Monday, February 18, 2008

#6: The Way nau Tries to Reimagine Retail


6) Urbanism attempts to bring transparency to the surface/end product and encourages/trusts networked group knowledge to deliver superior services and products. It is citizen driven. It values feedback, blurring and circumventing the traditional dichotomy between production and marketing. It values multiple inputs and manifests the late stage of the service-information economy.

An excellent example: nau's system-valued approach to inform the consumer of the ecological footprint of its products ("Retail 2.0").

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Principles for Urbanism


Yesterday, walking around Davidson, a friend asked me what I meant by "Urbanism", and why a college campus like Davidson College can be distinguished by its "urbanism". At first, I gave a very formal description, explaining urbanism in physical qualities - the way a building relates to the public realm, etc., and explaining a short history, from the early modernist notion of Urbanism to Jane Jacobs's notion of urbanism. Then I realized, "urbanism", if you think about it, really is broader concept...affecting all facets of design today, which can be evinced in David Adjaye's references to African "sensibility" in architecture and city planning to Malcolm Gladwell's essay (and apt references to Jacobs) on the "third space" rehaul of cubicle office design.
Here is my first stab at my principles for "true urbanism" (to be refined):
1) Urbanism seeks to mix forms, to hybridize.
2) Urbanism values the ad hoc, the "messiness" of colliding experiences, tastes, values.
3) Urbanism brings high-brow sensibility to low-brow tastes, and low-brow sensibility to high-brow tastes ("camp"...sometimes this is called "queer").
4) Urbanism values the ambiguous and synergistic relationships, in other words - multi-faceted, cross-pollinating, innovative and collaborative relationships over those that are purely pragmatic, optimized and functionally delimited. In short: urbanism is engaging. An ambiguous subject/condition forces you to engage it.
5) Urbanism seeks egalitarian, liminal space...It aims to remove hierarchical space and replace it with civic-dialogical, democratic space.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The architecture of refuge


I really enjoyed reading the interview of David Adjaye in the new issue of dwell (at the stands already for nonsubscribers like me):



As cities grow, and as the experience of urbanism becomes overwhelming or intoxicating, I think the notion of the domestic retreat becomes more and more important.

That and more insights...Highly recommended to you urban developers who can't figure it out!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Beatties Ford Plan is Now Online

...Finally! Definitely my proudest planning endeavor to date, the Beatties Ford Road Corridor Small Area Plan for the Town of Huntersville will not only help protect the critical watersheds protecting our main water resource, but shape growth in the region towards more sustainable patterns of development.
As a firm that almost solely deals with urban development it was very nice to work on the other side of that coin, preservational land use and transportation planning. If urban and preservation planning do not work together the gains by doing either are nil. The two mutually reinforce one another. So it was more than just a privilige to work in such a beautiful and historical area - a treasure to our cultural heritage, with its little legacy to the American Revolution. Together with the residents, we've secured a huge victory (however meager it might seem) for our children in Mecklenburg County. It's nice to see how it is having an impact in every development decision impacting the corridor already. Of course, the plan now has to be revised with the falling through over the Latta Village proposal...The only thing that was out of our hands from the beginning (but I'm glad the residents seem to be getting their desires--NIMBY's in preservational districts are people I can live with, ha!)
Here is the effective master plan:


Image above was provided by Christa Rogers of Natural Resources

Except for Christa's flower image, all images are the work of Neighboring Concepts, PLLC.
(specifically yours truly) =)






Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'm designing my own townhome!

Chicago roof terrace to be featured in the coming March issue of Dwell, originally Uploaded by BLDGBLOG
...well, potentially...if my firm allows me to incorporate the green features I want. We're co-developing a "green townhome" project on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The first requirement I have is a green roof...which the image above provides some mighty, mighty great inspiration. ')