Project for Public Space Great Places

Urban Placemaking Case Studies

We encounter great projects more and more frequently in our real and virtual explorations and I’ve always wanted to file them away for future reference and to share with students and colleagues. So I’m going to start linking and commenting here with the occasional blog post, categorized according to the sustainable city themes that are applied: water, green, mobility, waste, urban fabric, energy, or community, plus tags for the geographical …

Inside the Venice Architecture Biennale

Reporting from the Biennale di Venezia

This will almost certainly be a multi-post series as the Architecture Biennale contains far too much for a short post and our short attention spans. In this first post, some background and general impressions, and a promise to follow up with more specific accounts of the installations, research stations and national pavilions. I first experienced the Biennale in 1985, and I remember seeing Aldo Rossi’s “Progetto Venezia” gateway and wandering …

Reviewing Augustus’ Tomb

Yesterday I checked out the restoration in progress at the Mausoleo di Augusto, Augustus’ tomb. I was lucky to get in. On December 21st, when they launched the invitation to Roman residents to join free guided tours, I had jumped online and booked before they “sold” out. Now they’ve extended booking through the summer but it is again sold out. The 50-minute tour was well-organized and the group of about …

Goodbye Via Alessandrina

This post is a reflection on a road which from the 16th century until recently traversed the Imperial Fora in central Rome. It wasn’t a great road like Via Giulia, and in fact in recent years it was often closed, abandoned, overgrown. But like any road it was a connection, it offered a path for people in the city. Until the 1930s it was the central artery of the Quartiere …

Piazza Tevere Rising

I spent a blissful hour lounging on the banks of the Tiber today, taking in the September sun after several days of rain. I had put off my “site inspection” of the much awaited urban beach but I chose an excellent day to visit. The recent installation of grass, beach chairs and cafe furniture along the left bank between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini should be seen as a pilot …

Transition

As the coronavirus lockdown continues into its second month in Italy the mood has changed from the early collective sense of urgency and participation to a more reflective consideration of what could happen next. It is much easier to focus on the present and to repeat the mantras of “stay home” and “wash your hands” than it is to envision the world as it will change when the immediate medical …

On Overtourism

Yesterday I took a train to a small town outside of Rome to spend the day with my son who recently moved there. Descending, I notice a number of passengers greeted in English by a smiling hostess. “Are you here for the wine tour?” Soon a dozen mostly Americans (a fact gleaned from the “where are you from?” chatter I heard in passing) were following her up into the town. They probably had a great experience and tasted some lovely wines, but it left me reflecting on the problem of “turistificazione”, a term I had just read in an article about airbnb and its effects on our cities.

A Rome away from Rome

On Sunday I went out on my bike with the intention of filling some pages in a little sketchbook, pages that have been empty for too long. Somehow I found myself leaving Italy to enter Vatican City, inside St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time in years. I live less than a mile from Pope Francis but it is rare that I drop in on his little nation. The few …

A Modern Itinerary in Eastern Rome

On a recent architectural walk we stopped in to visit Villa Torlonia, ducking out of a downpour just in time to take shelter in the grand palace. Remodeled by Valadier in the early 19th century for Prince Torlonia (and later inhabited by Benito Mussolini), today this well-restored building hosts a beautiful collection of neoclassical arts and crafts and, on the second floor, a collection of Scuola Romana paintings.When the rain …

Rome’s Tiber “Beach”

Rivers are amazing resources for cities, but they need ideas, projects and above all maintenance and regulation. With the localized exception of Piazza Tevere with site-specific art projects such as William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments,  Rome has had none of these for years.  So I was happy to hear word of the city’s plans to make a riverfront beach resort, Tiberus, in the abandoned Marconi area. It opened late this summer (the delays …