Jacob Ford

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Typography Hall

In A Sense of Place, Placemaking by Jacob Ford1 Comment

Tobias Frere-Jones wants to reveal a neighborhood that never got the name it deserves, and I want to help him do it. We want to commemorate New York City’s Typography District. Frere-Jones, along with his former business partner Jonathan Hoefler, have literally carved the shape of many of the letters seen every day, creating some of the most popular typefaces on …

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On Not Caring

In A Sense of Place, Spirit of Place by Jacob Ford1 Comment

I feel the uneven pressure of stares when I carry a moderately heavy grocery bag on the sidewalk in my suburban hometown. I was doing something wrong for the area, or at least inappropriate. I was in defiance of the suburban spirit, and it was trying to whisper to me. In New York City I’ve carried Ikea furniture from Brooklyn to 10th Street …

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In A Sense of Place, No-Places by Jacob Ford1 Comment

Places are made placeless by entertainment, by uniformity, by formlessness, by destruction, and by abandon. This is a story of abandon. And yet another blog post about a person breaking into Spreepark. I’ve long had this suppressed desire to dare myself into some forgotten, forbidden space. I just could never justify the dare part. But I remember the night, one …

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Bauhaus as Home

In A Sense of Place, Buildings by Jacob FordLeave a Comment

Like some architectural history-inclined baby, I think the first complete and generally grammatically correct sentence out of my mouth in German class went something like “I came to Berlin because Bauhaus.” And it was the total and complete truth, so help me Walter Gropius. My German professor’s sad eyes and happy smile indicated that she was charmed with my affection for this …

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Re: Structure

In A Sense of Place, Buildings by Jacob Ford1 Comment

The most hated structure in all of New York is the scaffolding that just went up along your everymorning walk. You look up one last time because you know what’s going down: a painted plywood tunnel will be channeling you through this block for the next two to thirty months. An awning unwanted. Your sun will not be shade and …

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The Apology of Nowhere

In A Sense of Place, Suburbia by Jacob Ford1 Comment

In 2011, the underground heroes and/or soulless sellouts known as Arcade Fire released The Suburbs. Lead singer Win Butler told us the album was “neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it’s a letter from the suburbs.” This is a letter from the development behind James Howard Kunstler’s back yard. I’m called Country Estates because that’s what I destroyed. …

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A Skyscraper Joins the Ballet

In A Sense of Place, Utopia by Jacob Ford1 Comment

It takes a careful reading of Jane Jacobs to realize what she really wants of modern city life, and an even more careful one to figure out what she wants to do with its vehicles. She derides eviscerating expressways but begs for more streets. The obvious difference, and Jacobs says this herself, is that the latter invite pedestrian traffic along …

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Helpful Distortions

In City Form, A Sense of Place by Jacob Ford1 Comment

The ancients* have long chanted that topological faithfulness is next to godliness, but they are wrong, and they can never be trusted to give simple directions to dinner parties. Accuracy is the enemy of wayfinding. The human brain distorts in order to comprehend. This is no act of laziness, but in fact a rather efficient method of compression. Kevin Lynch, in the very book where he coined …

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The Unshakeable Moveable Chair

In Social Spaces, New York City, A Sense of Place by Jacob FordLeave a Comment

Design is a battleground, the two fronts each the respective and opposing answer to a question which cuts to the core ethics of a built environment, and that question is: who knows best? Designer, or user? The foray is rarely so crisp, often muddied by designers who are users and clients who hire the designers but represent consumers but these are mere double agents …