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Urban Design

Urban Design

Alex Krieger
William S. Saunders
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Urban Design
    Book Description:

    Highlights key issues in contemporary urban design through a discussion of its origins, current state, and future. Contributors: Jonathan Barnett, Denise Scott Brown, Joan Busquets, Kenneth Greenberg, John Kaliski, Timothy Love, Fumihiko Maki, Richard Marshall, Eric Mumford, Michelle Provoost, Peter G. Rowe, Edward W. Soja, Richard M. Sommer, Michael Sorkin, Emily Talen, Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Wouter Vanstiphout, Charles Waldheim._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6647-8
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: An Urban Frame of Mind
    (pp. vii-xx)
    Alex Krieger

    Two millennia following Varro, as the world’s urban population surpasses three billion, city-building skills are more important than ever. We are becoming an urban species to a degree unimaginable as recently as a third of a century ago, when only one out of three people dwelled in cities. Today they—we—are the majority, growing worldwide at more than one million per week.¹ The knowledge required to address such urbanization is, of course, spread among many disciplines and areas of knowledge. This collection of essays examines the contribution of the varied enterprises that can be collected under the umbrella of...

  4. Origins of an Urban Design Sensibility

    • The First Urban Design Conference: Extracts
      (pp. 3-14)

      Originally published in and selected fromProgressive Architecture(August 1956). Participants include Charles Abrams, Edmund N. Bacon, Jane Jacobs, Gyorgy Kepes, David L. Lawrence, Lewis Mumford, Lloyd Rodwin, Ladislas Segoe, José Luis Sert, and Francis Violich.

      José luis sert (Dean, Harvard University Graduate School of Design): Our American cities, after a period of rapid growth and suburban sprawl, have come of age and acquired responsibilities that the boom towns of the past never knew. Meanwhile, city planning has developed as a new science; city planners today are concerned with the structure of the city, its process of growth and decay,...

    • The Emergence of Urban Design in the Breakup of CIAM
      (pp. 15-37)
      Eric Mumford

      The development of urban design at Harvard in the 1950s and the Team 10 challenge to CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne, 1928–56) are usually thought of as separate phenomena, the first often seen as mainly an academic exercise whose actual built outcomes remain unclear, the second the beginning of a major cultural shift that led directly into Pop Art and the countercultures of the 1960s. Although urban design still exists as a discipline whose exact content is continuously being redefined, it is Team 10, which ceased meeting in 1981, whose history has attracted the attention of scholars.

      With glamorous...

    • The Elusiveness of Urban Design: The Perpetual Problem of Definition and Role
      (pp. 38-58)
      Richard Marshall

      Joseph Hudnut, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design from 1936 to 1953, hailed a “new faith” in the introduction to José Luis Sert’sCan Our Cities Survive?¹ Hudnut’s words are worth reviewing because they describe an aspect of the book and of the very foundation of urban design that warrants attention. His words certainly reward speculation when one is reading the proceedings of the First Urban Design Conference at Harvard in 1956. Hudnut proclaims that he discovered in Sert’s book “that new faith, which, no less than science, will shape and illumine the cities of tomorrow.” That...

  5. Perspectives on a Half-Century of Urban Design Practice

    • Urban Design at Fifty: A Personal View
      (pp. 61-87)
      Denise Scott Brown

      Who can read the report on Harvard’s First Urban Design Conference of 1956 without a sense of poignancy, knowing what was to follow? Although the participants ranged widely in interests and expertise, they shared an optimism for the future of cities and a belief that the way had opened for them, through funding and legislation, to achieve their vision for American cities.

      “The political revolution has released all the constitutional powers we need to do anything that the designer wants to achieve,” said Charles Abrams.¹ Frederick Adams believed that recent urban renewal legislation would make it “possible to control the...

    • Fragmentation and Friction as Urban Threats: The Post-1956 City
      (pp. 88-100)
      Fumihiko Maki

      Which issues addressed by Harvard’s First Urban Design Conference fifty years ago continue to be significant today, and what does their continued significance tell us about our present circumstances?

      Mine is the point of view of someone born, raised, and practicing architecture in Tokyo. At the same time, neither I nor any regional society or state today can escape the effects of globalization on politics, economy, and lifestyle. This flow has led to newly reciprocal relationships. This is an age when the presence of over a hundred sushi bars in Manhattan or brisk sales of Spanish Colonial style houses in...

    • The Way We Were, the Way We Are: The Theory and Practice of Designing Cities since 1956
      (pp. 101-110)
      Jonathan Barnett

      Who can read the report on Harvard’s First Urban Design Conference of 1956 without a sense of poignancy, knowing what was to follow? Although the participants ranged widely in interests and expertise, they shared an optimism for the future of cities and a belief that the way had opened for them, through funding and legislation, to achieve their vision for American cities. “The action of the Congress of the United States in appropriating one billion dollars to create a new urban environment places on all of us a responsibility we cannot duck.”¹ So Edmund Bacon began his remarks at the...

