InvUrb1

Invisible Urbanism

Ian Quate at the opening of the summit. (Photo: John Parman)

How do you make yourself at home in a cauldron filled with demons? I’m quoting the founder of Soto Zen, but the question was also posed at a recent San Francisco summit. > Read More

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Urban Symposium No. 1

The first Urban Symposium event, as a part of StoreFrontLab Season 2, kicked off with a full room of people, each with a party hat on and margarita in hand. > Read More

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TraceSF launches City Makers salon

This month TraceSF introduces City Makers, a new salon series at StoreFrontLabHosted by Amanda Loper of David Baker Architects and Emily Gosack of Jensen Architects, City Makers grew out of a desire to hear more from the women at the forefront of City Making. John Parman, a founding editor of TraceSF, spoke with Amanda and Emily about the series, which opens on October 28 with  Laura Crescimano, a principal of SITELAB urban studio.

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Berlin architect Professor Michael Braum led off the first day's session. Photo: Michael Willis

Knowledge City: Rethinking Heidelberg

Berlin architect Professor Michael Braum led off the first day’s session. Photo: Michael Willis

Heidelberg, one of Europe’s oldest university towns, is looking at its future. Here’s a firsthand account of what’s ahead and what it might means for university towns here. > Read More

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Planned Growth or Unplanned Strife?

 

Will San Francisco follow through on its carefully laid plans to accommodate a growing population, or will it continue to fight the same battles time and time again?

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Child running home in the destroyed city of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina in the hot summer of 1995. Photo by Thom Hoffman.

When Cities Fall: Urban Histories and Political Memory

Destroyed city of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995. Photo by Thom Hoffman.

Our experience of the present is shaped by our understanding of the past. By ignoring the urban narratives of  monuments, structures, city parks, memorials…what messages are we missing for the present?  > Read More

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Save SLO County!

Heading into Paso Robles from the west, 2013

 

Will San Luis Obispo (SLO) County remain predominantly agricultural, or will it sink into the same morass of rural sprawl that took out Orange County? It could go either way, but there’s still hope if we act now. > Read More

Did Muji take a wrong turn in San Francisco?

Where’s Muji? The Japanese chain opened its first West Coast store on a challenging block of Ninth Street last fall.

 

Muji finally opened in San Francisco late last year, ending a low-grade yearning that has nagged local devotees since the Japanese chain landed in New York in 2007. But unlike the fanfare that greeted Uniqlo, another Japanese brand that debuted here last fall, Muji’s arrival was more akin to sneaking in the back door—literally. > Read More

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Urban Prototyping Festival Rethinks SoMa’s Streets

 

For the past few decades, Market Street has been an illogical disconnect in San Francisco, where the confluence of its not-quite-intersecting streets and abrupt diagonal grid shifts have evolved radically different but adjacent streetscapes. > Read More

Patents per capita, by metropolitan area. Map by Mike Webster, courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Help Wanted (But Maybe Not Here)

Patents per capita, by metropolitan area. Map by Mike Webster, courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

Enrico Moretti’s new book about where knowledge industries cluster has implications for the economic future of all cities, and the future of their built environments. > Read More

120+ attendees met at Intersection for the Arts on 8/14/2012 to brainstorm ideas for prototype interventions on 5th Street between Howard and Market.

Global Design through Local Hacking

120+ attendees met at Intersection for the Arts on 8/14/2012 to brainstorm ideas for prototype interventions on 5th Street between Howard and Market.

Andrew Faulkner reports on a recent brainstorming session that anticipates the upcoming Urban Protoyping: San Francisco festival. > Read More

Some argue that Salesforce's decision to stay downtown in buildings such as 50 Fremont is better for San Francisco.

Deja vu and SoMa’s second chance

Salesforce leased space at 50 Fremont before abandoning plans for a new campus at Mission Bay.

Earlier this year, Salesforce’s seemingly sudden decision to abandon plans for a new 2-million-square-foot campus at Mission Bay raised immediate concerns about San Francisco’s already tightening office market—and some murmurs of relief. > Read More

Craft stalls in downtown Oakland. Photo: Leah Marthinsen.

DIY Global

Local artisans sell their wares near downtown Oakland. Photo: Leah Marthinsen.

 

Think local, buy local—we are currently experiencing a surge in assertions of independence from the global supply chain. > Read More

Union Iron Works, photo by William Porter, 2004.

Preserving Industry in the Eastern Neighborhoods

Union Iron Works, photo by William Porter, 2004.

 

The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, adopted in late December 2008, states that “San Francisco is a special place because of the way in which it has always balanced preservation with change.” It is true that despite generations of natural and manmade disasters, demographic shifts, and  radical economic realignment, San Francisco has managed to hold on to its essence as a place that “doesn’t look or feel like anywhere else.” > Read More

Opening day at Pruitt Igoe. Photo via http://www.pruitt-igoe.com/urban-history/

Ghost Story

Opening day at Pruitt Igoe. Photo via http://www.pruitt-igoe.com/urban-history/

It remains nearly impossible to escape architecture, urban design, or planning education in the United States without hearing the name Pruitt-Igoe, even forty years after the St. Louis housing project’s demolition in 1972. > Read More

Lars Lerup explaining his analysis of the Houston cityscape. Photo by John Parman..

Lars Lerup at Wurster Hall

Lars Lerup explaining his analysis of the Houston cityscape. Photo by John Parman.

 

Playing to a big, friendly crowd, Rice Professor Lars Lerup acknowledged his Berkeley roots in a lecture on Wednesday night, 7 March, centered on his new book on the Houston cityscape, One Million Acres & No Zoning (Architectural Association, 2011). > Read More

Architectural model, plan view, for MOS’s 'Thoughts on a Walking City' project for Orange, New Jersey. Photograph courtesy of James Ewing. © 2011 James Ewing.

Dreaming of Home

Architectural model, plan view, for MOS’s "Thoughts on a Walking City" project for Orange, New Jersey. Photograph courtesy of James Ewing. © 2011 James Ewing.

 

It didn’t take the mortgage meltdown to make clear that residential patterns affect individual, societal and environmental health. And the crash only made the ruinous implications of conventional sprawl development harder to ignore. Now an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art asks how architecture and planning might ameliorate those consequences, proposing alternate ideals of home and imagining buildings and places to express them. > Read More

Randel Farm Map no. 55, vol. 1, p. 16, showing 101st to 109th Street, from Third Avenue to the East River, July 21, 1820. Used with permission of the City of New York and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

Mash-up at Right Angles

Randel Farm Map no. 55, vol. 1, p. 16, showing 101st to 109th Streets, from Third Avenue to the East River, July 21, 1820. Used with permission of the City of New York and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

 

The 1811 plan mandating an orthogonal street grid helped make Manhattan a paragon of urban form. Today we take rectilinear New York for granted, and love its vitality. An exhibition reveals both prescience and problems in the grid’s rich history.

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Under-utilized parcels of city-owned land in San Francisco, re-imagined by Nicholas de Monchaux as part of his Local Code / Real Estates project, 2009. Image: Courtesy Nicholas de Monchaux

Cities and Spacesuits: An Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux

Under-utilized parcels of city-owned land in San Francisco, re-imagined by Nicholas de Monchaux as part of his Local Code / Real Estates project, 2009. Image: Courtesy Nicholas de Monchaux


Nicholas de Monchaux
is an architect, urbanist, writer and Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley. His recent book, Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, unearths the truly fascinating story behind the design of the Apollo spacesuit, which has surprising relevance to architectural and planning discourse, particularly in the Bay Area. > Read More