Air pump for bikes.
An urban Home Deput.
Cambie and Broadway
Air pump for bikes.
An urban Home Deput.
Cambie and Broadway
In a Wednesday July 4, 2012 photo, Fair St. Louis air show enthusiasts huddle under the shadow of the Gateway Arch. With temperatures continuing in the triple digits, the moving shadow offered a respite to searing summer heat.
ROBERT COHEN / St. Louis Post-Dispatch
People knew that it was hot — and without having to be told — that it would be cooler in the shade.
Do you receive a Patagonia catalog once per month (on average)?
The catalogs are luscious eye candy, the models, the landscapes and even the clothes. And they get me going to check for airline tickets to exotic places, to the gym to try to look sleek and to wonder if I could throw out some old clothes so I could buy new ones. Yes, the Patagonia catalogs work.
But I do need one every moth? As I noted in "Claim less and deliver more" — is Patagonia doing that? I love Patagonia stuff — it's part of my own bucket-list-fantasy.
I just wrote a post about Temple Grandin as urban designer? and I probably should modify my suggestion. Grandin might well be an urban designer but — with obvious reference to her work — perhaps her significance is as a transportation planner with particular emphasis on traffic-calming.
If Temple Grandin has design insights about cattle animals, she might very well have design insights about human animals.
Ad, of course, copyright by Patagonia.
I love Patagonia products and have many of its items. (Though I haven't bought as many in the past few years because the colors are yucky.) Still, Patagonia is top-notch and I have never been sorry about buying anything.
BUT...I noticed something: a huge number of snail mail, paper catalogs. They are lovely and arousing for any materialist such as moi.
I've been keeping track of them for the past almost-a-year and steady as a rock, I get one every month, on average.
See next post.
As to banning supersized sodas, my fellow capitalist Mayor Bloomberg may not make everyone happy. (e.g. Bloomberg Soda Ban Wins Few Fans, But Fat Tax May Fare Better).
And judging from a convenience store I found in Cle Elum, Washington, a lot of people don't care either about diabetes or a capitalist pricing system:
Being a market-oriented shopper of course I bought the 32 oz which went along well with the gourmet, spicy "WOWsabi Trail Mix."
Why the same price for twice as much product? I have no idea. The merchant saw me take photos — I was laughing aloud — and we chatted a moment. He said that "It makes everyone happy: kids, parents, me." I didn't say anything about Mayor Bloomberg and public health officials.
The only thing I can figure about the pricing is either:
• the cost of the materials for either size (soda syrup, soda water, cup, general overhead etc) is so close as to make it not worthy of consideration; (but why not at 44 oz?);
• the price is a loss leader to get people in the door to buy other stuff;
• or some mixture of both.
In any case I gained by a huge, genuine laugh at living in gluttony nation, which was only reinforced by a traffic jam as I entered I-90, 85 miles from Seattle in the middle of cow country — beautiful but with no one there.
Email received yesterday from [email protected]:
On Wednesday, May 23rd at 4:00 p.m. EDT, please join us for a budget update call with Robert Gordon, Executive Associate Director at the Office of Management and Budget.
We ask that you share this invitation with your networks and affiliates.
Please RSVP here to join us, and please be sure to dial in 10 minutes early so that we are able to start the call on time.
The White House Office of Public Engagement
WHAT: White House Update Call
WHEN: Wednesday, May 23rd
Start Time: 4:00 p.m. EDT
Dial In: (800) 230-1951
Passcode Title: White House Update Call
This call is off the record and not for press purposes. (emphasis added - DS)
Link found here as well:
White House Update Call - May 23 | The White House.
I fail to understand why "off the record", if Robert Gordon is offering any remarks at all.
Sounds dumb to me. I may have subscribed to this "SustainableCommunities" but I may very well have placed on it because I have a blog. In any case, my reason for even being on the list is to -- in my own small way -- to act as "press," though in a very opinionated format.
Can someone (and I know it's not you but the White House) explain why they want to tell what I assujme is a large group of people but then not tell people? About sustainable communities? Is asking for "off the record" a way to generated more interest?
I can understand why privacy in government is reasonable, in different degrees, from pending military action and announcement of crop reports to policy-under-discussion but not approved. But in such cases one simply keeps it secret.
When he's not finding ways to get you drunk in mere seconds, Philippe Starck spends his time designing some of the most beautiful everyday objects we've ever seen. From juicers, to hard drives, to now a set of stunning fitness gear including free weights and jump ropes.
Created for Italian brand Alias, the HGO collection—which stands for 'home', 'office', and 'gym'—also includes a tall rack designed to store the hollow sets of one and two kilogram free weights. And a luxurious folding mat with a leather finish that most users would probably be worried about sweating on.
Who worked with Starcke on the design?
There are a host of functional requirements and it would be interesting to know the experience behind his design.
For example, his free weights look extremely smooth.
Is that what you really want when you are sweating and holding a heavy weight above your head or doing a chest press? You want non-skid. (The ones they appear to show are very light but I assume they will have more)
So it remains to be seen whether Starcke's designs are of any significance.
