Urban design continues to grow and mature as a field of study, research, and professional endeavour. This welcome collection of both invited and published essays is panoramically broad and comprehensive in its scope. Combining essays from both practice and academia, this volume includes some of the most significant texts on urban design from the last two decades, a period of transformational growth in the field and exponential growth in the metropolis. Writing Urbanism asks how cities can become more coherent, sustainable, authentic, and equitable, as well as aesthetically compelling and culturally meaningful. The essays probe such issues as community, social equity, design theory, technology, and globalism. How does a rapidly urbanizing and polarizing world embrace these and other issues, and how can urban design translate them into consequential and workable urban form? By assembling a range of voices across different institutions and generations, Writing Urbanism offers the most multifaceted portrait of urban design today. Scholars, students, and design professionals alike will find this collection to be a useful resource for understanding this increasingly important design field and for insights into the forces that shape the city itself. Douglas Kelbaugh F.A.I.A. is Dean and Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is a leading practitioner, teacher, and thinker in urban design, is the author of several books on urban design, and has taught design at eight schools of architecture in the USA, Europe, Japan, and Australia. Kit Krankel McCullough is a lecturer at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She is Principal of Kit Krankel McCullough Urban Design, and has significant and broad experience as a practitioner of urban design as well as having taught a variety of courses in urban design.


The intent of the Architectural Education Series is to produce readers for use across the curriculum in architecture and design programs matching current lines of scholarly inquiry with curricular needs. Each reader focuses on a thematic topic and is composed of chapters presented originally at A.C.S.A. conferences along with invited chapters. Leading edge design work and scholarship are included to give faculty, students and professionals resources for the studio and classroom.

Michael Benedikt, University of Texas at Austin Luis Carranza, Roger Williams University Thomas Fisher, University of Minnesota Lisa Iwamoto, University of California at Berkeley Fernando Luiz Lara, University of Michigan John Stuart, Florida International University

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (A.C.S.A.) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1912 to enhance the quality of architectural education. School membership in A.C.S.A. has grown from 10 charter schools to more than 200 schools in several membership categories worldwide. Through these schools, more than 5,000 architecture faculty members are represented in A.C.S.A.’s membership. A.C.S.A., unique in its representative role for professional schools of architecture in the United States and Canada, provides a major forum for ideas on the leading edge of architectural thought. Issues that will affect the architectural profession in the future are being examined today in A.C.S.A. member schools. Additional information is available at www.acsa-arch.org.

A design reader


First published 2008 by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Simultaneously published in the UK by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
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© 2008 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Writing urbanism : a design reader / edited by Douglas Kelbaugh & Kit Krankel McCullough. p. cm. – (The A.C.S.A. architectural education series) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978–0–415–77438–3 (hbk : alk. paper) – ISBN 978–0–415–77439–0 (pbk: alk. paper) – ISBN 978–0–203–92702–1 (ebk) 1. City planning–United States. I. Kelbaugh, Doug. II. McCullough, Kit Krankel. III. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. NA9105.W75 2008 307.1′2160973–dc22 2007047375
ISBN 0-203-92702-8 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN10: 0–415–77438–1 (hbk) ISBN10: 0–415–77439–X (pbk) ISBN10: 0–203–92702–8 (ebk) ISBN13: 978–0–415–77438–3 (hbk) ISBN13: 978–0–415–77439–0 (pbk) ISBN13: 978–0–203–92702–1 (ebk)

Notes on contributors ix Foreword xv Robert Fishman Preface xxi Douglas Kelbaugh and Kit Krankel McCullough Acknowledgments xxv


Introduction 3 Kit Krankel McCullough Observations The virtues of cities 6 Alex Krieger Working cities: Density, risk, spontaneity 12 J. Max Bond, Jr. Meaningful urban design: Teleological/catalytic/relevant 14 Aseem Inam Mathematics of the ideal roadtrip 24 Christopher Monson City walking: Laying claim to Manhattan 34 Ben Jacks Preservation, re-use, and sustainability Green Manhattan 45 David Owen Stewardship of the built environment: The emerging synergies from sustainability and historic preservation 57 Robert A. Young DROSS; Re-genesis of diverse matter 61 Lydia Kallipoliti The shared global ideology of the big and the green 69 David Gissen Community Levittown retrofitted: An urbanism beyond the property line 75 Teddy Cruz The mnemonic city: Duality, invisibility, and memory in American urbanism 80 Craig Evan Barton


Mapping East Los Angeles: Aesthetics and cultural politics in an other L.A. 87 José Gámez Celebrating the city 96 Alan J. Plattus Skid Row, Los Angeles 98 Camilo José Vergara

Introduction: Further thoughts on the three urbanisms 105 Douglas Kelbaugh Everyday urbanism, landscape urbanism, and infrastructure Everyday urban design: Towards default urbanism and/or urbanism by design? 115 John Kaliski Without end: Mats, holes, and the promise of landscape urbanism 120 Karen M’Closkey Boston’s New Urban Ring: An antidote to urban fragmentation 127 George Thrush Infrastructure for the new social compact 138 William R. Morrish and Catherine R. Brown New urbanism Whatever happened to modernity? 155 Daniel Solomon The town of Seaside: Designed in 1978–1983 by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. 168 Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk The impact of ideology on American town planning 176 Tony Schuman and Elliott Sclar New Urbanism as a counter-project to post-industrialism 185 Ellen Dunham-Jones Integrating urbanisms: Growing places between New Urbanism and Post-Urbanism 194 Carl Giometti Post urbanism Rem Koolhaas’s writing on cities: Poetic perception and gnomic fantasy 203 William S. Saunders “Bigness” in context: Some regressive tendencies in Rem Koolhaas’ urban theory 220 Jorge Otero-Pailos


Habraken and Koolhaas: Two Dutchmen flying over Bijlmermeer 229 June P. Williamson Heterotopias and Urban Design 237 David Grahame Shane

Introduction 247 Douglas Kelbaugh The public realm Big Brother is charging you 250 Michael Sorkin Communitas and the American public realm 254 Spiro Kostof Contesting the public realm: Struggles over public space in Los Angeles 271 Margaret Crawford Action space 281 Richard Scherr The inscription of “public” and “civic” realms in the contemporary city 291 Michael E. Gamble Globalism and local identity Zone 297 Keller Easterling Dis-assembling the urban: The variable interactions of spatial form and content 303 Saskia Sassen Tropical Lewis Mumford: The first critical regionalist urban planner 313 Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis The luxury of languor 324 Michael A. McClure and Ursula Emery McClure Technology Technoscience and environmental culture: A provisional critique 333 Kenneth Frampton Technology, place, and the nonmodern thesis 345 Steven A. Moore Immanent domain: Pervasive computing and the public realm 360 Dana Cuff City of dreams: Virtual space/public space 372 Eugenia Victoria Ellis Index 383


uses. Max Bond. His practice and pedagogy reflect his commitment to advancing architectural and urban planning projects that address the global. with special focus on San Diego and Tijuana. Her research focuses on the evolution. was published in early 2006. Andrés Duany is a principal of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (D.P. and director of special projects at the Design Center for the American Urban Landscape at the University of Minnesota.) and a co-founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism. William Morrish. where he served as director. He investigates issues of cultural and historical preservation and their interpretation through architectural and urban design.P. Los Angeles. Ellen Dunham-Jones is the Director of the Architecture Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She serves on the Board of Directors of ix . and meanings of urban space. activism. Her expertise concerns social issues in the built environment. has become a major leader in the practice and direction of urban planning. civic leader. He is a founding principal of RBGC Associates. political. which she engages as a practitioner and as an academic.I. is a partner at Davis Brody Bond in New York.Z. Her book The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism was supported by the Getty and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Her book Building the Workingman’s Paradise: The Design of American Company Towns examines the rise and fall of professionally designed industrial environments. and social problems that proliferate on international borders.A. Nansha Coastal City: Landscape and Urbanism in the Pearl River Delta. He established the Architects Renewal Committee of Harlem. He is a co-author of Suburban Nation and The New Civic Art. D. and diversity in the profession. she is the author of Planning to Stay.Z. J. New York Chapter for his commitment to design excellence. Jr. Margaret Crawford is a professor of urban design and planning theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Along with her husband. Catherine R.NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS Craig Evan Barton is an associate professor of urban design and the Director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Virginia. having designed over 300 new and existing communities in the United States and overseas. He received the 2005 President’s Award from the A. He is the editor of the anthology Sites of Memory: Perspectives on Architecture and Race. Teddy Cruz is principal of Estudio Teddy Cruz and associate professor of architecture at Woodbury University. Brown (1950–1998) was a Minneapolis landscape architect. Her most recent book. Dana Cuff is Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the University of California.

He is a past president of the Urban History Association. . Carl Giometti is a project coordinator with JTS Architects in Lincolnshire. His graduate thesis. and the advisory boards of the journal Places. Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier and Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia. His books include Le Corbusier and Labor. and an associate professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her current research focuses on retrofitting suburbs. Israel. Eugenia Victoria Ellis is the managing partner of BAU in Elkins Park. Annual Meeting. was selected for presentation at the 2006 A.NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS the Congress for the New Urbanism. and health care facilities. energy-conscious environmental design. He is the author of Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century: Ebenezer Howard. and Pennsylvania where her focus has been in civic and municipal facilities. and Public Policy Fellow at the Wilson Center. His firm has received several awards. and has been exhibited in a variety of regional and national venues. Gamble is an associate professor of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and a principal with Gamble and Gamble. He has worked as an architect and as an architectural historian/critic in England. Work and Architecture. IL. the Phoenix Urban Research Lab and the Ax:son Johnson Institute for Sustainable Urban Design in Sweden. Her forthcoming book. and Highways and Houses in America. His design research is focused on contemporary urban practices. His research focuses x . José Gámez is an assistant professor of architecture and a member of the Latin American Studies faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Robert Fishman is the Emil Lorch Professor at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.A.”.S. PA. Organization Space: Landscapes. She has practiced for over 25 years in the states of Illinois. She is an associate professor at Yale University. An expanded and updated edition of Modern Architecture: A Critical History was published in summer 2007. His research and design practice explores questions of cultural identity in architecture and urbanism. Florida. and the United States. She is the author of Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades. . He is active in several local and national organizations dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of urban development. Architects. urbanist. Michael E. David Gissen is a professor at Pennsylvania State University where he teaches architectural and urban theory and design. “Integrating Urbanisms . examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of global polity. Kenneth Frampton is the Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia University. Extrastatecraft. University of Michigan. and writer from New York City. including the American Institute of Architects Georgia Chapter Honor Award.C. Keller Easterling is an architect.

” she has been awarded the 2006–2007 Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.T. He has worked as an architect. He received a posthumous award for excellence in architectural education from the A. His many books include The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession. Chicago Architecture Foundation. for the creative documentation of architectural history. and The National Building Museum. he conducted research and taught urban design at the University of Michigan.I. He once hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.I. John Kaliski is a principal of Urban Studios in Los Angeles. “Mission Galactic Household. He is currently writing a book about walking and the built environment. M. He is the author of Big and Green and curator of the eponymous exhibition shown at Yale University. author and lecturer. Lydia Kallipoliti is an architect currently enrolled in the Ph./A. Her work and numerous books are devoted to architectural culture and criticism in the xi .I. Aseem Inam is Senior Project Manager at Moule & Polyzoides Architects and Urbanists in California. he is a founding principal of Chan Krieger Sienewicz in Cambridge.C. the Marvin E. the companion to a five-part television series he presented. charrettes. She is the recipient of the 2006 Lawrence Anderson Award from M. Liane Lefaivre is the Chair of Architectural History and Theory at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and a research fellow at the Delft University of Technology Urbanism Department.A. Ben Jacks is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and Interior Design at Miami University. A practitioner as well as a teacher. He is the author of the book Planning for the Unplanned and a number of award-winning journal articles. Spiro Kostof (1936–1991) was Professor of Architectural History at the University of California.A. he practiced for fifteen years prior to beginning an academic career. and former Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design. and a Fulbright scholarship. and the United States. program in the history and theory of architecture at Princeton University. and meetings nationally and has worked collaboratively with communities and professionals on a broad range of project types. Alex Krieger. in 1992.A. A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals. He has led workshops. and America by Design.A. Prior to that. is Professor in Practice of Urban Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. and planner in Canada. Berkeley. F. Oxford. A licensed architect. He is the co-author of Everyday Urbanism with John Chase and Margaret Crawford.D. Museum of the City of New York.A.S. Goody award for excellence in the use of materials. Ohio. France.NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS on the architectural production of nature. urban designer. For her dissertation. A key component of his work is his ability to integrate public concerns into design processes. India.

Their firm. and Southern Living Magazine. McClure is an assistant professor at the University of LouisianaLafayette and Ursula Emery McClure is an associate professor at Louisiana State University. His work approaches infrastructure as a cultural landscape that knits citizens. Christopher Monson is an associate professor of architecture at the College of Architecture. Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is the Dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture and a principal of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (D. public spaces. contemporary American architecture. xii . social institutions. A founder and director of the journal Future Anterior. David Owen has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1991. Dwell Magazine.A. published in 2006. and Urban and Environmental Planning. his research interests include pedagogies of professional design education. traces the struggle to deploy a historical consciousness within modern architecture during the 1970s.Z. Their work and writing have been published in numerous venues including 306090–05. Landscape Architecture. history. and the philosophical structures of architectural practice. He is the author of a dozen books. Built around issues of ethics and inter-subjective communication. He is Director of the graduate program in Sustainable Design and Co-director of the University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development. She is also a co-founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism. University of Virginia. Art + Design at Mississippi State University.P. which was published in 2004. architectural history. Morrish is the Elwood R. and creativity in Western culture. Michael A. and the natural environment into multi-operational urban landscape networks. and Copies in Seconds. cultural expression. Jorge Otero-Pailos is Assistant Professor for Historic Preservation at Columbia University.). and application of sustainable technology. emerymcclure architecture. His research probes the boundaries between contemporary preservation and architecture. his forthcoming book. Inside Postmodernism: Architectural Phenomenology and How Experience Came to Matter More Than History. She is a founding partner of PEG office of landscape + architecture. William R. PEG’s award-winning work spans small-scale retail and residential work to large landscape infrastructure. Moore is the Bartlett Cocke Professor of Architecture and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin where he teaches design and courses related to the philosophy. at the School of Architecture. most recently Sheetrock & Shellac.NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS framework of cognitive history. has developed a wide range of research and design projects and has been recognized by the 2006 Venice Biennale and the A. Steven A. theories of formmaking and objecthood.I. Quesada Professor of Architecture. Karen M’Closkey is an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

William S.A. Plattus is a professor of architecture and urbanism at Yale University. Upclose and Remote. He was a co-coordinator of the United Nations Millennium Project’s Taskforce on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University after many years at the University of Chicago and is Centennial Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. urban history. He has written numerous articles on architectural issues.). education. Conceptual Modeling in Architecture. He founded and directs the Yale Urban Design Workshop. Saskia Sassen is Robert S. and Planners Network. His book Recombinant Urbanism. The Architects’ Resistance (T. She is a co-author of Suburban Nation and The New Civic Art. having designed over 300 new and existing communities in the United States and overseas. He co-edited with Brian McGrath the Architectural Design Special Issue “Sensing the 21st Century City.R. Urban Design and City Theory appeared in 2005. Sassen is the author most recently of Territory. He is the author of Modern Architecture: Photographs by Ezra Stoller and the editor of eight other books. and directs the School’s China Studio.).C.Z. Alan J.P. where he teaches courses on architectural history and theory. Elliott Sclar is Professor of Urban Planning and International Affairs at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and the director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Richard Scherr is Professor of Architecture at Pratt Institute. He is the author of The Grid (2001). and has written extensively on urban design and theory. Authority. Homefront.A. has become a major leader in the practice and direction of urban planning. Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages. Saunders is GSD Assistant Dean for External Relations. David Grahame Shane teaches at Columbia University. He was a founding member of a series of advocacy and activist organizations including Urban Deadline. Tony Schuman is Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. a community design center that has undertaken urban design and building projects throughout Connecticut. editor of Harvard Design Magazine and a founding editor of GSD NEWS and Harvard Design Magazine.S. His is past president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (A. and design. He is the author of You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For: The Economics of Privatization (2000). and theory.NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS D. Cooper Union and City College. where he was previously Chairman of the Graduate Programs in Architecture and Urban Design (1989–1999). Daniel Solomon is Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Urban Design at xiii .” He has lectured extensively and has published widely.

history. and sociologist. documenting the changes taking place in the country’s inner cities. A prolific writer.T. His work seeks to connect transportation. Residential architecture and urban design have been the main focus of his work. Company. He lectures widely. June P. His books include Twin Towers Remembered. For ten years. the University of Utah. Camilo José Vergara is a writer. Subway Memories. he is author or co-author of a number of books and has contributed over 200 articles on architectural theory. His most recent book is Indefensible Space: The Architecture of the National Insecurity State (2007).R.C. George Thrush is Director of the School of Architecture at Northeastern University in Boston. M.NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS the University of California.A. he was the architecture critic of The Village Voice. and is currently contributing editor at Architectural Record and Metropolis. is the author of many books and articles. xiv . most recently of Global City Blues. He is a co-founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism and an author. Berkeley. With Ellen Dunham-Jones. and the Boston Architectural Center. She has been a visiting professor of architecture at Georgia Tech. He has been photographing American urban landscapes since 1977. photographer. a W. He is the founder of Solomon E. Vergara has received numerous awards.T. Robert A. Alexander Tzonis is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Architectural Theory and Design Methods at the Delft University of Technology and current Director of Design Knowledge Systems. Michael Sorkin is Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at City College of New York and the principal of the Michael Sorkin Studio. Young is an associate professor of architecture and the Historic Preservation Program Director at the University of Utah. His teaching and research focus combines historic preservation and sustainability in the stewardship of the built environment. and civic image in an increasingly privatized economic arena. she is writing a case-study book about retrofitting suburbs. urban design. He has served on numerous boards related to preservation and revitalization issues. Williamson is a practicing urban designer and architect in New York City specializing in the practice and theory of mixed-use suburban redevelopment. and design methods. and How the Other Half Worships. a multi-disciplinary research center on architectural cognition. among them a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2002..

for they were written in precisely the years when the seemingly indissoluble coupling of “urban” and “crisis” was decisively broken and urban design could begin to re-imagine the American city as the site of a new public culture. reached its peak of disorganization with the “Rodney King riots” in Los Angeles in 1992— perhaps the most destructive urban riots in American history. There one can see the fate that as late as the 1990s was predicted by many experts to be the inevitable one for all American cities: a downtown marginalized and semi-abandoned. As Saskia Sassen was perhaps the first to observe.” as the great urbanist Lewis Mumford in the 1960s called our dysfunctional metropolitan regions. there is the danger that urban design will remain cautious and constricted. 2 Lewis Mumford. July 30. “18 experts advise. de-industrialized and racially segregated “inner cities”. and flight from the city. To understand the limitations under which American urban design operated during the urban crisis years. fragmented. p. and begins to provide models of sustainable energy use for the rest of our society.” New York Times. Shenker. . the American city over the last fifteen years has seen a remarkable resurgence.1 This “anti-city. Urban design today necessarily bears the burdens of the “urban renewal” years. suburbs in the “first-ring” just beyond the central city caught in a rolling wave of abandonment about to engulf them. the very forces of globalization that had devastated the factories of our inner cities xv 1 Reynolds Farley et al.FOREWORD ROBERT FISHMAN After the near-death experience of the postwar urban crisis. concentrated poverty. But as the American city renews its material base. “The case is hopeless. and—at the edge—the feverish. The articles in this book seek in very different ways to challenge our urban design vision to match the historic opportunities. Partly as a result.I. once-bustling factory zones turned into depopulated. Yet the tone of these articles is far from triumphalist. one must go to Detroit and perhaps to a few other lagging metropolitan areas. struggling to challenge imaginatively the limitations of an increasingly privatized urban world.” he advised. urbanists predicted that the rest of the 1990s would bring ever-higher rates of urban crime.”2 In fact.. seeks to overcome the crippling segregation of the past with a vitally diverse urban culture. a profound reurbanism of American life that made the city again the center of American culture. 1975. quoted in B. 35. The articles in this remarkable collection embody a new hope. the 1990s saw a dramatic recovery of most American cities. low-density growth we know as sprawl. 2000). “Make the patient as comfortable as possible. castigate and console the city. urban design in practice tends even now to be self-marginalizing in scale and ambition. Detroit Divided (New York: Russell Sage Foundation. when a grand vision of a totally rebuilt modern city led to near-total failure. Mumford’s despairing 1975 prescription for New York City seemed fifteen years later to apply to all major American cities. Meanwhile.

not yet risen to the challenge of embodying the best of reurbanism. were also inexorably re-building the major American downtowns as crucial nodes for global finance and knowledge-production. Instead.” Journal of the American Planning Association.” New York.3 Reurbanism meant rising rather than falling urban population. 28 #3 (June 16. and diversity. after the turmoil of the great black migration to northern cities. In part this is because the early successes of reurbanism—both in theory and in practice—took place apart from and even in opposition to an urban design still identified with the massive clearances. vol. and top-down power of urban renewal. walkability.FOREWORD 3 For further defense and elucidation of “reurbanism. Perhaps more importantly. there are also some deeper lessons that perhaps only a dense urban environment can convey: respect for social difference. And yet urban design has. increasingly. And if much of this hipness is merely ease of consumption. in my view. rising tax receipts. vol.L. Finally. Cities are now hip. 4 Julia Szabo. because it involved the renovation of existing urban fabric. one saw a significant return of the white middle class. this “white middle-class reurbanism” complemented the immigrant and black middleclass reurbanism to reinvigorate whole neighborhoods and districts that had seemed lost to the urban crisis. highrise towers. especially for the growing cohort of the young for whom the city is the natural environment after college. especially the luxury goods and services lavishly provided in the centers where global capital and large immigrant populations meet. The truly seminal urban design “project” for reurbanism therefore was New York City’s Soho district. Berry had described the gentrifying areas of the 1970s and 1980s. Jane Jacobs’s seminal Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) saw large-scale development as essentially a threat to the “closegrained diversity” and sidewalk life that she identified as the essence of the urban experience. This “downtown reurbanism” was complemented by another aspect of globalism: “immigrant reurbanism” that repopulated many of the most devastated urban economies and built a new small-scale economy from the ground up.” as art critic Henry Geldzahler explained4— xvi .” see my “The Fifth Migration. no longer confined to the “islands of renewal in seas of decay” as the geographer Brian J. and the need to limit the “consumption of space” and ultimately the consumption of all other scarce resources. jobs to replace those lost by deindustrialization. after marriage and children as well. and. a black middle class committed to the cities was finally emerging. 71 #4 (Autumn 2005): 357–367. Here surely is a social and cultural movement that could be the basis for a new era in urban design. challenging the suburban car culture with the classic urban virtues of density. This radical transvaluation of modernist urban design— “artists are real estate geniuses. and a significant shift in the regional balance of power from suburb to city. Moreover. reurbanism has been a major cultural force. Here a gritty district of semi-abandoned industrial lofts accidentally spared from demolition by the cancellation of Robert Moses’ Lower Manhattan Expressway was re-imagined and re-occupied by artists as an ideal environment for the production of contemporary culture. 1995): 42. “Regarding Henry.

and phasing of a major project. as they frankly put it. then for an even more elaborate “megastructure”—languished until 1979 when two young urban designers. a predecessor of so much that we have learned to call “New Urbanism. 7 Paul Goldberger. 1979. program.FOREWORD proclaimed that the seemingly obsolete nineteenth-century city was in fact better adapted to modern urban life than anything that modern architecture or urban design had been able to produce. Dating back to the early 1960s. The firm was subsequently renamed Cooper Eckstut and Associates. This meant first abandoning the superblock and megastructure ideas and instead extending the Manhattan grid onto the new territory. we have come to understand that Cooper and Eckstut’s neo-traditionalism. Gordon. the Battery Park City plan foreshadowed the new balance-of-power between the public and private sectors that has come to define real estate practice. If New York’s traditional fabric worked so well. Battery Park City Draft Summary Report and 1979 Master Plan (New York: Battery Park City Authority. Battery Park City: Politics and Planning on the New York Waterfront (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach. however. 1979). Indeed. .” New York Times. No longer could a public authority strictly define the concept.” not even on new land.” was only the beginning of the meaning of this remarkable plan. For Cooper and Eckstut had learned the Jacobs/Soho lesson: that there was no need for a “new city. p. enclosed parks modeled on the nineteenth-century squares. The xvii 5 David L.A. Instead of the flowing modernist space of the superblock. were given the challenge of coming up with a wholly new masterplan in just twelve weeks. November 9. First. 1997).”6 A mix of townhouses. one would put housing that. the plan provides small. Conceived at a low point for the American city. Alexander Cooper and Stanton Eckstut. as in the earlier megastructure which had to be built as a complete “total design” or not at all.5 What they produced not only saved that project but established a paradigm for urban design that remains perhaps the most powerful in today’s practice. 6 Alexander Cooper and Associates. B4. the key to success was to build more of it. but so too is the need to get beyond it. New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger immediately hailed the Cooper/Eckstut plan as one that was “not a visitation from the world of Buck Rogers” but one that “understands the essence of Manhattan.”7 As the plan was gradually built out (it is still not complete) to include both housing and the Cesar Pelli’s World Financial Center opposite the Twin Towers. low-rise and high-rise apartments. would all be built out to the street to achieve that sense of enclosure and sidewalk vitality of the best old neighborhoods. the model’s strengths are still compelling compared to the modernist model it replaced. the “Battery Park City model” lies behind many of the articles in this book where it functions as a “default mode” for urban design. would resemble the “older and more established neighborhoods of New York. “A Realist’s Battery Park City. So what was left for urban design beyond some modest “contextual” work? One major urban design project. architecture echoing New York’s golden era of the 1920s. the overambitious plans—first for a classic “tower-in-the-park” assortment of office and residential towers. On the grid. met the challenge of Jane Jacobs and Soho: Battery Park City on the Hudson River at the tip of Manhattan Island. built on 92 acres of landfill from the World Trade Center.

