CONNECTIONS

CONNECTIONS

FOR A FREE SPIRITED OUTSIDER WHO DOES NOT LIKE TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO, HOW COULD I ESPOUSE REGULATIONS?

THERE ARE REGULATIONS AND REGULATIONS. SOME RESTRICT CREATIVITY; OTHERS PROMOTE CREATIVITY WITH INTERACTION.

CHANGE IS COMING FASTER THAN ANY TIME IN HISTORY AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. YET ALL THIS CHANGE NEEDS STANDARDS TO INTERACT.

AERIAL VIEW

RAILROADS HAVE STANDARD CONNECTIONS, PLANES ARE ALL ABOUT NETWORKING, LIKEWISE AUTOMOBILES AND TRUCKS ARE REGULATED AND CONFORM TO ROADS AND COMMON INTERNATIONAL DRIVING STANDARDS.

I GET EXCITED WHEN I SEE CARGO CONTAINERS ON TRUCKS, TRAINS AND SHIPS. CONNECTIONS REALIZED.

WE NOW HAVE TRAINS SET TO GO 300 MPH, BUSES COMING IN ALL SIZES SHAPES AND POWER SYSTEMS. CONFLICTING LITE RAIL SYSTEMS THAT VARY FROM CITY TO CITY AND WITHIN THE SAME CITY.

WHAT TROUBLES ME IS THAT CITY PLANNERS’ ANSWER TO ALL THIS IS TO ELIMINATE AUTOS, THE FAVORITE MEANS OF TRANSPORT, AND INSIST UPON THE USE OF ALL THE DIFFERENT MEANS OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT. WHEN IT TAKES $30 TO PARK IN DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO FOR A FEW HOURS, MORE MONEY THAN MOST PEOPLE MAKE IN A MONTH IN THE WORLD YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS SICK. PRICE THE AUTO OUT OF THE CITY, EXCEPT FOR THE RICH. CHARGE A HEFTY PRICE FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT.

WHEN FREEWAYS WERE INTRODUCED THERE WAS A SPIRIT OF LIBERATION OF HAVING YOUR OWN VEHICLE THAT ALLOWED ONE TO GO ANYWHERE. JUST LOOK AT PEOPLE SITTING ALONE IN THEIR AUTO ON FOUR LANES OF THE FREEWAYS NOW, LISTENING TO MUSIC OR TALK SHOW, AIR CONDITIONED AND SECURE . THE DIAMOND LANE FOR TWO PEOPLE GOES BEGGING.

ONCE YOU HAVE INTRODUCED SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE LOVE LIKE THE AUTO, YOU HAD BETTER KEEP IT AND MAKE IT MORE RESPONSIVE WITH AN INFRASTRUCTURE TO ENHANCE MOVEMENT. OTHERWISE A HUGE GROUP OF PEOPLE WILL JUST STAY AWAY FROM THE CITIES AND CREATE COMMUNITIES THAT EMBRACE THE AUTO.

YOU WOULD THINK THE AUTO MAKERS WOULD BE PROMOTING WAYS TO MAKE AUTOS THAT ARE CLEAN, ADJUSTABLE TO PASSENGER SIZE, AND GUIDED BY NON HUMAN MEANS. BUT THEY ARE THE LAST TO WISE UP AND HAVE TO BE FINANCIALLY BAILED OUT BY GOVERNMENT, ORDERED BY LAW, PUSHED WITH UPSTART INNOVATION, AND DEMANDED BY BUYERS TO RESPOND TO MASSIVE FUEL SHORTAGES.

HOW DO YOU ATTRACT PEOPLE TO LIVE IN THE CITY. I HEARD A PANEL OF EXPERTS TODAY THAT WERE CLUELESS. YOU MAKE IT GREEN, EXCITING, AND AFFORDABLE. YOU MAKE IT BETTER THAN SUBURBIA. OTHERWISE YOU HAVE A BUNCH OF YUPPIES RIDING BICYCLES, CHATTING IT UP IN UPSCALE RESTAURANTS, AND DEMONSTRATING EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE. THEY ALL ARE LOOKING FOWARD TO THEIR VACATIONS TO FAR OFF LANDS LIKE BALI ETC. THEY ARE SO FIT AND LOVE THE GYMS WITH BIG GLASS WINDOWS.

THE AFFORDABLE THING IS SO FAR AWAY. GEHRYS NEW WAVY APARTMENTS IN NEW YORK ARE PROSAIC INSIDE. WHY BOTHER ? THEY ARE RENTING AT RIDICULOUS PRICES. DOES THIS DO ANY GOOD? TALK ABOUT DEMONSTRATIONS OF THE MASSES IN THE MIDDLE EAST, THEY ARE DEMONSTRATING NOT ONLY FOR FREEDOM, THEY ARE DEMONSTRATING FOR A HIGHER LIVING STANDARD. THE US SHOULD LOOK SERIOUSLY AT THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS AS WELL, AND HOW TO ADJUST THIS BLATANT GAP.

