Tag Archives: Vienna

Planologie Returns

Yep, I’m back.

First off, thank you to the thousands of readers who continued to visit the Planologie Blog despite nary a new post in over a month. I expected my modest readership to dry up completely, and am quite pleased to be proven wrong.

Secondly, I’m changing things up a bit. Sea changes in my life have sent me on a bit of a walkabout, with my next couple of years to be spent studying Urban Studies in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Madrid, among other European locales. First, though, I’m in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Boston for a month apiece. I’m going to spend less time researching articles to repost, more time exploring, observing, and documenting my travels. Posts will no longer be daily; two or three per week is my new target, and it might take a bit before I’m back to even that. The viewpoint will remain, of course, focused on urban planning-related issues.

Again, thank you everyone for sticking with me. Hopefully the best is yet to come.
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Beauty Kills—A Self-Rebuttal: Or, Why Joel Kotkin isn’t Always Wrong

In my recent post, Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities, I argued that beauty is an essential element of urbanism. Forget all of that for a moment; here’s the other side of the coin: beauty kills. It can turn cities into lifeless museums animated only by tourists, inhibiting creativity and innovation while exacerbating segregation and homogenization. Look at any interior design magazine spread; room upon room of artful still-life orchestration. These are rooms that pose, not rooms that are lived in. Look at fashion models, their faces inscrutable and eyes vacant. True, this is not the sort of beauty I was advocating, but an emphasis on beauty can quickly lead one astray if untempered. Beauty is essential, yes, but it can be as intoxicating as drugs, and potentially as destructive.
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Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities

In chapter eight of Anthony M. Tung’s erudite and impressive Preserving the World’s Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis, there is a passage that stopped me in my proverbial tracks and hasn’t left my thoughts since. Tung is writing about Amsterdam at the dawn of the 20th century:

As parts of the inner city became slums and were threatened with clearance, and as picturesque canals were filled in to create new roads and better circulation, elements of the historic environment began to be eliminated. Growing numbers of citizens became alarmed and called for preservation of the historic center. In addition, a new ring of speculative housing began to surround the old metropolis. Numerous Amsterdammers began to ask that the expansion of the city meet a reasonable standard of beauty. Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, Josh Grigsby, Livability, Placemaking, Rants, Sustainability, Uncategorized, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments