Inspired by a post from a local architect I take a look at the comparative height of Asheville and tall things around the world. Along the way I share a little skyscraper history, provide some instructions for doing this kind of exploration, and poke fun at Asheville's "Shelbyville:" Kidding aside, I find this a great way to get perspective on your communty's urban environment.
This morning I read this article in the NY Times about the most expensive decision many of make in our lifetimes: where we buy a house. The article covers the buyers' remorse many have when they trade the city for the suburbs, and discover the harsh reality of auto-dependent, isolated living. This quote struck me solidly in my urban planner heart of hearts:
Yesterday, I read a great article in the NY Times about a guy who is obsessed with dead and dying malls, and creates short films about these malls. Of course, the bizarre, sad wonder and whimsy of these films reminded me of the crazy images my colleague Josh McCarty shares periodically when he is out on site visits for Urban3.
We're excited to share an interactive 3D tax model as part of our work in the Greater Des Moines area that will be publicly available within the next month. This is a preview of some of the features that will be in that resource.
Have you heard about that town in NC that rejected solar power because it would soak up too much sun and might give people health problems? Well...It turns out they're surrounded by industrial hog farms. Kind of makes the whole "speculative health impacts of solar power" a little bit of a moot point.
Following up my Thanksgiving post about parking on Strong Towns, I take a deeper look at how much parking an American city contains. How much pavement is reasonable? How much can we afford? Would a visitor from another planet be baffled by the immense space we dedicate to our cars?
This gallery is designed to compare the footprints of different American cities at the same scale using satellite imagery. Slide through the thumbnails at the bottom of each image to choose up to four to compare. You can also view each city as a gallery and explore land cover data in greater detail.
One of the most interesting sessions at CNU23 asked what the role is for conservatives in New Urbanism. Does good design, like good data, transcend political factionalism? Is urbanism perceived as undesirable or unfriendly to conservatives, even when it aligns with their values? Inspired by this discussion, I decided to share my own take, borrowing from the wisdom of both American founding fathers and a long-march communist.
In preparing for his talk at the 2015 GeoDesign Summit Joe reread Design With Nature by Ian McHarg. In doing so he found new inspiration from McHarg's insights. To Joe's excitement over Design With Nature I can personally attest given his daily emails sharing a new quote. In this post he shares some of McHarg's most striking observations and points out how he was either a man before his time, or how we in the present are still stuggling to catch up.
NC has an abundance of transplants from upstate NY. They tell stories about the awful winters up north but I suspect they are secretly homesick. A rare snow-day in NC seemed like a good excuse to revisit my fascination with the City of Buffalo. Join me as I delve into topics such as snow-envy, transit, demographics, and breakfast cereal.
In this case study from Chattanooga, TN we took the lessons of compact development and looked at how design can impact economics at the development site scale. When a vibrant neighborhood balked at the planned design of a typical grocery supermarket we took the opportunity to investigate alternative designs and measure their fiscal performance.
Taking a break from enlightening planning commentary I decided to share some odd and interesting sites from aerial imagery. It's easy to take for granted that at our fingertips is a perspective of the world totally unimaginable to humans for thousands of years of history. These sites reveal the startling scale to which we alter our landscape.
As 2014 closes and 2015 begins I reflect back on my projects of the year. One memorable experience was the activity and vibrancy on the streets of Buffalo. Even six stories up in a hotel with a barely operable window I felt like part of an improvised drama. I think this experience is a powerful lesson about urban design, human scale, and living neighborhoods.
When Robert De Niro gets into a fight with the labyrinthine New York State property tax system its a great chance to learn how cities misunderstand their opportunities and what really pays their bills. This is a story about a fight too expensive to be worth fighting and what we can learn when we do the math.
Visualizing data in 3-D is what we have become well known for. Exploring data in this way can be compelling and visualizing appealing but what practical advantages and specific insights does it offer? 3-D modelling is more than just a pretty way to show off data.
Drunk driving is a behavior on which we spend a lot of effort discouraging and yet somehow largely ignore the importance of design. This article asks whether America has a drinking problem or a driving problem? What's worse yet, is that through things like minimum parking requirements and zoning we are virtually coding a problem into existence.
What measurements do we consider when we buy a car? We know that fuel efficiency is important for saving us money. How do cities look at development though? Do they make this same distinction? Are they looking at the right numbers? Presented here is our miles per gallon approach to tax effiency and development.
Why do we concentrate so much analysis on property taxes? Property taxes are the foundation of local government finance. They are also the link between urban design and the ability for local government to pay its bills.