Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Some readers of the blog (and blood relatives) have questioned the veracity of learning about urbanism through the study of NASCAR events. I think the rub of the disagreement does not reside in the vehicle of study, but rather the definition of "urbanism."

I , like many of my educational generation undoubtedly influenced by our dynamic fields of study, possess rather liberal definitions of "urbanism." Urbanism does not soley reside within the boundaries of a James Kunstler or Jane Jacobs definition. Our "urbanism" is more interested in the flows of capital, commerce, politics, entertainment, knowledge, etc. and how such flows inform the built environment. By claiming a prejudice towards these issues, I do not dismiss the delight of walkable cities, the pleasant shade of tree-lined streets, or the comfort of the American front porch. I have my favorites.

Yet, there are lessons to be learned, yes, by such horrifically dense places like New Dehil and Lagos, as Rem Koolhaas and his studios at Harvard have discovered. Teddy Cruz pursues housing research at the compressed US-Mexican border, which later informs his architectural and urban projects. Wal-Mart parking lots. Amusement parks. Malls. And on and on.

What is your definition of "urbanism"? It is a very easy question that will solicit scores of contradictory answers.

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