Sunday, June 29, 2008

The New, New City

This weekend I got caught up on some reading. I almost always save the magazine section of the Sunday New York Times but I don't always get enough time to read it. Consequently, it doesn’t take long for a collection of them to fill the magazine basket. To manage the process, I mentally assign some issues a higher must read priority. The June 8th issue fell into that category. It was the architecture issue and the topic was The Next City.

The first article that caught my eye was entitled “The New, New City.” Though the article is mostly about large real estate developments in Shenzhen and Dubai, it still provides a perspective on development that is relevant to the discussions about density and development in Town Center and perhaps Howard County in general.

One of the architects featured in the story is Steven Holl, the architect of Linked Hybrid in Beijing, which the writer described as having “a surprisingly open communal spirit. A series of massive portals lead from the street to an elaborate internal courtyard garden, a restaurant, a theater, and a kindergarten, integrating the complex into the surrounding neighborhood.”

“In America I could never do work like I do here. We’ve become too backward-looking. In China, they want to make everything look new. This is their moment in time. They want to make the 21st century their century. For some reason, our society wants to make everything old. I think we somehow lost our nerve.”

Ahem. While I don’t think we necessarily need to “make everything look new”, I still find wisdom in his words. He also goes on to explain that “what makes it possible is density.”

And there you have it.


Anonymous said...

Cram a bunch of US citizens in a too-small space and it won't be long before there's gunfire.

Those of you who are cosmopolitan (I'm being kind) have many places to cram yourselves into, already.

Those of us who are decended from farmer stock need some space, a diminishing resource at this point.

Show me a nasty city with treacherous levels of crime and I'll show you a bunch of human beings who shouldn't be living in such close proximity to one another.

jim adams said...

Have you ever seen the School of Architecture at Princton University.

The campus is beautiful, with it's archs and walkways and some of America's most historic buildings.

I did mention the School of Architecture, it's modern, and it is UGLY. Not because it is modern, it is just bland, absolutely tastless, it defines dull.

Modern design should incorporate the wisdom of the older civilations, Greek, Roman, and Chiness to give lasting refinement, beauty, balance, as well as to make it funtional.

China is just suffering from same old, same old, and wants to excape.

The important part of Steven Holl's quote is that China wants the 21st century to be their century. It will be if we don't get off our butts and build business, environment, and educational structures that result in us being less dependent on China.

Elvis said...

When decorating a room, it's the subtieties that make the difference. Even though people might not notice them righ off, their subconscious will remember these tiny details later.A throw pillow and a knickknack here, lime green snag carpeting on the ceiling there.You'd be surprised.

Anonymous said...

Just the opinion of one guy pushing his own "product". Go figure. And we all know that opinions are like *$**%$, everyone has one, but some stink more than others!

If people want an urban home, then go move to an urban area. There is no need to turn every town or small city into a super-urban city. If you like Bethesda, then by all means move there! If you like Arlington, LA, NY, Paris, ZhenZhen, or whatever, then move there! Stop trying to turn Town Center something it's not.

Anonymous said...

By anon 4:29's logic, people who wanted a new city in the 60's should have moved to a new city and left the pristine farmland of Howard County alone.

wordbones said...

Anon 8:27 PM,

Very well said.


Tom said...

Anon 2;59 said:
Cram a bunch of US citizens in a too-small space and it won't be long before there's gunfire.

Do you realize the maximum "density" that is being discussed for Columbia's Downtown is well below the radar level for what is considered "high density" urban?

And to infer shooting crime will come with this pending change is just shameful thinking. By the way there is plenty of farm space for you in Western Howard County.

Tom said...

Check out the article in today's WSJ on smart growth blueprint being used in Sacramento, CA. Yes, density is good and getting better.

wordbones said...

Great article. Thanks for the "heads up."