Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday Linkages. It's Wednesday Right?

The Museum Tower / Nasher Sculpture conflict makes the front page of the New York Times.  And rightfully so, it's an incredibly complicated issue, resolution doesn't appear cheap, easy, nor timely, and there is very little precedent nor willingness to budge much on either side.  Perhaps even Schutze has a point.  Not precisely the one he's been making, but along the lines.  Urbanism is inherently going to have issues.  You're putting lots of people, money, egos, livelihoods, quality of life choices, etc. immediately in conflict in any city.  Resolution takes time.  It also often takes patience, perseverence, and compromise.  Whether it's living with common wall neighbors or two hundreds of million dollar buildings.  It is being in proximity that socializes.  Cesar Millan puts bad dogs in his pack to socialize them.  The problem becomes when "urban" is reduced to singularly-functioning "district," which is some abstraction of true urbanism, amplified by the single-tax bracketed stakeholders involved.

Still, this is an issue to keep an eye on.  It very well may end up setting policy moving forward.  Not for the specifics, but the degree to which private property can harm other private property AND the public realm.  It's also done a bang-up job pinpointing inconsistencies and overlaps in existing policy and goals, e.g. green building code suggesting reflective glass to limit solar gain inside properties, thus reducing air conditioning load.  However, other materials can do this job well as well.  As can better, more clustered urban form.  Of which, there are urban codes and policies which limit and prohibit certain reflectivity of the glass to prevent the degradation of the public realm for this very reason.  Have you ever stood on the sidewalk next to FountainPlace on a 100 degree day?  Once again, we're too focused on the postcard view, the abstraction of city, rather than the real thing.  Where we interact and use the city, on the street, everyday.  It's time to come to terms with what a city is.
Along these lines, Pegasus News picked up a great piece that was run by SMU's student paper (?? - and if so, two thumbs up and standing O for them) about families moving into downtown Dallas.  As you can see from my long hibernating series on indicator species of high quality, livable urbanism is young children.  Really, it's any of the most vulnerable of society that are the indicator species of safe, livable places.  Children?  Senior citizens?  Women?  See them, see a livable place.  And when they start showing up, they form the self-reinforcing feedback loop of demand-then-supply of increasingly safe, desirable, livable, lovable places.

Some snippets:

“More people love coming downtown to visit us and it’s an exciting, high-energy place that the kids love,” said Heather Huse. “When we were in Cedar Hill, it was difficult for our friends to make that 30-minute schlep outside the city, and everything else was a chore.”
The Huses value not only the timely convenience, but the domestic convenience that downtown living has to offer their family. This new found freedom from the old-fashioned American dream has given the Huses more time as a family than ever.
“I started becoming more relaxed in situations where other parents would be very nervous,” said Ken Montgomery. “With cars and trains flying by, I know what to expect with my kids because they spent time living around it.”
“It’s important to be alert, stay together and aware of what’s going on around you,” said Shannon Montgomery. “Our girls have learned that, and it makes them grow.”
I love this line.  It reminds me of the maturity I saw in the adolescents at the Roman middle school which shared a plaza with our University's studio space.  It's the city that socializes.  Matures.  Sharpens.