I am confused by this discussion — both Curtis’ post at Grist and then this one here at Lawyers, Guns & Money— and it’s not because I can’t read or know environmental history, having been part of it. (FWIW, I organized one of the very first "environmental fairs" anywhere, at the University of Washington in 1969.)
Honestly, I am not sure what Curtis is claiming but it sounds as if she is saying that environmentalists of the sixties didn’t care about transformation of the economy. Didn’t get sustainability? Right? Is that it?
Well if that is it, then she is misinformed. I can go on chapter and verse but I want to make sure I spend the time making sure I understand what she is saying. Specifically. Not just broad generalizations without any examples.
So what is she saying? And what is Loomis saying? Call me old and decrepit if you like. But I know my history and I was there and sustainability has been part of the story from the 1950s onward. Environmentalism (David Brower for example) was not just about saving charismatic species and landscapes.
Another shibboleth still has life:
The totalizing mentality here hasn’t served urban spaces very well in the past. Urban renewal “could be implemented in other places in just about any context” too. I distrust anyone who claims to have a one-size fits all idea about creating cities. I may be overblowing this, but it definitely caught my attention. (italics added)Urban Planning
To the young people who just discovered urbanism, "saving" a neighborhood icon is big news. (For example: Melrose Building Sold, to Be Replaced By Seven-Story Development) Since I have heard about such impending catastrophes for at least 40 years I am a bit skeptical.
Nevertheless, Roger Valdez has proposed an interesting approach We Love Our Neighborhood So Much We Bought It! The gist of the proposal is to form a "Neighborhood Real Estate Invest Trust" to purchase and preserve "endangered" buildings. Roger offers an example of 1200 people putting up $1200 to create a $1,440,000 Trust. It's an interesting approach, putting aside the various SEC (?) rules on the number of investors allowed, etc etc the organizational costs (legal, mostly — such an entity will cost, I bet, a good $10-15,000 at a minimum.
So I'd be curious to see a real world test — the economics of the very subject property in the first link. How much did the property sell for? Is it anything like $1,440,000? What are the numbers like? I suggest Roger should do a real world financial model.
It should be obvious but I will state it explcitly that personalities are secondary. This post is about ideas and ways of viewing urban change. "Duany" and "Alexander" are simply justly-renowned figures who act as stand-ins for two differing ways of seeing.
I don't think it's a speculation much longer. In a recent blog post (The Smart Growth Manual) I had mentioned in passing that after reading The Smart Growth Manual I could understand why Alexander is not, so far as I understand, a New Urbanist luminary (that's Large-Caps as in CNU) becxause of differing political sensibilities.
After reading the post, a friend of mine asked:
I didn't follow your final comments re Alexander. I do know that he received a Seaside Prize one year (I was there), and that he is generally held in high regard by the new urbanists I've met.
Oh I am sure Duany respects Alexander. How could he not?
And vice verse.
My speculation is about differing views of design process. Alexander cares for the process by which places are built.
Duany cares about the result.
(Of course I am sure both care about both so it is a matter of emphasis and priority.)
There are huge political implications in those two views.
Surely they value similar towns and cities. So, as I was wondering whether to include this Duany/Alexander speculation in a blog post, (and an admittedly somewhat irrelevant speculation), I ran across this interview with Alexander at http://www.livingneighborhoods.org/library/battle-for.pdf
I think it confirms my sense — nails it in Alexander's own words:
The system of planning, regulation, design, and production that we have inherited from the relatively early part of the 20th century makes all of that impossible. CNU is a strongly motivated and in part highly sensible way of addressing this problem. It has arisen from highly sensible people, architects, who are now in a panic because they see the problem, want to do something about it, don’t really know what to do about it, and so they try to hark back to history and historical forms. Their motive is completely understandable, but their means cannot succeed, because they hope to do this within the same technical means of production that are producing the most far-out and absurd postmodern concoctions. Harmonious order cannot be produced by copying the shapes of the past, although I suppose it might be mildly better than indulging in the very horrific architectural fantasies that are deliberately intended to shock. But at root it is the system of production and the processes of production which are at fault. Until these are changed, architecture cannot get better. (emphasis added)
When I read The Smart Growth Manual, the differences in attitude (between Duany and, say, Alexander) on political authority just popped out. I hadn't realized how much Duany likes authority and telling people what to do but it certainly comes through very clearly in the book. Duany is a man of the establishment — he likes, or at least acknowledges, the importance of social authority and for him, the only problem with the way we do things today is in the final result i.e. auto-dominated sprawl. The political process is fine — results matter. Alexander, however sees the two are one: good product cannot come from bad, flawed top-down process.
If you can link to public writings from both men to either support or destroy my musing, please hack away. Perhaps I have it all wrong and I will eat my words.
