Category Archives: Urban Planning

More Poor Richard | Part 3

More Poor Richard, Part 3
by Mark David Major, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Courteous Reader,

I attempted to win your favor when I wrote my first Almanac for Architects and Planners, in the name of the public good and professional betterment, by way of earning some profit and a wife. I am gratified by your expression of encouragement for my tireless efforts dedicated to these aims. Alas, my circumstances still find me exceedingly poor and, unluckily, exceedingly wifeless. I am required to earn some profit to address both problems whilst now addressing a third, namely testing the proposition that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To satisfy my own particular brand of insanity, I have written more proverbs and whimsical sayings for your benefit and, hopefully, my own.

As before on The Outlaw Urbanist, I write this new Almanac in increments of ten, according to the dictates of Moses and the Almighty. However, once published as an Almanac for Architects and Planners, the proverbs and witticisms were gathered into a number equal to the days of the week, after being reliably informed that both seven and ten are sacred numbers. My desired requirement for a wife is sufficient motive to write this new Almanac in the hope it will find your favor and retweets as a means of demonstrating the usefulness of my continued efforts but also your charity to this sane Friend and poor Servant,

Richard

On Creating and Creativity

21.       Planners with 20/20 foresight are more valuable than those with 20/20 hindsight.

22.       Organisms are machines for living. When it comes to creating machines, Nature is still infinitely superior to Man.

23.       Man assumes a God-like artifice compared to the machines he creates but, compared to the Nature of the Universe, Man is an ant.

24.       A little humility before Nature goes a long way.

25.      Creativity is a newly (re)discovered path that is often more important than the destination itself.

26.       Creativity and space flow with an energy born from the same source.

27.       For any true artist, a blank page is exciting and frightening in equal measure.

28.       Creativity is the vibrant symbiosis of courage to succeed and fear of failure. Too often, urban planners suffer from an abundance of the latter and deficiency in the former.

29.       Shame on the architect who does not design with love and builds that which is unloved by its own creator.

30.       For an architect or planner, doubt only marks the beginning of a path to wisdom. Doubt only marks hubris if it is treated as a destination unto itself. Take the path and never assume you have arrived.

Issue 4 of More Poor Richard for Architects and Planners cometh soon!

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More Poor Richard | Part 2

More Poor Richard, Part 2
by Mark David Major, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Courteous Reader,

I attempted to win your favor when I wrote my first Almanac for Architects and Planners, in the name of the public good and professional betterment, by way of earning some profit and a wife. I am gratified by your expression of encouragement for my tireless efforts dedicated to these aims. Alas, my circumstances still find me exceedingly poor and, unluckily, exceedingly wifeless. I am required to earn some profit to address both problems whilst now addressing a third, namely testing the proposition that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To satisfy my own particular brand of insanity, I have written more proverbs and whimsical sayings for your benefit and, hopefully, my own.

As before on The Outlaw Urbanist, I write this new Almanac in increments of ten, according to the dictates of Moses and the Almighty. However, once published as an Almanac for Architects and Planners, the proverbs and witticisms were gathered into a number equal to the days of the week, after being reliably informed that both seven and ten are sacred numbers. My desired requirement for a wife is sufficient motive to write this new Almanac in the hope it will find your favor and retweets as a means of demonstrating the usefulness of my continued efforts but also your charity to this sane Friend and poor Servant,

Richard

On Architecture

11.      Quality is presence of value and not absence of mistake.

12.       Profit is not an aesthetic choice. It’s a surrender.

13.       The act of design condemns all architects and planners to play God poorly, some more so than others.

14.       Good design enhances everything as surely as bad design defiles all.

15.       Architecture cannot save the world, only people can. This is why God sent a carpenter to be the ‘temple’.

16.       If architecture is a language, then a lot of architects are speaking in gibberish.

17.       Don’t judge a building by its façade. Every building is a story waiting to unfold for those willing to read it.

18.       Architecture always lies. Technological innovations only make the lies more transparent.

19.       Standardization is a blessing for quantity and a curse for quality in architecture.

20.      Architecture represents the outward appearance of things best when the architect understands the inward significance of those things.

Issue 3 of More Poor Richard for Architects and Planners cometh soon!

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More Poor Richard | Part 1

More Poor Richard, Part 1
by Mark David Major, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Courteous Reader,

I attempted to win your favor when I wrote my first Almanac for Architects and Planners, in the name of the public good and professional betterment, by way of earning some profit and a wife. I am gratified by your expression of encouragement for my tireless efforts dedicated to these aims. Alas, my circumstances still find me exceedingly poor and, unluckily, exceedingly wifeless. I am required to earn some profit to address both problems whilst now addressing a third, namely testing the proposition that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To satisfy my own particular brand of insanity, I have written more proverbs and whimsical sayings for your benefit and, hopefully, my own.

