Empty airport: the consequences of a corona-driven collapse in air travel (MONTAGE).

Less than a month ago, I availed myself of a long-planned opportunity to travel from the mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, using a flight a purchased several weeks before the world’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic had set the turbulent economic and social course for 2020.  Obviously there are others before me—people who took this risk

At aviation’s (and globalization’s) crossroads, a relic from the age of information.

As one of the busiest airports in the world—and numero uno for many years—Chicago’s O’Hare International (ORD) inevitably offers an array of amenities and services that places it well to the right of the distributional bell curve. But this feature comes as a bit of a surprise.I’m probably premature in asserting that we don’t typically

Altamont, Illinois façades: where the upgrade is older than the original.

Whether we measure it in square miles or a single street corner, the average American downtown is enjoying an unprecedented new life. Century-old commercial buildings—underutilized at best, mothballed or abandoned at worst—have comprised the most visible beneficiaries of this revitalization, since investors have reassessed their value as critical signals to the municipality’s historic origins, determining

Potty protections.

We’ve come to expect a certain iconography at our airports: restrooms, baggage claims, handicapped access, information centers, baby-changing stations, cabs. Less common: subways, light rail, prayer rooms, and, in this day and age, a smoker refuge. Perhaps I’m revealing my East Coast bias—or at least my tendency to orient myself in terms of where I

MONTAGE: Teardowns: cleaning out the residential wardrobe.  

A topic as prominent as teardowns deserves a vigorous analysis, which I’m prepared to offer at some point in the near future. In the meantime, I hope to whet the appetite through this brief montage, to help familiarize those who otherwise don’t understand the context for this relatively recent phenomenon. But what is a teardown,

Vesuvius erupts in the prairie.

In the world’s most overbuilt nation for retail space, any outside influence can induce an infinitesimal change that nonetheless completely transforms the landscape for commerce.  The retailers who continue to succeed in this economy—particularly impressive given the growing portent of online shopping’s eventual dominance—help shed light on what type of structures/milieus they are seeking to

If a mall implodes in a small town, is anyone there to hear it–or to care?

I’ve documented evolving retail trends with a keen eye over the past few years.  Regardless of the size of the community, certain similar features have emerged that very well may augur a monumental shift in typology, akin to what transpired in the 1950s and 60s when pedestrian-scaled downtowns lost all their commerce to suburban strip

Amidst all the links in the chain, a new shape emerges.

When zipping across a rural landscape on a limited access highway, the visual impact of the exit ramps—and the various goods or services that they access—begin to erode.  To those unfamiliar with the landscape, these exits often all look alike. Even for those motorists who know their precise surroundings, it would be hard to describe

Surgeon General’s warning: “It’s Mail Pouch Tobacco. Treat yourself.”

I’ve gotten in the habit of dropping the word “meme” into blog articles as though it has become a part of common parlance.  (Come to think of it, I probably overuse “parlance” too.)  The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “meme” is that it is “an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one

The emperor might have beautiful clothes, but what about the shoes?

By 21st century standards, it would seem like a moot point that buildings in high density downtowns would attempt to have at least some street level engagement, meaning that the ground floor offers something for passers-by to look at beyond a mere blank wall.  Usually this translates to a large window for a display that

Potty protections.

We’ve come to expect a certain iconography at our airports: restrooms, baggage claims, handicapped access, information centers, baby-changing stations, cabs. Less common: subways, light rail, prayer rooms, and, in this day and age,

Vesuvius erupts in the prairie.

In the world’s most overbuilt nation for retail space, any outside influence can induce an infinitesimal change that nonetheless completely transforms the landscape for commerce.  The retailers who continue to succeed in this