Mattressland

I recently bought a new mattress. What could this possibly have to do with architecture, urban form, economics, or society? Humor me for a minute. In years past I would have dreaded the transaction. Driving out along an eight lane arterial to a series of chain mattress stores or going to a department store in … Continue reading Mattressland

The Woo

Every once in a while I stumble on a building and scratch my head. What were these people thinking when they built this place? When resources are scarce or people are under the yoke of oppressive circumstances it’s obvious. They make do. But a law firm in Massachusetts? In this case I think I understand … Continue reading The Woo

High Holy Days

During high religious holidays like Easter I often find myself asking why rituals are structured the way there are. For example, Lent – a period of forty days of fasting, penance, and almsgiving – coincides precisely with the six week stretch of the year when food is at its most scarce in traditional agricultural societies. … Continue reading High Holy Days

The Jungle

Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle was intended to inform the larger American public of the miserable working environment and sub survival wages of Chicago’s meat packing employees. The popular response was huge and lead to new government agencies and protections, but not the kind Sinclair had hoped for. By describing the dangerous and unhealthy … Continue reading The Jungle