Friday, February 17, 2006


Mad For Madison

State Street, Madison on a rainy Saturday. Why didn't I take pictures the day before when it was so sunny?! Oh yeah, too busy enjoying FAC and $2 pitchers.

Apparently, only lunatics tool around Madison with cameras on a rainy, raw 33 degree day. I assure you the city has so much more life than the following pictures depict!

A Little bit of sun would do this plaza some good.

From any angle, the capital provides a tremendous vista termination. Even in crappy weather!

Tough guys in a beautiful building. The capital!

This Copp's grocery store is designed to help define the urban character within the town center. Unfortunately, many of the storefronts remain vacant, and the architecture of most retail building is homogenous and suburban-esque. Time will should heal its current ills.

An alley in Middleton Hills, WI. Excellent deflection!

Public right of way already being worn into permanence.
Middleton Hills, WI
A Close in DPZ designed Middleton Hills, WI

Frank Lloyd Wright Methodist Church, Madison WI

Three weeks ago today I joined two of my Michigan planning buddies for a road trip from Ann Arbor, MI to Madison, Wisconsin. We did so for a few reasons, the first being that my friend Alex, who bleeds Badger red, wanted to return to his alma mater for his birthday weekend. Second, both my other friend (Ben) and I were sick and tired of hearing Alex sing the praises of his former place of residence without having a frame of reference. Finally, we all needed to get the hell out of Ann Arbor for a weekend and find some real urban energy, which Alex promised Madison had in spades. With that we were off.

From the moment we got off the perpetually flat and uninspiring series of midwestern highways that somehow got us from eastern Michigan to central Wisconsin in 6 hours, we entered John Nolen Drive, which leads right into the heart of Madison. From that moment on Ben and I sensed that Alex was not exaggerating. Madison is a special place. I will try to keep the gushing to a minimum, but the city is magnificent. The visual scenery around the isthmus, the lakes, and the capital is incredibly beautiful. The energy of the city is three times more intense than in Ann Arbor. The social scene more robust. The street characters more peculiar. The bars more lively. And the bike lanes, wow how I long for Madison's bike lanes! Yes, Madison has a true sense of place.

Throughout the weekend we walked the rainy streets like true urbanists and passed judgement on just every about every physical aspect of the city. And with knowledge on just about every new and planned University and City development, Alex proved to be an incredible tour guide. Moreover, we got a chance to drive out a few miles to check out Middleton Hills, a DPZ project near full buildout just outside the city limits. Overall, the trip was fantastic. We ate, drank, and critiqued street widths and building envelopes. A getaway of proper proportions for proper urbanists. Sadly, the weekend came to a close all too soon. Nonetheless, our time in Madison was enough to prove to me that as far as mid-western cities go - Chicago excluded - Madison cannot be topped.

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