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Old 04-11-2009, 08:25 PM   #1
ablarc
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A 21st Century Urban Project

A 21st CENTURY URBAN PROJECT





















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Old 04-11-2009, 09:48 PM   #2
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Looks like another superblock project given the separation of vehicular and pedestrian circulation.
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Old 04-12-2009, 06:55 AM   #3
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Superblock:



Superblock?
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:47 AM   #4
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

I say SUPERBLOCK because the project, despite its figure ground, doesn't integrate itself with the surrounding street pattern's circulation.

It is the equivalent of putting bollards to barricade the ends of every street in the Back Bay. Sure it would be nice to have the streets completely car free and have pedestrians reign supreme, yet in practice the neighborhood would actually become significantly isolated from the circulation of the rest of the city.
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:24 AM   #5
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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the project, despite its figure ground, doesn't integrate itself with the surrounding street pattern's circulation.
Like the Cambridge example ... right?

Or Quincy Market?

These places have their own order, and it doesn't come from the surroundings. They are precincts.

You can probably think of others; many are quite well known.

The brief in the above example was to create a centrum in an amorphous Twentieth Century banlieue that had none. One of the reasons: no respite for the pedestrian from roadside sidewalks.

One of the general principles of placemaking is to distinguish your place from its surroundings. Examples: Place des Vosges, Palais-Royal, Georgetown's Washington Harbor, the National Mall.

.

Last edited by ablarc; 04-13-2009 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 04-12-2009, 11:16 AM   #6
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Another recent urban project:















The first time it was avant-garde, it used to look like this (Corbusian planning):



Though it?s getting replaced, some still survives:


What a variety of subdivision types all in one photo! Like a sampler.

The new parts are nothing if not picturesque. They let people live normal French lives, like they grew up living. When the buildings get dirty, only archaeologists will be able to tell they?re new.













Would you just look at all the zoning categories. This municipality will try a little of everything. A veritable buffet:





11 stops by RER to the Latin Quarter.
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Old 04-12-2009, 12:54 PM   #7
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

The photos I've seen of Poundbury, the block of new rowhouses in the Amsterdam docks, and the first example from this thread all suggest that these places share the Seaport District's and Kendall's Square's problem attracting humans. In fact, Kendall seems much more vibrant, at least during the work day, than any of these places (not including the last Paris example from this thread).
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Old 04-12-2009, 01:40 PM   #8
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Not much you can tell from photos. Urban photos are often taken on Sundays --even aerial photos. You don't see many people in the Brattle photo, do you? If you drew a conclusion from that about its ability to attract people, you'd be wrong, wouldn't you?

And anyway, some places don't have to attract crowds to be nice. Have you seen the teeming masses in Louisburg Square lately?
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:57 PM   #9
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Not to be a stickler for detail, but there is a little street opening up the interior of that Brattle block to circulation. See where the white truck is?

In any case, I agree with ablarc that his examples don't really implicate the problems of the superblock in the traditional sense. The passageways and alleys of these developments still approximate streets, compared to the free-form spaces of, say, Government Center or Charles River Park. Many 19th century European neighborhoods (in, say, Barcelona or Berlin) are composed of huge blocks. The streets are lined with 4-5 story apartment buildings, but their interiors are usually massive, park-like courtyards or even (in working class areas) auto-body shops or factories!

Quote:
normal French lives
Doesn't this assumption, insofar as it lurks behind such developments, imply a sort of insidious essentializing of culture every bit as bad/wrong as the utopianism of Le Corbusier?

Another issue with living in a historic(ized) development: all the auretic charm of real history is evacuated. Streets curved and dipped in old neighborhoods for a reason. Walls and gates were built for a reason. There's nothing necessarily wrong with art for art's sake, but it seems particularly odd that today's art should be a facsimile of yesterday's necessities, other than to provide a comforting but obviously false illusion. I guess that's why these places seem designed to appeal to the Thomas Kinkade crowd. I mean, for god sakes, do even the signs even have to be neotraditional, too?

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Old 04-12-2009, 04:23 PM   #10
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Anyone care to identify the first project?
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:50 PM   #11
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Ugh...they might as well hang up a sign that says: "WELCOME TO DISNEY LAND!!"

Why do these projects have to pretend that they were built centuries ago?? They may have the right idea from an urban perspective, but architecturally they're so obviously fake that I can't really take them seriously. I have much more respect for those developments in the Netherlands that incorporate sound urban design practices and at the same time are unabashedly 21st century.
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:52 PM   #12
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

First, style has nothing to do with urbanity (unless you're designing like Corbusier in the French photos).

