Come one, come all. Along with James Rojas and Cindy Ma, we will be talking at the AIA East Bay about how we translate culturally based patterns of walking and enhancing the public realm into design guidelines that encourage rather than constrain. To register, click HERE.
Yep, it’s official: we’re writing a book – along with James Rojas of Place it! The book’s topic will, in a nutshell, be about creative, hands-on, and sensory-based ways of doing community engagement for urban design, landscape, and planning projects. We’re at an all-hands-on-deck moment with so many issues in our country and world at this point and time, so engaging everyone in the process – regardless of background, language ability, culture – is critical. More details as they come.
We have moved to Oakland! Above is a view from the new office. It inspires daydreaming and calls forth nothing but possibilities.
Plants emerging through concrete. Photo courtesy of Ugly Angel.
Our newest landscape-installation project will be focusing on weeds and will seek to involve anyone and everyone in the project’s evolution and data-collection process. You may follow the progress of the project on Twitter via hashtag projectweeds. We are partnering up with two Swedes and one Minneapolitan on the project in order to create a robust multidisciplinary team. The team thus far consists of Björn Wallsten, Anna Maria Larson, Shannon Farrell, and, of course, us.
In other big and exciting news, we are moving to San Francisco and the Bay Area starting this May.
New development in Lyn-Lake, photo courtesy of Steve Barone
Two recent articles have called attention to ads along the sides of under-construction residential buildings going up in Uptown that seem to indicate an increased neighborhood cultural turn towards bro-dom. One says, “I don’t remember her name, but her apartment. . .”; the other, “Don’t get hitched until you enjoy your year at LIME” (shown above). Conversation has invariably turned towards how disgusting and bro-y the ads are, and thus, how disgusting and bro-y the neighborhood is (and has been) becoming. However, what strikes us as of greater importance, and what is at the core of these ads, is what they say about densifying American urban neighborhoods circa 2013: they risk becoming temporary urban playgrounds with a transient, constantly turning-over population of people who are doing “the city thing” for a year before they graduate to a lower-density locale. And this phenomenon poses a particular challenge for us as planners and designers and city-lovers: How do we make these densifying neighborhoods enduring urban places people invest in, and not simply the transient playgrounds they are fast becoming?
At the core of this problem is that we as a nation are in somewhat uncharted urban waters. Designing, building, and maintaining low-density urban and suburban neighborhoods has been the de facto American norm for quite some time, and we have gotten quite good at it. In our efforts to pursue and perfect this low-density development model we have neglected and nearly forgotten the nuanced body of city-building knowledge required to create more enduring, dense urban environments. As such, we are virtually having to start over. How do you create denser urban neighborhoods of residents who are there for the long-haul? The answers most certainly lie in streets, sidewalks, schools, culture, trees, transit, economics, dwelling units with sound-proof walls. . . and then some. But in what combinations? At what scales? There is a whole host of fine-grained neighborhood-building elements we are only beginning to rediscover, explore, and ponder. As such, we are in the infancy stages of urban redensification, and for the time being we know that, at least, there will be bros.