28 December 2010

Writing room

Detail of my front window (photo by Elizabeth Snowden)
On summer weekend days and early evenings, I write almost exclusively in the barn, but at night and in the winter, I write mostly in an upstairs room. When I look up from my desk, I see these fabrics and the reed shade that obscure the front window. The room is filled with art and imagery, Buddhist objects, books, a 1950s radio tuned to a local jazz station, a stereo with two wonderful old KLH speakers, and my new Turkish carpet. The room is a little more than 12 feet square. Its motifs date back to my childhood, reproduced over time in an evolving but still recognizable form.

10 December 2010

Density and Urbanity

Living Urbanism, a New York-based organization, just published a short essay I wrote, "Density and Urbanity." It's an expansion of one that I published in Common Place 4 earlier this year (under the title "Place and Scale"). The new version will appear in an annual publication that Living Urbanism puts out. Mike Lydon, who blogs for Planetizen, was my contact, although others were involved.

07 December 2010


Architect's Newspaper just posted an op-ed piece I wrote on Saltworks, a proposal by smart-growth guru Peter Calthorpe to redevelop the salt flats adjoining Redwood Shores on the west side of San Francisco Bay. The gist: not a good idea, and a joke, really, to call it smart growth and to complain, as Calthorpe has, that no one can get higher-density redevelopment approved in areas that actually have transit and other infrastructure in place. Many beg to differ, including the San Francisco Chronicle in a recent editorial.

01 December 2010

An essay posted

A few weekends ago, I came across an essay I wrote in 1997, following visits to the National Gallery in Oslo. Newly revised as "Painting's Journey," the essay is now posted in the archive on my website. The main theme is the loss of narrative in painting, which was neatly captured by what I saw in Oslo.

The university and the city

With my longtime writing partner, Richard Bender, I've been asked by Anthony Teo of the National Technical University of Singapore to contribute a 7,500-word essay to a book on the university and the city - a topic that Professor Bender and I last wrote about in Places (an article on U.C. Merced that was reprinted in arcCA with a rejoinder from that campus's planners, Christopher Adams and John Kriken).