(Personal example slightly off the point: Last night I went from my house (Maple Leaf) to quick dinner with friends (Montlake) to Townhall (First Hill) to Queen Anne (dropped off friend and a drink) to home again. Elapsed travel time door-to-door (which is the test) on those 4 legs? Maybe 45 minutes. I can't imagine that I could have done it in less that 3 hours because of the numbers of stops, the need for transfers and time of day. Yes, I should go to Metro link and add up the actual legs in real time at the times I used and of course it's not completely fair as without a car I simply wouldn't have made such a routing — and would life have been very much diminished? Probably not really. Just different. Nevertheless, we middle-class North Americans are attuned to going wherever and whenever and that such psychological state has to be considered as a genuine political constraint.)Do bear in mind that it is precisely those off-peaks are especially efficient for cars (no traffic) and especially ineffecient for transit. The last leg of my trip at 10:30 PM from Queen Anne to Cloud City Coffee (nearby) would take 60 minutes by bus while in the empty streets it was less than 15. Driving safely. Huge difference.
My comment on Finding fault with the Smart Growth Manual
We must be reading different chapters. :) The section you reference is "Urban Triage." It clearly states that "Even the best neighborhoods" (italics added, such snobby language? -- David's note) "must accomodate elements that are intrinsically hostile to pedestrian life. Among these are drive-throughs, gas stations, blank walls, and car lots, all of which should be located in districts beyond the neighborhood edge."
How much clearer can it be? The authors state that bad things should be in someone else's neighborhood, if you can get away with it to a greenfield New Urbanist (where's the TMsymbol?) development.
It is only in rehab, where you must stay, then you develop an A-B street network, where A is ped oriented and B for all the bad but necessary stuff. That makes sense and is somewhat like the actual response in cities, though the authors suggest using a more-sophisticated method.
My point stands -- the authors call to segregate undesirable uses if you can and place them "in districts beyond the neighborhood edge." That's what the words say. I didn't make up the phrase "...drive-throughs, gas stations, blank walls, and car lots, all of which should belocated in districts beyond the neighborhood edge."
The book is seriously flawed and if there is demand for such a book to place new urbanism as the core of smart growth -- which is btw a very fair claim -- then the book should be redone.
And as I wrote privately, I will be happy to help Duany, Speck and Lydon in the revision of a second edition. The book has good bones but the authors must insert some rigor and retraint. If they wish to add more speculative ideas -- e.g. that "long-distance food sourcing will become increasingly untenable" -- then such ideas should be clearly marked as "speculative" and not a part of settled wisdom. And I do want to specifically highlight that point. Placing peak oil as the driver (no pun) of smart growth (a term I actually detest with it implied de haut en bas) is both intellectually arguable and bad politics.
Some 18 months ago I was asked by one of the editors at Landscape Architecture Magazine to write a review of The Smart Growth Manual; Andres Duany, Jeff Speck, Mike Lydon. When I was asked about the assignment I had not even heard of the title, which surprised me, considering Duany's justified renown.
The review was never published by LAM — there's a fascinating backstory and I will post it another day — so I am offering the review here.
One very personal note: when I received (from the LAM editor) my copy of The SGM and saw its style, I was absolutely delighted that Duany and company had adopted the format of my book City Comforts. (Which format, of course, I had been inspired by or even copied from A Pattern Language.) No doubt Andres had forgotten my little book when The SMG was created. But when he first read City Comforts in 1995 it he focussed on its layout and told me that it was a "great delivery system." So my immediate response to seeing the Smart Growth Manual was a sense of "I've-come-home-familiarity," friendliness, enthusiasm and total bias in the book's favor. Unfortunately my enthusiasm did not last a thorough reading.
My review below, unedited from first writing in August 2010:
The Smart Growth Manual
It may be an odd way to start a book review by saying that “I look forward to future editions of The Smart Growth Manual (The SMG)” before I even review it, but in its first edition the book cannot be considered a “manual,” a “handbook,” a work of settled professional practices.
(Then again, it's the New York Times.)
The article is Whole Foods Faces Decisive Vote in Brooklyn. Fascinating story except for one thing: it's a story about design, about buildings, about neighborhood and how they are arranged on a site. So the story makes little sense and raises more questions than it answers. Since the issue is a real one, before City decision-makers, I'd like to know more.
Does the story show a site plan? No.
Does it explain the plan and why/how Whole Foods uses a
• 4.2 acres site (aprox 183,000 square feet) with
• a "52,000-square-foot, two-story store" -- that's a footprint of 26,000 square feet;
• with 248 spaces (approx 300 SF per car) yielding about 75,000 SF;
• giving a total of about 100,000 SF of unaccounted-for ground?
So what happened to the rest of the site? Is this part of a larger project? Is is credible that the current zoning allows only a 10,000 sf building on a 183,000 sf site? ("Whole Foods’ proposed 52,000-square-foot...more than five times bigger than the zoning regulations currently allow.")
The story is so confusing that only a design-illiterate would write it and design-illiterate people would read it without offering the dog look. The site is on the Gowanus Canal — is access to the canal allowed? desirable? part of the project? It would seem that the "waterfront" issue might be germane.
Apparent there are artists living nearby --- and "Bradford Reed, a musician with a studio across the street from the Whole Foods site, said he was resigned to change, but would prefer a park to a supermarket." Is that a credible statement? You gotta tell me more. Maybe this article is part of a continuing series and the Times has already covered it. Well then, give me the links. This
(Note: I am a bit perplexed about why anyone would not want a Whole Foods there but I take no definite position. It may be that some opponents indeed want Whole Foods to do a more urbane store. See the fascinating alternative plan at www.gowanusmade.org. That Whole Foods would object to alternatives surprises me slightly. But my commentary is mostly on yet another example of sub-par design/environmental reporting, not the project itself.)
