Re: arcology & permaculture (was generic density increase / calendar control

From: Bill Douglass (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 19:00:01 MST

On Monday, 1 Jan 2001 Greg Burch wrote:
>In a message dated 1/1/01 12:42:17 PM Central Standard Time,
> writes:
> > Same here. However, I like to think of the principles being applied at
> > level of, say, a shopping mall (which would then become much more than
> > shopping mall) or an industrial complex. These projects are tightly
> > from the beginning anyhow.
>I've had the same thought for years. Two of my earliest architectural
> >"aha" experiences happened here in Houston, both on the same trip in
> >1973 or '74. My girlfriend (a Houstonian, who I was visiting), took me
> >into the Hyatt Regency and made me not look up until I was standing in
> >the middle (if you could see the way she looked, you'd understand why >I
>was willing to do just about anything she asked me to do). Then she >told
>me to look up and I had a
>true mind-blowing experience as I took in the cavernous vertical space >of
>the 25(?)-story interior atrium around which the hotel is built. I >was
>speechless for a good long time.

This would be a great way to be introduced to a wonderful (especially back
in the 70s) building. Growing up in Houston the Hyatt Regency was one of my
favorite buildings around. I used to enjoy outtings with my Mother, when
we'd venture downtown and take in the cavernous space of the Hyatt lobby,
and then maybe get some lunch at the revolving restaurant on top.

My understanding is that the Houston Hyatt was the first hotel in the world
to employ this type of take-your-breath-away, huge, cavernous lobby effect.
A lot of hotels worldwide use this design concept now, and I'm glad: it's
too much fun to be in just one city.

As for the revolving part, that's spread worldwide, too, though I'm less
glad about that. It seems to be becoming an architectural novelty in the
developing world.

'Though it's not real relevant to this thread, I'm reminded of a revolving
restaurant atop a hotel in downtown Chongqing, China, which I went to on my
own a couple years back. Thankfully they had an English-language menu, but
for some dishes a bit seemed to get lost in the translation. One dish which
I didn't try was "Braised Bigs Colon". Yes, that is a "B".

>The second was my first experience of a shopping mall, when we went > to
>the Galleria the same day.
>Both experiences reverberated in my mind for quite some time. I >imagined
>merging the two spaces and combining living and working and >retail spaces
>by gradually extending the Galleria-style multi-story >mall to connect to
>spaces like the Hyatt that would be apartment >buildings and also office
>I foresaw a natural, organic growth possibility for a kind of urban
> >landscape that promised the efficiencies and vitality of Soleri's
> >arcologies, but without the need for so much up-front planning and
> >investment.
>For years I was surprised that centers like the Galleria didn't >naturally
>develop along the pathway I had imagined. The benefits to >all participants
>seemed like an obvious incentive to engage in that >direction of
>I still wonder why it hasn't happened. Partly, it's because many -- >if
>not most -- people really do seem to want their own piece of dirt, >no
>matter how small, and the level of privacy and the feeling of >autonomy
>that detached houses provide.
>Another reason is the basic inertia inherent in the construction and >real
>estate development industries. Because work in those industries >is so
>risky and capital intensive, development tends to stick to >what's known
>and proven to work.

To see what some people prefer to the type of development described (which
I've always thought would be pretty cool, too), look no further than a block
West of the Houston Galleria. There, run-down single-story houses are being
bulldozered and replaced by strange pseudo-houses: free-standing brick homes
built so close together that in my view they might as well be townhomes, but
it's like you said, the owners have gotten their piece of dirt and are in a
detached house, even if it is just one foot from the next-door neighbors'
identical, characterless abode.


Bill Douglass
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