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Blade Runner Watch: Fashion

Well, it's not quite urban-theory-related, but my brilliant colleague Nancy Miller pointed me to the invasion of the Blade Runner aesthetic into the fashion world this year. At left, that's Darryl Hannah, playing the kooky sexbot Pris in the movie.

And here's the work of designer Peter Christian, from the blog ZooZoom:

See what I'm saying?

More after the jump.

Is Vancouver Still a City by Design?

Vancouver has earned many titles and nick-names on its way to becoming an international model of urban livability. One used frequently is the title “city by design”. The language of the title is deliberately specific, particularly the choice of the word “by”. A city by design is one that has taken public or civic responsibility for its physical development. A city that has embraced the value of design, both in the broad strokes and in the details, in the achievement of its public goals, be they livability, sustainability, civic beauty or economic success.

The Quiet Evils Of America's 'Favorite' Buildings

The American Institute of Architects recently threw its authority behind a list of America's "favorite architecture," ranking three centuries of indigenous design one to 150 specimins. The resulting menu, culled by survey, of buildings, bridges, monuments, and other solid things amounts to a joyous celebration and a remarkable commentary on America's embrace of beauty. It also reinforces the desperation that arises when aesthetics and nationalism mix.

Why should planners care about the Farm Bill?

Every five to seven years, Congress votes to reauthorize one of the largest and most significant legislative measures affecting land use policies in the U.S - the Farm Bill. This year, Congress will debate the omnibus legislation that defines not only America’s agricultural policy, but determines funding priorities for rural development, food and nutrition assistance, energy and environmental issues.

Sleepless in Shanghai, #2

Two moments in this trip bring home the pace of change here. Sunday morning, 8am, I wake up in the Zhongshan Park section of west-central Shanghai. Head out into the backlanes of the superblock behind the hotel and construction on a high-rise gated apartment building is already at full tilt. Two other construction projects intitimate in my life... a dorm across from our apartment in Manhattan, and a restaurant next to the Institute in Palo Alto, are definitely not on the same aggressive shifts.

Next moment, Wednesday evening 11:18pm at our hotel in Pudong, I glance out the window before bed and see a line of cement mixers 10-12 deep waiting to unload at the construction site across the street.

Sleepless in Shanghai

I'm in Shanghai this week conducting workshops for two of my Fortune 500 clients looking at the future of mobility in the Shanghai region and Chinese cities more broadly. If you've never been to China, get on a plane now and come here. You will never think about cities or urbanization the same way again.

Shanghai has created a city larger than Manhattan in less than 20 years, and is set to create another in the next 15. The earth literally sags under the weight of the new buildings, as they push the former rural swampland into the earth.

Where Do I Live and Where Do I Park?

As one of my favorite colleagues says, all anyone ever cares about at any public meeting is “where do I live and where do I park?” Public process, in short, asks people to accept changes to their homes and lives. And people generally do not like change.

Physical Effects Of The Declining Housing Market

This week, the Economist’s cover story, "The trouble with the housing market," details the downward-spiraling "subprime" mortgage market and its potential effects on the U.S. economy. The collapsing market certainly poses problems to Wall Street traders and taxpayers in general, but what about the physical toll it's taking on our cities? Abandoned, foreclosed homes now increasingly dot the nation's inner ring suburbs, helping spread neighborhood decline out from inner cities, while developers build more homes farther into the urban periphery.

What's In A Name?

How important are the names we use? As Shakespeare said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I’ve been struck by this thought recently as I’ve been considering the myriad of organizations and stakeholders trying to have their particular term for stormwater management techniques be more widely adopted in the nomenclature.

'Historic', Not 'Hysterical': Preservation Goes Mainstream

Historic preservation still suffers from an image problem, even in the face of all available evidence. Some critics still have the misimpression that preservationists are fussy (even fusty) antiquarians. When I hear complaints about the requirements of historic review commissions, I’m amazed that the griping is often accompanied by a crack about the local “hysterical society.” Even the Wikipedia entry on “historic preservation” contains the passage, “‘historic preservation’ is sometimes referred to as ‘hysterical preservation’.” (And, of course, Wikipedia is ever-infallible).

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