  6. Territories of Urban Design Practice

    • Where and How Does Urban Design Happen?
      (pp. 113-130)
      Alex Krieger

      In 1956, José Luis Sert convened an international conference at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design with a determination to assemble evidence on behalf of a desired discipline he calledurban design. An impressive number of people then engaged in thinking about the future of cities participated. Among them were a not-yet-famous Jane Jacobs, an already prominent Edmund Bacon, the Olympian figure of Lewis Mumford, several leaders of the soon-to-beformed Team 10, prominent landscape architects such as Hideo Sasaki and Garrett Eckbo, urban renewal–empowered mayors such as David Lawrence of Pittsburgh, and innovators such as Hideo Sasaki and...

    • Defining the Urbanistic Project: Ten Contemporary Approaches
      (pp. 131-134)

      The work documented in the exhibition Cities: 10 Lines: Approaches to City and Open Territory Design, at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in fall 2005, proposed a specific taxonomy that synthesizes the most salient lines of current urbanistic design work. The exhibition, based on a research project I conducted in collaboration with Felipe Correa, captures our current distinctive reality, in which cities, after having been ostracized by their deployment of functionalist urbanism in the postwar years, are experimenting with an unprecedented level of transformation and rehabilitation. In recent decades urbanism has been able to redeem itself from the...

    • Beyond Centers, Fabrics, and Cultures of Congestion: Urban Design as a Metropolitan Enterprise
      (pp. 135-152)
      Richard Sommer

      Isn’t the value of a professional or academic discipline—and urban design can be no exception—that it advances and curates a critical body of ideas and distills them into an array of methods and techniques that challenges entrenched assumptions and transform practices? Urban design should be more than what it so often now is: a stale advertising campaign for an already well-commoditized idea of the city.¹ For urban design to endure as a serious practice, it must claim, critically reassess, and renew a discreet set of concepts that have evolved since the field first emerged as a discipline in...

  7. Debates about Mandates and Purpose

    • The End(s) of Urban Design
      (pp. 155-182)
      Michael Sorkin

      Urban design has reached a dead end. Estranged both from substantial theoretical debate and from the living reality of the exponential and transformative growth of the world’s cities, it finds itself pinioned between nostalgia and inevitabilism, increasingly unable to inventively confront the morphological, functional, and human needs of cities and citizens. While the task grows in urgency and complexity, the disciplinary mainstreaming of urban design has transformed it from a potentially broad and hopeful conceptual category into an increasingly rigid, restrictive, and boring set of orthodoxies.

      In many ways, the enterprise was misbegotten from the get-go. The much marked conference...

    • Bad Parenting
      (pp. 183-185)
      Emily Talen

      It is time to wrestle urban design away from the bad parenting of architects. Instead of embracing its emerging social utility, they seem intent on casting it as their shameful problem child. Michael Sorkin’s hyperbolic and pained assessment in “The End(s) of Urban Design” (previous chapter, this volume) is the familiar architect’s rant. Urban designers’ accomplishments are trivial, their idealism is absurd, and their orderliness is enough to make architects retch. Lessons like Paul Goldberger’s “the absence of something wrong is what’s totally wrong” (see “Urban Design Now: A Discussion,” this volume) show a certain contempt for the field.


    • Facts on the Ground: Urbanism from Midroad to Ditch
      (pp. 186-198)
      Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout

      “Dutch Design Saves New Orleans!” This was the message at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., where the exhibition “Newer Orleans—A,” Shared Space, curated by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI), opened in April 2006.¹ At least that is how it seemed to viewers of Dutch television news programs. The NAI had invited Dutch architects to create plans for the future of the devastated city. Adriaan Geuze of West 8 created a beautiful artificial delta able to withstand Gulf hurricanes and incrementally accommodate returning citizens. MVRDV based its proposal on a New Orleans child’s drawing of a hill with...

  8. Expanding Roles and Disciplinary Boundaries

    • A Third Way for Urban Design
      (pp. 201-207)
      Kenneth Greenberg

      Michael Sorkin asserts in “The End(s) of Urban Design” (this volume) that we have reached a dead end where “‘New’ Urbanism and Koohaasian ‘Post’-Urbanism represent a Hobson’s choice, a Manichean dystopianism that leaves us trapped betweenThe Truman ShowandBlade Runner, . . . [a] division of the urban imaginary into faux and fab . . . with the cookie-cutter conformities of the former and solipsistic, retro avant-gardism of the latter.”

