September 2008 Archive

A Quicker Way to Paint

September 27th, 2008

Sustainability in Oklahoma: We Need a Sweet T-Shirt

September 25th, 2008

I am always cranking on ways to promote Oklahoma. The ideas range in terms of size and saneness, but every now and then I have one that I think just might work. The other day I was considering how everything you hear today is sustainable this, or sustainable that, and you hear it most often when discussing design, development, and housing. In truth, the term is used so often and applied in so many different ways that it is quickly losing any real meaning. But no denying, right now sustainability is in and we need to take advantage by letting people know that Oklahoma has been employing sustainable practices for a long, long time.

Really, Oklahoma has a tradition of sustainability? When I look at the list of cities adopting LEED standards I don’t see anything about Oklahoma City or Tulsa?

Well, okay, we aren’t necessarily ahead of the sustainability curve now, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t living more sustainable lives in the past…



Oklahoma has a long history of sustainable housing types including:

The earth house (commonly referred to as a soddy or dugout) was a popular form of earlier Oklahoma settler housing and is considered to have a “small ecological footprint.”

The grass house (pre-fire alarm no less) also housed many early Okies.

And of course, we can’t forget the teepee which has been housing residents on Oklahoma soil since before the Land Run.


Speaking of the Land Run, we must remember that it was a Land RUN! If everyone had come in their SUVs then it would have probably been called the Land Race. But the soon to be residents of Oklahoma chose more sustainable transportation options, and traveled to stake their claim by train, on horseback, and even on foot!


Okay, so there have been periods where we may have contributed more than our fair share to America’s oil dependence problems, but we are also the place where “the wind comes sweeping down the plain” and we have been turning that wind into usable energy for a long, long time. In fact, now with the emphasis on clean natural gas and new wind farms we are beginning to embrace the sustainable energy tradition of our past.


So here is the idea. I want to make sure everyone knows that Oklahoma has been doing this sustainability thing for years and I have decided the best way to get the word out is with a sweet t-shirt. So to get things started, I am offering $100 for the best original t-shirt design that focuses on sustainable housing in Oklahoma. I would suggest you include one of the following slogans or something similar:

“Oklahoma has been doing sustainable housing for years!”


“We’ve been doing sustainable housing for years!”*

*include some reference to Oklahoma

Other Slogans

If you have more ideas on what would make a good slogan, please post them in the comments below.


Obviously, I am no expert at holding t-shirt competitions, but here are the basics:

deadline: all submissions must be received by November 30, 2008.

specs: all designs must adhere to the requirements of the Cafe Press 10×10 template (found here).

submitting: please email design in .jpg or .png format to

prizes: winner: $100 / runner-up: $40 / note: depending on the number and quality of entrants I may raise the prize amounts and/or award more entrants

selection: winners will be selected at my discretion and please no family members or employees of

ownership: all entrants must turnover ownership of submitted design(s) and all rights to their use. Granting me the sole right to reproduce, print, sell the design, or use it in any way I deem appropriate.

Roadsworth(y) Street Art

September 19th, 2008

Something fun for your Friday. I thought I would introduce you to the street art of Roadsworth. The Montreal native produces some very clever stuff, the majority of which he illegally paints on the street. has pulled together some of Roadworth’s best stuff which you can see here.


As for me, I am catching the early bus to NYC where I will hopefully get to see some of the ad-hoc parks that are being setup for Park(ing) Day NYC. I actually just found out that this was going on tomorrow and am pretty excited that my trip coincides with this event.

Still, the real purpose of the trip is to spend some time with friends and take in a game at Yankee Stadium, which is scheduled to be torn down at the end of the season as the Yankees move to their new digs across the street. I have never had the pleasure of taking in a game at “the House that Ruth Built.” I have been talking to my wife about it all summer and, being the procrastinator that I am, I finally bought tickets for the second to last game this Saturday. I will probably be sporting my Red Sox’s hat, so it should be an experience!

The Boston Public Library Courtyard

September 17th, 2008

I am taking a course called Sensing Place: Photography as Inquiry. Our first assignment was to take pictures that show how light affects the landscape. I chose the courtyard in the Boston Public Library as my site because it is one of my favorite places in Boston. We reviewed the assignment today and I thought you might enjoy seeing the photos I turned in.

