Sunday, March 30, 2008

Starbucks Squared

The internet is abuzz with with lively and excellent Starbucks discussions. To second BrandAve's statement:

Seeing as Starbucks has long promoted itself as a "third place" or community living room, it behooves an urbanist to pay attention.

There is lots more here to think about. What I see in the Starbucks dialogue is a microcosm of the larger urbanist debates redirecting private (esp. commercial) development towards glocalized urbanist forms. As the suburb tanks in value and we transition from building malls and square miles of asphalt to building village-doppelganger, transit-fed, pedestrianized "lifestyle centers" (each with their "anchor" Starbucks), the American public is revisitting the important cultural questions that rake its identity in the promotion/exploitation of real-estate valued community capital (or the semblance thereof). The scary thing is, Starbucks may actually be our most authentic cultural icon. We have much to learn about ourselves as we debate the merits and demons of the mermaid.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Towards a hopeful containment

The young man above is going to pick up a weekly donation of food for his family from an Islamic soup kitchen. This is a photo I took while I last visited Jerusalem with an eye to understand an ancient institution of charity while researching for the project site of my masters thesis in architecture (the Nabi Daud Zawiyya...which is also venerated by Jews and Christians as the site of King David's tomb, among other things). My lessons of this institution gave me a powerful lesson about the Muslim world, which our country would do well to learn more about, considering the "long slog" of containment we are facing in the Middle East. Notice I call it "containment" and not the "global war on terror", for to call our embroilment in the Middle East a "war" is to grossly mischaracterize the nature of the enemy we face there.
We must think of radical Islamic terrorist groups as operations run like NGO's, whose front line represents the heart and mind of the boy above, and not the conventional enemies we prefer (states-which we are quite capable of overcoming). We cannot overcome the islamist radical with the same means at our disposal as we overcame Saddam...The next president will have to craft a policy - nay dogma - of intelligent containment, regardless of what party he or she will belong to. I hate to say it folks, but, McCain is QUITE correct in claiming this is going to be a 100 year struggle...but he is wrong to say that the struggle will look like an occupation or that it is even a "war". We need to call it what it is: "a 100+ year containment". We can't be naive that the terrorist will be appeased by resolutions of statecraft. (Say we lived in an ideal world and Israel gave Hamas every concession Hamas demanded, and even restored their energy and infrastructure needs to better than Israeli standards even - if only to allow Israelis to remain where they are...Do you think Hamas is going to be appeased? If you think so, you have failed to understand the apocalyptic, suicidal mindset of an Islamic radical my friend! Yes...this is a 100-year + engagement - get used to it so we can deal effectively with it, bud!)
We will lose the "war" on terror...but we can definitely win the "containment" battle. And we can win it with unconventional, smart weapons. We need a hopeful containment. The boy above represents our front line too...What can we be doing to make his world better? There is so, so, so much we can be doing.
The first cadidate who begins shaping a hopeful vision for this young man's life...will definitely win my heart and mind as well.

Friday, March 28, 2008

light rail shizzle

(light rail station design: Neighboring Concepts, PLLC)

Our office is blown away by Sean Busher's new photos of our light rail stations...Check em out yall!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

O Sinnerman Where ya gonna run to?

Originally posted at A Wealth Resource Center

Billionaire set to lose his shirt.

Wooooh Sinnerman... no one will be handing bailouts at the finish line.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Future!!

...Well, I don't know what they are singing, but let me tell you, considering the sinking ship feel of the state of the American economy today, one thing is for sure...We Westerners are going to be thinking AWFUL hard about how to serve their needs. Can't you see it in their beckoning eyes? We better figure out QUICK my American pals and dolls what they want.

Damn...I wish I was working for Ben Wood. Maybe its not too late.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

#12: Mush-Urbanism

"San Francisco in Jell-O" by Liz Hickok
Cities are resilient fabrics, socially as well as environmentally - as my former prof. Larry Vale writes prodigiously. But what if they were also tectonically resilient, as Pruned just pointed in mushy? Able to wistand seismic shocks. Taking our structural ideas from sea cucumbers may actually seriously aid us in our quest for the jell-O urbanism Liz Hickok above.

Wouldn't it be fun to live in this?:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Sublime Emptiness

Posted at KSMGRD

To what can we liken the absence of signs? Is this a city on a diet from capitalist excess? Cleansing itself of the demands of the present? I wonder what such a city does to the mind... Does it cleanse a citizen's minds like a 30 day fast cleanses the system? Does it bring a zen-like peace to society...less smoking, less caffeinated consumption, less sumptuary excess, less discretionary income wasted, less sex?...I wonder.

One thing they could do is allow artists to use the billboards for artistic works...Let a year long "sign fast" pass and then WHAM--Hit em baby! A veritable sign explosion in the public realm. Kind a like a shock diet. Then you'd really be playing with people's minds! It would be like the kind of horror turned to pleasure a desert monk would have if he lugged one book into the wilderness and discovered nothing was printed in it.

Check out the skymovie ad video (ironic, huh?):

Monday, March 17, 2008

Welcome to the Slumburbs: A Ghostly Lesson

Originally posted at Space & Culture

I find this post at Space & Culture utterly fascinating. It fills my analogical mind with lessons. Could this be foreshadowing the "slumburbing" of the U.S. sprawlific economy??? For any of you watching what is going on currently in Wall Street...The vultures are already circling. And as to why "the Quantitatively- and analytically-sophisticated Wall Street teams greatly overestimated their capability to assess and manage risk", look here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

#11: China as it would love to be

RMB City, by Chinese 2nd Life artist Cao Fei, AKA China Tracy (posted at KSMGRD)
Urbanism is the new hyper-life, the nominalist fantasy that results from the surreal collision of aspiring local culture in the midst of globalism, i.e. "glocal" expression. Maybe it is a mooring strategy to propel society through the highly unstable and disorienting, uncharted waters of the new global economy.
As the artist puts it:
RMB City will be the condensed incarnation of contemporary Chinese cities with most of their characteristics; a series of new Chinese fantasy realms that are highly self-contradictory, inter-permeative, laden with irony and suspicion, and extremely entertaining and pan-political. China's current obsession with land development in all its intensity will be extended to Second Life. A rough hybrid of communism, socialism and capitalism, RMB City will be realized in a globalized digital sphere combining overabundant symbols of Chinese reality with cursory imaginings of the country's future.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

#10: Powerbocking

Urbanism is all about human enhancement...For non-geeks - I'm talking the human. Creating a hybrid humana as variagated as the one in Star Trek:

Powerbocks Steal Dork Prize From Segways

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

#9: Re-imagining the curb.

Originally posted by Pruned
In r e a l Urbanism...It matters far, far less what the relationship of the store is to the street, than what the relationship of the street is to the environment.

Monday, March 3, 2008

#8: The Redneck Mansion

Originally posted at Space and Culture

In Urbanism form is not an important issue...character is.

#7: The Prada in Marfa

Prada Marfa, originally uploaded by ydhsu.

Urbanism is Marfa, TX.

Urbanism is not an equation of the number of people per square mile. No sir,'s the quality of spirits per square mile.