What are some simple things that one can to do to fight stress and anxiety?
Talk. Talking to a neutral party can help to relive stress and anxiety. We must be careful about who we talk to. That is why it is best to form a relationship with a Life Coach.
Meditate. With a Life Coach you will learn ways to relax. Many of these techniques can be used to self relax. Once stress and tension is lessened we are able to think more clearly. Knowing that you have this time each week is a reward to overworked minds.
Plan. Many people simply don't understand that planning to succeed is a simple process worth learning. This value-added concept is easily attained through a Life Coach.
Serve. When a person gives back to another something happens in their own lives. We are all meant to give back. Working with a Life Coach can help you to find your true service calling.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
I have such an entrepreneurial spirit that I could see myself being a restauranteur or getting into other industries where I could create concepts and experiences that people could enjoy.
I also love to party and could see myself planning extravagant events!
Declaration: With what person or business would you like to work?
I would love to work with musicians...or a party planning company. I was told I was good with imagery. So maybe advertising too.
What is the business idea that you are working on right now? How did you come up with it?
children's retail and party planning. I came up with it by combining things I am good at
What types of jobs do you usually do?
I'm an Accountant by profession but still I managed to do part time as designer right after office hours & on weekends. I do sewing, party planning/coordination, arts & crafts & product corporate souvenirs.
In which market, products or services, are you currently working?
I work mostly with people who are professionals within the Infertility Industry although I have helped others set up blogs and websites along with office management and organization.
My areas of expertize are as follows:
Owned & operated a successful Surrogacy agency ~ Recruiting ~ Liaison between clinic, psychologist, attorneys & clients ~ Mentoring & team building ~ Assisting w/ contract content & agreement negotiation ~ Conflict resolution ~ Staff development for ART Professionals & risk management teams ~ Online family formation & third-party reproduction education ~ Website content development & design ~ Strategic planning & niche development ~ Sales & marketing strategy ~ Customer satisfaction & loyalty ~ Ghost blogger, Blog content & design consulting using Typepad and other blogging formats~ Customer service training ~ Home office organization ~ New business plan coaching ~ Consulting with Intended Parents and Surrogates
What is your specialty? What does your work consist of?
I am an Infertility Industry Specialist that not only includes assisting small businesses but coaching surrogates and guiding intended parents through the many types of Assisted Reproductive Family Building Options.
My Specialties include the following:
Owned & operated a successful Surrogacy agency ~ Recruiting ~ Liaison between clinic, psychologist, attorneys & clients ~ Mentoring & team building ~ Assisting w/ contract content & agreement negotiation ~ Conflict resolution ~ Staff development for ART Professionals & risk management teams ~ Online family formation & third-party reproduction education ~ Website content development & design ~ Strategic planning & niche development ~ Sales & marketing strategy ~ Customer satisfaction & loyalty ~ Ghost blogger, Blog content & design consulting using Typepad and other blogging formats~ Customer service training ~ Home office organization ~ New business plan coaching ~ Consulting with Surrogates and Intended Parents ~ Two time gestational surrogate
Sharon LaMothe is currently serving on the advisory board for Parents Via Egg Donation(http://www.parentsviaeggdonation.org/), founding member and Surrogacy Chairwoman of the Egg Donation and Surrogacy Professional Association (http://edspa.org/), and an advisor for the OBGYN.net Women's Health Forum. Sharon is also a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a member of the Association of Reproductive Managers Professional Group (ARM) and a member of the Mental Health Professional Group (MHPG).
Sharon LaMothe is the Past Owner of Surrogacy Consultants of Florida, LLC of well over 5 years and most recently the Co-Owner of Infertility Answers, Inc. (http://infertilityanswers.net/) and is the author of the blog(s) Surrogacy 101 (http://infertilityanswers.typepad.com/surrogacy_101 and http://surrogacy101.blogspot.com/). She is also the author of the new blog, The Agency Angle (http://theagencyangle.blogspot.com/) Sharon's responsibilities as an agency owner included interviewing new Surrogates, educating and assisting Intended Parents and Surrogates, managing relationships, writing packet forms, intake sheets, brochures and website content, marketing and advertising. Prior to owning SCF, Sharon worked with an adoption/surrogacy attorney. Sharon has also been a Gestational Surrogate, giving birth to twin girls in March of 2000 for a Florida couple, and in January 2005, gave birth to girl/boy twins for a New York couple.
Sharon's educational background includes a Social Services major which encompassed classes in Crisis Identification and Intervention, Interviewing and Counseling, Communication in Groups and Organizations. Sharon's continuing education classes include Total Quality Management (TQM) and Shared Decision Making. She has offered her unique perspectives and expertise by holding round table discussions and speaking on the topic of Surrogacy for SMART ART, RESOLVE, American Fertility Association, Fertile Dreams and by arranging staff development luncheons and meetings with various clinics, hospitals and law offices. Sharon is married with two children and currently resides in Seattle, WA.
Imagine your ideal house. Where would it be? What would it be like?
Even before moving to the Bronx’s Hunts Point as a little boy of less than four years old, I’d explore the cellars where coal was stored and especially the underground grease pits below the street parking garage accessible from our Home Street apartment building. It was in this apartment I heard Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” “broadcast and nightly the roar of overhead planes policed the Bronx skies. Beams of lights searched the skies and illuminated our planes and I’d go out to the stairs before our apartment and greet the air raid warden, he and I got to be buddies and he let me try on his helmet. A year or two later, in my pajamas, and long before dawn I’d open the door to our two-family Faille Street house on the last street before industrial Hunts Point. I’d put my bare foot onto the red brick steps to descend to the glittering cement side walk. This was my first urban act when I touched the city and I could feel it under my feet.
One morning I’d go into one street and the next I would go the other direction circling the block and seeing every detail that could be seen by the lamp lights on our dimly lit street. In the day, with my few and chosen older-best-friends Billy and Ralph I would explore the factories, abandoned huts, Drake Park graveyard, shacks inside sawdust piles, and those now warehoused WW2 searchlights, tanks and Jeeps.
One day we found a barrel and I ate a hot pickle which seemed to burn within my whole body, I felt like I was going to die, and ran to every factory till one kind worker gave me some sugar to relieve my suffering.
Five years later, we moved to a tenement in the Morrisania Fort Apache neighborhood where I continued my practice of exploring the urban streets to discover sewers, cellars, iron guardrails, and the alleys behind buildings. My explorations were solo missions and since our block was very long there were many building stoops, cellar stairs, tunnels, alleys, and secret storage rooms I could enter and explore, when, that was not enough I’d explore the roof tops and fire escapes and chimneys; all that without crossing the street or leaving my block. These were the earliest manifestations of my urban passion.
Music and urban ethnic diversity was supplied by my Mediterranean grandmother from Rhodes as she taught me how to dance to her Greek music played on her manual wind-up Victrola. I also had Italian, black, Puerto Rican, and Jewish best friends from whom I learned many colloquial, foods and customs so that when we later lived in Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, European, and Asian cities, I was right at home.
In the same way, before I was ten, when I stuttered and stammered; and after my father had bought me a phonograph, I bought records with my allowance money which I’d play and then I would write and memorize the words of all the songs. It was the day of radio, so I likewise memorized all the soapbox, serial jingles and program introduction' classical musical themes and words. It was in this way that I learned to read and write, and soon I was able to overcome my stuttering by reciting what I had memorized.
I learned to first picture my words and then read them aloud when I sang or spoke. I also could not tie my shoelaces until an older blind girl taught me.
I knew I was emotionally compelled to make these urban explorations because no human being was whispering in my ear. All of these explorations were coupled with my building miniature rooms in the sun parlor of our Hunts Point house. I built them out of cardboard boxes, orange crates, and egg boxes from the corner grocery.
The roof was made out of rope and spare blankets my Mom permitted me to use. Later, in the tenement on Simpson Street, I’d build miniature stages and scenery out of “Marcel” tissue boxes and exhibit them on our oriental curio cabinet, a cabinet, which we inherited from my grandmother. This was all my idea of playing and exploring.
As I matured, I found that I had a plethora of visual and graphic vocabulary, which now needed explanations, and I did not stop asking adults at school or on the streets about each and every detail. So were the seeds planted of my passion for the city and its bits and pieces? About 45 years later, I shared this story with my Turkish friend, a professor and colleague at King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia, after which he explained how these experiences, made me an extraordinary architect. He said that I was “called” to be an urban architect, which made me very passionate about my profession which was becoming very real. He said this was very rare and lucky for me for my whole life. Indeed, he was correct, because as I matured it seems that the only jobs and hobbies I had revolved around urban buildings, streets, interiors, furniture and decoration.
At twelve, I became a store helper, boy salesman, and later made cornices and hung drapes in thousands of apartments in hundreds of neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and the emerging suburbs of both Long Island and Westchester County. I even hung drapes in Manhattan’s richest luxury apartments such as the multi-story apartments on Fifth Ave and the owner of the new credit card company called the “Diners Club” on Central Park South. Even in this, I was passionate and got paid top dollar at one dollar per foot, with what I earned from this job I was able to pay my tuition and fare to travel Europe and other American cities. While I attended college, I worked full time during one summer as a Good Humor man and also for my father, who owned a limonene rental business, I drove his limousine where I again was able to memorize the many streets, traffic patterns and neighborhoods of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Other urban jobs included delivering newspapers into tenement buildings. I still was asking questions and getting few answers until I became a student at New York School of Interior Design. My grades went from high schools “just barely passing” to straight “A’s” in all subjects. My vocabulary was expanding and my hungry heart could not fully describe what I was seeing and doing. I over-achieved on every assignment and was going to every museum, and reading every book on every fabric, porcelain, carpet, furniture and doorknob. I knew then I needed more to satisfy my passion so I requested the name of the best school with the smartest and most knowledgeable teachers, ones who would really know the answers to my hundreds of questions. One teacher told me that “Pratt” was the best. When I applied, I was scoffed at because of my dismal public and high school grades.
They sent me to a local junior college where some special teacher came up with a solution and appealed to the Pratt registrar, who agreed that if I could get great grades at Columbia’s School of General Studies they would admit me, surely, they thought that was the end of me. Well, not only did I get great grades but also I savored my courses in sociology, behavioral psychology, and especially Art History. The art history class culminated in a lecture commemorating the Christmas holidays showing stunning slides of the Vatican and St. Peter’s. Ten years later when the train pulled into the Rome train station I stood gazing out of the window at the front of the car as I had done for years with my uncle David in New York subways, only this time to see the Rome station getting larger and larger. When the train stopped and chills over my body subsided and after stashing my suitcase in a locker, (I) made my way to St Peters.
My every fantasy came true as I saw the over-scaled marble floors, gigantic Baldacchino, great Bernini statues, and Michael Angelo sculptures. It is from this experience and my fascination with Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s surreal romantic 16 prints of “Imaginary Prisons” that I urged myself)to draw pen and inks of the variations in scale and contexts for my “midnight in the oasis” fantasy collection.
I also attended New York City’s Hunter College for Physics, so all of my studies also took me to the very best urban schools where I could additionally experience more urban culture. Before I was to leave New York City in 1973 at the age of thirty six, I had been immersed in urban economics, politics, and government; I was street and office savvy and knew the ins and outs of education and institutions. I definitely had an urban attitude and multiple urban identities evolved from the street, school, culture, institutions, business and professional practice.
Through Pratt, my urban passion compelled me to befriend my Contemporary Theories professor, Gerald Popiel, who had been a writer in England for the Voice of America and was a member of the Polish intelligentsia. He mentored me in urbanity, urbaneness, and the significance of cities, civilization, and architecture. At the same time, I read Ayn Rand, and most of the great books under the guide of Mr. Fjelde, my great books teacher. I was blessed to have the Hollywood actor John McGiver as my high school English teacher who taught me to read and appreciate Shakespeare and off-Broadway theater. I myself acted in the Pratt playshop and romanced a gifted artist, poet, and intellect named “Barbara Allen”.
With the encouragement of New York’s most famous radio disc jockey, Ted Brown, and his wife, I became a radio announcer and when they divorced, we had extravagant “la dolce vita” “parties and good times in the streets and theaters. She was my first interior design client and I not only hung all the drapes in their former residence but also now furnished her new house. At the opening of the movie, “Never on Sunday”, she and her actor friends and I sang and danced in the isles.
During the height of the sixties my Cousin Louis Abolofia and Christina’s close friend, Max Waldman, ushered us through the most artistic, fantastic theatre, and happenings in Manhattan,(.) Max’s’ work finally wound up in the New York’s Museum of Modern Art, (MOMA) exhibiting his photographs of actors, Opera singers, and ballet dancers.
At Pratt, I found the school’s radio station and when I later studied architecture at Yale, I worked at night as a broadcaster at a Waterbury radio station. The owner of the station was none other than the chief engineer for the then famous all music station, WPAT, in Paterson, New Jersey. With the encouragement of Dean, and Charles Moore; I created a lecture series called “Architecture the Making of Metaphors”, which had many of the period’s most creative urban architects and scholars including Robert Venturi, John Cage, and Christopher Tunnard. The architectural historian, Vincent Scully was my Yale student- adviser and I got to know New Haven’s Mayor Richard Lee over many personal conversations about this wonderful program of planning and selecting the world’s best architects for many buildings in his city. We also discussed the black riots. All of these people contributed to adding discipline to my urban passion. During this time the extraordinarily talented, former Designs for Business supervisor and now one of my best friends visited. I even invited my former Pratt professor, then screen writer and Chef Editor of Progressive Architecture magazine, and author of many children’s books about architecture, to New Haven to present his ideas of metaphors at my lecture series.
I wasn’t the only member of my family with a passion for urbanism. During this same time, my cousin Owen, who was working as a clerk for Thrurgood Marshal went to Watts to mitigate the rioters while other rioters marched right past our Orchard Street window in New Haven. Today, after serving as vice dean at Yale law school and occupying one of its prestigious chairs, Owen’s law text book is widely used in law schools and he advised Eritrea about its constitution.
We traveled with very short notice. For example, our trip to the western states from College Station was arranged and planned in twenty-four hours; when I heard the temperature forecast would reach 104 degrees and used this as an excuse to go to the mountains of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. But, neither Christina nor I were travelling to be adventurous or part of a class of people. We were caught up in the opportunity to change environments, habitats, venues, and contexts and decided that to do so was healthy and worth while. Such an attitude kept our passport always in order and our minds unglued from our current context, what ever it was in prior years. I had detailed hand-lettered describing each and every city that I visited. I wrote them in carbon copy letters. One of my father’s clients was so impressed with my efforts she sponsored my writing by giving me several thousand dollars toward the publication of the book.
The book I lettered is filled with descriptions and characterizations of the feeling and ambiance of each city. I was struck by the way the scale, building form, and volumes made the streets and the experience of the city aesthetic, beautiful, and exciting. In this way, my life has been a kind of prototype or model of an urban person. Perhaps I did more than most and what I did exaggerated the diversity of an urban person. I found that, as each person was unique each place had its own identity and character. I remember many details of buildings and streets, but I also recall some special events and people, which still linger in my mind. For example, because there were no other available pensions, the Dubrovnik, the city tourist bureau assigned me to a girl’s dormitory for my entire stay. One of its residents told me that because of the care for her and the people, President Tito was like her father.
Additionally, I spent an entire day with a young female gypsy who welcomed me into her family camp. They only visited cites and urban areas but preferred to live in clusters and had no agreements with any one or another nation. Later, in Saudi Arabia, I was to meet Bedouins with similar points of view. In fact, many urbanized Saudis still prefer there own tribes to any allegiance to a city or the kingdom. Both the gypsy and Bedouin are inherently anti-urban. Yet they both work and live well in dense groups. However when they live in cities, the Saudis surround there house’ with walls while the Bedouins keep their tents separated and shielded with hanging carpets. I enjoyed many of Italy’s formerly royal and natural cities including the one month I spent in Florence filled with many adventures including the welcome surprise of meeting a former Pratt classmate on the other side of the Ponte Veccio, by the time I left, I felt likeI personally knew the Medici family, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo. In Milan, I welcomed architect Geo Pontes’ kindness and hospitality. But nothing could compare to my hostess and her Capri pension with its view over the Mediterranean, where I entered the glowing Blue Grotto and the mountain high flight of stairs I had to ascend to come home. In Solerno, my pension’s hostess, who when we met was pleased to meet and accommodate an American who she happily called a gangster which became my Solerno nickname. Her charm made me overlook her presumptuous generalizations. Perhaps that explains why the neighboring towns-people were so extra-welcoming.
In Italy, I enjoyed eating spaghetti every day while enjoying the plazas and campaniles of so many cities and villages including a cafe rendezvous with an American female stranger in Verona.
In these circumstances, I pictured people like the character played by Deborah Kerr in the 1957 David Lean movie with Cary Grant called An Affair to Remember.
In Paris, on the French Independence Day (Bastille Day) I drove and the open-top car ride down the Champs ‘Elise while we shot guns into the air. My first visit to the Momarte and the Moulin Rouge in Paris led me down all its mysterious and tantalizing streets until I met a high school buddy, Frank Bozzo, in Paris, and together we visited Fontainebleau, Versailles, and the Blois Valley palaces. My sketches of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and San Marco in Venice looked like the commercial picture postcards being sold around the world and expressing my love affair with cities. Like the actor, Gene Kelly in an “American in Paris” , my urban passion combined with my romantic-mind as when I guided a young Danish girl though her own city of Copenhagen who finally told me that I knew her city better than the natives did.
I also enjoyed professional ballroom dancers and lantern shows in Tivoli Gardens. And, in Milan, I had a backstage view of a performance at LaScalla, followed by a cup of coffee with Van Clyburn, in a café, in the nearby Galleria. Nothing was more urban than a chance meeting followed by a brief but platonic romance with a female student in Toledo. Packing a picnic lunch she took me up a small mountain overlooking her city for me to draw while she sang:” coo co ru co coo” and when I we reviewed my completed sketches when I noted their familiar appearance she coyly told me that was because we were sitting on the very spot where ElGreco sat when he painted “Views of Toledo”. I had many other spectacular experiences in Spain including a scalper selling bullfight tickets in Madrid and the one week I ran with the bulls in Pamplona during the festival of St. Fermin,
On a ship to Holland, I met another like-minded world traveler, this time from Lapland with whom I went to East Germany; who assured me that if she were to marry me, her communist father world probably kill us both. In contrast, and on another ship, I met Dutch Henny d’Munch who zealously took me back to stay with her parents in the world’s windmill capital of Kinder Dyke. Since growing up in New Amsterdam, now New York, I always had a great affection for everything Dutch. It seems that as a traveling bachelor I was able to meet many lovely ladies including the daughter of a British couple in Vienna, who invited me to entertain their daughter since we all shared a pension in the outer ring. In our tours, the Englishman taught me a great deal about the Roman’s settlement of this and many other European cities. I partially enjoyed seeing Vienna before it was later covered up, remodeled, and modernized.
Europe had its many special and peculiar customs, which first hit me when in Luxemburg, the first time I slept in a down bed and when I awoke, the next morning ate a whole apple pie for breakfast. In a bakery, I didn’t know what else to ask for so I just pointed. Of course, in every city I ever visited, I never could pass a church and I built my vocabulary of these buildings including noticing the details of fountains, statues, minarets, pediments, and building’s decorative features. I particularly relished meeting and talking to old ladies, gentleman, and priests who could lovingly tell me of each detail of their neighborhood. Between these conversations and the ones on trains between one and another city, I learned the vocabulary of many languages. Horary for the famous “Euroail Pass”, But nothing more defined my urban prowess than the time I left my sunglasses in a restaurant at the top on the village mountain of old Niece and then was able to meander back up, find the place, and get my glasses.
This part of Niece was built on a mountain and had a myriad of side and winding streets, which crossed and intersected. But most of the Mediterranean cites streets skirted the hilly terrain. even the spectacular Amalphi with its back walks, water falls and breathtaking views. It is here in the adjacent city of Positano that the German composer, Wagener wrote “the ring”. In England, I Met Christine Keeler at the House of Lords and saw her fate being disputed, while makes a very detailed sketch of the House of Lords. In 1963, the Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, suddenly resigned as an indirect result of the Profumo scandal involving Christine Keeler. Of course, England has other great cities where I had exciting adventures including Oxford; where I spent the night roaming the streets with Oscar Brown Junior after his outrageous performance of “Wam Bam, Thank You Mam”. However, nothing beats the English breakfasts lavished upon me by the inn-keeper’s wife on the Themes in the heart of London. Like most big old cities, London has a large number of distinctly different neighborhoods resulting from waves of migration, development, and trade over a long period of time. At that time, I particularly enjoyed visiting Soho before it was made popular by the creation of the mini skirts and the Beatles. In London, I drew St. Paul Cathedral and every different town-house building type. I particularly enjoyed the elegant and stately townhouses facing elegant parks. You know the ones you see in Sherlock Holmes’ movies.
On a train from Amsterdam, I teamed up with three Jewish boys, who as art students were going to Arles to discover the source of Van Gogh’s genius. They proudly showed me the numbers on their arms, which proclaimed their identity. After one week, they announced that the place had nothing infectious nor contagious that would have emanated to them or the great artist.
This observation about this small and ancient city was a profound comment about the difference between urbanism, cities, and opportunities they afford the individual. Yet there are cites where great art movements have thrived. In Hamburg, while traveling as a bachelor, I met a religious man and philosophized about our place in the world. I also saw women displayed in store windows on the notorious Raperbahn. Also, in Germany with my wife on New Years Eve in Berchdesgarten, a man’s wrist had been cut open by a bottle in which he had inserted and exploded a flare to add to the fire work festivities. The women accompanying him called me in and I immediately lifted his arm, told the women to call the Green Crescent, put a Tourniquet on his lower arm, sat him down and gave him lots of water to drink. The whole crowd were German tourist there for the holidays who had been many times to this place and because we were new and outsiders they had given us the silent treatment. Well, the next morning and every meal there after we were treated like honored guests and in the most loving way. Of course, the Green Crescent was very pleased and commended me on my correct treatment, and the man’s life and arm were saved. There was a little four year old girl with blond curls and blue eyes that they would send over to our table to greet and give us a lovely little kiss. She was so precious. Before and after I attended Columbia’s classes in behavior psychology and perception by Dr. Hefferline and Pratt’s, Ara Ignatius little about cities escaped my attention. So much so, that on one four month trip visiting seventy-two cities all I did was pen and drawings of most every thing I saw, I took no photographs. I thrived on perceiving and recalling the images, building a vocabulary of vignettes, fountains, statues, plazas, pavement, marbles, porcelain, gold leaf, embroidery, silks, stained glass, and columns.
I saw the figure of Mercury attached to building’s corners in Leipzig, gargoyles on New York and Paris buildings, water gushing onto fountains on the sides of buildings and in the middle of backyard plazas in Italy, Spain, and practically every European city. I saw the spaces, shades, and shadows cast by the volumes. I drew the relationships between the buildings and the buildings that define plazas, campanile, walkways, and gutters. I cultivated this skill on both the streets of the city and the many long rides I made on the New York subway. I’d continuously sketch the people, car, and platform details. Especially impressive was the easy walk from the center of cities like Florence to its gardens in Fiesole. And, the easy walks in Capri and Ana Capri built by Mussolini filled with walks and benches with spectacular views, and the short trip from Vienna to Grinsing. In their way, they were similar to Rye, Palisades, Orchard Beach, Long Beach, Brighton, and Coney Island, where I noticed the architecture and colors of the mid-east.
In every city all over Europe, there are the cafes; especially memorable are the open cafes in the Italian central plazas and the elegant cafés in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. For example, Vienna’s Sacher and Zurich’s Springli for coffee, and, others to zip coffee while a man plays a zither. And, after the closing the inner ring to traffic at Vienna’s St. Stephan’s square we also enjoy imbis (snack shops); operettas; pensions, and small hotels including a night’s stay in our friends beautiful in-city villa and wine tasting in the evenings the in nearby Grinsing suburb. Vienna is a wonderful place to window-shop in any weather including the rain. One always goes by foot to shop for food, dine out, or perform some business. I always enjoyed hunting and discovering the personal and artistic place in any city I lived or visited.
