Tag Archives: design

(1174) Suburbs matter to cities


US president 45’s inaugural address entered America’s uneven popular culture almost before he finished it, full, as it was, with references to urban social disaster.  The Donald’s portent-laden words seemed to reinforce and reflect still widely held beliefs about US communities, ones that deny urban success stories and suburban difficulty.  With that in mind, we read with tons of interest a recent survey of US city-watchers, and what they feel their issues are..
What’s the greatest risk cities face?
politico.com
image: Sean Davis via Flickr/CC

(1165) AI sees wealth & poverty from space


An artificial Intelligence application that processes US Census data and digital satellite photos is in existence.  Penny can crunch the physical and numerical life of your community and describe its status.  Yes, it is amazing.  Yes, it is a tad creepy.  Powerful stuff but what to do with this to better communities is the question to ask.
Try it out on St. Louis, MI
An AI that preidcts neighbourhood’s wealth from space
wired.com

(1142) Reimagining the dead malls

Figuring out what to do with overbuilt retail could become part of creating a better suburban economy, no?  One suited to present reality better than dreams of endless, mindless growth?
We recently went along on an organized walk to see a mall here in Mississauga, Ontario that has replaced much of its retail space with services.  One of its former anchor stores has been insurance company office space for years now.  Many U.S. malls are in places where the surrounding economy is not as strong as it is here.  That’s a problem.   But if the dead malls are up and built on land already hooked up to municipal services then they are candidates for some creative thinking.  We’d rather see a dead mall redeveloped than farmland destroyed.
Here’s what could happen to America’s hundreds of dead malls
businessinsider.com

Where a shopping mall used to be an opportunity arises
The decline of malls in America can mean lost jobs and lower tax revenues for states and municipalities — but not always
governing.com

image: Travis Estell via Flickr/CC

(1127) Aging in it


Three items to help us gather some thoughts around the growth in the number of elderly persons occurring now in North America.  How will the built environment affect the cognition and emotional life of seniors?
The isolation of aging in an auto-oriented place
strongtowns.org
No place to grow old. How Canadian suburbs can become age-friendly
irrp.org (26-page .pdf)
What helps Minnesota seniors age in place?
U researcher has some clues. It’s the little things
like benches and safe crosswalks
startribune.com
Who will buy Baby Boomers’ homes?
citylab.com
Want to stop your brain from getting old?
Live in a walkable neighbourhood
fastcompany.com
image: Tasha Lutek via Flickr/CC

(1105) The unconsulted end users of public housing & modernism

Michael Ford’s treatment of modernism is pretty cool: towers in a park through a hip hop lens.  Brainy and fresh, a TEDx talk really worth your time.
The Future of ‘Hip-Hop Architecture’. Michael Ford explains how he’s building a movement to reclaim urban design from the failures of the 1970s
citylab.com
See also:
(975) 1980s social housing [Excerpt from Subdivided]
image: Plan Voisin, 1925 via Wikimedia/CC

(1085) Prepared Housewives


Walk Score is an online software tool that assesses the basic characteristics of any address in Canada or the United States given to it.  Your neighbourhood is rated by an algorithm between 0 and 100 for ease of access to a list of general amenities, such common sense things as schools, cinemas, bus stops.  Its intentions are generally progressive and supportive of the idea that a walkable community is simply nicer to live in and easier on the environment and therefore more desirable.  Walk Score is often used by people looking for a new neighbourhood and it can be quite fairly said to be a barometer of the quality of life in a given place.  A strong Walk Score, would reflect the humane values of urbanist Jane Jacobs.  A low Walk Score might be reflected in a less salubrious environment.
So, it was a little disorienting to come across a Texas mom’s utilization of Walk Score today.  All those people nearby in your dense, cross-connected community?  Well, if things got tough they might just kill you and eat your brain, right?  If there was a pandemic, a civil war, an infrastructure and economic crash all at the same time you want to be ready, right?  You need maximum info on where to be when things get even dumber than they already are.
Jamie, who seems super nice and obviously really loves her kids, blogged about the way she applies Walk Score to her preparations for the coming apocalypse.  Walk Score provides her with intel on her kind of community.  The index tells Jamie where she doesn’t want to be.
This is almost a mirror opposite use of Walk Score for assessing resilience.  Flying deeper into the century, each to their own anxiety, we suppose…
Walk score.  One test preppers want their home to FAIL! 
prepared-housewives.com
See also:
(771) A privileged doom: suburban preppers
(39) Suburban survivalists
image: Jeremy Brooks via Flickr/CC

(1075) In the bones


One of the big ideas around here is that poverty and social difficulty are built right into the very structure of sprawl.
The hidden inequality of America’s street design. New data shows that pedestrians in the U.S. are more likely to die if they’re poor, a person of color, uninsured, or old
fastcodesign.com
The injustice of subsidizing jobs people can only reach by driving
streetsblog USA
image: photograntner via Flickr/CC