Due to excessive tinkering, this site went kaboom. If you’ve stumbled here from some dark corner of the Internet (how, I’m not sure—my site metrics suggest that this page is more clandestine than Tor): Welcome. If you were looking for something that was once posted here, bear with me, I’m slowly uploading old posts. It might be a while…

Minnesota (MSP > ORD)
January 17th, 2016
December 14th, 2016
Flotsam / Jetsam
SHoP Architects, /Design Miami
December 1st, 2016

We’re building a house; Just broke ground. It’s big. MTV Cribs big. Tony Montana Scarface big. You get the picture. It might be a bit much, but even if you’ve never considered the necessity of a mermaid aquarium next to your breakfast nook, it’s still a thing to see. Here are the construction photos.

 Sidewalk < Building < Tree
Torres del Parque, 1970
Rogelio Salmona
Bogotá, Colombia
Chamber of Commerce Building, 2009
Daniel Bonilla Arquitectos
October 20th, 2016
ICFES
Bogota, Colombia
Biblioteca, Universidad de La Salle
Bogota, Colombia
Edificio Aulas, Universidad de-Los Andes
Bogota, Colombia
Coliseo Cubierto el Campín, Guillermo González Zuleta, 1973
Bogota, Colombia
Apartment Building, Carrera 13, Bogota, Colombia
October 8th, 2016
Route 17 South: They said that West Texas would be flat. West Texas is really fucking flat.
September 5th, 2016
Blue Coconut Drink: 190% Vitamin C
Vaughn, New Mexico
September 5th, 2016
Blacklisted Road Trip Snacks
Take a picture, people. It happens once a year.
A Background for Nuptials, Santa Fe, NM
September 1st, 2016

Paradise, For A Buck and Some Change

Photos and overly didactic explanations from the construction of a luxury condominium in an undisclosed oceanfront location. Top. Fucking. Secret.

DNTTXTNDRV
Hialeah, FL
July 4th, 2016
From “Rebel Rabbit” (1949)

STRFKR
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
May 19th, 2016
The House That Refuses to Get Built
May 12th, 2016

The cutest forklift in South Beach.

John McElheny, Czech Modernism Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, 2005
The Surgeon and the Photographer, Geoffrey Farmer, 2009—present 
ICA Boston
April 30th, 2016


No Name Pub

The No Name Pub on No Name Key is an establishment simultaneously ripe for unmet expectations and underestimation. From the outside, it’s all tourist schmaltz and curly Q’s. The oldest bar in the Keys! Built in 1936. One couldn’t be faulted for failing to believe either claim. This venerable institution is housed in a ramshackle cottage layered thick with coats of yellow paint. Like the other buildings on this sparsely populated island, it could have been built anywhere, at anytime. Only its pastel hue suggests South Florida, and only its laissez-faire attitude toward maintenance suggests The Keys.

 

Out of sheer stubbornness, I was prepared for the No Name Pub to suck—possibly in a good way, but in spite of itself. The menu didn’t immediately suggest a diamond-in-the-rough. It offered the full spectrum of domestic beers and its own amber ale. The house amber was fine, but like most house ambers, there’s a good chance it’s somebody else’s house amber. Generic and without charm, it gets you from Point A to Point B. Also, the bar specializes in pizza. Bars do not specialize in pizza.

 

My skepticism was turned back just inside the door. The Pub’s walls and ceilings are lined with cash—a quarter million I was told—creating a dining ambience of fishing wharf chic spun through an upturned strip club. You needn’t linger on the artistic merits of this style (Too PoMo? A hyper-gauche critique of contemporary capitalism?) Just order the grouper sandwich. A half hour later your vision will be hazy and your stomach content. Since you’re not from South Florida, you’ll also wonder what, exactly, a grouper is. It doesn’t matter. It’s damn good.

 

The haze is infectious. Perhaps it’s the secret ingredient in every dish they serve. Through it, you notice that your friends are acting weird. Is Danny taking a call in a loud bar, or is that a ruse to swipe a few bills to cover tip? Both options are equally plausible. The night rolls on. Eventually, the haze fades. And when it’s all done, it turns out the pizza was pretty damn good.