For some context, here the neighborhood, with the Whole Foods site to the right:
Design Challenge Brief
The challenge is to redesign your high school cafeteria with both indoor and outdoor seating areas, creating spaces and options that encourage healthy eating. You may redesign the interior of the existing cafeteria space, expand on the existing space, or design a completely new addition on to your school building.
Your design should contain all the spaces and functions required for a typical school cafeteria – a variety of seating options for students, as well as kitchen with food prep, storage, serving, and clean up areas. The redesigned cafeteria should include outdoor access for student seating, as well as food deliveries and waste. You should also consider sustainability issues and the environmental impact of your design.
I love the intent of the program (sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation) and I wonder if a typical student knows enough about a kitchen — much less a commercial kitchen — to critique and redesign one? Familiar-enough with the distinctions which might be needed (I have no idea, personally) if modifying a kitchen to use more vegetables? (I assume that fresh vegetables are more sustainable than whatever else is found in most high school kitchens.) About storage and prep space? I can understand that students may have useful perceptions about the public areas — seating and so forth. But the behind-the-scene spaces? Well I don't know — and that is a sincere question. It will be interesting to follow the results in later this year.
I have an old car and was wondering how to get at the question of when to buy a new one — how to take into account the myriad factors to determine not which car (Consumer Reports is great on that) but when to get rid of it. Pretty obvious question but not so easy, I think. That's where I bet Consumer Reports could help.
I was looking through the Consumer Reports website and saw nothing which I thought to be on point and wanted to write a polite little suggestion letter on that issue.
Wow! I have never ever seen a web site which is so difficult to access....to write to staff at CU to offer suggestion, comments etc etc Consumer Reports really ought to take a look at the process. It is absurdly difficult to offer feedback.
And I think that does not reflect well on an institution -- of all places! -- which harps (correctly) on the need for large institutions to be transparent.
Take a look at the Consumer Reports Consumer Reports Feedback Page
I am curious to hear your reaction but I bet it will take you links to at least a half-dozen pages from the top — www.consumerreports.org .Just to write a simple "Letter to the Edior." Try it.
Or did I miss the easy route?
And I don't mean my own prosaic banal snapshots but the luscious color, sexy, large-format even-a-tire-dump-looks-good-seductive photos by Edward Burtynsky. Via Treehugger, Burtynsky has a new book on quarries. Is it gorgeous? Yes. Do I agree with his philosophy? as set forth by him at Treehugger:
We are surrounded by all kinds of consumer goods, yet we are profoundly detached from the sources of those things. Our lifestyles are make possible by industries all around the world, but we take them for granted, as background to our experience. I feel that by showing those places that are normally out side our experience, but very much a part of our everyday lives, I can add to our understanding fo who we are and what we are doing.
Well said indeed! The vast majority of us are unaware of how processes in our industrial world actually happen.
But does his book actually increase our understanding? And increase our isolation from the physical processes of the world? Do Burtynsky's assemblages show the process and not just an ambiguous slice? I don't know. I haven't read the book. But based on the absolutely beautiful photos shown on Burtynsky's site, I wonder. For example, it's stunning:
But what does it mean? What's the backstory? the current situation? and the future curve? How many people work there? All men? How long have they worked there (average age?) The black disscoloration -- what's that? Is that blue box a porta-potty? What's happening at the inactive section? How long does it take to remove blocks? And what kind of rock is tht anyway? The questions go on and on. I don't think you can say much by the image alone. Unless Burtynsky's photos are amplified by words, by captions, by explanation and interpretation, his work is just pretty pictures which does not, by his own standard, increase "understanding."
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but even just a few hundred words in addition can amplify that photo into ten thousand.
So I will take a look at his book the library and get a sense of what he has done. The pictures are stunning but without words, text. explanation. interpretation. and even opinion, the punch line is missing.
Besides equity and the central issue of environmental quality, I left this comment at Market Urbanism:
...my major concern about the idea of "...likewise provide a regulated built environment through voluntary private contracts." is NOT that I don't like the idea. In fact it's fine. The "least intrusive means" should be always kept in mind. The only issue for me is the huge transaction costs which, I believe, make private agreements for land use quite impossible. Thed very reason we have government is because "voluntary private contracts" are too complex. We got rid of tort law (as to land use) because it was much easier to have uniform area-wide regulations.
In short, I simply don't think it can be dome. Too complex. Too much transaction cost.
James Fallows in The Atlantic has been writing about the filibuster and I urge him to keep it up. For example he wrote today
The Congress is finally moving ahead on a budget bill and a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut. End of obstructionism and modern "nullification"? Unfortunately not.
Read what Fallows has to say. But his post made me think of my own major regret (and so far I fear) about Obama: that Obama does not use his communication skills. He is enormously articulate but does not use it to raise consciousness.
