And We're Off 
The beginning of a better built environment.
With 7 subscribers I officially launch my newsletter. With some hard work, consistency, and perseverance, I believe I can achieve my goal and get at least 12 people to care what I write. We’ll see.
My goal with starting a newsletter is a personal one: forcing myself to read more, curate what I consume, and have a reason and place to process my thoughts. I read a lot of articles, blogs, social media posts, and most of them are related the built environment. Having lived around the world and traveling for work and pleasure has honed my interest in variations in the built environment. The best part of these experiences has been exploring and learning about different cities, how they work, how people use public space, how we move around, how architecture is both similar and wildly different from country to country.
I’ve also learned this about myself: I’m interested in urban fabric as much as I am about individual buildings; I’m interested in details and textures more than I am about form; I’m passionate about transit and how we move from place to place both on short trips and far; I’m fascinated about how all of this comes together to define the places we live.
The current vision is to start each newsletter with an introduction section like this one. A place I can share what I’m currently thinking about. I’ll then follow this with the sections shown below. A couple links to writing I’ve done in other places, a list of articles or posts that I found interesting/inspiring, and a place where I’ll highlight other people or organizations that are doing great things and deserve a spotlight. Finally I’ll wrap up with links to what I’m working on. Although this last section may not change often, I always have ideas for new projects and this seems like a good place to share them.
I hope this newsletter becomes a habit and something to look forward to on a weekly basis. Thank you for joining me on this experiment.
Of course, I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and feedback. What would you like to see and read? How can I improve my writing? How can I make something that is more valuable and enjoyable for you?
Things I wrote
Guide to Starting Your Own Architecture Firm
My career has evolved from working for design firms to running my own business, to now being the National Design Director of a company focused on ADUs and residential projects. This trajectory has followed my increasing interest being an entrepreneur and understanding the business side of practice. I’ve been writing blog posts for Monograph.io about some of the things it takes to start and run an architecture firm. This is the first post I wrote for them.
Ways We Are Subsidizing Driving… Why?
A recent post on Streetsblog discussed 12 ways we were subsidizing driving through our laws and how we enforce them. I added some of my thoughts and frustrations with this topic. I want to live in a place where walking and cycling is treated equally with driving a private vehicle. If you can drive from any point A to any point B on a dedicated street for cars you should be able to bike from the same point A to the same point B in a dedicated lane for bikes.
Things worth reading
Is Trackless Tram NYC’s New Equitable Transit Option?
Basically it is very nicely designed bus that runs along painted lines in the street. Nevertheless, cheaper, flexible, attractive transit options are much needed across cities and town in the US. It is particularly valuable as a transit option that can be easily adaptable in case of disasters, emergencies, or long term changes to our built environment brought on by climate change which is discussed in the article.
Paris to Get Rid of 70,000 Parking Spaces
A short article the likes of which we should be able to read more often. Can you imagine seeing Portland, Oregon Gets Rid Of 70,000 Parking Spaces grace the cover of a newspaper? Our fixation on cars and parking is one of the primary factors in the poor financial and physical health of our cities and fellow Americans. Plus one of the exciting opportunities something like this creates is how we can use all of that newly available space. “Residents of the French capital will be consulted on how they want to see the new space used.” My hatred of parking on public land in our cities will probably be a common theme recurring in my posts.
St Mary Mercy Chapel by PLY+
This isn’t really an article to read but rather a beautiful piece of architecture. I love the design of great spaces and am particularly drawn to projects that have a creative use of materials, especially brick. I’ll try to post an inspiring piece of architecture or two each week. I think this is a worthy one to start.
West Coast Cottage Reforms Lead To Explosive Rise In Permits
As someone who has spent the past 8 years dedicated to designed Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), it is great to see how much they have grown in popularity across the country. I’m especially encouraged by all of the local and state governments that have been working to reduce barriers and code limitations and legal hurdles for these great housing types. And it is working. With easier paths to approval coupled with incentive programs to build these projects the market has exploded. It is fun to be a part of this growing housing trend.
Sharing the love.
a person/organization that deserves more attention
Each week I’m going to try to highlight someone who I admire, who is doing great work, or an organization that is helping make our cities and those who design and build them better. To kick off this feature I’d like to share an online magazine that is much needed in the profession of architecture and other fields related to the built environment.
While the seeming lack of women in architecture has been well-documented, women are, and have been, making waves in all levels of the field. Madame Architect is an online magazine celebrating the extraordinary women that shape our world, a magazine designed to break the architect’s mold and show young women entering the industry the myriad choices they have in crafting a dynamic, meaningful, and interesting career. Follow us at @madamearchitect.
Founded by Julia Gamolina, Madame Architect is “dedicated to the built environment and to the empowerment, advancement, and visibility of the women who work in it.” Women are underrepresented in the architectural profession and we aren’t doing enough to elevate those who are doing excellent work and sharing their stories. Madame Architect is helping tear down barriers and celebrating the extraordinary talents of women who are shaping our world.
Other things I work on:
This will final section will probably repeat on most of my newsletters although it could change from time to time as I start new projects. For now I’m sharing the website for my design work and artwork, my ongoing Instagram fascination with textures of the world, and my blog where I occasionally post random thoughts.
My website for design and art: https://www.lucasgrayart.com/
My photographs of textures: https://www.instagram.com/talkitect/
My blog: https://www.talkitect.com/
And of course, please share this newsletter with any friends or colleagues who may be interested.