The Great Recession and its undead discontents.

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In the immediate years following the housing market’s catastrophic implosion, it was common to find half-finished suburban developments, where a handful of homes splayed out across a tangle of curvilinear streets. In most of these zombie subdivisions, the developer had already installed water/sewer, at least some of the paved roads, streetlights, road signs, maybe even …Read more…

Undone by the dome.

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Strolling through the town of Bowman, North Dakota last summer (which is how one gets around if one finds oneself in Bowman…obviously), I came across a pretty slick looking geodesic dome home. We see these from time to time. After all, they were quite the fad for a few years, peaking around 1970. While I …Read more…

Sterling silver in a sandwich.

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A few weeks ago, I blogged about how, in this day and age, it’s nearly impossible for a storefront in the middle of a city block to secure a tenant. The population density usually just isn’t great enough. If the storefront is on a corner, it could work, and if it’s in the middle of …Read more…

Rising above the district dogma.

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Normally I have come to the defense of historic preservation as a both a discipline and an economic development tool. But, inasmuch as I support almost any effort to cultivate, recognize and then save heritage, I also know that the most sincere efforts can go up in flames when couched in the liberal use of …Read more…

Provisions for our peccadilloes.

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Virtually every top-down policy yields a bottom-up response. And is there any policy out there that isn’t to some degree top-down, at least in the nature of its implementation? This isn’t rocket science, but if we learned from the undesirable consequences elicited by well-intentioned policies, we may be far charier to legislate. But then there …Read more…

Taking the sewer less traveled.

It probably doesn’t seem like the most savory topic, and it’s already my second blog post to reference the porcelain god. But wastewater removal is such a fundamental infrastructural component to sustaining dense developments that it is impossible to ignore or make light of it. For nascent settlements in resource-poor parts of the globe, it …Read more…

DUST: The shoe may fit, but does the foot fit the stair?

In planning, as in any undertaking, when a certain prevailing goal asserts itself as the principal one, other objectives and their respective goals all too frequently become subordinate—such is the nature of prioritization. A no-brainer. In a conflict zone, urgency often triumphs over pragmatism. In Afghanistan, a dozen different units can lay claim to territories …Read more…