the-city-we-have – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: the-city-we-have

environments of extraction

I’ll be at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York this Friday evening, speaking on a panel about “Environments of Extraction”: Resource extraction and urbanism have always had an intimate love/hate relationship. In the past fifty years, we have witnessed this relationship yield a series of global infrastructures and cities that are increasingly […]

“bundled, buried, and behind closed doors”

[“Bundled, Buried, and Behind Closed Doors”, a documentary short by Ben Mendelsohn and Alex Chohlas-Wood, looks at one of our favorite things — the physical infrastructure of the internet — and, in particular, the telco hotel at 60 Hudson Street. It’s particularly fascinating to see how 60 Hudson Street exhibits the “tendency of communications infrastructure […]

a quick and unnecessary defense of density against some chart

Grist recently cross-posted an article by Per Square Mile’s Tim De Chant which mines an old (2009) study from the Journal of Urban Economics to argue that “only the steepest increases in density could reduce car usage”.  Unfortunately, I think that’s entirely the wrong conclusion to draw from the study. Here’s the key graph that […]

urban field manuals

[Photographs from Christoph Engel’s series “Exterieur”, which explores the sort of cryptoforested terrain vague which the urban field manual might excel in operating in.] Issue 14 of the Magazine On New Urbanisms, “Editing Urbanism”, is out.  Brian Davis, Brett Milligan, and I co-wrote a piece in that issue, “Urban Field Manuals”, which argues that the […]

400 years of 124 Green Street

Go read this micro history of a block in New York City: We usually analyze Development at the national level. Why not other levels? At the other extreme, here is a short and surprising illustrated history of one city block […] Its history had been a series of unexpected events involving many actors, from Nicholas […]


In the comments on “fracture-prone” — where I argued that the set of political measures that New Urbanists tend to focus on are a necessary component of the urbanist’s operating toolkit, but not nearly sufficient — Carter says: I’d be interested to hear your ideas on other types of tools should be used to tackle […]


[An image from Mark Luthringer’s “Ridgemont Typologies“] In an excerpt on Slate from his latest book (Makeshift Metropolis), Witold Rybczynski asks the question: what kind of cities do we want? Judging from the direction that American urbanism has taken during the second half of the 20th century, one answer is unequivocal—Americans want to live in […]

editing urbanism

MONU issues a call for submissions for their Winter 2011 issue, Editing Urbanism: These days, the need for new buildings or entire city quarters is decreasing or even ceasing to exist altogether – at least in the Western world – due to the demographic changes and financially difficult times. Ever since, architects and urban designers, […]


We’re reading The Infrastructural City.  This is week ten — after this, we’ve got Robert Sumrell’s “Props” next week and a brief return to the introduction the following week.  Fill yourself in, if that’s necessary. [An aerial shot of the Alameda Corridor amidst warehouses and distribution centers, from Lane Barden’s photo-essay “The Trench”, which follows […]

jam, hack

This is week five of our reading of The Infrastructural City; if you’re not familiar with the series, you can start here and catch up here. [Traffic cameras in Los Angeles, photographed by flickr user Puck90] “Blocking All Lanes”, Sean Dockray, Fiona Whitton, and Steve Rowell’s contribution to The Infrastructral City, opens by questioning the […]

“for every pile there is a pit”

We’re back from our week off with another installment of Reading the Infrastructural City; if you haven’t been following along, you can catch up on the series here and see the introductory post here. [Aggregate operation in the Reliance pit mine, Irwindale, California; photograph by Steve Rowell, via CLUI] The fourth chapter of The Infrastructural […]

teenagers and young people, in the city like locusts

With the publication of their latest issue, The Atlantic Monthly launched a month-long sub-site that they’re calling “The Future of the City”, which interests us for obvious reasons.   In particular, the articles on the potential of private transit and post-Jacobsian urbanists are worth reading (and if I get a chance I’ll pull excerpts from […]

burn down the suburbs, and other comments on reburbia

Though I’m on vacation at the moment, I thought I’d chime in with a couple comments on our reburbia entry (posted by Stephen below) and perhaps articulate more fully some of the thoughts behind it: 1. We were as interested in articulating a series of comments on the relationship between designers and suburbia as we […]

mammoth suburban land infusions

Here is a little something Rob and I put together for the Re-burbia competition.  Our entry asks the questions: What if the challenge suburbs face is not that they over-consume land, but have too little? How could an infusion of new land simultaneously (and paradoxically) mitigate some of the issues caused by the under-utilization of […]

49 utopias

I agree with all this. Big Bang Urbanism – what a great term.  Those ground up utopian visions are the lifted trucks of the architecture world – often technically proficient, yet generally ridiculous, public displays of ‘boldness’ or ‘vision’.  (Sadly, this isn’t a problem only suffered by select urban schemata, coughcalatravacough.) A couple of weeks ago, I […]

the city we have

In a recent feature on Archinect, Will Galloway of Front Office (they have a blog here) discusses the predilection of architects for the wholesale urban renovation (which, despite the prominence of theoretical frameworks that intend to offer alternatives, remains the dominant tendency of designers, even those working within frameworks — such as landscape urbanism — […]