The only thing I can personally remember (and certainly I haven't heard some great things or forgot them) was his riff on "American exceptionalism." Though a quick response in a press conference (?) it was exceptional in its brilliance and could have been expanded (and explained so that no one could think that he doesn't love America) into a full-bore explanation about America's role in the world.
Other than that, I am not sure I can recall anything that Obama has said which enlightened me. I have heard his policies etc etc but with that one exception I can't recall that he has said anything worthy of his intellectual and rhetorical ability.
My point is illustrated by the tawdry Cordray affair.
It would help Publicola separate itself from the rest of the lame-stream media (I'm afraid that Palin did call it correctly) by using TIME as an element of rumor-spreading.
For example, you state above "Democrats in Olympia are working on a potential $1.5 billion bond proposal for construction projects to send to voters this year. The current package—being discussed on both the senate and house side—would end up bringing in about $100 million through sales tax revenues from construction and would create about 30,000 construction jobs."
Don't you think your rumor might be a little more useful if you could add some thing like "...and would create about 30,000 construction jobs FOR X PERIOD OF TIME?" Or maybe acknowledge that "...would create about 30,000 construction jobs BUT NO ONE IN OLYMPIA WANTS TO DISCUSS HOW LONG THE JOBS WILL LAST."
The number of jobs created really shouldn't be much consideration of any political calculus -- it's absurd to borrow money to create jobs UNLESS YOU REALLY WANT THE WORK DONE. But much of the justification for any project always involves "job creation." That is natural politics but bad public policy.
So it's even more absurd for Publicola to fail to ask whether those construction jobs are for the NEXT THIRTY YEARS (the presumed lifetime of the bonds) or the NEXT SIX MONTHS (a plausible duration for a project.)
And it all began with a bench.
"I started thinking one day about all the walkers and bikers that use the bike path on 30A, and it occurred to me that there was no place for someone to sit down along the bike path," he said.
Now there is.
The 7- or 8-foot-wide Adirondack-style bench was creatively painted by Davis' artist wife, Melissa, and placed right along the bike path in front of his new office.
"It's my gift to 30A," he said. "It provides seating and is a conversation piece. It's public art."
Davis said his goal is to lead by example and hopes to see other businesses along 30A put up artistic benches for the public.
He didn't stop with the bench, however.
Davis points to another proponent of New Urbanism in the book "City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village" by David Sucher.
"Sucher said you must give back to the street, build close to the sidewalk, create public seating, engage, and quench the thirst people have for community," said Davis.
And, he did just that.
Embedded in concrete out front is a hopscotch rectangle adorned with brass to engage kids of all ages as they pass by.
I saw Steve Jobs — The Lost Interview last week and it was very good. Surprised that the audience (in Seattle!) was only half-full but then again maybe the advance publicity was too quick and maybe a bit meager. There is a considerable fascinating backstory and here's part, from Robert X. Cringely, the auteur:
Of all the reader suggestions for what I should do with my little film Steve Jobs — The Lost Interview, not one involved showing the movie in theaters. Yet that was the first thing that came to my mind. How old media-like of me and how new media-like of you. So we’re opening November 16th for a short run in about 20 U.S. theaters. These are mainly Landmark Theaters, but some others are now coming on and we’ve even had inquiries from Europe and Asia (keep them coming, please). The idea came to me late at night so I e-mailed Landmark owner Mark Cuban who replied in five minutes. proving insomnia has its virtues. (italics added) via www.cringely.com
"The idea came to me late at night so I e-mailed Landmark owner Mark Cuban who replied in five minutes."
How very Jobsian! "I e-mailed Landmark owner Mark Cuban who replied in five minutes." Wow! What a backstory!
Anyway, go see the movie when it re-emerges, whether in theater or Netflix etc etc.
But among many things, what struck me in the movie was a quote Jobs offered:
“Good artists copy, great artists steal."
And I don't get it. As I wrote in comments, here,
'...“copying” and “stealing” are along the same vector: using someone else’s work as one’s own.'
Please tell me what you think. "Copying" versus "stealing." The difference is a matter of intent. I had (apparently) mis-heard the saying years ago as “Brilliance invents. Genius copies.” which I think is more interesting, or at least, different. :) Maybe the contrast would be even better as “Competence invents. Genius copies.”
"If the turkeys' free-range foraging takes them onto public roads, don't herd them from behind (as a sheep dog does), but call them towards you with the promise of food. This can save many Thanksgiving dinners in the community."
Building a detached ADU isn’t necessarily different than building a house. accessorydwellings.org
And actually, quite important.
It's a new site and I wish it well. I'll be reading.
Many years ago I approached an editor at Sunset and suggested some article about ADUs. She snorted (though kindly) and told me that Sunset management would never allow anything but single-family houses. I suspect that times have changed big time.
Charlie Rose has spent the latter half of this week with segments and interviews devoted to Steve Jobs. The video above features discussions with former Google CEO and current Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Wall Street Journal reporter and friend of Jobs, Walt Mossberg, and Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist and the creator of the Mosaic web browser and Netscape.
