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Inadvertence as a First Principle of Urbanism

An entry in the new series, depicting the common sense dimensions of urban places.In the urbanist dialogue, we don’t often speak about the value of inadvertence in urban settings, but spontaneous interludes often inspire us in a “look at...

Posted July 8, 2014    

Framing Common Sense Moments in Urban Places

An introduction to the new series, depicting the common sense dimensions of urban places.A few days ago, in Moustiers Sainte Marie, France, I watched several shopkeepers return a lost young bird to a part of town closer to its natural habitat....

Posted July 7, 2014    

Why Do We Write About Cities?

When we write about cities, sometimes we do best when we take the metrics away.In 2011, amid a visit to San Francisco and just back from Africa, I offered some thoughts about why we write about cities.  Three years later, I’m not sure much has...

Posted March 31, 2014    

Capturing Underlying Patterns of Urban Street Design

Have you ever wondered why some places seem built for automobiles as opposed to humans?In a recent study, J. Alexander Maxwell and fellow researchers from the University of Strathclyde’s Urban Design Studies Unit found evidence that before the rise...

Posted March 25, 2014    

Choosing Place-Receiving Over Placemaking, and Why

A footnote to the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter.In 1997, I returned to Europe after a long absence. My Paris photograph, above, jump-started a then-dormant fascination with the scenery of urban life and form.I later...

Posted March 14, 2014    

Why Urban History Matters

Going forward, let’s not discount the influence of history’s recurring themes in how we redevelop the urban realm. So many discussions about cities today look only forward, without fully considering the past.  We presume ways of life that must...

Posted March 4, 2014    

Revisiting a Simple Basis for Common Ground in Urban Settings

A footnote to the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter.Today, with snow on the ground in our region, some tongue-in-cheek Facebook threads with writer and friend Knute Berger, and later with Bellevue, Washington City Council...

Posted February 13, 2014    

The Meaning of Visual Overlays at the Edge of the City

Ninth in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter.This Wednesday, the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl victory parade route will span a microcosm of the team's geographic reach---a stretch of Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle. Does this...

Posted February 4, 2014    

Urban Blending and the Mythical Search for "Congruity' in the City

Eighth in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matterLast week, a colleague in my day job contacted me in search of an expert witness in a large American city. This request for a recommendation—and its premise—was not unusual for...

Posted January 30, 2014    

Ten Photos and the Overlapping Urban Story, Human-Style

Seventh in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matterFor many years, I have been on a self-imposed assignment to discover and capture the human, experiential elements of urban juxtapositions, overlaps, intersections, and all the...

Posted January 28, 2014    

Beyond Old versus New in the City, and Why

Sixth in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matterThe overlay—or contrast—of old and new is central to any policy analysis or planning exercise for the evolving city.Not surprisingly, the opening post in this series...

Posted January 21, 2014    

Recalling the Real Intersections of City Life

Fifth in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matterThis series has emphasized urban overlaps, overlays and, without saying so, the real points of convergence in city life. The photographs above recognize two variations of this...

Posted January 15, 2014