A classic courtyard with a very pleasant fountain in the center.

I ran out of the house on Saturday afternoon when sunlight began to pour through my south facing window (after days of cloudy skies). Would have been nice to get a series of these shots throughout the day, but the sun didn’t really cooperate.

A wonderful pillar supported arcade surrounds the central courtyard.

I was sitting about 20 feet away from this guy when I noticed that he had positioned himself perfectly to get sunlight on his body, while his face stayed comfortably in the shade. I couldn’t figure out how to get a picture that would tell the story, but finally managed to crawl up on a second story window sill and hover with camera directly above the guy.

On any given day you can expect to find a number of people sitting, eating, reading, or utilizing the free wi-fi.

Taken from inside the library with the courtyard visible through the window. The light marble surfaces of the grand staircase shine bright as the sun pours through the southwest facing windows.

Why Traffic Calming?

September 14th, 2008

Mikel Murga is the co-instructor of Urban Transportation Planning, a course I’m taking this semester that is packed full of great information. Actually, if you want to be technical I am not taking the class but am listed as a listener do to time constraints. At least that is what I keep telling myself, but I still manage to watch a healthy dose of football each weekend. Not sure how that works…but heh, Boomer Sooner!

Anyhow, in Friday’s class he did a presentation on traffic calming techniques that he has successfully employed around world. Fascinating stuff and I now have a list of ideas I can’t wait to see happen in OKC! Still, one particular diagram – one that explains the reason we need traffic calming – is what really stuck out:

It is abundantly clear that pedestrians and cars traveling over 30 mph do not mix well! Doesn’t necessarily matter what the sign says if the cars are traveling faster. Not sure if OKC keeps data on marked speed compared to actual speed, but it would be interesting to see what the speeds are in areas that are commonly used by pedestrians (e.g. Bricktown, Downtown, Western Ave, etc).

Anyway, I am sure that I will post more from this class, but If this type of stuff really interest you then you have to check out MITOPENCOURSEWARE, which makes available presentations, lecture notes, assignments, etc, from a number of courses including this one – which you can find here: 11.540J Urban Transportation Planning!

Saul Griffith is Smaht. Wicked Smaht!

September 11th, 2008

I met this guy yesterday an an XPrize Lab @ MIT reception and have to say that I was really impressed. The solution seeking way that he approaches problems is refreshing. For example, he told me that in most cases, Americans looking to save energy would do better to paint their roofs white, than they would to install solar roof panels! For some reason, we politicize problems to the point that it is all meaningless, but as you can see in this interview, this guy is a pure problem-solving engineer. His name is Saul Griffith, he is brilliant, and I guarantee you that you will see a lot more from him in the future!


Here is an interview where he explains his approach to the problem of global warming:


For more on Saul and his many exciting projects, go to his webiste:

More on the I-40 Pedestrian Bridge

September 8th, 2008

Follow up on my previous post on the new I-40 pedestrian bridge, which I now know is called the “SkyDance Bridge”. Doug Loudenback has put up a nice post that includes the Core to Shore masterplan and shows the location of the bridge on the Harvey alignment and photos of a model of the bridge that currently is sitting at city hall. This north-south pedestrian alignment will extend all of the way from the river, across I-40 (via this bridge) and up into downtown where it will intersect the new Devon Tower rotunda. The model of the bridge is especially helpful in understanding the whole design, including a small pivot that takes play halfway across the bridge, which I assume is both for aesthetic value and to help align the paths on either side of the highway. Also, I have included all of the members of the team with links to the websites that I have found. While many of these guys have yet to do a project of this scale and significance, all of them have have been doing terrific architecture around Oklahoma City for years. Finally, there is the video from that includes commentary from lead designers Hans Butzer and Stan Carroll on the design, including information on the two lighting schemes that will either glow from withing the translucent ETF skinned north face or provide dramatic sculptural lighting that shines from below.