Even in Manhattan, one block from my bachelor apartment I found a small Hungarian restaurant with burgundy velvet wall paper where a violinist serenades the tables. What a great place it was to bring some one special. But nothing was more spectacular than being entertained by a gypsy group of fifteen or so violinist in the city of Budapest. In many old cities, which thrived long before the auto, but had admitted vehicular traffic they decided to again accommodate the pedestrian and close their streets to automobile traffic. In Munich, we were able to see such an undertaking from the “underground up” when we visited Munich to make a report to the Mayor of the city of New York about the many things Germany was doing to improve its urban centers.
One such visit was a complete inspection where I photographed the underground construction of the Munich subways and the world famous architect Frei Otto's Olympic Stadiums. We walked the tunnels and the newly constructed shells for the stations. The architects and engineers toured us through their offices and reviewed their plans to describe the details on how they were shoring up all the old existing building on the street level. Later we were to use the underground subway shopping malls when we lived in Kitsbuhel and made shopping trips to Munich. Ultimately, the entire central business district in side the old wall called Marian Platz and its connecting network of sidestreets was closed to traffic and became a pedestrian boulevard, wide and free for vendors, individuals and groups to meander and stroll. I recall a chill winters day when I stood under a cover of a shed serving “Grog” in a sub-freezing winter blizzard while my wife looked down upon me from the second floor optometrist office she was visiting. She could see the smoke being emitted out of the hut’s chimney filling the cold winter air while the fumes of heated cinnamon and rum filled my senses.
The occasion of the Olympics gave the city of Munich the chance to build a complex public transportation system connecting the Olympic complex and all the city suburbs with this mass transit. We particularly enjoyed seeing the very modern design of the stadiums, dormitories and support building that comprised this Olympic Village. It was a good example of a quasi-government and private enterprise to synthesize a combined urban renovation, urban cluster, and mass transit system. The organization, agreements, and management of programming, contracting, and planning of all this was in itself a demonstration of Europe’s version of new urbanism, except this took place in about 1971. In Leipzig, I particularly enjoyed photographing the largest terminal railway station in Europe, Leipzig's “Hauptbahnhof”, Europe's largest. I admired the steel and glass long span beams and many rail tracks and trains. Likewise, the Budapest station and the many other stations I traveled. The Budapest station was particularly authentic and urban; it still had the turn of the century decorations and had not yet been cleaned and scrubbed from the last one hundred years of use. Like Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina 1940's movie version starring Greta Garbo, steam billowed from old locomotives as they came and went in the covered Paxton-like green house-like steel and glass enclosure.
Urbanizing and urban acculturation is a matter of making connections when one city is linked to another; where one place conveys the memory to another. I call these transfers metaphors, as they not only link each other but “Space, Time, and Architecture”: “The Growth of a New Tradition”, the title of a great modern book written by Siegfried Giedion. Giedion was born in Prague in 1888, and died in Zurich in 1968, and was a Bohemia-born Swiss historian and critic of architecture.
His ideas and books, “Space Time and Architecture”, and “Mechanization Takes Command”, had an important conceptual influence on the members of the “Independent Group at the Institute of Contemporary Arts” in the 1950's era. He has also taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, where he became chairman of the graduate school of design. MIT's school of architecture was the first in the United States and the American Institute of Architects claims to have had something to do with its founding. When Alfred Roth hosted us at the University of Zurich, we were not only aware of Roth’s own architectural achievements, his world class Mondrian collection, but also the role of the school in furthering urban thinking. As the Bauhaus in Deseau, Germany housed the foundation of modern architecture, so did Zurich and Giedion for urbanism. In Zurich, we enjoyed the Sprungli Cafe on bahn Hofstr for chocolate cake and coffee. We often slept in an inner city hotel and on a street with great sausages sold on an open cart, Christina likened this city to the way she remembers Leipzig before the war because of its size, design of buildings, commercial development, and scale. At the airport, you can both board the train to Kitsbuhel, or take the shuttle into town, the Zurich airport is a terminal for both its inter-city railroad and inner city shuttle trains. It was so convenient to fly from Khobar to Zurich and spend a few days before taking six-hour mini- “cho-cho” train rides to Kitzbuhel. The Airport has a shuttle, which takes you to the inner city in a jiffy. The muti-level terminal also has lockers and showers and I often left our bags at the station, and with a small overnight bag walked across the bridge over Lake Zurich seeing many white swans as I made my way to our special little hotel.
Because musical culture celebrates urbanity, I enjoyed the small cameo opera theatres in Italy’s villages such as Lucca and Sienna where I saw performances played in the same costumes and same theatres as when composers such as Puccini first played their musical stories about the pomp, pageantry, and vulgarity of cities and the people that rule. Such theaters were intimate, smelly, and seated less than 150 people. Often the audience would sing or hum along with the players and converse with the players as they recited or sang their well known lines. It was the predictability, familiarity, and social aspects of the gathering that the audience came to see. Each of the players was well known, as were the members of the crowd that gathered. Once again, it was like a café, plaza, or boulevard where one came to “see” and “be seen”. I had no less joy for the Franz Lehar operettas in Vienna. These quality events hearken me back to the breathtaking performances I enjoyed at New York’s “Radio City” especially Ravel’s Bolero and the Nutcracker preformed at the “City Center” during Christmas. My childhood in New York was filled with stage shows and big screen movies at the Rialto, Strand, and Paramount theatres. These were inevitably coupled with spending pennies in the penny arcades on forty second street, which were filled with Ripley’s believe-it-or-not , pin-ball, shooting, and fortune teller scoping machines.
On Faile Street, my favorite was the peep show card flick for a penny, which stood in front of the corner candy store and ice cream parlor. As for recreation, in Amsterdam, I savored the hundreds of doors, door hardware and steps, which articulated one from another building and the 700 plus parks designed and built between 1947 and 1986 by architect Aldo van Eyck. The parks and the way they integrate into the neighborhoods of the cities surroundings well befits the superb canal area downtown.
As I had in the yard of the little Italian general store across from Drake’s Park in the Bronx, I enjoyed playing with the goats on one of the canal bridges. My urban passion was able to make metaphoric connections between perceptions to make the strange seem familiar. Not only details, but also whole plans would mentally transfer and enhance my urban understandings. It is no wonder that I was fascinated with the very essence and application of the metaphor. Like urbanism, the metaphor was universal, synaptic, and instrumental to my maturity.
In the Philippines, we would visit the hotels in the evening, including the gargantuan and opulent Shangri-La hotel. Adjacent to the lobby was a very large lounge where musicians would play while the most well dressed beautiful young ladies served drinks and refreshments. In the evening a marvelous elder gentlemen in a very well designed suit would sit and chat with visitors like myself who would find him conversing with the waitresses. He would play a remote control hand held electronic musical organ, which electronically signaled the house speakers. He was the anchor of the room giving it, its style and panache, like the old men I had talked to on Los Ramblas in Barcelona, I too asked him why he was doing all this and he said it is “his life”. That’s urban!
In South Africa’s Johannesburg called Jo'burg I visited SOWETO (South Western Townships) and the homes of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Mandela’s was filled with books containing thousands of letters from universities throughout the world awarding him honorary doctorates and commendations. In SOWETO, I visited a lady in a restaurant and the homes of several people in the villages, such visits were reminiscent of my visits to the gravity built shacks in Puerto Rico’s La Pearla.
My Saudi Arabia colleague and I ate well at various restaurants in Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square, MonteAngelo Hotel’s gigantic courtyard plaza and resided at the Intercontinental Hotel. This was another synthetic urban cluster built away from the dangerous big city of Jo’burg. A female Africana agent was our guest at a Greek restaurant in Mark’s Plaza (MonteAngelo Hotel’s gigantic courtyard plaza) where they played Greek, and Arabic music while we ate and broke plates. Breaking plates while dancing to Greek music was a custom my grandmother never taught me.
The name Sandton comes from the combination of two suburbs, Sandown and Bryanston, both of which were places in the United Kingdom. It had its own modern and trendy character. All the buildings were new and well away from the poverty of the rest of the country. Most had well announced security systems of each building. Theft was rampant and one day we came upon an exhibit in the shopping center connected to our hotel containing an exhibit of our of two gated and guarded communities into which white south Africans were buying shares.
Rustenburg was in the heart of Cape Town’s “wine country” and the headquarters for The South African Christian Church with a university and College campus integrated into the fabric of the city. It was another rather bland city surrounded by the agriculture of wine growers. The area had the most amounts of tundra species on the planet, many baby seals and chimps on the road. A line of many connecting hillside white stucco urban villages spectacularly frames Cape Town’s Pacific Ocean shores where one is more beautiful than some other. They themselves, like many Mediterranean fishing villages, are themselves urban clusters.
Ambulating in the Urban World
Ambulating is the essence of the urban experience where ones own bodily motion controls the pace and direction as well as the selection of the surrounding sights and sounds. I thought of my body as the carriage of a television station’s camera and I the camera man. Less technically, I was formally introduced to the concept of “ambulating” in Spain where “Ambulatoria” is a custom people perform at night before dinner following the after noon rest or work. It is what we did on in the Bronx Southern Boulevard and similar to Fifth Avenue “window shopping”. Except in Spain and other European cities you don’t shop you walk, talk and look at each, say hello, nod, and wink, perhaps flirt, or perhaps gossip. Ambulating in this way is not walking to get some where or necessarily see things. I regard ambulating as a crossover behavior connecting rural and urban populations. Arabs and Orientals ambulate in souks and shopping streets while Europeans ambulate in Plazas and commercial boulevards and Americans on shopping streets and now Malls (an invention of Austrian Architect: Victor Gruen). It is however, what I have done in hundreds of Cities I have visited, and what Baedeker calls “walking tours”: where you purposefully plan or randomly walk the streets seeing, finding and discovering building, details, statues, stairs, alleys, doors, gateways, fountains, etc., yes, the features of buildings. And, the features of streets, the pavement, cobble stones, tiles, patterns, street furniture, benches, carvings in stones, walls, monuments, facades of buildings lanterns, and light posts.
Indeed, such walking and ambulating has been my life’s recreation and access to experiencing the “art form” of my choice: architecture. Interior design has to be seen inside of the buildings and in all my walks; I’d try to enter wherever I could. Like music, theatre, ballet, and writing, ambulating is also an art and a way of experiencing the world’s built arts. For example, the sidewalks of New York are made up of cement insitu-formed from naturally deformed quartzofeldspathic rocks, such as the highest finite strain as a mylonite, in which quartz is completely recrystallized or present as ribbon-grains forming continuous and almost planar layers over large distances; which is not unlike today’s fiberglass reinforced concrete. The sidewalks are therefore strong and even, they glitter and gleam, if you wear taps on your shoes, you can hear them click as you walk.
Ambulating has allowed me to walk the streets and get lost in cities. I know... I’d loose my self in the streets and find my way back to reality by somehow seeing a landmark or following the grid. I‘d enjoy seeing the lights, window displays, street people, facades, etc. I’d especially enjoy winding up someplace strange. Before I was married, occasionally, I’d meet some one like the time I followed and met a lovely model. In Manhattan, I’d walk in the rain and snow, day and night. I’d some times find a bar and have my maximum of one drink or after a party; I’d walk and feel the combined rush of the alcohol, cold night air, and the glitter and gleam of the city. On such occasions, I’d particularly relish the design and width of the familiar sidewalks.
Taking advantage of the multiple paths afforded by the Manhattan street grid. I’d walk to and from work, to my garage, shopping in different ways on one combination of contiguous streets then by turning a corner another street and then yet another.
The grid made such walks exciting and adventurous. On the weekends, I’d bus to the “Y” and later the Yale club. On a Saturday afternoon, I’d go to a movie and walk Broadway. I particularly found it thrilling to walk the dangerous streets of 42 Street between sixth and eighth Avenues where 25 years earlier my little brother, friends and I would go to the “laugh” theatres to see the Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello, Three Stooges, Eddie Cantor, al Jolson and Laurel, and Hardy. Now these streets were lined with dope peddlers and prostitutes. The police are right there watching and monitoring the activities and limiting there arrests by the availability of courts and jails. In Saudi Arabia, I’d often calm my fellow westerners and Midwestern Americans that we see more crime in one day than Saudi sees in year. I’d ambulate in Europe, using maps, classified ads I’d perambulate the cities streets, seeing its landmarks, rivers, bridges, public transportation, restaurants, CBD, residential and private zones and then in the evening investigate the other side of the cities night and cosmopolitan life. Within a short while, even local residents did not know their city as well as I did. I’d look for the local candy store, grocer and music shop. Yes, using my childhood street-models I try to find the cultural anchors in the neighborhoods I visited. I understood and enjoyed the hierarchies of building neighborhood, section, borough, city, and country. I could see the metroplex and understand the inner connections of people to their artifacts, modes of transportation, and resources. It was always as lovely to me as a symphony and an especial work of art, the city is a work of art and to me shall always be one of mankind’s finest achievements.
I had this point of view partly because I walked in immunity to the potential and unknown dangers around me as my urban thick-skin had made such encounters part of the experience, Yes, I had fought and been beaten in enough urban alleys to be selective, so I was bold but wise….this is called “street savvy”. Knowing who to look in the eye, and who to avoid, and when. As I learned to overcome my childhood fears as a mature urbanist, I looked forward to the occasional dark and mysterious courtyards and alleys. In hilly and foggy San Francisco, we enjoyed the side streets staying at either the Fairmont or Mark Hopkins Hotels at the very top of Nob Hill. In the morning, I’d order breakfast delivered to my room onto a table in front of my window so I could view the city as the sun’s rays evaporated the dense fog.
The same fog I experienced in Castine Maine where I’d walk amongst the rocks guided by a lonely lighthouse. As in the villages of Italy, France, and Spain, one is compelled to walk in search of views and vistas one street after another. I made it a habit to make a free hand sketch of the city plan of each city I visited with the help of my memory of my walks and a city map. I noted the streets I walked noting the streets pattern and curvatures graphically showing the grid, circles, plaza, landmarks and neighborhoods. These plans and my sketches filled my book of these cites.
However, sensuous, romantic and artistic are the aesthetics of cities there is the more mature and technical side, which is equally as thrilling. It was introduced to me by my father as he perennially reiterated the traffic flow and structure of New York City’s streets. Later when I’d visit any city, it was the first concept I‘d grasp to orient and direct my way.
In Europe, I used Baedekers street guide and walking tours and when we settle or visit any American city the AAA map would give me the major North South and East West axial streets. Manhattan has a perfect compass grid while Houston’s I10 and Westheimer’s East west axial orients everything else. In the Bronx, I oriented myself on major boulevards, and avenues and according to the elevated and subway stops. Most spectacular was Amalphi, beginning at its rear base where the last street meets the looming mountain and the water falling into an open central basin carrying the water to feed the city. Every alley, street, window and door way leads to another open space and vista. The same can be said of Venice except with more opulence and surprise as one ambulates along and across canals and observes the distinct design of each bridge and building.
Dubrovnik’s main street was to be my life-time model of the perfectly scaled commercial street because of the width of the street and the height of the enclosing building on either side. The people dressed in traditional garb would openly feast there eyes upon each other and I did the same. I had good practice in los Ramblas in Barcelona and on Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. By the time, I learned more about architecture at Yale, I had already visited, mapped, and written about many cities, so my perception was at its peak. I was eager to learn and develop my abilities to design not only interiors, furniture, and buildings; but also to design cultural centers, stadiums, airports, medical centers, commercial centers, and whole cities. By the time, I reached Yale I had worked in New York City professional design offices designing commercial interiors, the state University in Albany, Israel National Bank, James Talcott Factorers, High-rise apartments, and Hotel buildings.
While at Yale, I not only worked part time for some of the leading architectural and engineering companies in the New Haven area, but also started my own design and drafting company in which I employed some of my fellow students as apprentices. Later years, in Mexico, I could not stop photographing the excellent views through one and another portico, small tunnels, and side streets that opens on to the town’s plazas and courtyards. As in Europe, many of the Mexican city’s courtyards are behind their streets and connected by a system of alleys and walkways that take you from one to another without going to the major streets and away from vehicular traffic. The excitement and enjoyment of discovering the difference of each inner city is furthered by meandering on straight side streets to major avenues and boulevards. Whether through alleys, tunnels, or gateways each vista and turn leads to something interesting, informative, and wonderful. Wonders which sometime are mysterious and other times informative but very often works of art and craft. The intercity relationship we enjoyed between Washington to Reston was similar to between Munich and Kitsbuhel; when Munich was our big city to shop and have an urban experience. It was as necessary as when we lived in Puerto Rico we just had to relive our “island syndrome” by a short weekend trip to the big apple.
On the other hand, when I visited Washington, D.C. from New York City, I regarded D.C. as a small but formidable town. However, when we lived in RESTON, Virginia it was the converse. My final impression of DC was when I came for a one week conference from Saudi to be a guest at the Willard hotel and was driven to and from the airport in a black Lincoln limousine and I spent some the evenings with my Saudi colleagues showing them the streets and buildings in Georgetown.
Years earlier when I was a child on one visit to Washington, I stayed in a small hotel with my family. The tree lined streets were dimly lit by street lights which cast wonderful leafy shadows across the pavement which when ever I left my building in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Khobar the street light above would similarly shine its light through the trees and cast a shadow on the sidewalk, just like the one I recalled from my childhood with my father in Washington. During our twenty years in Saudi Arabia, I drove on streets devoid of pedestrian traffic as though I was in a suburb, while being in the middle of a big city. Pedestrians could be found in Malls and suks but not ambulating on the streets. I recall being in the city of Bari in Italy and noticing the same thing. I also noticed this in East Berlin before the wall fell. Most people go to and from their destinations by car and the few who travel by foot do not linger. They usually were restricted by a combination of harsh governments and anti-social cultures, which discourage public exchanges and intercourse. In contrast, I can recall how I felt in Dubrovnik in 1963 when I’d walk down the streets, the men and women who filled the streets looked me over up and down and sideways. Women looked you in the eye, smiled, and welcomed me. The street language was open, communal, and very friendly. I only mention this to note the difference in Saudi Arabia; I am not the first person to notice this difference. This difference both defines the essence of urbanity and its’ passion. As the child who woke before mornings light, who without shoes walked the empty streets, exploring the alleys, stairs, fire escapes, sewer’s, manholes, back alleys, and streets I now continued my explorations to see, know, and understand the details of my surroundings.
In America, I continue my love affair with the city to have a personal experience with my surrounding context while living through my urban passion.
The pharahons built pyramids, and bankers skyscrapers: will architecture always be a symbol of power?
My Urban Legacy: “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism”
The art of Urbanizing
Mitigating our Urban Dilemma
Choose and Manage Urban Contexts
Natural vs. Manmade Cities and the Urban State of Mind
14,976 words on 47 pages October 30, 2007
By Barie Fez-Barringten
As I promised in my first lecture I will show “what can be done to make cities livable and worthy to be called home”.
“Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” aptly describes our cosmopolitan and urban abilities to agree, disagree, peruse common goals, tolerate stress and congestion, discern between community and privacy and distribute precious resources. It is these attributes and our persistence
that will make cities livable and worthy to be called home”. Today I will present to you the opportunities and efforts to urbanize and what you can look for in monitoring your surroundings.
Amongst others, the League of Women Voters encourages Americans to make democracy work by both informed consent and participation. Urbanization is at the heart of today’s agenda affecting immigration, defense and health care. I have received an urban culture and believe that it is my responsibility to likewise share this culture.
I also believe that if we were to share our culture with others it would positively affect our urban surroundings. The culture of cosmopolitan culture is our legacy.
Because of the way, I became an architect I always considered my voice my profession, and I always professed urbanism, to me urbanism is truly significant, its settlements, built-environment, and achievements. Urbanism was my family’s way of life in the context of my birth, living and work; they were all integrated and so full of opportunity, good will and life. It was every thing I could ever imagine and I could not believe that there was any life outside of urbanity.
As I matured, I realized that there was an undefined and illusive “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism”.
In a nutshell, what I s wrong with our cities?
No dissertation on the “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” would be relevant without also noting what’s wrong in our urbanized cities and what can be done to make it right.
Although, as you may have already gathered from my first lecture what’s wrong is not always solvable on a day-to-day, project, or municipal level but needs much broader policy changes at the highest levels of government, society and commerce. It is not only a design and planning problem, but a social and political problem as well. Although my former Yale professor and architect, Peter Millard, once pointed out that human nature likes to take one problem and add so many more so that they can be overwhelmed and not do anything, claiming that they are overwhelmed and overcome by multiple burdens. At home, families get stressed by bunching all the angst in one moment while society’s leaders never seem to have either time or the mindset to include urbanism on their agenda. Perhaps there are too many lobbyists distracting them from their mission. On the other hand, they deal with urbanism at another level on a daily basis. Urbanism as civilization itself is a “weighty matter”.
What are my qualifications to know what to do about urbanism?
While I may be retired from full time teaching, Lee County Government service and private architectural practice, I have not retired from the profession of communicating urbanism.
After all, as a practicing architect and urbanist even my advice to clients and my drawings all communicated urbanism’s conditions, ideals, goals and operations, even writing programs, city plans, site plans, development plans and building performance specifications. For the Gulf Oil Corporation I wrote their policies and procedures for all their construction and real estate development fast track projects. John Wiley and sons ultimately published it. Later, in Saudi Arabia I did the same thing for ARAMCO and several royal family and privately business conglomerates. My job was to see the big picture then sift it down into specific and practical elements.
Many of these works resulted in tremendous expansion of business and successful practices. Not to “toot-my-own-horn”, but I discovered in all of this that I am a great organizer and know that if I can do this so can others.
It is for this reason I have prepared these lectures and believe that “together we can do what alone we cannot”. On the other hand, I am a great believer that one person can make differences, and that one person can change urban contexts. For example, the way that Robert Moses, Rockefeller, Astor, Vanderbilt and so many others built facilities that attracted the people that urbanized cities.
From where have I gleaned this information?
Because, in part we are the product of our cities, we cannot afford to be irresponsible about its shape, ethics, and morals and well functioning. Urbanism has become such a popular subject that there are many books and commercially published articles, which have now become available on the Internet. It is from these articles I have gleaned some of the definitions, information and statistics I site in my explanations. Like many other scholars, I too look to other scholars and the results of their research; and, this field is well researched.
If more people were proud of their cities, they would encourage its betterment.
For many, cities equivocate to an identity and as we cheer for our favorite team, we do so as fans of a particular city name and location. We are rooting for our own identity, metaphor and significance.
Urbanism is manifest in our pride, how we grade our city is a measure of that pride.
The consensus we express in forming our city or what we patronize expresses our culture and identity. I believe that were this spirit d’cor prevalent it would contribute to the improvement of our cities. For example, snowbirds that have their home in another city may not call SWFL their home. You know, home is where your heart is and where your treasure lies.
Is there a city of which you are proud?
Why is the study of urbanism important?
The very idea of the city is heroic, monumental and worth supporting. We do with teams what we think we are doing with our families, government and community, communicating our rightful statues as authorized members of the strong, sovereign and civil society. Understanding urbanism is as essential a study as understanding ancient, classical, traditional and contemporary civilization, which has been the work of so many including scholars and theologians. As I said urbanism as civilization, it is a “weighty matter”.
Who determines what’s going to be built in South West Florida?
So, although SWFL has a lot of building units the stewardship of these developments is pretty much left to a few permanent residents. And these get precious little involvement from citizens but a very strong voice from real estate developers who are much more motivated.
Why each of us should care about the built-environment?
Urbanity has a life of its own when family and friends let us down the city’s commerce, institutions and facilities shore us up, educate and occupy our life with a career and vocation. The pop song “Downtown” so well describes how “we can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares and go downtown”.
