The Embrace of Buildings III A Second look at walkable city neighborhoods

An Illustrated Companion to Chapters 11-16 of The Embrace of Buildings by Lee Hardy

Chapter 11


Page 81: "I took the Gatwick Express train to Victoria Station...Victoria Station is a big transit hub, offering regional trains to all points in southern England, a station for the London subway system, a bus stop, and a taxi stand...I took the tube...and within minutes I was on the Victoria line to the Highbury/Islington station...It took me just eight minutes to walk to my destination."
Velib municipal bike system, Paris.
Page 82: "Paris has its municipal bike system; Toronto has Bixi; Washington DC has Capital Bikeshare; Portland has Biketown; Chicago has Divvy; and New York City has Citibike.

Page 83: "Almost everyone, it seems, owns and uses a bike."

Page 83: "Amsterdam and Copenhagen not only have bike lanes, they also have lots of bike paths...Bike paths...are separated from automobile traffic by a physical barrier of some sort—a curb, a median, or a series of planters."
Page 83: "The favored form of bike paths in both cities is an extension of the sidewalk."
Page 84: "Typically, the sidewalk takes up about eight to ten feet, then drops about three inches at a bevel, then extends five to eight feet for the bike path, then drops straight down six to eight inches to the street."
Page 84: "Bikes are given a green light while the right-turn red light is on for cars."

View video of a signalized left turn in Amsterdam.

View video of the "Copenhagen Left" turn.

Page 86: Bike amenities, "...a two-story municipal bike parking racks."
Page 86: "...metal tracks on the stairways down to the subway stations to accommodate bike wheels."
Underground bike parking garage for subway stations.
Page 86: "...and my favorite, dedicated trash cans along the bike paths."

Chapter 14


Surface parking lots are one of the chief sourses of water pollution. Storm water runs across the pavement, picking up oil and trash, and then goes down the storm drain to local rivers and lakes. During the summers, storm water is superheated on the pavement, then kills the mirco-organisms in local creeks and streams.
One solution to storm water run-off from parking lots is to handle the storm water on site by tipping the parking lots into rain gardens that hold the water and filter it as it soaks into the ground.
Page 107: CO2 emissions in the Chicago region (red is higher, yellow lower), mapped by acre on the left; mapped per household on the right. The maps, almost inverse images of each other, indicate that the energy efficiency of households located in dense urban areas far excels households in the exurban regions.
"The average household in Manhattan, for instance, has a carbon footprint of 32 metric tons annually — the same amount of energy needed to power 6.7 cars for a year. But across the water in Great Neck, N.Y., the average household footprint is 72.5 metric tons, which would power more than 15 cars for a year. Similarly, San Francisco’s annual household carbon footprint averages about 39, but levels spike to 64.6 in the nearby suburb of Danville. Chicago’s levels are in the high 30s, but in the suburb of Glencoe, a whopping 93.2 metric tons."—Robin Wilkey, "Carbon Emissions in the Suburbs Dwarf those in the Cities." Huffpost, January, 2014

