29 June 2012

University Reoganization

While you can read the news accounts of the Rutgers-Rowan-UMDNJ reorganization, you can also remember the lesson I teach in class: When in doubt, read the legislative code.  Here is your link to S2063/A3102.

28 June 2012

EPA enforcement on stormwater in NJ

 After an alleged 600+ stormwater violations by the Toll Brothers at 43 sites across NJ, the EPA has successfully gotten them to agree to penalties of over $700,000 according to the Start-Ledger.  The paper asks where the NJ DEP was on the matter.  But, is $1100 per violation really that much?  How much more would compliance have cost?

27 June 2012

A war on zoning?

Anthony Flint takes a look at the effort to drag zoning into the America's culture wars

Another great map room

One of the best parts of traveling abroad is discovering the secrets of the past in places like the old map rooms. The first one I really remember being impressed by was at the Vatican Musuem, where the Papacy used maps as a means for displaying the lands over which they had influence, hundreds of years ago.

High on my list of rooms left to visit is the Giorgio Vasali's Hall of Geographical Maps in Florence with the Mappa Mundi at its center. Looking at some of the photos online you can see that he elegantly connected astronomy and geography in a space that both impresses and is simply beautiful.

So, go online and dig around some. This is worth checking out.

Comparison maps

Maps make explicit things that we sort of already knew.  Compare the map of MLB player hometowns with the map of NHL player hometowns.

(h/t/ Kottke)

24 June 2012

Design documentary films

True Films is a site that offers thoughtful reviews of documentary films.  The site includes a short list of films about design that might help change your perspective on what we do.  The next heat wave might be a good time to try one.

14 June 2012

Prison Map mines Google Map images of about 700 prisons to create an overwhelming representation of the "geography of incarceration".

View Larger Map

(the USP Florence Admax is pictured above.  Great comments, BTW.)

Affordable housing is hard to make work

DC requires that new housing include some low income units but, writes Matt Yglesias, those units aren't moving as quickly as you might think.

12 June 2012

Water war

Southern Arizona has always been susceptible to water problems, with the threat of a full water war persistently looming on the horizon.  A case study is currently underway as Tombstone AZ has found itself needing to take heavy equipment through a US FS protected Wilderness Area to restore their water supply.  While it is mostly a local story, it got some national attention when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case this week.  Some have tried to characterize it as friendly neighbors vs. scary Federal government, or people vs. spotted owls, but it also serves as a more fundamental lesson in how tenuous water supply is, and will continue to be, in a growing number of areas in the US.

How far has Curitiba fallen?

For a while, Curitiba, Brazil was the talk of sustainable community planning.  Its former mayor had a popular TED talk and its successes were described in many publications. However, Atlantic Cities says that the city's  shine is beginning to fade.

08 June 2012

More writing tips

Writing tips, this time from McSweeney's.  Be careful, because as they explain..."A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital."

Britten Scallop

With lots of talk about Benjamin Britten lately (his music is used as a core to the score of Moonrise Kingdom), I couldn't resist this striking photo by Andrew Dunn showing the Maggi Hambling's Memorial Scallop on a beach near Aldeburgh.  (Bigger than it looks.  Check out this YT video for scale.)

07 June 2012

This past weekend the NY Times Magazine featured 32 innovations that will change your life. While all 32 are worth your attention (well, 29 of the 32), one is spatial: #30 GPS-enabled gardening.

05 June 2012

Getting around NYC

Summer is a great time for getting out and finding new experiences in New York City.  Museum exhibits and new buildings are always out there.  But just a simple walk through Astoria or Morningside Heights can help you see urban life in a different light. What else could you do to tap into NYC this summer?

Of course, you could go on the walking tour this Saturday
Check out the changes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
As you walk around ask whether the work is almost done (one more term!)
Feed the birds at Pier 15
Or, weigh in on the illegal Dunkin' Donuts signs (which, FWIW, also missspell doughnuts)

With that in mind I offer you my growing, draft map of underappreciated spots in NYC that you might visit. But use it at your own risk.
View Dr. T's Map of New York City's Underappreciated Sites in a larger map

01 June 2012


The Woodrow Wilson Institute's Lea Shanley posted a link to a fascinating Pew Research report called The Future of Gamification by Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie.
Tech stakeholders and analysts generally believe the use of game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards will become more embedded in daily life by 2020, but they are split about how widely the trend will extend. Some say the move to implement more game elements in networked communications will be mostly positive, aiding education, health, business, and training. Some warn it can take the form of invisible, insidious behavioral manipulation.
What does this mean for landscape architecture?  It isn't very different than when kids pursue Junior Ranger status by achieving multiple goals. I could certainly imagine visitors to Central Park getting points for each landmark they visit or accumulating virtual ribbons for more than 10 visits or 50 visits. Or maybe a "Water, Land and Air" award for people who hike, boat and kite in the park.

But what about urban plazas?  Could there be special lights that only come on when the plaza's users sit in certain patterns?  Or movable features (like chairs or rolling planters) that somehow trigger scores or rewards when position in a specific way?

Is it all crazy?