Orlando

The Private Business of Public Art

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Like many cities coming out of the downturn, Orlando is jonesing for a recovery. To promote a sense of new prosperity, City Hall leaders recently added eight works of art to its downtown core, amidst much fanfare. Before we start whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again,” however, we would do well to examine the circumstances of this renewed interest in public art. Its surprising return was trumpeted as a new way to enrich the city and benefit its residents; many, including this author, applauded the effort. This has certainly happened. But has the result been a barrier, as much as a connection, to its citizenry?  read more »

Orlando, Florida: East End Market & the New Localism

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Getting meat and potatoes from the farm to the table depends upon a smooth, even flow. The smaller farmers' markets are mostly absent in the city these days, with a few vestigial exceptions: Reading Market in Philadelphia, Pike Place in Seattle, and Greenmarket in Manhattan, to name a few. Now, East End Market on Corrine Drive in Orlando has taken its place alongside these venerable exchanges.  read more »

Subjects:

Building Authenticity: Finding Gems in Florida's Stucco Mansions

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This jaded land, Florida, is the world-weary capital of architectural irony, with more tongue-in-cheek showpieces than even Las Vegas. But hidden within the MedRev McMansions, the stucco-smeared stage sets, and the high cynicism of our highway junkspace, there lies hidden a handful of true works of quiet beauty. Leave it to Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer prize-winning architecture critic and best-selling author of Why Architecture Matters, to point it out to us godless heathens. In an interview, he tells me that he’s excited to tour these nuggets we’re hoarding. Who knew?

“While Frank Lloyd Wright and other ‘star-chitects’ hogged center stage,” Goldberger says, “many more created earnest, sincere buildings that fulfilled their obligation to the street. These unsung heroes of American architecture matter. I think that James Gamble Rogers II was one of these in Winter Park. I hope so, anyway, because I’m coming down from New York to see them for the first time ever.” Sincere architecture: an endangered species in the world today, but in over-themed Orlando, practically nonexistent.  read more »

Florida: When Your Best (Place) Just Ain't Good Enough

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Real estate broker Coldwell Banker handles corporate relocations for a large portion of our middle class. It recently released a survey of Suburbanite Best Places to Live. While it's easy to dismiss as a sales tool for their realtors, the survey provides a fascinating glimpse of middle class, suburban preferences, influenced by our current economy. Coldwell Banker’s top honors go to Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.  read more »

Swing State Geography: The I-4 Corridor

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Overheated presidential politics have done few favors to Florida, except to put 132 miles of hot asphalt on everyone’s lips:  Interstate 4.  Completed in the late 1960s, this interstate (in fact, the only interstate highway to be entirely contained within one state) is known by millions who have  visited there at least once on vacation.  But the social and political reality in the world  around Interstate 4 is little known outside of Central Florida.  Like Ypres, the Flemish town continually under assault during World War 1, I-4 will receive the brunt of both side’  read more »

Localism As An Anti-Depressant

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Are we heading into a new era of local solutions?  read more »

Midcentury Modern

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Midcentury modern tours now are taking place in cities all over the country. Renewed interest in this era capitalizes on the millennials’ interest in design from a time that seems almost impossibly optimistic compared to today’s zeitgeist. Most cities around the country boast a healthy building stock from this postwar period, nicknamed “the suburbs,” although these are ritually condemned – and designated for annihilation – by academics, urban land speculators and the urban clerisy.  read more »

Megalopolis and its Rivals

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Jean Gottman in 1961 coined the term megalopolis (Megalopolis, the Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the Unites States) to describe the massive concentration of population extending from the core of New York north beyond Boston and south encompassing Washington DC. It has been widely studied and mapped, including by me. (Morrill, 2006, Classic Map Revisited, Professional Geographer).  The concept has also been extended to describe and compare many other large conurbations around the world.

Maybe it’s time to see how the original has fared?   And what has happened to other metropolitan complexes in the US, most notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and should we say Florida?  read more »

Why Downtowns Fail and How They Can Come Back

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To many Florida developers in the last decade, downtown condo towers seemed to make a lot of sense. They were sold as the logical locale for active seniors and millennials, great affordable starter homes, and best of all, investments.  Reinvigorating downtowns became fashionable currency in many of Florida’s second and third tier cities.   read more »

Florida’s Quick Rebound

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Adding nearly 119,000 people in 2011, Florida has capped a decade of steady population increase  to see the state grow 19% since 2000.  Despite 2009, an historic year where more people left than arrived, the overall net growth of Florida has yielded two additional congressional seats, moving the state well on its way towards the becoming third most populous state in the nation.  This ascendancy brings new responsibility to the shoulders of the state’s leaders, and the direction this st  read more »