As reurbanism extends its reach from the downtown core into a recovering inner city. 9 Goldberger. deindustrialization has created in almost every city a large inventory of such “brownfield” sites where lost space can be found: not only waterfront locales but abandoned factory and warehouse sites. or once-polluted waterways whose long-shunned banks can now be lined with new development. a grim and xviii . railyards that can be replaced or covered. “market” was now in control.8 Battery Park City’s reliance on the grid was more than an hommage to the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan. The massive human suffering that these projects imposed has now made such displacements politically impossible. Each block in the masterplan represented a convenient unit for a single developer. If Battery Park City reflects the new balance of public and private that took hold during the Reagan years. the Battery Park City model had its faults. Nevertheless. p. Instead. Although the use of different developers phased over decades makes design variety theoretically possible. As Elliott Sclar and Tony Schuman observe in their contribution to this volume. practical idealism of the end of the 1970s. and the best places to look are precisely those waterfront sites where disused. obsolete dockyards and wharves can be replaced without significant displacement of people or businesses. the actual result here and at comparable projects is a corporate blandness in design that cannot match the vitality of the best urban neighborhoods that supposedly inspired the model. Ironically. the project has also come to embody the design/siting principle I would term “finding lost space.FOREWORD 8 Tim Love. Fortunately for urban design. the profits from luxury development have been used to subsidize affordable housing in other neighborhoods in the city.”9 Such practicality was no doubt necessary and appropriate during the worst years of the urban crisis.” Harvard Design Magazine #25 (Fall 2007): 60–70. Opposite Battery Park City on the east side of Manhattan lies the Lower East Side. the landscape of Battery Park City aptly expressed the emerging responsibility of the private sector to provide public amenities such as the highly successful Esplanade along the river that municipal government could no longer afford. As Tim Love has observed in a highly perceptive recent article. Moreover.” The older urban renewal projects had cleared their own space out of the most thickly inhabited central districts of the city through the ruthless use of eminent domain. Battery Park City eschewed the social diversity that it originally promised by abandoning the goal of including affordable housing in each new apartment house. Paul Goldberger termed the 1979 Battery Park City masterplan “a product of the hard-nosed. B4. as late as the 1980s. such “lost space” potentially available for redevelopment increases exponentially. Hence the need to find space. a century ago the most overcrowded slum in the world and. these resurgent neighborhoods have provided the most intense competition for the Battery Park City model. “Urban Design After Battery Park City: opportunities for variety and vitality in large-scale urban real estate development. thus allowing development to occur sequentially in relatively independent phases and with the variations in program and architecture that mark each developer’s adaptations to a changing market.

and above all Frank Gehry’s serpentine bridge and Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion—forms the basis of a space that is genuinely a people’s park.: The Urban Institute. an ever-fascinating mix of old tenements and new luxury apartments. In contrast to the “festival marketplaces” of the 1970s and 1980s. Today the Lower East is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in the world. Millennium Park: creating a Chicago landmark (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. the best of the HOPE VI affordable housing that has replaced failed high-rise housing projects with mixed-use communities in cities throughout the United States. Popkin et al..11 In the Battery Park City tradition. the park is both “found space” and a “public–private partnership. 2004). and Asian residents.” The park masterplan began as a hardnosed.10 But the real monument of contemporary urban design is. discount stores that date a century to the “pushcart era” alongside New York’s hippest new bars and restaurants. But Millennium Park finally is an expression of the best of America’s “age of reurbanism.” It occupies the site of some highly unsightly railyards between the Loop and the lakefront in the heart of the city that Chicago designers since Daniel Burnham and the 1909 Plan of Chicago had been trying to capture for civic purposes.FOREWORD dangerous place to avoid. sharing a space that brings together the best of American design culture. and the design leadership of SOM’s Adrian D. in my view. but also Jewish and Italian remnants of the old immigration with newer black. To visit the park is to join a community as diverse as Chicago itself. . Hispanic. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this civic space is the way in which the best of avant-garde design—Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Cloud Gate. and a population that blends not only artists and the new-rich young from the nearby financial district. spontaneity” of “working cities” into urban designs that must constantly meet the burden of hard-nosed practicality in a market-driven system? These are the underlying questions that all the contributors to this volume are ultimately facing. Smith. the plan metamorphosed into an underground intermodal transportation center covered by the most important civic space that America has built since 1945. Can urban design somehow capture this vitality. I would argue. practical effort to build a massive underground parking garage for the Loop. Jaume Plensa’s multimedia Crown Fountain. we are beginning to see some of the answers in a variety of built projects. D. covered with a modest park. Gilfoyle. 11 Timothy J. Moreover. people are brought together not as consumers but as citizens. or perhaps complement it with public spaces and amenities that the market cannot offer? How to incorporate what Max Bond has aptly called the “density. A Decade of HOPE VI: Research Findings and Policy Challenges (Washington. With the political leadership of Mayor Richard M. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol’s ecologically inspired Lurie Garden. who contributed over 175 million dollars to the project. risk. including. 2006) is a history worthy of the park itself. And the remarkable public quality of the park could never have existed without the remarkable generosity of Chicago’s private philanthropists. the philanthropic leadership of John Bryan. xix 10 The fairest assessment of HOPE VI can be found in Susan J. Daley. Chicago’s Millennium Park (2004 official opening).C.

this book points the way toward that recovery of the public realm through urban design that Kostof rightly asserts “holds our pride as a people.” Although there is much in American life that. “our city crowds are doomed to be lonely crowds. as a result (quoting Paul and Percival Goodman). two decades later. Writing when the urban crisis still held the American city in its grip. beyond resuscitation. still bears out Kostof’s negative judgment. just four years before his untimely death. or to join the crowds at Millennium Park. Without triumphalism or false optimism.” xx . bored crowds.” and that. one especially regrets that he never lived to see the resurgence of American urbanism. humanly uncultivated crowds. Spiro Kostof meditates on what he fears is the irreversible loss of a true “public realm” in America and the “communitas” it once represented. Kostof fears that the “urban beauty” in the broadest sense that had been the ultimate goal of urban design “is now a thing of the past.FOREWORD In a deeply felt contribution to this volume composed in 1987.

American. Why did we accept the A.C. The building is still seen as the morphological.C. Designers have fixated on the pixel rather than the picture. for instance. We also invited Robert Fishman. even fetishization. legal. this volume is the second in a series A. as the text’s underlying bias is design-based rather than policy-based.C.A. such as the surreal short stories of Italo Calvino or the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. to write the Foreword. and Urban Society. with a few exceptions. the sponsor of the book.S. while others were submitted expressly for this volume at our invitation.S. It is not. The articles are primarily from the last decade or so. not to mention their climatological. Following The Green Braid (2007). we wrote the introductions to each of the book’s three sections. contest.E. And the individual architect—whether a star or journeyperson—is still xxi . Urban Form. the book is a compilation of what we the editors thought were the best articles on urbanism to be found among contemporary American academicians. of the individual building in both the design studio and professional practice continues to plague architectural culture. we added essays by nine guest contributors. as the authors are.PREFACE DOUGLAS KELBAUGH AND KIT KRANKEL McCULLOUGH It might be helpful to start with what Writing Urbanism is not meant to be. intends to publish with Routledge. Buildings too rarely engage in dialogue with their urban. and operational unit of urban development. and reveal our priorities and betray our predilections. Neither is it a compendium of urban design case studies. it is not international in scope or voice. or a collection of writings about particular cities. who were carefully chosen to either complement. As editors. Last. financial. although some date back to the 1980s. The hegemony. setting or cultural context. Nor does the book bear any connection to fictional urbanism. Nor is it about urban planning. meant to be the canon of definitive writings on urbanism and urban design—or even an exhaustive survey. our colleague in Taubman College at the University of Michigan. Many articles were drawn from the Journal of Architectural Education ( J.A.A. Put simply. The singular building— whether signature or vernacular—remains the digit of design in the built environment. or broaden the collection.A.’s and Routledge’s invitation to edit such a book? The first reason was that we feel that urbanism is an underappreciated subject and that urban design is an under-developed sensibility in architectural schools and the profession. which divide the material into Urban Process. although we have attempted to be open-minded and inclusive in both our selections and invitations. To this collection. clarify.S.) and the conference proceedings of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (A.). The structure and contents are entirely our doing.

disease. The third raison d’être for this anthology is the crisis-cum-emergency of ecological deterioration. social. if so. Massive influxes of people from the countryside are swelling and stressing many existing cities. And some of their least sustainable aspects. as a result. the world is facing a Herculean set of high-stake issues and increasingly difficult trade-offs. Whatever climate predictions or underlying causes one chooses to believe. poverty. many American cities have been decanting residents and jobs to the suburbs and exurbs. with over half of the world’s population living in urbanized areas now and two-thirds expected to by the year 2030. their design teams. is faced with some basic challenges. the first urban century is upon us. and even twenty million people. holistic. meaningful. with the city-state starting to eclipse the nation-state as its fundamental economic unit. in our often unexamined. and cities are all becoming larger and more complex. Because cities are inherently more energy-efficient than suburbia and exurbia. as well as aesthetically compatible and consistent? Can we still share common values.” Cities now animate a singular civilization that envelops the entire planet. Ironically. They have become the economic engines of the world’s economy. Project planning by real estate developers has increasingly replaced urban planning. in today’s fast changing. as cities elsewhere have been densifying in recent decades. This heroic notion is becoming anachronistic and romanticized in an era when projects. can we translate them into compelling. are being emulated and exported around the world. and geo-political tension. headlong rush to privatization of government services and the public realm. urbanism will be an essential part of any strategy xxii . authentic. with a guaranteed temperature rise already in the system that may prove disastrous. even ideals. as the private sector continues to displace the public. Can contemporary architecture and architects be less self-centered? Can today’s cities be more legible. single-use zoning and auto-dependency. American architecture seems to have lost its social conscience and civic compass and. and institutional infrastructures. The second reason we agreed to work on this volume is the tsunami of urban development that is sweeping the planet and overtopping our cities and their physical. with fifteen of the twenty largest conurbations predicted to be in the “developing world. and consequential urban form? These essays address these and related questions. There’s been a tripling of the population living in cities since 1950. turning them into teeming agglomerations of ten. coherent. with the attendant issues of inequality. The rapid pace of urbanization is one of the defining and dramatic phenomena of our time. It is now an article of faith that our carbon-based economy is on a collision course with global climate change. The rate of global urbanization has been accelerating at an alarming rate. fifteen. diverse cultures. and equitable. sites. Suddenly.PREFACE romanticized as a solo artist. or are proliferating pluralism and commodification inevitable? And.

where more and more American designers will work. Today’s students and designers need a better understanding of the emerging megalopolis if they are to design buildings that are more than megaforms inserted into a miasma of urban disorder. and represents more than a jump to larger-scale design. economic.PREFACE for sustainability and regeneration. We hope this jostle of writings and images will raise the urban consciousness and conscientiousness of architecture students. as well as redesigning and replanning. we also recognize that it is ultimately based on the laws of nature. especially the remarkable promise and pitfalls of the digital revolution. While acknowledging that the practice of ecology is often socially constructed. As the effects of human enterprise and consumption spread to every corner of the planet and invade every environmental niche. and also that the law of unintended consequences is unrelenting and cannot be repealed. urban design will in turn also play a critical role in sustainability.) Architects. The burgeoning interest in urban design is a significant and positive part of this sea change. is giving way to more pragmatic theory and “projective” practices. dynamic. It also means understanding the geo-political and cultural differences between urbanism in North America and in Europe. And many of us believe the relativism of the post-structural “critical project” during the last quarter century. (We also need to educate more architects and urban designers from the developing world. and South America. As we move from a critical-distancing-from-theworld to a critical engagement with it. They need to be better prepared for the deluge of environmental. Asia. sociability. as insightful and liberating as it may once have been for many designers and theorists. as well as their counterparts in the other design and planning xxiii . and formal coherence of cities play a key role in urbanism. urban designers. It means understanding the nature of community. from architecture to zoos. And they need to fully understand and utilize the ecological leverage they wield in designing and planning. we must be wary of the embrace of corporate capitalism. and emergent. We are aware that technology is as much a socio-political as an engineering act. as well as the impacts of technology. distributive justice. the built environment. with all the collateral issues of diversity. this means empirically sensitizing ourselves to the contemporary metropolis and our evolving sense of urbanism. and citizen participation. And because the livability. political. social and environmental equity. and social problems and opportunities that come with rapid global growth and urbanization. Their skills and talents have never been more critical or in more demand. and planners could potentially play a more central and activist role in this century than any in history. with its branding and commodification of just about everything. In America. landscape architects. we are beginning to be much more mindful of our ecological footprints. and practitioners. faculty. which are for all practical purposes absolute. it also represents a paradigmatic shift to a more inclusive and comprehensive agenda.


disciplines and professions. In our opinion, the conversation became too private and insular while critical theory dominated the academy for several decades. After the overly heroic and overly rational ambitions of Modernism failed, the academy over-reacted—understandably, arguably—by becoming too disciplinary, theoretical, and pure. It narrowed the agenda to primarily aesthetic issues, first symbolic and historicist, then speculative and avant-garde, more recently digital. The focus on form and surface has been sophisticated and skillful, if too esoteric and rarefied in its original encounter and intrigue with literary theory and post-structuralist philosophy. Some of the authors in this volume and some readers may disagree with this thumbnail analysis, but few would disagree that architecture became more autonomous, disciplinary, and focused on design per se in the last quarter of the twentieth century. (And some would say this shift was for the better.) As we begin to broaden our cone of vision and respread our interdisciplinary wings, urbanism and urban design deserve more and more attention. The math of urbanization, the imperatives of ecology, and the scales of justice suggest a mandate to reboot and to rethink our mission and methods, as well as our ideals, if idealism is still possible in our era of postmodernity. We believe that the knowledge and insights of our academic and professional colleagues, from different generations and institutions, illuminate and develop ways to think about urbanism and urban design. This is not to say that the authors agree or even converge. The discourse is divided, and the intellectual turf is contested and factionalized. Indeed, the territory is as diverse, fascinating, and complex as the city itself. We hope the range of essays and articles conveys the depth and the breadth of the intellectual terrain and will focus attention on these issues in our schools and the professions. But we cannot risk paralysis from over-analysis. Compelled and inspired by discourse and dialogue, we need to act in the world in new and more effective ways. Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan October 2007


First and foremost, we must thank the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture for spearheading this series of readers, and for inviting us to edit this volume. We are particularly indebted to Michael Monti, Executive Director of the A.C.S.A., who provided able direction and guidance, with the assistance of Kevin Mitchell of the A.C.S.A. national office. Our trans-Atlantic thanks go to Caroline Mallinder, who was in charge of publications on the built environment for Taylor & Francis Books, and Georgina Johnson, Assistant Editor. Working with them was a pleasure. We wish to also thank our colleagues at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan for their support. In particular, we received critical and substantial help from Keria Rossin, who attended to the endless details of book writing, and Donald Buaku, who provided digital assistance. Christian Unverzagt and Nick Tobier (who is down the hall in the School of Art & Design) shared images from their collections. And of course there were the many contributors, especially those who wrote new essays for the book. These authors are the sine qua non of such a reader, and, like urban design itself, their individual essays combine to form a compendium that is greater than the sum of its literary parts. We are encouraged by the growth of interest and activity in urbanism and urban design, both in the academy and the profession. Like sustainability and social justice, urbanism is one of those bonds that is almost chemical in its strength. They can unite the world in ways that are both common and profound, and we hope this book adds to the conversation and ultimately to the bond itself. As ever, we are grateful for the unflagging support and forbearance of our respective families, especially our spouses Kathleen Nolan and Malcolm McCullough. Kit McCullough Doug Kelbaugh



When asked to compile essays for an urban design reader we jumped in without first establishing for ourselves what constituted urban design. Consequently everything we read was fair game for inclusion in this volume—as long as it touched on urbanism, design, or both. To define urban design is difficult; indeed, there is no accepted definition. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the symposium at Harvard University at which José Luis Sert coined the term, Alex Krieger attempted a definition. Drawing from definitions of the word territory in the dictionary, he came up with “spheres of urbanistic action to promote the vitality, livability and physical character of cities.”1 With this definition in mind, we open this book with Urban Process, in which we consider urban design as “spheres of urbanistic action.” While urban design is often defined as architecture at the largest scale, these essays fit comfortably within “spheres of action” as opposed to physical artifact. There is a preference for small actions over big ones, as well as for collective action, with many participants—in short, an emphasis on the “urban” over the “design.” This preference implies that it is the participants that determine the city more than the physical form. The beauty of the expression “spheres of action” is that it implies a community of actors. In other words, it is ultimately people that define the city, and their actions that constitute its design. Which raises the question, what is the role of design in the city? Perhaps the notion of urban design is undesirable, if not unattainable. Often, the urban areas that are most valued and appreciated are ones that seem to have sprung up organically, or at least incrementally, over time—in other words, not designed. Which begs a second question, can a city truly be designed? Indeed, the urban designer of today is not the master architect ego, à la Howard Rourke in The Fountainhead, making heroic design decisions on the behalf of others. History is littered with examples of architects who have attempted to design in this mode at the scale of the city, with failed, even disastrous results. Rather, the role of the urban designer is to enable citizens to act on their own behalf—to design the structure that allows the possibility of the city, rather than to design the city itself. There can be no single designer of the city because the design of the city is not a finite process; rather it is continual and unending. By necessity, the physical form of the city is shaped by multiple forces, players, and parameters. The urban designer has been likened to an orchestra conductor, someone who directs a process to arrive at a desired collective outcome. Urban design, more than other design disciplines, is inter-disciplinary, crossing the boundaries of architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and

1 Harvard Design Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006.


engineering. Like planning, urban design is a creature of policy, political decision-making, and power structures. Yet it is distinct from urban planning, because it is predicated on three-dimensional form. The process of urban design is to resolve the political, economic, and social vectors with the goal of arriving at urban form that works. Although urban designers focus on built form, their design mode differs from that of the architecture profession, with its emphasis on the new and the inventive. Urban designers instead take a more empiricist and pragmatic approach, observing human interaction with the built environment in an effort to discern which design moves will hold true for a longer time horizon. Cities are meant to last for a very long time. They do not represent the art of any one era, but evolve over time to reflect both the current and cumulative aspirations of their inhabitants. The essays in this chapter make different observations regarding those aspirations, and arrive at different conclusions as to what makes a city work, but they all describe a working city as one that tries to provide equity, sociability, and urbanity. But it should be recognized that not all spheres of urbanistic action are so ideal, or even so visible or recognizable. Many of the actions that shape the city occur within entirely separate spheres and with entirely different motives, from the traffic engineer whose only objective is to move more cars through an intersection to the financial markets that only wish to maximize the returns and minimize the risk of global capital. Many of the essays in this section describe underlying cultural currents that direct our urbanistic actions without our even realizing it. So rather than orchestra conductor, a more apt metaphor for the urban designer may be Greek chorus. Often the urban design process is one of trying to make people more aware of their actions and how those actions impact and ultimately shape the city—a process of not only enabling, but one of education. Some of the processes described in this section are meant to deliberately counter the global, corporate, financial, and cultural forces that act on our cities: charrettes bring direct public participation into the design process. Finance and zoning mechanisms allow average citizens to act as their own developers to build their own homes and neighborhoods. Artists stage art works, protests, and celebrations that help people to see their city differently, and uncover the hidden forces that shape it. Perhaps there is no sphere in which actions shape our physical environment more, or where it is more crucial to raise awareness and enable people to act, than that of environmental sustainability. Sustainability has emerged as the critical issue facing the design professions, one reason why the first volume in this series of readers focuses on this topic. But beyond sustainability as a specific design strategy, we argue in the Preface that urbanism is in and of itself an important contribution toward sustainability. The essays here remind us that urbanists, as stewards of the built environment, are participating in sustainable design. Re-use is a central tenet of sustainability,


be it the re-use of existing buildings or urban fabric through preservation or through the regeneration of waste materials and spaces. As we noted in the Preface, cities are innately more energy-efficient on a per capita basis than suburban or exurban sprawl; denser is inherently greener. As David Owen points out in his essay, the mere act of living in a city is one of the most sustainable choices one can make. And so, perhaps we arrive at another definition of urban design, one also posed by Alex Krieger: urban design is a frame of mind, a shared commitment to the totality of the built environment—to urbanism, to the city.


hamlets and other forms of settlement. They blame sprawl for their problems while envying the good fortune of prosperous suburbs. town boosters before and especially since Emerson sought. stability and permanence of place. which in many cultures are identified with good places to live and with urbanity. to stand apart. It is not on the quarter-acre that we already own. a conversation held across a trimly kept yard. it does not depict a city very well. but on one of the millions yet untaken that we dream about. paradoxically. We want to spread out. socially and economically. It is not certain whether such emulation ever brings residents back to town. municipal officials. especially. Their efforts to establish what others have ennobled as the “middle 6 . to do it better the next time around. but contributes to the erasure of distinctions between towns. individuality and space continue to determine thousands of choices for dwelling on the periphery of existing cities. Notions of rootedness. outline a vision that emulates the perceived advantages of life on the periphery. We want to move away. In pondering how their towns might confront such challenges they often. worry about falling downtown investment and the migration of residents and businesses outward. How is “a good place to live” typically represented: a charming porch. to have overcome this difficulty. is the desire to be on the move. Without its ramifications fully considered. Among our yearnings. lament the lack of activity along main street. We have been ambivalent about the value of urbanity to our culture. Pondering human nature. have been among Americans a less pressing matter. suburbs. about the appropriate form that the city should take and. for example. to express our individuality. a bicycle leaning against a picket fence. about where one is best placed in relationship to the city. to start again. They decry the popularity of regional malls. and often claimed. lots of green space or a stately home? As enticing an evocation as this is.THE VIRTUES OF CITIES OBSERVATIONS ALEX KRIEGER (1995) We Americans have long shown ambivalence towards the city. Not surprisingly. nor inhibited by metaphysical opposites. a number of American cultural predilections inadvertently work against establishing good urban places to live. Such yearnings for progress. Indeed. physically. believing that on it a good place to live and happiness will be found.” Less philosophical by nature. such homogenization has also been an American goal. town planners and mayors frequently remark on the diminishing urbanity within their towns. or merchants or places of work. Ralph Waldo Emerson often reflected on the difficulty of acquiring (much less maintaining) both “rural strength and religion” and “city facility and polish. We want to move up. mobility.

