I've just finished watching for a second time the wonderful film by Andreas M. Dalsgaard, The Human Scale, and I'm having a "Eureka!" moment. The ultimate secret to a "zero carbon Chicago" will not be bike lanes or solar panels or novel physics or botanical spaces -- though all of those things will be important -- but rather walking and remembering.
The Human Scale makes clear that the key to liveable cities is putting design in support of the experience of pedestrians, and taking into account the power of memory in affording quality of life.
But then I thought further about part of the movie describing the rebuilding of Christchurch, New Zealand, after the 2011 earthquake. On of the architects profiled in the film was talking about the importance of memory our experience of the city: "That's where I first saw my girlfriend; two doors down is the coffee shop where we first had coffee together."
|Marc Chagall, The Four Seasons, Chicago|
I thought about Chagall's mural "The Four Seasons." It is located at Monroe and Dearborn, in the plaza of Chase Bank -- what some of us remember as 1st National Bank of Chicago. I love it not just because it's beautiful, and because I so often have the opportunity to walk by it on my walks through that beautiful neighborhood, but also because of memories.
|"Pas mal, eh?"|
Chagall, The Four Seasons (detail)
During the summer, "The Four Seasons" becomes part of one of the great "living rooms" of the city: Chase Plaza. It's a place where anyone can come and eat their lunch, read the paper, get a tan, people watch, enjoy the sounds of the fountain, and meditate on great art.
|Chase Plaza, Chicago|
All of this is within blocks of the buildings that mark the birth of the skyscraper. A great way to get oriented is with an architecture walk by Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Chicago: take a walk and let the memories begin.
(See NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Who will bring us down to earth? )
The city contains masterpieces of landscape architecture, with a strong focus on wildflowers.
(See One Word: Wildflowers )
Vibrant neighborhoods like Logan Square are part of the human scale of Chicago.
(See Occupy Palm Sunday! in Logan Square)