Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette.
Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the “food desert”: is it media myth or reality? It seems that urban areas aren’t always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don’t count the Star Market that’s right near that Census tract…)
Suburban Swan Song. Slate’s architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool.
Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.
BYO Cloud. Not since the Romans stretched the vela around the Coliseum has there been such a radical solution for stadium shading. Qatar plans to create man-made clouds (“a lightweight carbon structure carrying a giant envelope of material containing helium gas”) to float over the stadium where the World Cup will be held in the summer of 2022. More details in The Daily Mail.
Fatal attraction? Why do we live in dangerous places? Scientific American investigates their allure and the ecological consequences–good and bad–for both plant and animal life.
ESI 2 DC. The Washington Post reports that President Obama has tapped New York’s own Edwin Schlossberg, founder of the interactive design firm ESI, to serve on a federal panel that helps oversee the architecture and design of the nation’s capital. (Schlossberg is the more designer-y half of Caroline Kennedy and also one of the founders of the not-for-profit desigNYC.)
More rigor, less speed. At Slate, Witold Rybczynski makes the case for slow architecture: “No wonder that Renaissance architectural treatises often seem cerebral; architects spent a lot of time thinking before they started drawing.”