A Few More Words On Jane Jacobs

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We here at Tropolism believe in being very clear, so we'd like to say a little more about our admiration of Jane Jacobs, just so others don't get the wrong idea.

In her time, in her context, we have unqualified admiration for her work. She was able to mobilize people to get involved in choices about urban development. She created a public appetite for good city planning. She wrote a book that captured the city in the way the urban theories of the time did not, and created an appetite for living in the city.

But a regular reader of Tropolism will know that we do not believe Death and Life is a guidebook by which New York, or any other city, should be beholden. We see it as a piece of a constellation of ideas. In fact, our one and only mention of Baby Jane up to her death was in the context of a radical interpretation of her ideas, that diversity in our cities goes way beyond far West Village townhouses. We also recognize that the problem of where to put a rapidly growing population are never really satisfied by this small-scale approach, either. We love density, brutalism, tree-lined streets, art deco, Memphis style, Modern Style, Any Style and everything else inbetween. And we still don't like the Sculpture for Living.

And so we found ourselves agreeing with Mr. Ouroussoff about how New York has outgrown JJ, both in physical size, size of population, and in the complexity of problems we face. We don't see Lincoln Center or the old WTC plaza as the best possible examples of a new kind of super-diversity, but that's the shortcoming of Mr. O. We prefer to think of glass towers by starchitects with only 24 units as an example of this, because it signals a culture with the ability to blur public and private boundaries, a culture that loves density in all its forms.

Los Angeles Downtown: Coop Himmelblau On Grand Avenue

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More on Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. Coop himmel-blau had an article in the sunday LA Times about their school for the arts that is starting construction, across the 101 freeway, but still on Grand ave. The New school is directly across from the Moneo Cathedral, creating architectural bookends, or a gateway at the 101. The image is pretty great, a little surreal, completely Los Angeles. The article also goes on to say that the school may go under a bit of value engineering in an attempt to cut back some of the bulging budget. This might actually have a positive effect on the building which is pretty wild. Excerpts of the article can be found at DesignShare

Another fabulous rendering of the crash landing after the jump. So LA.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Landing Lights Park, Borough of Queens

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I found this one in the Paper version of WIRED Magazine. The Borough of Queens is looking to redevelop Landing Lights Park, a half mile strip of land adjacent to LaGuardia Airport. Side stepping a more traditional approach, the Borough decided to import the park in the Second Life; the online community, and asked the residents to redesign it. The elements whether it be benches, swings, jogging paths will then be implemented into the physical park. What ever the result, this is a great experiment in how we can use technology to open public space decision making to more people.

Do Tanks,Democracy Island is the group, and place, organizing this and several other "County Fair" type meetings online in Second Life. Democracy Island takes on a kind of Science Fair format where presenters can set up booths and hold meetings. participants can then moved from one meeting or booth the the next.

Contributed by Colin Peeples.

Street Ballet Contest

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In honor of Jane Jacobs, our friends at PolisCurbed (Lisackhart?) have joined forces to create the Street Ballet Contest. The intention is to "celebrate the street ballet of your favorite block", and to elicit your own spin on Jane Jacobs' neighborhood ideas.

Jane Jacobs Gathering

In rememberance of Jane Jacobs, Lisa at Polis proposes a gathering at 555 Hudson Street in the West Village between Perry and W. 11th, where she lived and created The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Drop Lisa a line if you're interested.

Jane Jacobs, 1916-2006

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Jane Jacobs died this morning in Toronto.

Tropolism has mentioned her only once, but in one of our favorite entries. So much has been written about her, it seemed hardly necessary to mention her hovering over everything we do. Yet it goes without saying that a movement like Tropolismo would not have been possible without her brilliant contribution of intellectualism and urban activism. She not only changed the course of New York City's development, she inspired us to love urban life.

Gehry Is Searching For Los Angeles

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Yesterday saw the announcement by the Related Companies and Frank Gehry of the development of Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles. Curbed LA has a lot of word-on-the street, but it's the New York Times article that has us mildly inspired by the project:

"It's not New York, it's not Paris — it's a different image and we're struggling to find it," Mr. Gehry said. "You don't have a downtown. This is an attempt to find one."

Tropolism means staying focused on the possibility of things. Architects, at their best, create something from nothing, and our recent tour of LA's downtown gave us reason to believe a project like this would actually connect the bits of downtown and turn them into something resembling the city I live in. Except in LA.

The Green House Exhibition

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Back in the day we announced the publication of The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture [PA Press, we're still waiting for our review copy!]. Today we see that the National Building Museum will open an exhibit of the same name, complete with full-scale model of a modern green house. The show opens May 20 and will close in June 2007.

Via Inhabitat.

Where To Put More New York

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Robert Yaro, produces a lovely piece on what New York might do to add the million to million and a half new New Yorkers expected over the next twenty-five years. Because many parts of New York CIty are already at capacity, or over capacity, he looks for what other cities have done to grow in a way that creates a livable city. Intriguing are suggestions on what places like Chicago have done (although he should be shot for using "regional visioning process" in a sentence). It reads like an internal email at City Planning, but it probably qualifies as the most useful internal email for 2006.

From the Gotham Gazette.

Movie Stars: The Last Environmentalists

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While not really a Tropolism story per se, we are intrigued to pick up the new issue of Vanity Fair, featuring celebrities who are active on environment issues. We're hopeful that there will be some celebrities talking about good development.

One

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Today, Tropolism is one year old. A year ago (technically April 22, 2005, but that's on a weekend this year, yo), in the darkness of pre-launch and pre-URL, we made our first timid post into the ether. This year April 22 is Earth Day, and so we are celebrating by giving you our favorite green-stuff posts.