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Tad’s on Powell Street: Putting a stake in the heart of a once-mighty restaurant chain.

On Powell Street, the partly pedestrianized commercial spine connecting Market Street to Union Square, the heart of San Francisco’s shopping district, one encounters a distinctly aged, elaborately colored neon sign. Those of you who might have read my old article on aged commercial signage in urban areas might already know what’s coming. For the rest,

Multifamily monotony: how to put a new design spin on an all-too-familiar housing type.

While almost all urban aficionados have heralded the revitalization we have witnessed in downtowns large and small across the country, the sticklers and control freaks among us have continued to cavil about one nagging shortcoming: the form of mixed-use and multifamily projects has disproportionately favored big lots with monolithic structures that, while certainly better than

Dirt turns 10!

It is this month, way back in 2009, that I inaugurated this blog, with a post on wildlife tunnels in a suburb of Boston. I wanted breadth. At that point in time, I thought it would just be an amusement—a hobby that would help me hone in on my photography skills, while giving me a

BrandBox at Tysons Corner Center: a shrewd pop-up solution, a Band-Aid, or a tourniquet?

Long a means of securing seasonal tenants in shopping centers, the pop-up shop has only emerged as a standard bearer for retail nodes within the last five years or so—about the same time that economic forecasters began realizing how badly online shopping was undermining conventional bricks-and-mortar retail. And that’s how they work: they fill a

Mailbox mirth: even our homes can put on the “weekend clothes”.

No doubt we can find whimsical people everywhere we go, but a established urban neighborhood, regardless of the socioeconomics, isn’t particularly likely to offer one of these: Somewhere, amidst the directional arrows for Key West, Cape May, and Bourbon Street, there seems to be a mailbox. And just down the street, there’s another oddity:Yes, the

H-Mart Building of Shepherdstown: an architectural and economic outlier in a perfectly preserved community.

The winsome town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, though in most respects a free-standing municipality, has essentially morphed over the last thirty years into an exurban bedroom community to Washington DC, which lies approximately 70 miles to the southeast. No doubt bolstered by the presence of the well-regarded Shepherd University, the town has an urban, activist

Mid-century modern in main street Yankton: where everything new is old again.

Multiple times in the past I’ve compared building design to clothing styles, and while such an analogy may gall both architects and fashion designers, I’m going to hold my ground on this one. The two professions clearly fall within the discipline of design, and, as such, they rely heavily on the transitory nature of prevailing

Tendencies in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood that polarizes.

My first blog post in San Francisco is atypical (if anything about this blog topic could ever be considered typical), but it’s probably a significant one given the socioeconomic context. The wealthy core to one of the richest regions in the country—probably among the wealthiest in the world—San Francisco is also the only city I’m

Malls are imploding; restaurants are in a tailspin. Can I get anyone a cup of coffee?

In an era of progressive retail collapse, one submarket that seems to be flourishing is the coffee shop. Although the restaurant scene has surged in the wake of a conspicuous decline in recreational shopping, the pundits have also anticipated that we are at “peak restaurant” and that a restaurant bubble-burst is imminent. But is that

Dirt turns 10!

It is this month, way back in 2009, that I inaugurated this blog, with a post on wildlife tunnels in a suburb of Boston. I wanted breadth. At that point in time, I