A quiet crisis is emerging in our building practice: one story buildings are being coded out of the system right when we need them most. While it is true that the Wendy's, Kmarts, and Walgreens of the world earn their anti-urban distinction, we should hesitate to throw the one story baby out with the suburban bathwater. One story buildings are being called upon amidst the unpredictable shift to e-commerce, the speed at which we need to take advantage of new markets, the stubborn difficulty of building and financing affordable mixed-use buildings, and, due to the capital cost, the propensity of credit-worthy chain tenants to show up in conventional new mixed-use buildings, leading to the same placelessness and capital extraction we seek to avoid in the first place.
Entries in Lawrenceville (5)
Hurricane Sandy has shifted the discussion of how we build our communities from overly focusing on sustainability to "bounce-back-ability," or, resilience. While, understandably, the response has centered around technological and social responses to weather events, we are beginning to understand that variability is normal and predictability not only is, at best, short-lived, but it lulls us into a false quiet, an ahistorical sense of security. Adaptibility is essential. Economic, social, and demographic waves sweep over our settlements in hard to predict ways just as do ocean swells and high-powered winds. Since the relative global calm settled in after World War II (with periodic shocks along the way), we have focused on sustaining a calm through provisions built to provide an illusory stability of such a system. This is akin to building storm surge walls and flood levees to feel safe from events like Sandy or Katrina that surpise us by toppling them. Instead, says Andrew Zolli,
we need approaches that are both more pragmatic and more politically inclusive — rolling with the waves, instead of trying to stop the ocean.
Memorable and livable neighborhoods, towns, and cities are made so by a specific type of place that has the unique ability to spark and continuously energize the district that grows around it. They are the necessary vernacular counterbalance to large, formal public spaces and are home to our daily and, at times, serendipitous lives. They are not our civic squares but rather our Everyday Squares. Urban Design Associates assembled a team of urban researchers to study these in Pittsburgh as a means to using them as a development tool both here and elsewhere.
Civic Art, a necessary element of urbanism, stresses the importance of the public realm and as an extension, the role of the democratic city. A healthy combination of both acknowledges the private spaces which make up private property ownership with our responsibility to the civic institutions that establish our republican form of government.
The proposed Eisenhower Memorial has placed the role of monuments and how we remember our heroes at the front of architectural discourse, discussing issues of meaning, location within the city and identity. Lets take a look at how the architecture of memory can be more about placing making and defining our neighborhoods rather than the ego of the architect.
Doughboy Square, located in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lawrenceville, serves its dual roles of remembrance and civic art purpose well
Coca Cafe | Pittsburgh, PA
If you're a breakfast and/or brunch person, this is your joint. A great menu and eclectic setting accompany a good coffee bar. This place is perfect for a stop on your way to work for an omelet or bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee. But Coca Cafe succeeds not just because it's omelets are dynamite or because they take credit card. Rather, its popularity stems from keen attention to very straight-forward details.