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Livable Cities

Why the 'Finesse of the Avenue' Is What Cities Need

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 10.08.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

While Cassis is known as a fishing village turned touristic haven (and a departure point for dramatic rock faces above the Mediterranean and remarkable inlets along coast, a short distance from Marseille), this essay is hardly a travelogue.

The Look and Feel of 'Inevitably Urban'

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 09.30.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

I have compiled 25 photographs for this essay -- taken in multiple locations since 2009, including cities on four continents. The photographs are presented in black and white, to better show the contrast between the human and built environment, yet also emphasize the undeniably symmetry between.

How to Decode the Place Between Places

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 09.25.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

The ebb and flow of nature, economic base and the passage of time are always ripe for observation. Below, take note of one walk's illustration of two towns, their edges and the spaces between.

The Option of Sensing the City

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 09.12.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

Sensing the city is a personal experience owned by each of us. From a legal perspective, it is an urban property right that transcends public and private domains. It is a form of place-decoding that deserves more illustration and attention.

How to Place-Decode the Elements of Urbanism

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 09.26.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

According to the New York Times' Roger Cohen, France is struggling with changing times, including how perception of classic physical space is evolving as the role of cyberspace expands.

Timeless or Time-Bound in the City?

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 10.20.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

A uniform filter applied to multiple urban scenes can easily warp time and location, and obscure -- yet somehow enhance -- the reality of place.

Looking Behind the Common Sense Elements of City Life

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 10.07.2014 | Arts
Charles R. Wolfe

Last month, in Moustiers Sainte Marie, France, I watched several shopkeepers return a lost young bird to a part of town closer to its natural habitat. This small drama was a play of few acts, but reflected a pattern of human conduct embedded in urban life.

The Bottom-Line Patterns of Urban Street Design

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 06.02.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

A recent collaboration suggests that we should explicitly recognize historic patterns of pedestrian city settings in contemporary urban design and pol...

Why Do We Write About Cities?

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 05.30.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

In 2011, amid a visit to San Francisco and just back from Africa, I offered some thoughts about why we write about cities. Three years later, I'm not sure much has changed.

Targeting the Place-Receiving in Placemaking, and Why

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 05.17.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

In the end, we should focus more on place-receivers as the most authentic stakeholders of meaning in the urban experience. If people cannot place-receive with a sense of acceptance and inspiration, placemaking may mean very little indeed.

Why Urban History Matters

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 05.04.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

Going forward, let's not discount the influence of history's recurring themes in how we redevelop the urban realm.

When Words Lose Their Meaning at the Edge of the City

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 04.06.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

The age-old questions of urban boundaries and city walls matter less today in a physical sense, but photographs have suggested that the political overlay of region, cities and neighborhoods still keep visible form, however counterintuitive.

Urban Blending and the Mythical Search for 'Congruity' in the City

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 04.02.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

For many, a dramatic contrast in height, bulk and density is the recipe for "incongruity." But, in a larger sense, don't today's urban centerpieces by definition show the latent "incongruities" of city life?

The Urban Stage on Election Day, Seattle Style

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 01.23.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

In general, our mayor's race has been local in focus, without ample attention to how McGinn reflects, if not leads, the trend lines of changing cities everywhere.

Finding Urban 'Tethers' in City Places

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 01.23.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

In London's Russell Square one recent morning, I saw the human-scale "tether" illustrated above. Whether for safety or togetherness, parent and chi...

Why the 'Sit-able City' Is the Next Big Idea

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 12.09.2013 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

A greater focus on the sit-able is an invitation to rich discussion and ready illustration based on human tradition.

Contrasting Two Models of How Places Survive

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 01.23.2014 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

The silence of Brovès provided a stark and confounding contrast. I found while photographing the townscape that without its people, the urban form along the highway had little voice. Are there practical lessons from these two models of how a place survives?

Portland's Bicycle Revolution Started with a Lawsuit!

Rex Burkholder | Posted 11.04.2013 | Green
Rex Burkholder

We had won much more than getting bicycle facilities on these few streets in one town in Oregon. Our victory set off a wave of building bicycle facilities throughout the state.

Redefining What Makes Communities Livable

A. Barry Rand | Posted 09.10.2013 | Fifty
A. Barry Rand

The birth of the baby boom generation brought with it a time of tremendous demographic upheaval in the United States. The nation responded by investing in school construction, teacher education, public health, transportation and housing to make communities more livable. We even virtually invented suburbia as a place to live. This generation is again leading a demographic revolution.

The Rural Landscape and Urban Lessons Learned

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 09.07.2013 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

Take a harder look, and see the reasons forests and farms have been elemental to growth management legislation, emulating the naturally evolved agricultural region that has always surrounded the City of Rome.

Three Everyday Ways to Inspire Urban Change

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 08.21.2013 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

Unfortunately, when it comes to these far-away urban places, not all of us have real-time access to the inspirational modern projects served by transit, or the historic monuments, streets and squares that illustrate the potential of creative city life.

The Compelling Promise of Urbanism Without Effort

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 07.13.2013 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

As urban stakeholders -- residents, pundits, developers, associated professionals, and politicians -- we like to discuss and debate aspects of urb...

Movement and Settlement, Upside Down

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 06.22.2013 | Detroit
Charles R. Wolfe

Last week, I participated in the Project for Public Spaces' Placemaking Leadership Council inaugural meeting in Detroit. The event left several impr...

Pursuing the Elusive Green Light of Urbanism

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 03.24.2013 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

If places are not implemented with care, and if they leave a sense of the overly artificial and concocted, we may collectively and forever chase The Great Gatsby's symbolic green light at the end of Daisy's pier.

Lessons Learned: Five Principles of People and Place

Charles R. Wolfe | Posted 03.18.2013 | Green
Charles R. Wolfe

This is not an obscure antiquarian story, but illustrates a highly contextual place, a small country where the cycles of human history is readily experienced in little more than one day.