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The Power of Natural Places

The Power of Natural Places
Natural places have a role to play in our neighborhoods.  The best urban sites share space with nature so well that you can not tell when the bricks stop and the trees begin.  Whether it is a chestnut tree in a courtyard or an old street lined with elms, nature has to be present or our cityscape is unsatisfactory. The ability to incorporate natural spaces into our neighborhood is often limited by our choices in infrastructure.  We refuse to plant trees along streets because it is considered dangerous for drivers (even though its much safer for pedestrians).  Once we convince ourselves that trees...
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Fixing Ugly Buildings

Fixing Ugly Buildings
Recently the question has been raised how to fix an ugly building, mostly in regards to the Di Rimini (and here and here and especially here).  It is a hard question to answer without first discussing what “ugly” means. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are obvious problems with treating a building purely as sculpture and ignoring its contribution to the urban environment beyond aesthetics. Buildings can be ugly in many ways.  Some turn their back on the street, showing a blank concrete or sheetmetal wall.  Some use such cheap materials that their facades disintegrate...
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Historic Neighborhood Infill Development

Historic Neighborhood Infill Development
Many urban neighborhoods have a need for infill construction, where homes that were lost to deterioration or other reasons must be replaced.  Here in Irvington we have a unique case where a gas explosion in 2004 eliminated three houses instantly and blew out windows in a one-block radius. (images from kipar-one here) In an explosion this bad, we are lucky that nobody died.  It’s actually a fun conversation topic to ask people in the neighborhood, I’ve heard several variants from “slept right through it” to “the coldest nights of my life, took a week to replace the...
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The freedoms, benefits that come from riding the bus

Two weeks ago, I purchased my first monthly bus pass from IndyGo. Previously, my commutes regularly consisted of driving my pickup truck from Irvington to downtown Indianapolis, consisting of 13 miles roundtrip.  I had been a regular bus rider not that long ago.  But between changes in my job and personal activities, riding a bus didn’t seem convenient.  The freedom provided by my truck wasn’t just a desire; it seemed liked a necessity. But then my truck broke down.  And the cost to fix it was more than it was worth.  While a second vehicle will be in our future, we’re trying to hold off on...
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