Tag Archives: Living Urbanism

How Can Your City Support Extreme Sports?

With Bill on his way up the eastern sea board, there is a buzz of activity taking place in preparation for some potentially epic surf & kiting. Having talked with a half dozen friends this afternoon about the best spots, times and equipment needed to enjoy the most Bill has to offer I came to realize an interesting connection between cities and progressive sports. The video above was taken at Pleasure Bay in South Boston. You can literally take public transportation to one of the best kiteboarding location I’ve ever rode. How does your city take advantage of its natural environment to support these extreme sports? Sure, a glass calm, wind swept bay is not a straight forward as a little league baseball field, but skate parks, kitesurfing launches, surfing access to beaches and urban bouldering can all become unique amenities to a city. What type of riding can you enjoy in your city?

An Essay on Civic Beauty

I published an essay on Civic Beauty and Placemaking over on the Living Urbanism blog. The idea for this essay came from the last year or so of experience working on Great Kennedy Plaza in Providence. During this project, I have had the pleasure of interacting with Fred and Ethan Kent from Project for Public Spaces. Their unique ability to understand and observe a public space is a skill I hope to one day enjoy as well. Much can be learn from PPS and their process.

I was also inspired by the writing of Camillo Sitte. It seems the idea of artistically created public space is still a difficult pill to swallow for most city officials. Its strange because I feel it an obvious connection for most to make when they are deciding on a vacation… “let’s go some place beautiful”. Shouldn’t all of our built environment be beautiful?

You can find the essay here. You can also find a nice extend comment on the essay by my friend Wayne Franklin here. The printed edition of this volume of Living Urbanism should be available early next week.

Volume 2 of Living Urbanism Just Published

We just posted the 2nd volume of Living Urbanism to the web. The print edition will hopefully be available next week. Check out the essays here. A big thanks needs to be given to all the contributors. It has been a real pleasure working with them over the past year. The publication would not be possible without their commitment and talented contributions.

Another big thanks to my co-editors Matt Lambert and Mike Lydon! Next up, volume 3. Keep an eye out for how to submit soon.


Discussing Living Urbanism at CNU

Living Urbanism Hill Living 1We held an open source conversation about the concept of Living Urbanism at CNU17. Below are a series of point that summarize the conversation. Many insightful topics were discussed such as redefining our understanding of the neighborhood, how to create elegantly sustainable places, how the community of a place is the foundation for its success and the power of using the concepts of social media in the real world, with real people.

Thanks to everyone who took more then an hour out of their Congress to share their thoughts on this emerging concept. I produced the image above as a diagram for how some of these concepts could effect the form of our built and natural environment. Please comment if I have missed anything or want to introduce additional ideas.

Characteristics of Living Urbanism:
1. Served by locally produced food.
2. Served by power produced by a local, renewable system.
3. Served by water provided by a locally renewed aquifer or water body and
4. supplemented by captured rain.
5. Served by infrastructure and commerce that supports a zero waste
6. Served by a transit system providing access to needs not easily reached
by foot.
7. Served by convenient access to Nature and the countryside.

Discussion on Living Urbanism:
What do we define as truly being “daily needs”? It could be stated that social interaction is the primary daily need.

Where does a sense of community come from and how do we capture that in a place?

What are the “loose fitting” characteristics of timeless places that we are not apply to our contemporary designs? More focus on the detailed characteristics of flexible buildings and neighborhoods need to occur. Rome being the best example of enduring and flexible form.

Streets need to be thought of more as places and not only thoroughfares. Public space is the platform for social interaction to occur. A Living Tradition needs the support of a community to carry on the lessons.

Creating high quality, beautiful public spaces throughout a neighborhood and city is, perhaps, the best economic development tool available. A piece of Living Urbanism must have fantastic postcards of it’s many publics spaces.

Stuff that sucks isn’t going to last.

Living Urbanism is a threshold. It supports a lifestyle that is resilient and, perhaps, more enjoyable. Regardless of form, a person’s daily commute to work would ideally be no more then 15 to 20 minutes.

The local geography of a person’s daily routine is important to consider when thinking about the structure and life of a neighborhood. This local geography is smaller then we think. What is the pattern of your daily life and how does your current built environment not support a comfortable routine.

There is an over concentration of jobs. How can technology support a decentralization of the workplace that is economically sensible? We need tools for linking and creating small outposts for big business.

All aspects of vertical sprawl need more concrete positions to be effective. If the train doesn’t work can you walk? Can urbanism really be resilient if it relies too heavily on technology that is not enduring through recession, depression and crisis.

We must remember that a high quality Civic Realm is directly related to the ability to create smaller units and therefore more density in less space.

Living Urbanism Publication Preview Party

2009_06_livingurbanism_partyOur new media project, Living Urbanism, had a great preview party for the next issue due out on July 1. You can find Living Urbanism online here. Big thanks to the CNU Nextgen and the local ULI Young Leaders group for coming out and making it a great event. The party was at Lodo’s which has a fantastic vista of the roof tops of the neighborhood anchored in the background by a good urban stadium.

Design Tip: Rail Transportation as Green Landscaping

tram on grass

There has been some recent buzz about this interesting pattern in Europe. I have been thinking that as a piece of Living Urbanism the pattern of landscaping tramways could be improved by using native ground covers. Rain gardens could be added to catch storm water run off as well. You can see more photos here and there is some other interesting urban design ideas here from Monocle Magazine.