Friday, November 19, 2010


While walking in Cambridge, MA near MIT, I came across this hotel with a facade obscured by scaffolding, presumably for maintenance or repair:

It was curious to see the scaffolding, ordinarily a lightweight, temporary structure, wrapped with a brick print implying a certain permanence.

Was this a disguise intended to obscure the presence of ongoing maintenance? Or perhaps an aesthetic treatment to "improve" the appearance of the scaffolding?
This reminded me of the seemingly common occurrence of traveling to visit some architectural monument, only to discover the site to be in a state of restoration, forever coupling the visitor's experience with a temporary, yet radically altered, state.

[Image: courtesy of Joel Kraut]

[Image: courtesy of C. Chase Taylor]
[Image: courtesy of Iian Simpson]

Perhaps the world needs a Google Maps layer of Monument Maintenance, identifying in real time the destinations that are currently obscured to warn travelers.

Alternatively, perhaps scaffolding installations should be temporary art installations, blurring the boundaries of temporary and permanent monumentality.

[Image: courtesy of Alex Liivet]
Or perhaps the logical conclusion is to obscure the monument with an image of the monument itself, providing a surrogate experience of the real with an image of the real.

[Image: courtesy of Elliot Brown]
[Image: courtesy of assortedstuff]

Which begs the question, should the surrogate image represent the "before," the "after" or another state altogether?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Non-Regional Richmond Confirmed

The non-regional nature of Richmond, especially related to public transportation, was recently made apparent at the Fulton Design Days, a part of the LISC-sponsored visioning project for the Fulton neighborhood in eastern Richmond. The nearest location of comprehensive shopping and services for Fulton residents, such as a grocery store, is The Shops at White Oak Village in Henrico County. According to Google Maps, the trip is 2.7 miles, a five-minute car ride, a fifteen-minute bike ride and a 53-minute walk.
According to the GRTC's trip planner, to reach the same destination by bus (optimized to minimize travel time), the traveler must first ride a west-bound bus in the opposite direction for 16 minutes, transfer in downtown Richmond to an east-bound bus after a 25 minute wait, finally reaching the destination after a 30 minute ride. The total travel time is estimated to be one hour and twenty-one minutes. Crazy.