How many times did I find answers in the public library, community educational outreach programs, the street, and jobs because of the proximity of one to another employer or clients, medical help in walk-in clinics and housing by going from door to door in a neighborhood I liked.
My best anecdote about the way people care for there cities is one of the many little old ladies I chatted with in a little Italian city.
She not only gave me directions, but also explained for several hours each landmark and important edifice I would pass on the way. She knew when it was built and who were the architects and the builders. This particular woman could not have had an education past the sixth grade and yet she had a passion and, like a priest imparted that passion with diligence and responsibility. I had a similar experience on an Island in the Persian Gulf with Shiite Moslems about their small urban city’s building, arts and monuments. I have many locally books and my own photos of this place. They intuitively shared their culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
Are there urban planning tools to focus public attention on blighted areas?
Urban Clusters is a very recent planning concept but one which is ancient and already prevalent in major metropolitan areas all over the world. It was only being recognized to facilitate legislative attention and funding and to permit rezoning, zoning in blighted, and deteriorating urban and suburban cities, cities that may not even be an urban area. For example, the recent North Fort Myers “Community Development Plan” calls for three Town Centers in North Fort Myers.
What is the Florida Government doing to address urbanism?
Twelve years ago, in 1995, Richard A. Pettigrew, under the Honorable Lawton Chiles, was Chairman of the Florida Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida and delivered
“South Florida: A Sustainable Vision For 2020”.
Amongst the five broad principles was to Limit Urban Sprawl - establish urban development boundaries to protect environmental resources and encourage urban redesign and redevelopment supported by good public transportation.
Concerned to transform urban sprawl into quality development patterns, the report noted that rapid population growth and sprawling development patterns are leading South Florida down a path toward wall-to-wall suburbanization.
How does the government define urban sprawl?
The report continues, that the proliferation of urban sprawl is a development pattern characterized by scattered, decentralized, low-density development that is not functionally related to adjacent land uses-is swallowing up undeveloped areas in the region at an alarming rate. This results in the depletion of natural and other environmental resources and severely threatens the future viability of the Everglades ecosystem.
What problems does the government find that causes urban sprawl?
The growth patterns of South Florida encourage automobile reliance, which exacerbates the lack of coordination between land use decisions and sitting of transportation facilities and other infrastructure. Related consequences include competition for scarce water resources, pollution from storm water runoff, inefficient urban design, and rapid conversion of agricultural lands and other open spaces to urban uses.
The report concludes with the four pillars for improving South Florida's urban form to:
1. Establish urban development boundaries;
2. Ensure travel choices, mobility, and access through public transit,
3. Achieve infill development and redevelopment, and
4. Increase use of good urban design.
So what is the government’s report card about curbing these problems?
We are now nearly at a midpoint of the vision’s goal with about twelve years remaining and most of us, with the exception of the restoration of the Everglades, perceive little progress and a further deterioration of our home in Southwest Florida.
Do any of you have a perception of the state of the urban environment in this area, perhaps your neighborhood or nearby area?
What has been done to solve the urban crisis?
However, some of the commission’s objectives are in the works. It said it would establish urban development boundaries and recommend management and regulatory measures to achieve needed protection and restoration of the ecosystem and sustainable development within those boundaries.
Many of Florida’s Development Services panning districts have implemented their five-year comprehensive development plan and community planning boards.
These help to use urban design principles to foster individual community identity, create a sense of place, promote pedestrian oriented neighborhoods and town centers, encourage the use of public transportation, and increase urban quality of life.
What are the problems that still persist?
Many of the states planners now promote in-fill-development, redevelopment and reward developers that choose to build in the "right" place. However, many of the local and state courts still agree to settle in favor of tenacious development interests. Interests which often put profits ahead of the public good and invest their wealth in professional teams that well understand the typical town-fathers needs and necessities.
All around us there are examples of missed opportunities and run-away growth and development. One such is our traffic intersections as in the city of Cape Coral, I’m sure there is one in your neighborhood, which has three or four major streets intersecting without any architectural design features or landscape. One of the contributing cause is that such traffic planers have not considered other aspects of design and organization, Furthermore there is a blaring absence of a process and professionals in that process to bring the art of metaphors, architecture and design to make this intersection a center of civic pride. There are many cities, which add traffic circles, intersection circular light features as in Houston, and other means to punctuate the intersection.
Are there any non-government initiatives?
It could be the call of its’ chamber of commerce to harness its wealthy city-benefactors to find a business opportunity, as did the Saudi Arabia’s mayor of Jeddah who enticed businessmen to commission sculptors to design works at many intersections of his city.
He learned this lesson from visiting European cities and simply brought a very old fashioned idea into the present.
How can we use free enterprise to benefit our cities?
Most of the time, as a business, developers usually “buy-cheap and sell-dear” like any other commercial business.
To them land development is not a outcome of industry, developing the natural, human and financial wealth for the community, but only to benefit their corporate portfolio and investment interest of it s stock holders and investors.
The beneficiaries are usually not indigenous but an absentee business. Over the years, governments have developed agencies, statutes, codes and ordnances to provide guidelines and limits to protect the people’s assets. However, there are remarkable and outstanding developers of landmark exceptions as the Jeddah’s many sculptures on its city’s “traffic circles”, plazas filled with statues and fountains, Fort Myers’ old post office plaza, its city hall, library plaza, Centennial Park, and even landmark buildings such the Manhattan’s Empire State building, and Gulf Arab States Dubai and Riyadh Towers to only mention a few.
What are the basics to forming a city?
I have found that settlements form cites when the residents collectively need an authoritative corporal body, which can form armies, and municipal agencies, which can employ beurocrats and civil servants to provide services, law and order, build and maintain public facilities and manage land and property ownership.
The difference is that the population drives natural urbanization or its surrogates while synthetic by a third party, which can enable and support natural urbanization.
What is the difference between population and third party urban structures?
Natural settlements usually are site-specific emanating from a local geographical labor and material resource while an artificial development is initiated for profit as a land and real estate business, colonies as for political occupation, or when kings conquer, hold and expand their kingdom.
Natural growth occurred when in the so-called “Industrial Age”; the growth of modern industry from the late 18th century onward led to massive urbanization and the rise of new great cities, first in Europe and then in other regions, as new opportunities brought huge numbers of migrants from rural communities into urban areas. This was called the Industrial Revolution.
Later, in the United States from 1860 to 1910, the invention of railroads reduced transportation costs, and large manufacturing centers began to emerge, thus allowing migration from rural to city areas.
However, cities during those periods of time were deadly places to live in, due to health problems resulting from contaminated water and air, and communicable diseases. Still the growth was natural where the people came first and land development followed to house and supports the new populations.
American cities absorbed the populations from various global calamities such as from Ireland between 1845 and 1849 when the Great Irish Famine drove many Irish to New York City where now live more Irish than in Ireland.
Were any of you or your family members’ part of that migration?
What are the remarkable examples of urbanization?
In the Great Depression of the 1930s, cities were hard hit by unemployment, especially those with a base in heavy industry. In the U.S. urbanization rate increased forty to eighty percent during 1900-1990. The Cuban revolution of 1959 eventually filled Miami with 2 million Cubans and the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, which killed an estimated 675,000 Americans.
Today, the world's population is slightly over half urban, with millions still streaming annually into the growing cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America. There has also been a shift to suburbs, perhaps to avoid crime and traffic.
Either by election, coercion or manipulation citizens or their representatives may surrender their right to form a city to a proxy. This could be a feudal lord, conqueror, institution, or commercial interests.
Has free enterprise and city building gone out of control?
Cities formed as a business by an adversary primarily concerned about its own profit is an adversary in that it is not a surrogate and vies for its own optimum benefits.
Today sub-urbanization and urbanization has become a major industry and economic sector driving the U.S., state and local economies making land development into an industry owned and operated by major corporations who synthesize and manufacture housing, commercial and industrial properties as an industrial synthetic product.
As a product, it is subject to the same policies and procedures as the manufacture of cars, computers and “widgets”. It is planned, built and sold on an assembly line and as synthetic as a plastic cup or automobile.
As the culture was shocked by the industrial revolution rebelling against machine-made as opposed to man-made products, synthetic-built environments are also taking their toll on the ecology, energy consumption and cultural metaphors.
What are some of the other ways cities are forming and expanding?
Metropolitan Urban Areas (446 words)
An urban area is an area with an increased density of human-created structures in comparison to the areas surrounding it. This term is at one end of the spectrum dividing suburban and rural areas. An urban area is more frequently called a city or town such as Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Bonita Springs. Urban areas are created and further developed by the process of urbanization.
Unlike an urban area, a metropolitan area includes not only the urban area, but also satellite cities plus intervening rural land that are socio-economically connected to the urban core city, typically by employment ties through commuting, with the urban core city being the primary labor market. Long Island’s bedroom communities to offices in Manhattan are one such example.
In France, an urban area is a “zone” encompassing an area of built-up growth called an "urban unit" and a close definition to the North American “urban area” and its commuter belt, and is similar to our definition of “metropolitan area” or “metroplex”.
In the United States, there are two categories of urban areas. The term "urbanized area" denotes an urban area of 50,000 or more people.
Urban areas under 50,000 people are called urban clusters.
Urbanized areas were first delineated in the United States in the 1950 census, while urban clusters (sometimes called “Town Centers”) were added in the 2000 census. However, we know that an urb is any populated area, which makes our small villages and towns urban as well. So this means that these terms are defining a much more complex and large problem. Urban clusters include those thousands of small-populated villages and towns.
There are Twin cities formed by merging into urban centers, which are born in close geographic proximity, and then grow into each other over time.
The term Twin Cities is used in the United States often to refer to the cities Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin, Dallas–Fort Worth area, Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York and Germany’s Ulm and New-Ulm.
Other examples of cities formed by merging are New York City (five boroughs, historically especially between Manhattan and Brooklyn), London which grew from its cores in the City of London and the City of Westminster to encompass many other towns and villages, Budapest which is the amalgamation of Buda and Pest and Hong Kong (Victoria City and Kowloon). In each case these city’s population increased, the quality of its built environment increased but so did urban squallier and in some cases its slums.
Can you name some other metropolitan areas?
What was one of the first modern causes of major urbanization?
If you said the first and second world wars, natural disasters and political turmoil, you would be close.
As the advent of modern art was to our western culture so was the Industrial Revolution. Modern art changed the way we perceive the world while the Industrial Revolution changed the way we think of urbanity.
The Industrial Revolution took place in the world’s great natural cites and made them greater and more populated. It spurned a revolution in the design and construction of residences in which to house labor and management in tenements, row houses and apartments.
Support facilities such as parks, schools, and hospitals were built rapidly accompanied by all sorts of entertainment and recreational facilities. As the towns were built up around factories, ports and trade railroads were built and its impact on all cities and Railroad terminals were one of the great building types of their time.
What were some of the Industrial Revolutions major milestones?
Iron and steel, and glass, long spans and plenty of light, which was first built in Paris, designed by Paxton for a world’s Fair.
Leipzig’s Hauptbanhauf, Grand Central, Pennsylvania Station, Union station Chattanooga and so many others were glorious public buildings boasting the new prosperity and potential of industrialization.
The industrial revolution, proliferation of oil related industries and the opening of international markets gave the corporate predominance in American culture, which spilled over into property development
The real estate development corporation which built inside natural cities now expanded to build outside of natural cities into the suburbs and to develop Global or World cities as prominent centers of trade, banking, finance, innovations, inventions, products, and markets such as cloths, shoes, suits, dresses, roofing, siding, and even buildings. These were marketed in national journals such as the Sears Catalog and Rotogravure. Whereas "mega city" referred to any city of enormous size, a global city is one of enormous power or influence... Examples of such cities include London, New York City, Paris and Tokyo.
What are some the ways city builders have innovated to handle the increased population?
Urbanism has its own language as when urban architects refer to spines as the dominant linear feature while a ring road is built around a city avoiding the city’s congestion.
The Central Business District, called the CBD, is the urban core while every urban area has traffic ways, sidewalks, ambulatories, open space, cross intersections, nodes, plazas, open space and vest pocket parks on urban blocks to fill the space left by the demolition of a an existing building.
When planning a building the urban architect examines the floor- to -area ratio to let light and air into dense urban areas and provides easements for utilities and common access.
Books and ordinances have been written defining the differences between community and privacy and the hierarchies of increasingly public and private spaces as Yale and Cambridge. Modern planners have invented circular, radiant, Green belt, Matrix and cuneiform (swastika) planning geometries.
Urbanism’s more modern innovations include elevated walkways connecting towers as Ralph Durden designed for Federated Department Stores in Cincinnati and the grand boulevards of many large and small cities, not to mention mass transit innovations such as the trolleys, busses, subways, elevated tracks and rapid rail trains. Developers specializing in dense city high-rise urban buildings continuously innovate, invent better systems of vertical and horizontal people movers and healthier air-conditioning as thousands of people live, and work in dense conditioned space all year long.
In this way, the urban space is a totally synthetic environment, which insists on being tolerant and resilient to a variety of national and ethnic backgrounds, especially people who must adjust out of rural and sub-urban contexts.
What are some of the modern building types?
Some of the urban building types were designed by Le Corbosier’s such as his “Marseille Block” with undeveloped land around the building, not in urban context but on outskirts of downtown Marseille, and Moshe Safte’s “Habitat” in Montreal. This is an example of a synthetic development in a natural urban area. There are resort cities in Germany such as Bad Poi Mont; Baden Baden, which includes infrastructure, surrounded by nature and underground healing baths. Such buildings included residence, schools, recreation, shopping and work places thus circumventing the need for daily use of either mass transit or the automobile.
What affect has the automobile had on urbanity?
On the other hand, today’s Rome is a nightmare for city planners trying to adopt the city to modern times without destroying or uprooting its precious landmarks.
Traffic is a disaster in cities, which build and grow naturally compounding one bad choice after another and having to work around the givens of yesterdays metaphors, which seem irrelevant and outdated but have value as a record of the culture’s past accomplishments, victories or tragic history.
In all, automobiles are used to accommodate travel from urb to country, urb to sub-urbs, urb to urb and sub-urb to sub-urb.
However, except on heavy traversed paths public transportation and overly wide highways are not feasible unless subsidized by the government or expensive tolls. Recently, while the State of Florida voted to build a mass transit system it later lost the states vote to fund the project.
The manufactures of the automobile and traffic caused by the construction of highways challenged the urban experience. In New York, Robert Moses was deterred by Jane Jacobs not to divide Manhattan into pieces as he had done to the Bronx.
However, Cities like Manila, Bangkok, Atlanta, and Manhattan still have congestion and time-travel problems. The inexpensive solution is solution is mass transit.
However, most architectural scholars agree that the advent of oil has brought the developed countries an abundant supply of energy to power their electric grids and oversupply every citizen with private vehicles thus making the world dependent on dangerous sources for the supply of oil. Given the original definition of city as being “of the citizen”, you can say that the city the world wants is different from before the invention of the combustion engine and the automobile. The modern concept of the city is the LA model of highways and urban-like destinations. This model has been extended to Texas and extrapolated successfully to cities in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Bahrain, miniature versions of these models appear in every area of America, Gulf Arab States and is spreading globally.
While today’s cities have been impacted by banks and business buildings, highway systems, air travel, airports, and mass transit have overwhelmed and swallowed the pedestrian and the freedom once enjoyed by urban dwellers to enter and leave the city while aggressive and creative corporate entrepreneurs employ architects, planners and designers to create and satisfy market expectations, such as William Levitt and Levitt Town and the city father’s of Columbus Ohio, Los Angeles and New Towns such as the Irvine Ranch in California, RESTON and Columbia Maryland by James Rouse. Of course, South West Florida is not immune from the recent investment by major national real estate, financial and banking corporations.
Modern technology brought about by the discovery of abundant oil and electricity has spurned a profusion of automobiles, highways, airplanes, electrification of cities and air-conditioning, not to mention the invention of the elevators, radio, television, and computers to cities.
Cites have been able to be planted and developed away form rail but in proximity to airports such as Reston, Dallas/ Fort Worth, Frankfort, Los Angeles, Seattle, Montreal, Vancouver, and cities in Israel and the mid east as well as many industrial cities in every country and satellite cities in major large metropolitan areas.
What are the local innovative measures to make cities more livable?
Urbanity at a smaller scale in our own area has manifest in Naples, which was originally platted in 1887 as a grid off the Gulf of Mexico and in 1994, Duany was commissioned by the Fifth Ave. chamber to stem the flow of business out of the city. To do this city council formed The Fifth Avenue South Association and The Downtown Naples Association (DNA) has joined forces with The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce to form one of the strongest, most encompassing visitor centers and local business advocacy organizations in Southwest Florida.
Some of the recent and current urban projects in Naples include the Naples Down Town Redevelopment includes “rezoning downtown”, “2001 Heart of Naples” with a three million dollar bond to build infrastructure and civic design and make parking accessible and plentiful with covered decks, the “Renaissance Village”, “Grand Central Station”, “Renaissance Center”, and the “Four Corners” which is a 100 foot wide pedestrian connector to connect parking to the Renaissance Center.
However, some of the streets merchants recently complain of higher than bearable rents, vacant storefronts and the onslaught of banks and financial organizations to fill the vacancies thereby changing the ambience, romance and street imagery.
Recent Urban Projects in Fort Myers include a redesign of the “River District”, “Eastwood Village”, “Berwyn”, and “Hampton Park” and planned work on blighted areas.
Recent Urban Projects in Lehigh acres include “The Fountains”, a 4700-unit development on 19,000 Acres, and a Mixed Use Homestead Development.
Recent Urban Projects in Fort Myers Beach include the improvement of “Times Square” which includes large commercial and business development. I can also tell you about many administrative, code and ordinances which will eventually lead to the improvement of the health, safety and welfare of the people living in the area.
Are there any urban cluster projects I have forgotten?
Are there any questions so far?
What is a synthetic city and urban enclave?
Synthetic Cities and Urban Enclaves:
(1,504 on 5 pages)
In modern times a synthetic urb is usually formed by a corporate person who synthesis (develops) urban structure(s) by developing property (land or an existing building) which is then populated by strangers, company employees, settlers, migrants, retirees, and merchants, who do not have a hand in the authorship of the place but may be elected to govern and manage the artificial development. Artificial in that it was made without regard to the particular needs of any one-person, but rather an arbitrarily imposed, unnatural, non-specific design that fits all. Because there are no specific potential occupants the development is based on arbitrary, superficial characteristics rather than natural, organic relationships. The program for the design is inherently artificial and imagined and not based on the needs and necessities of owners who commission the design and construction.
How are synthetic cities formed?
It is artificial in that the future occupants were not attracted to migrate to the urb because of jobs, business, or trade that might have resulted from the exploitation and development of any natural resources. New towns, colonies, and company-owned towns plan, build and invited people, anticipating future buyers, markets or tenants. The land is developed to accommodate future population’s potential demand for such developed property. A synthetic development is one where the developer proposes and petitions the community to create the development in the hopes they agree with the developer’s assessment that the development meets or exceeds their future possible needs and city plans.
However, there is an exception when the community initiates and requests the proposal because of its own perceived needs arising from increased population, industrialization, or commercialization it is becomes a natural urban form petitioned by the people. Often a city’s chamber of commerce and municipality may petition private developers and utility companies for hotels, parking garages, public mass transit, power, septic and sewage plants.
These private and publicly held developers artificially synthesize the form and opportunity for the agreements needed to build and operate a city as opposed to when populations settle to exploit natural resources, ports or intersecting trade routes. Corporate developments such those made by Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO’s Dhahran, Abquiq and Ras Tanura, Brasilia in Brazil, RESTON and Columbia in Maryland are just a few that come to mind.
Cities were not only synthetically formed and natural cities spurned to further growth by the corporate developer but natural cites began to merge and combine into new super municipal corporations. The dynamics of natural cities gave birth to corporate developers when they built synthetic projects in natural cities. For example, when Rockefeller Corp took their idea of corporate building to developing new cities in Latin America and other multi-national corporations built their company towns all over the world. Corporations contribute to the growth of both natural and synthetic corporate developments.
How is a synthetic city different from a natural city?
It is synthetic because it is synthesized and not indigenously formed but manufactured using all separate and non-contextual materials, parts and assemblies except the land upon which the product and its sub products are synthesized. The product combines desperate elements into one form from hitherto unrelated and foreign parts as an automobile or any manufactured product. With this in mind in 1973, Forrest Wilson, then dean of the newly formed College of Architecture at Athens, Ohio University invited me to lecture to the entire university on “Industrial Architecture” where I presented my research on the prefabrications for the 1972 Munich Olympics, the German manufactured home industry and corporate planning systems used by newly emerging real estate developers.
What are the advantages of a Synthetic City?
However, synthetic urbanization does for a citizenry what they supposedly they cannot do for themselves, either because of the system of government, economics, and dramatic inordinate population growth Life, for instance in Florida counties, or catastrophic shrinkage (Cites after a war as Leipzig, Germany) and one other where merchants create a city in the sea as Venice and Rotterdam.
What is missing from a synthetic city?
A city so formed is said not to be so-called real or genuine but something else. It has many things but lacks history, evolution, personalization and indigenous character. Its place, operations, author, corporation, investors, and name brand such as Disney’s “Celebration” and Barron Collier Cos. and Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan’s “Ave Maria”.
In metaphoric terms while the synthetic developer may have fabricated metaphors, poems and songs about the artificial place. The place does not make the strange familiar because it does not tap into any historical, familiar or cultural fact. Being a fabrication and without intrinsic history and a real life it can only allude to a past in the mind of the future occupant or recall a distant time and place. It can be thematic and imaginative but it can only be a copy of a real place that developed naturally.
However perfect may be a man-made synthetic city it will be imperfect because it lacks the imperfections, history, and consensus of the natural city, New Towns, such as RESTON, Virginia provide a government and management organization to operate the development, and HUD requires most PUD and other publicly occupies developments to operate under statutes and ordinances, which require homeowner, tenant and condominium associations. However, and over time these synthetic developments soon develop their own history and metaphors, which are then made part of the culture.
However, with all of these regulating mechanisms it is like a robot without a cold, headache or attitude; furthermore, it is predictable and regimented. Like a book, movie or play you’ve seen a hundred times. It is possibly boring and uninteresting.
While many today find Venice wonderful there are many who find it unlike other Italian cities because Venice has become lifeless and lacking normal Italian culture (It is a museum of great architecture and engineering artistry).
Can you think of any such places?
Why are we attracted to synthetic places?
The attraction to Synthetic Places
Future inhabitants are not attracted by an economic opportunity but the life –style and recreation promised at the New York City World’s Fair; “Building the world of Tomorrow” in 1939/1940. Like a car or any other product developed by a composition its consensus comes from market and feasibility studies and ability to penetrate and operate within the market place and convince buyers of the value of the uniformity, reliability and profitability of the product. It has turned most homeowners from a mere citizen into a business man hoping to someday recover profit from the sale of a product, his home, a home whose marketability is based on international cosmopolitan and recognizable values. In some ways, it has some the appeal of a science fiction context designed to present a world without history, family and the abnormalities and trivia of real life pursuits. It is an escape and synaptic solution to arguing about zoning, building permits, budgets, limits of natural resources and limited ability for society to grow and adopt. In one swoop the synthetic urban form solves all threw problems and presents a new tomorrow.
Synthetic cities are cities initially designed and controlled by a central and organized authority with a specific social, business and philosophical goal such as “Broad more”, “Arsenate”, and Green belt circular city, where design and form are dominate determinate.
Synthetic Cities are artificially manufactured and not made by a series of natural circumstances, as Vincent Scully once pointed out American cities are often created and changed “cataclysmically”.
In 2004, Scully said about his role in “Modernism”:
“ I was a confirmed Modernist………………………..I think we were very wrong. We had very cataclysmic and simplistic ideas about city planning, for example.
We really didn't have any respect for the traditional fabric of our cities, which is a miraculous development over centuries of time, much more important architecturally than the development of anything having to do with individual houses. Just the street, the curb, the grass strip, the trees, the sidewalks -- this is a marvelous urbanistic structure. What I learned as time went on was that Modernism was very faulty, in view of what architecture was. That it was a simplistic view of architecture. It was predicated on an arbitrary aesthetic. It was totalitarian in its mode of thinking. Everybody had to do things one way”.