” “borderlands. theme parks. located in Bloomington. This is a corollary to locating many things and activities close together. three for society.000 people visit the Mall of America. however. The great swaths of development between the ever-receding country and the decongested town seem conducive to acquiring neither rural strength and religion nor city facility and polish. The photographer.” He may have preferred solitude but understood the civilizing force of aggregation. we need frequent reminders of what these virtues are. Heterogeneity within an ordered fabric. greater proximity among buildings and activities would benefit sociability. but wrongheaded. Density. “I have three chairs in my house:” Thoreau wrote. Interaction. forgetting that they are but simulations of environments traditionally found in cities such as Minneapolis and St. “one for solitude. posing with the giant Snoopy. as distinct from congestion. Our need for contact with others is such that we will commute great distances to places like mall concourses. trade shows. Paul. Each day some 75. to crop their scene a little tighter. expresses a subliminal need for social contact—for the sheer pleasure of it. Outside of a few pockets of genuine congestion. even charity walk-a-thons. or does the popularity of the place lie partially in enabling a primitive kind of propinquity to occur? Some do shop. and the repetition of such blocks along streets which 7 . Are they there merely to shop. Minnesota.” “edge cities. promotes engagement. The popularity of recreational shopping. specialized museums. building Lego castles and enjoying the crowd. To compete with their ever-spreading peripheries cities and towns might best maintain their own virtues. Under the leavening forces of rampant disaggregation. An essential ingredient of a town is its density. urged his students to move in a little closer. conveniently outside both Minneapolis and St. Density. e-mail notwithstanding. after they composed a shot. while more seem to be riding the indoor roller coaster. to assume that physical proximity is no longer important. Paul.” “garden cities. made possible by proximity.THE VIRTUES OF CITIES landscape. So perhaps Woody Allen’s claim that he is “two with nature” contains a useful insight about town design. Alfred Steiglitz.” or “greenfields” ultimately reinforce Emerson’s doubts. Propinquity. The long-standing American yearning for a state of settlement in which the benefits of urbanity and nature are enjoyed simultaneously has been exposed as a form of fool’s gold that devalues both town and country. movie theaters (despite five hundred cable channels). two for friendship. is crucial and far more difficult to sustain where things are spread out across great distance. sporting events. The beauty of Boston’s Back Bay lies in the tension between the similarities and differences among the facades along a block. In an age promising ever more instant communication it is easy. measured not in square feet but in the juxtaposition of artifice with human activity. tourism. Similar advise would benefit those who build the American city.


themselves subtly differ in dimension, landscaping, edge definition and principal use. Buildings, like citizens, warrant their idiosyncrasies so long as each behaves civilly toward neighbors. Spaced at intervals of a half-acre or more, the need for civility lessens. There is a kind of illusion of autonomy about buildings spread over a vast landscape. Juxtaposed realms. Lewis Mumford once defined a town as the place where the greatest numbers of choices are available in the smallest geographical area. Nodding approval, we go so far as to label “Central Business District” on our zoning maps and mix offices with shops. The demise of vital downtowns generally parallels the rise in the use of the term Central Business District. Why would anyone want to live, shop, dine, relax, meet a friend, cruise in a convertible, attend a concert, see a movie, go to school, take a walk with a sweetheart, or simply choose to hang out in a place called the Central Business District? Because our downtowns have become mere business districts their appeal diminishes even for businesses that eventually leave in search of environments that offer their employees a wider array of amenities. Instead of pining for the return of business interests to the downtown we should turn our attention to overcoming the absence of all other interests. Neighbors unlike ourselves. Some of the most charming early suburbs, like Forest Hill Gardens in Queens or Roland Park in Baltimore, contained a rich mixture of dwelling sizes and clusters. Diversity in house types is more likely to accommodate diversity of social, economic and age groups. This is not particularly popular among contemporary suburban developers, many of whom cater their subdivisions to increasingly narrow segments of the population. A growing concern about such environments is that they breed indifference, or worse, intolerance, towards social groups beyond their gates. Such indifference is unlikely to enhance democracy. While towns were always made up of defined neighborhoods, and even enclaves, proximity among them, along with shared streets and public spaces, assured regular interaction. Such interaction, or the mere promise of it, remains one of the advantages of town life. Social landmarks. A statue of President McKinley graces and organizes traffic in an otherwise graceless rotary in North Adams, Massachusetts. The center of Riverside, Illinois, one of the nation’s earliest planned suburbs, is marked by a modest train depot and a beautiful water tower. Landmarks confer coherence and legibility, not status. They highlight things that are dear to a community—like remembering a president or the storage of water. They are not produced by labeling, or through form alone. This is apparently beyond the comprehension of those who name their shopping strip “Center Place,” their office park “Landmark Square,” and mark each with a faux campanile. Texture, detail and narrative. The many buffalo gargoyles on the face of the city hall in Buffalo, New York are not only endearing, but relate a


place-name to an entire epoch of frontier urbanization. An old storefront in New Bedford, Massachusetts may carry reminders of ships, whaling and trade, not unlike a street in modern Tokyo that exhibits the near-cacophony of a culture obsessed with digital technology. Public environments benefit from such excesses. Robert Browning’s “less is more” was not intended to describe a town’s public realm. The aphorism’s principal modern proponent, Mies van der Rohe, could also be heard to say, “God rests in the details.” A preponderance of detail invested with qualities characteristic of a place was for Kevin Lynch essential to good city form. These details are what Italo Calvino’s Marco Polo describes to Kubla Khan in order to make him see the cities of his travels. Connectivity. Some of today’s most frustrating rush hour snarls occur on the perimeter highways, which pass through the uncrowded suburbs. Arterial highways channel traffic and, therefore, limit choice. A network of streets, narrow, crooked and even redundant, provides actual choice and, more importantly, the promise of choice. On a congested highway relief is no closer than the next set of exit ramps, assuming one knows where they lead. By taking a quick left followed by a right while negotiating an urban street grid, a less busy parallel street is found, a traffic back-up may be avoided, a “short-cut” is imagined, a sense of control or freedom is maintained. This is an advantage that every city cabbie understands, but few highway engineers ever acknowledge. Streetfronts. In a typical contemporary subdivision the elements furthest away from the street right-of-way seem to receive the greatest design attention. Unfortunately, this leaves much of what influences the experience of the public realm under-designed. On the inside of the fence in a Phoenix subdivision there are beautiful homes, immaculate lawns, wonderful terraces, decks and gardens. On the public side there is simply a road for circulation assumed to require none of the pleasures provided by fronting on a street, instead of an artery. Immediacy of experience. Americans are known for their dislike of walking. Yet they actually walk hundreds of yards each day through parking lots, through shopping malls, through corridors of large buildings, through airport terminals. Much of this walking is caused by providing for the convenience of the automobile, and much of it is forgettable. In a car, or on foot, we commute to a destination. The suburban landscape seems to only offer destinations. But it is the seductions along an interesting path that make walking—and cities—enjoyable. Sustainability, persistence, and adaptability. While few parts of any city warrant strict preservation, virtually all have potential for reuse. Unfortunately this is often overlooked in the zeal to build anew, usually somewhere else, under the dubious supposition that rebuilding will enable us to get it right the next time. The town of Southfield, a few miles north of Detroit, now boasts a daily commuter population greater than Detroit’s.


Largely made up of office parks strung along a highway, Southfield’s chief advantage seems to be that it is new and not Detroit. And so with each new Southfield a Detroit withers, but, one suspects, only temporarily. Long after the single-function office towers of Southfield become outmoded (or simply less new and less profitable) enough of the infrastructure, street grid, building stock, cultural institutions, historic monuments, and neighborhood domains of Detroit will have survived to initiate, perhaps even inspire, reuse. The archetypal suburban landscape, with its coarse grain of development, relative absence of history, and single-use zoning has yet to prove as adaptable to changing social habits or needs. Overlapping boundaries. A city is like a stacking of translucent quilts, with layers of social, architectural and geographical strata sometimes carefully, sometimes imperfectly registered. Subtle or precise, such overlapping of precincts is crucial to place-making. An environment without perceivable boundaries is amorphous, indistinguishable from its surroundings and generally place-less. This is sadly characteristic of much of the modern metropolitan landscape. With apologies to Robert Frost, good fences may not insure good neighbors but neither does their absence foster connectivity or communality. Public life. A large downtown shopping mall is a marvel of design and a magnet for activity. But a careful observer will note the limited range of activities that takes place inside. You will be ushered out unto the street for behavior deemed inappropriate by the management. On that street, lowly or grand, you have rejoined the town. In a city the sense of proximity to a public realm remains palpable, with standards of acceptable public behavior discreetly reinforced. An urban environment cherishes this relative openness and, therefore, yields to privatization only with considerable reluctance. The potential for a centered life. Against most planners’ predictions, Los Angeles—the proverbial score of suburbs in search of a town—has recently grown a visible downtown. It is really mostly a collection of corporate office towers, the product of speculative land economics at work. Yet perhaps there is something in human nature that seeks comfort in centering, and such vertical outcroppings of commerce satisfy that impulse, at least scenographically. While there may be fewer economic and technological reasons for concentration, the new Los Angeles downtown or, for that matter, the continuing reinvestment in Boston’s much older center, are expressions of support for centering—concentration as a matter of choice rather than as an historic imperative. There are those who believe that we will continue to disaggregate, leaving cities to live in closer proximity to the splendors of nature, with technology providing a modicum of (digital) social contact. Then how does one explain the invention of the “internet” cafe? Will not the very convenience of being able to perform most daily errands, most work functions and most business transactions from the privacy of our own homes (or anywhere else for that


matter) compel us to escape the attendant disengagement from society? Retarding isolation will remain the special virtue of the contemporary city. In it, and nowhere else as poignantly, a citizen can still partake of the pleasures of overlap, the pleasures of proximity, the pleasures of propinquity.

This essay is abridged from the original, which first appeared in Places: Forum of Design for the Public Realm, September 1995.


WORKING CITIES Density, risk, spontaneity
J. MAX BOND, Jr. (2001)

Cities reflect social and cultural norms as well as economic and technical means. They are also expressions of belief and will. The current state of our cities reflects much about our time: mobility, governmental policies, technical shifts, race relations, materialism. Notwithstanding the continuing growth of suburbs and their attendant “edge cities” there is also evidence of a renewed interest in our older cities. Urban redevelopment is being driven by a number of factors, from retooling of the local economy to creative re-use of former industrial districts. While this redevelopment is welcome in any guise, contemporary urbanism in the U.S. betrays tendencies that are antithetical to true urban regeneration because they don’t deal with the whole city. We are witnessing the suburbanization of our cities through the replacement of multi-family dwellings with single family homes and row housing. This makes inefficient use of the existing urban infrastructure and impairs the ability of neighborhoods to generate the local commerce that distinguishes walking cities from car-dependent suburbs. Our cities are undergoing a process of sanitization, an effort to redesign complex urban environments with a narrower palette pitched to bourgeois sensibilities. New York City’s Forty-Second Street, for example, was not only a sleazy precinct but also an entertainment center for working class kids. The redevelopment sponsored by Disney may make tourists more comfortable, because it is so familiar, but at the cost of the city’s messy realism. Urban regeneration is often propelled by the gentrification of working class districts into expensive upper middle class enclaves. This process is frequently attended by cultural cleansing and the withdrawal of support systems for people of low income. There is a palpable fear of risk in current American culture that wants to make everything safe and predictable. As a nation we are ambivalent about the very diversity we value. The success of the ersatz townscapes at Disney World’s Epcot and Universal Studios’ City Walk confirms both our attraction to and fear of close encounters with other cultures. The city offers the possibility of the unexpected, even shocking, encounter. These phenomena reinforce the consumerism that is the bedrock of our national economy and ideology. They manifest an imbalance in spending on private as opposed to public amenities, an emphasis on consumer products instead of buildings and places. The shopping mall and festival marketplace remove the agora to privately owned and controlled settings.


Government policy favors the private automobile over mass transit despite the cost in congestion, pollution and personal injury. Budget surpluses are targeted for tax cuts rather than improved services and environments. We may participate in a global society but we live in geographically specific places. A list of what makes good cities is fairly obvious, encompassing physical, economic, social and environmental elements. But in U.S. cities these elements are rarely applied with equal resources and commitment to the vast areas inhabited by the majority of people—working people in need of working cities. I speak here of quality housing, schools and libraries; of reliable and efficient municipal services; of properly funded and maintained public transportation of parks and playgrounds. In poorer neighborhoods these essentials of decent living are too often inadequate. Because there is a high correlation between poverty and race in our cities, this burden falls disproportionately on minority groups. Transforming a city to serve all the people requires a shift in values, attitude and will. America is rich enough to be able to make choices and create the city that reflects our goals. What will it take to create a working city? An emphasis on ordinary buildings as well as the exceptional. A focus on the public realm and systems. Increased emphasis on the visual quality of the environment. A merging of the disciplines of architecture and urban design. A shift in government priorities to support desirable land uses and urban systems. Support for the local economy, including the informal sector. Cities must be well designed. Urban populations will only grow significantly if cities provide services, amenities and an attractive physical environment for all people. For poor people cities offer opportunity; for artists and dissidents they offer freedom. For all they present the possibility of social interaction and cultural growth. These qualities have been intrinsic to cities throughout history and explain why people still flock to vibrant urban neighborhoods. The range of possibilities offered by cities is also why our urban future does not reside in a risk-free bourgeois vision but in a denser, more broadly based, model of a pluralistic, dynamic and public urbanism.

This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 89th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 2001.


MEANINGFUL URBAN DESIGN Teleological/catalytic/relevant


The conventional approach to defining the field of urban design is morphological; that is, according to the way it is structured and organized. Urban design is often regarded as an ambiguous combination of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering. This definition puts urban designers at odds over power and resource with architects, planners, landscape architects, and civil engineers, and thereby dilutes the leading role urban design can play in the blossoming of cities. Furthermore, much of the recent interest in urban design repeats the familiar deficiencies of the past, such as a focus on the superficial aesthetics and picturesque aspects of cities; an over-emphasis on the architect as urban designer and a singular obsession with design; an understanding of urban design primarily as a finished product; and a pedagogical process that is comfortably rooted in architecture and design (e.g. matters of visual composition). One major problem with current urban design thought and practice is the sense that it is architecture, only at a larger scale and within an urban context. In this school of thought, there is far too much emphasis on the “design”, and not enough of an understanding of the “urban.” Attempting to design a city as one designs a building is clearly misleading and dangerous, because unlike individual buildings that tend to be objects, cities are highly complex, large scale, active entities, and contain a bewildering multiplicity of communities. Few contemporary urban designers demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the complex ways in which cities function. Especially glaring is the naiveté of contemporary urban designers vis-à-vis power structures and decision-making processes, which are dominated by politicians, bureaucrats, corporations, developers, and interest groups. I propose a meaningful approach to urban design, one that is truly consequential in improving the essential qualities of city life. The approach consists of being teleological, that is, driven by purpose rather than defined by disciplines; being catalytic, that is, generating or contributing to longterm development processes; and being relevant, that is, grounded in first causes and pertinent human values. In my view, then, urban design is driven by the purpose of addressing fundamental urban challenges, circumscribed by urban scale and complexity, and rests upon an interdisciplinary set of skills, methodologies, and bodies of knowledge.




Urban design is an ongoing process with built forms such as open spaces, building complexes, and districts produced along the way. Primarily, it is a stimulus to other goals that are more critical to society and to the substantive challenges facing contemporary cities. These goals include community empowerment and social integration, inner city revitalization, cross-cultural learning and collaboration, effective land use, and a wider range of urban form choices for citizens. A teleological urban design would address three critical aspects of the urban experience, which are the relationships between the city and the economy, the city and society, and the city and power. The relationship between the city and the economy considers the economic functioning of the city, including the city as a point in the production landscape as well as a site of investment, the changing international division of labor, and the consequent effects on the specific urban economies. The relationship between the city and society focuses on the city as an arena of social interaction, the distribution of social groups, residential segregation, the construction of gender and ethnic identities, and patterns of class formation. The relationship between the city and power is the representation of urban structure and political power, and considers the city to be a system of communication, a recorder of the distribution of power, and an arena for the social struggles over the meaning and substance of the urban experience. Such an approach would address the question: Why should the field of urban design even exist when there are far more powerful actors shaping cities? Because urban design is the only field that is geared specifically to shape the three-dimensional urban environment at multiple scales, and to constantly assert an effective symbiosis between urban form and society and its political-economic structures.

Urban design projects and processes would generate or contribute significantly to three types of socio-economic development processes while enhancing the built environment of cities: community development; economic development; and international development. Urban design as a catalyst for community development consists of intelligent community participation in projects, facilitated by: dialogue between community representatives and urban designers; community leadership which is representative of broader community views; institutional partnerships, for example between private and nonprofit sectors; decision-making systems such as simulations and games; and the soft-programming of urban design, like the incorporation of public art into projects, and the integration of designed activities, events, programs, and services integrated into built form.

and extremely useful community participation forums. the higher the level of public awareness and sense of ownership. The Urban Design Group in the UK1 provides a series of clear. rather than a source of conflict. and a job-training center. city council meetings. workshops. For the urban designer. 16 . are the agents of change. California. a city building simulator. and as an external communication with the client. community development. that attract investment into deprived areas. all of which contribute to community development in the neighborhood. and planning commission presentations. generate community strategies. and the better the internal decisions of change. engaging. There are conventional public involvement formats such as public hearings. Pettus and Pyatok. The project not only houses families and elderly citizens with low incomes. including innovative mechanisms such as street stalls and interactive displays. the architect Michael Pyatok studied development scenarios for housing and neighborhood services on several sites in the city and organized a series of workshops using participatory modeling kits to help over 30 neighborhood participants to design plans for the site and to understand the implications of density. because they increase community awareness. both as internal communication in the thinking process. user. The charrette is one of the more powerful and effective mechanisms for active and intelligent community participation.” 2 Jones. The better this communication process of design is. and brainstorming sessions. decorative tiles.ASEEM INAM 1 Urban Design Group. Family housing with a day care center around quiet courtyards is built behind a ground-floor market. and steel entry gates in the form of a burst of sunshine. An example of soft-programming as a long-term process of community development is illustrated by the Hismen Hin-nu Terrace housing project in Oakland. concise. A multi-ethnic mix of tenants is depicted in exterior murals. as well as informal meetings. Urban design as a catalyst for economic development involves designing projects that generate employment on a long-term basis. The people within a given context. These examples point to creative. design communication is inherent in the act of design. and beneficial forms of not only community participation.2 With a grant from the City of Oakland. or broader community. The popularity of the computer program SimCity. such as homeowners in a residential neighborhood or business owners in a commercial downtown. but more significantly. Good Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing. The art is intended to prove that America’s cultural diversity is a source of energy for creating community. frieze panels. but also helps mend a deteriorating neighborhood by restoring its main boulevard with housing over shops. niches for street vendors. “Involving local communities in urban design. and suggest modes of community intervention in the future of their own environments. and that increase business and tax revenues. aided by a communication process that speaks to the formal aspects of their environment. attests to the possibility of designing urban simulation models with broad public appeal.

the generation of cross-cultural learning. right-angled figure containing a perfectly defined square space. housing authorities in the United States could learn from Henri Ciriani’s social housing projects in France. local (i. For example. “Institutions. urban designers must develop associations and networks that extend beyond their spatial reach through collaborative endeavors and thereby provide another mechanism for responding to the multitude of actors who shape their communities. . Urban design as a catalyst for international development takes the guise of sensitivity to indigenous and cosmopolitan contexts.3 For example. a large social housing project outside Paris in Saint Denis.e. In this manner. Indore. Doshi utilized an institution.” 4 Ciriani. World Bank funded housing projects in developing countries) and which actors are responsible (e. which serve as a demonstration of how largescale low-income housing projects built by the government can constitute positive contributions to the urban environment instead of being eyesores. India) housing project in India. 66–73. La Courdangle constitutes a low-income housing project that is rich in architectural spaces and detail. a highly successful shopping center in San Diego. The Architecture of Empowerment: People.MEANINGFUL URBAN DESIGN Horton Plaza. Shelter and Livable Cities.5 The project has been largely a success due to the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation. and forms from different cultural contexts. low-income neighborhoods. processes. Cross-cultural learning arises out of understanding and applying in a sympathetic and appropriate manner. Urban designers must be able to understand and react to influences impinging on their communities. with 70 percent minority workers and 60 percent from high-unemployment. urban design methodologies.g. pp.4 is a seven-story building with striped cladding and geometric frieze that forms a corner in an otherwise loosely structured urban space. World Bank). Furthermore. to develop an internationally funded (i. The courtyard side of the building is a pure.g. By creating a visually strong plan of geometrical precision. The ongoing phenomenon of globalization suggests some strategies for urban designers.V. contains the apartments’ balconies and terraces. including surveys to understand the physical and economic factors that 17 3 Inam. 5 Serageldin. and urban mediations of economic globalization. generated jobs for local residents when city officials utilized their position as stakeholders in the project to fill half of the nearly 1. American architectural firms designing office complexes in London). the various free-standing buildings as well as high-rise buildings that surround the project integrate into a more harmonious urban setting. Henri Ciriani. Transformed into a picture plane. The layering of the facades facilitates the articulation of the decreasing volumes. and mediates between the architecture of the building and the urbanity of the neighborhood. the project inspires a still-life composition device in urban design.e. routines. regardless of where those influences originate (e. while helping define and enhance the urban space around it. and crises: post-earthquake housing recovery in Mexico City and Los Angeles. the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research. the Indian architect B.000 new jobs. La Courdangle. which carried out considerable research. Aranya Nagar.

13. is much less admirable. 100.7 For the conventional urban designer. The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History. however. To the extent that the grid sped this process and streamlined absentee purchases. recording. and even unbuilt lots slipped out of common reach. A way to examine this historical process is to ask probing research questions: Who actually designs cities? What procedures do they go through? Which are the empowering institutions and laws? Urban process also refers to physical change through time. and subsequent ownership transfer. pp. that is. What matters most in the long run is not the mystique of the grid geometry. This did not mean that individual wealth could not appropriate considerable property. 8 Ibid. and wars. railroad tracks usurp cemeteries and waterfronts. but thousands of witting and unwitting acts every day alter a city’s lines in ways that are perceptible only over a certain stretch of time. 10–11. a slashing diagonal boulevard is run through close-grained residential neighborhoods. besides offering simplicity in land surveying. RELEVANT 6 Kostof. The point is made regularly that grids. and density of the housing plots that were specific to the local context. Urban design that is relevant is pertinent to matters at hand.ASEEM INAM determine the size. when cheap rural land was being urbanized through rapid laying out. Once the land had been identified with the city. The project translated international expectations into local needs through grassroots research. especially in the United States. (2) a theory of urban form that is normative and based on human values. p. fires. and highways annihilate city cores. this advantage of the initial geometry of land parcels evaporated. let us consider the grid in history. Ordinary citizens gained easy access to urban land only at a preliminary phase. 7 Ibid. also favored a fundamental democracy in property market participation. The reality.. Urban form is related directly to urban process over time. it may be considered an equalizing social device. once rational grids are slowly obscured. City walls are pulled down and filled in. forces. and institutions that brings about urban form. the conjunction of people. type.8 At best it is a visual theme upon which to play variations: he or she might be concerned with issues like using a true checkerboard design versus syncopated block 18 . p. and (3) a design methodology of urban form that is empirically based and derived from patterns of human behavior. however. and is based on fundamental human and natural conditions.. I highlight three such relevant approaches to urban design: (1) a history of urban form that analyzes the determinant processes and human meanings of form.6 As an example. but the luck of first ownership. The tendency all too often is to see urban form as a finite thing and a complicated object. a grid is simply a grid. but rather that the basic initial geometry of land parcels bespoke a simple egalitarianism that invited easy entry into the urban land market.

food. emotional. . resources. via compatibility between function and form. and protects the survival of human beings. for example. decentralized. Third is fit. via a distinct identity and unconstrained legibility. 116–117. which is the degree to which an urban form is clearly perceived and mentally differentiated as well as structured in time and space. including territorial aristocracy in Greek Sicily. the grid has accommodated a startling variety of social structures. [a settlement that is] accessible. 10 In Lynch’s theory of good city form. For the meaningful urban designer. Second is sense. air. the cosmic vision of Joseph Smith in Mormon settlements like Salt Lake City. In fact. via openness and connection . there are seven basic dimensions. which are certain identifiable characteristics of cities due primarily to their spatial qualities and are measurable scales along which different groups achieve different positions. and capabilities. and capitalist speculation. and 19 9 Lynch. for example. with the placement of open spaces within the discipline of the grid. and the degree to which that mental structure connects with the residents’ values and concepts. pp. for example. biological requirements. First is vitality.MEANINGFUL URBAN DESIGN rhythms. Lynch generalizes performance dimensions. the Spanish in Mexico. acquiring and realizing new powers—intellectual. So that settlement is good which enhances the continuity of a culture and the survival of its people. . The book Good City Form is an impressive and daring attempt by Kevin Lynch9 at a systematic effort to state general relationships between the form of a place and its value to society. more competent. There have been few serious attempts at a comprehensive and normative theory of urban form. with cross-axial or other types of emphasis. increases a sense of connection in time and space.. which is the ability to reach other people. via adequate throughput of water. The fundamental good is the continuous development of the individual or the small group and their culture: a process of becoming more complex. These performance dimensions are based on the following thinking: The good city is one in which the continuity of [a] complex ecology is maintained while progressive change is permitted. which is the degree to which an urban form supports the vital functions. within continuity. . how. or the Illinois Central Railroad Company in the American Midwest employed the same device of settlement is the principal substance of a review of orthogonal design. with the width and hierarchy of streets. the Romans in Britain. more richly connected. and with what intentions. the builders of medieval Wales and Gascony. 10 Ibid. Good City Form. which is the degree to which urban form matches the pattern and quantity of actions that people usually engage in. and energy. and permits or spurs individual growth: development. Fourth is access. . adaptable. the agrarian republicanism of Thomas Jefferson. social and physical . activities. and tolerant to experiment. . on the other hand. diverse.