OUT CITIES ARE A RESULT OF OUR BUILDING CODES. IF THE CODE CHANGES, THE DEVELOPERS ADAPT TO THE NEW RESTRICTIONS. OUR INNER CITIES WERE THRIVING WHEN RELEVANT, AND THEN ABANDONED WHEN OUTDATED, AND NOW REDISCOVERED TO GENTRIFY. IN THE THE MOST SIMPLISTIC OF TERMS. A RECTANGULAR CITY BLOCK WITH BUILDING CODES IS THE COMMON U.S. BUILDING PATTERN FOR DEVELOPMENT . THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR A COUPLE OF CENTURIES. WHEN CODES CHANGE THE USE CHANGES. IT IS SUCH A POWERFUL TOOL TO SHAPE CITIES AND HAS BEEN THE RUIN AND SUCCESS OF MANY A FORTUNE. BEING OLD ALLOWS ONE TO HAVE PERSONALLY WITNESSED THIS PHYSICAL CHANGE, CHANGE HAPPENS BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THINGS GET BETTER. I HAVE THE FUTURE DISEASE, IT IS MY MOTIVATOR FOR LIFE, BUT DOES NOT MAKE FOR A HAPPY HERE AND NOW WORLD.

TO SPEED UP MOVEMENT WIDE BLVDS WERE MADE, THEN EXPRESSWAYS AND EVENTUALLY FREEWAYS. SAN FRANCISCO GOT SO DISGUSTED WITH THE FREEWAYS THAT THEY CONDEMNED ONE AND TORE IT DOWN. WHAT IS AMAZING TO ME IS THAT RATHER THAN CONDEMN THE FREEWAY, WHAT ABOUT HUMANIZING AND DEVELOPING IT ABOVE, BELOW AND AROUND TO COMBINE WITH MOVEMENT SYSTEMS. THIS WAS PUSHED BY HUGH FERRIS WITH HIS NEW YORK SCHEMES, AND PAUL RUDOLPH AND ENDLESS OTHER PEOPLE FOR A HUNDRED YEARS, BUT I CANNOT POINT TO A SINGLE BUILT EXAMPLE. LIMITED CITY PLANNERS AND RESTRICTED CONTROL AGENCIES BUTT HEADS AND PRODUCE CHAOS. WE ARE DOOMED WITH THE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT LIMITED INTERESTS.

THINKING BIG IS JUST NOT ON THE RADAR SCREEN.

15 UP 15 DOWN

I KEEP POUNDING AWAY FOR EXPRESS STREETS ONE LEVEL BELOW EXISTING STREETS AND SIDEWALKS ONE LEVEL ABOVE EXISTING SIDEWAYS. ALL THE GREEN ECO CONNECTOR. NO RESPONSE. ARE THESE RADICAL IDEAS? I THINK NOT. URBAN PLANNERS ARE JERKS. THEY WANTED TO BE ARCHITECTS, BUT HAD NO ARTISTIC DESIGN TALENT SO THEY BECAME CITY PLANNERS ,THAT SPEND ENDLESS HOURS CONCERNED ABOUT ZONING VIOLATIONS. CONSEQUENTLY THE HOLISTIC OUTLOOK IS RETARDED. ARCHITECTS ARE SPINELESS WEAK ADVOCATES OF DESIGN SENSITIVE URBAN PLANNING, ALWAYS INTERESTED IN GETTING THE HERE AND NOW PAY CHECK , THUS RETREATING TO THE PORTION OF THE BLOCK TO DEVELOP WHAT THEY CAN TO GENERATE A FEE.

NOW WE ARE IN A FAST PACED DEVELOPMENT ABROAD WANTING THE AMERICAN DREAM. THESE FAST GROWING FINANCED COUNTRIES SHOULD TAKE A SECOND LOOK, BEFORE BEING COPYCATS , AND SEEK OUT DESIGNERS TO DO IT RIGHT.

