Utility boxes are among those necessary features of modern life that add little to the built environment – in most cases. Some have been painted, others have been wrapped. They can convert a message artistically or philosophically. In Seattle the boxes were used for neighborhood branding and wayfinding. Recently when I was visiting New Brunswick, New Jersey, I found a
Over the last few years I observed how the next town over from where I live has been trying to jumpstart revitalization efforts. The town is Edison and the neighborhood is called Clara Barton. There are a few multi-story buildings but most are single story and spaced out typical of a suburban neighborhood commerical district. In years past planters were
Never underestimate what some green astroturf and timbers can do to activate an empty or underutilized public space. We loved stumbling across this pop-up bocce court in Millburn, New Jersey. Something else they got right was clustering movable furniture, planters, and public art elements. Altogether it made a nice unexpected outdoor gathering space. Only thing lacking is to get the
Millburn has an ideal location, close to New York City and at the foot of the South Mountain Reservation. There are many assets here including the Paper Mill Playhouse and the Greenwood Gardens not too far away from the downtown. Here are a few highlights from a recent visit. Fantastical Garden, 2022 This sculpture by Dan Fenelon has signature vivid
Northshire Bookstore is one of the best merchandized book stores I’ve seen. The store is arranged as a series of rooms to conform with the irregular floor plan of the building. Still it manages to have ample open spaces for displays. Makes it very easy to bump into the perfect book or gift item. Merchandizing with clear product groupings and
Blame Vitruvius. In his treatise De Architectura around 27 BCE, the three elements critical to architecture were utilitas (function), firmitas (stability), and venustas (beauty). While so easy to articulate, in practice this harmony in buildings and places was and is so hard to achieve. Fast forward to Colonial America. Many prototypes for buildings and plans for cities hearkened back to
Ample street parking has been given way to allow for expanded outdoor dining. The use of linked pop-up tents created sizeable areas in the right-of-way where larger structures would not fit.
This very substantial parklet on South Orange Ave, just over a block away from the South Orange Performing Arts Center provides a nice outdoor seating area near restaurants. The tactical use of large concrete barriers buffers it from nearby parking and traffic on either end. Also, location near a pre-existing bump-out expands the public realm further out beyond the limits