From light rail, metro Phoenix takes on a different look

Light rail train in downtown Phoenix (photo: Johnny Transit)
Light rail train in downtown Phoenix (photo: Johnny Transit)

[Source: Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic] — The best way to take the architectural pulse of the city is to slice it crosswise, open it up and peek inside.  And the best way to do that is to ride the light rail from end to end. It’s a Gray Line tour, without the annoying tour guide.  It’s a chance to see your city again for the first time. You sit in your seat and gawk out the window as the city passes, too fast to focus on a single building for long but perfect to soak in a general impression of the city.

For what makes up a city is the aggregate, not the individual buildings.  Too often, when we write or talk about architecture, we look at an isolated building here or there, as if they were works of art in frames, separately considered, with no relation to what surrounds it. But that isn’t how we actually experience architecture.  Instead, we live in it, walk through it, breathe its air-conditioning, seek its shade.  We move from one building to the next, drive to a third and work in a fourth.  The architecture is as much a part of our daily lives as air. Even great cities, such as New York and Paris, are more memorable for their mix than for any great masterpieces.

And it isn’t just the buildings: It’s the sum total of all the human-made environment, from office towers to street signs.  And on the light rail, you get something very like a World’s Fair Futurama ride through the bricks and mortar of the city.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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