Miniature was the theme of the weekend.
Of questionable necessity: GPS navigation on the Florida Keys

Stunted Deer and Lots of Underbrush

 

A recent trip to Key West found and a group of high school friends backtracking to Big Pine Key. We were in search of midget deer. No, it’s not nice to say, but I doubt those pint-sized Bambies will mind. Being island dwellers, its doubtful they’ve ever seen their full-sized brethren. Loud whisper voice: They don’t actually know that they’re really small!  Also, because the key deer are so tintsy-intsy, they run that island. They cross the street without looking and ain’t scarred of nada. It’s as if nobody has told them that they’re endangered. (They are.)

 

At the Blue Hole, the freshwater lake that occupies a former rock quarry, we scoped a four-point stag. This little creature was surprisingly friendly and unintimidated by our cabal of bloodthirsty hunters. (Only one amongst us was an actual hunter.) Though he spoke in extended soliloquies about mounting the deer’s small head on his wall, the deer was unfazed. He was so disarmed, and disarming that I forgot to snap a photo of him. The key deer are trixy. Left in search of consolation, all I got were these shots of vegetation and brush. There were signs about the various plants. I read them—poisonwood stands out, for obvious reasons. But I retained exactly none of the knowledge that loitered in my head before my thoughts returned to small deer. Fucking small deer always win.

El Rey de las Fritas
Jeremy is in town seeking refuge from responsibility, life decisions, and—briefly—the mature adult communities of Boynton Beach. Never one to miss an opportunity to shirk the duties of my own advancing age, I ditched the gym and treated baby boy right: A double serving of fritas on Calle Ocho. 
We bellied a thick coating of pork grease and chips, and Jeremy tried flirting with the waitress in Spanish (my interpretation). Later, after I’d thoroughly buttered him up, I let him know the truth about his idol and borderline doppleganger, Drake: Dude is lame. (On a separate note, he also happens to be quite good at that rap thang). Things got interesting. Words were said. As always, it was good to see homeboy. 
Woodley Park Escalator Construction
December 30th, 2015

Foam on a Stick

Amid the mostly underwhelming collection of furniture and textiles at Design Miami, the student-designed entry pavilion, Unbuilt, was particularly noteworthy for, yes, being somewhat outstanding, but also for the overtly cynical approach that its designers took to the project. One might’ve assumed that the youth of the commission recipients, Harvard graduate students all, would produce an earnest gesture rooted in the students’ architectural nascency. In other words, quaint, but refreshing. On this count, they batted five-hundred. Displaying upturned massing models made of pink foam—a practice typical of the early phases of conceptual design, minus the upturning—they make few inroads into fresh architectural territory.

Instead, Unbuilt reads as gasps of exhaustion from young designers ground down by a fruitless search for architectural novelty. Foam modeling, and contextless formal studies have long served as a means of architectural exploration. In the last quarter-century, particularly with the ascendence of Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), displaying foam models has been used a savvy form of exhibition. The models provide a window into the architectural process that is simultaneously messy, yet monolithic and stylized enough in its uniform pinkness to be gallery appropriate. Today architectural firms produce dozens, even hundreds of little pink models as part of an iterative design-by-attrition process. The factory approach to architectural discovery churns through countless ideas until the best rise to the top. Decades into this practice, one could easily wonder what ideas, and certainly what forms, remain to be unearthed.

Unbuilt‘s designers seem to hold few insights into this question. Though the designs are claimed as their own—the exhibition literature states that the pavilion “champion[s] unrealized designs that would otherwise never see the light of day”—one can easily point to look-a-likes of Marina City designed by Bertrand Goldberg in the early ’60s or Toyo Ito’s Tama Art University Library. There’s a simplified version of Koolhaas’ mobius-strip shaped CCTV, as well (surprise!)