A wortyhwile interview. For me the take-away thought is simple:
Apple is the current master of human interface engineering. When will an auto manufacturer beg Apple to ask it to re-think and re-dsign the human interface? The total environment which the person uses to control the auto? I am sure that Jobs has thought of it and hope that Apple will eventually work on it. It would be nice if it were an American manufacturer (or at least one with heavy American employment.)
Microsoft keeps pushing ahead on several fronts in the consumer area, including one of the more mysterious acquisitions in the tech field. This past week, Microsoft completed the acquisition of Skype, that ubiquitous, pioneering computer based phone service that makes it possible to talk to people worldwide for free — if they have a Skype app on their computer — or call land lines and cell phones at low cost.
via crosscut.comI wonder if it might have made even more sense for M'soft to spend $8.5 billion by using the $$$ to make an operating system as good as Apple's? To protect its own franchise and dominance in operating systems rather than getting into a new business? Ya know, re-design the Windows OS from the ground up, as Jobs did with the Mac OS ten years ago. The core of the company is still Windows. True? Wouldn't sticking to its knitting be wise? Apple is great but it is still run by human beings down there in Cupertino and so with all its resources, why can't M'soft be competitive? I have to admit that I haven't seen a Windows OS for a year or two, so maybe there is huge progress. (I guess that is why we will have a M'soft store in U Village so people like me will eventually get curious.) And if there is a reason to care, I live here in Seattle and so I would like M'soft to do well -- employment, my neighbors, support etc etc -- and be interested in buying a Windows product. Some day. But not now. Just too clunky.
My own thoughts:
Legacy publishers will survive to the extent that they can act as curators -- as "a good housekeeping sign of approval" (that probably dates me) that a book is worthy. They don't have to vouch for a book in any specific sense much less agree with its opinions -- but simply that the book is in some way "serious."
It applies not only to people but to books, maybe even on-line. Here is an interesting insight:
Google has something all of these platforms don't have: a specialism in "discoverability". If Google can somehow leverage its skill in this area, then there is a possibility that it could open up a world of published content online in a way that even Amazon has been unable to so far. Google could begin to replicate the bookstore experience, particularly the serendipitous nature of many purchases -- or to put it another way: books found when searching for something else.
"books found when searching for something else."
That's how the best friendships are found.
David Sucher’s definitive book on urban design, City Comforts,
Walking with the Manager
On Thursday, September 15, at 8:30 a.m., “Walking with the Manager" will begin at the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport Control Tower located at 725 Hull Road. Walkers should meet at the Shuffleboard Complex next to the Control Tower. The walk will be approximately 2 miles.
Joe Mannarino, Economic Development Director, and Steven Lichliter, Airport Manager, will be the City Manager’s “guest walkers.”
Citizens are invited to join the City Manager, Economic Development Director, and the Airport Manager for a walk, ask questions, share comments and offer suggestions.
Please put on your walking shoes and join us.
I am perfectly happy to let the chips fall where they may but at the outset I am curious why it is "more green" to have, say, an on-site sewage-teatment system that one which is community- or even region-wide? That's implicit in "living building" philosophy. But where are the numbers? On what basis do we assume or state that it is better?
I can concede that using natural rainfall for use on site makes sense. Or that treating storm-water run-off on-site makes sense ecologically. (It can also be a cheaper, too.)
But there are economies of scale in many human activities and I would expect to see them in waste-treatment as well.
There's another element. It would seem that the living buildings goal would limit the size of buildings. If you are going to rely on natural rainfall to supply drinking water for an apartment building, that would limit the number of apartments you can handle on a site or encourage spreading out ("sprawling") over larger areas.
It might work and be effective but color me skeptical at this point.
Toderian, interviewed at the end of our research, in many ways blew our central argument out of the water. With energy use no longer a serious problem because of newer green techniques, and a growing awareness of streetscaping and the necessity to foster urban life, why not allow height as part of your city’s toolbox?
"Towers often get a bad reputation based on how they land and often that’s true. But I just as often see mid-rise buildings land poorly," said Toderian. "This isn't the tower vs. mid-rise issue, this is the how you do the ground plane well, a universal question no matter what form you’re designing." (italics added)
The trick, he explained, is to be very rigorous with urban design standards and planning out the where, why and how of siting skyscrapers. “We likely take more of a design approach to the height question than any other city in North America, and we regulate, locate, shape and even limit height more than other cities, based on our civic values and goals,” he explained.
I couldn't agree more with Toderian about "the ground plane." which suggests that what is most important about how a building "lands" is whether it needs to and/or does adhere to the 3 Rules.
But a fine point — I am a bit puzzled a the shift: Toderian explains (para 2) the importance of the ground plane (i.e. what happens at the street level) and then moves (para 3) to siting of skyscrapers.
So far as I interpret him, what's most important is not the location of a the skyscraper but whether, in a given location, any proposed building should be designed to meet the ground for pedestrian comfort. Of course in an urban location, every building should meet it thoughtfully and the only issue is the degree to which it must have ground-floor commercial, (which may in some unusual location need not be desirable or feasible.) So if the ground plane is pre-eminent, then why have strict control over height?