What have Synthetic cities Have I been involved?
I have been involved in the design and construction of a few synthetic urbs such as Housatanic Horizons in Connecticut’s Lake as well as Shopping centers at highway interchanges, subdivision designs, Planned Unit Developments, new towns for the Gulf Oil Corporation such as Reston, Virginia, and for People’s Protective, Sugar Tree and English Mountain in Tennessee and many towns and villages in Saudi Arabia for ARAMCO, Yanbu and Jubail Royal commission and Internal Security Forces. In fact, I supervised the design of eleven such housing projects in eleven different municipalities and one Sports Park in Saudi Arabia.
What are the ways institutions have tackled urbanization and how effective are such institutions and their recommendations?
Movements, Associations, and institutions concerned with urbanism
As I said before synthetic urb is a product of a corporate systematic production process best suited for controlled environment of a factory but when overlaid on a existing inhabited area becomes a matter of building in what is industrially called “simultaneous operations”, manufacturing new while the old continues production.
What are the efforts to argue for the redistribution of federal and State’s budgets in favor of urban renewal?
Rockefeller Commission Report and Metropolitan Areas
In March 27, 1972 and long before the latest corporate global urban industry, about National Population Distribution and Migration Policies the Rockefeller commission report found that the percent of the population living in large places was rising, with much of this shift is due to natural increase. Furthermore, the average densities of urbanized areas are declining, not rising.
The appropriate scale at which to grasp emerging settlement patterns includes the metropolitan area, but goes beyond it to the urban region—a constellation of urban centers dispersing outward.
Basically, the urban region is an adaptation of adjacent urban centers to underlying economic change and to most Americans’ desire for dispersed suburban living. The easy communication among urban places in urban regions permits the smaller metropolitan areas to benefit from the economic advantages of agglomeration, while avoiding some of the penalties of excessive size and density.
How can the source of budgets to be used for urban renewal be increased?
The answer was the metropolitan area I explained earlier.
The Rockefeller commission report noted that the increased complexity and scale made the continued fragmentary approaches to metropolitan planning and development progressively more costly and wasteful. This suggested that the basic responsibilities for planning settlement patterns, new public facilities, and public services should be at the metropolitan level.
To encourage this comprehensive approach and local cooperation, the major portion of federal funds to support planning activities in metropolitan areas should go to the appropriate multi-purpose area-wide planning agency. These agencies, in turn, can support planning efforts for individual jurisdictions within the metropolitan area. A great example of a comprehensive approach is the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) UDC was formulated in New York city to combine the best of government with the private sector to cut through red tape and renew the urban cores. It worked and mid-town Manhattan became a beautiful and safe place to invest and live.
In addition to better and more active planning at the state level, state development agencies may be desirable to implement development plans on a broad geographical basis. To function effectively in such a role, these agencies must have broad powers to acquire land, to override local ordinances, and actually to carry out development plans.
While the need for such organizations is gradually being recognized, only New York State has actually established one.
In its first years of operation, the Urban Development Corporation showed that it could be an effective mechanism, particularly for improving housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families. It is also committed to actively promoting orderly urban development and is currently involved in the development of several new communities throughout the state.
The early success of the Urban Development Corporation, and its promise for effectively guiding orderly urban development, suggests that it would be a good model for other states.
I recently pointed this out to an American Institute of Architect’s panel discussion on urban design tackling ways breaking down the barriers of special and competing interests. It was apparent that while the panel raised many important points their empirical experience and knowledge was very limited. This problem is likewise shared by many elected and appointed surrogates of the people charged with major responsibility in either natural or synthetic urbanization. Many of who have contributed to sprawl with granting and supporting government subsidies for infrastructure, which have disguised the true cost of sprawl. Examples include subsidies for highway building, fossil fuels, and electricity.
The Rockefeller commission report came forty years after the formation of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which was formed "to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide,” not only nationally, but world wide. ULI advocates progressive development, covering topics such as sustainability, smart growth, compact development, place making, and workforce housing. Industrialists have long been faced with the need to both house and grow labor force communities and to invest in secure real property for long term corporate value.
As the guest of a Saudi real estate development family I attended one of its’ meetings in New Orleans and in 1976,I became active in the National Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives (NACORE) as I dealt with the Gulf Oil’s urban properties. It was during this time that these corporations and organizations were tooling-up to nationalize and globalize urban land development as a business and industry to the extent that when oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere such companies were already prepared to design and build community compounds to house foreign workers.
They became very experienced in building everything where nothing before existed, in other words to synthesize a community. With this latent experience, they could easily plan and develop other development products as a stand-alone profit center. And so the corporate development companies evolved and separated as real estate development corporate businesses and universities offered graduate degrees in the administration property development.
Using the example of these institutions what are some of the principles of the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism at work?
What are the basic principles of culture of cosmopolitan urbanism?
1. Civic Pride and vision
2. Vested interest and ownership
3. Long range investment and planning
4. Improved property and value of context in which to live and do business.
5. Initiative and responsibility to life changing principles
What are some of the social initiatives to facilitate urbanism?
While many would argue against government control, there are others that see government’s duty to control urbanization as a board of directors controls its corporate assets.
Principles of Intelligent Urbanism (PIU) is one of many systems of theories to guide urban planning originated by architect Louis Sert at Harvard and is composed by of a set of ten axioms for the formulation of city plans and urban designs. They are intended to reconcile and integrate diverse urban planning and management concerns.
In my book published by John Wiley and sons, I too defined policies and procedures for the proposals, programming, design and construction of buildings and support facilities.
Principles of Intelligent Urbanism (PIU) hopefully represents the will of the people in the hands of their elected official s as they set about to be the arbiters between the developers and the people, however, created these. Architects predate so-called “planners” by thousands of years so to deal with overpopulation and extreme demand, systems like PIU has been created.
They are not only followed by corporate developers but also used to win variances for new development order approvals in areas where land prices are below market and a profit can be made.
Replete with metaphors, these PIU axioms include:
1. Environmental sustainability,
2. Heritage conservation,
3. Appropriate technology,
4. Infrastructure efficiency,
5. Place making,
6. Social access,
7. Transit oriented development,
8. Regional integration,
9. Human scale, and,
10. Institutional integrity
American Institute of Architects Blueprint for America
is to engage architects and community leaders in a discussion about the future of their town, city and region. The different strategies for SW Florida include
1. New Town Planning
2. Community Master Planning
3. Downtown redevelopment
4. River district Plan
5. Fort Myers beach Times Square project
6. Rural Land Plan
A.I.A. eight essential elements to make livable communities are
1. A sense of place
2. Mixed-Use Development
4. Effective Planning for Regional Transportation
5. Street-Savvy Design
6. Physical Health and Community Design
7. Public Safety, Personal; Security
8. A Sustainable Approach to Neighborhood and Regional Development.
What is one of the more popular political initiatives facilitating urbanization?
Not only has smart growth been institutionalized but also it has been legislated by many state governments.
Because of its attractive weather, comparatively lower land cost and fewer commercial or governmental impediments to planning and land development, Florida is one of several “growth states” taking up the expansion of population and drive of the so-called baby boomers to utilize their affluence and mobility.
Smart Growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to avoid urban sprawl; and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walk able, bicycle-friendly land use, including mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.
Long before former, vice-prescient Al Gore first promulgated smart growth; transportation and community planners began to promote the idea of compact cities and communities in the early 1970s. The cost and difficulty of acquiring land (particularly in historic and/or areas designated as conservancies) to build and widen highways caused some politicians to reconsider basing transportation planning on motor vehicles.
One wonders about the political implications of urbanism between conservative and liberal, redistribution of population and wealth, socialism verses capitalism, political parties and persons vying for power and control.
Encouraging growth, smart or otherwise, builds political continuants deciding whether to facilitate urbanism in natural existing or create new cities on developed land.
Does anyone have any thoughts about the politics of urbanism?
What other countries have initiated urbanization programs?
Architect Peter Calthorpe promoted and popularized the idea of urban villages that relied on public transportation, bicycling, and walking instead of automobile use. Colin Buchanan and Stephen Plowden helped to lead the debate in the United Kingdom.
However, to offset these advantages the market has recently found that weather, fishing, boating and golf were not enough and the need for the big-city metaphoric cultural institutions and amenities were needed. Hence, a recent market has developed thematic urban clusters featuring theatres, entertainment and recreation normally associated with large urban centers. Urbanization and urban design has become a major professional industry on a global scale. On a mega scale the way Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Minneapolis, and others emulate other natural cities.
Smart Growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus.
Its goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health.
In general, smart growth invests time, attention, and resources in restoring community and vitality to center cities and older suburbs. New smart growth is more town-centered, is transit and pedestrian oriented, and has a greater mix of housing, commercial and retail uses. It also preserves open space and many other environmental amenities.
What has been the design professions response?
Enter André’s Duany and his wife Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. In 1949, Duany was born in New York City (my fair city), but grew up in Cuba where he lived until 1960.
Duany received his undergraduate degree in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University, and after a year of study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and as I, received a master's degree in architecture from the Yale School of Architecture.
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk has been dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture since 1995; Plater-Zyberk began teaching at the University of Miami School of Architecture in 1979 and created a graduate program in Suburb and Town Design in 1988. Duany and Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) founded Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company in 1980 and both are now headquartered in Miami, Florida
DPZ became another initiative to stem sprawl and attract density into established developed areas and a leader in the national movement called the “New Urbanism”.
New Urbanism seeks to end suburban sprawl and urban disinvestments and DPZ have been involved in the Fifth Ave project in Naples, Down Town Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Stuart, Amelia Park, Sarasota, coconut grove, and Tampa to only name a few.
What are the principles of Smart Growth and do they coincide with the
“Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” ?
The Principles of Smart Growth are:
• Create Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
• Create Walk able Neighborhoods
• Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration
• Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
• Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair and Cost Effective
• Mix Land Uses
• Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty and Critical Environmental Areas
• Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
• Strengthen and Direct Development towards Existing Communities and
• Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
As you can see, the “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” picks up where smart growth ends, Smart growth deals with the physical while the Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” deals with the social.
What are the basic principles of the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism?
1 Civic Pride and vision: yes as smart growth encourages community and stakeholder collaboration
2 Vested interest and ownership
3 Long-range investments and planning
4 Improved property and value of context in which to live and do business.
5 Initiative and responsibility to life changing principles.
However, without one with out the other it is incomplete and may be why there is relatively little public support for smart growth.
Confirming the observations of the Rockefeller report there is the metaphoric issue of property rights and the right to live in low density.
This flies in the face of the non-sprawl and economic solutions of condominiums and cooperatives that share tax and maintenance costs?
In The Politics of "Smart Growth" by C. Kenneth Orski, he says, “Most observers believe that Smart Growth and the campaign for livability will remain largely symbolic gestures.
As one local elected official remarked, "the broad public does not regard scattered development as undesirable.
Vice President Gore's rhetoric notwithstanding, the average American associates quality of life and livability with low rather than high residential density,” a point of view that was long ago promulgated by Frank Lloyd Wright and confirmed by the way the absorption rate of synthetic developments in every state in the union save those in no-growth communities.
About urbanism, what else is on the mind of the consuming public and political constituents?
In his book titled Smart Growth Fraud, Michael S. Coffman of the “American Land Foundation” he says that “for decades urban planners have adhered to the mantra that urban sprawl increases pollution and housing costs, more driving time to work and shopping, stress, and the escalating consumption of scarce farmland and open space. Al Gore’s Smart growth was created to supposedly correct these problems and create more livable and inexpensive homes for all.
Irrefutable evidence, however, shows that urban planning creates the very nightmares it is supposed to eliminate.
In the process, it strips urbanites of one of their most fundamental civil liberties — property rights." Witness inner massive inner city housing projects, which became the home to pimps and drug dealers.
Are there urban contexts, which have solved some of these problems?
It should be noted that in large, medium and small cities there are multiple housing types and single and two family houses. There is also very large single family owned apartments as coops and condominiums in well-kept, convenient and safe neighborhoods. There are neighborhoods in Columbus, Kansas, Manhattan and so many others with large single-family houses. Large urban cities need not have only one or another building type.
In Lee County, we have Smart Growth and Community planning districts to update the Comprehensive Five Year Plan and the City of Fort Myers has already begun re-planning its downtown using these very principles involving local architects and planners.
What other methods have corporate developers found to persuade counties to grant variances and surrender the use of their undeveloped lands?
Rural Land System=RLS
Another such movement, associations, and institutions concerned with urbanism is Rural Land System=RLS
At a conference of university’s presidents the Ave Maria president told a gathering of guests of the Southwest Florida Chamber of Commerce that Ave Maria was a product of the RLS where a private large corporate developer invited Ave Maria, so as to meet some of the RLS objectives.
Earlier, I learned from Lee County planners that this scheme ultimately preempted some of Lee County’s wetlands and watershed. Like the Babcock Ranch developers and others who studied the current urban requirements, the developers were able to argue and win variances from local officials. The engineering firm of Wilson Miller developed RLS and the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council approved the project.
In addition, these projects also include a percentage of so-called “affordable” housing of which Lee County Commissioner John Albion was worried that what will be labeled affordable housing won't be affordable for long. Buyers might purchase a home at an affordable price, but could turn around and sell it for much more, which would make affordable housing almost impossible to find in Ave Maria.
He compared the project with Florida Gulf Coast University.
He said people working the lower-paying jobs at the university no longer could afford to live in the area because they can't afford the homes. He recommended the county and Ave Maria work to create a plan that would keep affordable housing affordable.
Here are some of the numbers: in Ave Maria the cost of a single-family home likely will range from $195,000 to $500,000; multi-family homes, such as condominiums, likely will range from $125,000 to $300,000; and rental properties likely will range from $650 to $1,400 a month and have 200 very low-income units. Ave Maria officials also have said they plan to donate a 28-acre site within 10 miles of the town of Ave Maria to Habitat for Humanity of Collier County.
Habitat will build 150 owner-occupied affordable housing units. Cost of so-called affordable housing is usually over $150,000.
Ave Maria at a glance
• Ave Maria will cover 4,995 acres.
• Ave Maria University is expected to serve 6,000 students. There are now an estimated 300 at the interim campus in the Vineyards in North Naples. The town will include:
• 11,000 residential units
• 690,000 square feet of retail space
• 510,000 square feet of office space
• 35,000 square feet of medical office space
• 148,500 square feet of civic/community and miscellaneous facilities
• 400 hotel rooms
• 1,800 acres of parks, lakes and open space
• An oratory, and
• A private school for grades K-12 and a public high school that will be located off-site.
Have any visited Ave Maria, and what do you think of the project?
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What are some the man-made organizing design elements of the urban city?
The great Boulevards of the World
Of course, Ave Maria will have a huge church and a great boulevard. Cites are composed of specific great boulevards, avenues and plazas. Many developments such as Ave Maria base their plans and designs on famous prototypes.
For example, the Champs-Élysées is the most prestigious and broadest avenue in Paris. Its full name is actually "Avenue des Champs-Élysées". With its cinemas, cafés, and luxury specialty shops, the Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world, and with rents as high as $1.25 million a year for 1,000 square feet of space, it remains the 2nd most expensive strip of real estate in the world (the first in Europe) after New York City's Fifth Avenue.] The name refers to the Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed in Greek mythology. I always call it the road to paradise. Its wide sidewalks allow one to stride amidst hoards of people while others may meander or even stop at windows or converse. It is exhilarating and uplifting.
I have often gone and walked alone on its entire length. I recall one July 14, Bastille day riding down the Champs-Élysées in a 1911 open convertible with other young boys shooting off guns and singing. Our ride went around the Arch d’Triumph and terminated into the seine where we emerged to the ramparts while the vehicle sank into the deep.
Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare in the center of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Lined with expensive park-view real estate and historical mansions, it is a symbol of wealthy New York. Between Thirty-fourth and Fifty-ninth streets, it is also one of the premier shopping streets in the world, on par with Oxford Street in London and the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
It is one of the most expensive streets in the world, on a par with Paris, London, and Tokyo lease prices: the "most expensive street in the world" moniker changes depending on currency fluctuations and local economic conditions from year to year.
Oxford Street is a major thoroughfare in London, England in the City of Westminster. With over 300 shops, it is Europe's largest shopping street.
Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich is one of the world's most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues.
The Kurfürstendamm, known locally as the Ku'damm, is one of the most famous avenues in Berlin, Germany. The street takes its name from the former Kurfürsten (Electors) of the Holy Roman Empire. This very broad, long boulevard can be considered the Champs-Élysées of Berlin - full of shops, houses, hotels and restaurants. In particular, most important famous designers have their shops there like Gucci, Bvlgari, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Cartier, Hermès, Swarovski, as well as several car manufacturers' show rooms.
Boston’s Quincy Market.
Today, "festival markets" are a dime a dozen - every city, it seems, has a collection of old brick buildings turned into chic little stores and endless restaurants.
But the one that blazed the path was Boston's Quincy Market. Back in the mid-1960s, James Rouse, then a city planner, had a revolutionary idea: instead of abandoning downtown to decay, why not build a fun marketplace that would not only attract tourists, but also keep workers downtown after dark.
Munich’s Marienplatz, (Mary's Square in English), is a central plaza in the city center of Munich, Germany since 1158. In the Middle Ages, markets and tournaments were held in this city square. The new city hall’s Glockenspiel was inspired by these tournaments and draws millions of tourists a year.
Bull fight arenas in Spain and particularly in Madrid where I sold bullfight tickets to tourist and in Pamplona where during the festival of San Fermin I ran with the bulls through the streets.
Arenas are great social gathering places where wine is squeezed out of leather sacks and the crowed cheer for their cities urban hero, the toreador that Bisset made famous in Carmen. We saw it performed in Paris long after it premiered at the Opéra Comique 1875. The Opéra-Comique is an opera company and opera house in Paris.
These operas, ballets, and operettas as well their buildings, costumes, orchestras and players all celebrate, exaggerate and explain urban life and the plight of city life. For America, that music is jazz country, rock, and Dixie-land.
Southern Boulevard: Not to be outdone, the neighborhood in which I grew up in the Bronx had an 800 foot double block-long super wide boulevard with three movie theatres, on having a stage show, two Chinese restaurants, one huge ballroom dance hall, two music shops with speakers facing the street playing the latest, every clothing, candy and decorating shop and three five and ten cent stores including Kresgee, Kress and Woolworth’s. I even worked in one shop for many years and at night; our family would ambulate from one side and then the other usually having a “mello-role’ before going walking around the corner to our Simpson Street ground floor tenement apartment. I can name others such Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
Can you name and describe a great boulevard in your city?
The study of urbanism must include the great urban monuments including Boulevards, Avenues, Areas, and Plazas of the World including:
• Plaza d’ Concorde in Paris
• Piazza Novanna in Rome
• Columbus circle in Manhattan
• Arch d’ Triumph in Paris
• Washington Square in Manhattan
• St Stephan in Vienna
• Los Ramblas in Barcelona
• Parco Güell by Gaudi in Barcelona
• South Beach in Miami
• Roman forum
• Venice’ San Marco Square and the Campanile
• Red Square
• China’s Tieneman Square
• Times Square in Manhattan
• Fulton fish Market in Lower Manhattan
• Staten Island Ferry
• Statue of Liberty
• Tamiami Trail and thousands of other strip roads in the United States of America
• The Las Vegas Strip
And, American Shopping Malls, including the Galleria in Houston, which was built by Gerald Hines to be an air-conditioned version of the Milan, Italy original. Mr. Hines started out selling air conditioners in Texas.
What are the natural design features around which cities may be planned?
Cites are famous for there rivers and urban architecture on the river
• San Antonio and it s River Walk
• San Francisco’ Golden Gate bridge and environs
• Seine in Paris
• Florence and Rome and the Arno
• Germany’s Ruhrgebit common to Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Duisenberg
• Venice, its canals, the famous San Marco Square, and the Campanile. (See Barie’s pen and ink)
Great Urban Buildings of the World include
• White House
• Taj Mihal
• Notre Dame
• Buckingham Palace
• St. Peter’s
• Dead Seas Scrolls in Israel
• Kabba in Mecca
• Eiffel Tower
• Empire State Building
• World Trade Center
• City forms radial: 2 Dimensional
In summary, aside from the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism what are some of all the movements, initiatives and legislations?
1. Rockefeller commission 2. Urban Development Corporation
3. Urban Land Institute 4. Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
5 Smart Growth and 6. Rural Land system
Is there one umbrella strategy to which many on both sides of the debate agree and can proceed?
Yes, and its called the New Urbanist!
As I mentioned earlier “Urbanist” are specialist in the study and planning of cities and “New Urbanism” is an urban design movement that burst onto the scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It tries to bring urban values into new construction.
New Urbanist aim to reform all aspects of real estate development and their work affects regional and local plans. They are involved in new development, urban retrofits, and suburban infill. In all cases, New Urbanist neighborhoods are walk able, and contain a diverse range of housing and jobs.
New Urbanist support regional planning for open space, appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. In a goal-oriented society these seem to very appropriate and compatible with the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
By the way, I got most of the Information about New Urbanism from Internet and the “New Urbanism” and “Duany” web sites.
They believe these strategies are the best way to reduce how long people spend in traffic, to increase the supply of affordable housing, and to rein in urban sprawl.
Many other issues, such as historic restoration, safe streets, and green building are also covered in the Charter of the New Urbanism, the movement's seminal document.
They stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy.
They recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.
They advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.
They represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, community activists, and multidisciplinary professionals. They are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design.
And, they are dedicated to reclaiming their homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment.
Robert Steuteville Writes: “In The New Urbanism:
An alternative to modern, automobile-oriented planning and development that after World War II, a new system of development was implemented nationwide, replacing neighborhoods with a rigorous separation of uses that has become known as Conventional Suburban Development (CSD), or sprawl. The majority of US citizens now live in suburban communities built in the last 50 years.
The New Urbanism is a reaction to sprawl. A growing movement of architects, planners, and developers, the New Urbanism is based on principles of planning and architecture that work together to create human-scale, walk able communities. New Urbanist take a wide variety of approaches — some work exclusively on infill projects, others focus on transit-oriented development, still others are attempting to transform the suburbs, and many are working in all of these categories. The New Urbanism includes traditional architects and those with modernist sensibilities.
All, however, believe in the power and ability of traditional neighborhoods to restore functional, sustainable communities.
What are some of the strategies adopted by New Urbanism?
Just as Starbucks raised the quality of coffee in competing restaurants and cafes, mainstream developers are adopting new urban design elements such as garages in the rear of houses, neighborhood greens and mixed-use town centers. Projects that adopt some principles of New Urbanism but remain largely conventional in design are known as hybrids.
The New Urbanism trend goes by other names, including nontraditional design, transit-oriented development, and traditional neighborhood development.
Borrowing from urban design concepts throughout history, the New Urbanism does not merely replicate old communities. They apply the principles but practice suburbanization with developer interests to build on low priced land. It is the reason I have given you some specific urban examples and will continue to do so in lectures. It is in this way that New Urbanism is eclectic and often found guilty of fostering banal design solutions when in fact they are simply building contemporary metaphors.
The very fact that new Urbanist must meet the demands of the marketplace keeps them grounded in reality. Successful New Urbanism performs a difficult balancing act by maintaining the integrity of a walk able, human-scale neighborhood while offering modern residential and commercial “product” to compete with CSD.
New Urbanist who cannot compete with conventional development or find a niche that is poorly served by the real estate industry is doomed to failure. The new Urbanist is a pragmatist overwhelmed by the advent of land developers, super highways and utility networks.
The difficulty of that balancing act is one reason why many developers choose to build hybrids, instead of adopting all of the principles of the New Urbanism. Such a compost as a hybrid has usually enough uniqueness as to provide proponents applying for a development order with so many un-chartered elements as to warrant a variance away from the government’s original city plan.