FOSTER IS ELIMINATING THE CAR AS WE KNOW IT AND RELYING ON A CAPSULE MOVEMENT SYSTEMS FOR ABU DAHBI AND APPLE HEADQUARTERS, JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF NOT COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE AUTOMOBILE. I GUESS IF YOU FLY AROUND IN A HELICOPTER, A CAR IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE. TAKE A LOOK, HYBRIDS ARE HERE AND ELECTRIC CARS LIKE TESLA MOTORS ARE A REALITY. I SAW AN INTERVIEW WHERE CHINA IS BUYING FLEETS OF ELECTRIC CAR TAXIS, THE SHIFT IS IN PROGRESS. THERE IS BIG MONEY TO BE MADE BY SHIFTING TO ELECTRICITY AND THAT MAKES FOR A MARKET. THE ELECTRIC GRID IS UNIVERSAL. THIS PRODUCES SILENT GREEN MOVEMENT AND A TON OF NEW TECHNOLOGY THAT NEEDS GLOBAL STANDARDS .

HOLISTIC THINKING OF GLOBAL SCALE WAS SIMPLE IN THE PAST COMPARED TO THE COMPLEXITY OF THE HERE AND NOW. JUST PAINTING A MURAL ON A GARAGE DOOR CREATES TROUBLE IN THE US. SO WHEN INTEREST GROUPS, LOOK AT ANYTHING OF MAJOR SCALE AND CONSEQUENCE THEY CAN BRING PRESSURE TO DISRUPT THE HOLISTIC THINKING.

THE RESULT IS THAT LARGE SCALE DEVELOPMENT IS THE ONLY ACT THAT BEHAVES WITH CONTROL. IN ALAMEDA I LIVE NEXT TO A SHOPPING CENTER. THE HEAVY WOOD TRELLIS MOTIF, FAKE BERNARD MAYBECK AND THE PAVING PATTERNS ARE SCORED CONCRETE COBBLE STONES. THE SHOPS ARE CHAIN STORES. THE PEOPLE LOVE IT AND I FIND MYSELF IN A DISGUSTING NEST WHICH I USE ALL THE TIME. THE POINT BEING THIS IS THE WAY WE LIVE. SO IF CHANGE IS TO OCCUR IT HAS TO BE HOLISTIC THINKING THAT ALLOWS ALL SCALES TO INTERACT.

TO PUT TOGETHER THE KIND OF INVESTMENT TO CONTROL THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND DEVELOPMENT SITES TAKES HUGE MONEY AND THE ABILITY TO TIE INTO SURROUNDING COMMUNITY. THE RISKS HAVE TO BE SHARED AND CONSEQUENTLY THE U.S . HAS BEEN SLOW TO THINK BIG. THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE , AFFORDABLE AND LET DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW INTERACT, SO THE SYSTEMS WILL SLOWLY REMODEL . GREEN BEING THE MAJOR MOTIVATOR ECO-WISE AND MONEY WISE.

I WOULD LIKE YOUR COMMENTS CONCERNING THESE IDEAS,

THANKS,

GLEN

SOS RESULTS…
THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND SUPPORT. THE FUNDS RECEIVED HAVE TIDED ME
OVER FOR THE MOMEENT, BUT ARE INSUFFICIENT FOR AN ADEQUATE JOB SEARCH.

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14 comments

  1. Glen, I agree on your point that cars are loved by people all over the world and it would be a mistake to try to replace them. However, I strongly disagree that we should focus on vehicle friendly cities. The North American city is already a vehicle friendly city, that is the whole point of suburbia. The problem is that when vehicles are so friendly it makes walking and cycling unfriendly. Just look at how the obesity rates have risen in the postwar era.
    I used to live in Mexico, it was incredibly easy to go anywhere by foot, I could be at home and within a two block radius I had everything I needed. A couple times a week I would go out and usually take my car. I didn’t need my car, it was just a nice commodity for special occasions and trips. I believe that is the future we should be looking towards. Funny thing is that these types of cities are found in third world countries and old European cities. Just look at Italy, Germany, France.. they love their cars,.. yet their cities facilitate both pedestrian and motorized transportation. I have never rented a car in Europe, I wouldn’t dream of going to the states without doing so…
    What we need to strive for is higher density in our city cores with mixed-use planning so that we can live close to where we eat, work and play. Yes, smaller cars that are powered by alternative energy is also a must. Again, look at Europe’s car sizes compared to those of the US. It’s not about making cities that adapt to our cars, it’s about making cars that adapt to our cities.
    Cheers.

    • DEAR JUSTIN,

      THANKS FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL COMMENTS.

      I AM ALL FOR PEOPLE WALKING. THAT IS WHY I PROPOSE A RAISED PEDESTRIAN LEVEL WHERE ANYONE ON FOOT WILL NOT GET RUN OVER.

      I WAS IN NEW YORK WITH JOHN JOHANSEN ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO AND HE WAS IN HIS LATE SEVENTIES, WALKING TEN TWELVE BLOCK AT A CRACK. YES IT KEEPS PEOPLE IN SHAPE.