Hans Butzer

Stan Carroll
Beyond Metal

Kenneth Fitzsimmons
TASK Design

Jeremy Gardner

Brett Johnson
J3 Architecture

Doug Klassen
MKEC Engineering

Laurent Massenat
Obelisk Engineering

Chris Ramseyer
OU School of Civil Engineering

Karl Svaty
MKEC Engineering

David Wanzer
J3 Architecture


Previous post: The NEW I-40 Pedestrian Bridge

More model Pictures:

The NEW I-40 Pedestrian Bridge

September 6th, 2008

Congratulations to Hans Butzer and his team at the Butzer Design Partnership on their competition winning design for the new I-40 pedestrian bridge! I spoke to Hans about a month ago and he said that he was very excited about the design they were submitting for the competition – and now I know why. The bridge is beautiful, with a dramatic stretch towards the sky and a silhouette that evokes imagery unique to Oklahoma. I didn’t have to see the design concept to know that it was inspired by the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, the state bird of Oklahoma. While the inspiration can be easily deduced, the design maintains an elegance of form that is wholly unique.

Some Guy (that is his name “Some Guy”) commented on a forum at

Having seen all of the final presentations and models, I believe the winning team simply out-designed everybody else — including one worldwide architectural firm who does nothing but bridges and another worldwide firm who has designed many of the new structures you’ve seen as part of the Beijing Olympics. The local guys went toe-to-toe in an international competition and won…Who knew we had this kind of talent right here in Oklahoma City?

Actually, a lot of people have already recognized the talent of Hans (and his wife Torrey) after their design for the OKC Memorial beat out 623 entries from around the world. When they submitted their memorial designs they were living and working in Berlin, then Hans completed much of the work during his graduate program at the Harvard GSD. After graduating from school, they settled down right here in OKC. Hans is someone I really admire and has taught (and I hope will continue to teach) me so much about planning, architecture, and urban design. I really feel like we are lucky to have him in Oklahoma City, and it is nice to see him again involved in a dynamic design project that will greatly contribute to the architectural richness of Oklahoma City.

Still, Some Guy does make a good point, we do have more talent in Oklahoma City than we often realize. One thing that makes this project so wonderful is that Hans was only one member of a much larger team that all contributed to the design; a team that includes some of the best young architects our city has to offer. Hopefully local developers, organizations, institutions, and philanthropists will take note of the design, and of the fact that we have a wealth of architectural talent that goes largely untapped on major projects.

The future is bright for Oklahoma City! When this bridge is complete, the city will have a new landmark. A landmark that will be seen by thousands of people everyday. Even those persons that pass through on I-40 without stopping will be forced to see and no doubt enjoy the beauty of the design. The good times are rolling in OKC – I can’t wait to see what is next. Congratulations to the design team, to the city for running a successful competition, and to the people of Oklahoma City who who will get to enjoy this bridge for decades to come!


More on the I-40 Pedestrian Bridge
Includes a video interview with lead designers Hans Butzer and Stan Carroll, as well as more information on the design team and pictures of a scale model.

Top Ten Must Haves for our new Downtown Park
A month ago I posted this list of my “top ten must haves” for downtown’s new park. Must have #6 was beautiful bridges, and while the new I-40 bridge is not exactly in the park, it does help connect the park to the river – so it will do. Click the link to check out the other nine!

Visualization: Watching Walmart Grow!

September 5th, 2008

Click on the image, or follow this link, to see the amazing growth of Walmart from a single store in 1962 to a truly global brand. Take note of the intensity of stores in Oklahoma. For better or worse, I have heard that Oklahoma City was long considered an ideal market for Walmart!

Alex Maclean: The View from Above

September 4th, 2008

Back in Boston and in the middle of the first week of classes. Sorry for the dearth of posts recently, but I am getting back into the swing of things and will try to pick it up.

While school takes away a lot of my free time, it does provide a never ending list of things to blog about. For instance, one of my professors reminded me of the work done by Alex Maclean. Alex is a trained architect that paid his way through school by getting his pilot’s license and taking aerial pictures. Ultimately this became his career and he has a special eye for capturing the American landscape from the air.

Check out some of his amazing work at his website:

Also, he has started an archive of images more related to planning and urban design at: