Monday, December 31, 2012

Changhua, Taiwan

All over the world, people love to wave and say hello.  But, today we wave and say good-bye.  Another year has passed.  May the future smile on us all.  [2012]

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pohang, South Korea

The Homigot Lighthouse has been seized by one of the hands of harmony.  If the sky cooperates, that same hand can also catch the rising sun.  This week, Homigot is the venue for the Sunrise Festival. As the eastern-most point of land in South Korea, it is perfect for the task. [2012]

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pohang, South Korea

Here's the other hand, firmly planted on Korean soil. Do you see the offshore hand in the distance? Is this a subtle way of laying claim to naming rights over the East Sea, a way of showing how natural it is to embrace those waters? Or is it, as the sculpture's name implies, simply the hands of harmony? [2012]

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pohang, South Korea

"If I drown, please report that I drowned in the East Sea and not the Sea of Japan!"  The hand is a cry for help:  help in re-setting the name of these waters off the eastern shore of the Korean peninsula.  Koreans prefer the name East Sea.  But, where's the other hand?  [2012]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Marrakech, Morocco

Star anise is easily identified. What else do you see? Flower tea? Breath freshener? Toothpicks? Exfoliates? Lipstick? Something 'unmentionable in polite company'? By the way, none of them are in the row of cones. [2005]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Douglas, Isle of Man

Victoria Street leads right down to the harbor in Douglas. One element of the built environment feels right at home on Victoria Street. Is it the RBS Building or the town clock? The latter, of course.  It just reeks of Victorian era design. As for the Royal Bank of Scotland: closed today.  As in Great Britain, it's Boxing Day on the Isle of Man. [2011]

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bethlehem, Palestine

Luke tells us the story of Jesus' birth: Joseph and Mary, who was great with child, went up out of Galilee into Judea and unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. While they were there, she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Merry Christmas! [1996]

Monday, December 24, 2012

Edmonds, Washington, USA

What a perfect corner for a street sign. What a perfect evening for a carol sing. Look. The neighbors have already assembled and their tune is in perfect harmony. [2011]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

St. George, Utah, USA

Public art can lift your spirit, especially when it becomes an integral part of the community. St. George has found a successful formula for using the arts to keep people "flying high." Some of the sculptures, like this one by Dan Hill, are a permanent part of the townscape. Others are part of annual exhibitions and can pop up on or off the grid. [2009]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Taipei, Taiwan

They face the Goddess of Mercy and ask for her blessings.  In their hands, they hold incense sticks which will be raised above their heads as part of the ritual.  Finally, the incense will be added to a censer, where it will continue to fragrance the air.  Longshan Temple is one of the most lavish in Taipei.  Above all, it is a "praying place."  [2011]

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

I used to be able to dress myself, but since rigor mortis set in, I have been dependent on the good citizens of La Ville de Québec to keep me warm in winter. Where are your woollies? Better find them. Winter is here. And remember to take care of those who have-not. Offer scarves for those in need. [2005]

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Milan, Italy

The facade of Milan's duomo, or cathedral, is being monitored by the savvy souls at EniTechnologie. For innovative work in historical preservation, these folks wear halos of their own. Jesus must think of them as his dermatologists. [2008]

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

London, England, UK

It's called encroachment. Encroachee? Fitzrovia. It's a central London neighborhood that Jane Jacobs would find much like Greenwich Village: (a) short blocks, (b) aged buildings, (c) mixed primary uses, and (d) high population densities. Anathema to her: single-purpose high-rises with all other uses zoned out. [2011]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

Hezekiah's Tunnel in East Jerusalem was dug through the limestone bedrock 2700 years ago to bring water from the Gihon Spring into the heart of the walled city. It's half a kilometer long and open to the public, though you must wade through water at least a foot deep. Enter here (along with these high schoolers), but be sure to bring your flashlight. [1997]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Florence, Oregon, USA

There's money in the law. And historic preservation is richer for it. Attorneys often put their signature on local communities by rescuing signature architecture from destruction. Do you see the porch mural on this attorney's office? It's painted by the shadows, and in about an hour it will disappear. [2011]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oceanside, California, USA

Cafe 101 on Highway 101: It doesn't want to let go of the past, and it doesn't have to, thanks to mural artists who are able to resurrect long gone landscapes that still help sell burgers and fries. In reality, here in California, 101 is neither cafe nor highway. It's a lifestyle pioneered by the ancestors and longed-for by their children. [2007]