      I WAS IN TRAFFIC A WEEK AGO IN DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO WHERE CARS WERE MOVING ONE CAR LENGTH PER SIGNAL. IT WAS GRID LOCK. THIS IS NOT CAR FRIENDLY. THIS IS STUPID.

      I WANT TO MAKE CITIES VERY GREEN AND WONDERFUL TO BE IN AND FUNCTION WELL WITH ALL THE AMENITIES OF SUBURBIA.

      EUROPE AND LATIN COLONIAL TOWNS ARE WONDERFUL, BUT LIKE BEING IN DISNEYLAND. THEY DO NOT DEAL WITH THE DENSITY OF PEOPLE. I BELIEVE IN HIGH DENSITY.

  2. Just a note to say I enjoy your blog.

    Saw My Father the Genius on Netflix and also loved it. I’m a writer and teacher, not an architect, but I can relate to much of what you say about creativity, vision and the zeitgeist. The comment about Kilgore Trout made me realize that your tone and ideas DO remind me of Vonnegut, who saved my life when I was an adolescent. I think he saved many. Nothing like the bracing chill air of truth to remind one that the stuffy, very unfresh air of this world doesn’t have to be that way–anytime we like we can open a window. Why don’t we? Fear. Fearful people think communication may make things worse.

    Keep blogging. When I get my own finances in order or win the lottery, I’ll contribute.

    • DEAR JANICE,

      YOUR MESSAGE CAME JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME. I MUST ADMIT I SUFFER FROM REJECTION AND DEPRESSION. I WANT TO BE UPBEAT AND CONTRIBUTE.
      I HAD A MELT DOWN THE OTHER NIGHT WHEN I WAS SELECTING 700 SLIDES TO PUT ON THE COMPUTER OF MY LIFES WORK.

      I KEPT THINKING, IF THIS HAD BEEN BUILT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SUCH A POSITIVE BUILDING ETC, ONE AFTER ANOTHER AFTER ANOTHER.

      WISHING YOU THE BEST,

      GLEN

  3. Glen,
    I think your observations about traffic might be relevant to a city like LA, but I don’t agree generally. I think LA is (mostly) a planning disaster, with huge areas of low quality, low-rise development, criss-crossed by ugly streets. The combination of low quality building and low density, combined with ineffective public transport, is inimical to the creation of attractive and welcoming urban communities.

    So I think we need to break the problem down. For highly dense city regions, we need a way to get cars in and out (but not from one part of the city to another). We need really effective public transport within the dense urban environments. For less dense systems (e.g. suburbia), we need almost the opposite: the ability to move around by car, with effective centralized public transport to allow people to get from one center to another.

    London is greatly improved since the imposition of the congestion charge in the center: it works because there is excellent public transport, and the surface streets are now much more pleasant for pedestrians, and faster for buses and taxis. Keeping cars out works. This is complemented by big parking structures around the edges, and a good system of trains to bring people in and out.

    I am very doubtful that multi-level streets are affordable anywhere except in the highest density areas, and they might well work for example as a way to cross San Francisco (e.g. putting 19th Avenue under ground, or perhaps developing the Embarcadero below sea level). Much of Paris’ Peripherique is below grade, and it would work well either if it had more lanes or if more people could be persuaded to use public transport.

    I think that Europe does offer a better model: look at cities like Munich, Paris, London, Edinburgh or Antwerp, to name a few. Residential buildings typically 5-7 stories high (much higher in some places), with activated streets below. A viable train system, generally underground. Buses and taxis above ground, and significant areas where cars are excluded or severely limited. The pedestrian areas in Munich, for example, are a joy to use, with the metro popping up in several places.

    I think this is a very important topic, but it’s not just about a transportation strategy. It’s really about a vision for urban communities that puts people (not cars or any other form of transportation) at its center. What makes a great place for people? Low crime, green space, activated streets, and enough density that we can afford to build with high quality.

    Tim

  4. DEAR TIM,

    I WILL REFER YOU TO MY ANSWER TO DUSTIN. IT SAYS WHAT I FEEL.

    I DO NOT SHARE YOUR LOVE OF THE PRESENT. LONDON, ETC. IT HAS A GENTRIFIED LOOK THAT COSTS A LOT TO LOOK AT AND LIVE IN. I REMEMBER BEING IN LONDON WITH THE UNDERGROUND SYSTEM AND STARING AT ALL THOSE COLD BRITS. OR IN NEW YORK BEING ALMOST STRIPPED OF MY WALLET IN RUSH HOUR, OR IN JAPAN AND BEING SHOVED AND PUSHED BY AN ONSLAUGHT OF MOB MASS PEOPLE GETTING ON A SUBWAY.

