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Timeless or Time-Bound in the City?

Take away context clues, and cities become more interesting matrices—with blank cells to complete—where each of us personalizes how space meets time.A uniform filter applied to multiple urban scenes can easily warp time and location, and obscure—yet...

Posted August 20, 2014    

Activating Common Sense in the City

An entry in the new series, depicting the common sense dimensions of urban placesAround the world, the sit-able city (a new term that I termed here last October for an age-old concept) increasingly surrounds us, whether installed to honor...

Posted August 11, 2014    

Clarifying Urban Property Rights, Without Effort

An entry in the new series, depicting the common sense dimensions of urban placesIn today’s shareable city, there are some things—like driveway access—that are difficult for many people to surrender to chance. In this case, the means of...

Posted August 7, 2014    

Cities: Where Children Learn to Fly

An entry in the new series, depicting the common sense dimensions of urban placesIn Seattle’s Volunteer Park one recent evening, the landscape yielded an expression befitting an urban open space—a reflection of childhood speculation that maybe...

Posted August 6, 2014    

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