Architecture and land use


Recently I scored great deals on a few books. At Moe’s Books in Berkeley I bought:

And then at Compass Books (owned by Books Inc.) in San Francisco Airport, I bought:

Total amount:  $73.83 $22.98. Saved over $50. Sweeeeet.

Mickey Mouse plush toyLast week I was in Orlando for a customer conference, Lotusphere. For 3½ days straight I manned a demo station in the Innovation Lab on one of my research projects, which was worthwhile but tiring. But there was a payoff: the conference party was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Jeff and I spent Thursday afternoon at the Magic Kingdom. Here’s a tip: go to Disney World in January — no one’s there. It helps if it rained that morning. In less than 4 hours, Jeff and I were able to circle around the park and go on 6 rides, and then circle around again and go on 5 more. When it came to dollars per ride, we definitely got  our money’s worth.

Before the conference, I went to visit my old Connecticut neighbors, who I hadn’t seen since I moved to California almost 20 years ago, and drove through the town of Celebration, a new urbanist town planned by Disney. It looked very pleasant. Almost too pleasant…

My photos from the trip are in two sets: Lotusphere 2007 and Walt Disney World and Celebration.

Last week San Jose hosted a huge digital art conference and exhibition called ZeroOne, held in association with the International Symposium of Electronic Art. I went on Tuesday with Francis and Simona to check out an art piece created by their friends called Acclair, a provocative piece on the intersection of profiling, security, and advertising. We also got to see massive images get projected onto San Jose City Hall the result was quite spectacular. I also wanted to see the Survival Research Labs show on Friday, but it was long sold out.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen people from San Francisco come to San Jose to see art. I hope it’s not the last.

As New York experiences a building boom, old signs painted on the sides of buildings are becoming even more rare.

I don’t think many readers of this blog live in Cupertino, but Measures A, B, and C would have region-wide impact. These measures would set limits on building density, height, and setback from the street; only part of Vallco would be exempt. Any other exemptions would need a citywide vote, paid by the developer. Proponents want to preserve Cupertino’s suburban character, but these measures are way too extreme. Passing them would just continue ugly sprawl.

For example, the height restriction (36 feet maximum) means that the new library and Apple’s corporate headquarters would be in violation. The Senior Center and the new Peet’s Coffee/Panera Bread building would violate the setback restriction (35 feet minimum). These are not urban skyscrapers by any means. It’s not too often you find a Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club on the same side of an issue. They are both against Measures A, B, and C, as are virtually every elected official in Cupertino. I’m with them.

Today was the second day of the grand opening celebration at the de Young Museum, and it was in full swing. Ben and I planned to meet at 10 AM, but when I got there, I found no parking within the park and settled for the new parking garage underneath the Music Concourse. It ended up being $15 for 4 hours — painful, but worth not circling the park for an hour. Then I got in line, which at the time stretched from the museum entrance all the way out to 8th Ave and JFK Drive, about 200 yards. A volunteer guessed it would take about 1½ hours, but it ended up being “only” 45 minutes, and granted, the line moved faster than I expected.

There is so much to see at the museum that we chose to concentrate our visit in three areas: the tower, where you get great views of the city; the special exhibition on Hatshepsut, the only female pharoah of ancient Egypt; and American paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. I really enjoyed the Hudson River School and trompe-l’oeil paintings, but there were a few pieces of contemporary art that also caught my eye, including a stainless steel “fake rock” by Zhan Wang. As for the building itself, it’s very unusual, but in a good way (IMHO). I hope the copper holds up in the salt air… [photos]

Normally, my taste in architecture is traditional, but I’ve been trying to broaden my range. For example, San Jose’s new City Hall, which had its grand opening today, is decidedly modernist: clean lines and an absence of ornament. This is no surprise given the architect, Richard Meier. But it is an impressive space: the all-glass rotunda is striking, as are the views from the 18th floor, the tallest vantage point in the city. Dare I say, it’s a good place to bring visitors from out of town. Now if only the surrounding downtown blocks could get spiffed up a bit… [photos]

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