    MY HOSTS IN THESE DENSE CITIES WOULD GRAB A CAB TO OVERT HAVING TO DEAL WITH MASS TRANSPORTATION. LAST YEAR MY WIFE AND I TOOK BUSSES IN LA, AND AFTER A COUPLE OF DAYS, MY WIFE REFUSED TO TRAVEL WITH ALL THE GROPING AND STARING.

    MAYBE FOR THE YOUNG AND RESTLESS THIS ALL WORKS, BUT ALL THAT GETTING UP FOR THE ELDERLY AND BABIES ECT. WHEN DEAD TIRED IS NOT MY LOVE.

    IN DETROIT I REMEMBER A PLANNER MENTIONING THAT MASS TRANSPORTATION IS FOR OTHER PEOPLE. LOOK AT WHO TRAVELS, A HUGE AMOUNT OF THE POOR. AND THEY REALLY CAN NOT AFFORD THAT.

    A FRIEND RECENTLY VISITING LOST THERE PRECIOUS DAUGHTER TO BART IN RUSH HOUR THAT CREATING HAVOC FOR A FEW HOURS.

    I AGREE WITH DUSTIN, IMPROVE THE AUTO. BUT I ESPOUSE REALLY DEALING WITH THE CITIES ROADS IN A CREATIVE WAY. YOU CAN NOT TELL ME THAT A GRID OF EXPRESSWAY 15 DOWN IS GOING TO BE A BUNDLE TO BUILD. THE LITE RAIL AND CARS ALONE KILL A TON A PEOPLE A YEAR. PLUS LOOK AT HOW MUCH TIME WOULD BE SAVED AND TIME IS MONEY.

    THANKS FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL DETAILED COMMENT.

    KEEP COOL,

    GLEN

  5. Glen:
    It was very interesting talking to you on the phone last night. I am fascinated by what people are doing to survive this “financial apocolypse”. Some are digging in (ducking their heads and hoping to survive), some are taking advantage and making millions, and some are just leaving (although I’m not sure that there is anywhere to go that isn’t affected in some way).
    I, too, have gone bankrupt and lost my home to foreclosure. I lived fairly well for the past 8 years on my web design business, but lost everything when my business died away. Now I am 56 years old and working for a horrible company at a minimum wage job for killing hours, just to pay the rent on my tiny, old, beat-up cottage. But I am surviving. I get food stamps and go to the food bank and have learned that you don’t need new clothes, just enough gas to get to work and back.
    I am fascinated by what people are doing to survive. I will read more of your blog to learn what you are doing. Right now, I have to go to work.
    Kim

    • THANKS KIM FOR THE COMMENTS

      I AM RELIEVED WITH THE PRESSURE OFF FINANCES AS OF THE MOMENT. BUT I REALIZE GAS IS A HUGE PROBLEM HERE, AND WILL BE A CHALLENGE TO RESTRAIN THE USE OF.

      NICARGUA LOOKS REAL BEAUTIFUL. GOING FROM SURVIVING TO ACTUALLY ENJOYING LIFE.

      KEEP CLOSE,

      GLEN

    • DEAR KIM,

      THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS.

      NICARAGUA LOOKS BEAUTIFUL COMPARED TO BARELY SURVIVING IN THE STATES

      KEEP CLOSE,

      GLEN

    • DEAR ANONYMOUS,

      THE PROBLEM WAS IMMEDIATE WORK, I COULD NOT WAIT AROUND FOR SUMMER OR FALL, SO TEACHING WAS NOT AN REALISTIC OPTION FOR ME. MAYBE FOR THE BETTER, BECAUSE TEACHING KEEPS ONE ACTIVE AND THINKING BUT THERE IS A BRAIN DRAIN TO THE STUDENTS, THAT AT MY AGE REALLY DOES NOT LEND TO DOING PERSONAL WORK.

      THANKS FOR YOUR HELP.

      GLEN

    • ANONOYMOUS,

      BY A BRAIN DRAIN FROM TEACHING I MEAN IT IS LIKE PUTTING A VACUMN CLEANER TO MY HEAD AND BEING SUCKED DRY. THE SAME EFFORT APPLIED TO A PROPOSAL REALISTIC OR PAPER CAN BE DOCUMENTED AND RECORDED WITH UNCOMPROMISING IDEAS.

      ALTHOUGH MY EX STUDENTS ARE REALLY MY CHEERING SECTION AND PROVIDE JOBS AND CONNECTIONS, I WOULD RATHER BE DESIGNING, BUILDING AND WRITING.

      GLEN

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