Saturday, May 23, 2009

Urban Typologies - Freeway Field Guide

This was one of those posts you immediately fall in love with as someone with a penchant for infrastructure and urbanism. We love naming typologies and objets d'urbanity, so when poignantly topical blog The Infrastructurist offered this two-part series on 'A Field Guide to Freeway Interchanges' I decided to devour it, then share some of the tastiest morsels. (Part I Part II).

:: Turbine - image via The Infrastructurist

Each of the typologies has an aerial photograph, as well as some simple text. The photo above is one of those transportation engineering wet dreams, entitled The Turbine... "A “free-flow” style of exchange like the cloverleaf — that is, no traffic signals or intersections." The naming conventions are both simple and evocative, with easy to discern ideas such as the ubiquitous 'Cloverleaf' and 'Classic Diamond' to the simply and aptly named SNAFU titled the 'Spaghetti Bowl'... I'm not sure where this one is from, but I was on one in Chicago once that scared the bejeesus out of me... and I was merely riding in a cab.

:: Spaghetti Bowl - image via The Infrastructurist

There are definitely some interesting variations that I can't even remember if I've experienced, like the 'Lofthouse' or the very interesting 'Spooey' - which is short for Single-Point Urban Interchange - or as I envision it - a state fair figure-8 demolition derby.

:: Spooey - image via The Infrastructurist

Part II continues as more of an advanced course - including the 'T-Bone' to the bizarre 'Single Leaf' - to some of the wacky, including the 'Volleyball' and my favorite, the just offset enough to seem wrong 'Double Trumpet'.

:: Volleyball - image via The Infrastructurist

:: Double Trumpet - image via The Infrastructurist

This selection of typologies is fascinating, and is telling in our striving for efficiency and the lengths we will go to in our desire for connectivity. It definitely makes you think the next time you're out on the road, especially trying to figure out the internal geometry while in the car at ground level (not recommended while driving)... and then racing home to check google earth to see if it was a 'ParClo' or did you read it wrongly as merely a 'Butt'. Or... maybe that's just me - but it sure makes freeway driving more tolerable.

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