Archive | November, 2011

Idea of the Day: Brasilia Syndrome

28 Nov

Meet Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl. If you have about 30 minutes, he can explain why the parts of a city that look so appealing on the approach from an expressway are often so boring to be in. He calls it the Brasilia Syndrome. If you don’t have that long, it works something like this:

Around 1960, Gehl says, architects and planners began designing streets and developments as compositions of landmark buildings, or with an eye toward how they could best accommodate the movement of cars. Other uses were given little consideration, if any.

Density was moved from horizontal to vertical as free-standing towers replaced smaller buildings  placed close together. Buildings were pushed back from the street. Banks, food courts, dry cleaners and post offices were added inside so that people could go the entire day without ever being in the surrounding neighborhood.

Planning cities “to make cars happy,” as Gehl describes it, resulted in a landscape meant to be viewed at about 40 miles per hour (think of an office park or strip mall – large signs, little detail, buildings seen best from a distance) instead of a pedestrian’s pace of around 3 miles per hour.

In extreme cases this type of planning produced the “helicopter urbanism” of cities planned entirely from the air, like Brasilia, or more recently, Dubai.

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21 Nov

The OO has moved to:

Underground, Urbanophile and Waffle House

20 Nov

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Here are a few photos from last week’s Unseen Underground walking tour, led by Jeff Morrison.With the weather mostly remaining pretty warm, there might still be a couple more this year. See the tour’s Facebook page for contact info.

The tour is in pretty constant motion, and when it’s not moving there’s a lot of information to take in, so it doesn’t lend itself to thorough photo-documentation. Just getting these few shots required some scurrying to catch up afterward.


  • The Urbanophile re-ran “Is it game over for Atlanta?” today. The post was originally written before the release of census results that showed that the city’s population numbers had essentially remained flat for 10 years. At that time, estimates suggested that population had increased by 28 percent. But, Aaron Renn wrote that “converging trends point to a possible plateauing of Atlanta’s remarkable rise, and the end of its great growth phase.”
  • From What Now, Atlanta? – The site of a former souvenir shop at the corner of Andrew Young International Boulevard (a name nearly longer than the street is) and Centennial Olympic Park Drive will become the third and largest downtown location for Waffle House.

Did you know…

15 Nov
Southbound traffic on I75/85 passes under Civic Center Station

A window at Civic Center Station looks out onto the traffic passing underneath the station platform. The reflection in the center of the photo is one of the station's white-tiled columns.

that Civic Center Station is the only subway station in the world suspended over a highway?

Midtown, Sunday night

3 Nov

Colony Square, night

A reminder:

3 Nov

Sign posted on a bus running the 110 route Tuesday night

Especially if you’re refilling your coffee cup at the same time.

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