In lieu of novel forms, Design Miami‘s entry pavilion hints that the profession may have reached a saturation point—the likely outcome of the architecture’s documentary obsession, particularly online. The profession’s infatuation with the dissemination of plans and photographic material for publication can, at times, give the impression of being almost as important as designing itself. A healthy blogging ecosystem serves as an enabler to this impulse, making almost every building of significance designed in the last decade readily available. Buildings are as thoroughly consumed from a distance as meals from restaurants that you will never eat at. Through multiple outlets and trade magazines, contemporary tastes are curated and normalized in their fleeting and infinite variations. Nowhere did this mediated fatigue appear more visible than in the recent Guggenheim Helsinki competition, where 1,715 entries displayed architecture form-making ad nauseum and to the point of repetition.

Trained in the practice of merciless iteration, and with every precedent at their fingertips, Unbuilt‘s designers (curators? interns?) are not unveiling fresh ideas so much as they are demonstrating what happens when highly-caffeinated designers flip on autopilot and grind towards a deadline. There may be some excitement in the three-dimensional nature of the products, a testament to architecture’s enduring allure, but there’s not much else to see. Poking study models with a stick is architecture’s equivalent of framing legal briefs, and mounting them to a wall. 

Going Up

The City of Miami Beach is raising its streets in an effort to stave off seasonal “king tide” flooding—the bi-annual event sometimes described as dry-day flooding.

Wedding Pregame

Palazzetto dello Sport, Annibale Vitellozzi, 1957
Pier Luigi Nervi, Structural Engineer
Rome, IT
Piazza del Campidoglio, Michelangelo, 1536–1546
Rome, IT

The Forum, Rome
20150627
Marine Mile Boulevard at I-95, Fort Lauderdale
20150721

The Prentis Building and Deroy Auditorium Complex, Wayne State University, 1962–1964
Minoru Yamasaki
June 13th, 2015

College of Education, Wayne State University, 1961
Minoru Yamasaki

June 13th, 2015

National Gallery of Art, East Wing, 1978
I.M. Pei
September 15th, 2014
St. Francis de sales Church, Norton Shores, MI, 1967
Marcel Breuer
May 24th, 2014

Broad Museum of Art, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI
Zaha Hadid Architects, 2011

 The Cherokee Restaurant, Muskegon, MI

Empty Pavilion, McLain Clutter and Kyle Reynolds, 2012

The Bull on Mack Avenue

I don’t want an explanation for the bull’s head that looms over an empty storefront along Mack Avenue. The intrigue and mystery are certainly more interesting than any historical account. It seems apparent that the building used to be some sort of carryout joint. One hopes that the remains locked inside are more than a few discarded industrial sinks or some pots and pans.
Like I said, I don’t want the answer. I never got too close. It’s more fun to assume that the bull stands guard over this relatively vacant stretch of the city, and because of its very isolation, still holds a secret or two within.

Hacking Geodemography, Master of None, 2013

The Unveiling of Dimensions, Vol. 26

Video by Adam Smith

Etching a camouflage patterned relief into aluminum sheets for a wall panel mockup on the 3-axis CNC router
Igarape de Educandos, Manaus, BR
October 13th, 2012
Cart pusher at the Mercado Centro in Manaus

Bertrand Goldberg in Color

Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago is under threat of demolition. Too young to be designated historic, many want it preserved as an important work of Brutalist architecture. That’s fine, just be willing to compromise. 

Chevy in the Hole, Flint, MI
February 2nd, 2012

A Late Last Night at the Studio
August 26th, 2011

East of Caochangdi

Despite Beijing’s apparent density, the city is dotted with expanses of unused and marginal land. These landscapes are generally rubbish, demolished villages, or other seemingly temporary condition. Some of it is former agricultural land that villagers have simply stopped farming. During the Olympics, areas like this were often walled off with construction fencing. This was also true of the occupied urban villages that the government thought to be too unsightly for Western eyes. China’s modernization has rendered these lands, both inhabited and desolate, as by-products of urbanization—spaces obscured and thus assumed as a null condition. They are the blank spaces on the map between two places of note.
This man was coming out of a 10-acre trash dump when I encountered him just east of the village. Whether he lived there, was discarding trash, or found the poor child amid a heap of refuse (my preferred sensationalized narrative), I have no idea. After he left, I walked in to take a few more photos and was promptly kicked out by a woman that I assume was the gatekeeper. My attempt to claim ignorance on the basis of language–my default technique to continue doing something that I know I shouldn’t–didn’t get very far.