Chapter 15: The G Word

Page 112: "I am focusing my remarks on neighborhoods that have suffered severe disinvestment in the wake of post-war suburbanization." The Wealthy-Jefferson area of Grand Rapids, Michigan, circa 2003.
There are many intermediate housing types between single-family detached homes and large apartment buildings. From Opticos Design, Inc.
Thompson Placemaking lays out the missing middle not only for housing, but for retail.
Missing Middle: Accessory Dwelling Unit over garage, Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Missing Middle: Row housing, Alexandria, Virginia
Missing Middle: Row Housing, Denver, Colorado
Missing Middle: Row Housing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Missing Middle: Live/Work unit, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Missing Middle: Townhomes, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Missing Middle: Duplex, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Missing Middle: Duplex, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Missing Middle: Duplex, Fullerton, California
Missing Middle: Courtyard apartments, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Missing Middle: Bungalow Court, Fullerton, California
Missing Middle Jackpot in Grand Rapids, Michigan: from left, duplex, accessory dwelling unit, single family detached, and two six-plexes (aka "six-packs").
Page 121: St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. "At their best," such churches, "represent a stable and accessible redemptive presence in that part of the world they've been given to inhabit."
Page 122: "Since the 1950s, many Protestant churches have abandoned city neighborhoods altogether and followed their congregants out to the suburbs and even the uttermost parts of the exurbs."
Page 122: "Typologically, exurban churches are modeled on the regional shopping mall."
Page 122: "Out on the edge, in the exurban setting, churches typically locate themselves on arterials between land use pods and surround themselves with huge parking lots to accommodate their members who come by car from distant points over a large region."
Fourth Presbyterian Church, a city-center church in Chicago
Page 124: "...such churches are in a position to draw both the committed and the curious on the basis of proximity and community engagement..." Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago.
Urban Village Church, on Division Street, Wicker Park, Chicago. The congregation worships in a rented theatre venue.
Open programming at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago
St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco / Photo: Chris Carlsson.
St. Gregory of Nyssa's Food Pantry amid the dancing saints
Full on Sunday. Embedded churches with a commuter congregation often flatten the surrounding neighborhood with huge parking lots that are used only several hours a week.
Empty the rest of the week. Parking prohibited at all times except for those who attend the church on Sundays. 24/6 dead space.

Hamilton, Ontario

Page 132: With the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s, "and the departure of several major employers...the city—especially the east side—fell prey to the familiar problems of disinvestment, unemployment, poverty drugs, crime, homelessness, and prostitution."
Page 1342: "They decided to establish a third place in the form of a cafe ...Thus was born 541 Eatery and Exchange, a neighborhood cafe —and much more—in a former bank building at 541 Barton Street."
Page 132: "...with a menu of real food at affordable prices in a family-friendly environment."
Page 133: "As a third place, 541 provides a venue for the exchange of ideas and stories, dialogue and counsel."
Page 133: "The jar gives customers an opportunity to pay it forward. Buy a button for a dollar and put it in the jar. Others can use the buttons to pay for their meals as they have need."
Page 135: "Fixing holes. Fixing what is broken. The repair of creation. This is indeed the work of a lifetime. And the fixing of our built environment—the wise redevelopment of our cities, the retro-fitting of our suburbs, the reconfiguration of dead malls, the re-design of our streets, the multiplication of transit options, and the creation of fine and fitting public places for the support of civic life—surely this is the work of several generations."

Brush Park Parcels: Proposed urban infill and redevelopment in Detroit, Michigan

The Brush Park neighborhood, halfway between downtown Detroit and Midtown, has experienced severe disinvestment over the past 60 years. Until recently, 40% of its lots were vacant. Other lots were occupied by delapidated housing. The Brush Park Parcels infill and redevelopment project covers 8.4 acres of Brush Park. The plan is for 400 residential units spread over rehabbed existing homes—most from the 19th century—new duplexes, townhomes, carriage houses (accessory dwelling units), and mixed-use apartment buildings. 20% of the residential units are reserved for affordable housing. In addition, the plan calls for 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space.
Brush Park, circa 2015.
The Ransom Gillis house, in Brush Park, before restoration.
The Ranson Gillis house, in Brush Park, after restoration.
Aerial perspective of proposed Brush Park Parcels project. Downtown Detroit in the background. Source: Bedrock Real Estate.
Brush Park Parcels would be a walkable, mixed-use and mixed-housing neighborhood, combining market rate and affordable housing in both traditional and modern styles.

Design proposal for the infill and redevelopment of 63rd and Halstead, Chicago

63rd and Halstead, Chicago, looking northwest, existing condition.
63rd and Halstead, Chicago, looking northwest: proposed re-development. Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Urban Design Studio.
Existing conditions in Johnson City. Dover Kohl Partners.
Johnson City Infill Design Proposal. Dover Kohl Partners.

Design for converting a single-use pod into a mixed-use district.

Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Urban Design Studio
"Perhaps it's time...to rediscover the virtues of urban neighborhoods, to recognize their unique features and assets, to appreciate their social and cultural diversity, even to consider living in them and trying to make them both good and affordable places for others to live." Page 23.
Damen Avenue Street Art, Chicago.