DESIGNING THE FUTURE OF URBAN DESIGN 12 Inam. which is the degree to which the creation.g. via equal protection from environmental hazards such as traffic and pollution.12 In this vein. 20 . analyses of built examples. which is the way in which urban form costs and benefits are distributed among people. A problem-solving approach to urban design would explicitly render its design methodology. descriptions of historical precedents. and Design. via ease of communication and movement. and local conditions. is most useful as a series of thoroughly analyzed and empirically based guidelines to solving common problems of urban form. places. Each pattern describes a problem that occurs repeatedly in the built environment. and thoughtful. Urban design must begin with cities: how they work. Fifth is control. for example. There continues to be voluminous research on environment and behavior (e. and will continue to be. Sixth is efficiency. and a point (or points) of maximum concentration for the power and culture of a community. The basis for the design patterns was extensive and thorough empirical research carried on over an eight-year period. Seventh is justice. its essence the true nature of human potential. for example. and modification to urban spaces and activities is managed by those who use. A city is and will continue to be a relatively large. neighborhood size). aesthetic tastes.” Urban designers are beginning to question what in fact is “urban” in the contemporary environment. dense. for example. and become less infatuated with the “design” of urban design. maintenance. work or live in them. and what impacts they have in creating enabling versus destructive impacts. a catalyst: its power of attraction providing a concentration and diversity of peoples and purposes. via less energy-demanding processes. including the quantity and diversity of the elements that can be reached.g. which is the cost of creating and maintaining an urban form. for example. but in a general enough manner to allow for adaptation to particular lifestyles. and the explicit unpacking of design solutions to render them clear. for example. via localized power. Moore and Marans11) that is highly relevant and useful for urban designers.ASEEM INAM 11 Moore and Marans. The book A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander et al. according to a principles such as intrinsic worth or equity. how they change. catalyst of hope. “City. relevant. Behaviour. needed to solve the problem. between human behavior and spatial setting. use. Advances in Environment. Each suggested solution is described in a way that provides the key relationships. its form celebrating the rich complexity of the human condition. access. The authors outline an urban design methodology that is based on archetypal problems (e. and describe how a meaningful urban designer might draw directly from empirical evidence and systematic research. and permanent settlement (or network of settlements) of socially heterogeneous individuals. A city is. urban designers should focus more on the “urban” of urban design.

a poetic urban design project draws the mind to a level of perception concealed behind the conventional presentations of urban form. Examples include David Crane’s “capital web of investment decisions”. it responds to. convenient and comfortable manner for its users: Does it work well? By the means of a meticulous understanding of human behavior and human needs. the purely aesthetically informed notion of urban design as a finished product: Does it look good? By the means of compressing its meanings into a concise formal expression. and regulates private initiatives. Under what conditions does a statement 21 13 David Crane. and as a shaper of those policies. street improvements.MEANINGFUL URBAN DESIGN For example. technology as the totality of means employed to provide objects necessary for human sustenance. The New World of Philosophy. and deal-making between city governments and private developers. An illustration of these “webs” is the dependence on private investments and initiatives for downtown rebuilding in American cities that has changed urban politics and the nature of the public realm. public art. housing. zoning variances. while planners require in return certain urban amenities. bargaining. Urban Design Downtown: Poetics and Politics of Form. The third is to have the urban design project generate or substantially contribute to socio-economic development processes: Does it produce significant long-term impacts? In this framework. Law in Urban Design and Planning: The Invisible Web. There is give-and-take in these public–private transactions as developers demand enhanced development rights. or even day care centers. 16 Kaplan. 14 Richard Lai. urban design practices. The second is the sense of the project as an object that functions in an affordable. that is. The public sector has become a facilitator. financial guarantees. urban design methodologies.15 The form of the contemporary urban downtown is a product of negotiation. land write-down. and urban design projects? In order to further develop this line of thought. or improvements in order to initiate investment in American downtowns. what consequential purpose has been achieved by particular urban design theories. a truly utilitarian urban design project creates an environment that satisfies its users. 14. reacts to. there are three levels of success for an urban design project. The critical question that guides this meaningful future of urban design is: So what? That is. Private investment is generally seen as performing functions in the public interest. urban design has to be seen as both. within the framework of investment and development policies. Planning and Design in New York: A Study of Problems and Processes of its Physical Environment. and not simply the product of an urban designer’s imagination. and cross-cultural understanding. we can look to the American school of philosophy known as pragmatism. In this essay. These include first. Pragmatism may be best characterized as the attempt to assess the significance for human value of technology in the broadest sense.16 The primary question that pragmatism raises is the question of meaning. p. usually public open space. .13 and Richard Lai’s “invisible web of laws”14 that guide people’s behavior. economic improvement. 15 Loukaitou-Sideris and Banerjee. urban designers and urban design projects become catalysts for long-term human development processes such as community betterment.

Bratt. Thames and Hudson Limited). Washington University. (1966) Planning and Design in New York: A Study of Problems and Processes of its Physical Environment (New York. in: C.) World Cities in a World System (Cambridge. and an in-depth grasp of the nature of cities. Blackwell Publishers). (1986) Public housing: the controversy and the contribution. Construction (New York.. Oxford University Press). M. N. involve purposes: and a meaningful urban design should involve the most substantive purposes of generating long-term processes of human development and ensuring that outcomes of those processes are highly pertinent to fundamental human values. social sensitivity. Los Angeles. C. 22 . such as meaningful urban design. routines. (1996) On architects. Louis. Taylor (Eds. and possible urban worlds. Adams. R. we must help design the processes that shape our cities and foster true human development. London. (1995) Theorizing the global-local connection. (1991) City. St. Inam. (1997) Henri Ciriani (Rockport MA. Angel (1977) A Pattern Language: Towns. Louis. Ishikawa. Institute of Public Administration). Ellin. Meyerson (Eds. in: P. bees. A. Master’s thesis in urban design. A. Cambridge University Press). Hartman and A. Manifesto. (1992) Modern Architecture: A Critical History (3rd edn. A. Anyone Corporation).) Anywise (New York. Beauregard. S. (1996) Postmodern Urbanism (Cambridge MA.) Critical Perspectives in Housing (Philadelphia. 14 (6): pp. Inam. Doctoral dissertation in urban planning. Rockport Publishers). Paris. Inam. above all. (1997) Institutions. presence. Temple University Press). Washington University. Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. (1997) SimCity. political savvy. Davidson (Ed. 383–392. Inam. it needs to be driven primarily by a moral imperative. K. Such an approach to urban design requires profound cultural understanding. catalyst of hope. University of Southern California. Harvey.. Master’s thesis in architecture. (1985) L’Architecture rurale en Inde: indices vers un avenir. Buildings. Jacobson. Knox and P. have on the conduct of our lives? Meanings. St. D. R. in: R. To be effective urban designers. Ciriani. Fiksdahl-King and S. REFERENCES Alexander. Frampton. D. C. Ecole des Beaux-Arts. A.ASEEM INAM have meaning. (1992) The urban monument: symbol. and what meaning attaches to it in the light of those conditions? What these formulations amount to is this: What conceivable bearing does a proposition. H. Silverstein. but in order to be truly meaningful. We can no longer afford to conceive of critical urban challenges—such as poverty and homelessness—and the socio-economic development processes that address them as being separate from urban design practices and projects. I. memory. Bratt. Crane. M. and crises: post-earthquake housing recovery in Mexico City and Los Angeles. P.

Extra Large (Rotterdam. and R. McGraw-Hill). pp. (1993) Great Streets (Cambridge MA. Methods. Pettus and M. 331–349. (1995) Small. (1988) Law in Urban Design and Planning: The Invisible Web (New York. Kaplan. R. Saunders. University of Washington Press). Scott Brown.. Koolhaas. Journal of Urban Design. (1984) Good City Form (Cambridge MA. 010 Publishers). R. (1992) A Catholic approach to organizing what urban designers should know. P. 1 (1): pp. University of California Press).MEANINGFUL URBAN DESIGN Jacobs. Serageldin. 51 (1): pp.) (1997) Advances in Environment. D. (1997) Common Place: Toward Neighborhood and Regional Design (Seattle. W. 61–71.R. and Design: Toward the Integration of Theory. Large. (1976) Place and Placelessness (London. first published 1981 as A Theory of Good City Form).T. A. (1990) Urban Concepts (London. Moore. Doubleday). Loukaitou-Sideris. (1961) The New World of Philosophy (New York. M. Pion). Vintage Books). Urban Design Group (1998) Involving local communities in urban design. 91–103. Urban Design Quarterly. M. (1996) The Urban Order: An Introduction to Cities. Moudon. 23 . Relph. and below.I. Academy Editions). W. J. Behavior. Short. D. Rowe. P. Lynch. Katz. Press. Journal of Architectural Education. G. McGraw-Hill). S.I. 6 (4): pp. Whyte. (1988) City: Rediscovering the Center (New York. Blackwell Publishers). Research. Kelbaugh. 15–38. A. 217–231. (1994) The New Urbanism: Towards an Architecture of Community (New York. Plenum Press). (1996) Cracks in the city: addressing the constraints and potentials of urban design. Press). Shelter and Livable Cities (London.) (1997) The Architecture of Empowerment: People. Loukaitou-Sideris. A. Van Nostrand Reinhold). and Utilization (New York. A. and T. A. This essay is abridged from the original published in the Proceedings of the 87th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Kostof. Marans (Eds. Pyatok (1995) Good Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing (New York. Journal of Planning Literature. (Ed. Bulfinch Press).T. K. Culture. Press). Academy Editions).I. Lai. (1991) The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History (Boston. Banerjee (1998) Urban Design Downtown: Poetics and Politics of Form (Berkeley. 1999. (1997) Rem Koolhaas’s writing on cities: poetic perception and gnomic fantasy. Medium.T. W.T. I. T. (1991) Making a Middle Landscape (Cambridge MA. Jones. M. and Power (Cambridge MA. Issue 67 (July): pp. E.

After all. U. p. Through Kalispell. Our conception of freedom will never be able to rival their spatial. [We Europeans] shall never enjoy the same freedom—not the formal freedom we take for granted. but the concrete.MATHEMATICS OF THE IDEAL ROADTRIP OBSERVATIONS CHRISTOPHER MONSON (1986) 1 Jean Baudrillard. But the concern may be less a question of unwarranted authority than one of deference to an outside tradition. Highway 93. On its south end. being formed by two intersecting highways and orthogonally gridded. Montana. functional.” of a citizenry made virtuous by the centrality of government. full with its civil aspirations of both place and polity.S. that the Courthouse occupies the singular instance in the entire city grid where the regulation of order.S. 93 becomes the city’s Main Street. but with the nagging fact of that particularly American feeling—by rights it should be straight. This physical fact would be unremarkable—the building being neither particularly handsome nor its siting unusual—except for the curious experience of driving around it. Main Street is forced around a plot in the middle of the roadway. America. this small city might be mistaken for any typical American place. which runs through the Flathead Valley from British Columbia to Missoula and on south eventually to Arizona. as a dis-placement of both the ordered field and of 24 . broad avenues topped with courthouses are more Haussmann than Everyman. which derives from the fact that at a certain point they freed themselves from [a] historical centrality. with streets numbered north to south and avenues east to west. Jean Baudrillard. Such a thought might be dismissed as anti-authoritarian American populism if it were not for the suspicion that it is exactly such populism the siting of the Courthouse seems to be resisting. 81. One can sense clearly. of movement. 1988). The clear suggestion is that the grid itself does not contain this political necessity. Save for its spectacular mountain setting. Chris Turner trans. the site of the Flathead County Courthouse. was denied for another public domain: the symbolic center of regional government. It appears that the Courthouse’s placement—a site deviation of a mere 150 feet from the grid in which it might have easily been built—is construed to be a civil act of profound consequence. active freedom we see at work in American institutions and in the head of each citizen. (London: Verso. even without benefit of a map. mobile conception. flexible. from the roadtrip classic America 1 On U. lies the city of Kalispell. not merely in the discomfort of following short curves in a road that by rights should be straight. remains a distinctly troublesome act. And yet traveling around this plot. that the Courthouse site. Certainly the reading intended at Kalispell is that of the “noble city.

”2 Perhaps the issue is not that Americans haven’t thought it incorrect to appropriate the forms of history— certainly. a practice largely indebted to the eloquent plea of Horatio Greenough nearly a century before: “The want of an illustrious ancestry may be compensated. This is indeed a problem. and Architecture (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1958). . But there still appears to be a lack of faith in the possibility of a commensurate democratic order outside of this history and its aristocratic ideals. both to the citizen and the enlightened critic. fully compensated. It is this assault put to the possibility of indigenous form which makes Kalispell and places like it so disconcerting. Montana. Americans might do better by revisiting those who have offered criticism of these appropriated traditions. Frank Lloyd Wright made a career out of it (most notably with Broadacre City). Baudrillard makes the point that it is exactly such urban civil traditions that have been superseded by the American project: a “historical centrality” overcome by the spatial and mobile conception of American freedom. but the purloining of the coatof-arms of a defunct family is intolerable. 64. The denial of movement for the institution of a traditional center strikes at the heart of the American social compact. p. then we have a right to wonder about the recurring attempts to institute a civil order in America through this Trojan Horse of historic form. If Baudrillard offers reason for the anxiety caused by Kalispell’s formal nature. thinkers have long offered arguments to the contrary. Design.MATHEMATICS OF THE IDEAL ROADTRIP movement through it. “American Architecture” in Form and Function: Remarks on Art. with axial view toward the Flathead County Courthouse. Against the backdrop of history’s great intellectual and 25 Main Street in Kalispell.) 2 Horatio Greenough. Should this challenge to an indigenous American civil form go unquestioned? Confronted with the rapid academic and legislative legitimization of postmodern urban strategies. (Photo: Karen Nichols. is seen to exhibit some ideal civility that its surrounds apparently lack.

Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (New York: Penguin Books. and the subsequent issues of maintenance and reciprocity. which had become pregnant with the possibility of an Arcadian world of complete social reorganization. “like earlier generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original. through the free act of abandoning the historic sociopolitical structure.. emigration materialized the individual in space and the new body politic that this dramatic departure could define. and Kerouac all searched for America on its roads. the DC-3. p. Movement became the construct by which the newly discerned citizen was gleaned from the sovereign order. this movement. Reyner Banham put his finger to it saying. Pirsig. But more importantly. the ’57 Chevy. diversity.CHRISTOPHER MONSON 3 These thoughts. as did those from the old culture whose perceptions have proved insightful here—Baudrillard’s late twentiethcentury roadtrip mirrored Alexis de Tocqueville’s original tour in the early nineteenth century. not physical. 2. But its earliest manifestation was intellectual. were persistently thwarted by entrenched western governments. 26 . More than the simple physical leap from the Old world to the New. was in search for entirely new ground on which to birth and develop. Arcadia was this. and individuality. Movement was an undertaking begun long before the actual transformation of the American continent. Europe was a place that required political and ideological revolution. but moreover a moral revolution as well. Bound from above. Jr. Such a utopian project. 5 Reyner Banham. its equanimity.”5 Much of this necessity for firsthand experience is legacy to the formal organization of the land. to the conquest of space. are indebted to the work of Christopher Risher. is seen counterpoised to such traditions. brought the individual to new light. 1971). It is nearly inconceivable that the great American enterprise of movement would ever have been as intense or productive without the very shape of the landscape—the fact of the grid. artistic achievements. The functions of the road which manifest this notion—one could suggest its “mathematics”—give reason to suspect imposed hierarchy. The search for the proper American collective begins with the fact of movement. America’s stories are those told through windshields: Steinbeck.” p.3 To what then can a truly American ideal aspire? The lesson from Kalispell is that the movement expected within the American landscape instills some possibility toward giving form to the collective. impossible from within the world it was designed to escape. 75. THE INDIVIDUAL 4 Baudrillard. it is not certain whether we might produce comparable successes which exemplify a society of equality. precisely because the road’s nature. I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original. p. 23. and illuminated in his unpublished manuscript “The Problem with Natchez. Movement has become the very lore of American life. It is this “fantasy of emigration”4 that from the very beginning defined America. from the Clipper ship. The political philosophies of the Enlightenment.

p. the essence. This idea of the grid’s work. p. one would not be able to find any reference to center. the concretized form which describes and maintains the individual in the collective American psyche. Even the surveyor’s graceful path of subdividing a township was evidence of this.MATHEMATICS OF THE IDEAL ROADTRIP The institution of the continental grid. 27.8 In that sense. 1992). 9 This paraphrases Foucault’s observation of the Jesuits.6 But of larger interest here is the sympathy of the idea to the intrinsic American condition. the grid system contained within itself the complete social integration of place. Dice Thrown (New York: Princeton Architectural Press. and Kevin Kemner. But it is not this type categorization that best suits the political reality. 3. The grid also had the conceptual advantage of providing—in a single legislative idea—the spatial delineation of the entire continent.9 The grid has always been about fluidity and movement. 11 Corboz. The economy of the grid. 8 André Corboz. brings forth issues that are more active than simply demonstrative. and the landscape was thus marked with equality’s fundamental sign: a social and spatial congruency as in the Buddhist mandala. Order upon the Land (New York: Oxford University Press. “Of Other Spaces” in Diacritics Spring 1986. 51. or the South American Jesuit villages ordered around the cross. the 27 6 See Hildegard Binder Johnson. Thomas Jefferson defended the grid as an assurance that “as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. personal liberties and jurisprudence are not only manifestations of societal norms. Both manifestation and method are inherently necessary for the exemplification of the individual.”7 and its application was designed as a formal demonstration of that belief. the six-square-mile township divisions outlined in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. because the basic unit of land was produced through the orthogonal system and its disseminating network of movement. as suggested. Looking for a City in America: Down These Mean Streets a Man Must Go (Santa Monica: The Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities.10 This was a conscious attempt to objectify the landscape such that the whole existed as agency for the individual. . As a pure formalist exercise. incorporating lands both urban and rural. p.11 It is the grid’s utter denial of center which explains its criticism through comparisons with traditional urban types. even though colored by the dissension and misjudgments one would expect from an undertaking so radically unproven. the only “center” that may be realized. it is not symbol so much as it is work. 1976). 39. But nothing could be more illustrative than the fact that towns through the grid were located abstractly every sixth square mile. 51. If movement is. the grid is then the very effort. the “place” of equality. And in this. but they also act as methods: procedures which allow for the maintenance of these utopian ideals. undeveloped and never intended for development. It is this apparent “obviousness” that has made the grid a sort of magic talisman for democracy. p. was a dramatic invention of the young democracy. p. the construction of property rights. In this schema. 18. 10 Benjamin Gianni. as both noun and verb. as a consequence of the system of calibration. Chap. Bryan Shiles. theorists have always found it both amazingly cogent and maddeningly naïve. and together with that individual define the spatial construct of the democratic collective. 7 Johnson. Michel Foucault. 1989). rather than place or centrality. In this field of democracy. its emblematic simplicity reduced to an abstraction of orthographics. in fact quite the opposite.

p. God’s Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America’s Landscape (New York: Holt. 1990). but in the possibility that the civil ideal may yet be latent in forms of the commonplace. it might indeed be the “almost all right”—the middle ground between the pleas of Blake and Venturi—that offers fertile ground: not in the Venturian sense. p.CHRISTOPHER MONSON 12 Alexis de Tocqueville.13 Robert Venturi was eventually to defend the natural condition of Main Street by quipping that it was instead “almost all right.” which “at first only dams the spring of public virtues. in effect. 1988). despite the brilliant Constitutional development of balances to keep it in check. but through the fact that all are equal from the outset. and the fact. Instead. its manifestation. living within a utopian ideal while at the same time enabling its very possibility. the method. It is this same excess of American formal freedom that Peter Blake denounced in his categorical dismissal of New Orleans’ Canal Street compared to what he considered the lost possibilities of Jefferson’s lawn at the University of Virginia. 14 Robert Venturi. Democracy in America. This is a particularly important issue in understanding the place of America. that Main Street would be all right if only architects had reordered its present peculiarities. Tocqueville spent a good deal of his energy assessing what he called “individualism. no doubt still exists in various disturbing forms in contemporary America. In the face of Blake’s assertion that Canal Street was banal and completely without civil character. 104.”14 In large part. 507. 49. a physical achievement of equality. Yet. the great threat to free societies was their inherent tendency toward individual excess at the expense of the common good.”12 It is this excess. Certainly Tocqueville employed this analysis. But neither alone is the proper paradigm. 13 Peter Blake. as it always has to greater or lesser degrees. (New York: Harper and Row. It is. but in the long run it attacks and destroys all the others too and finally merges in egoism. we cannot ignore the great political struggles that have been borne worldwide to overcome the ideological excesses of both capital and individual freedom. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art. that was described as the single most dangerous problem of democracies. Many would attribute this startling product of the American system to the achievement of individual freedom. as Jefferson maintained throughout his life. Unlike the metaphorical grounding of perspectival space—where the citizenry becomes a pawn in a transcendent order which exceeds them— the mutuality inherent to the operation of the grid is real reciprocity in real time. p. the present argument might be represented by these two American forms: the compelling image of new world order proposed at Charlottesville and the functional pragmatic of street life in New Orleans. of its making. This too is the craft of the Constitution: a social pact not by egalitarian imposition. Rinehart and Winston. And despite the recent wholesale repudiation of Marxism. this “Darwinian” aspect of the idea of freedom. 1979). A democracy attendant with equality is thus both manifestation and method. Individualism remains an issue that. citizenry is identified and enabled by these actions it generates: the image of collectivity. without the mediating influence of either outside authority or representation. George Lawrence trans. 28 .

its things. Canal Street by Wallace Litwin. This give and take between being liberated and producing liberty is the proper and necessary project of equality. p. 1979). God’s Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America’s Landscape (New York: Holt. 48. exist as indivisible with the method which both generates and defends them. Rinehart and Winston. and its people. its manifestation.MATHEMATICS OF THE IDEAL ROADTRIP We begin to see that both of the extreme conditions—historic hierarchy and pure excessive freedom—thrive only by subjugating their systems to their own very particular requirements. [Photos: UVA by George Cserna. It is instead the operation of the “temperate between” which might appear more proper as an indigenous system. 29 Peter Blake’s comparison of the University of Virginia lawn and Canal Street in New Orleans. From Peter Blake. realizing that the natural American “place” must be between these two poles.] .