Don’t drink the water

I realize that there doesn’t appear to be any logic or unfolding narrative behind the sequence of these posts. There isn’t. If you’re one of the tens of people that have managed to find yourself on this website with any recurrence (shout out to my creators), I’ll eventually get around to our trip to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the rest of things you want to hear about.
In the meantime, this photograph comes from the neighboring village of Nan Gao, whose name we have begun using as an adjective. In the future, if I say, “you smell like Nan Gao,” refer to the image to the right and take appropriate action.
How putrid is the creek, you ask? Up until our visit to Nan Gao, my travel companion, Jordan, had been a stalwart of digestion. His stomach exhibited an iron-like tolerance for almost everything he consumed—which is to say everything that was put in front of him, including the tap water. The morning after our trip, Jordan woke up green-faced and crampy stomached. Coincidence? Possibly. But probably not. Thankfully, I don’t share a bathroom with Jordan. I can only assume that it smells like Nan Gao.

Links (November 2, 2010)

If polls are to be believed, today’s midterm elections will be a depressing day for anyone on the left side of the political spectrum. To help you wallow in sorrow, read these links:

Thomas Friedman, NY Times Can’t Keep A Bad Idea Down
Though not normally a Friedman fan, I think he gets it right here. It remains a mystery to me why this type of succinct argument wasn’t more prevalent on the Democratic stump:

Let’s have more tax cuts, unlinked to any specific spending cuts and while we’re still fighting two wars — because that worked so well during the Bush years to make our economy strong and our deficit small. Let’s immediately cut government spending, instead of phasing cuts in gradually, while we’re still mired in a recession — because that worked so well in the Great Depression. Let’s roll back financial regulation — because we’ve learned from experience that Wall Street can police itself and average Americans will never have to bail it out.

Planner’s Dream Gone Wrong  Storm in a Teacup

Echoes my thoughts on the coming elections, with regards to the libertarian/populists roots of the Tea Party and their Democratic opposition:

When human lives are lost in bridge collapses, when congestion causes countless millions of dollars to be squandered in lost productivity and wasted fuel, and when anybody with half a brain can tell you we need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels for a host of reasons both environmental and strategic, my level of appall at the arrogance of the opposition is matched only by my disgust at the ineffectiveness of our supposed champions.

The Infrastructurist The Survival of High Speed Rail Comes Down to Tomorrow

Governors races will likely determine how the federal appropriation of high-speed rail grants are used—or not used as seems likely. The outlook is bleak in the Midwest, where Democratic candidates in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio trail by sizable margins. Republican candidates in those races have been outspoken opponents of rail projects, presumably given their federal origins. Projects at risk include $150 million for the Dearborn-Kalamazoo (via Ann Arbor) line and $230 million for the Iowa City-Chicago line. Maybe next decade.

Christopher Leinberger, The New Republic  Toronto Takes Off to a Great Walkable North
From a moderately tall building in Detroit, you can see the shores of Windsor, Canada. It is close, so close, and looking more and more appealing each day.

CPA Building, Alvin E. Harley, 1920
Detroit, MI

Huron Towers, 1960
Ann Arbor, MI

Links (September 12, 2010)

Detroit

Next American City Film Industry Takes Root in Detroit

“Detroit. We’re Cheap and Easy.” Honest, perhaps desperately so. The city’s tax credits for film production (42% tax abatement) and infrastructure development and training (25%) have been bringing in major Hollywood blockbusters such as Transformers, Up in the Air, and Gran Torino, resulting in a $350 million into total revenue over the past two years.

Next American City Right Size Fits All
An interview with Toni Griffin (lecturing at the University of Michigan on September 10th) and Marja Winters on future planning initiatives in Detroit.

