An oasis and a bean-counter.

IMG_5401

The climate of the American high plains may not be completely desert-like, but the similarities are uncanny: relatively little rain or moisture in the air, a temperature that plunges at night throughout the year, considerable variation between summer and winter, but fiercely hot in the former. Many of these characteristics incidentally bespeak high altitudes more …Read more…

Electric neglected.

IMG_4191

On a serene stretch of Interstate 70 in western Maryland—west of Hagerstown but not yet to the point where the freeway veers sharply northward into Pennsylvania—it’s still possible in mid April to see some antiquated power lines that parallel the road, even as dusk approaches. The foliage isn’t yet thick enough, so there they are. …Read more…

Creature comforts, reinforced with concrete.

IMG_3845

Traveling along I-78 through northern New Jersey, about twelve miles west of Newark, drivers experience a reprieve from the endless array of New York suburbs as they speed through the Watchung Reservation.           On a map, it looks like this:But, despite the fact that it’s fundamentally a forest preserve, the infrastructure is a bit more sophisticated …Read more…

Putting runoff in the crosshairs.

fgreen 03

While it may seem self-evident that unusual, off-kilter, visually distinctive environments are the most fertile grounds for experimentation, this isn’t always the case. Take this one: In most respects, it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill shopping center—a “Power Center”, to use the correct retail brokerage lingo—called Fairlane Green, in the western suburb of Detroit known as Allen …Read more…

Porous placeholders.

porous 04

A multitude of American cities have experienced resurgences in their urban centers over the last decade. Nonetheless, it typically seems that one city in particular enjoys the lion’s share of favorable publicity for a few years…and then passes the baton to another. New York wore the crown through much of the late 90s, with a …Read more…

Urban recycling: not a bad (unironic) beer in the box.

DSCF2230

A recycling station housed in an old factory building might not seem like a novel concept, particularly in a city with a plethora of underutilized or vacant industrial space.  Like Detroit. And even the appearance of it—a pastiche of industrial chic, street artistry, found objects, and, yes, even a pretty extensive panoply of bins of …Read more…

And on the seventh day…He created a market.

Creation Museum 032

With this article I venture into what may prove one of my most overtly political topics ever, possibly against better judgment.  Yet I wade into these waters as a deliberate challenge to myself, since I strive to separate the intensive political controversy that this tourist attraction elicits from what I think is more interesting and …Read more…

Plugging the passed-over pocket park with programming.

DSCF1517

My latest post is up at Urban Indy.  It scrutinizes a small park on the near northside of Indianapolis–a park so unremarkable that most of the city’s residents have probably never heard of it.  Wedged between the Fall Creek Place neighborhood and its namesake Fall Creek, Kessler Park is hardly an unattractive park.  Clean, easily …Read more…

“Trash to treasure” writ large.

DSCF7672

My latest is up at Urban Indy, featuring the local nonprofit People for Urban Progress (PUP), and numerous photos of their many accomplishments as they approach five years in operation.  Always an urban advocacy group (as the name suggests), People for Urban Progress has taken a refreshingly non-partisan route by simply intervening when a building …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…