And I am also a bit curiuous about how percisely one can regulate "based on our civic values and goals" and wonder how such broad and abstract strictures work fairly. Of course zoning has never been precise and public administration is not like managing a machine shop. But the enormous discretion allowed by regulation "based on our civic values and goals" can lead to who-knows-what. Then again, so far, Vancover has done a pretty good job and so far as I can tell, without any or much accusation of unfair administration.
“City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village” by David Sucher, is a book I consult often. It is heavy with photos of how and why urban settings work or not.
David Sucher is the author of City Comforts, a fantastic, easy-to-read, important book about the essential elements of designing a quality city. I strongly recommend the book.
A couple of months ago I downloaded a 99¢ novel by John Locke. I’d become aware of him as a dominant presence on the Kindle bestseller list and figured I ought to see what all the fuss was about. I don’t remember which book it was, and I don’t see why it should matter. I didn’t finish it, not because it was horrible, but because it didn’t knock me out. (Hardly anything does, at this stage in life, and I don’t start reading as many books as I used to, and finish but few of the ones I start. But that’s me, see. It’s not the fault of the books.) ...
...Then John Locke got a ton of press for selling his one millionth Kindle book. And, as soon as he did, he released a book he’d had waiting in the wings all along. He called it How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, and offered it not at his usual price of 99¢ but $4.99 (or $9.99 in paperback).
Yeah, right, said the snarky voice that lives inside my head. Who could resist paying five bucks to learn how to write mediocre fiction?
I told the voice Thanks for sharing and ordered the book. This was on June 21, and I started reading it on my Kindle that night. I read the rest of it the following day, and started re–reading it the day after that. And the next day was June 24, my birthday, and I started the day doing something I’d been absolutely certain I would never do. But what the hell, I figured I was finally old enough. So I joined Twitter.
Because John Locke told me to....
...And if he writes more about salesmanship or promotion or the business of being a writer, he’ll get an immediate one–click order from me.
My question for Mr. Block at his blog:
Now I am looking for a book on “How to Write Great NON-Fiction.” Ever seen one?
Biography is relatively easy because it is natural to tell a linear story. But what if one is writing about, say, urban design & planning — as I do — which most people find boring.
I’ve been advised to personalize such as by starting “John and Joan were a young couple looking for a home…”
I hate that trick when I read it and won’t do it.
So what are the commonalities (besides knowledge of the subject and a simple sentence) in great NON-fiction?
From the Seattle Times in spring 2010:
Q: Marvin Jahnke, of Burien, says he recently received an informational bulletin from Seattle's Department of Transportation (SDOT) outlining the $168 million Spokane Street Viaduct project.
He says he's puzzled. "How is it that this amount of refurbishment can be put into a viaduct that is older than the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and built on the same sort of ground as the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and yet the Alaskan Way Viaduct must be torn down?" he asked.
He says he's observed support piers under the Spokane Street Viaduct being rebuilt in recent years without much public fanfare, yet SDOT seems to go public with its periodic measurements of Alaskan Way Viaduct settling.
"Could the salvation of the Spokane Street Viaduct be that there are no expensive views to be gained by its demise?" he asked.
A: While the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which was built in the 1950s, and the Spokane Street Viaduct, built in the 1940s, may appear similar, they have some very distinct differences, says John Buswell, SDOT's roadway structures manager.
"For example, the two-level Alaskan Way Viaduct has a significant weakness at the point where the top roadway is connected to the lower roadway," said Buswell. That is not an issue for the single-level Spokane Street Viaduct.
He said the seismic retrofit solution for the Spokane Street Viaduct has, in part, been to build a new parallel bridge. The new bridge is being built to modern earthquake standards and is designed to hold up the older portion.
Yes, the city has invested over the years in the older portion, Buswell said, and SDOT believes that has preserved the Spokane Street Viaduct. But, "there will come the day when the old section can no longer be maintained and will need to be replaced."
On the other hand, the Alaskan Way Viaduct's age and vulnerability are showing, says Jugesh Kapur, state bridge and structures engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). It's pretty hard to ignore crumbling concrete, exposed rebar, weakening column connections and deteriorating railings.
When the Alaskan Way Viaduct was built, the structure's columns were not placed deep enough into stable soil, Kapur says. Instead, that viaduct stands on fill soil that Kapur says can become quicksandlike in an earthquake.
The state did consider retrofitting the old Alaskan Way Viaduct, Kapur said. "However, several studies have shown that a retrofit would be a poor investment."
By WSDOT's figures, the cost of retrofitting the Alaskan Way Viaduct would be about 80 percent of the cost of a new structure. Kapur says federal guidelines recommend replacing a structure when retrofitting exceeds 50 percent of new construction costs.
Rybczynski is correct in using the phrase "proponents of downtown living" and illustrates one of the issues.
It seem to me that such a term "proponent" suggests something which should you should do because it's good for you, like eating spinach. Why be a "proponent" and just enjoy living there? But Rybczynski has it right.
An awful lot of the public discussion about cities is driven by fears -- "sustainability" and "peak oil." Downtown = dense. Dense = using less oil. Using less oil = dealing with peak oil. And so on.
As someone who simply likes and enjoys cities, such downtown living proponents strike me as weak allies. The best reason to like cities is because of pleasure, not fear.
