we hope to bring to you a critical look at the history, current conditions, future potential, and legacy of the post-industrial city.
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
Globalization and Its Effect on Urban Design- Part 2
This post examines the relationship between the city and the car. We will examine the historical influence that automobile ownership has had on urban form and how we can capitalize on the positives and reform the negatives. When the car was first introduced it was seen as the instrument to take us back to the country; a surefire death knell for cities. 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
As we ponder the fate of post-industrial cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Baltimore, it is important to enhance our knowledge base on urbanism. The more we know about the urban world around us, the better we will be at critically assessing new re-development proposals for the city. From “right-sizing” to farming, cities, like Detroit, that are at a critical point in their history, will be the test cases for the latest concepts. 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