Wednesday, January 18, 2012


If the city is an ecology unto itself, and all evidence and lines of study are pointing in that direction, Le Corbusier is Paul Hermann Muller. If you needed to look up that reference, wiki is down if you haven't noticed. The link is to an article at City Journal by Thomas Dalrymple and it is quite brilliant. I encourage you take the time to read all of it. Some of my favorite bits:
At the exhibition, I fell to talking with two elegantly coiffed ladies of the kind who spend their afternoons in exhibitions. “Marvelous, don’t you think?” one said to me, to which I replied: “Monstrous.” Both opened their eyes wide, as if I had denied Allah’s existence in Mecca.
I rather enjoyed imagining this scene. If only because I've run similar events through my head and/or life dozens of times. It reminds of the global prank turned movie that was Exit Through the Gift Shop, unwitting plutocrats masquerading as intelligentsia.

I'll leave the rest to you, but see if you get the sense that Corbu operated with a child-like understanding of the world. Everything reduced down to the simplest common denominator.

In a related note, Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros continue to bind together the strands of design, urbanism, math, ecology, evolution, and computer science, which could all broadly be categorized within the phylum of Fractals:
But this imposition of art (real or pretend) on top of life is likely to be highly damaging to both, as the urban scholar Jane Jacobs famously warned. Moreover, an architect is not merely a sculptor at giant scales, but a professional, not unlike a medical professional, with a “duty of care” to provide a living environment with a high grade of quality of life for the rest of us. The architect is not working in a private gallery for the benefit of connoisseurs alone, but deeply affecting the ordinary life and wellbeing of people and regions.

I didn't particularly care for the article. It provided little context or insight despite the numerous "experts" interviewed. Not that I am for or against beltways per se. While I have a mean streak devoted to superfluous and profligate infrastructure, primarily by way of intra city highways, beltways can be fine, if they are properly integrated with the fractally hierarchical infrastructure where complexity, mobility, density, and desirability function proportionally and in concert.

No beltway in itself caused sprawl to its observable American extent without bank loans, tax policy, and zoning all favoring new "growth." In the sense, that cannibalism can be considered. growth.