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37 articles

Eagleridge Shopping Center: rockstar parking…in strip mall suburbia?

Salvaging the subject of strip mall soulfulness for a second study, I present a regional shopping center of no great distinction.  Much like the suburban structures of the previous article, Eagleridge Shopping Center is unusually coy about its name; the massive sign facing Interstate 25 forces the title to the absolute bottom.  Most people probably

Fort Worth Water Gardens: when a splashy downtown feature rests on a slippery slope (literally).

Let’s face it: it doesn’t matter how big or vibrant your city’s downtown is.  Generally speaking, the civic plazas immediately outside the major municipal buildings are dead on weekends.  There just isn’t any magnetism, given that these buildings host city government functions, which typically operate during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.  (Emergency and corrections

Chipotle bucks the struggling restaurant trend, by predicting the future. What’s so tricky about that?!

A year ago, the prevailing wisdom among urban analysts was that restaurants would serve as the lodestar for any further downtown revitalization.  I shared this sentiment, particularly in recognizing the recent, fashionable emergence of the food hall–a smattering of diverse small-kitchen eateries under one roof.  The reality seemed, then as now, that most other retail—certainly

German Street in Shepherdstown, WV: where, instead of a curb at the sidewalk, there’s a fence.  And shrubs.

The prosperous little municipality of Shepherdstown, fortuitously situated along the Potomac River in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, boasts a charming three-block main street, German Street, with nothing but locally owned establishments, achieving almost perfect occupancy amidst its variegated, well-maintained 19th century buildings.  It’s an enviable arrangement, no doubt enhanced by its location in

Rise over run: Portland parks contend with steep slopes.

Both nestled in and perched on the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s largest city of Portland (by far) has its share of dramatic slopes and sublime vistas. This should come as no surprise. And although nearly three-quarters of the municipal limits sit to the east of the Willamette River, downtown Portland and most of its highest points

Rethinking a restroom from just the right angle.

I have yet to create a special tag or keyword on my blog for my numerous articles on public restrooms. Perhaps I should. Sometimes I feel like a letch for writing about them so much, and yet I know I’m hardly alone having a certain fascination—not only in the interior design, but the engineering for

Philly’s subway entrances: should we cast great infrastructure in iron or cast it away?

As a general rule, the major public works initiatives of America suffer an almost complete bifurcation in our broader societal gaze: between the deliberately ornamental versus the purely utilitarian. We clutch our pearls in attempts to salvage the former—even if many critics impugn these embellishments as kitschy, schlocky, or some other great Yiddish adjective. Their

Well-regulated suburban development: hardly off the rails.

A railing on a sidewalk may seem like a humble installation, in the context of the vast strip mall that surrounds it. And it is. But it does seem odd, almost random, based on the environment. Why does this twelve-foot stretch of sidewalk need two railings when nothing around it has them? A view from

The ramp without a purpose: handicapped design swings and misses.

Public accommodations for persons with disabilities have expanded so significantly in recent years that the juxtaposition of a staircase and a ramp scarcely raises an eyebrow. We see it all the time. And that’s perfectly normal: after all, it’s been the law since 1990.  But how are we supposed to respond when we see handicapped

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