Small-scale what?

Yonge Street, Toronto

For the past 10 years I’ve blogged about Oregon (mostly Portland) history at Lost Oregon. In those 10 years I’ve learned a lot about the local stories surrounding the city but have also increasingly been drawn to the architecture, buildings and construction of older buildings. As a former editor of a building trade publication I’ve always been curious how buildings are made, designed, what materials are used and how said building fits into a neighborhood. That interest turned into how to preserve existing structures or how to adapt an unloved building into one that can be re-used for another purpose. Most of the posts on Lost Oregon recently tended to lean on design and architecture and less on history. (I’ve posted a couple of those articles and others I’ve written from the past on here.)

So, (still with me?) that interest  in design and Portland then turned into how cities are designed, how cities and burbs can be re-designed to be more pedestrian friendly, how to create spaces that encourage people to interact, developing small-scale infrastructure (I loves me a cool ped bridge over train tracks), and how Main Streets can be brought back to life.

However, there wasn’t a thread that tied these all together (cities, planning, adaptive reuse, preservation, history, placemaking, etc.) until my sister-in-law shared a link to a Facebook group called Small Developers/Builders.

Here’s what their page says:

A place for people interested in small scale, incremental development in urban neighborhoods to share questions and resources. Operational issues, business models, pro formas, straightforward design solutions.

I sat down, grabbed a beer and read all the posts in one evening. It was eye-opening and inspiring. These are my people. They’re developers, but they’re developing small-scale, or incremental development, in their own neighborhoods. Want a coffee shop, brewery or something else in that cool two-story brick building around the corner from your house? Develop it yourself. DIY placemaking. That’s the mantra of this group and of the people that post.

There’s so much to learn (codes, zoning, more codes, funding?) and I’d like to use this blog to help discover what I need to know to maybe develop something myself someday. In the meantime, I’ll be featuring cool projects, stories, examples of small-scale buildings (that can range from new to adaptive re-use), small-scale infrastructure, public works and transportation.

Thanks for reading.

Proud member of Strong Towns. 


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