Like my experience with Gulf Oil, it was the lawyers and the accounts that came up with most of the investment strategies and goals the board ultimately considered and approved.
Some new Urbanist thinks that hybrids pose a serious threat to the movement, because they usually borrow the label and language of the New Urbanism. Other new Urbanist believes that hybrids represent a positive step forward from CSD. Unfortunately, the architecture of space, human scale and quality of life has lost out to legalism, and the power of the law and economic benefits.
The new Urbanist has used computer technology to superimpose urban vocabulary, meaning and realities of infrastructure and hierarchies onto the highways, houses built on lots, vast connectors, and commercial centers. The result continues the lack of urban cities and affordable communities where independent and freethinking arts and intellect can grow and prosper. The New Urbanist is unwittingly promulgating the same choices made by their recent ancestors in the fifties for a controlled and managed life and the context to support that life style,
Vis-à-vis freedom of choice, democracy and quality of life what is your opinion of hybrids?
What are the elements and importance of New Urbanism?
Principles of the New Urbanism are an attempt by non-architects and creative persons to translate the spirit and intellect of the architect into formulas and recipes. They have made into clichés the hard work of the mind and spirit of urban architects and city planners.
They extrapolate and digest to legal terms what has taken place over the centuries in order to provide real estate developers with “smart growth plans politically correct vocabulary and legal stature to win the hearts and souls of the controlled and managed town counsels. Many talented people employed by corporate developers challenge county commissioners and local judges and judicial systems.
It makes being an informed citizen and selecting elected officials even more important. Practicing professionals need the support and confidence of constituents and the beneficiaries of the work of the developers and the government.
On the technical and physical side, like the Romans who created The Five Noble Orders of Architecture, Michelangelo’s treatise on scale, Ramsey Sleeper “Time Saver Standards” and John Wiley and Sons “Architectural Graphic Standards” the heart of the New Urbanism is in the design of neighborhoods, which can be defined by 13 elements, according to town planners Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, two of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism.
An authentic neighborhood contains most of these elements:
(Both are the planners of Fifth Ave in Naples and the new Fort Myers downtown areas)
1) the neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
2) Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 2,000 feet.
3) There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, row houses and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles and families, the poor and the wealthy may find places to live.
4) At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
5) A small ancillary building is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (e.g., office or craft workshop).
6) An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
7) There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling -- not more than a tenth of a mile away.
8) Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
9) The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
10) Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
11) Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
12) Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites.
What are some projects that would agree with the New Urbanist?
To bring this all home let me give you a few examples of typical New Urbanist-type projects
• For example, in June of 1996, Disney unveiled its 5,000-acre town of Celebration, near Orlando, Florida, and it has since eclipsed Seaside as the best-known new Urbanist community. In some respects, the New Urbanism and Disney have been uncomfortable bedfellows. While using designers and principles closely associated with the New Urbanism, Disney has shunned the label, preferring to call Celebration simply a “town”.
• Seaside, Florida, by DPZ was the first new Urbanist town, began development in 1981 on 80 acres of Panhandle coastline.
Seaside appeared on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly in 1988 when only a few streets were completed, and it since became internationally famous for its architecture and the quality of its streets and public spaces. Seaside proved that developments that function like traditional towns could be built in the postmodern era. Lots began selling for $15,000 in the early 1980s and, slightly over a decade later, lots prices had escalated to about $200,000. Today, some lots sell for close to a million dollars and houses sometimes-top $3 million. The town is now a tourist Mecca.
Seaside’s influence has less to do with its economic success than a certain magic and dynamism related to its physical form. Many developers have visited Seaside and gone away determined to build something similar.
• Not officially named as a New Urbanist project is La Défense in Paris business district is one of the largest business districts in the world is the design of the Danish architect Otto van Spreckelsen looks more like a cube-shaped building than a triumphal arch. It is a 110-meter tall white building with the middle part left open. The sides of the cube contain offices. It is possible to take a lift to the top of the Grande Arch; it is as spectacular as a view from the Empire State Building, Eiffel towel or the former World Trade Center. You can see a reduced in scale vast panorama the city below; roof tops, streets and buildings. Like a view from the peaks of the Alps or the Rockies. My very first building designs were of New York City skyscrapers.
Few pre-New Urbanist synthetic cities:
• Brasilia, a capital created ex nihilo (Ex nihilo is a Latin term meaning "out of nothing") in the center of the country in 1956, was a landmark in the history of town planning. The site chosen for Brasilia is located in the Federal District and comprises 2,245 sq. miles (5,814 sq. km) of a sparsely inhabited plateau carved out of the State of Goias, 3,609 feet (1,100 meters) above sea level and 746 miles (1,200 km) from Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian architect and urban planner, Lucio Costa, won the competition for the urban master plan and the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the major government buildings.
On April 21, 1960, Brasilia was officially inaugurated to function as the new capital of Brazil.
• Washington, DC designed whom L'Enfant was born at the Gobelins, Paris; He studied at the Royal Academy in the Louvre before enrolling to fight in the American Revolution. Following the war, L'Enfant established a successful and highly profitable civil engineering firm in New York City.
He achieved some fame as an architect by redesigning Federal Hall. In 1791, L'Enfant was appointed by President George Washington to design a new federal capital city under the supervision of three commissioners that Washington had appointed to oversee the planning and development of the 10 mile square of federal territory that would later become the District of Columbia.
• Garden Cities Of Tomorrow by Ebenezer Howard which is to be built near the center of the 6,000 acres, covers an area of 1,000 acres, or a sixth part of the 6,000 acres, and might be of circular form, 1,240 yards (or nearly three-quarters of a mile) from center to circumference.
• Freetown, a city that was new in the 18th century but that was not, paradoxically, a creation ex nihilo. (Ex nihilo is a Latin term meaning "out of nothing”) The capital of the first African colony in the modern sense of the term, a municipality at the end of the 19th century, and today a "capital of pain," Freetown has since its foundation crystallized all the beauties and contradictions of the Sierra Leonian settlement project.
As long as the concept of the city (whose original models were the Greek polis and the Roman urbs) had been intrinsically linked to the concept of civilization, and the concept of civilization considered synonymous with the West, both the ideas of an "African civilization" and an "African city" were seen as inadmissible. Freetown was the exception.
• New-Every town of The Shape of Things to Come by HG Wells, and many other images and designs by futurists, visionaries, science fiction writers and movie producers.
New Urbanist have planned and developed hundreds of projects in infill locations. Most were driven by the private sector, but many, including HUD projects, used public money.
What are some of the New Urbanist urban clusters?
New Urbanist projects built in historic cities and towns includes:
• Crawford Square in Pittsburgh;
• City Place in West Palm Beach;
• Highlands Garden Village in Denver,
• Park Du Valle in Louisville, and
• Beerline in Milwaukee.
• Times Square in Fort Myers Beach
• Down Town Naples
• Munich Subway and CBD street closing of the Marc Stresses
• Vienna St. Stephen Platz
In the mid-1990s, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) adopted the principles of the New Urbanism in its multibillion-dollar program to rebuild public housing projects nationwide.
My first project for Gulf Oil Corporation was RESTON, Virginia. Its competitor was James Rouse’s Columbia Maryland followed by the Irvine Ranch in California. I later was director of Architecture for Peoples Protective, which developed Sugar Tree and English Mountain in Tennessee; Sugar Tree is now an incorporated with a city form of government. However ambitious were these they are dwarfed by these more recent projects. The Gulf Company I worked for was formed to control the multi-billion dollar portfolio of all of Gulf Oil Corporation’s worldwide real estate assets. In addition to managing the financial and operational aspects of its many properties it also offered its services to all the gulf companies, which is where I provided all sorts of consulting services.
At the time, Gulf Oil owned several large developments including Florida’s Hutchinson Island, off of Port St. Lucie. At the time, it was wilderness a gulf Oil paid three times the appraised value of the property. It was the job of our group to consolidate trade and divest itself of unprofitable assets. Profits in the oil business were measured in hundreds of percent while in real estate business about twenty percent was considered acceptable. The Gulf board looked upon the collective sum of all these assets as a drop in the bucket compared to its profit making oil assets and there fore it set policies that held the development and operation of any of there properties with least priority.
Unlike many corporations, whose major business is real estate such as Dell Web, Hines, Trammel Crow, Hometown America, Sexton, Marriott, Horne and hundreds of others would propose projects for us to consider investing.
What is the New Urbanist’ Mission Statement?
I hope we can see our own potential culture of cosmopolitan urbanism in their principles and mission statement. Perhaps they can be our own.
As I said in my opening remarks the study of urbanism and civilization is inextricably tied together. As a metaphor, we are what we build and if we are civilized, we will build a way to live and work to make our habitations more livable. As we uncover ancient cities we learn how they were able to translate their version of living civilly in an n urban form. Can we today look at ourselves and be proud of our civilization of time of life?
The New Urbanist Mission Statement says that “ The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestments in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society's built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.
We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy.
We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.
We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.
We represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, community activists, and multidisciplinary professionals. We are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design.
We dedicate ourselves to reclaiming our homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment.
Today, I described how the “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” describes our cosmopolitan and urban abilities to agree, disagree, peruse common goals, tolerate stress and congestion, discern between community and privacy and distribute precious resources.
As I promised I showed “what can be done to make cities livable and worthy to be called home”. There are other urban topics I can present which you may select from the handout.
Are you ready to be a new urbanist and culture others as you have been cultured by urbanism?
I encourage you to get a vision for your home, block, neighborhood, community, county and city so that you may choose and manage your urban contexts.
Decide whether you choose between a corporate synthetic or natural context. Which one is right for you?
Also, visit cities, enjoy the one in which you live and know the similarities and differences between one and another city.
I hope you will appreciate cities and enjoy them for their own special and peculiar characteristics, its complexities, vulgarities and immense opportunities.
See the differences and distinctive and what they may have in common. Enjoy the big city for
Practice feeling the spaces between buildings and identifying the unique rooftops.
Get lost, reinvent yourself and become something you imagined you could be.
A big city can be very uncomfortable with inconveniences but it is usually on the cutting edge of new beginnings. Learn how to walk and perceive the faces and dress of people on the street.
Your old friends will call you crass and unconventional but once you grasp the fragrance and tempo of the big city, it will never leave you. You will be willing to sacrifice many of life’s pleasures for the stress, tempo, and sharpness that allow predators and creators to be all they are.
You will discover that no one man nor collection of men can create a big city but only a will on the part of a collective, complex, diverse and often adversarial separate teams.
It is not the architects, new Urbanist, and city planners dream come true but the diverse and contradictory reality of man’s creation.
It is mankind at its most optimum.
One and a Half Hour (one hour) has elapsed.
Now there may be time for questions and comments.
As I promised at the end of this lecture, I would leave time for any one that would like to share something about urbanism.
As I said in my first lecture since I am most at home, creating and solving problems I hope that some of you might have come here with an urban dilemma or comment you wish to discuss. I hope this lecture helped you frame some question that we can now discuss
Do you view suburban sprawl as an ecological threat and a waste of resources? Do you advocate for more vertical and denser town planning?
“Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism”
My Urban Legacy 15,482 words on 46 pages
by Barie Fez-Barringten
Green questions are rhetorical
Red questions are interrogatives.
Thesis and premises:
How many of you ever thought about urbanism (populate) as a culture (condition) or that urbanism could be cosmopolitan (universal)?
The title of these lectures is the “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” because it aptly describes who we are and what we face. The sooner we understand our culture and its peculiar characteristics the sooner we can manage our lives and improve our living conditions. Increases in population and density culture our personal, family and business lives. We are cosmopolitan and urban as we agree, disagree, peruse common goals, tolerate stress and congestion, discern between community and privacy and distribute precious resources. For example, an urbanized person negotiates traffic, crowds, street signs, home mail delivery, and crowded places of public gatherings, ambulating, few stars due to bright skies, pollution, live entertainment, public transportation, and close proximity to neighbors.
The culture of cosmopolitan urbanism is both about those affected by population’s dynamics and the way they are able to utilize these affects to facilitate further population growth. Like any culture it can be inherited and once experienced, it can be conveyed and inherited by others. It is the responsibility of persons that have been cultured by urbanism to convey that experience to others to preserve the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
How many have ever thought of themselves as being affected by their environment and that an urban background can affect the way you think and behave?
Culture is the development of the intellect through training or education and the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns including arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. Dense population, crowds and opportunities breed specific kinds of social behavior and unique metaphors, which affect individual persons, families and institutions. These in tern conversely contribute to develop the social, cultural and built environment. It is a conversation between an increasing collective as they add and reject persons and institutions and the environment they form to support their individual and collective interests enabling us to mature, authenticate and develop our identity. We are one with our surroundings and expect them to perform.
In our time, we wonder what can be done to make the urbs feasible, livable, and desirable, what are the problems, and how can they be mitigated?
Sometime the problem looms before us.
What can we do to make the urb everyone’s identity, metaphor and home?
I believe if we fit the city to the metaphors of the population and its diversity then more people will care and when more care, the city will greatly improve. After all, form should follow function, and the population will only care if the city is their metaphor.
So, who will do this and what can we do to foster urban quality?
Is there one size fits all or are we already doing what’s right by acclimating and adjusting to the variables of our demographics, geography, climate, and socio-political necessities?
I believe when the A.I.A. asks, “What can be done to make cities livable” that the A.I.A. is taking responsibility for what they and others have neglected for several generations. I would put the question “what can be done to make cities livable and worthy to be called home”.
The Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” wants “livability” to be home.
But we don’t always perceive our surroundings as home. Some would agree and others disagree that American rural, suburban and urban cities find themselves needing to mitigate the bad choices, carelessness and narrow vision of their past. Since I gave my fist lecture on metaphors and architecture at Yale University and established the Laboratories for Metaphoric Environments in New York City in 1970, I have watched as the rift widened between architects and planners and therefore cities further deteriorated.
Can you identify any thing you do as having a particularly urban identity?
Thankfully, there are a few that simply love cities the way they are and accept the city with all there pros and cons, as a matter of fact the more the apparent contradictions, complexities and anomalies the better.
In these people are the seeds of hope but they are not usually the ones who take responsibility for shaping public policy, planning and design.
However, without pride, a personal sense of ownership and overwhelming moral and ethical mind I have found that states and cities become corrupt, permissive and pedantic frustrating those that love and invest their identity in the city’s metaphor and who believe their identity is authenticated and synonymous with the identity of the city and will accept most of any of its conditions.
What is the one thing that we all want in our home?
However romantic and interesting are war zones and circuses, man’s interests cannot be nurtured and developed in such areas. We all agree that law and order by civilized behavior is desired and necessary. On the other hand, life is more than the maintaining law of order.
From the farmhouse in Iowa to the penthouse in Manhattan, we all call our country, state, city, neighborhood, and community and house our home. It is the repository of all our metaphors, hopes and dreams. It is very precious, valuable and worthy of our attention despite the many who merely make a business and career out of profiting and policing agreements by consensus.
I have learned that without passionate and urban educated professionals the choices presented is less often the better of two evils. And neither one of them engenders civic pride and ownership. In Florida, the problem is how to shift the pride away from a snowbirds city of origin to a persons’ Florida home. For those in Florida where Florida is their home state, the problem is restoring and building their pride and interest in a quality city. As without a vision, a nation perishes so without a personal identity and affiliation of one’s home we lose our initiative, creativity and authenticity. Already the implications have manifest themselves in avoidances and overwhelming acceptance of banality and boredom. Since form follows function, we all know we work harder for less and with limited choices. Our new gained affluence has provided us ways of maneuvering around in a very prescriptive and formulary life style. I believe, the more we have a point of view about this culture of cosmopolitan urbanism the more we can improve the way we live.
So, who’s to blame?
Despite the warnings, I find few that really care for the future and generations that will follow, I have seen many who believe that planning is really un-American, and look to destroy our past with little care for the future. Therefore, I believe it is the job of our institutions to educate and be the custodians of the urban metaphors, which will help us, choose and manage urban contexts. For years, learned journals have published my monographs on this subject and still universities and governments do not have a way of knowing the metaphors of their constituents save the markets of commercial developers and the public’s reactions to infringements on their privacy.
What can the individual do?
I know that most are not in a position to choose large, medium or small urban contexts but rather to choose between rural and urban where these days’ most non-agricultural families choose sub-urban or urban clusters. On the other hand, if one chooses an urban context we may find ourselves managing its renovation, expansion or reaping its benefits and failures. Weather and climate aside, I believe an urban person’s first responsibility begins in choosing a city where he can find agreement and observe the qualities contributing to a better way of living. However, I observe that our society has come to rely on remedies and cures for everything hoping anything can be mitigated.
Does the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism make a difference?
Take the extreme example of how New Orleanians persists in settling in below flood elevation areas as do homesteaders insist upon building in coastal flood areas. Such strong and determined will overcomes many natural obstacles and I have observed that in urban settings such people are a force for the right decisions. We can see the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism at work in the will that strives to overcome the inertia of the physical. The urban person strives to maintain the status quo.
What is one of the ideals in any urban environment?
Aside from options and choices, our culture intuitively recognizes minimum standards that whatever the size, urban context is best balanced by a rural and undeveloped surround, which is often farming, mountains, forest, wetlands, or waterways.
I believe it wrong when these lands are sub-urbanized reducing escape options and quality of life. It makes this new area subordinate to the urb and without its own identity. In this frustration and without a national policy I observe people continue to migrate to places where these choices are possible. I believe New Orleanians, as most urban places will be faced with arresting and reversing this very basic practice. As they do, urban densities will naturally increase and our culture will evolve a cosmopolitan set of values.
What is the one word that means populating our surrounding land?
And how does sprawl it affect us?
Sprawl dilutes personal identity
We already know that the sprawl of the city’s structure and population damages urban lifestyle by adding time and expense to travel from the urb. For others, the only financially feasible option is the suburb because reasonable options are not locally available. So they surrender their urban for the sub-urban rather than downsize to a smaller urban. Such decisions are economically driven as mobile Americans find new employment, recreation, and business opportunities. I believe this is a disaster and while I am not in favor of birth control as a means of solving overpopulation, I am a believer in providing populations with quality urban contexts.
The problem has many vectors but because of population growth, immigration and migration urban mangers choose between permitting growth by new development on already platted urban and suburban land to accommodate that growth to consume undeveloped land.
Who are the parties that can correct the problem?
It is citizens, educators and elected officials who are both interested in our context that understand urbanism who make better choices. In the late eighties construction permitting came to a screeching halt when Lee county introduced concurrency legislation which required all developers to first develop supporting and affected infrastructure prior to adding faculties which would burden the existing areas. The results did not slow or curtail growth because developers were able to meet the requirements and pass the costs onto potential buyers.
Has any one ever heard of concurrency legislation?
But concurrency only highlights how urban sprawl adds infrastructure instead of using existing. It also shows how, even with this condition many developers still prefer to exercise their business in rural counties than to build in urban centers. The important exceptions are New York City, Singapore, and Shanghai, which expedited developers in the building process. All of these cities were desperate to recover their lost income and contributing populations. While their decisions tapped into the existing city skyscraper and dense population, metaphors it brought people back into the city and away from the suburbs.
Many of our “urbs” that have sprawled now try to prevent growth by local town fathers following many European models, which keep the distance from the urb to the rural to a minimum. It is called “no growth”.
I believe that this alone can stop sprawl and increase the quality of urban life. Many communities in New England practice this while others have lat the sprawl ooze out to connect many cities and form metropolitan areas; as a result, the urban clusters have deteriorated.
What is it that prevents leaders to change?
We do not convey our culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
Highly mobile and transient communities have lost their ability to manage urban cities, buildings, and neighborhoods within metropolitan urban areas so that no one values their social, iconic and economic contribution to the balance and opportunity that citizens needs to thrive and grow. All because we do not have a vision and will for our urbs and continue to allow our lands to be absorbed by aggressive private real estate interest. I am all in favor of real estate as a business as I my self was once a Texas real estate brokers. But in our highly transient society, it is up to individuals and their institutions to be the surrogate and agent for society’s social ethos. Functional neighborhoods can be either victim or hero to combat the social and economic deterioration that contributes to the use of illegal drugs, crime, family separations and a much lower quality of life.
Existing urban cities, buildings, and neighborhoods within metropolitan urban areas should be valued for there social, iconic and economic contribution to the balance and opportunity citizens needs to thrive and grow, all because we do not have a vision and will for our urbs and continue to allow our lands to be absorbed by aggressive private real estate interest.
What are some of the pros and cons to increasing density?
In the urbs the social benefit to all income and socio-economic levels occurs when necessities dictates increasing densities and adding new buildings and communities. This benefits existing populations in poorer neighborhoods because it allow for entry-level citizens to make their neighborhoods relevant and personally metaphoric. As older occupants relocate to newer dwellings, others move and renovate.
Often the neighborhoods become a mixture of people on differing socio-economic scales and diverse cultures.
It could even result in vest-pocket zone variances allowing for non-residential use where mixing both uses and economic social status often produces the best of both worlds for all citizens. But such a combination means mixing metaphors and aesthetics as well, which demands understanding the urban context. It is here where community verses privacy issues are identified, negotiated and sometimes reconciled. When they are not, the results are often disputes that result in violence and chaos as differing interest and tastes vie for their turf.
In 1967, to research for my thesis Precinct Police Station to earn my masters of architecture at Yale the patrol car I was in drove into an urban block in Brooklyn to face a heated gun battle with shots being fired from several buildings on either side of the street. While both officers left the vehicle they put the microphone in my hand and told me to lay on the floor in the back and tell headquarters what was happening, this was a dramatic repeat of the squabbles I experienced growing up in tenements in the Bronx.
Later the officers told me that this was a daily occurrence and that it was caused by these neighbors inability to reconcile their claim to the neighborhood and their difference in life style and culture.
I learned that to avoid such gun battles the metaphor of the urban city must be brought to the consumer to affect the way residents choose and influence public policy. They must either own, believe they own and be treated with the dignity and respect of a righteous citizen.
For new cities, and in light of the dependence on foreign oil in dangerous places, our dependence on foreign oil would be greatly reduced by simply accommodating population increases in urban rather than sub-urban settings because urban contexts can be made economic and metaphorically attractive.
I believe an economic urban design is the antidote to sprawl, expensive highways, power generation, grids, bridges, automobiles and fuel. I believe that one of the reasons the Europeans are not very sympathetic to the plight of American cities is because Europeans have practiced conservation while observing Americans squander its land, productivity, and natural resources.
What is being done now improve the urban experience?
Recently I have observed an increasing number of responsible institutions initiating programs that encourage spatial beauty, complexity, contradictions, vulgarity, opportunity, and mixed uses and formed such initiatives as “New Urbanism”, “Smart Growth”, “Blueprint for America”, “Principles of Intelligent Urbanism (PIU) and in New York City in 1970 we formed the Laboratories for Metaphoric Environments.
America is as much a place as it is an idea and our cities are one of the world’s most ethnically diverse demographic populations, which insist cities, is workable, fun and beautiful. Cities are often both recreational and exciting to even announce something like “New York is a Summer Festival”! In America when a city or place in city does not work, it is abandoned and destroyed and the American culture moves on to create a better place.
Can we decide between right and wrong, provide options and still manage our environment?
Hope and Vision
It is for this reason I am optimistic and writing and lecturing on urbanism because I believe we can have the will if only we had the vision, and it is up to persons like myself to present this vision, a vision based on empirical models and workable ideals. I believe it is up to design professional’s not disinterested bureaucrats, lawyers and accountants to create works of art, metaphors, and lifetime contexts while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the general public. Right now communities have grown up with the benefit of the talent and committed professional s needed to create livable cities.
However nice is Tamiami Trail, it will never match the Champs-Élysées and why shouldn’t it?
American architects have come to accept the “strip” as a given in modern cities.
What are the creative opportunities to foster a culture of cosmopolitan urbanism?