Second, I would definitely say these are some of the more realistic revivalist buildings I've seen recently. Why does it matter if it doesn't look like it's hundreds of years old now, it it isn't? As ablarc said, once they get dirty only archaeologists will be able to tell.

I noticed one incongruity in the two developments albarc shared. The French example works because it seems like it integrates itself (in the close-ups), however, from the aerial photos you can tell there's not a whole lot it must integrate into. The Italian (Spanish?) example is the opposite-the close-ups make it look very separate from it's surroundings (could be a result of the lack of life when the photo was taken). Yet, in the aerial photo, it looks more integrated into the city around it. Which is more important? The sense of street level integration (small scale) or the preservation of the city fabric (large scale)?
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Old 04-13-2009, 04:44 AM   #13
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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I have much more respect for those developments in the Netherlands that incorporate sound urban design practices and at the same time are unabashedly 21st century.
You've probably seen that I too like these, but can you name a second example?
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:35 AM   #14
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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The French example works because it seems like it integrates itself (in the close-ups), however, from the aerial photos you can tell there's not a whole lot it must integrate into.
It's a somewhat isolated fragment of urban fabric. Like a piece torn out of a city and placed in Suburbia --where it functions as the community's core.

They're even building these in places like Charlotte, dotting them throughout Suburbia. In a few hundred years, they may fuse together if they're allowed to survive. Then you'll have a city.

Quote:
The Italian (Spanish?) example is the opposite-the close-ups make it look very separate from it's surroundings (could be a result of the lack of life when the photo was taken).
Italian. It's a subcenter by Leon Krier for a typical 20th Century road-based extension just outside the urban core of Alessandria, a small city in Piedmont. Places like that teeter on the edge of walkability; this is an attempt to tilt the balance. It should cover more territory.

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Yet, in the aerial photo, it looks more integrated into the city around it.
Well, it departs from the linear order of the road, and introduces a bit of medieval randomness.

Quote:
Which is more important? The sense of street level integration (small scale) or the preservation of the city fabric (large scale)?
In this case, the existing fabric is no great shakes --though on Huntington Avenue, it would probably be a hit.
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:36 PM   #15
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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I have much more respect for those developments in the Netherlands that incorporate sound urban design practices and at the same time are unabashedly 21st century.
What you mean is you approve of their style. Sometimes styles are revived. Should we dislike Richardson's Trinity Church because it's an obvious ripoff of St. Trophime? If I hadn't told you, would you have known? Looks like it was built in the damn 11th Century! Why should you care (as long as the urban design is sound)?
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:45 PM   #16
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

No style is revived as a facsimile of what is originally was. Williamsburg, Virginia was praised as an accurate representation of the 1760s when it was first built in the 1930s-50s, but is thought to be a bit cartoonish today. Historians think similar things about the reconstituted Paul Revere house, incidentally.

Even the Parisian suburb pictured here doesn't look exactly like 1885; it's an idealized version of that time period based on our late-20th, turn-of-the-21st century understanding of history.

Still, as Williamsburg illustrates, it's problematic to try too hard. Serious revival is a dialectic of old and new. The Renaissance was much more than just neoclassicism. Most of Washington, DC is a very modern interpretation of this same mode.
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:58 PM   #17
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

Well, if it's too accurate no one will want to live there. I mean, I sure like my running water...

...but on a serious note, no style can be perfectly copied and applied to a modern situation because the entire world is different. There are different needs to be met. The only truly accurate copy of an old style should be in a museum. Otherwise, it's obsolete. Note, I'm not rejecting a revivalist movement of anything, just noting that nothing can or should be a perfect copy of the movement it's imitating.
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Old 04-14-2009, 04:33 PM   #18
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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Well, if it's too accurate no one will want to live there. I mean, I sure like my running water...

...but on a serious note, no style can be perfectly copied and applied to a modern situation because the entire world is different. There are different needs to be met. The only truly accurate copy of an old style should be in a museum.
Damned if you do (doesn't meet modern needs); damned if you don't (oh, it's not a perfect replica; clearly pastiche).
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:34 PM   #19
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

So somewhere in the happy middle sounds nice. Story of American culture, huh?
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Old 04-15-2009, 08:18 PM   #20
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Re: A 21st Century Urban Project

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So somewhere in the happy middle sounds nice.
Ain't no happy middle. Ain't no middle.
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