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chillicothe, Missouri, USA

You can tell when small towns are proud of themselves. They start dressing up, painting their nails, and bragging. Their nails they hang on lamp posts. Their boasts they splay on buildings. "The best thing since sliced bread" has become a compliment paid to only the most innovative ideas. What does that say about Chillicothe? [2008]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Aegina Island, Greece

Far more important than the island of Aegina is the body of water in which it is located: the Saronic Gulf. World history was forged here. If the gulf had gone to the Persians in the Battle of Salamis, 'western civilization' wouldn't be so western. Fortunately, the Greeks won and the Age of Pericles followed. [2004]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

You could be anywhere, right? There's no signature architecture, no eye-catching tower, no superlative sculpture, and no splotch of identifying color. I wonder what Winnipeg's skyline would look like if it were designed to match the thistle in the foreground? [2012]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paris, France

Navigable rivers and interfluvial canals make of Europe a spiderweb of filaments that facilitate internal and international commerce. Along the Seine in the heart of Paris, the working city comes shoulder-to-shoulder with the city of spectacle as a canal boat glides past Île de la Cité. [2005]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

Playing along a dry riverbed, or wadi, in the mountains of Fujairah Emirate in the UAE, these boys are divided into two camps: two carry on the tradition of wearing the dishdash; three have opted for western sports togs. Surprised by the bright colors? Don't be. The Middle East is one of the most colorful parts of the world. [1992]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Pay no attention to that reclining Buddha's advice from yesterday. Monkeys should always be the center of attention. I have been hanging around Cardiff Docks since 2000, and everybody looks up to me here. They must know I inspired poet John Masefield to write Cargoes . . . "of ivory, and apes and peacocks." And now, I am an inspiration to everyone. Right? [2005]

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Phang Nga, Thailand

It's raining. Come in. It's dry in here. And, please make me the center of attention. Please ignore those monkeys that are everywhere. And, please don't wander away into the depths of this huge cave complex. Sorry. I didn't offer a proper greeting: Welcome to Wat Suwan Kuha. I am a reclining Buddha. I'm what you came to see. Right? [2011]

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Leafy greens are a part of every street market in China. When you see so much of the same vegetable lining the street, you know it's part of the daily diet. High in calories? No. High in protein? No. High in micronutrients? Yes. [2011]

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

When the band isn't playing, the gazebo has other jobs to do. This is one of them: providing a platform for bubble-makers, one of the great cross-cultural joys of childhood. [2007]

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fallen Leaf Lake, California, USA

Let's set the stage for a play. In the role of Nemesis: Mother Nature. In the role of Narcissus: Humankind.  Mother Nature lures Humankind to the pool of life. We look in, see our own reflection, become infatuated with ourselves, can do nothing but reflect on how great we are, and then we die.  We fall like a leaf on Fallen Leaf Lake and are seen no more. [2006]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Craftsbury Common, Vermont, USA

"Double your pleasure, double your fun."
The rain has abated; let's wish for some sun.
"On Craftsbury Common, the puddles provide
a two-for-one deal" the photographer sighed.
Double-blue heaven, double-green grass,
a double-wide window on New England's past.
Quick with the shutter, do battle with clouds;
they'll be gone soon, their shadows less loud.
The double-wide view will succumb to the wish,
Much less to chew, much less to cherish.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New York, New York, USA

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "There is an optical illusion about every person we meet." Geographers aver something similar: "There is an optical illusion about every place we visit." Take a look at Lower Manhattan and see if you can figure it out. [2005]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What would you pay for your own sight line to the Toronto Harbor? Empty space can be such a valuable resource! Notice how cleverly the vertical dimension has been engineered to maximize views of Lake Ontario and, therefore, the value of the land on which these residential units are built. [2010]

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For a real island experience you must arrive by water.  You must stand on deck and watch the island materialize on the horizon, take form, grow bigger, and pull you shore side.  Ready to visit Australia's Apple Isle?  Just board the Spirit of Tasmania and you will be there in a mere 9 hours.  That's plenty of time to banter with newfound mates and reflect on the metaphysical.  [2011]

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Seongnam, South Korea

Bridging the gap between Korea and the rest of the world: That's what the Academy for Korean Studies is all about. The campus provides a perfect opportunity to cross the bridge of knowledge to deeper understanding of Korean culture and Korea's place among the world's nations. [2012]