” Comparatively.15 History’s defense is to denigrate form’s ambiguity and put its own procedural truth above and beyond the objects to which it lays claim. This is the methodological essence of architectural history.” and the Guggenheim as the “thing illuminating the grid. We are taught to believe that this has always been the case: that form “tells” us a collective history—primarily through symbol. These two paradigms of form— historic subjectivity and American objectivity—might be illuminated by an examination of architecture within that demilitarized zone between the old world of history and the new one of modern democracy. . and so. The question is. Movement is a construct of three dimensions and time. and representation. Form as evidenced by the work of America becomes a maintenance of its ideological basis as well as its proof. but as physical means and ends for its very existence. New York City. . Such plurality could not be more distant from the historic reading of form. both sited on its “Main Street”—Fifth Avenue—and suggested as culturally important vehicles for American formal invention. aesthetic and social convulsions in Europe . Rockefeller Center exists less in its “thingness” or 30 . The contrast between these two forms is defined by two disparate conditions: Rockefeller as the “center in the grid. while equality is a process of coextensive reciprocity. and subsequently cannot contain its own structural subjectivity. and in the brothel of typology. Guggenheim Museum and Rockefeller Center. the American ideal of democracy necessitates form: not to define the society through visuality or a history. In distinction. Both of these operations are questions of space. p. formal evolution. the destruction of reason and the end of representation. into architecture. Its primary fault lies in the fact that such history is produced by interpretation. the subversion of meaning. 97. and all explained by criticism and contemporaneous events. The result is form being “prostituted” by history making. But such conclusions are better seen through a direct inquiry into form. style. At the center of this question between history and equality is the comparison of two notable Manhattan landmarks. form cannot and does not have any truly autonomous reality. that whole antiutopia which unleashed so many theoretical and political. . as it perhaps has always been. the Solomon R. ultimately. Baudrillard goes as far as to suggest that these concepts are already realized in America: “[E]verything we have dreamed in the radical name of anticulture. But the definition of this process is recognized by the contemporary theories as highly suspect. of objective form. it is the necessity of form that maintains the work of this equality. has all been achieved here in America . Mindful of the requirement to both make visible the indigenous social order (manifestation) and act as its system of production (method). This is revealed through the American themes of movement and equality. It is in the ensuing search for form sympathetic to the ideal of equality that we must define those objects and processes which deny this democratic work of maintenance. how does society maintain its formal condition of equality? America appears to provide a particularly rich opportunity for its social order to be exhibited through form.” Baudrillard.CHRISTOPHER MONSON THE OBJECT AND THE GRID 15 This reevaluation of the determinism of rationality is perhaps the most useful work of deconstruction theory. .

of course. Indifferent to the street and its context. but the inverse of. the Museum both illuminates the structural form which allows for its “objectness”—the grid of Manhattan—and encourages its determinant reciprocity with the buildings around it. rather than pursuing the more individual possibilities inherent to the grid (the trite plazas at the feet of both the McGraw-Hill and Exxon Towers are heirs to this fault).” that they exhibit nothing of the reductive possibility of either judgment or analysis. The Guggenheim by such standards is clearly found wanting.MATHEMATICS OF THE IDEAL ROADTRIP “objectness” and more in terms of its delineation of a public space. See Carter Wiseman. But. is the process by which it maintains the very same individuality in its neighbors. . the Courthouse at Kalispell). The Museum building. the famed lower plaza fronting the RCA (now GE) Tower. the building massing and detailing—its setbacks. beyond its site and the gigantic systems of engineering and economics necessary for its realization. that it was Rockefeller Center which best represented the fullness of form within the grid. subsequent additions to the Rockefeller complex were burdened with the task of repeating its analytical successes. one defined by most as memorably American. in fact. materials. on the contrary. “Guggenheim GoAround” in Architectural Record October 1992. which is exactly how it has always been criticized as a piece of urbanism. The entire building project has become known by this trademark feature. that they. 102–3. Even a private street was cut through the New York grid and aimed at the plaza to further illustrate its centrality (in a move equal to. One would never expect to see another “Guggenheim” aped somewhere down the Avenue. by the rules of historiographic analysis its spiral stands aloof and unconversant. Subsumed by this evaluation. This operation is evident nearby: no one can now deny the uniqueness of the plain apartment blocks behind the Guggenheim. Yet through its comparisons of difference. pp. to the street. History contends that situations of illuminated individuality are “placeless. presumes no such universalist parti. without order. the Guggenheim’s recent Gwathmey Siegel addition creates a composition by which the building can be occluded into the reasonability of the grid. semblance of hierarchy. or a vision of the collective. become interchangeable. Of course. or its realization of a “thingness” within the grid. André Corboz notes that such critiques are inclined to believe Americans “would as readily 31 16 This operation is now somewhat compromised. to the very skyline of Manhattan. Indeed. because it speaks not to a reusable formal language. its skillful manipulation of scales speaks to every possible analytical reading. and art program—defer thoroughly to the nature of the plaza space which is defined by them. Orthographically detailed from the pedestrian. the formal aspects of the complex come clearly from a historic tradition of centered public spaces. but instead to the real operation of individuality within the larger American schema. By bringing the contrast of the spiral on Fifth Avenue into submission. That is to say its aspects of individuality. for it was the Museum building which gave them a reality which themselves they had not had until its construction. the argument leveled against objects like the Guggenheim is the claim of terror that a city of architectural individuality would be to people.16 The normative critique would argue.

and the formal aspects of an architecture which demonstrate the system as both achieved and becoming. a possibility which is neither Houston nor History. These instances are far beyond the reciprocal relationship of the properly manifest “thing in the grid. This is the task of many honest American civil conditions. and it is the delineation of this orthogonality—its mathematics—which in turn elucidates the ideal of the road in American placemaking. the irreducible aspect of the grid. but none more evocative or telling than that of the street. as they do their streets. object and grid. individual liberty. and tax law will allow. THE STREET It is the reciprocal possibility of form and place. 43. and the question of unwarranted hierarchy in the second. no suggestion that these places maintain any formal equality. and the public desire for the display of its inherent individuality. as it always must. Main Street is a 32 . but objects within these oft-cited examples exist only as the collusive economies of capital. The individuality of objects is heir to the formal possibilities of the grid. If predisposed to history. Movement is both parent and progeny in the process of making equality into form. The agency of the grid remains.”17 But these arguments fail to differentiate between their deceitful dismissal of all formal individuality. Giving nothing back to the grid. equality which allows for its maintenance. . number their cities . . and the appropriate criticism of excess in places like Houston and Denver.CHRISTOPHER MONSON 17 Corboz. as well as from the problematic situations which deny those instances. they become the bad objects of a misdirected egoism. which appears most applicable in America. p. development. Objecthood is the unique component of the process: it is the maintenance of equality among individuals and the form necessary to accomplish that fact which in essence produces democracy. We can observe such effect from objects which exhibit a particularly American urbanism outside that of tradition. it is the construct of movement that makes such objects both visible and probable. Moreover. in the manner of architectures like the Guggenheim. There is nothing of the play of object and system. It is the manifest equality promised in the first case. We cannot lose sight of the fact that this American civil ideal is difficult to achieve in the face of tradition. which tell us that it is through the reciprocities of objecthood that the lessons of democracy are told. By fronting objects on the edge of a collective movement system—which both defines the operation of the individual forms and their very possibility—the street brings forth the essence of a reciprocal relationship of public life. The condition of the street is subject to both the legislative process of order. the Kalispells which rely on the centering operation of history.” and must be seen for what they are. or the suburban vapidity of Orange County in California.

December 1992. Main Street in Santa Monica. in its willful ignorance of equality’s defeat of centrality. 2. is on the left. and the intemperance of freedom which mindlessly creates vulgarity. and spectacle. 33 . both of which represent grave threats to civil form: history. ego. We recognize too that. It is this fact that again tells us of the essential work of form in expressing the values and tenets of our society. because “the myth of Main Street is as unrecognizable as the myths of all the characters in the Disney stories. Edgemar. in the end. But sustaining the work of an architecture which supports the practical ideals of democratic worth and dignity remains the only real way to manifest the idea of America. by Frank O. and its ability to satisfy the intellectualization of space without absorbing its true indigenous potential is difficult to battle against. The imperative of history is widely entrenched. California.) 18 Rem Koolhaas has said that the effect of EuroDisney on Europeans is much like that of a large sculpture park.19 We must deflect the coercion of history and rein in the excesses of freedom. (Photo by the author.MATHEMATICS OF THE IDEAL ROADTRIP myth like that of most fairy tales.” Noted in a studio review at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. inextricable from the possibility of architecture.18 This handicap of interpretation is also why Kalispell looms ever larger. movement is a practice of space. Gehry and Associates. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 74th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. 1986. 19 Risher. p.

UK: Blackwell. Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-andImagined Places (Cambridge. Alan Read). activists. Soja says: Inspired by the breakdown of totalizing modernist political epistemologies . Simultaneity. 2000). of breaking down the dialectic between perceived and conceived space. and revolutionaries who seek to understand and address city concerns through walking. practitioners attempt to deal with the daily challenge of alien and alienating territory to which one nevertheless wishes to reassert some claim. 14. 7 “Thirdspace: Expanding the Scope of the Geographical Imagination. 1962). The Condition of Postmodernity (Cambridge. 1870–1900 (Cambridge. . The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press. . . in many cases by practitioners who have also practiced in New York. to position ourselves within it. 4 Kevin Lynch. 5 Because of space limitations this particular paper cites nine of approximately three dozen specific New York examples. MA: M. Architecturally Speaking: Practices of Art.2 Walking around helps us to know the city. Streetcar Suburbs: the Process of Growth in Boston. How does walking.” Soja cites a recent trend in spatial studies toward rebalancing the traditional oppositional dualism of history and society. but to begin to assemble a sense of a city or an urban region or an extensive territory requires more than the relatively straightforward “mental map. MA: Blackwell. artists. p. . an old way of laying hold of the city.CITY WALKING Laying Claim to Manhattan OBSERVATIONS BEN JACKS (2006) 1 Michel de Certeau (tr. sociality. 1996). We find evidence in these intentional walking projects—many of which are mediated through digital technologies—of the coalescence of communities around what geographer Edward Soja has called a “shared spatial consciousness. But the city made for walking is largely the city of the past. still help us in this altered spatial. Michel de Certeau1 We conceive of the postmodern city as a fragmentary assemblage of fractured parts of the traditional city.3 We may now know places in fragments. temporal.5 Each project represents a subversive means of re-asserting a territorial hold on the character and space of the city in light of the conditions of postmodernity. districts of modernist reform. Press. New York serves as both an arbitrary and a unique frame for walking practices. 3 Sam Bass Warner. similar projects have been undertaken elsewhere. Soja. 6 Edward W. MA. and spatiality.I. Through the projects. 1984).T. and leaks of meaning: it is a sieve-order. “Thirdspace: Expanding the Scope of the Geographical Imagination” (ed. The surface of this order is everywhere punched and torn open by ellipses. and ephemerality characterize the experience of the contemporary city. drifts. 1960). and to belong. . 107.”7 Describing the long-term political dimensions of this shift. and the possibility of a radical postmodernism .”4 For the individual in the postmodern city. to lay claim to it..”6 In “Thirdspace. and jumbles of late-capitalist consumer experiences.” p. Steven Rendell). a new socio-spatial movement or “community of resistance” is beginning to develop around 34 2 David Harvey. MA: Harvard University Press. 1990). Architecture and the Everyday (New York: Routledge. and conceptual field? This essay documents a range of recent projects in Manhattan by citizens. fragmentation. and Oxford. This ontological shift toward what Soja calls “the trialectics of being” unites “historicality. the territorial practice of walking is complicated to the point of chaos. The Image of the City (Cambridge.

Rather than operating in separate and exclusive channels. the implications of these practices are that digital means do not trump bodily experience. CITY WALKING 8 Ibid. it is a shared spatial consciousness. But in the remainder of the text he likens walking to reading and cooking. Michel de Certeau opens his chapter on city walking from a vantage point on top of one of the two World Trade Center towers. and a collective determination to take greater control over the production of our lived spaces. and play with the system. to the scientific and the everyday. this new movement/community is insistently inclusive . as a surveillant unable to identify individuals—as if we are ants in the labyrinthine spaces of the city... transgresses. or intimately. In light of de Certeau. suspects. He takes on for a moment the role of the all-seeing scientist content with (or stuck within) the frame of the dominant rational consumer-capitalist order so that we might be able to see beyond the official frame to the everyday. p. tries out. in touch with the spaces and gaps in the “sieve order. . is a recent phenomenon in its earliest stages of development. 99. we can consider walking from two very different perspectives: from above and afar. . Walking affirms. 91. and to the official 35 9 de Certeau. race. whether of social life or material culture. . from a perspective in which walkers are subjects and objects. the trajectories it “speaks.” shot through with holes between and within which some maneuvering is possible. p.CITY WALKING what I am describing as a Thirdspace consciousness and a progressive cultural politics that seeks to break down and erase the specifically spatial power differentials arising from class.10 He views our walking from afar. from our own perspectives as walkers. 29. that provides the primary foundation—the long missing “glue”—for solidarity and political praxis. and he sees in everyday practices myriad ways in which the weak (most of us).. searching for new ways of building bridges and effective political coalitions across all modes of radical subjectivity and collective resistance.” Michel de Certeau9 In The Practice of Everyday Life. and that design establishes relevance through daily life and the everyday world. this new critical spatiality. For architecture and the urban landscape.” These two perspectives correspond to de Certeau’s categories. . The order that threatens to oppress. . 8 As Soja points out. is a “sieve order. Practice of Everyday Life. he notes. p. etc. controlled by the dominant order. trick. respects. gender and many other forms of marginalizing.. . As shared frames of reference for experience. 10 Ibid. the projects documented here illustrate specific manifestations of the new consciousness Soja points to. proper and quotidian. the ethos surrounding a shared spatial consciousness. In this coalition-building. trip up.

makes revolution beside the point: a tactic like walking takes place “within enemy territory. Some recent situationist-influenced design projects and speculations are partially documented in Iain Borden and Sandy McCreery. The Assault on Culture: Utopian Currents from Lettrisme to Class War (London: Aporia Press and Unpopular Books. p. Press. (Cambridge.” See Stewart Home.T.”13 Generally credited with forming the Situationist International at Alba.” a name invented by its only member. At the very least. include the Italian group Stalker. in 1957 are the Lettrist International. 30. which. and the second to the tactics of the powerless. 3. controlled.I. and COBRA (a name formed from Copenhagen. eds. the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (IMIB). as de Certeau argues. The first perspective belongs to what de Certeau calls the strategy of the hegemonic order. 14 Most situationist histories explain that delegates from two or three small groups formed the Situationist International—four groups counting The “London Psychogeographical Committee. interwoven.14 What had been a substantially Dadaist and surrealist-inspired aesthetic vision under the Lettrist International and IMIB and an anti-functionalist architectural aesthetic under COBRA became a stronger renunciation of art and a strengthening of the politics of the “situation” through the new organiza36 . 13 Simon Sadler. in addition to those described here.”11 De Certeau defines tactics in terms of the powerlessness of the practitioner: the weak practice tactics in response to the force employed by the dominating power through its strategy. As public space has become more limited. The practices range from the unconscious everyday to the politically informed and motivated. Walking is more than a utilitarian way of getting from one place to another: walking is an everyday practice that may be taken up as a tool. p. Simon Sadler points out. Walking. 2002). a tactic used as a strategy to reclaim public space. Italy.. p. See Ralph Rumney (tr. June 2001. The Situationist City. and the English group Wrights & Sites. Alone. “one is not even meant to use the word situationism. 1988). 71–73. territorial. each way of walking may seem a bit desperate. In some of the practices documented here walking is a conscious counter-strategy. Malcolm Imrie). reflecting both the earnestness. or even silly. crosses overlaid terrains: it may be impossible to separate ideal and practical territorial walking from everyday walking that tends to habituate the walker to surroundings under the control of a dominating and unwanted authority. and constantly negotiated and renegotiated practices. This lack of clarity about the efficacy of walking has led some proponents of walking as a critical spatial practice to turn to situationist ideas to theorize their activities. who met at Alba “in a state of semidrunkenness. The Consul.” He quotes an early dictum from the journal Internationale Situationniste: “The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists. the tactics of the powerless have had to become more explicitly about using actual public space. 1998). however.12 SITUATIONIST AND SITUATIONISM In The Situationist City. deranged. artist Ralph Rumney. Conversations with Gérard Berréby (San Francisco: City Lights Books. p. the situationist’s dérive and psychogeography illuminate the potential of walking to shake the dominion of habit.BEN JACKS 11 Ibid. Brussels. localized. MA: M. 12 Walking artists and projects directly influenced by situationist ideas. 37. Architectural Design. 37. and circumscribed. and the mock seriousness of participants. The walking projects documented here reveal the contours of tactical maneuvering: as complex. and Amsterdam). The more overt practices of resistance—such as surveillance camera mapping—have much in common with those that appear on the surface to take a more cooperative stance toward the dominant order. and the vernacular. Acknowledged also is that the term delegate is perhaps too formal a term. New Babylonians. but this is perhaps the disguise or the ruse of the everyday.

dérive (drift). psychogeography and the dérive show up explicitly in the walking projects documented here. Sadler recognizes the connection between Michel de Certeau and the situationists. the main lettrist and situationist ideas are psychogéographie (psychogeography). 16 Guy Debord. some quiet and gentle. The dérive is an intentionally aimless walk. The Society of the Spectacle (New York: Zone Books. We have an instinct for fresh encounters. in addition to spectacle. some bearing the overt mark of situationist politics. 18 Ibid. In a footnote to The Situationist City. almost poetic tone” has made the constellation of situationist ideas “more palatable to academe. indicative of the new “shared spatial consciousness. 1994). p. or because his The Society of the Spectacle has been widely read. should be understood as an index of the power of walking. and urbanisme unitaire (unitary urbanism). from the organized walks around Manhattan to advocate for a better environment to the radical protest of the Surveillance Camera Players. 186 (note 123). p. the group published twelve issues of the journal Internationale Situationniste between 1958 and 1969.” tapped by psychogeography and the theory of the dérive. for “the end of boredom. or because he incited dramatic excommunications and resignations of members. and their predecessors in Dada and surrealism.” Sadler remarks that de Certeau’s “tender. 17 Sadler. Headed by Guy Debord. Psychogeography broadly refers to the study of the effects of the physical environment on individuals. and as revolutionary a practice as the current political environment will allow.CITY WALKING tion. nevertheless begin to constellate something like a grounded theory of walking.15 Perhaps because he developed intentionally misleading histories. As Sadler points out: “Situationism was founded on the belief that general revolution would originate in the appropriation and alteration of the material environment and its space.16 Of these situationist ideas. The walks range from the personal undertaking of Caleb Smith to the more or less mainstream cultural productions of the walking artists. 13.” remarked by Edward Soja. If we wish to value walking—its potential for encounter and knowledge—we must look beyond avant-garde provenance. 1997). involving both structure and chance. Activities that have not shared this aim have a poor claim to being situationist. situations (situations). Situationist City. not as unique points of origin for walking practices. Perhaps the development of community around a fundamentally human attribute like walking is radical. commenting that de Certeau “vastly expand(s) upon and make(s) explicit what was only inferred in situationism. détournement (diversion). Librairie Arthème Fayard. 37 . As Sadler and others have enumerated. designed to provide a fresh encounter with the city and to uncover its fragmentary nature.. Guy Debord would have denounced and disowned most new situationist projects for failing to advance revolutionary goals. Guy Debord is identified with the set of ideas called situationist.”17 Lettrist and situationist ideas. and trumpeted its vision for anarchist social democracy. 15 Internationale Situationniste (reprint.”18 The walking practices documented here.

I’m clearly going to have to go back and do them again. like a jewel in the insistent street grid. in contrast to his hometown of Albuquerque. and it occurred to Smith then that countless other such jewels lay hidden on the more than 3. Later he marked on a map every block he had walked. “The Talk of the Town. 2005. and it is documented without a trace of irony or posturing.” December 2004.20 Beginning with Smith’s decision to finish his walk on the day that Thomas J. pp. January 3.000 blocks of Manhattan.BEN JACKS WALKING PROJECTS CALEB SMITH. of walking every street in the grid of Manhattan occurred to Caleb Smith as the result of coming across a church—the Church of the Transfiguration. Even this point is twisted in the direction of suggesting monomania: he quotes Smith as saying. because you’re looking at the map the whole time. 22–23. 20 Ben McGrath. Keane had completed his walk of every block in Manhattan fifty years earlier. Accomplishing the task of walking every block was not Smith’s initial goal.” on 29th Street near 5th Avenue. In reporting Smith’s walk in New Yorker magazine. to sightsee. What McGrath overlooks in his focus on the odd statistics of Smith’s long-distance walk is the care and concern with which Smith looked at the city.html> (accessed May 19. New Mexico. unselfconsciously and unintentionally.19 The church is set back from the street.com/html/ about. The project took him two and a half years to finish.” Though highly personal. de Certeau’s walking tactic: to walk every street is to insist that the city may be and should be known.” New Yorker. Besides. he had learned to sightsee and wander from his parents in the open spaces of the west— urban exploration was just an extension of that early experience. After realizing the necessity of walking every Manhattan street to discover the city’s secrets. He would have to walk every block if he hoped to discover New York’s hidden treasures. Ben McGrath invokes the trope of the task-obsessed eccentric. “The Little Church Around the Corner. 38 . and he would take photographs. and to revel in what he called the celebrity and glamor of New York.newyorkcitywalk. “New York City Walk. and ending with his “passing the torch” to another every-block-walker. he decided upon a few rules to define the “official” walk: he would walk alone. The possibility. He began by walking in a new neighborhood every time he went out of his apartment and then reading about the area he had visited when he got home. the idea. Smith’s walk is motivated quite simply by a love of the city and a willingness to explore. <http:// www. “Greeenwich Village and the Financial District were almost a total loss. he would carry his map and a pen to mark off completed blocks. “NEW YORK CITY WALK” 19 Caleb Smith. McGrath slyly suggests that only a complete nut-case would waste his time on such an activity. Smith’s walk repeats. but rather he wished to explore. 2005).

shorewalkers. 2005). many lack a sense of place.) 39 . Concluding that the aboriginal songline was a way of organizing large amounts of information. and taxis. explaining how the song-stories of Aboriginals guided people across the land by way of physical features. and one year more than 500. People may go past the same buildings hundreds of times without ever really looking. a non-profit environmental/recreational group.” an interactive map of Manhattan streets in the form of a simplified grid organizing a collection of hyperlinks. argues “the Web is our technological society’s closest equivalent.CITY WALKING JIM NAURECKAS.com/> (May 23. “New York Songlines” offers “virtual walking tours of Manhattan’s streets” that may uncover New York’s own “giants. enjoy and protect the parks. “THE GREAT SAUNTER” 21 Jim Naureckas. and paths along the waters throughout the New York metropolitan area.” The songlines are the result of a kind of reverse engineering.” <http:// www. promenades. 2005). (Photo by Mark Lentz. heroes.org> (May 13. SHOREWALKERS. and monsters. Shorewalkers.nysonglines. “New York Songlines: virtual walking tours of Manhattan’s streets. Involving in some years as few as seventeen people. a few signs.” The group’s activism has 22 Shorewalkers.” Naureckas feels that a certain mindlessness has developed because it is so easy to get around the city using knowledge of the grid. “NEW YORK SONGLINES” “New York Songlines. Shorewalkers’ mission is “to enhance. Jim Naureckas. their power comes from the congruity of the hyperlinked Web and the grid organization of the city. also insists on the knowability of the city. with the George Washington Bridge in the background. near 150th Street west of Harlem. In answer to this condition.”22 The event begins early in the morning at South Street Seaport and proceeds clockwise. a subway map. takes an onthe-ground approach to knowing Manhattan. <www. the site’s author. Walkers on “The Great Saunter” in 2004. Every first Saturday in May since 1985 it has been possible to take a walk around the approximately thirty-two-mile long waterfront edge of the island of Manhattan on “The Great Saunter.21 The introduction compares Manhattan’s streets to Australian aboriginal songlines.

is explicitly for fun. He says both.P. Walking Manhattan’s Rim: The Great Saunter (New York: Green Eagle Press. reflecting ongoing concern for the limits and environmental impact of human inhabitation of earth. Adler. 24 See Joseph Rykwert. so cameras proliferate. like much successful protest and advocacy. (Drawing by Kelly Shields. “I am very paranoid. Cy Adler..notbored. authoring position papers. 2003).. Cameras.25 Each walking tour (nine offered in the summer of 2005) is based on maps of all known cameras in a particular zone. and. SURVEILLANCE CAMERA PLAYERS AND THE INSTITUTE FOR APPLIED AUTONOMY 25 Surveillance Camera Players.C. html> (May 26. do not aid in the prevention of crime. a founder of Shorewalkers. encouraging other security camera protesters. <http://www. On the other hand.000 surveillance cameras in Manhattan. Rather. The Idea of a Town (London: Faber and Faber.C. there are few cameras in poor neighborhoods regardless of the level of crime.” the walk. contends S. nor are operators interested in the prevention of crime. p. that “no activity symbolizes the essence of conservation more than walking. Brown simply turns the tables on interviewers.C.”23 The act of walking the edge of Manhattan suggests the city foundation ritual. a continuous path around Manhattan linking numerous public parks. is a speech act. in his guidebook. counters that surveillance cameras are intended to induce paranoia in everyone—they cannot do so selectively. but it also makes a clear political statement. xiii. In the case of “The Great Saunter.” and “the group isn’t and refuses to become paranoid. reasons S.P. 2005).” continuously updating maps. beginning in 2000. offering walking tours. Surveillance Camera Players map used on the walking tour of Chelsea. 40 . Walking. Surveillance Camera Players has protested the use of surveillance cameras in Manhattan since 1996. paranoia is a condition of the spectacular society. Walking Manhattan’s Rim: The Great Saunter. In wealthy neighborhoods building owners receive discounts on insurance if they install cameras. As citizens and claimants. creating plays for “the bored people who must watch the cameras.24 In this case the ritual has been repeated annually for the past twenty years. Now it is almost impossible to walk in Manhattan without encountering a surveillance camera—there are perhaps five to ten cameras for every block. as de Certeau explored. 1976).BEN JACKS 23 Cy A. Shorewalkers walk to advocate an environmental understanding of territory. contributed to the establishment and development of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. as paranoid. remarks on the citizen’s ability to speak out in support of the environment.P.org/the-scp.P. S. On the contrary.C. In a delightful analysis of press coverage that attempts to position Bill Brown and other members of S. While arguments in favor of surveillance cameras claim they induce paranoia selectively in criminals. a condition of the people who supported and continue to support the installation of more than 15.) Advocating against the growing police state. providing recreational opportunities and waterfront access.” Brown wants us to join him in this refusal to become paranoid. vendors promote private security cameras to document events surrounding insurance losses.

