Posted in URBANISM by urbanmi on July 30, 2012

We want to live in cities.

The era of suburbs being desirable is dying out. These blighted areas with few amenities, services, people have lost their luster. Most of us see them for what they are: costly, inconvenient, unhealthy, isolated.

Suburbs are an ideal. In reality they do not work. In reality we live in exurbs, areas completely disconnected from a core where every road is either a tributary or a river. Stores, work, friends, family, and schools are all far away. Roads replace sidewalks and cars replace people as the chosen for who this place should be made convenient for. We defer to the automobile. Many suburbs do not even bother constructing a sidewalk, announcing to all who foolishly say they wish to live there, that “you shall not walk. You will have no need for feet.”

Fortunately we are shifting back to the city, returning to urban centers as we realize the convenience, the cost, and the amenities. We are learning the environmental consequences of living on the fringes, and we are feeling the economic strains of the lifestyle.

This transition is being marked by many media organizations realizing and celebrating this return. The Atlantic conducts a series on cities. NPR is gathering content for the NPR Cities project.

These projects excite me, they are optimistic, and informative, and cull the content of the web into the relevant information that I am emotionally and personally invested. This is the avenue that local news organizations should be cultivating but are failing.


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GRAND RAPIDS | New Buildings + Current Projects

Posted in ARCHITECTURE, GRAND RAPIDS, URBANISM by urbanmi on July 31, 2010

Recently arrived back in Grand Rapids.  With the little time I have back home, I have tried to travel to as many of the new constructions as I can to have some thoughts.

Betty Van Andel Opera Center:  This is an architectural monstrosity.  No design thought and intent are apparent.  There is no considered entrance.  If the investment in a building was going to occur for this type of purpose, making the effort to make the building notable seems essential otherwise the pre-existing center for the Grand Rapids Opera was adequate, because this building does little to nothing to promote Opera in Grand Rapids and only adds to the increasing portfolio of horrible design and architecture in many newer buildings, such as the Gerald R Ford International Airport and the Convention Center.

Urban Institute of Contemporary Art

UICA:  very excited and interested in this building at this stage the infrastructure for the final building is in place.  The mesh lining the exterior of the building will provide support for the plantings and ivy that have been placed behind the screens, which in the coming months and years will allow for the plantings to cover portions of the exterior of the building.  The building is designed by Chicago’s BuiltForm Architecture.

Medical bridge:  I don’t know what is going on here.  An awkward connection between to buildings whose designs have no relations to their connection.  The bridge itself only highlights this difference with its relatively extreme design.  Otherwise it’s a worthwhile addition; it’s superior to stylistically safer alternatives and adds to Grand Rapids attempts of incorporating more design into the city.

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Posted in DETROIT, URBANISM by urbanmi on April 17, 2010

The Urban Land Institute chose Detroit’s Campus Martius Park for their first-ever Amanda Burden Open Space Award this morning.

“The award for the park, unique in a city more often characterized by hardship than success, was based on a competition to recognize an outstanding example of a public open space that has catalyzed the transformation of the surrounding community.”

Detroit was recognized over Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Pittsburgh’s Schenley Plaza, New York’s Harold and Greeley Square Parks, Boston’s Bremen Street Park and Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville, SC.

Urban Land Institute Press Release

MSU | College of Human Medicine

Posted in GRAND RAPIDS, URBANISM by urbanmi on February 3, 2010

a version of this post originally appeared on the original urbanmi back in May or June of 2009.

Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine is a significant addition to the Grand Rapids skyline.

The building creates a visual anchor when approaching the college north on Division.  It completes one of the major visual arteries downtown, capping this axis and ending what once was open horizon.

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