Recently non-rural city-constituents insist on a government, which has an urban mind, and culture, with people who are passionately urban and have a cosmopolitan point of view. A point of view unencumbered with provincialism but filled with compassion, education, and professionalism.
The mass media and Internet condition populations to the extent that they are emerging to desire the things that only an urb can provide.
However while there are many commonalties between one and another urb there are also remarkable differences. Obviously, since not all cities can be the same, makers of the urban metaphor makes the strange familiar and likens one urban-type in terms of another.
The urban creators must be more than a technical architect or planner but a profession that includes the commonalities and differences on many levels of issues and complexities; it needs a “culture of cosmopolitan urbanism”.
It is both a science and an art!
Such a culture knows the history of urbanism that deals with the increases in population and understands the urban mindset, providing intelligent choices so that citizens may choose and manage urban contexts in representative governments, their elected officials, bureaucrats and professional consultants.
Communities must ask whether their town-fathers, government leaders, elected officials, systems of government and laws are suitable for creating ideal cities, or, is it best left to the private sector which historically have been dictators, czars, pharaohs, feudal lords, and passionate industrialist who created most of the beautiful cities in the world by power and single-minded initiative.
They also created the most despotic unhealthy and unsafe cites the world has ever known. Few, if any city, when first began have a good beginning.
It is good that today, modern governments involve citizens to monitor decisions so that there can there be a city with the driving force of a people and their representative government, businessmen, corporations with a confluence of great and influential leaders. They debate whether to urbanize or not, to ruralize or not, to sub-urbanize or not, which is more appropriate and when, to extend or to renovate the existing, to build vertically rather than horizontally.
What should be the mix of rental verses owned properties and should these be built in higher or low density?
Often, the unspoken is about people’s life-style metaphors and the diversity of populations, vocations, and backgrounds.
Some ask about the very rich, while others debate the pros and cons to encourage, discourage, control or limit growth, zone or not to zone and plan or not to plan, other communities argue in favor of leaving such developments totally to chance and without anyone’s intervention, for example, Houston does not have zoning. These are all valid debates and contribute to the increase of quality in the built environment, which is best for the majority of the affected population.
So, why aren’t the leaders doing their job?
First of all, we are not conveying the culture of urbanism to them, by its very nature culture lives when it is received and conveyed.
Aside from the checks and balances afforded by our democratic form of government, two party system and cultural diversity the plight of Southwest Florida is exacerbated by demeaning the primary professional whose education and calling it is to create and develop the built environment. Instead, the authority rests with planners who focus on infrastructure, politicians who focus on politics, and developers who are interested in profits, while one of the solutions would be a school of architecture, which educates and advocates. Yet another dilemma looms and that is a culture of pragmatism and precedence law, even with a version of statute of limitations it still is used to win variances to change approved plans. Everybody knows we are what we eat as we benefit when we choose the right foods we must build the right environments, both affect our being.
What are the two different ways urbanism occurs?
To reify and convert the abstract concept of urbanism into a reality and identify some of the choices I have divided these two lectures on urbanism into two, one and a half hour (1 ½) plus 1/2 hour of questions and discussions to include Natural and evolving and corporately created, synthetic and mass- produced urban forms.
Natural cities include such cities as New York, Paris, Charleston, Leipzig, Florence, Madrid, Rome, Johannesburg, St, Petersburg, and hundreds of others. Cities which foster builders, general contractors and individual business to design and custom build on a small scale where individuals invest in apartment buildings, rental or condominium ownership.
This form of living is the metaphor of natural cities and their culture of cosmopolitan urbanism because people in natural cities gather together to:
1. Extract and manufacture products form natural resources
2. Exchange goods and services,
3. Attack others to acquire resources
4. Defend themselves from attack by a common enemy
5. Enjoy entertainment, recreation, and quality of life,
6. Farm and fish,
7. Import and export goods and services.
8. Pursue careers and work
On the other hand, synthetic city-types and clusters are corporately created and include New Towns, Planned Unit Developments, Commercial and Industrial Developments such as English Mountain, Sugar Tree, Al-Khobar, Reston, and industrial cities in China and Saudi Arabia (Dhahran, Abquiq, Jubail and Yanbu). Where land is developed, buildings designed and systematically mass-produced, manufactured on site or in factories as products according to pre-designed stock plans and specifications by large real estate development corporations.
Can we plan for urbanization?
Planning for urbanization
Organic new town or the garden city is a type of planned urbanization based on an advance plan of the type prepared for military, aesthetic, economic or urban design reasons. Planned urbanization on a mega scale is the construction of new towns by the Housing Development Board of Singapore.
Unplanned (organic) cities are the oldest form of urbanization. Examples can be seen in many ancient cities; although with exploration came the collision of nations, which meant that many invaded, cities took on the desired planned characteristics of their occupiers.
Many ancient organic cities experienced redevelopment for military and economic purposes, new roads carved through the cities, and new parcels of land were cordoned off serving various planned purposes giving cities distinctive geometries. I believe that either can be workable depending on the scale and quality of the government and the professionals managing the urbanization process, of course, without a good board of directors setting good policy the mangers usually falter.
I have an original study of the city of Baghdad which aptly describes the way the city was built by attaching one dwelling after another to each to form a gigantic honeycomb cluster. The west and the east both have different ways of forming their urbs.
UN agencies prefer to see an urban infrastructure installed before urbanization occurs. I recall studying a village in Peru where my best friends served in the Pease Corps, after a community effort planning a community the built the sewer, water and electric systems as well as the roads. They also started a system of making local building materials to build and trained laborers. Landscape planners are responsible for landscape infrastructure (public parks, sustainable urban drainage systems and greenways) which can be planned before urbanization takes place, or afterward to revitalize an area and create greater livability within a region.
My curiosity about “why my environment is the way it is” gave birth to a passion for urbanity, cities, architecture, and design long before I even knew my own identity.
When I was a little boy, that curiosity was coupled with my building covered shelters out of a combination of blankets and wooden orange crates in our Hunts Point two-family house.
I therefore became the student and creator of the very places, which I was later to call my world, and when I became a member of the American Institute of Architects, I also became an authority on urbanism.
As a young person, I did reconnaissance to find out where I was in this world and to make everything recognizable, familiar and gain control of my opportunities.
For me the city was a metaphor for my identity and I authenticated my self by these explorations and constructions.
In much, the same way as did primitive man builds his first shelter and soon combined them together to form villages and agreements to develop them into civilized societies. Early Baghdad, and our New England towns and villages are examples where populations settled because of natural resources, waterways ands trade crossings.
Having said all of this about urbanity, I have always been metaphorically romantic about rural and small town life. I even enjoyed living in two venues for the twenty years we lived and worked in Saudi Arabia. So I am familiar with the plight of the so-called “snowbird”.
My cosmopolitan involvement with urbanity is personal and peculiar to me. I am not trying to teach anyone here the basics of city planning but rather to encourage a love and passion for the built and created man- made environment and to hopefully provide a roadmap so that citizens may choose and manage urban contexts, we are in need of a culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
In brief, to share the passion, I found myself involved in one of those basics that affect everyone but few give much thought, the culture of cities and urbanism. Armed with this passion it is possible for citizens to choose and manage urban contexts. Yes, the key is education.
Much the way we are managing our health care I believe we must also learn to manage our contexts. I believe my mission in this CLL program is to impart that passion, the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
What is the difference between cities and urban areas how is this distinction helpful to mange the control of cities?
While urban is about city dwellers and being civilized to do so Urban is also the very "characteristic of city life” while urbane became restricted to manners and styles of expression. Urban renewal, euphemistic for "slum clearance”, is recorded from 1955. While a city is the result of the accord, agreements of citizens it may remain unurbanized. A part of cites may be urbanized while others remain undeveloped. There are many cites which have whole districts that remain under the control of one city or county municipality who choose to urbanize that land, for example, Fort Myers’ relationship to Lee County. Also, some say they visit a city and do not get the sense that they are in an urban environment. The form of civilization may be different from theirs. As an example, my houseboy from Thailand chastised the Saudi Arabia custom of closing shops for prayers as in Thailand commercial time is so precious that most stores time shares a particular location to earn a living, when one proprietor leaves another sets up to sell his goods.
There are cities, which have a complete infrastructure but are not urban because its institutions, public facilities and limitations on public movement are limited and restricted. Before the iron curtain fell many cites under the Soviet Union were such cities, certain cites in Saudi Arabia are other such examples, they are apparently “dead” cities.
In this way urban is the life within the city while the city is the place and the urban is life or the structure, and things within the city.
The city is the agreements of accord and “rightness” of the place and all those within are “right” while the urbs are what they build to supply their needs and necessities. For example with public funds, they may build highways, roads, rail and bus to encourage private developers to build places for commerce, industry and habitation. They also build sidewalks, parks and playgrounds for children.
How does an urban culture shape a city?
Typically, culture is inherited and passed on from one to another generation to authenticate and both the new and last generation while enriching each person and the collective society.
Urban culture is the culture of cities. Cities all over the world, past and present, have behaviors and cultural elements that separate them from otherwise comparable rural areas. Urban culture is any of the behavioral patterns of the various types of cities and urban areas, both past and present. "Culture is the learned set of beliefs, values, norms and material goods shared by group members... Culture consists of everything we learn in groups during the life course-from infancy to old age.” In terms of the behavioral psychologist and urban sociologist, it is the result of a person being conditioned by their surrounding context and its multiple specific experiences with the facilities in the context. Cities such as New Orleans, Galveston, Los Angeles, Butte, and Detroit come to mind. The epistemology of urbanism explains knowledge how do we know something is urban and not just a city and is they’re any absolutes about what distinguishes a good from bad city. Scores of philosophers and urban scholars have tried to sort through these issues while civilizations settle and develop homesteads and build villages.
I began my formal journey under the greatest epistemologist of our time, now deceased after 91 years, my friend and mentor, Dr. Paul Weiss.
Like me, Dr. Weiss, a distinguished professor at Yale and then Catholic University, was born and raised in New York and he spoke with a distinct accent. I set out to prove that, as art was a metaphor so was architecture and therefore architecture was an art because it too makes metaphors.
To do this I had to first find an absolute definition of “metaphor” and then demonstrate how elements of architecture performed this way.
After years of research and many published monographs, I concluded that even culture is a metaphor. It is what people value and use to authenticate sustain and identify them. Their culture and the context of their culture are their “bridge “, address, and home root. It is their highpoint in a crowded world, which acts as beacon to guide them home and be their terminal to any journey.
What kind of urban people make a difference?
Urban people are enamored with the “city” and although they disagree about many things, they do think about it but in their own empirical way. They can be introverted, petty, sophisticated or vulgar and share a vision of cooperating in a common vocabulary reaching for the sky and demonstrating their ability to be powerful and “god-like”. Heroism in a heroic city is an expectation amongst its inhabitants.
Urbanites welcome heroes where many great cities have urbanized under the horsepower of its home- grown heroes. Urbanites are the center of one place and “every-where –else” uses them as a model.
They, the city and the collective persons with the urban fabric are, not only right, but also possess a power of place and collective wisdom and resources. They seem to have a super-natural authority and collective self-righteousness. They know and can decide about the trends, fashion, arts, finance, products and consumer’s needs and desires. These tycoons and entrepreneurs include Trumps, Vanderbilt, Morgan, Drake, Gates, Rockefellers, Astor’s, Waldorf, Howard Hughes (Las Vegas), Henry Ford, Carnegie, Whitney, Ford, Mellon (Pittsburgh), and the Arabian Gulf King, Emirs and sheiks are some such people.
In fact, none of the above may bear it out, but the allusion to being god-like (trend setters) permeates and fans the flame of the fantasy. The urbanite envisions the world with them at its center, emanating rays of light, products, words, songs, sounds, ideas, force, design, engineering, science, technology, religion, medical cures, and healing.
For example, in 1878, Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City with several financiers, including J. P. Morgan and the members of the Vanderbilt family. These people received and conveyed the culture of cosmopolitan culture.
In cities like New York, Paris, Rome, Mumbai, Beijing, Los Angeles and then a year or even later things spring up in other smaller and secondary markets.
Commerce plays an important part in giving a city its identity and vitality. It’s not all about profit but more the opportunity to peruse dreams, careers, family and relationships. It is the seed of a universal view and globalization. Most cities start with commerce exploiting resources and geographical assets before being a magnet to large populations. One can control unwanted influx of populations by curtailing employment.
As citizens, we can choose to live in such a city made by others or ourselves be part of the driving force. Often this translates into electing officials who will carry out this job. In other cases, it is simply voting on legislation, which allows private developers to do this job in the private sector. For these very factors, many have abided in cities while others have deserted cities for want of calmer and more benign context. Some cities prosper under a strong and guiding mayor while other cities simply grow with a mayor who encourages others to lead.
Do urban persons affect the quality of the built environment?
The urban person is a believer in the world and its potential to keep and hold mankind. Art flourishes in the urban environment because it is where creative like- minded artisans and craftsman are born, raised and hone their craft on the challenges and demands of the market.
As Renaissance-kings and Queens hired and fostered artisans, so do the cities and urban populations provide fertile ground for invention, innovation, design, thought and ideas. Along with artisans, there are poets and writers who provide a libretto and describe the scenario of the urban context.
What do urban minded persons build?
Pedestrian appurtenances such as sidewalks, plazas, walkways, ambulatories, parks and playgrounds, street furniture, covered bus stops, train and airplane terminals, lookouts, and monuments are but some of the distinctive of both the natural and the synthetic urban city, whereas rural and sub-urban developments are predominantly accessed by horse and buggies or automobiles while, the pedestrian ways have much less of a priority and few people ever use these. Authors and planners such as Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch and Louis Munford wrote extensively about these urban features. It seems our quest is to bring rural pedestrian’s freedom into the city.
Space is another way of forming and perceiving cities where some cities are built as architectonic voids and solids, and others a series of free standing three dimensions solids perceived from the exteriors as shapes and forms as sculpture.
Most of the cities in Europe and the mid east and big cities such as New York, Paris, Cambridge, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, Venice, and Chicago are cities of a series and hierarchy of enclosed and bounded spaces. Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Houston, Dallas, and Seattle are the largest examples of such of the sculptural cities.
What does overpopulation mean and how is this mitigated?
The very idea of over population is a man made invention and its opposite in under population. It is only over when economists believe human, physical and financial resources cannot sustain a stable government. This is measured by a proportion of resources to the population and physically measured in scale. When a government is under populated, it usually means it has less people than it needs to meets its budget and maintains its programs.
Scale of cities can either attract or deter but in any case it is the scale of city’s utilities, support services, energy supply, vertical and horizontal transportation, commerce, industry, institutions, communications, and residential variety that motivates societies to urbanize in as dense and compact way as possible.
Scale is a proportion of one thing in relation ship to another and the larger and more dense the city the greater is the proportion of all facilities city per person where each person has access to the greatest number, sizes and quality of resources. Even the poorest is “city-rich”.
What are the advantages of higher densities?
On the other hand, the more the density the more people share in the collective facilities and the more efficient is each support facility.
For example, high-rises increase the numbers of people using one square foot of land, one foot or road, pipe, sewer line, power plant, elevator, train, or bus. The efficiencies translate into lower taxes and potentially higher standard of living if standards are based on access to the city’s amenities made possible and necessitated by scale such as hospitals, museums, parks, schools, universities, commerce, entertainment, rail and air transport and banking. It is on the matter of scale that Renaissance cities were designed and Mediterranean villages built. For example, my grandparents city of Rhodes, the city of Dubrovnik and the many shopping malls which have been designed to make the shopper at home.
The other side of scale is its disproportionate relationship to the single human individual. And, this is what characterizes the urban from the rural where the urban is naturally more general, cosmopolitan, individualistic, and not co-dependent having lived with so many to not be familiar with all but adjusted to being a stranger amongst many strangers, not familiar but a learned friendliness as civil to make the enormous scale work.
Urbanites are at peace with not knowing their neighbor as not knowing the workings, contents and interests of the whole city. Accustomed to being a cog a great wheel minds their own business while politicians and government officials keep the city going. Just get on a crowded elevator in a New York City skyscraper and try saying hello.
What are the basic components of the urbs?
From an architectural point of view urban consists of structure, infrastructure, government, laws, agreements, ordinances, civilized society and civil behavior, consensus and concessions for public and private use, resources, and the provision of basic services, air, water, light, concerns for health and health services, tradesman and the ability to import and export as well as trade and exchange.
Urban allow persons to ambulate and move about without infringing on the privacy, sanctity and sovereignty of persons, families and business interest.
Urbs also harbor institutions created from the concerns for collective and ongoing remedies, and the development of the culture’s ideals in education, science, and art, as well as government, justice and communications.
An institution in any city is an organization, establishment, foundation, society, or the like, devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program, esp. one of a public, educational, or charitable character. While they have the form of a corporation, they are, importantly, not-for –profit and their board is a cross section of the peers of that institution.
Urban centers often have institutions, which not only serve their own nation, but other cities and causes throughout the world. They are the early-globalized models for the globalization of the world.
On the other hand, they are subject and scrutinized by the context in which they operate.
It is conditioned by its history, settlement patterns, heroes, battles and treatise, and because all of real (royal) estate is never really owned but for beneficial use taken by hostile actions. Urbs are limited and bound by agreements by adjacent and continuous domains and their resultant configurations are a result of negotiations or victories.
Just look at maps and you will see that there are many states with jagged and messy boundaries while others are absolutely straight and angular. The later are those created by mandate of law while the former evolved and settled naturally. Even the way we buy and sell real estate today is by offer and acceptance to rights and privileges.
What are the impacts of the government on urbanity?
In a democracy, urban is a city that function, works and changes by the will and effort of its collective inhabitants, as example the way in which the cities of Naples, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Cape Coral have incorporated their communal interest. It is inherently communal, social to tolerate, adjust and accommodate both the private and collective rights of its citizens. The citizens of an urban city know their place and how it works .In what ever form of government the city is quite self-sufficient and run by individual, business, corporate and governmental self interest perusing their self interest and exchanging goods and services. The best urban city is disproportionably self-run with the least government intervention. It is a kind of benevolent anarchy.
Hong Kong is a prime example of a centrally ruled government leaving its hands off the working of its urban city, Jeddah and other Arab, Indian, and Pakistani cities do likewise.
For an architect, as it was in Egypt, Greece and Rome the goal is to design and build a city which is the sum and substance of its citizens where constituents can achieve their hopes and dreams for both today and into the future.
To achieve these goals the architect must know not only the culture of the people but the systems and resources to limit and bound the spaces, programs and resources they will utilize. In urban cities, these include many cultures combined into one and multiple systems of transportation, communication and education.
The urban architect is a responsible, concerned professional doing serious and important work for the community he serves.
Urbanites use facilities as elevators, building lobbies, sidewalks, busses, trains, stores and shops, parks, and schools to culture, develop and mature. Urbanites are consumed and influenced by their environment the mass transit, massive buildings and vast complex of institutions.
Modern cities are a matrix of vehicle and people conveyance of goods and services, utility lines, sewage, water, electrify, and emergency vehicle access. Cities are a complex machine inhabited by people defying the proverb that form follows function.
It is more that people adopting to form while interior design mitigates the difference by adapting the form to fit the person. Education, Careers, Commerce, and Entertainment also mitigate the scale and visuals that mask the technology and scale of the city’s structure.
What is the crisis of urbanism in our culture?
The culture of cosmopolitan urbanism is not being conveyed nor inherited from one to another generation. What was a legacy of from past generations coming from Europe or developing from within the USA is not being conveyed. In some societies the value of the urban experience is being eclipsed by other social structures. In other societies it is being exacerbated by mismanagement and rapid population growth.
History of Urbanism
Urbanism is a social, political, environmental, economic and geopolitical study affecting public policy, commerce and industry so that more colleges and universities are offering degrees in this important area of study and because of that I am pleased that many of Florida’s county planning staff is increasing qualified. However, without a college of architecture in South West Florida their well-intended efforts are often over looked by the courts. A local college of architecture would be politically and socially entrenched in the context and more persuasive.
Judges might think twice before overturning county staff’s recommendations if the staff were indigenous and educated in the venue of the court. Such a school would also educate and influence public policy affecting town fathers and developers.
With such a school, the developers might even be the architects and local planners. And judges may even be former students and architects.
Everyone but the real estate development industry and the farmer who may want to sell his land believe that urbanizing on undeveloped land is profitable. To both it is profitable but eventually it is profit at the expense of others.
What is pragmatic side of urbanism?
On the other hand, taxpayers, consumers and hard-pressed governments know that existing cities and urban centers make it expensive, unwieldy and un-profitable to practice real estate development as developers can do on undeveloped land.
As a result in the forties residents seeking more square footage, and better quality living space at a lower cost in big cities across America relocated to subdivisions in what became known as the city’s suburbs. In this way, federal and state policies governing agricultural property influences sub-urban sprawl. On the other hand, inner city urbanites left because of price and quality, developers, counties and manufactures found it profitable, and the start of a national industry. Highways got built, with low cost oil, oil companies built more refineries, automobile manufactures convinced every one to have a romance with his vehicle, mortgages and credit companies proliferated, and the corporations eclipsed many small businesses. On the other hand, there are millions of people now moving into urbs and even more that refuse to leave and endure some of hardships because they prefer the advantages.
Dale Johnson in “Lost in the Suburb’s described a cultural and political gap that occurred in New Jersey and Ontario in the early 1990s when suburban voters began to outnumber urban or rural voters, and began to perceive that they were paying taxes to provide urban areas with services that were not duplicated in their community. Meanwhile, suburban communities would export problems to the cities, typically in the form of drug addicts, homelessness, smog, prostitution and other crimes serving suburban residents, and the need to accommodate a large number of commuters and their sewage and parking requirements.
As downtown residents and suburban voters became estranged, each perceived themselves subsidizing the other, and accordingly a common solution, called in both New Jersey and Ontario the Common Sense Revolution, transferred funds from urban needs to suburban sprawl, triggering a decline in urban quality of life in both places, as population further spread out and downtowns became more hostile to suburban visitors, the city of Johannesburg in South Africa is such an example.
To reverse this trend major cites have provided developers and builders with tax incentives, free land on deteriorated and abandoned property, expedited zoning and permitting, financing instruments and special mortgages, and the means to market the units before construction.
In other communities, cities, and towns have adopted no-growth policies and prohibited such development; either urban or other wise to occur while others have openly embraced the onslaught of developers to their undeveloped land. While I am in favor of representative government, I believe that without a steady stream of voices from continuants that urban blight is inevitable. We don’t much discuss urban blight in Southwest Florida but it is the bane of every densely populated municipality particularly caused by disenfranchised residents who lack a culture of cosmopolitan urbanism.
However, much of Florida is suffering under a good policy called “smart growth” which after all its town hall meetings municipal development plans encounter the courts which continue to permit the absorption of wetland, watershed and fragile eco-systems, not to mention the increased demand to build more power plants, roads, and water supply. It seems that precedence law, free enterprise and rights of corporations often prevail.
Over recent years, not a few private groups, universities, professional associations have come out against these practices including my very own American Institute of Architects, while even more are still finding ways to rationalize and convince the federal, state and local governments that further development of raw land is good. All of this while thousand of cites, towns and suburbs are deteriorating and failing economically, socially and ecologically. I believe America is squandering its wealth.
Because urbanism is apparently hemorrhaging, coalitions are having an impact and public officials as they exert pressure to manage population growth, housing demands, immigration, transportation and affordability.
Still the quality of the built environment is increasingly finding its ways to smaller elite who are over worked, over taxed and compelled to meet the cost of maintaining the metaphor of the cost of quality living units in existing urban centers, suburbs and emerging new towns and PUD (planned unit developments).
Large developers have adopted the means and ways of large corporations focusing on profits by standardizing plans, policies, procedures and franchise and subsidiary operations.
They are increasingly staffed with graduates of business management schools concerned with efficient ways of achieving customer satisfaction while maximizing profits.
