Aminah Ricks

Founder & Creative Director
MORPHOCODE Shows Us NYC In A New Light

Urban Layers is a very cool tool, which helps us understand not only the density, but also the history of the creation of Manhattan’s urban fabric.  It is a flexible, multi-dimensional interactive map created by the architectural firm Morphocode.  It helps anyone with a bit of curiosity explore the dense and complex structure of New York City.

“The map lets you navigate through historical fragments of the borough that have been preserved and are currently embedded in its densely built environment. The rigid archipelago of building blocks has been mapped as a succession of structural episodes starting from 1765.” -Morphocode

Start exploring now.

Image credits: Morphocode
MORPHOCODE graph-overview

 

 

 

Crossing Borders: Oakland and San Francisco

SPUR, Ideas and Actions for a Better City

San Francisco 6:00 p.m. | Monday, May 4, 2015

Though physically separated by the San Francisco Bay, Oakland and San Francisco are inextricably linked through their economies, housing markets and the hundreds of thousands of people who cross the bay each day. Come hear both cities’ planning directors in a conversation on some of the topics that link (or divide) them.

+ Rachel Flynn / Oakland Department of Planning and Building
John Rahaim / San Francisco Planning Department

Can’t make it in person? Check out the [email protected] webcast of this event.

SPUR Urban Center

654 Mission Street

94105-4015 San Francisco, CA

Walking New York City – Urban Art at its Best

The French artist JR describes this Manhattan based project:

“Last month the New York Times Magazine reached out to me to think about a project together… I told them I have been working for a year on Immigration and I would love to continue what I started on Ellis Island in the city.  So, we started looking for people who arrived less than a year ago.  We chose 15 coming from all over the world. I photographed them walking in the city … all of them completely unknown… living in the shadows of the city and learning English slowly.  We pasted Elmar, 20 years old who came from Azerbaijan, on the floor of Flat Iron Plaza in New York City.  The image was 150 feet high.  People walked on him all day and no one really noticed him… Today he is on the cover of the NYtimes magazine… while everyone else is in the shadow.”

Read more at the NYTimes.

 

A Seedling Grows in Pittsburgh

A Seedling Grows in Pittsburgh

Reclaiming abandoned homes that leave behind empty lots, for the creation of fresh veggies and fruits is a growing trend in urban centers nationwide.  Further, this trend is comprised of hopeful urban farmers, who want to revitalize their communities.

This is the story of Mindy Schwartz.  She lives in Wilkinsburg, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh and she works hard to product amazing seedling plants and serve her community.

How did her story begin?  In 1994, she moved into a 3-unit apartment house and built raised gardens to grow produce.  She was so successful that she grew more than she could ever eat.  At first, she gave them away to friends, and then she began charging for them, finally she began selling to local restaurants.  “Next thing you know, I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seedlings,” she said.

Mindy turned her passion into a business, paving the way for the once abandoned to become fully alive.

Read more from our friends at the Post-Gazette.

 

Italian Piazzas Perform

On a typical midday afternoon in springtime, this is a scene seen across the country – casual and spontaneous public life.

What is the secret to Italian piazzas?

Our friends at NextCity, attempt to share this secret in an in-depth article that examines how urban planners look to Italian piazzas in order to learn and replicate the success of attracting people to spend time out of their homes, in a communal way.

Hint – it is not just the beautiful architecture that does the trick.  Learn more here

 

Photography Credit: Aminah Ricks

 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat | The Unknown Notebooks

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April 3–August 23, 2015 

The Brooklyn Museum is excited to present this in-depth survey of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rarely seen notebooks.  Learn about his motivations, inspirations and conceptions prior to creating his legendary artwork.  

Filled with “poetry fragments, wordplay, sketches, and personal observations ranging from street life and popular culture to themes of race, class, and world history” this exhibit is a must-see if you are in the New York City/Brooklyn area.

Painting Credit: Untitled – Jean-Michel Basquiat

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Museum Catalogue Cover

https://www.artsy.net/artist/jean-michel-basquiat

Seeing Havana with Fresh Perspective

Seeing Havana, Cuba through the lens of Ethan Kent provides a fresh perspective on a city that works for the people, through the artful and sensitive urban design.

We see children playing in the streets, outdoor markets, large middle median walkways and piazzas. All cultivate and reinforce the idea of community.

A sense of community is the pulse of any city that hopes to motivate its citizens towards their best selves — independently and together.

Look at Havana again. Perhaps we can learn something from a city that is not yet car-centric. Instead, it stands as a champion of pedestrians and life unfolding outdoors.

 

Photography Credit: Ethan Kent

Bella Roma | Beautiful Rome

In homage to one of our favorite cities, we share this stunning video love note from the NY Times.  It highlights many of the reasons we love Rome.

In onore di una delle nostre citta’ preferite, condividiamo questo video del NY Times che serve come una lettera di amore, sottolinenado tante delle ragioni per cui amiamo Roma.

Photo Credit: NY Times

From Ideas to Reality – Market Street Prototyping Festival

Whether you are walking quickly down the street rushing to work or strolling to meet a friend, you may get an epiphany of what the street is missing.  What would make this stretch of street more enjoyable to traverse, less annoying? What would engage, connect and inspire you and your fellow pedestrians?

The San Francisco Planning Department and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts have collaborated on a project that allows residents of the city to address these questions and more.  Fifty prototypes for Placemaking were selected and will be brought to life on Market Street April 9-11th.  Even if you will not be in San Francisco, it is a worthwhile activity to take a close look at these creative prototypes and see if any would work in your area.

The target area for the winning prototype will become a permanent part of downtown Market Street that is undergoing a 5-year renovation.

Festival Details

Photography Credit: Studio 1500

Walk Score – What is yours?

No two cities are alike.  Neither are all the neighborhoods within each city.  Going further, depending on your particular address within a neighborhood, your walkability and ease of access to public transportation, the grocery store, bank and favorite coffee shop determine your quality of life or lack thereof.

Walk Score is an impressive algorithm that generates a score of walkability by address.  If you live in Canada, Australia or the United States, all you have to do is plug in your location.  Find out if you live in a Walkers Paradise now.

Visit Walk Score

Elevating City Life