many of the projects involve digital mapping. transmitted instructions. ‘outsiders. <http://www.27 The projects by S.. and everyone else. Increasing sophistication—networking and facial recognition software—will compound these problems. In answer to the question. and I. the conference brings together “visual and sound artists. “Terrorism Beat: How is the N. points of visual.A. 58–71. an interactive web-based map of surveillance camera locations. the Institute for Applied Autonomy has created iSee. paranoia for paranoia.blogs. iSee will generate a camera-avoiding route. social caution for social caution. urban adventurers and the public to explore the physical and psychological landscape of the city.A.D. pp. including the coordination of cameras controlled by New York City police. points out that footage from surveillance cameras is mostly privately owned and may be broadcast without consent. anti-terrorist intelligence-gathering efforts have expanded greatly in response to September 11. Many of the presenters acknowledge situationist origins in psychogeography. . 2005). Explicitly inspired by situationist history and theory. 29 PsyGeo Conflux. women voyeuristically.A. <http:// www. writers. Odin Cappello’s psychogeographically inspired project “Navigazing” takes an elegant. and détournement. Perhaps of greatest concern to I.A.’ activists. directly address the worst fears expressed by de Certeau and the situationists. “But what’s the harm?” I. is the effect of the surveillance society in social and psychological terms.29 Cappello’s instructions state the city is filled with “narrative artifacts.A. women.26 The user can enter a starting and stopping point for a trip in Manhattan and.org> (May 20.C. “outsiders” (including people surveying for surveillance cameras). The I. projects: Navigazing.P.html> (September 14.com/psygeocon/2004/ 02/participant_07.CITY WALKING But if one wanted to take a walk without being watched.appliedautonomy. responding to the proliferation of surveillance cameras. straightforward. “Who should use iSee?: minorities. While the issues raised by anti-surveillance groups remain unresolved. is both a conference and a public festival concerned primarily with “current artistic and social investigations in psychogeography.psygeocon. and thoughtful approach to the dérive.html> (May 17. GLOWLAB AND CONFLUX 26 Institute for Applied Autonomy.A.A.P. <http:// glowlab. com/isee.” Most of the events involve some form of walking around and direct experience of the city. and other uses of computers and peripherals as tools and media. youth. Defending the City?” New Yorker. or aural 41 28 PsyGeo Conflux 2004 press release. The iSee map is designed to mirror the use of surveillance cameras. 27 William Finnegan.” I. 2005). the dérive. As a clear and significant change from earlier psychogeographical experiments.A.A. 2005). website answers the question. and others who might be caught kissing a lover in the street or visiting a psychiatrist. sending participants out into the city with viewfinder cards and chalk to view and share the aesthetic experience of framing. points out surveillance cameras are unregulated and do very little to reduce crime.”28 Taking place over four days. 2005. the annual PsyGeo Conflux (held in New York in 2003 and 2004). July 25.A.Y. activists engaged in legal dissent. Police and security guard surveillants watch minorities and young men because of their appearance. provided the map data is up to date.

interest that suggest the existence of a story. projects: Street Stripes with Memory. a webcam.”31 Fujimura later collates the walks into a single map.” Participants use the viewfinder cards to frame something that they consider to be a narrative artifact.” A video camera records the effects over time of people and cars using the crossing.com/psygeocon/2004/ 02/participant_23.blogs. and passersby. historical. Noriyuki Fujimura’s “Footprint Mapping” uses a backpack with a pedometer.32 Conceived as a navigable online map and database. 31 PsyGeo Conflux.blogs. are drawn into the story. narrative. and other forms of information gathered from a wide 42 . Cappello intends for participants to develop both a physical and psychological awareness of environment. in “Street Stripes with Memory.” (Courtesy Odin Cappello. a compass. 32 PsyGeo Conflux. the idea of “One Block Radius” is to collect “the amount of information one would normally find in a guidebook for an entire city. measuring. 2005).” a project of Christina Ray and Dave Mandl (founders of Glowlab and the PsyGeo Conflux). Dario D’Aprile uses flour to stencil faux pedestrian crossings. <http:// glowlab.html> (September 14. projects: Footprint Mapping. provides a website to serve as a repository of information concerning the city block completely destroyed to build the New Museum of Contemporary Art.” and “to characterize and create traces and ways inside the urban space.) 30 PsyGeo Conflux. and use chalk to record positions on the pavement. 2005).BEN JACKS Odin Cappello sends participants into the city to frame and discover “narrative artifacts” in “Navigazing.html> (September 14. 2005). D’Aprile’s interest is in the “resistance time of urban furnishings made by flour.com/psygeocon/2004/ 02/participant_47. Participants develop such awareness by sighting.html> (September 14. Other participants.”30 In a similar vein. <http:// glowlab. and communicating about narrative objects among a community of peers. projects: One Block Radius. either real or fictional. “One Block Radius.blogs.com/psygeocon/2004/ 02/participant_12. video. <http:// glowlab. and creative writing.” Included are photographs. and a computer “to create a digital map of streets and public spaces by gathering ‘footprints’ of participants.

Each of these projects illuminates a particular frame or theme through which we might understand the territorial practice of walking and local negotiations with the dominant order. CONCLUSION Noriyuki Fujimura creates a digital map of a walk in the city using a backpack outfitted with a pedometer. webcam. Walking the shore consecrates the earth as home. A virtual walking tour similarly contends the city is knowable. The “multi-layered portrait of the block as it has never been seen before (and never will be seen again)” is intended to constitute “an extensive psychogeographic survey.CITY WALKING variety of people having direct experience with the block. and to make the data available to anyone wishing to navigate the site. Walking every street in the grid temporarily unearths an apparently comprehensive collection of memories in physical things. and laptop in “Footprint Mapping.” (Courtesy Noriyuki Fujimura.33 The psychogeographical projects of the PsyGeo Conflux reflect perhaps the most intentional and self-conscious forms of territorial practice.) 33 Correspondence with author. microprocessor. The idea is to create a website environment capable of receiving an enormous volume of data at scales not normally considered important.” A revised version of the project allows for the assemblage of similar kinds of information on a citywide scale. Walking on a 43 .

and performing communal turns on each quotation. and the loss of civil liberties. Walking a psychogeographical drift makes a surprisingly poetic experience out of the raw material of the city. When we walk we are quoting the walkers who have come before us. and the dissemination of de Certeau’s thought. 2006. 44 . to the alienating infrastructure of the contemporary city. “poaching. or is it that we are increasingly aware of all kinds of oppressions.” making dialogue out of the everyday and the rational. large and small? Quotation. more variations. no matter how temporarily. Each constitutes a “rhetoric of walking. This paper was published in a different form in Places 18:1 (Spring 2006) and in the Proceedings of the 94th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. the police state. Is this in response to the proliferation of academic theory or to conditions? Is this merely the playful illusion and delusion of intellectuals. Each reconnects us. The myriad ways we walk the city seem to yield ever more turns. In de Certeau’s terms.” to carry forward one of de Certeau’s playful ideas. each such act of walking is a speech act. Quotation lets us move forward as a community.BEN JACKS tour of surveillance cameras protests their proliferation. on the spaces of the pedestrian everyday. It seems the list of intentional and self-conscious tactics has only grown since the historical moment of the situationists. is the backbone of walking (as well as of reading and writing).

and then they’d be overwatering their lawns. The utopian community was Manhattan. in circumstances that would strike most Americans as austere in the extreme: our living space measured just seven hundred square feet. (Our apartment was on Sixtyninth Street. Because space at home was scarce. Manhattan’s 45 . when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. We were young and naïve and unashamedly idealistic. so that runoff would go into streams. but in comparison with the rest of America it’s a model of environmental responsibility. We did our grocery shopping on foot. and one of the greenest cities in the world. they would require many times as much land. a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. “If New Yorkers lived at the typical American sprawl density of three households per residential acre. by bicycle. That’s ten times the rate for Americans in general.” John Holtzclaw. think of New York City as an ecological nightmare. New York is the greenest community in the United States. The average Manhattanite consumes gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the midnineteen-twenties. a garbage disposal. The most devastating damage humans have done to the environment has arisen from the heedless burning of fossil fuels. DAVID OWEN (2004) PRESERVATION. and when we needed to travel longer distances we used public transportation. if it were granted statehood. and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but eleven states. Eighty-two percent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit. we lived. They’d be driving cars. “Anyplace that has such tall buildings and heavy traffic is obviously an environmental disaster—except that it isn’t. By the most significant measures. Our electric bills worked out to about a dollar a day. or on foot. a transportation consultant for the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. or a car. a lawn. in 1978. AND SUSTAINABILITY My wife and I got married right out of college.S. told me.GREEN MANHATTAN Why New York is the greenest city in the U. including most New Yorkers. and they’d have huge lawns and be using pesticides and fertilizers on them. RE-USE. and we didn’t have a dishwasher. we seldom acquired new possessions of significant size. quite contentedly. For seven years. it would rank fifty-first in per-capita energy use.) Most Americans. a category in which New Yorkers are practically prehistoric. and we decided to make our first home in a utopian environmentalist community in New York State.” The key to New York’s relative environmental benignity is its extreme compactness. between Second and Third.

about ninety miles north of midtown Manhattan. in which the terrain’s primeval contours have long since been obliterated and most of the parts that resemble nature (the trees on side streets. It also frees huge tracts of land for the rest of America to sprawl into. for example. Our house.) My wife and I both work at home. New York City is one of the most thoroughly altered landscapes imaginable.DAVID OWEN population density is more than eight hundred times that of the nation as a whole. and forces the majority to live in some of the most inherently energy-efficient residential structures in the world: apartment buildings. and we decided that we didn’t want to raise our tiny daughter in a huge city. Yet our move was an ecological catastrophe. heat escaping from our apartment helped to heat the apartment above ours. we can hear a swollen creek rushing by at the bottom of the hill. an almost wholly artificial environment. toward the end of our time in New York. the rocks in Central Park) are essentially decorations. Deer. since the nearest Blockbuster is ten miles away and each transaction involves two round trips. After big rains. Our consumption of electricity went from roughly four thousand kilowatt-hours a year. Ecology-minded discussions of New York City often have a hopeless tone. wild turkeys. they picture wild. the third car was the product of a mild midlife crisis. you can’t retrieve your first car from the mechanic after it’s been repaired. Nearly everything we do away from our house requires a car trip. When most Americans think about environmentalism. while crossing only one paved road. extremely efficient oil-burning furnace leak through our two-hundred-year-old roof and into the dazzling star-filled winter sky above. unspoiled landscapes—the earth before it was transmogrified by human habitation. and another one soon after we arrived. consumes almost two gallons of gasoline. and focus on ways in which the city might be made to seem somewhat less oppressively man-made: by increasing the area devoted 46 . We bought a car shortly before we moved. We had both grown up in suburbs. I can walk several miles through woods to an abandoned nineteenth-century railway tunnel. to almost thirty thousand kilowatt-hours in 2003—and our house doesn’t even have central air-conditioning. which was built in the late seventeen-hundreds. (If you live in the country and don’t have a second car. When we lived in New York. nowadays. is across a dirt road from a nature preserve and is shaded by tall white-pine trees. many of the BTUs produced by our brand-new. but we manage to drive thirty thousand miles a year between us. Shortly after she learned to walk. mostly doing ordinary errands. Placing one and a half million people on a twenty-three-square-mile island sharply reduces their opportunities to be wasteful. and a third one ten years later. and the occasional black bear feed themselves in our yard. we moved to a small town in northwestern Connecticut. From the end of our driveway. but soon evolved into a necessity. Renting a movie and later returning it. My wife and I had our first child in 1984.

with an especially alarming concentration in East Harlem. Because densely populated urban centers concentrate human activity.7 thickly wooded square miles. however. because you’d have to stack our houses and cars and garages and lawn tractors and swimming pools and septic tanks higher than skyscrapers. (Conversely. living in densely populated urban centers has many drawbacks. which arises from the characteristics that make it surreally synthetic. surrounded. by belts of deepening green. dense urban centers offer one of the few plausible remedies for some of the world’s most discouraging environmental ills. But most such changes would actually undermine the city’s extraordinary energy efficiency. New York City generates more greenhouse gases.GREEN MANHATTAN to parks and greenery.) Spreading people out increases the damage they do to the environment. The environmental challenge we face. To borrow a term from the jargon of computer systems. The true 47 . our profligacy would be impossible to miss. You mean I could live like this? Manhattan is loud and dirty. and the subway is depressing. and the fumes from the cars and cabs and buses can make people sick. by creating open space around structures. On a map depicting negative environmental impacts in relation to surface area. with despair. Nevertheless. Manhattan would look like an intense hot spot. and there are many places within our town limits from which no sign of settlement is visible in any direction. and produces more solid waste than most other American regions of comparable size. If you plotted the same negative impacts by resident or by household. he visited a classmate from the suburbs and was staggered by the house. they would require a space equivalent to the land area of the six New England states plus Delaware and New Jersey. at the current stage of our assault on the world’s non-renewable resources. by reducing traffic congestion. the cars. dense cities are scalable. and thought. barring an almost inconceivable reduction in the earth’s population. in prep school. A well-to-do friend of mine who grew up in a town house in Greenwich Village thought of his upbringing as privileged until. My little town has about four thousand residents. therefore. at varying distances. into a space the size of New York City. by easing the intensity of development. while sprawling suburbs are not. the color scheme would be reversed. Calculated by the square foot. is not how to make our teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. New York City has one of the highest childhood-asthma rates in the country. Presumably for environmental reasons. But if you moved eight million people like us. if you made all eight million New Yorkers live at the density of my town. along with our dwellings and possessions and current rates of energy use. uses more energy. Of course. Even wealthy New Yorkers live in spaces that would seem cramped to Americans living almost anywhere else. and the swimming pool. by incorporating vegetation into buildings themselves. while making the problems harder to see and to address. spread over 38. we think of them as pollution crisis zones. the lawn.

and the surrounding water served as a physical constraint to outward expansion.” New York is the place that’s fun to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there. Henry Ford thought of cars as tools for liberating humanity from the wretchedness of cities. This notion has yet to be widely embraced. and other offerings closer together. electricity. is difficult for others to imitate. a prominent Harvard-educated urban planner and landscape architect. admittedly. and the radio. the good road. or empty spaces between buildings. it will be the natural product of the automobile. partly because it is counterintuitive. cultural. But it’s also a prescription for sprawl and expressways and tremendous waste. Manhattan is like a typical seaport turned inside out—a city with a harbor around it. John Nolen. combined with the growing desire to live a more natural. as “pestilential to the morals. What could it possibly teach anyone about being green? New York’s example. thereby increasing their accessibility—a point made forty-three years ago by the brilliantly iconoclastic urban thinker Jane Jacobs. including most environmentalists. and it’s still seductive.DAVID OWEN challenge is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan. whose metastatic outward growth has been virtually unimpeded by the lay of the land. tend to view cities the way Thomas Jefferson did. A second lucky accident was that Manhattan’s street plan was created by merchants who were more interested in economic efficiency than in boulevards. The resulting crush of architecture is actually humanizing. and the liberties of man. Insularity gave Manhattan more shoreline per square mile than other ports. because it brings the city’s commercial. which he viewed with as much distaste as Jefferson did. and partly because most Americans. The most important of those accidents was geographic: New York arose on a smallish island rather than on the mainland edge of a river or a bay. a major advantage in the days when one of the world’s main commercial activities was moving cargoes between ships. New York City’s obvious urban antithesis. because the city’s remarkable population density is the result not of conscientious planning but of a succession of serendipitous historical accidents. in terms of density and automobile use.” This is the idea behind suburbs. rather than a harbor with a city along its edge. A third accident was the fact that by the early nineteen-hundreds most of Manhattan’s lines had been filled in to the point where not even Robert Moses could easily redraw them to accommodate the great destroyer of American urban life. whose early settlers came to the area partly out of a desire to create space between themselves 48 . biological life under pleasanter and more natural conditions. said. it will be regional. the automobile. is metropolitan Los Angeles. the telephone. parks. It also drove early development inward and upward. the health. “The future city will be spread out. In 1932. in her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

at the rapidly receding western edge of the Washington metropolitan area. though. mixing residential and commercial uses. whose basic layout was conceived at roughly the same time as Manhattan’s. the sweeping public lawns and ceremonial spaces. Washington is commonly viewed as the most intelligently beautiful—the most European—of large American cities.C.U. The Sierra Club. an environmental organization that advocates the preservation of wilderness and wildlife. the hublike traffic circles. There are many pleasant places in Washington to go for a walk. The District of Columbia’s original plan was created by an eccentric French-born engineer and architect named Pierre-Charles L’Enfant. and S. Many of modern Washington’s most striking features are his: the broad. a Chinese restaurant. D.) Many parts of Washington. but good luck finding a dry cleaner. The fastest-growing county in the United States is Loudoun County. Ecologically.” (One of Jacobs’s many arresting observations is that parks and other open spaces can reduce urban vitality.. are relentlessly homogeneous. who befriended General Washington during the Revolutionary War and asked to be allowed to design the capital. furthermore. airy design has also pushed development into the surrounding countryside. and whose main development began late enough to be shaped by the needs of cars. among them widening the sidewalks and narrowing the streets. The aim of the program is to arrest the mindless conversion of undeveloped countryside into subdivisions. In a recent telephone conversation with a Sierra Club representative involved in Challenge to Sprawl. for example. But a more telling counterexample is Washington. The city’s horizontal. the traffic circles are like obstacle courses.V. There are plenty of dignified public buildings on Constitution Avenue. L’Enfant’s expansive avenues were easily adapted to automobiles. strip malls.-clogged expressways. moving buildings closer together and closer to the edges of sidewalks (to make them more accessible to pedestrians and to increase local density). The Sierra Club’s Web site features a slideshow-like demonstration that illustrates how various sprawling suburban intersections could be transformed into far more appealing and energyefficient developments by implementing a few modifications. widely separated buildings (whose height is limited by law) stretched the distance between destinations. around the turn of the nineteenth century. Virginia. or a grocery store. I said that the organization’s anti-sprawl suggestions 49 .GREEN MANHATTAN and others. and adding public transportation—all fundamental elements of the widely touted anti-sprawl strategy known as Smart Growth. it’s a mess. and the low. radial avenues. and the grandiloquent empty spaces thwart pedestrians. but the city is difficult to get around on foot: the wide avenues are hard to cross. by acting as what Jane Jacobs calls “border vacuums. has a national campaign called Challenge to Sprawl. by creating dead ends that prevent people from moving freely between neighborhoods and by decreasing activity along their edges.

The representative hesitated. Cities. “The basic point. First. In many parts of the country. But the underlying principles apply everywhere. whose population is a little more than twice that of Manhattan. mixed uses. then said that I was essentially correct. and the federal government often negate their own efforts to nurture public transit by simultaneously spending huge sums to make it easier for people to get around in cars.” Jeffrey Zupan. New York City looks so little like other parts of America that urban planners and environmentalists tend to treat it as an exception rather than an example. or federal spending can change that. which is another way of saying you get more people walking or biking. When a city’s automobile traffic becomes congested. told me. densely packed buildings. The reason is that Phoenix’s burgeoning population has spread so far across the desert— greater Phoenix. narrow streets. not just in New York. covers more than two hundred times as much land—that no transit system could conceivably serve it. an economist with the Regional Planning Association. once you get above a certain density two things happen. by generating what 50 . although he would prefer that the program not be described in such terms. That threshold tends to be around seven dwellings per acre. public-service advertising. public transit has been stagnant or in decline for years. you get less travel by mechanical means. states. Once you cross that line. yet its public transit system accounts for just one percent of the passenger miles that New York City’s does. An obvious way to reduce consumption of fossil fuels is to shift more people out of cars and into public transit. This approach eventually makes the original problem worse. because they know they’re going to have enough passengers to support a reasonable frequency of service. you get a decrease in the trips by auto and an increase in the trips by transit. since emulating New York City would not be considered an appealing goal by most of the people whom the Sierra Club is trying to persuade. a bus company can put buses out there. and to act as though Manhattan occupies an idiosyncratic universe of its own. “is that you need density to support public transit.DAVID OWEN and the modified streetscapes in the slide show shared many significant features with Manhattan—whose most salient characteristics include wide sidewalks. And no amount of browbeating. second. the standard response has long been to provide additional capacity by building new roads or widening existing ones. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation account for nearly a third of all the transit passenger miles travelled in the United States and for nearly four times as many passenger miles as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority combined. though. and an extensive network of subways and buses.” Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the United States and one of the fastestgrowing among the top ten. and. In all cities.

and the roads fill up again. just makes driving seem more attractive. A better strategy would be to eliminate existing traffic lanes and parking spaces gradually. if built. And adding public transit in the hope of reducing automobile congestion is as self-defeating as building new highways. the decision not to impose tolls on the East River bridges. because unclogging roads. much of it to malls and schools and gas stations that will be built to accommodate them. Drive (along with the federally funded hundredand-thirty-nine-million-dollar Outboard Detour Roadway.D. which is intended to prevent users of the F. if successful. I was working in my office. creating new. A number of the city’s most popular recent transportationrelated projects and policy decisions may in the long run make the city a worse place to live in by luring passengers back into their cars and away from public transportation: the rebuilding and widening of the West Side Highway. Congestion like that urges drivers into the subways. and it makes life easier for pedestrians and bicycle riders by slowing cars to a point where they constitute less of a physical threat. and the current renovation of the F. because it would enable the vast. “induced transit. thereby forcing more drivers to use less environmentally damaging alternatives—in effect. when the lights blinked. Even in New York City. the relationship between traffic and transit is not well understood. Transit is best for the environment when it helps to concentrate people in dense urban cores. non-dense suburbs where all other travel will be by automobile.GREEN MANHATTAN transportation planners call “induced traffic”: every mile of new highway lures passengers from public transit and other more efficient modes of travel.D. the implementation of EZ-Pass on the city’s toll bridges. The average speed of crosstown traffic in Manhattan is little more than that of a brisk walker.R. and in midtown at certain times of the day the cars on the side streets move so slowly that they appear almost to be parked. because it would increase New Yorkers’ ability to live without cars.” One reason New Yorkers are the most dedicated transit users in America is that congestion on the city’s streets makes driving extraordinarily disagreeable. fuel-squandering apparatus of suburbia to establish itself in a region that couldn’t support it otherwise. 2003. Building the proposed Second Avenue subway line would be environmentally sound. and makes it possible for residential and commercial development to spread even farther from urban centers. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is considering extensions to some of the most distant branches of its system. building a bullet train between Penn Station and the Catskills (for example) would not be sound. and those extensions. On the afternoon of August 14. will allow people to live even farther from the city’s center. my window air-conditioner 51 . from being inconvenienced while the work is under way). Public transit itself can be bad for the environment if it facilitates rather than discourages sprawl.R. on the third floor of my house.

and on the book’s dust jacket was a photograph of 4 Times Square. held a show called “Big & Green: Toward Sustainable Architecture in the 21st Century. told me.” Miller said. taxes and other government charges. Richard Miller. and people who live in New York City generally use less than the urban average.DAVID OWEN sputtered. “When I was with the city. making it by far the city’s largest propertytax payer. which contribute only a small percentage of New York City’s air pollution. (Fifth Avenue and the West Side Highway don’t pay property taxes. in Washington. what you’re really talking about. This was the beginning of the great blackout of 2003. for example. the cost of driving is kept artificially low. but public attention often focused on New York City.” Last year. most of which are not enumerated on electricity bills. Con Ed pays more than six hundred million dollars a year in property taxes. which had the largest concentration of affected power customers. which halted electric service in parts of eight Northeastern and Midwestern states and in southeastern Canada. A truly enlightened energy policy would reward city dwellers and encourage others to follow their good example. the National Building Museum.’ And my response at that conference was ‘You know. than it has on cars—even though motor vehicles are a much bigger source. after leaving his job with New York City.C. spurred by his thinking about the environment. also known as the Condé Nast Building. If you make energy prices so expensive in the city that a business relocates from Manhattan to New Jersey. He believes that state and local officials have historically taken unfair advantage of the fact that there is no political cost to attacking a big utility. I attended a conference on global warming where somebody said. ‘We really need to raise energy and electricity prices in New York City.. if you’re talking about raising energy prices in New York City only. D. And which of those do you think is worse for the environment?’ ” People who live in cities use only about half as much electricity as people who don’t.” A book of the same name was published in conjunction with the show.) “In addition. can constitute close to twenty percent of the cost of power for residential and commercial users in New York. then you’re talking about something that’s really bad for the environment. is a business that’s moving from a subway stop to a parking lot. Meanwhile. “the burden of improving the city’s air has fallen far more heavily on power plants. went to work as a lawyer in Consolidated Edison’s regulatory affairs department. in the simplest terms. and my computer’s backup battery kicked in briefly. Miller. Richard B. so that people will consume less. a forty-eight-story glass-and-steel 52 . Yet New York City residents pay more per kilowatt-hour than almost any other American electricity customers. who resigned as the senior energy adviser for the city of New York six weeks before the blackout. and those charges inflate electric bills. reportedly over deep disagreements with the city’s energy policy. The immediate cause was eventually traced to Ohio.