They do all of this while the middle class is compelled to have at least two sources of income to pay for two cars, mortgage and high taxes to pay for highways, power grids, utilities and water and support the overhead of these large corporate developers. The voices of the small architectural practice, craftsman and builder are made obsolete and unfeasible. More of them turn to the large corporation while town fathers yield to the lure of cash flow into their communities. Even in cities without zoning regulations, the results of litigation often grant variances to the Comprehensive Development Plans and favorable zoning. What seemed like a more affordable solution has now become even more costly in taxes, transportation, schooling, and the house itself.
The question is would everyone live in high quality affordable and cost-effective big urban centers? Promoters exploit the house as castle myth to justify single-family house construction while others simply build tall buildings leaving lots of open space where the house as castle myth becomes a condominium.
What are some the ongoing things that are being done to deal with the crises?
All this having been said, throughout the formation of cities, there has always been a group of people that were favored to live inside the wall and others who lived outside, and the ones living outside had to build their own habitats in any way they could.
It is only recently that governments took an interest in the way the city and its outside city walls accommodated the citizenry.
In our time, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a good case in point where the government gives every subject an interest –free loan toward the construction of a home. I harkens back to when the U.S. Federal government gave settlers free land. It depends on the objectives so that the ends justify the means.
Under various urban development acts and private initiatives, many big cities’ urb and squalor is being converted to livable communities reflective of its local residents.
Once a person becomes a citizen he is entitled to the rights, privileges and protection afforded to citizens. Cities built inside the wall were fortresses and instruments of defense of the royal family and its treasures.
Gated communities, new towns and other forms of private developments with deed restrictions are ways of providing residents choice, ownership and management rights, which maintain the quality of that context. However, urban clusters in urban cities are managed by neighborhood development agencies, both have evolved as good ways to urbanize. The people are being protected. Security and defense is American, and the goal of every urban settlement, from country, to state, to city. Whether urban or rural we incorporate to first and foremost to pay for fire and police protection.
However, cities still today repeat the same things as before where buildings outside the wall are influenced in styles, vocabulary and symbols by those inside the wall. Additionally, city layouts, building types and designs symbolically represent national and corporate beliefs in the forms of rooftops, finishes and models. Interior design, furniture, communication devices, media and the automobile have been great unifying factors. Houses are overbuilt with exaggerated multiple pitched roofs and exterior finishes likening them to castles, office buildings and hoses of worship. Just look at the advent of the boom in the computer designed pre-engineered truss industry in our SWFL counties.
Has current events had an impact on urbanization?
Because most civilized societies think of their city as a fortress and collective power the terrible human tragedy of 9/11 and the many global terrorist assaults impact the urban psyche. Cities are now seeking a new metaphor of their densely populated urbs and sprawling cities.
Not to say that terrorist couldn’t strike anywhere or at any remote place but suddenly dispersion of the population with bulky, uniform and inefficient vehicles have become very fashionable. People moving out of dense areas now believe they need bulky vehicles.
In fact, the advent of the airplanes and bombs made all cities vulnerable. Still, commerce and individuals have rethought their personal settlement based on these new realities. However, no matter neither where we settle nor how many computers we own, economy, access to resources, socialization, identity and life support remains the advantage of what the city provides, and the urban city provides this to even rural communities.
Even our choices to have a private single family house as a sign of citizenry, or a corporation to have its own building identity all harkens back to our most primitive metaphorical instincts.
The anonymity of the urban multifamily dwelling for some is preferred over the ostentation of the merchant whose building roofline and form must rise above the others. Real Estate Developers and emerging political entities in urban’s adjacent counties tap into these logos, mores and folkways to overwhelm town fathers and government officials with rightness and worthiness of the metaphors they say they provide. Even post 9/11 automobiles are designed to be anonymous by being similar regardless of brand and cost.
If over population of the earth means that the earth has more people than resources or that we cannot redistribute the wealth and the resources what affect does over population have to do with increasing populations to an one city?
Because development of civilization results in urbanization, does it necessarily mean the removal of the rural character of a town or area?
Are we, as a members of the world’s family liable and able to mange the increases in population?
Is urbanity the only answer and how do we mitigate the inevitable?
It seems only rational that while many of us may value agricultural and rural communities, as products of the city and the urban process we choose and wish to continue to improve our urbs.
Demographically, the term urbanize, denotes redistribution of populations from rural to urban settlements and these developments, which may or may not become cities. Rural to urban migration is the moving of people from rural areas into cities. When cities grow rapidly, as in Chicago in the late 19th century or Shanghai a century later, the movement of people from rural communities into cities is considered to be the main cause, the cause of the world’s overpopulation. Many argue that it is cities that are causing the worlds over population and that urbanization is therefore inherently wrong. Because this kind of growth is especially commonplace in developing countries, they further argue that in order to reduce the growth of the world’s over-population urbanization should be discouraged and made difficult.
Yet, rural migrants continue to be attracted by the possibilities that cities can offer, but often settle in shantytowns and experience extreme poverty. In Saudi Arabia, planners are diverting such increases to smaller towns building up their infrastructure and relocating business and industry, however, in their case, they still wish to increase their native population, however huge their unemployment of young Saudis. Since they are one of world’s largest welfare states and able to financially support populations these population increases continue at a rapid rate as do the construction of urban centers. But there are many other countries whose urban developments do not keep pace or by political conflict displace millions into tent cities out side the confines of the urban support centers. Indeed, the culture of cosmopolitan urbanity is a very weighty matter.
One Hour Take a five-minute break: When we came back, we will examine Natural Cities. Break is only for 90 minute lecture.
5,070 words on 21 pages
How do natural cities form?
Natural Cities are incorporated government entities formed by resident citizens with a confluence of circumstantial and haphazard events over a period of time; it is a city that has evolved over time. They can be tiny and small or mammoth and overpopulated. Yes, it once was created in a much smaller, rural, and primitive form and over time is renovated and adjusted to accommodate new policies, technologies and demographics. The city reflects the nature of its creators and subsequent inhabitants.
To live in such a place you have to be a pragmatist who constantly negotiates changing realities and expects challenges to the very basics of existence. You are on the cutting edge of growth, deterioration and the inspiration of man-made achievements.
Yes, Lee County’s City of Fort Myers and the City of Bonita Springs are such places. Whereas cities of Naples, Cape Coral and emerging Lehigh Acers are good examples of local synthetic man-made cities, not to be confused with local urban developments and enclaves. In today’s planning terminology they are considered urban really wide spread sprawl with very costly infrastructure relative to their population, industry and tax base. Whereas a Natural city is real or genuine when it reflects the character, interest, personality and pecuniary, social and political interest of its authors. It is economical and efficient.
What the privileges are enjoyed in cites?
A Natural city is driven by inhabitants wanting refuge, righteousness and sanctuary from chaos and confusion so as to grow family, business and prosper, to have a civil life with not only law and order but also infrastructure, potential and power. They are alive and vibrant with their own self-interest, backed by their determination to profit, and have a happy and successful population for themselves and their supporters.
They create such cities as a monument to their greatness, which is often material, industrial, and commercial accomplishments, and are a legacy of their fortunes and fame. It is a variation of the way traditional cities were formed.
And it is from this drive and vision that its inhabitants prosper and enjoy their life. The city turns them on. They are heirs of these creators and enjoy the legacy of their work.
To me a city is a toy and form of recreation and creativity to which I attribute many of life’s joys and great moments of happiness. Having lived and visited hundreds of cities and many countries of both the “haves” and the “have-nots” I am very grateful to have a blue passport, a great county and the blessings of cities.
For example, a city is a metaphor when I say, “I am a New Yorker”.
I mean, “Were I a city I would be New York”.
Silly isn’t it, but in the realm of ideas and matters of the heart, it is real.
Natural cities lend themselves to metaphors that arise out convention because of the city’s long history and deep-rooted ancestry. Because a metaphor makes the strange familiar and “talks about one thing in terms of another”, one immediately characterizes a native New Yorker with the many images and values of the city, its’ crime, delinquent garbage collection, gangs, traffic, crowds, vulgarities, and other mean things. Not the arts, high fashion, financial district, millions of office workers, universities, museums, great hospitals, publishers and intellects, entertainers, performers and artist, etc. in general, a conglomeration of hyper-over-achievers.
New York City is one America’s and the world’s great natural cities where over 200 years ago was the place of battles that won America’s freedom and the city, which was the nation’s first capital.
To a New Yorker, New York is a metaphor because the city is currency that makes us authentic and part of a New York reality. And, this can be said for many other cities. The city authenticates our labors, strivings and ambitions into a homogeneous context of brilliance and success. It is no wonder why many New Yorkers are architects, planners and urbanist, especially native New Yorkers.
How do cities maintain their grip on our imagination?
In a natural city, the reality may be all myth, hype and imagination but it is the very thing that theatre, baseball and football teams thrive as they identify their city and teams with their loyalty and pride.
The culture of the city is that which changes, nurtures and grows us out of our own to the city’s nature.
When I was a young man, I couldn’t stop going from one theater, museum, zoo, building, and street to another acclimatizing and adopting the streets character and moods. One of the most read articles in every Daily News paper showed a corner of the city before and after in recognition of the city’s ever-changing face. I was always attentive to see what the place looked like before.
However, New York has not cornered the market on design professionals. Since every populated town is a kind of urban context many much smaller urban models have grown their version of architects and design professionals.
When I first visited 72 natural European cities, I discovered that each city owned a separate and unique metaphor, description and uniqueness. In their own way, they were urban with many commonalities and distinctive differences. They were all sizes, locations and climate. Since then I have visited countless others to observe them evolve and adapt.
Natural Cities manifest themselves in movies, books, poems, radio, stage shows, plays, songs, play, and games. In movies such as Casablanca, The East- Side Kids, Easter Parade, Detective stories such as the Mickey Spilane and the Mike Hammer series, Batman, Super Man and the Daily Planet, West Side Story, Rhapsody in Blue, and thousands of others.
Those that love cities endure the rain, sleet and snow. They endure crime, dirt and filth. They endure interruptions of garbage collection, power failures, outrageous crime, and poverty.
What are the cities real support systems?
Whether urbanity occurs in rural agricultural or urban industrial areas man’s infrastructure prevails as the underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system. Man’s infrastructure is the basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons. It is these that prevail, not the nature, and the amenities as they do in rural and suburban communities.
In rural communities, nature prevails. However, it is the urban infrastructure that has sewn me into the mind of urbanity and enclosed my vision of the whole of life.
It is the canvas upon which the city’s form is woven and designed. Because of this city-type as an art form, one’s life and world-context differs noticeably and is distinguished one from another. Yet when either is populated by a variety of families and diverse interests they must face the same issues but on different scales.
In rural settings, man’s intervention is made by his personal relationships, dependence and handwork. In urban settings, such intervention is made by the overwhelming context and sheer volume of some trend, fashion, vocation, and opportunity. It’s a matter of the proportion of the relationship of the manmade infrastructure to the nature.
People from the old urban cities go to newly developing urban cities bringing experience. Warnings, passions and visions were what I brought to Saudi Arabia.
What are the cities natural geographical derivatives?
• River town
• Trade route intersection
• Terminal city; Shipping ports, Railroads and airports
• Farming cities; Agricultural and cattle
• Company town based on mining, manufacturing and industry.
• Ocean cities and waterfront
Can you name any others?
• Resort cities
• Results of victory of a war
• Oil, coal and other mineral mining and exploration Cities
• Tax-free districts in the Caribbean
• Or there geographical location has been made redundant by another technology or geo-political event as the many river towns of the Mississippi and New England and resort cities on the Jersey Shore.
What are the human elements that often cause the formation and development of a city?
Cities are heroic and made by heroes, entrepreneurs, and usually those whose interest lie in the place or circumstances surrounding, interesting and used by the place as trains, rails, ports, shipping, manufacturing, business, boat building, communications, telephone, telegraph, radio (Sarnoff), etc.
Can you name some our area’s heroes?
Edison, Collier, Mann, Carter; all the names on streets (McGregor, Heitmann, Hendry, …………………………?
Cities can be large, medium or small and have dominant specialty in commerce, oil, coal, steel, manufacturing, agriculture and depending on the population and geographic area can be disproportionately overwhelming making it out of scale so enormous that makes it impressive and powerful.
New York is an outstanding example of this enormous scale. Many people feel dwarfed, lonely and oppressed because of the scale of such a city. It is this scales that design professionals are trained to create and mitigate to relate to individuals. It is the very thing that Michelangelo did when he designed buildings in Italy. While planners and politicians organize, two-dimensional plans and diagrams.
A natural city is urban for many reasons including its infrastructure but more importantly because of its confluence of institutions, artistic, scientific, spiritual and commercial culture. A city is by definition a people in agreement and both reflects and serves its citizens while an urban city favors its buildings, infrastructure and facilities over its pastoral connection to the land and its citizens favor residing in close quarters without separate buildings and so called single family homes, they share building living in separate dwellings.
What are the pros and cons of a cosmopolitan city?
A Cosmopolite has a universal, adoptable and diverse urban mind. But not all urban people are cosmopolitan and urban people can be very provincial.
Cosmopolitan persons are free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments, at home all over the world. Belonging to the entire world and not limited to just one part of the world, they are citizens of the world.
I have been a cosmopolitan person in an urban context that later learned to live in any context with my cosmopolitan point of view.
Think of science fiction stories where the context and characters are dealing with non-domestic technical issues away for the mundane politics of our own time and place. We like the cosmopolitan in our clergy, educators, government officials (bureaucrats), etc.
Who implements the Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism?
The correct answer is everyone!
But, urbanist are a specialist in the study and planning of cities and New Urbanism is an urban design movement that burst onto the scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s and tries to bring urban values into new and existing building contexts, but Urbanist are different from a rural and sub-urban mind.
New Urbanism implements the “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism”
by shifting design focus from the car-centric development of suburbia and the business park; to concentrate pedestrian and transit-centric, walk able, mixed-use communities. New Urbanism is an amalgamation of old-world design patterns, merged with present day demands.
It is a backlash to the age of suburban sprawl, which splintered communities, and isolated people from each other, as well as had severe environmental impacts. Concepts for New Urbanism include people and destinations into dense, vibrant communities, and decreasing dependency on vehicular transportation as the primary mode of transit.
New Urbanist aim to reform all aspects of real estate development and their work affects regional and local plans. They are involved in new development, urban retrofits, and suburban infill. In all case, New Urbanist neighborhoods are walk able, and contain a diverse range of housing and jobs, they support regional planning to achieve open space, appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing.
They believe these strategies are the best way to reduce how long people spend in traffic, to increase the supply of affordable housing, and to rein-in urban sprawl. Many other issues, such as historic restoration, safe streets, and green building are also covered in the Charter of the New Urbanism, the movement's seminal document.
So how does Natural Cities expand?
The answer depends on the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism as whether it will go vertical, horizontal, reconfiguration, co-habitation or sub dividing. There are many cultures where several families share one dwelling or apartments and dwellings are minimal sleeping rooms.
In America, traditional urbanization exhibits a concentration of human activities and settlements around the downtown area. When the residential area shifts outward, this is called suburbanization.
A number of researchers and writers suggest that suburbanization has gone so far to form new points of concentration outside the downtown. Some considers this networked, polycentric form of concentration an emerging pattern of urbanization.
They are simply reflecting how large natural urban centers evolved as they connected many population centers around industry, trade, transport, and ands commerce. Chicago, New York’s boroughs, and Detroit are famous for their ethnic and commercial neighborhoods and districts. We saw Leipzig’s new urbanist cluster neighborhoods shortly after the wall fell. A consortium of Saxon architect’s landscape architects and planners planned these. Each cluster had its own design team and theme. It is called variously exurbia, edge city (Garreau, 1991), network city (Batten, 1995), or postmodern city (Dear, 2000). Los Angeles is the best-known example of this type of urbanization.
So who’s minding the store?
While conveying the culture is really everyone’s responsibility architects limit and bound space and make metaphors; they design and control overall concepts and all the details of the built environment inhabited by people.
Architects observe, program, plan, design, schedule, specify and supervise the construction process. An architect’s education prepares him for managing being the arbiter between the occupant and those with the skills to construct.
Because an architect is skilled in making building metaphors for people an architect is inherently urban and an advocate for all that best benefits the individual and collective society.
The architect professes urbanity and is able to manage a variety of urban functions including being the mayor, city manager, councilman, commissioners, and real estate development.
For example, I not only planned cites and designed buildings in Saudi Arabia I also drew up business plans for billion dollar financial interest for members of the Royal Family and Saudi Arabia sheiks; I organized specific new ventures for Operations and Maintenance business, pipe manufacturing, fire suppression equipment, and medical and pharmaceutical facilities.
What are the different professionals that design build and manage an urban entity?
When I was teaching in Saudi Arabia, many of my graduated architectural students have become mayors and city managers in Lebanon, Syria, Dubai and Iran. My monographs on “architecture as the making of metaphors” have been published in Saudi Arabia, England, U. S. of A., Lebanon, Turkey, and Finland. You can immediately tell the difference between cities designed by an architect by its spaces and three-dimensional solutions. Planners tend to think in two dimensions, linearly and abstractly.
Programmer: The first job I had when I graduated Pratt was to develop the program of requirements for several New York City Multi –million dollar interior design projects for New York City’s skyscrapers in mid-town Manhattan.
Urban Landscape Architects plan the location of buildings, roads, and walkways, and the arrangement of flowers, shrubs, and trees and this title was first used by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1863 who is famous for designing many well-known urban parks, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City. Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant was a French-born American architect and urban planner who designed the first street plan for the Federal City in the United States, now known as Washington, D.C.
Landscape architects work for many types of organizations—from real estate development firms starting new projects to municipalities constructing airports or parks.
Working with architects, surveyors, and engineers, landscape architects help determine the best arrangement of roads and buildings. Urban design includes town and city squares, waterfronts, pedestrian schemes, and parking lots.
City Planning is a department in many colleges and universities and is the activity of determining the:
• Future physical arrangement and condition of a community involving an appraisal of the present condition,
• A forecast of future requirements,
• A plan for the fulfillment of these requirements, and
• Proposals for constructional, legal, and financial programs to implement the plan.
Interior Designers and Space Planners
Later in the year, I will be teaching course in Interior Design. Urban interior designers are concerned about adopting spaces within residences, skyscrapers, malls, shopping centers and shops to the specifics of their occupants and really take up where most commercial architects leave off. Before I was an architect, I was an interior architect and designed buildings from the inside out.
That is an architect who designs most commercial buildings without knowing who will be the specific occupant. Most such work is referred to as “tenant change” -work and is the job of first a space planner who determines the feasibility of the space to its potential tenant and then the layout.
Once completed the interior designer begins the design work. Stores, malls, hospitals, banks, airports, railroad terminals and many other building types are the job of the interior architect otherwise known as the interior designer. You could think of much of their work as adopting the architectural standard building shell to the specific and peculiar requirements of the proposed occupant.
Interior design is the process of shaping the experience of interior space and traffic flow through the manipulation of spatial volume as well as surface treatment. Not to be confused with interior decoration, interior design draws on aspects of environmental psychology, architecture, and product design in addition to traditional decoration. The distinction between interior design and 'interior decoration' is one relevant in the United States but not common elsewhere. In cities, residential interior design and decoration comprise a small but important field of work.
What other professions form a city?
Aside from programmers, city planners, landscape architects and interior designers, Constitutional, corporate and governmental Attorneys and law assist people who are in one accord to agree and formulate agreements, ordinances, statues and the very governments and institutions by which to incorporate their municipalities and behave in civil and orderly manner within their societies. It is in this way that a collection of people are able to become countries, states, counties, villages, hamlets, townships, boroughs, cities, and metropolitan areas. It is they who can make laws, which can help government and the people, be both pragmatic and ideal. It is this combination that allows great ideas to flourish while fighting crime and garbage collection.
How did I become an urbanist?
In New York, I was a child explorer:
From childhood, I have been curious as to why cities, building and streets are the way they are. I still ask how did they get that way, what is their make up and why were they formed.
In urban South Bronx, I lived in densely pullulated tenements, two family houses in a sparsely populated Industrial Hunts Point and medium dense Pelham Parkway and apartments in Manhattan, Tennessee, Austria, Puerto Rico, and Saudi Arabia, a loft in Manhattan and single family homes in Florida, Tennessee, Saudi Arabia, College Station, a town house in Houston and manufactured home in North Fort Myers.
And now we live in a country club with a small town communal atmosphere and many facilities. Many gated communities are a resource for recreation, entertainment, food, and even home health care.
As urbanites work, they become embroiled in aspect of the city’s support services. I practiced vocations, which bonded me to the city and its building types, commerce and industry. Because I hung drapes over a period of ten years, I worked in thousands of homes, for every ethnic and national background, on thousands of streets in hundreds of neighborhoods in every borough and nearby counties. I was a limousine driver for weddings and special events and delivered newspapers into many tenement buildings and neighborhoods. Likewise, I was a Good Humor Man in the streets of Brooklyn and conducted many Job searches in Manhattan and New Haven.
I was a radio broadcaster, founded a New York Not for Profit community organization and founded two earth days with one on Union Square at Fourteenth Street and another in Central park.
I designed and built large and small offices, lofts, lobbies, skyscrapers in Manhattan, and in Houston, Midland, Odessa, and Victoria Texas as well in Tennessee in Jackson, Severe and Walker counties, built all over Saudi Arabia; and, in Puerto Rico made an Island-wide plan for Public Libraries for all the municipalities as well as designing the Ron Rico Bottling Plant in Arecibo, El Mundo towers and other building in San Juan.
I poured my best into every project believing that it would contribute to the betterment of the lives of their occupants. I remember one nursing home I designed for renovation I stared at the windows of the 15 stories building and knowing that the view from the window would probably be the last the occupants saw of the world and therefore assured for beautiful landscaping. This was based on the recollection I had of my grandfather’s last moments waving to me from his Brooklyn Hospital’s window before he died when I was six years old.
About American cities, the architect Robert Venturi once proclaimed that, “plazas are un-American” and one of my mentors, Gerald Popiel, often noted how the highest building in medieval cities was the church and worship centers whereas the highest buildings in modern cities are the banks and commercial office buildings.
America cities, as many other of the world’s well known cities have replaced and supplemented plazas with great boulevards and other expressions of consensus and agreement. Plazas and public meeting places are beginning to become a part of atrium malls, office buildings and office plazas. Even neighborhood commercial enters are focused around plazas as new urbanist make places for people to congregate. I was pleasantly surprised to see Washington’s huge plaza in Georgetown on the river and of course Boston’s Quincy market and its huge food plaza. These are all good urban features and attract people looking for the means to socialize. Of course in Manhattan, the Seagram building’s plaza on Park Avenue designed by my former professor, Phillip Johnson. Yet all of these in world-class cities are often reminiscent of the village green, Town Square, and county fair ground in smaller urban models.
What it takes to prepare an urban professional?
Using my self and my hometown as an example, I would like to explain what it takes to prepare an urban professional
My teachers and mentors:
I have been very fortunate to have great teachers and mentors, who loved cities and urbanism such as:
1. Paul Weiss, philosopher
2. Buckminster Fuller, theorist and visionary
3. Louis Kahn, architect
4. Mies Van Der Rohe, architect and founder of the Bau-House
5. King Louis Wu, Yale teacher and architect
6. Christopher Tunnard (who taught me about modern planned cities),
7. Paul Rudolf who was originally from Sarasota and
8. Henry Pfisterer (Engineer for the Empire State Building),
9. Vincent Scully was born in New Haven, was my faculty advisor
when I studied at Yale where he taught History of Architecture and was one of my thesis jurors, he spent a lot of time with me because I was a native New Yorker from the streets he loved and he wrote many books which deal with urbanity, cities and New York such as:
Architecture; the Natural and the Manmade and
American Architecture and Urbanism,
And I worked for such architects as:
•Kahn and Jacobs designing high-rise office buildings
•Edward Durrell Stone, designing the State University in Albany.