Palladium Boots Detroit Lives
… Apparently so does Johnny Knoxville. Who knew? An interesting three-part video series on the selective coverage of Detroit, the realities of urban decay and the opportunities of a blank canvas.

Elsewhere

During his 21-year reign, Chicago planted more than 600,000 trees, constructed more than 85 miles of landscaped medians and built more than 7 million square feet of planted roofs—more than any other city in America.

Streetsblog Investing in Transit Could Create 180,000 Jobs, for Free
According to a report by University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers, each billion dollars spent on transit creates 36,108 jobs compared with only 30,319 jobs funded by road dollars.

The Atlantic Five Things America’s Strongest Economies Have in Common
Here’s the cliffnotes version:

1. Education and Healthcare Industries

2. Military Bases

3. State Capitals

4. Texas/Great Plains (Really?!)

5. Cheap Labor

Financial Times Suburbs Shape Up to Compete with City
Thirty percent of respondents to a Pew survey preferred to live in a small town while only 25% opted for the traditional suburb. Still, this preference seems to be manifesting itself in the form of re-engineered suburbs that allow residents to maintain their current lifestyle while frequenting superficially urban centers. Baby steps…

NY Times White House Spurns Solar Panel
I can’t think of a single reason why the White House would want to pull out an old relic from the Carter Administration. What exactly was the point of this stunt?

Out the Bus Window from Essaouria to Marrakech

20100826_Anthony Pins_Essaouira-28

Essaouira, Morocco
Brown pup has a rock and a piece of folded cardboard for a pillow! Black pup needs to step up his game (or swipe that from brown pup.)

20100826_Anthony Pins_Essaouira-40
Snails for dinner in Marrakech’s central square, Djemaa el-Fna,

Valenica, Spain

Valencia, ES: Exurban hospitality
September 8th, 2010

Nuevo Centro
Valenica, Spain
Buildings on the Beach
Barcelona, ES
August 8th, 2010

Barcelona, ES

Torre Agbar, Jean Nouvel, 2005
Barcelona, Spain

Parc Guell, Antoni Gaudi, 1914
Barcelona, Spain

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudi, 1886-present
Barcelona, Spain

Casa Batilló, Antoni Gaudi, 1887; Renovated 1904-1906
Barcelona, ES

Links (July 23, 2010)

Slate The Nimblest City
With cities projected to be home to 3/4 of the world’s population, Tom Vanderbilt looks at the top 5 reader suggestions for improving urban transport.

Kaid Benfield: NRDC Tax revenue from downtown mixed-use outperforms big-box superstores and malls
With dwindling public budgets, every dollar from property taxes county. In Sarasota, Walmart and Costco produce just slightly more tax revenue than a single-family house on a per acre basis, and the high-end mall produces $22,000/acre annually. Meanwhile, a downtown mixed-use development earns a whopping $800,000/acre each year.

Affordable Housing News Bridging the Gap Between Preservation and Transit
A National Housing Trust study of 20 US cities reveals nearly 70% of the 250,000 subsidized apartments within a half-mile of transit have expiring federal contracts. In an effort to maintain the subsidized housing supply, state and local governments have created local TOD Funds or included transit provisions in state Qualified Application Plan (QAP) for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).

Think Progress Libertarianism on the Road
Matt Yglesias takes issue with Randall O’Toole for failing to acknowledge the government’s role in subsidizing automobile usage while lambasting government operation of public transit.

Washington Post Amid Montgomery cuts, planning agency to go dark for a week to save money, jobs
My former employer is shutting its doors for two weeks in an effort to save energy and maximize savings from furlough days.

Treehugger Tiny Transformer Kitchen Occupies Less Than 10 Square Feet When Closed
Unlike the article’s title, the kitchen is compact, and quite cool.

Wall Street Journal The Transforming City Seen From Above
This a pretty fascinating way to spend an afternoon. City cartographers have added aerial photos from 1951 to NYCityMap, a tool that lets users find city services and information about buildings. Maps are also available from 1924, 1996, 2006, and 2008.