I. In terms of the building’s true ecological impact. and their small roofs absorb less heat from the sun during cooling season and radiate less heat from inside during heating season.’s co-founder and chief executive officer. Bruce Fowle.6 million square feet of floor space. because large amounts of energy are expended in their construction. a few blocks west of Grand Central Terminal.I. and it sits on one acre of land. are among the most energy-efficient passenger vehicles in the world. one usually associates smaller scale. set into a hillside about fifteen miles north of Aspen. passive-solar structure with curving sixteen-inch-thick walls. contributed to the design of 4 Times Square. it was considered a major breakthrough in urban development. they are distinctly secondary. If you divided it into forty-eight one-story suburban office 53 . power lines. Occupants of tall buildings also do a significant part of their daily coming and going in elevators. which has many innovative features. a principal of Fox & Fowle Architects. the firm that designed it. As Daniel Kaplan. because they are counterweighted and thus require less motor horsepower. and that means they present relatively less of themselves to the elements. published in CoEvolution Quarterly in 1980. a nonprofit environmental research and consulting firm based in Snowmass.) When 4 Times Square was built. Tall buildings have much less exposed exterior surface per square foot of interior space than smaller buildings do. “The Condé Nast Building contains 1. and water systems. and because the buildings place intensely localized stresses on sewers. and it is situated in Manhattan. photovoltaic panels incorporated into parts of its skin. “When thinking of green architecture. (The beneficial effects are greater still in Manhattan. superinsulated. These are all important innovations. (The power generated by the photovoltaic panels supplies less than one percent of the building’s requirements. wrote in an article in Environmental Design & Construction in 1997. Environmentalists have tended to treat big buildings as intrinsically wasteful. who is R.M. in 1999. (The New Yorker’s offices occupy two floors in the building. told me.I. which.GREEN MANHATTAN tower between Forty-second and Forty-third Streets. It was erected in the early eighties and serves partly as a showcase for green construction technology. a little more than seventy miles away. a founder of Fox & Fowle. among them collection chutes for recyclable materials. though.M. (It is also the home of Amory Lovins. and curtain-wall construction with exceptional shading and insulating properties. where one building often directly abuts another.” and he cited as an example the headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Institute.) R. building is a four-thousand-square-foot. The R. found that an ordinary apartment in a typical building near downtown San Francisco used just a fifth as much heating fuel as a new tract house in Davis. But density can create the same kinds of ecological benefits in individual structures that it does in entire communities.) The two greenest features of 4 Times Square are ones that most people never even mention: it is big. Colorado.M.) A study by Michael Phillips and Robert Gnaizda.

M.M. each averaging thirty-three thousand square feet. The Rocky Mountain Institute’s showcase headquarters has double-paned kryptonfilled windows. though. In other ways. 4 Times Square would have needed sixteen thousand parking spaces. then asked. she looked puzzled. the rest of them work in a larger building a mile away. That’s a wonderful feature. because the vast majority of the six thousand people who work inside it don’t need one.’s employees worked on a single floor of a big building in Manhattan (or in downtown Denver) and lived in apartments nearby. 4 Times Square doesn’t even have a parking lot.I. With just four thousand square feet of interior space. It also prevents most people from recognizing that R. you’d end up consuming at least a hundred and fifty acres of land. and one of many in the building that people ought to copy. In most other parts of the country.. If R.—which is one of the world’s most farsighted environmental organizations—may seem unfair. “Is it because they’ve started recycling again?” Her question reflected 54 . big parking lots are not only necessary but are required by law. one for every hundred square feet of office floor space. Picking on R. and the thousands of visitors who drive to Snowmass each year to learn about environmentally responsible construction could travel by public transit instead. and other vehicles.M. shares responsibility for perpetuating the powerful anti-city bias of American environmentalism. and then added parking and some green space around each one.DAVID OWEN buildings.” Like many other buildings in Manhattan. building sets a very poor environmental example.’s famous headquarters—which sits on an isolated parcel more than a hundred and eighty miles from the nearest significant public transit system—is sprawl.M. Because the two buildings are in a thinly populated area. on virgin land more than seven thousand feet above sea level. which admit seventy-five percent as much light as ordinary windows while allowing just ten percent as much heat to escape in cold weather. When I told a friend recently that I thought New York City should be considered the greenest community in America.’s eighteen fulltime employees.I. And then you’d have to provide infrastructure.I.” Thinking of freeways and strip malls as “urban” phenomena obscures the ecologically monumental difference between Phoenix and Manhattan. but R. along with many other farsighted environmental organizations.I. It was built in a fragile location. many of them would be able to give up their cars.I. the highways and everything else. That bias is evident in the technical term that is widely used for sprawl: “urbanization.I.M. If my town’s zoning regulations applied in Manhattan. it can hold only six of R. they force most employees to drive many miles—including trips between the two buildings—and they necessitate extra fuel consumption by delivery trucks. and spread those one-story buildings around the countryside.M. the R. and fortifies the perception that population density is an environmental ill. snowplows.

at best. that we will probably pass that point within the current decade. It makes its driver a self-sufficient nation of one. by David Goodstein.GREEN MANHATTAN a central failure of the American environmental movement: that too many of us have been made to believe that the most important thing we can do to save the earth and ourselves is to remember each week to set our cans and bottles and newspapers on the curb. a professor at the California Institute of Technology. most of the materials we place on our curbs are merely “downcycled”—converted to a lower use. which was published in 2004. and much of it is demonstrably harmful. Recycling is popular because it enables people to relieve their gathering anxieties about the future without altering the way they live. yet we live like alcoholics in denial. 55 . because at that moment. a neutral effect on the environment. In succeeding pages. and less fuel-efficient at the same time that scientists have become more certain and more specific about the consequences of our addiction to gasoline? On a shelf in my office is a small pile of recent books about the environment that I plan to reread obsessively if I’m found to have a terminal illness. heavier. We all know this at some level. Those cars have defined our culture and our lives. It is everything a city is not. cheap oil. But most current recycling has. because they’re so unsettling that they may make me less upset about being snatched from life in my prime. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart point out in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2003). A car is speed and sex and power and emancipation. among other undesirable effects. with disastrous repercussions for almost everything. providing a pause in their inevitable journey to a landfill or an incinerator—often with a release of toxins and a net loss of fuel. By far the worst damage we Americans do to the planet arises not from the newspapers we throw away but from the eight hundred and fifty million or so gallons of oil we consume every day. and that “civilization as we know it will come to an end sometime in this century unless we can find a way to live without fossil fuels. or about half of the earth’s total supply. he lucidly explains that humans have consumed almost a trillion barrels of oil (that’s forty-two trillion gallons). How else can we explain why our cars have grown bigger. the line representing supply will fall through the line representing demand.” Goodstein begins. if we haven’t passed it already. for the first time in history. “The world will soon start to run out of conventionally produced.” Standing between us and any conceivable solution to our energy nightmare are our cars and the asphalt latticed country we have built to oblige them. that various well-established laws of economics are about to assert themselves. At the top of the pile is Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil. that a devastating global petroleum crisis will begin not when we have pumped the last barrel out of the ground but when we have reached the halfway point.

Ignacio San Martín. “If you go out to the streets of Phoenix and are able to see anybody walking—which you likely won’t—they are going to tell you that they love living in Phoenix because they have a beautiful house and three cars. once the conversation goes a little bit further. of anti-urbanism.” One of the main attractions of moving to the suburbs is acquiring ground of your own. told me. This essay was originally published in The New Yorker October 18. one of the few four-wheeled passenger vehicles that get worse gas mileage than a Hummer). The modern suburban yard is perfectly. in his first Inaugural Address. but he nevertheless anticipated (and. In 1801. yet you can travel for miles through suburbia and see no one doing anything in a yard other than working on the yard itself (often with the help of a riding lawnmower. embodied) the ethos of suburbia. and his arithmetic was off. an architecture professor and the head of the graduate urban-design program at the University of Arizona. driving has undermined the very benefits that it was meant to bestow.” Jefferson didn’t foresee the interstate highway system. is a mini-Monticello. they are going to say that they spend most of their time at home watching TV.DAVID OWEN Most of the car’s most tantalizing charms are illusory. By helping us to live at greater distances from one another. because there is absolutely nothing to do. The standard object of the modern American dream. 2004. in any case. though. of sprawl. In reality. though. But what a terrible price we have paid—and have yet to pay—for our liberation from the city. in many ways. It was the car that put it within our reach. perversely self-justifying: its purpose is to be taken care of. 56 . the single-family home surrounded by grass. Thomas Jefferson said that the American wilderness would provide growing room for democracysustaining agrarian patriots “to the thousandth and thousandth generation.

Today. While defenders of the natural environment have existed as a minority. while attractive in principle.STEWARDSHIP OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT The emerging synergies from sustainability and historic preservation ROBERT A. Continuing development of the suburban periphery overwhelms 57 . or in how previously developed lands are left to deteriorate. Natural and built environments have always been vulnerable to wasting due to perceptions that there was always more land somewhere else and that any land use could change when something more profitable could be built upon or extracted from it. As such. lacking vitality. current economics-driven practices continually reshape the built and natural environments. eventually leaving them undifferentiated. the goals of stewardship of the built environment. In this fashion. Despite the growing emergence of sustainability as a viable design medium. the current cultural landscape of the United States reflects the premise that the majority has long adopted the depletion-extraction economic perspective as the justifiable paradigm. based on long-term environmental sustainability. STEWARDSHIP OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Stewardship of the built environment counters this extraction and consumption-based economic philosophy. Long-term sustainability. pales economically against the near-term economic benefits gained from “standard” practices of the past half-century. This can readily be seen by the homogeneity of franchise architecture and seemingly identical suburban housing tracts across the country that have proliferated since the advent of the interstate highway system. In the United States. the fact that vast tracts of the built environment remain underutilized demonstrates how suburban sprawl drains vitality from central cities. and having little to no regional identity. the predominant longterm goal has been to extract maximum profit from the land. are viewed by many as contrary to the endemic approach of seeking near-term immediate economic gain. RE-USE. This recurring paradigm is clearly evident in how “undeveloped” lands initially prized for their extractable natural resources were subsequently turned into agricultural lands and then finally were smothered by suburban sprawl. AND SUSTAINABILITY AN OVERVIEW Sustainable architecture looks at long-term socioeconomic goals rather than just near-term financial ones. land could also be cast aside when easier development choices existed elsewhere. YOUNG (2004) PRESERVATION. These cycles will affect all open and developed land.

: Island Press. D. Recognition of these amenities brought about the new urbanist movement of the late twentieth century. is a critical aspect of sustainable design that evaluates how changes in the built and natural environments act as a singular system rather than two separate ones.ROBERT A. The renewed interest in preserving and/or rehabilitating buildings at the turn of the twenty-first century can be directly traced to the American Bicentennial. Many neighborhoods in older communities already have existing infrastructure. however. The concept of stewardship. the tyranny of “easy development decisions” still generates a greater increase in development at the suburban periphery rather than the redevelopment of the original built environment that first held (and often still does hold) these features. This catalytic decade of rehabilitation activities created an awareness of the amenities that a revitalized central city could provide. rather than extraction. and subsequently results in increased traffic congestion. and engender a higher and more affordable quality of life than their suburban counterparts. consumes open or agricultural lands. successful historic preservation projects nationwide have shown that preservation can be a strategy that not only retains a cultural identity of a given community but also can be successful in generating renewed community development and maintaining a long-term sustainable aspect of the environment. and access to mass transit. the recognition of the economic and social value recaptured in existing buildings has resulted in a steadily growing interest in historic preservation nationwide. interesting architecture. make housing more affordable. 2000. utilities. Washington. Many central city neighborhoods are likely to have the advantages of more non-profit institutions. and Phillips. and school systems.C. While this movement ascribes to providing housing that adopts the amenities common to existing central city neighborhoods. Concurrent to the emergence of sustainability. A NEXUS 1 Lucy. 10. Tax laws enacted between 1976 and 1986 made rehabilitating historic buildings attractive and spawned significant growth in the rehabilitation industry. YOUNG previously individual smaller towns adjoining a central city. A primary outcome of stewardship is that it can act to engage the practice of redevelopment and in turn reverse the outward suburban flow back towards the neighborhoods and business districts that already exist within many core cities. walkable neighborhoods. and infrastructure costs for highways. While the preservation movement has often been derided as being opposite to the “accepted” concepts of growth and profitability.. air pollution. has virtually eliminated investment opportunities in historic property rehabilitation. access to public transit. The 1986 tax act. D. Confronting Suburban Decline. As described by Lucy and Phillips:1 58 . W. and a far less homogeneous architectural heritage that can act to reduce overall construction expenses.

They receive extra weight with options that are difficult to implement such as mixed-use residential and commercial developments on infill sites even if the more difficult options hold potential for higher profits. Surprisingly. such as . remove existing buildings to simply replace them with new construction. . From the large-scale collaborative efforts common with the conversion of military 59 . these projects tend to be large in scope and require large tracts of open (or cleared) land. While new urbanism projects occur in both the suburban and central city contexts. . As a result. stewardship. misperceptions. all have moved along parallel paths without significant interaction and each in its own way substantiates the goal of long-term viability of the built and natural environments. Since large-scale residential projects are often perceived as more profitable due to the realizable economy in mass production. Due to the perceived difficulty in navigating regulatory procedures and the expense of assembling tracts within the central city. The concepts of sustainability.STEWARDSHIP OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT In land development. stewardship. and outright arrogance and ignorance quite often lead to multiple parties standing in opposition to one another while these common long-term values and goals become imperiled. and preservation have gained increased visibility in the past fifteen years. the developers initiate suburban developments more frequently and at a large scale rather than at the individual homeowner scale. ecologic. Stewardship recognizes the trade-offs that need to be assessed to protect both the natural and built environments. A possible alternative having greater implications for sustainability in the long term is the historic preservation/stewardship approach that adapts and reuses the existing built environment rather than continuing to build in the suburban periphery or worse. particularly in historic districts. miscommunications. Accordingly. especially as the project scope and scale of larger developments tend to lead to an “all or nothing” attitude from all parties involved. greenfield residential subdivisions . many central city buildings and land have been left fallow as the suburbs push further outward. All parties want certain aspects of the same thing but fail to reach a viable means of doing so. open suburban land is still being developed or central city buildings are being removed to create a “tabula rasa” for new development and existing building stock that can be reused is often removed. . and preservation seemingly having reached a nexus in that they all are beginning to reach for the same economic. Sustainability. and social viability values. However. . Preservation recognizes the importance of understanding the past while promoting older buildings as part of the future of the built environment. the vast majority still appear to be in suburban locations. Sustainability recognizes the need to do things in the present that can protect the future. business calculations may lead to options that are relatively easy to accomplish.

there is a growing list of examples that demonstrate how all three perspectives are compatible with one another. This essay is abridged from the original published in the Proceedings of the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Through recognition of the social and economic values offered by historic preservation. the connections of the cultural past to the future societal viability of reused buildings can result in the reduced pressures of expansion at the suburban periphery and renewed use of the urban core. 2004. YOUNG bases for contemporary civilian uses to the growing number of private homeowners respectfully rehabilitating inner-city houses. a longer term sustainable built environment can be realized. the integration of the sustainability and preservation financial incentives directly helps to make the process even more acceptable from an economic perspective while fostering the retention of our cultural roots. appropriate stewardship can cultivate a renewed social and economic vitality in the community while reducing the net cycle of extraction and consumption all along the rehabilitation/reuse spectrum. 60 . the relationship between reused buildings and the retention of a healthy natural environment will become increasingly evident. Through the appropriate stewardship of both the natural and built environments.ROBERT A. And lastly. CONCLUDING COMMENTS With the further recognition at a broader scale of the synergies that these three concepts interactively generate. The sustainable aspects demonstrate how existing building stock can fit into promoting redevelopment within the urban core and thereby promote long-term revitalization. Individually. each is a potentially significant strategy to undertake but collectively they form a synergistically coherent perspective that can hold a tremendous potential for (re)shaping a sustainable cultural landscape and ecosystem. Extending the idea.

” tons of purposeless and 1 See Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. but at the same time it is a product. worn out and impure. dross signifies more than an entropic landscape: it depicts material derailment and the production of displaced matter. this paper will attempt to encompass the generative potential of obsolete objects and spaces. it is a phantom material condition that is unnoticeable to such an extent that it almost does not exist in our perception. Specifically. For the etymology of the word “dross. The cultural fabric for this condition revolves around the material ramifications of unprecedented technological evolutions in communications that have irreversibly shifted our production and consumption modes during the past two decades. Simians.2 such as the process of melting a metal or the sedimentation of a liquid. the etymological origin of the word refers to a residual substance that emerges in transitional material stages. grounds and settlings are sediments that have settled at the bottom of a liquid. or in other words waste material that is displaced culturally or functionally from either its previous or its original identity. the word has signified waste. or better stated a by-product. <http://www.” see the Cambridge Dictionary Online.” See Donna J.com/ dictionary.org/> 3 I am borrowing here Donna Haraway’s definition of the “cyborg” as a cultural product of emerging socio-political regimes and practices of everyday life. or small amounts of residue. Nevertheless. In time and through the use and misuse of language. Dregs. invert or transmute matter unceasingly to higher states. Based on the perception of material impurity. paraphrasing Donna Haraway.cambridge. The purpose of analyzing the ingredients and the properties of dross substance lies beneath the wonder of metamorphic materials.DROSS.3 The intrinsic properties of dross substance are analyzed to serve as a medium for the comprehension of a cultural phenomenon of incidentally displaced matter that is automatically rendered meaningless and serves no purpose whatsoever. Along with the compelling will to subvert. Dross is worthless. and a side effect of chemical reactions that serves no purpose. it is an incidental. a hybrid of machine and organism. 1991). pieces and material fragments.m-w. The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge. of social reality. the occurrence of dross reminds us that pure operations of making seem to belong to the sphere of impossibility. <http:// dictionary. displaced material. 149. The technological evolutions in computer software and hardware that have been producing novel tools. impurity or any incongruous accumulation of disparate elements. Dross may be a spin-off of alchemical endeavors and a phantom material condition. a necessity is created for its removal. RE-USE. have been in parallel producing immense quantities of “techno-junk. a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. 61 . AND SUSTAINABILITY The word dross refers to matter that is foreign.1 However. Haraway writes: “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism.htm> 2 Middle English “dros” originates from Old English drOs—DREGS. RE-GENESIS OF DIVERSE MATTER LYDIA KALLIPOLITI (2005) PRESERVATION. when it appears. Therefore. Dross materials. Haraway. Cyborgs and Women.

000 different substances. are highly complex in form and material composition.svtc. which everybody recognized as a 62 .LYDIA KALLIPOLITI 4 The rates of computer obsolescence are so extreme that “in the year of 2005. With the advent of highly advanced manufacturing methods and processes. containing in parallel high amounts of embodied energy. 63. there seems to be a necessity to use defunct circuitboards as larger readymade complexes or as components embedded in other materials for entirely new uses. a personal computer “contains over 1.” The Basel Action Network (BAN) & Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVT SVTC) (February 25. KVA: Material Misuse (London: AA Publications. RE-GENESIS OF DIVERSE MATTER.6 Considering the socio-political conditions directly linked to this rising material reality. “Exporting Harm. “Technojunk” is an emerging city-born condition.”5 Its subsequent recycling becomes an excruciating and elusive task that requires numerous preparatory stages of shredding and segregating into constituent components and materials. For example. Accessed February 25. If one identifies in the city fabric a stratum of buildings that can be easily mapped due to their longevity. The un-mappable urban condition of this “floating matter” in the city has not yet been explored by contemporary architecture. 2001).” See Jim Puckett. but also by the need to manipulate this kind of raw material and engage with “techno-excrements” as an emerging city-born condition. known as e-waste. many sheet claddings are made of chopped up or reconstituted bits of other materials. The High-Tech Trashing of Asia. The necessity of such a discourse is not only driven by the formulation of an ecological awareness. Richard Gutierrez. almost impossible to dispose of. Over the past decade. Electronic waste. Waste is no longer an issue that relates solely to quantity. It now also relates to the intricacy of the waste matter and its material composition. <http://www.svtc.html>. one computer will become obsolete for every new one put on the market. from the scale of obsolete “objects” to the scale of obsolete “rooms” and “buildings. advertising billboards.org/resource/pubs/ pub_index. The significantly different lifetime of the two strata is the cause for an erosion of the outer building shell that cannot adapt to the change taking place in it or around it. containers and other apparatuses articulate a new urban language that violates the building envelope or attaches itself to it as an outgrowth.” The Basel Action Network & Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. defunct oil tanks. indestructible matter. many of which are toxic. derivative of the urban system’s internal erosion. air-conditioning tubes. equivalently one could identify a stratum of mechanical appendages that cannot easily be mapped due to their ephemerality. this new type of intensive manual labor is reportedly exported to Asia and prison houses. See Sheila Kennedy and Christoph Grunenberg.7 Spanning scales. 6 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.html>. Sarah Westervelt. is the largest growing industry of waste on a global scale. 2004. Leslie Byster. 2002). A DESIGN POST-PRAXIS We think of Picasso’s bicycle seat (Bull’s Head) of 1944: You remember that bull’s head I exhibited recently? Out of handle bars and the bicycle seat I made a bull’s head. and creates serious pollution upon disposal.4 Alongside the numbers. <http:// www. 5 “Exporting Harm. 7 Sheila Kennedy writes how secondary and tertiary methods of post-industrial production produce recombinant materials: materials within materials. Such a practice is supported through the production of materials by recombinant methods and assemblies: materials within materials. many products that reach the end of their useful lives quickly and unexpectedly. Asma Hussain and Madhumitta Dutta (2002).” a mundane reality of big defunct objects— displaced building parts—is overwhelming the contemporary city. concerns related to waste streams have shifted in their orientation. Sheila Davis.org/resource/pubs/pub_ index.

