Lee Hachadoorian on Nov 27th 2011
I recently saw Urbanized, a documentary film about urban design showing at a handful of cinemas around the country. The film examines planning and design at cities around the world, generally focusing on specific projects in each city, such as the High Line in New York City, the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system in Bogotá, and a system of pedestrian paths in a South African township. There are also segments discussing citywide planning, for example in Phoenix and Brasília. While the projects chosen vary, a recurring theme is the impact of planning and design on the day-to-day lives of the lower class. Continue Reading »
Lee Hachadoorian on Mar 20th 2011
I just spent the last few days at the Urban Affairs Association 2011 conference in New Orleans. It was an amazing collection of researchers and practitioners working on urban issues, with many papers focused on the post-Katrina recovery. I also had the pleasure of meeting Matt Cazessus and Colby King, urban sociologists from the University of South Carolina, who have designed a game to simulate the process of urban development. With everything else going on at the conference, they did not actually run a playtest, but I have to say that it looks very promising, and I’m looking forward to playing it and to trying it out in a classroom environment. Continue Reading »
Lee Hachadoorian on Dec 31st 2010
Sometimes coincidence can generate unexpected connections. I happen to be reading Jane Jacob’s incomparable The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In it, Jacobs skewers several planning archetypes that she saw as dominating (in 1961) orthodox urban planning. One of these archetypes was Le Corbusier’s Radiant City, or “towers in the park”. In this design, 95% of the ground is left as open space, while all housing and commerce is contained in isolated skyscrapers. This ideal ended up being influential in the design of American public housing, mostly lower-income but some middle-income projects as well. Jacobs goes on to criticize this type of design as creating open spaces that nobody actually uses because of the lack of street level commerce.
Then, last week, I took my daughter to see the Disney movie Tangled, a modern retelling of the Rapunzel story. Continue Reading »