      The pinpointing of this no-win dichotomy between New Urbanism and posturbanism has surfaced over and over in different forms in recent years in talks, articles, and symposia. It...

    • Urban Design after Battery Park City: Opportunities for Variety and Vitality
      (pp. 208-226)
      Timothy Love

      Large-scale urban design in America is now directed mostly by sophisticated private real estate companies and no longer by public or quasi-public agencies and authorities. As a result, new strategies should be developed that leverage the inherent mechanisms of real estate development as ways to generate more innovative design proposals. For architects and urban designers to capitalize on the new economy, they need to understand the economic and regulatory underpinnings that drive development decisions. Only by their collaborating at the earliest phases with developers on the relationship between the metrics of financial analysis, the opportunities for better building typologies, and...

    • The Other ’56
      (pp. 227-236)
      Charles Waldheim

      Landscape urbanism has emerged over the past decade as a critique of the disciplinary and professional commitments of traditional urban design and an alternative to “New Urbanism.” The critique launched by landscape urbanism has much to do with urban design’s perceived inability to come to terms with the rapid pace of urban change and the essentially horizontal character of contemporary automobile-based urbanization across North America and much of Western Europe. It equally has to do with the inability of traditional urban design strategies to cope with the environmental conditions left in the wake of deindustrialization, increased calls for an ecologically...

    • Democracy Takes Command: New Community Planning and the Challenge to Urban Design
      (pp. 237-252)
      John Kalisk

      When Alexis de Tocqueville, author ofDemocracy in America,¹ traveled through the United States in the 1830s, he was struck by the high level of citizen participation in local decision making. He also noted what he called the “vast number of inconsiderable productions [buildings]” that populated the landscape of this democracy, a few monuments, and what he called the “blank” between these two extremes.² This could almost be a description of the urban design of Los Angeles today. Think City Hall, a new cathedral, Disney Hall, the new Morphosis Caltrans building, a few OK skyscrapers, and a vast “blank” middle...

  9. Challenges for the Unprecedented Phenomena of Our New Century

    • Designing the Postmetropolis
      (pp. 255-269)
      Edward W. Soja

      For those in the city-building professions and practically everyone else in the United States, 1956 was a year of extraordinary confidence and optimism. The Fordist boom was reaching its peak, economists and policy makers were proclaiming the American economy’s creative conquest of recessionary business cycles, and demand-driven mass suburbanization and spreading home ownership were expanding the middle class and its aspirations to unprecedented levels. Everything seemed possible, making the moment especially ripe for bold thinking about the remaining problems of the modern metropolis, such as the need to tame voracious and often ugly suburban sprawl and spark a renaissance in...

    • Unforeseen Urban Worlds: Post-1956 Phenomena
      (pp. 270-284)
      Peter G. Rowe

      To say that the framers and participants involved in Harvard’s 1956 urban design conference had no premonition about the rates, venues, circumstances, directions, and underlying logics of urbanization that have since transpired around the world is probably an understatement. In all fairness, however, their broad aim was inclined toward finding “a common basis for the joint work of the architect, landscape architect and city planner in the field of urban design”, as they put it, particularly in response to what they identified as “the frequent absence of beauty and delight in the contemporary city”¹ and “the need for better knowledge...

    • Urban Design Looking Forward
      (pp. 285-290)
      Marilyn Jordan Taylor

      When I look ahead after practicing urban design for some thirty years, I see territories of enormous potential. In response to marketplace necessities and individual self-interests, cities are swelling, bursting their boundaries with migration, immigration, and, particularly in less developed areas, new generations. Data collection and sophisticated mapping techniques are making this urbanization at least partially graspable, as we saw, for example, in Ricky Burdett’s summer 2007 Global Cities exhibition in Venice. Demographers and sociologists are expanding, analyzing, and recompiling our understanding of urban populations, as we read, for instance, in the July 2007 proceedings of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Global...

    • Urban Design Now: A Discussion
      (pp. 291-326)

      This chapter compiles excerpts from a roundtable discussion at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) in May 2006. Participants include Margaret Crawford, GSD professor of urban design and planning theory; Julia Czerniak, associate professor, Syracuse University School of Architecture, and principal, Clear, Syracuse; Paul Goldberger, architecture critic forThe New Yorker, and former dean, Parsons School of Design; Alex Krieger, GSD professor in practice of urban design, and principal, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, Architecture and Urban Design, Cambridge; Rodolfo Machado, GSD professor in practice of architecture and urban design, and principal, Machado and Silvetti Associates, Boston; Farshid Moussavi, GSD professor...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 327-330)
  11. Index
    (pp. 331-368)