For more than three centuries, city planning, landscape architecture and a unique civic ambition that emphasizes horticulture as much as the pedestrian experience in its public spaces and streetscapes, have made Philadelphia a fascinating city.
Will the prime square footage occupied by Borders have similar 'third place' potential once reclaimed? Will replacement uses provide the equivalent fusion business purposes of books, coffee, lecture and song?
If our cities must be dense to be competitive and sustainable, we must also look with care to the potential displacement of uses, institutions or traditions -- not to mention the artifacts we will leave behind.
Can Detroit be saved? What are the myths of green energy? What can we learn from the boggled reconstruction of Iraq? Are we going to share a future of biometric surveillance? Just how did white middle-class Americans start identifying themselves as outsiders?
What if American cities legislated brighter color amid windows, balconies planted green and encouraged flags and hanging laundry? What if homeowner associations and rental contracts required vegetation and decoration?
Once a big idea is vetted -- whether in an authoritarian or democratic way -- what assures its success? Most particularly, what if, from Day One, the vision pushes comfort zones of the achievable; politically, legally or monetarily?
Today's efforts to recreate elements of the city, of whatever prescription of urbanism (e.g., "new," "landscape" or "ecological"), often turn on issues once considered in design competitions long forgotten.
Edward Glaeser's recent piece on Seattle is great press -- the stuff of boosterism and for use as evidence in corner of higher education, in the face of looming budget cuts in Olympia, our state capital.