Posts

What Is a[n Urban] Watershed?

Watershed are urban features Watersheds in Baltimore Watersheds are important parts of both wild and civilized places.  In both city and countryside, watersheds express the flow of water, with its power to connect places, its ability to accumulate and move chemicals and materials, its capacity to support rich biological activity, and its power to nourish […]

Urban Ecology: Knowing or Making?

Our friend and colleague, Alex Felson, of the Yale School of Architecture and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has a unusual perspective on what urban ecology is and does.  Trained as a landscape architect, urban designer and as an ecological scientist, his perspective is quite unusual among urbanists.  You can find information […]

The Kind of Solution A City Is

A while ago I wrote about Jane Jacobs’ insight that cities were complex systems[i].  The stone that she dropped in the urban pond in 1961 has rippled widely, and the ideas of cities as complex adaptive systems, with emergent properties, good and bad resilience, and non-linear dynamics now guide much cutting edge urban research. Of […]

Are You an Urbanist?

Urbanists and the Old Walls The term, urbanist, originally meant someone who designed and built cities.  The term is an old one, and when it was introduced into English in the 16th century, cities were very different than now.  Many cities were walled, defensive, or religious centers.  The boundary and contrast between city and country […]

Post-Industrial Baltimore

Baltimore is often called a “post-industrial” urban region.  What set of cultural and theoretical assumptions does this label invoke?  The industrial and post-industrial tag emerges from the Modernist program and discontent with it. What is Modernism? The industry window at Zion Church The cultural program of Modernism, which like any cultural program is a mix […]

BES II Project Outcomes

What’s This All About? Second story bays, Charles Village neighborhood, Baltimore.  BES LTER Photo. BES, as a Long-Term Ecological Research project, is funded in six year increments.  BES II actually lasted for seven years due to a change in the scheduling of the grant cycle by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  We are obliged to […]

Complexity: The Hidden Nugget in Jane Jacobs’ Book

Well, perhaps it’s unfair to call it hidden.  It is after all the topic of the final chapter, entitled “The Kind of Problem a City Is.”  In that chapter, she explores the nature of cities as complex systems, stimulated by the work of pioneering cyberneticists as summarized by Dr. Warren Weaver[i].  But I have to […]