T e d i u m: dead malls morph to artistic frontiers.

I just learned something I wouldn’t have expected even a week ago: that someone has asked permission to feature an American Dirt photo in a vaporwave video. Not something I would have ever expected, but here it is. At first blush, it might not seem like much: nothing more than a lingering, static view of

Contemporary design and its discontents.

The clarion call for architectural conformity may prove to be urban redevelopment’s greatest hurdle. Small business owners and residents in formerly blighted districts who invested in the neighborhood first—the “pioneers” so to speak—often assert themselves powerfully into any proposals to alter the neighborhood that come from that second generation of investors—i.e., the ones jumping the

Power centers: where beauty is in the eye of the consumer.

Particularly in the last few months, this blog has honed in on retail trends that usually point to the slow demise of the conventional, enclosed, middle-class shopping mall. I just can’t get enough of the topic. And most evidence suggests that, with the possible exception of the high-end ones, the mall is typically failing to

A traveler’s guide to the penitentiary.

Along any stretch of highway, it’s easy to imagine feeling at least a little unsettled if you drive past this sign:This is exactly what one encounters heading northward along I-75 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, about 20 miles south of Sioux Sainte Marie and the Canadian border. In most respects, it’s a notice we all can

Daylighting.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a meta-post (blogging about my own blogging), but I’m due for one this time around. Back in May, I blogged about the Brass Mill Center, a very suburban-styled mall in the heart of Waterbury, Connecticut’s inner city.  I’m generally happy with how the article turned out, but most of

Some cultures go full bloom; others are happy to remain bulbs.  

Considering that our landscapes are replete with signifiers, why is it that we typically only notice the big, garish ones? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon—or a semiotician—to answer that question: big symbols tend to dwarf little ones, so they nearly always get an upper hand in their ability to convey a message. If this

Hustling all the antiques under one roof.  

Even metros with the most resilient of economies couldn’t salvage many of their historic buildings downtown during the 1970s, the virtually undisputed nadir of urban America. The imbroglio facing most cities wasn’t just a lack of investment—there simply wasn’t even any psychological interest. (Not surprisingly, “interest” and “investment” go hand in hand…in more ways than

Historic substance or hardware store?

“Heritage tourism” has slowly—in some respects, glacially slowly—crept into the mainstream as a viable part of the economic development lexicon. It can serve as a legitimate lure to outside visitors seeking something that they perceive as old, historically significant, authentic or distinctive. As a definition of heritage tourism, the previous sentence contains several key adjectives

Historic substance or hardware store?

“Heritage tourism” has slowly—in some respects, glacially slowly—crept into the mainstream as a viable part of the economic development lexicon. It can serve as a legitimate lure to outside visitors seeking something that they perceive as old, historically significant, authentic or distinctive. As a definition of heritage tourism, the previous sentence contains several key adjectives

Contemporary design and its discontents.

The clarion call for architectural conformity may prove to be urban redevelopment’s greatest hurdle. Small business owners and residents in formerly blighted districts who invested in the neighborhood first—the “pioneers” so to speak—often

A traveler’s guide to the penitentiary.

Along any stretch of highway, it’s easy to imagine feeling at least a little unsettled if you drive past this sign:This is exactly what one encounters heading northward along I-75 in Michigan’s Upper

Daylighting.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a meta-post (blogging about my own blogging), but I’m due for one this time around. Back in May, I blogged about the Brass Mill Center, a very

Hustling all the antiques under one roof.  

Even metros with the most resilient of economies couldn’t salvage many of their historic buildings downtown during the 1970s, the virtually undisputed nadir of urban America. The imbroglio facing most cities wasn’t just

Historic substance or hardware store?

“Heritage tourism” has slowly—in some respects, glacially slowly—crept into the mainstream as a viable part of the economic development lexicon. It can serve as a legitimate lure to outside visitors seeking something that

Historic substance or hardware store?

“Heritage tourism” has slowly—in some respects, glacially slowly—crept into the mainstream as a viable part of the economic development lexicon. It can serve as a legitimate lure to outside visitors seeking something that