Urbanism & Design

August 16, 2011 § 1 Comment

Something has gotten the words urbanism and urban planning stirring my blood and making me surprisingly giddy these days. I enjoy participating in conversations about the city of Chicago and it’s demographics, neighborhoods and sociological analysis of living in an urban dwelling. I find an obsession with city maps, flâneur-ing in cities, and criticizing the positive and negative aspects of city sprawl, layouts, shapes, public transportation systems and even politics. Although it was at a rough time at night, I was overly intrigued by my urban sociology class my last semester at IIT.

I find the (only) problem with being to many cities is that I hate sounding pretentious – I long to find someone as well traveled to talk compare and contrast cities like Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, DC, San Francisco, etc. The metro systems, the neighborhoods, rivers that flow through them, how it can be improved, everything.

At first I was contemplating going to graduate school for journalism – I was advised by mentors to look into writing professionally after attending my semester abroad in Paris and blogging about it every week. I was flattered as I was merely just reflecting on my day to day observations, but the past of couple years have got me considering it. Unfortunately due to my lack of writing this summer, it’s slowly gotten away from me and I’m afraid I’ve been feeling less inspired since my semester in Europe and trip to Uganda. I wonder, do I really need an extravagant trip to get the writer out of me? If I was truly passionate, I’d continue writing non stop, finding inspiration and observations no matter where I went, wouldn’t I?

Whether it’s living in the suburbs and longing for the city and its urban aspects I learned to adapt to during college, or realizing slowly that I still have an interest in design and not wanting to switch over to writing at the moment, I am beginning to understand maybe I could create a new type of journalism that’s architectural. Creating a city plan based off of observations and positive elements of the world’s greatest cities. City grids could be my new language!

I tried reading David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, but unfortunately it wasn’t what I was expecting. The back cover described it as his observations from cities around the world, whether they were cultural or architectural. I found less architecture and more rambling. Oh well… It inspires me though to possibly create my own book like his for the city-grid-minded like mine. I think I’ve made a new goal!

Let me know your thoughts – school in journalism or urban planning? Do you have a better word for it?


I’m sensing a potentially new obsession…


§ One Response to Urbanism & Design

  • Stacy says:

    Sounds like architectural theory with a specialization in urbanism and the grid system is right up your alley! Back in the 70s/80s there were amazing theorists and wrote the most amazing articles about city planning; Jane Jacobs, Colin Rowe, Albert Pope… But we don’t have many of these types of writers anymore and its a shame… I can’t wait for the day to say… “Remember those Waterloo writings…”

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