•Morris Lapidus assigned me to design and detail high-rise apartment buildings and hotels and finally used my drawing as examples of his offices work in his book. Morris Lapidus was born in 1902 and brought the ambience of Odessa Russia to create the curvy, flamboyant Neo-baroque modern hotels that defined the 1950s 'Miami Beach' resort hotel style. He died at the age of 98 in Miami Beach, Florida. As a young man, Lapidus toyed with theatrical set design and studied architecture at Columbia University where I met my wife Christina.
Truly, an urban thinker Lapidus worked for 20 years as a retail designer before moving to Miami Beach in the 1940s and designing his first buildings.
He was a product and espoused urbanism in all his work.
After a career in innovative retail interior design, his first large commission was the Miami Beach Sans Souci Hotel, followed closely by the Nautilus, the Di Lido, the Biltmore Terrace, and the Algiers, all along Collins Avenue, and amounting to the single-handed redesign of an entire district now known as South Beach. The hotels were an immediate popular success. Then in 1952 he landed the job of the largest luxury hotel in Miami Beach, the property he is most associated with, the Fontainebleau Hotel, which was followed the next year by the equally successful Eden Roc and the Americana (now the Sheraton Bal Harbor) in 1956. His son Alan who practices architecture in Fort Lauderdale survives him.
•Designs for Business and Gerald Luss assigned me to design very expensive huge interior spaces for banks, factoring companies and manufactures.
•Frederick Kiesler for whom I built the model for the Dome for the Dead Scrolls Museum in Israel.
•Serge Chermayeff for whom I did the graphics for his report using his theory of complementarities to the US bureau of Standards of Cites, campus and town planning.
•I was invited to teach Real Estate Development to Architectural students at the University of Houston and where ever I taught architecture in America I always urged students to get out of their suburbs and rural communities and learn “New York 101”. They could not really be architects unless they learned the lesson New York had to teach, lessons, which I learned in the first 21 years of my life.
What are the Events and Projects that shaped New York?
1. Settlers after the Revolution
2. Port for trade and shipbuilding
3. Clearing up the squalor
4. Fire codes
5. Building codes
6. Establishing the architectural profession and American Institute of
Architects General Conditions between builders and Owners
7. Subways: Irish and great engineering; tunnels
8. Grand Central Station and Park Ave Railroad project
9. Stock Exchange
10. Air travel and airports
11. Robert Moses: parks and recreation
12. Quantity of wealthy merchants that settled and made their business
in New York City such as Rockefeller, Astor, Mellon, Vanderbilt, Tiffany, etc.
13. Landmarks Legislation and preservation
14. Broadway, vaudeville, theatre, opera, ballet, museums, planetarium, parks,
15. Central Park
16. Consolidating the boroughs in to one city government
17. Use of iron, steel and fireproofing.
18. Invention of the Elevator brought the invention of the skyscrapers
to Chicago and New York as well as the Eiffel tower to Paris. Indians learned to walk in the sky and the construction industry was unionized.
19. Postal system delivering letters to every ones mailbox in every apartment, rain, sleet or snow.
20. The attack on the World Trade Center
Are there events and that caused a city you know to loose its’ population or quality of life?
Here are the Projects that negatively affected New York City.
• Robert Moses and his highways, which destroyed/divided neighborhoods and reduced the values of building and occupancy
• A combination of affluence by tenants increased demand for improvements to rental properties, which could not be met by landlords due to increased property taxes and cost of construction. Building owners, contractors and real-estate business found low priced and unrestricted properties in adjacent unincorporated counties on which to build low cost and attractive housing. This along with Government backed home mortgages and veteran’s low-cost loans prompted the creation of what we call suburbs and later sub divisions, Planned Unit Developments, and New towns. The exodus out of the big cities devastated inner city neighborhoods and brought in drug dealers and crime.
• The exodus nurtured itself as the more people left the worse things got. I remember how people would seek to go to Long Island and Westchester County to get bigger and more affordable housing.
• “Project” buildings replaced “tenements” which destroyed neighborhoods and housed families within floors of large-scale buildings; the resulting anonymity became a perfect cover for the illegal sale of drugs.
• Crime and narcotics moved into slums as Fort Apache #14 Precinct in the Bronx my old neighborhood in the Morrisania area of the South Bronx.
• Low-cost new houses in the emerging suburbs were built off of unpaved roads in Long Island where you could buy a house with no-to-low interest VA loan for houses costing between $2,500 up to $6,000 made access possible by the construction of Triborough Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, the Long Island Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway.
What are the inherent negatives about a big old city and the Urban State of Mind?
Despite all the wonderful things in a city its scale, size and complexity brings, rats, roaches, gangs, crime, murder, rape, theft, security and problems meaning that everyone has to be cautious about the time of day and the streets and neighborhoods visited.
The city is not elegant but bawdy, vulgar and always on the cutting of edge of changing, de-construction, rebuilding as it adopts to new demands by commerce, demographics, economics and commercial opportunity. The city thrives on commerce and the labor of its inhabitants. It also is a self-redesigning, rebuilding and healing engine of humanity.
All of these provide anecdotal justifications for corporate developers to market to fleeing residents.
What are the causes of renewed interest in urbanization?
• Suburbs cost is becoming too high and unaffordable
• Improved facilities for education and jobs in the city.
• Quality of Life
• Environmental, ecology and health
• Recreation, entertainment, and access
• Commercial development and socialization
Is there an ideal urban natural city?
Most ideal urban settings are broken down into communities and neighborhoods. In my neighborhoods we had immediate access to fresh produce markets, entertainment, recreation, socialization, schools in walking distance, public transportation including busses and subways, commercial development shops and shopping street, Cops on the beat, playgrounds, and a ethnically diverse neighborhood of friends and neighbors.
The key features of the apartment in the tenement in which we lived
These features originated with the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism, building codes and available technologies.
•Set back adjacent to the sidewalk
•Auto parking on the street
•The metal stairs down to the cellar in front of the building
•Place for coal deliveries and ash pick-up
•Cellar had a giant coal burning furnace and place for the pile of coal
•The vertical black painted iron grille
•The fire escapes on the front and rear of the building in front of most of the out facing windows.
• The cornices on top of each building which form a frame to the line of the buildings, accentuate the line and evenness of the buildings, cap between the canyon formed by the buildings and the sky
•The mailbox area in back of the ground floor (We never changed it keep the rent control in place)
•The inner lobby with large glass doors and white marble steps and landing
• The front door to our apartment, which was notably: "A”, being the first one on the ground floor directly facing the street but separated by an eight foot access way with steel stair leading to the basement and surrounded by black steel vertical guard rail.
•The gas stove in the kitchen
•The ice box and the first refrigerator with its leaking ammonia
•Window box pantry in the kitchen
•Cloths line into the alley from our kitchen window
•Window with their stained glass clerestory windows.
• Painted-over windows, which got stuck and were very difficult to open because of broken chains, weights and paint.
•Linoleum floors described elsewhere
• French doors between living room and my bedroom
• Radiators and steam heat with radiator covers to add humidity
•The cocker roaches and mice
•Garbage pails and sanitation trucks and collection
• Police car and fire engine horns, bells and sirens
• Painting the apartment every two years because the led paint would peal, fall on the floor and get dirty
• Molding and baseboards on the walls
• Bathtub with legs
• Roof tops, entrances, tarpaper, and games and play areas.
• Fire hydrants in the summer
• Parking cars; alternate side of the street; snow; cleaning the car
• Street games: tag, rig-a-leev-eo, hopscotch, stick- ball, skating, foot scooter, race box with skate wheels below
• Loews Movie Theatres: All lived together in tight quarters and went to the Loews movie theaters, which were furnished and designed to look like palaces.
If you were to visit your favorite city what would be the places you would want to see?
If I were to visit New York today, I would want to be a pedestrian because being a pedestrian is what I miss most about not being in an urban context to go:
• window-shopping on Fifth Avenue
• Visit Henri Bendels, Tiffany’s, Sacks, Bloomingdale’s, etc.
• Ambulate on the boulevards and side streets
• Explore the subways
• Climb the stairs of the train’s elevated structures
• Visit lobbies; see my old residences and streets
• Snack pizzas and hot dogs as we walk
• Visit Radio city Music Hall and Radio City underground
• See the Rockefeller Center and Central Park ice skating rinks
• Ride on the Staten Island Ferry
• Visit the little mini-new town off of City Island
• See my old schools
• Walk down Southern Boulevard, Broadway and 42-nd streets
• Visit central park
• Visit the Bronx Zoo
• Visit the new Hayden Planetarium
• Visit Coney Island and get an Original Nathan’s Frankfurter
• Walk down some back alleys and side streets
One and a Half Hour has elapsed. Now there may be time (20 minutes) for questions and comments.
My thesis that a “Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” assumes that increases in population and density culture our personal, family and business. We are cosmopolitan and urban as we agree, disagree, peruse common goals, tolerate stress and congestion, discern between community and privacy and distribute precious resources. I hope I have shown “what can be done to make cities livable and worthy to be called home”. The Culture of Cosmopolitan Urbanism” wants “livability” to be home. I believe the culture of cosmopolitan urbanism is life’s experience and a legacy worth cherishing and conveying.
At the beginning, I asked if there was an urban issue you would like to discuss or question you’d like to ask. Does anyone have an urban concern or solution?
As time may permit:
• Are you now better prepared to understand, perceive and choose your urban context?
• Do you have a vision for your home, block, neighborhood, community, county and city?
•Can you name some large, medium and small cities?
•Which is your favorite city and why?
•Can you identify cities with closed and bounded space?
•Can you identify cities with open and sculptural spaces?
•What makes you curious? Is it medicine, law, cities, politics, what?
•Do you see a role for yourself in the creation, reinvention and improvement of your city?
Does a state have the right to attack or intervene in another country that has not attacked said state, if the country has committed grave injustices or crimes against humanity?
In an age of terrorism, guerilla and total warfare the medieval doctrine of Just War needs to be re-defined. Moreover, issues of legitimacy, efficacy and morality should not be confused. Legitimacy is conferred by institutions. Not all morally justified wars are, therefore, automatically legitimate. Frequently the efficient execution of a battle plan involves immoral or even illegal acts.
As international law evolves beyond the ancient percepts of sovereignty, it should incorporate new thinking about pre-emptive strikes, human rights violations as casus belli and the role and standing of international organizations, insurgents and liberation movements.
Yet, inevitably, what constitutes "justice" depends heavily on the cultural and societal contexts, narratives, mores, and values of the disputants. Thus, one cannot answer the deceivingly simple question: "Is this war a just war?" - without first asking: "According to whom? In which context? By which criteria? Based on what values? In which period in history and where?"
Being members of Western Civilization, whether by choice or by default, our understanding of what constitutes a just war is crucially founded on our shifting perceptions of the West.
Imagine a village of 220 inhabitants. It has one heavily armed police constable flanked by two lightly equipped assistants. The hamlet is beset by a bunch of ruffians who molest their own families and, at times, violently lash out at their neighbors. These delinquents mock the authorities and ignore their decisions and decrees.
Yet, the village council - the source of legitimacy - refuses to authorize the constable to apprehend the villains and dispose of them, by force of arms if need be. The elders see no imminent or present danger to their charges and are afraid of potential escalation whose evil outcomes could far outweigh anything the felons can achieve.
Incensed by this laxity, the constable - backed only by some of the inhabitants - breaks into the home of one of the more egregious thugs and expels or kills him. He claims to have acted preemptively and in self-defense, as the criminal, long in defiance of the law, was planning to attack its representatives.
Was the constable right in acting the way he did?
On the one hand, he may have saved lives and prevented a conflagration whose consequences no one could predict. On the other hand, by ignoring the edicts of the village council and the expressed will of many of the denizens, he has placed himself above the law, as its absolute interpreter and enforcer.
What is the greater danger? Turning a blind eye to the exploits of outlaws and outcasts, thus rendering them ever more daring and insolent - or acting unilaterally to counter such pariahs, thus undermining the communal legal foundation and, possibly, leading to a chaotic situation of "might is right"? In other words, when ethics and expedience conflict with legality - which should prevail?
Enter the medieval doctrine of "Just War" (justum bellum, or, more precisely jus ad bellum), propounded by Saint Augustine of Hippo (fifth century AD), Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his "Summa Theologicae", Francisco de Vitoria (1548-1617), Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) in his influential tome "Jure Belli ac Pacis" ("On Rights of War and Peace", 1625), Samuel Pufendorf (1632-1704), Christian Wolff (1679-1754), and Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767).
Modern thinkers include Michael Walzer in "Just and Unjust Wars" (1977), Barrie Paskins and Michael Dockrill in "The Ethics of War" (1979), Richard Norman in "Ethics, Killing, and War" (1995), Thomas Nagel in "War and Massacre", and Elizabeth Anscombe in "War and Murder".
According to the Catholic Church's rendition of this theory, set forth by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in his Letter to President Bush on Iraq, dated September 13, 2002, going to war is justified if these conditions are met:
"The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations [is] lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated."
A just war is, therefore, a last resort, all other peaceful conflict resolution options having been exhausted.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy sums up the doctrine thus:
"The principles of the justice of war are commonly held to be:
Having just cause (especially and, according to the United Nations Charter, exclusively, self-defense);
Being (formally) declared by a proper authority;
Possessing a right intention;
Having a reasonable chance of success;
The end being proportional to the means used."
Yet, the evolution of warfare - the invention of nuclear weapons, the propagation of total war, the ubiquity of guerrilla and national liberation movements, the emergence of global, border-hopping terrorist organizations, of totalitarian regimes, and rogue or failed states - requires these principles to be modified by adding these tenets:
That the declaring authority is a lawfully and democratically elected government.
That the declaration of war reflects the popular will.
(Extension of 3) The right intention is to act in just cause.
(Extension of 4) ... or a reasonable chance of avoiding an annihilating defeat.
(Extension of 5) That the outcomes of war are preferable to the outcomes of the preservation of peace.
Still, the doctrine of just war, conceived in Europe in eras past, is fraying at the edges. Rights and corresponding duties are ill-defined or mismatched. What is legal is not always moral and what is legitimate is not invariably legal. Political realism and quasi-religious idealism sit uncomfortably within the same conceptual framework. Norms are vague and debatable while customary law is only partially subsumed in the tradition (i.e., in treaties, conventions and other instruments, as well in the actual conduct of states).
The most contentious issue is, of course, what constitutes "just cause". Self-defense, in its narrowest sense (reaction to direct and overwhelming armed aggression), is a justified casus belli. But what about the use of force to (deontologically, consequentially, or ethically):
Prevent or ameliorate a slow-motion or permanent humanitarian crisis;
Preempt a clear and present danger of aggression ("anticipatory or preemptive self-defense" against what Grotius called "immediate danger");
Secure a safe environment for urgent and indispensable humanitarian relief operations;
Restore democracy in the attacked state ("regime change");
Restore public order in the attacked state;
Prevent human rights violations or crimes against humanity or violations of international law by the attacked state;
Keep the peace ("peacekeeping operations") and enforce compliance with international or bilateral treaties between the aggressor and the attacked state or the attacked state and a third party;
Suppress armed infiltration, indirect aggression, or civil strife aided and abetted by the attacked state;
Honor one's obligations to frameworks and treaties of collective self-defense;
Protect one's citizens or the citizens of a third party inside the attacked state;
Protect one's property or assets owned by a third party inside the attacked state;
Respond to an invitation by the authorities of the attacked state - and with their expressed consent - to militarily intervene within the territory of the attacked state;
React to offenses against the nation's honor or its economy.
Unless these issues are resolved and codified, the entire edifice of international law - and, more specifically, the law of war - is in danger of crumbling. The contemporary multilateral regime proved inadequate and unable to effectively tackle genocide (Rwanda, Bosnia), terror (in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East), weapons of mass destruction (Iraq, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea), and tyranny (in dozens of members of the United Nations).
This feebleness inevitably led to the resurgence of "might is right" unilateralism, as practiced, for instance, by the United States in places as diverse as Grenada and Iraq. This pernicious and ominous phenomenon is coupled with contempt towards and suspicion of international organizations, treaties, institutions, undertakings, and the prevailing consensual order.
In a unipolar world, reliant on a single superpower for its security, the abrogation of the rules of the game could lead to chaotic and lethal anarchy with a multitude of "rebellions" against the emergent American Empire. International law - the formalism of "natural law" - is only one of many competing universalist and missionary value systems. Militant Islam is another. The West must adopt the former to counter the latter.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I love writing reviews as well as articles about collecting and party planning. There really hasn't been any genre I haven't tapped into. I also do a lot of ghost writing which helps me sharpen my skills in different genres and utilize my research abilities as well.
A couple of sites that I like to play around with and have fun with are Associated Content and Ehow. Here I can write about anything I want and show off my more zany writing abilities.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I can't say I have a favorite genre. I like historical fiction, romance, mysteries with good endings. I currently do not have a web site. I have written a short historical fiction, romance novel. I will copy and paste the first chapter.
When the Wind Blows: Blow Too
When I was young, I was a mother, but before I was a mother, the nun called me a whore. Those secret desires the nun warned me against still linger deep within…
At eight years old, I stood at the edge of Sunnylane farm, arms stretched, side to side further then they could reach. I knew, at eight that the world was waiting for me. I lifted my head toward the sun, closed my eyes and felt the warm breeze dance through my hair. I inhaled deeply in hope I could savior the summer days forever... One hundred and eighteen acres of corn swayed before me in the breeze against the clear blue sky. At eight, I had no idea that my innocence would be stripped, like the long summer days, in a day, a night... a moment. At eight my only passion was to skip through the flowers, corn, grass and trees and allow my swinging arms, skipping legs and the eastern sun to wake my blood, bones, skin and mind.
Mom’s diary, I read 36 years ago, a mere 10-year-old child. I remember her words as the familiar houses pass by in my rear view mirror and 46 turns to 36, 36 turns into 26, 26 turns to 16 and 16 rolls back to10. All of a sudden, I am 10-years old again, not a care in the world, sitting on top of mom’s bed, reading her journal sunbeams resting upon me. At 10, Mom’s words were foreign to me. It is funny because as the years flow, Mom’s words creep into my bones and today it is as if her words could also be my own.
As I drive I wonder how Mom keeps her positive outlook towards life after all of the sadness she has endured. Oh how I long to embrace her, laugh with her and have her natural comfort wrapped around me.
After driving eighteen hours, I know I am finally approaching when I look out the car window and drive by the Korl Illinois sign, population 400. Shortly after the sign passes, the last lonely house at the edge of town fades nostalgically from my review window. I diligently drive for one more mile. The tires of my recently purchased Mercedes stir halos of dirt and my habitually spotless car is quickly hidden with dust clouds as it cruises down the road I skipped along as a child. I park the car in the driveway, step out, stroll to the porch and let childhood memories seep into my soul with the warm summer breeze and morning sun.
The morning sun spreads its light over the bright freshly painted white porch with the swing for two swaying back in forth in the breeze with pots of lilies, daisies, hibiscus, petunias, tropical flowers, spring flowers, herbs too many plants and flowers to mention them all, flowing around the wide porch surrounding the house. The fresh air, porch swing and flowers are saying to me to come, sit and have some iced mint tea that Mom is so famous for.
Memories of waking with the moon and stars shining brightly in the sky, slowly fading, giving up their spot for the rising sun ball seem like only yesterday. The roosters cock- a-doodle dooing, the sheep’s bahhing and the singing birds making love to one another in the gentle crisp breeze were my spring and summer alarm clock. I stretched and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes with the rest of Korl Illinois, slowly waking with dawn’s first light. Those pre -dawn early summer mornings were always the perfect time of year, but oh how those summer eastern skies turned into brutal southern heat too quickly. Princess, our cat, never seemed to mind the sun, no matter how much heat it radiated. She roamed around the house following the lazy afternoon beams until the sun hid its beams behind the Earth.
As my childhood penetrates through my skin while, standing on the porch, I look around and watch the cardinals, blue jays and doves play amongst the giant bright yellow dandelions that sway with the lush green long Indian grass against the royal blue sky. I feel like time has passed over Korl Illinois.
Robert, my brother, a serious thin man gazes out the dining room window onto the endless field and he sees me approaching.
“Mother,” I hear him say, “Hadassah is here.”
We are all well aware that I have not been back to Sunny Lane farm for years and not without good reason, although, my mother thinks otherwise.
“Hadassah,” my mother, Chaiah yells as she skips to the front porch, her apron swinging side to side. Mom is sixty-six years old, yet still full of childhood energy.
I embrace mom. “It is so good to see you. I’ve missed your wonderful hugs. On stormy winter days, I find myself craving your hugs while gazing from our living room window down to the seashore paralyzed by the waves breaking against the boulders sending mists of salt water into the air. I find myself yearning to have a cup of tea or good coffee and sharing a conversation with light music in the background. I change my tone, “Mom, I moved eight years ago and you still haven’t come for a visit.”
It has only been eight years, but it seems like another lifetime ago.
Mom wraps her arms around me and her warm soft body presses against mine and I realize how much I have missed her, my home, my childhood. My chin rests on her shoulder as I watch Robert dust the dining room table.
“I’m so glad you decided to visit me for the summer instead of staying in your wonderful home that you continuously brag about,” Mom, says lovingly in my ear as she pulls me closer into her warm and welcoming embrace.
“How are things out east and when are you going to have your long awaited for wedding reception party you were supposed to have, what, six years ago?”
I slowly stepped back from mother's gentle touch and reply, “I love the East Coast and guess what? I have a month vacation this summer so we plan to have our wedding reception party the last week of July. We have been married eight years and this is the first year we have a month vacation together, so plan on packing your bags and staying with us for part of the summer. However, Mom, hate to inform you that I have to shorten my stay here because of our busy summer schedule.”
“I can’t wait to come to your place and celebrate the long awaited celebration, but why do you have to shorten your visit here the party isn’t until the end of the summer, can you stay at least two weeks? And is the only reason you are shortening your stay is because of heavy planning?”
“Mom, you always think I have another reason.”
“Well do you? Come on this is your first visit back since…”
Before mom can finish, I interrupt so she doesn’t have to continue her train of thought, “Actually, mom, I haven’t been here for a while the memories… it may just be too hard, so I thought that a week would be enough time for the first visit back.”
“I understand, but you have moved on so why let the memories prevent you from staying longer?”
“I know mom, it isn’t just the memories, I have moved on and I have to get back to my new life. Eli and I have been talking about our reception for years, but we also want to enjoy a long over due vacation and since he has a month off he wants to use a week or two for intimacy and relaxation in, maybe Greece, Hawaii, or, perhaps just in our luxurious bedroom with our balcony overlooking the seashore. Our house, this time of year, who needs to spend money on a vacation? And After our secluded week together, we will be rested enough to prepare for our overdue reception. So, instead of me staying here an extra week, the better plan would be, you come and spend a couple weeks with us.”
“Honey, I am delighted you are here now and if you have that reception, you bet I will come. Look at how beautiful you are and you have finally stepped out from darker years in your life. Yes, sometimes time is a gift and people are able to transform hurtful memories into inner strength and sometimes time is a curse and the bitterness intensifies. I am glad, that in your case, time is kind and softly, healing your wounds and giving you inner strength. Let’s go and rejuvenate your bedroom, shall we?”
Chaiah took her daughter’s hand and they walked upstairs into Hadassah's bedroom. Hadassah opened all of the blinds and light poured into her childhood room. Chaiah’s heart felt almost whole again with her daughter and son home. If only her husband could be here as well she thought to herself, then I truly would be complete.
“Mom, do you mind if I go into your bed and lie down, read and rest for a while, I have been driving a long time and all of a sudden tiredness has hit me like a brick.”
“Of course not sweetheart, please go ahead.”
I went into mom’s room. Her room was always so warm. I went to her bookcase to choose a book and noticed that her journal was lying beside her bed on her night stand, I closed the door, picked up her journal, a habit I’ve developed since childhood. It seems that whenever I see mom’s journal, since I was ten, I automatically pick it up and read a few entries, like it is a good story. I lie down underneath the cool sheet and light blanket and begin to read, beginning with last night’s entry.