As before on The Outlaw Urbanist, I write this new Almanac in increments of ten, according to the dictates of Moses and the Almighty. However, once published as an Almanac for Architects and Planners, the proverbs and witticisms were gathered into a number equal to the days of the week, after being reliably informed that both seven and ten are sacred numbers. My desired requirement for a wife is sufficient motive to write this new Almanac in the hope it will find your favor and retweets as a means of demonstrating the usefulness of my continued efforts but also your charity to this sane Friend and poor Servant,

Richard

On Cities

1.    As big as the road, so will the car be.

2.    When American urban designers and planners developed an allergic reaction to straight lines and right angles, our cities started sneezing phlegm all over the place.

3.    A ‘road to nowhere’ is much less important than all the ‘somewheres’ it will eventually lead.

4.    Suburban sprawl breeds idiotic driving behaviors.

5.    Interruptus en extremis isn’t any good for urban life… or your sex life.

6.     Pursuing (politically palatable) green spaces to the exclusion of (hard choice) urbanity is a self-defeating proposition. We have that, it’s called suburban sprawl.

7.     Observe the world around you before daring to create anew.

8.     Every city should have at least one Electric Avenue we gonna rock down and then take it higher… perhaps even two.

9.     The pattern of great cities is at once sensuous and logical; elegant with the past, restless in the present, and pregnant with future potential.

10.    Part is to whole as whole is to part in the city.

Issue 2 of More Poor Richard for Architects and Planners cometh soon!

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Urban Patterns | Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the capital and largest city of Austria with a population of about 1.8 million (2.6 million within the metropolitan area, nearly one-third of Austria’s population), and its cultural, economic, and political center. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. There is evidence of continuous habitation in Vienna since 500 BC when the site on the Danube River was first settled by the Celts. In 15 BC, the Romans fortified the frontier city they called “Vindobona” to guard the empire against Germanic tribes invading from the north. Vienna is known for its high quality of life. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first (in a tie with Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco, USA) for the world’s most liveable cities (Source: Wikipedia).

The urban layout of Vienna is a classic European deformed grid with a series of open-angled diagonal routes radiating outward from center-to-edge and intersecting/overlaying with a series of ring/orbital roads, which similarly radiate outwards based on an increasing radius from center-to-edge, i.e. smaller rings in the center, successively larger in the periphery. As in other European cities, the deformed grid pattern in the oldest area of the city (more or less center above) is composed of smaller blocks and shorter streets. As the city has grown in size, the size of blocks and length of streets (and associated segments) have increased, which embeds the layout with a strongly consistent geometric logic (especially when blocks are examined in discrete terms) in its deformed grid pattern.

(Updated:  May 18, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

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Urban Patterns | Las Vegas, Nevada USA

There is a lot that can be said – and has been said over the years – about the “Modern Babylon’ known as Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas comes from the Spanish, who used artesian wells for water in the area, supporting green meadows (vegas in Spanish), on journeys along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas during the 19th century. Mormons were the first to settle in the area in 1855 when Brigham Young assigned missionaries from Salt Lake City to convert the local Indian population to Mormonism. They constructed a fort near the current downtown area, which served as a stopover for travelers between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The missionaries abandoned the settlement a couple of years later during the Utah War (a bloodless confrontation between Mormon settlers and the U.S. Government).

Las Vegas, Nevada in 1906 (Source: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority).

Las Vegas became a railroad town in 1905 when it was still a crossroads hamlet and briefly prospered in the early 20th century due to mining activities in the area, and as a rail stopover between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Official incorporation of the city occurred in 1911 and the State of Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. This led to the construction of the first casino-hotels in Las Vegas, which gained success and notoriety due to organized crime figures such as Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Siegel and Lansky were associated with the Genovese crime family (one of New York City’s Five Families of the Cosa Nostra, i.e. American Mafia). However, Mormon-owned banks fronted Siegel and Lansky, which provided legitimacy for their activities. Siegel was a driving force behind large-scale development of Las Vegas until his murder in 1947. The large casino-hotels led to an explosion of urban growth that eventually made Las Vegas one of the top entertainment and tourist destinations in the world.

Having said all this, we are going to limit today’s Urban Patterns post about Las Vegas to three things. First, a large amount of green visible in the above satellite image is completely man-made (either rooftops or lawns). Las Vegas is located in an arid basin on the desert floor, surrounded by dry mountains. Much of the landscape is rocky and dusty and the environment is dominated by desert vegetation. To borrow from Baudrillard, the greenery of Las Vegas is a landscaper’s simulacrum of a natural vegetation that otherwise does not exist in the area independent of man-made irrigation systems (much like Los Angeles). Second, is the readily-apparent importance of the radial streets (including a significant portion of Las Vegas Boulevard) feeding into the CBD/historic area (offset grid at the center). Lastly, is the indelible mark that has emerged over time on the urban landscape due to the national grid system imposed by the 1785 Land Ordinance, as evidenced by the large-scale orthogonal grid pattern around the CBD/historic area. These are only three interesting things about the city’s urban pattern. Las Vegas is an endlessly fascinating city for so many different reasons.

(Updated:  May 18, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

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