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In Mt. Adams, residential infill gets the old spit ‘n shine.

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Residential infill development can—and often does—fail to integrate architecturally with the neighborhood that surrounds it. And that’s okay. Far more important than adherence to a certain vernacular is the physical form of the house. When looking at the front of the home square-on, does the layout emphasize a front door, a porch, a garage, or …Read more…

The ugly, underutilized garage: soon a mere memory?

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Has urban America learned its last lesson on downtown parking? After forty years of declining fortunes, have we deduced that giving people cheap, abundant, convenient places to park their cars failed to save our city centers? Have we finally realized that demolishing 100-year-old buildings to form new garages and lots did not stem the vacancy …Read more…

Urban artistry comes in all forms.

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Maybe it was the bohemian misfits converging in a once-floundering SoHo that prompted this approach. Perhaps it was the rediscovery of Classical values in 15th century Florence that spurred a continent toward unprecedented economic growth after centuries of stagnance. More likely it was neither. Quite simply, people operated on an hunch (mostly unconscious) that something …Read more…

Plowing the factories to plant a field.

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Cities large and small have borne the brunt of criticism from economic development experts for investing heavily in sports venues, in an effort to bring people back—and thus to help revitalize—their old downtowns.  I’ll admit it: I’ve been one of these critics in the past as well, heaping three successive blog articles of scorn to …Read more…

Ramping up the capacity of a rural highway—but without the ramps.

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One of the biggest yet quietest challenges in managing capital improvement projects is maintaining a basic level of functionality during major upgrades.  My suspicion is that the implementation of major capital improvements is usually quiet because—more often than not—these upgrades take place with few disruptions.  Think about it: the basic etymology of “infrastructure” reveals how …Read more…

Speed surveillance scamming spreads statewide.

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I don’t usually highlight topical events, and certainly not in a way that they become central to a blog post.  But in this case, I just couldn’t resist—the news is too timely, and it eerily echoes a subject I’ve covered on this blog as well as a rewrite at New Geography: the jurisdictionally defined speed trap.  …Read more…

Buckeye boundary balderdash.

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Here’s a rarity for me: plunging right into the photographs, with nary an introduction.  I don’t think it’s necessary this time. A few months ago, I was leaving Cleveland, Ohio on Interstate 71, headed southwestward toward Columbus. (Yes, that VW Beetle in front of me really is missing its rear windshield, in 25 degree weather.)  While …Read more…

Can we sell urban infill to the suburbs?

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At a superficial level, American suburbs have reached a point of inflection in terms of their dependency on automobiles.  The past decade has introduced mandatory sidewalk ordinances within many (if not most) metropolitan jurisdictions, as well as an expansion of mass transit into many of the newer, fast-growing exurbs.  But these initiatives are just a …Read more…