Scott Page's blog

Scott Page is the founder of Interface Studio, a collaborative design office based in Philadelphia.

Can Light Rail Save Peachtree Street?

A long time ago in a previous design office, I made the mistake of engaging a light rail fanatic in a debate about whether Peachtree Street in Atlanta should be adorned with a light rail line. The debate turned into a protracted email diatribe about the pros and cons of light rail and whether this specific idea made any sense.

Make a lot of creative, small plans

The surging housing market and development pressure in Philadelphia has resurrected what was once an all but dormant profession - planning. Meeting after meeting is being held with community leaders, politicians, developers and others to discuss the current lack of planning in the City in the wake of this widespread change. The concensus of each meeting is that the City needs a Master Plan. Further, there also appears to be a major call to finally empower the planning commission which has, for years, been cast aside as a step-child of City governance.

Low-Tech Communications

There's been an increasing number of urban projects breaking out the paint brushes as a low-cost means of improving cities. As stated by Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba, for every zero that is removed from a city budget, the more creative solutions become. It seems these examples represent areas with extremely limited budgets. Object Orange is a public art project in Detroit that is calling attention to blighted structures through the use of bright orange paint. It seems their efforts have resulted in their desired outcome - increased demolition of unsafe structures.

The Google Flanuer

Building on the Google thread here started by Chris, this Geo-Tracing site was brought to my attention that links google mapping with individually uploaded content. Its, as I see it, the next iteration of Found City and other geo-tagging sites. Very interesting combination of technology to provide a sense of experience and place in cities that is often hard to capture on screen. As stated from the site:

"The main concept is depicted above.

Cities' Visionless Wireless

This came through the telecom-cities listserv by Anthony Townsend. He very succinctly summarizes the issues with municipal wireless networks. The quote below I find particularly interesting:

"Discussions about the design of today's municipal wireless networking efforts have not yet addressed the way community-created content can be solicited and integrated in the splash pages and portal sites where wireless users are greeted when they connect. We do know that cities such as Long Beach, California and business improvement districts in New York City have experimented with local content.

urban teasers

From Pew / Internet: "A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 45% of online American adults have taken virtual tours of another location online. That represents 54 million adults who have used the internet to venture somewhere else. On a typical day, more than two million people are using the internet to take a virtual tour."

The need to represent urban areas on-line is greater than ever, especially when we consider the impact a movie can have on a City (The Sixth Sense is Philadelphia's best example of a tourist 'push' after release).

public tech art

I'm finding this a bit late but i really like some of the projects and their potential for further exploration. "Spectropolis Mobile Media, Art and the City is a three-day event (October 1-3, 2004) in Lower Manhattan that highlights the diverse ways artists, technical innovators and activists are using communication technologies to generate urban experiences and public voice. The increasing presence of mobile communication technologies is transforming the ways we live, construct and move through our built environment.

Urban Design and Conflict

After Adam's last two thoughtful posts, I thought I should weigh in here being the resident urban design on Tech Talk. In general, I sometimes share others concerns with marquee architecture but usually when its seen as a way of boosting economic development or the status of a city. I think in those cases, there are far better ways to boost the livability and physical appearance of a place. Thinking of what an "icon" for say, Fort Wayne, would be is an uninteresting question as that city faces other underlying issues that a marquee project simply can't address.

Sticky Shadows

Cool application underway by Socialight. Sticky Shadows are digital post-it notes for urban areas. I like the idea of neighborhood narratives.

From their website:
"How's it Used?
-- I leave a note for all my friends at the mall to let them know where I'm hanging out. All my friends in the area see it.
-- A woman shows all her close friends the tree under which she had her first kiss.
-- An entire neighborhood gets together and documents all the unwanted litter they find in an effort to share ownership of a community problem.

Baby Name Wizard

As a new father struggling with finding baby names (our little guy was two months early), it was a pleasure to stumble across Baby Name Wizard (this requires java). The site tracks the popularity of baby names through time. The interactive design is fascinating and a great example of how to pack a lot of overlapping information into one clear graphic. It seems the name we chose - Kai - is gaining popularity. I'm always behind the trends.

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