But you can't take media too seriously. On the one hand, one source (BD Online) quotes Prince Charles as saying:
“I think a lot of people think the only reason I set up the Foundation is because I have an obsession with classical architecture. That drives me insane. It is very easy to accuse people of that but at the end of the day, architecture matters.”
It's a peculiar statement as somewhat off point since there is in fact other than classical architecture. Oh well, it's easy to misquote someone in extermperaneous talk.
Then again the London Times accuses of being against The Enlighenment, which if anything would suggest an anti-Classicist stance:
Its seminal figures included the likes of Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau. To Prince Charles, however, it is old hat. “I was accused once of being the enemy of the Enlightenment,” he told a conference at St James’s Palace. “I felt proud of that.”
The Prince, who was talking at the annual conference of The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment , went on: “I thought, ‘Hang on a moment’. The Enlightenment started over 200 years ago.
“It might be time to think again and review it and question whether it is really effective in today’s conditions, faced as we are with huge challenges all over the world. It must be apparent to people deep down that we have to do something about it.
“We cannot go on like this, just imagining that the principles of the Enlightenment still apply now. I don’t believe they do. But if you challenge people who hold the Enlightenment as the ultimate answer to everything, you do really upset them.”
Who knows what the Prince actually said, much less meant, but my advice to him (not that he cares) is to avoid The Enlightenment and stick with something simple like "reality-based thinking."
As a fan of alternating tread stairs, and the owner of a rare city-permitted custom made set of them in the granny cottage I built, I’ve always been curious about one staircase option I did not use: the Arke Karina stair kit.
Since my last post, about the new Race Street Pier in Philadelphia, there have been challenges on my Facebook link to the post as to (1) whether the High Line is Landscape Urbanism and (2) whether landscape architect James Corner was involved in designing the High Line and (3) whether James Corner is a Landscape Urbanist.
My response to Sandy's questions:
(1) whether the High Line is Landscape Urbanism
I see no reason why Landscape Urbanism (LU) should claim that the High Line is a manifestation of whatever teachings one can tease out of the LU writings. In fact LU does NOT make such a claim as it would be preposterous.
However, while making no explicit statement in any manner that the High Line is a manifestation of LU, Corner's chapter in the LU Reader suggests a silent connection between High Line and LU by simply placing a photo of the High Line as the front piece of his chapter. By implication -- and misleading, I think -- the photo and his chapter does link the two. But Corner -- rightly so -- offers no words in his chapter to explain why the High Line reflects his own thoughts (such as they may be) in his chapter. Nor have I been able to find any documentation in which anyone explains exactly how the High Line is a manifestation of LU thinking.
Wikipedia's entry offers no such explanation. And the reason it doesn't is because it can't. There is no connection between the High Line and LU thinking.
If there is such connection which passes the smile test, I am happy to modify my view.
2) whether landscape architect James Corner was involved in designing the High Line
It depends on what you mean by "design." Certainly, obviously, Corner was one of the designers to decide on the stairs, which pavement to use, which plantings, the lighting, the places to sit etc etc and so forth. With a few quibbles it's a very good job and Corner et al should to be commended.
But Corner had nothing to do with the initial impulse to convert the old rail line into a linear park or with the politics to implement it. Corner entered a design competition to do what I call the "tactics" and won.
But the "strategic" vision -- recognizing that the High Line RR should be a High Line Park -- came from two neighbors, two non-designers, two amateurs I might add, and then had the enormous political talent to persuade a host of NY luminaries and the gumption to follow-through.
The critically important "design" was strategic — by the neighborhood amateurs. The details were well-done but by no means any work of brilliance: just good competent professional work.
While Corner's own site shows lovely photos of the High Line, he does not (appropriately) offer any explanation that LU and the High Line are in any way connected nor that the Corner had a role in creating the strategic vision.
and (3) whether James Corner is a Landscape Urbanist.
Well he claims to be one so why disagree with his own assessment?
The scary sub-headline states Istanbul’s history deserves preservation, but at what cost to development?
And while the article does raise some fears that preservation will stop much-needed development, the author's put-away advice is to Visit Constantinople Now.
Many academics have worked to draw up conservation plans for the city. So has UNESCO. But they don’t have the power to enforce them. UNESCO, claiming that the Turkish government has disregarded its reports, has threatened to embarrass Istanbul by putting its cultural treasures on its endangered list. But on the historic peninsula, rates of return on investment in development are among the highest in the world—exceeded only by those in Moscow. For developers, the amount of money at stake is phantasmagoric. They’re willing to spend a lot to make legal and political obstacles go away. Archaeologists can’t compete.
So come visit now, while it’s all still here.
That's www.city-journal.org of course and another example of City Journal slant even from its own authors.
Obviously, as the article states. development has NOT been stopped by preservation, but I wonder the balance? I would bet that development is rarely stopped or even modified -- but then again, that is a somewhat objective question and possible to answer in hard money. The article would be more valuable if some real economic numbers could be applied.
One other factor to consider when development is inevitable: make sure the job is well-done and worthy of visiting by generations hence. The loss is multiplied when a valuable historic structure is lost and what's built in its place is junk, which is often.