Press. 11 Stretching strategies of appropriation. 11 Gyorgy Kepes. is now recognized as energies and their dynamic organization. but from the reality of an existing inoperative component. What scientists considered before as substance shaped into forms. there is a regeneration of meaning and identity. Conversely. “Art and Ecological Consciousness” in Gyorgy Kepes (Ed. the condition of flow and unremitting transformation is characterized by Gyorgy Kepes as a fundamental reorientation of the twentieth century. It recognizes a loss in objects. Today a reversal of this attitude has begun to appear. .I. He explains that. Arts of the Environment (New York: George Braziller. but in the act of manipulating matter and bonding new functions to objects that have lost their previous. 241. Perhaps some day a fellow will come along and say: “Why there’s something that would come in handy for the handle bars of my bicycle . A dross post-praxis dwells conceptually in what one could consider as the counterpart of parthenogenesis— the phenomenon of virgin birth. as it undergoes a metamorphosis.). 11. 1978). 8 By engaging a strategy of irony as a legitimate method of approaching phenomena. motion. Collage City (Cambridge. It emerges as a germinal creative drive. 9 Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter. dross praxis does not begin from scratch. embedded in objects. fixed identity.” and so a double metamorphosis would have been achieved. concepts and 63 8 Alfred Barr. 1972). meaning is inevitably shifted. 10 Rowe and Koetter. there is a steadily increasing movement in science and in art toward processes and systems that dematerialize the object world and discredit physical possessions. Thus a metamorphosis was completed.DROSS. The dominant matrix of nineteenth-century attitudes was the use of Marx’s term “reification”. therefore. through the desire for transformation of existing information. because it resists utopia. It becomes a psycho-spatial or mental disposition. relationships were interpreted in terms of things. and consequently understood as tangible objects. static quality. it is tacit and malleable. 1946).T. and now I would like to see another metamorphosis take place in the opposite direction. objects or commodity values. “fueling a reality of change. Collage City. Suppose my bull’s head is thrown on the scrap heap. A discourse of “collaging” fragments is ironic.”10 Along the same lines of thought. . 149. action. In this citation. Mass: M.”9 but a composite present realm consisting of fragments. Instead of a genesis of meaning. the tactic of re-use is not solely an environmental strategy directed to the ethics of the world’s salvation. Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art (New York: Published for the Museum of Modern Art by Arno Press. buildings or urban domains that have misplaced their previous fixed identity and encompasses this loss as a generative potential. meaning is not an inscribed. re-use and transformation. Picasso asserts that there is no social or constructed reality “that we have to accept in toto. RE-GENESIS OF DIVERSE MATTER bull’s head. as the object is appropriated and re-used. It can no longer be located in the process of representing an abstract concept. In this sense. it is perpetually redefined. .

virginal creations. If we assume that nothing emerges “out of zero. “the nature of the eternal things is small existences (ουσ αι) unlimited in number. the importance of the “Merzbau” extends to the material techniques Schwitters deployed. physical entities. Furley argues that this philosophical position is credited to Democritus and the theory of atomism in ancient Greek philosophy. Collage.LYDIA KALLIPOLITI 12 David J. Collage embeds the notion of 64 . as an offspring of rapidly advancing industrialized processes. using “molding” techniques. Marcel Duchamp’s declaration of the urinal as a work of art emancipated a syllogism that disconnected the reminiscence an object was carrying along with it from its materiality. According to Democritus. Two Studies in the Greek Atomists (Princeton. defying pure. In the same spirit. and in addition to these he assumes space (τ πο ) infinite in extent. revealed locally through openings called “grottos. 117. Instead. See David J. he did not simply put together his collected materials in an additive manner. The Greek Atomists and Epicurus (New York: Russell & Russell Inc. constitutes a prime artistic revolution of the twentieth century. it engrafts a copiousness of thought. Furley. evolving logic of transfusion. However.”12 a post-praxis aims to retain the energy induced in creative systems and exploit the accumulative effect of knowledge and materiality. NJ: Princeton University Press.” Eventually. Work by Lo/Tek and Rachel Whiteread. 1967). Kurt Schwitters gathered material from the street and collaged it to make interior artifices in his Hanover apartment and created the compelling work of the “Merzbau. The issue of re-use has emerged as monumentally appealing. 1964). as a process of bringing fragments together and interrogating their newly formed relationships in new assemblages. COLLAGE VERSUS MOLDING Re-use paradigms of building parts and components.” Schwitters’ wrapping of his collected waste material depicts two fundamentally different principles that constitute simultaneously bipolar and inherent drives in creative praxis. These principles are collage and molding. The object could then be viewed as raw material utilized for further spatial deployments.” See Cyril Bailey. where the first denotes an additive logic of juxtapositions and superimpositions and the latter denotes a procedural. he created a second smooth membrane that sealed the realm of “collage.” Schwitters’ declaration was to build out of nothing—merz—meaning out of displaced material that experienced the loss of its identity. the compositions of the prosthetic art became latent building material.

Composite materials make a useful analogy to the methodology of a composite graft. creating assembly lines of materials with new local behaviors and properties.DROSS. By putting the two principles of collage and molding in opposition. while retaining some of its primary characteristics. two methodologies are engaged: composite graft and plastic matter. The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (New York: The New Press. then molding’s scope is a substance change. if collage is about transformation. its case is vitally different. 65 . if collage’s scope is a syntax change. 1998). however. The method also touches on some of re-use’s most deeply rooted conventions. “The Object of Post-Criticism” in Hal Foster (Ed. the effects of heating in materials such as thermoplastic polymers that directly affects their chemical composition could be described as a physical analogue of currently available digital tools. RE-GENESIS OF DIVERSE MATTER re-use in an elemental sense. a kind of theft. 102.). if the intrinsic principle of collage is prosthesis of parts. molding is about transmutation. they are composed of elements that work together to produce material properties that are different to the properties of those elements on their own. COMPOSITE RE-USE 13 Gregory L. Ulmer. then the intrinsic principle in molding is fusion of parts. where material is malleable and deformed slightly from its original status. Heating is a method that is considered distinct from any tools linked to the architectural design process. By considering the production of new components out of casting on found objects. In reality. or a mold where new materials can be cast. according to the material synthesis of the by-products. this condition occurs in a wide variety of thermoplastic polymers when heat is applied to them and they reach a mesophase where they are neither liquids nor solids. It is a practice that “violates ‘property’. Experimenting with dross strategies. Composite grafting denotes the combination of actual obsolete objects with their molded by-products. Plastic matter refers to a condition of material indeterminacy. then molding signifies a material transfer.”13 Although molding also involves the appropriation of existing objects and contexts. The obsolete matter is interrogated for its textural and formal potential and successively used either as a matrix or as material that can be plastically manipulated. such as the conviction that re-use should be structured as a precise analogue of the way that natural systems deal with their waste: in closed loops. one can draw the following assumptions: if collage signifies the change of context. artificiality becomes part of the equation for effectively managing waste streams. but will have different properties. where “by-product” refers to new artificial objects that can be formed by using an obsolete component as a reproductive matrix. This operation functions under the premise that the occurring by-product components will retain partially characteristics of the original object. Then the matrix is subjected to a process of many stages: a process that essentially feeds itself as molds and casts change roles in and out without a definitive ending.

T. The intention was to use Matrix of selected obsolete objects. Each obsolete object delivers innumerable and variable by-products that can either open the imagination through an apocalypse of the material plasticity in each case. a partition wall and a building part.I. Consequently. Each object of the matrix ran through different digital molding processes. a watertank. spaces and building parts. a number of parameters were considered. This location has become a depositor and a pick-up point for obsolete electronics. An example of a dross design experiment is sited in the basement infinite corridor of M. the objects themselves along with the by-products that emerge from the molding operations will be used in design experiments. such as outmoded computers and machinery. In the selection of objects.’s main building. In this sense.LYDIA KALLIPOLITI In order to test my selected methodological operations. the matrix plays the role of a generating device for new material. escalating in complexity and varying the relationship between the cast and the mold. a plastic container. I have created a matrix of objects escalating in scale that can serve as a pool for design exploration. 66 . new images and new concepts. each in a different site and location. or can be directly used in new assemblages. a helmet. acquiring in time a dross function. ranging from the textural and formal complexity of the obsolete objects. disposability difficulties and other factors. a bikelid. The items of this matrix are a circuitboard.

both collage and molding operations were implemented. where the stripes open up and deform in multiple ways according to diversified local material properties of the new skin. In the experiment. to create a pocket device that accommodates within it the obsolete matter and also registers its flux in and out of the corridor.DROSS. the material produced out of this quasi-evolutionary logic could Matrix of by-products generated through the use of the obsolete item as a “mold. The combination of actual obsolete components with their occurring by-products—differentiated in texture. form and performance—was a decision that initially made little sense. The combination of flexible and rigid components successively into assembly lines of double-skin stripes yields a heterogeneous performance to the device. RE-GENESIS OF DIVERSE MATTER some of the discarded items. the process entailed a disclosure. elasticity. The installation was conceived as a second skin on the wall—a double layer created of circuitboards and elastomer circuitboard by-products—that can be opened and “stuffed” with more obsolete items. that is. However. given standard environmental ethics that reason the reduction of haphazard material compositions. Collage was put in effect via the repetition of different types of components joined in assembly lines. Molding was put in effect via the direct selection and use of the matrix’s objects as molds for the production of new elements with different material properties. the circuitboards.” 67 .

2005. rather than the task of cautiously segregating materials in constituents. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. 1972).” as in situ design decisions taken for specific needs and purposes. closedloop material re-use. and accommodating and recording the flux of obsolete items. Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation (New York: Doubleday.LYDIA KALLIPOLITI “Pocket Wall” made of obsolete circuitboards and their molded byproducts. be described as an enhanced mosaic of new and preexisting properties. located in the basement infinite corridor of M. where the re-use of obsolete matter was no longer semantically linked to its previous use. 14 The term “adhoc ecology” is based on Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver’s definition of “adhocism. See Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver.I. the strategies of composite graft and plastic matter unravel an unorthodox field of ad hoc ecology.. places and purposes. composite graft could be useful in dealing with a new genealogy of materially intricate waste objects. launched by the drive of material synthesis. 68 . so that they can be re-used as they are. Withholding the burden of precise future predictions for a “natural” or metabolic. In this sense.T.14 meaning a methodology of re-use for specific needs.

2 Both “colossal” architecture and “bigness” described building types such as skyscrapers. Rem Koolhaas et al..” Through a variety of building technologies and subtle articulations of architectural form.” Foster’s project is not alone.M. DEFINING BIGNESS AND GREENNESS The large-scale architecture that defines late-modern. Foster would certainly be able to realize such a structure. high-rise buildings. recent buildings by his firm and buildings by many other firms employ environmental technologies and siting techniques at huge scales. large-span buildings. The text of Norman Foster and Partners’ entry to the competition claimed that the striking twin-tower proposal “would be the biggest and greenest building ever built. and how we ever imagined these theoretical approaches as opposed.A.M. 1995. Rizzoli: New York. post-industrial. in 1993 (the concept of bigness extended his critique of twentieth-century urbanism. these projects force us to understand why and how “bigness” and “greenness” are conflated.O. 2 “Bigness” in S. “global” urbanism was first dubbed “colossal architecture” by Mario Gandelsonas in 1990 and then “bigness” by Rem Koolhaas in 1993. AND SUSTAINABILITY Many of the massive proposals for the World Trade Center site exhibited this past year at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center contained references to their “green-ness. Collectively. Mario Gandelsonas and John Pastier. RE-USE. mid-rise buildings. and how can a building be the most massive building ever built and the most environmentally sensitive? It would seem that massive development and environmental sensitivity are contradictory projects and therefore are not compatible. among numerous other large-scale constructions.THE SHARED GLOBAL IDEOLOGY OF THE BIG AND THE GREEN DAVID GISSEN (2003) PRESERVATION.” but of all the projects that made such claims. forces that demanded universal architectural 69 1 “Conditions for a Colossal Architecture” in Cesar Pelli: Buildings and Projects. the proposal by Norman Foster and Partners stood out. The unprecedented scale of Foster’s proposal demands a rethinking of the increased weaving of what might be called the theories of the “big” and the theories of the “green. but his statement raises several theoretical issues: why would an architect want to achieve both of these contradictory goals.1 Koolhaas arrived at his concept of bigness as a way to describe his firm’s large-scale architectural approach that was being exhibited at M. Both Gandelsonas and Koolhaas claimed that these structures emerged from the economic forces of globalization.XL. Monacelli Press: New York. Gandelsonas came up with his concept of colossal architecture by examining the work of Cesar Pelli through the writings of Jacques Derrida and Saskia Sassen. 1991.L. . first laid out in Delirious New York).

Zurich: verlag fur Architektur Artemis. . solutions for living. Van der Ryn.” Frampton continues to maintain that large-scale speculative developments are at odds with a more local. Hassan Fathy. . 1975.”4 Between the 1960s and the 1990s. “green” or “environmentally conscious” architecture theorists. Livable Environments 1972. most radical break: Bigness is no longer part of any urban tissue. bigness is described as architecture that uses technology to realize a limitless interior space. with tradition. attacked the same buildings and building practices that Gandelsonas. the colossal implies the enormous. used to outline their vision for a new global architecture. “Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture: Principles and Examples with References to Hot Arid Climates” Theories and Manifestoes of Contemporary Architecture. with architectural composition. and Rainer cite the product-like nature of skyscrapers. working.” Hassan Fathy argues that large buildings with their equally large air-conditioning packages are causing people to “forget” local responses to the environment. Academy Editions. but in this case. at most it coexists. Kenneth Frampton has repositioned the ideas in his famous “Critical Regionalism” essay in more recent and explicitly environmentalist works including his essay “Architecture and Ecosophy. In “Natural Energy and Vernacular Architecture.DAVID GISSEN 3 “Conditions for a Colossal Architecture. Port Townsend. In his book Livable Environments. with transparency. p. . with ethics—imply the final. Hal Foster. Its subtext is fuck context. the excessive. and more particularly Koolhaas. 145. 17. Roland Rainer derided the skyscraper’s and the highway’s consumption of land. and that these developments were responsible for the destruction of unique landscapes and cultural features. Pictures of German farmhouses and Japanese gardens were used as illustrations of a more environmentally sensitive way to build. . for our apprehension. It is too big. 1983. the lack of limits: ‘the infinite is present in it. Kenneth Frampton. and Kenneth Frampton. Pelli provides a way to indicate the concept of the infinitely tall tower . WA: Bay Press. 5 Hassan Fathy. disconnected from its surroundings: “Together. This same concept of cutting something infinitely long is present in the colossal length of the Pacific Design Center. small scale development. a skyscraper on its side . Roland Rainer.” p. Roland Rainer. and the use of artificial lighting and ventilation. In response. such as Maxwell Fry. “Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance” in The Anti-Aesthetic. climatically and topographically based architecture. Fathy calls for the use of vernacular low-tech approaches to mitigate the financial and environmental impact of large buildings. Fathy. the immense. Sym Van der Ryn. Green building theory can roughly be surmised as an ideology that professes the maintenance of local resources and cultural building traditions through a form of ecological and cultural mimesis. Using Cesar Pelli’s World Financial Center and Pacific Design Center as examples.’ ”3 Koolhaas describes bigness with similar language. 12. Charles Jencks and Karl Kropf (eds. all these breaks—with scale. too large for our grasp. 4 “Bigness. and the sites for the production and consumption of goods.5 Frampton. the bulldozing of land. Gandelsonas described colossal architecture as an architecture of endless growth and infinite verticality: “By cutting the towers’ shafts at different heights.” p. p. as symptoms of rampant international development that has gone out of control. calling for regionally based.). 502. these thinkers call for humanly scaled 70 . It exists.

p. William McDonough + Partners. 17. 145. particularly described in this way. context.” while withstanding “the relentless onslaught of global modernization. and Frampton).THE SHARED GLOBAL IDEOLOGY OF THE BIG AND THE GREEN buildings that incorporate the “intimate knowledge of specific places” and “locally-inflected tactile features. William McDonough. Among the many projects. p. On Kenneth Yeang’s Menara Mesiniaga. Frampton. (Image courtesy of Hamzah & Yeang Architects. and natural light.” including topography. (Image courtesy of William McDonough + Partners. William McDonough describes Gap’s San Bruno Headquarters as a key feature of his “green business revolution.” and Kenneth Yeang received the Aga Khan award for the way he fitted IBM’s regional headquarters into its Malaysian eco-system. Although the idea of a “large-scale global environmentalist architecture” would seem contradictory. Hamzah & Yeang. Numerous magazines. climate. and Kenneth Yeang claim that several of their recent projects simultaneously owed their form to the forces of international capitalist development and green ideology. architectural journals. The tower has become a landmark.) 71 .”6 THE SHARED GLOBAL AGENDA OF BIGNESS AND GREENNESS 6 Fathy. and architectural institutions have praised these projects for “tempering” the forces at work in international business that destroy context.) Below right: Menara Mesiniaga. Van der Ryn. and increased the value of the Below left: Gap San Bruno Headquarters. the jury of the Aga Khan prize reported: “designing with the climate in mind. Fathy. Richard Rogers. it brings an aesthetic dimension to [Menara Mesiniaga] that is not to be found in typical glass-enclosed air-conditioned high rise building. Architects such as Norman Foster. within the past five years a number of architects have made claims that their projects were both “big” (in the way outlined by Gandelsonas and Koolhaas) and green (by many of the standards presented by Rainer. This combination of local features “jointly have the capacity to transcend the mere appearance of the technical. the Gap San Bruno Headquarters (1996) by William McDonough and Menara Mesiniaga (1996) by Kenneth Yeang are significant “big and green” projects.

In fact. or whether it shares some fundamental feature with the capitalist flow. . 10 “Multiculturalism’s Silent Partner: It’s the New Globalized Consumer Economy.”9 Zizek here is talking about tourism. and their constant incorporation of natural light and air in almost all of their projects. 1996. Christian Science Monitor.”10 72 . p. land around it.” David Reiff. 2001. The Christian Science Monitor wrote: “His statements encapsulate his efforts to bring about a rapprochement between corporate America and the environmental movement. October 18.DAVID GISSEN 7 Aga Khan Prize. their sympathy to local resource availability. The jury found it to be a successful and promising approach to the design of many-storied structures in a tropical climate. non-European.” as is so often claimed. Yet the oppositional rhetoric that they have inherited from the early green movement. there is money being made on all the Kinte cloths and Kwanza paraphernalia.”8 The “success” of McDonough and Yeang is largely due to their ability to rectify what are presented as “opposing” forces of greenness and bigness within contemporary business. As Mark Jarzombek so carefully argued. Both the Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek and the American writer David Reiff offer a new theoretical connection between the global and the local. Globalization directly resuscitates local traditions.html> 8 “Making the Business Case for Going Green.” David Reiff makes a similar argument when he claims that globalization is not a form of “westernization. European male’ stands in the way of capturing whole new markets of non-white. Stupid. these projects actually reveal the international. “Western Civilization does not occupy a sacred place in the heart of capitalism. green technological systems became a billion dollar business in the 1990s. August 1993. global ideology that big business and environmentalism often share. and companies often justified big green buildings as lowering the costs of business. Everything is commodifiable . spice trades.” Michael Fainelli.’ because he can defend the dreams of the environmental movement with arguments that an MBA can understand.”7 William McDonough often is praised in architecture and business magazines for showing that good business practices can incorporate green perspectives. . non-male consumers . Yeang and McDonough should be praised for their commitment to reducing building energy consumption. and that they and others use to describe their method of mediating “big” architecture. issue 2.akdn. 62. Rather than seeing projects such as Menara Mesiniaga and the Gap San Bruno building as remarkable because they adjust or “translate” between global business practices and local and ecological issues. needs to be examined. One colleague in the environmental movement calls him ‘our great translator. These important observations force us to re-think whether “green” architecture is a movement about corporate resistance. 9 “From Western Marxism to Western Buddhism. an explanation which could help re-position the links between the “big” and the “green.” As Zizek noted: “the opposition between globalization and the survival of local traditions is false. <http://www. .org/agency/ akaa/sixthcycle/malaysia.” Slavoj Zizek in Cabinet Magazine. . and other instances where business thrives off what is “local. Jury Report. which is how it has been traditionally positioned. language and cultural classes. Harpers Magazine. the dominant ideal of a ‘white. it literally thrives on them.

interpret all local. and so on. indigenous. ideological systems that certainly would not produce a 2. located in Zimbabwe and designed by the Pearce Partnership. all in a skyscraper format. in the name of centralized or globalized forms of power. big projects now learn the particularities of the local in order to better position the needs of a business enterprise. One need not look too far back in history to see the way local and vernacular cultures are maintained as ways to maintain cultural cohesion. Interpreting local architecture based on the thrifty use of commodities that a building’s inhabitants never even had the opportunity to use to heat or cool their homes is a questionable enterprise. is based upon termite mounds found in Zimbabwe. The architects studied the termite mounds and local houses. and incorporated them into a massive office and shopping mall building made from locally available resources and covered with native plant species. igloos and grass houses of the steppes are “good” because they do not require heat.11 Using these arguments as a new interpretive framework. . Alan Calquhoun has demonstrated that the supposed “resistance” within a locally based. which also use local cooling methods.THE SHARED GLOBAL IDEOLOGY OF THE BIG AND THE GREEN In a related argument. and the forces of globalization are often needed to resuscitate local features. Like the American business man who imagines himself to learn “Japanese-ness” in order to conduct a highly competitive business in Japan. But what philosophical system could possibly sort through these types of divisions without resorting to a 73 11 Alan Calquhoun. Menara Mesiniaga and Yeang’s other realized Malaysian towers. 12 In a similar development. often corporations embrace the local. The designers of Eastgate are not interested in maintaining local ecology and are not operating within a business format that resists the impact of capitalist production. and put wildlife firmly within the matrix of corporate experience. which use a form of natural air-conditioning to keep the mound cool. Gap San Bruno’s habitat roof for local birds and plant life has brought increased attention to its local Californian eco-system. The actual economic or cultural conditions that shaped these buildings are ignored in lieu of a Western search for indigenous smarts. because they are only being used for resource efficiency and their cultural meaning has been lost. are nonetheless often the very same “products” of cultural elites. Eastgate. 51–55. many green theorists might argue that what is being recovered is not the “real” culture. The local cultures that Alan Calquhoun refers to are not the type green theorists want to revive. “Critique of Regionalism. books such as Sol Power. incorporate traditional methods of air ventilation found in traditional Malaysian houses and they incorporate local plant species. small-scale culture is often false. pp.” Casabella Magazine. Another big and green project.000. The wind-catching techniques that Kenneth Yeang claims are based on Malaysian traditions are not the “real” wind-catching techniques used by “real” Malaysian builders. such as ABN-AMRO. regionalist architecture through the lens of Western energy use. just the one that big business enterprises find useful.000 square foot office tower. the supposed distance between bigness and greenness might be false. Menara Mesiniaga and Gap San Bruno have brought attention to the unique architecture and climatology of Malaysia and California. 1996). the presence of Western corporations does not automatically result in the attitude “f k context”. 630–631. Malaysian long houses are “good” because they do not require airconditioning. According to a thinker such as Slavoj Zizek or David Reiff. What are often called vernacular “responses”. by Sophia and Stefan Behlig (New York: Prestel.12 In an effort to affirm the inherent resistance that green architecture theory is supposed to offer.

yet the linkages between what were once imagined as opposed theories provide the circumstances for an evolving site of investigation.R.R.V.” realized as the Dutch Pavilion at Expo 2000.V.D.V. The fact that environmentalism can so easily be incorporated or extend out of twenty-first-century forms of global business practice may cause some environmentalist or politically active architects to shrink away from the big and green project. regional natural forms actually “de-naturalize” a global building type toward its surroundings. demonstrate how efforts to be “good” environmentally result in a larger and more massive factory environment.) This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 91st Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The author wishes to thank Rachel Schreiber who provoked the question about Foster’s project. especially large ones.” a multi-story slaughterhouse. Recent buildings such as M.DAVID GISSEN problematic epistemology? These are difficult questions that big and green projects raise and that must be addressed for those green thinkers that continue to position themselves against the “big.V.V. The architects of this building do not emerge as “enobled” subjects who have tamed global forces by making an environmentally sensitive place to destroy thousands of animals. that is the intertwining of the big and green. M. (Image courtesy of M.V.V. but in a renewed reflection on the liberatory momentum contained within architecture’s paradoxes. It is virtually impossible to argue with any architect who is interested in mitigating the environmental impact of buildings.R. Hopefully we will be able to look to many more architects who examine the inter-dependence of the forces of globalization and environmentalism on some conceptual level. and forced a re-examination of many of the author’s arguments about this subject. There is still much need for an architecture that brings attention to the destruction and maintenance of international material conditions as this moves through the parameters of international business. M.R. In this exhibition pavilion. Dutch Pavilion. while making a very environmentally responsible building.D. Similar thinking is behind their “stacked garden. The ideological issues and conflicts of big and green projects should not result in an abandonment of the seeming hypocrisies advanced by them. 2003.V.D. begin to operate on an ideological plane that acknowledges the massive scale of nature production under capitalism. nonetheless.” A big and green project suggests alarming correlations and contradictions located within the contemporary theories of bigness and greenness. The fear is that one might be participating in some larger unstated corporate enterprise.’s “Pig City. exposing the global ideology of environmentalism.D. 74 .

STRATEGIES OF SURVEILLANCE: TACTICS OF TRANSGRESSION But despite the apocalyptic implications of a more fortified border with intensified surveillance infrastructure. Congress passes regulation to build 700 more miles of border wall. the fusion of antiterrorism and anti-immigration sets the stage for the current confrontations over immigration policy and the further hardening of social legislature in the American metropolis. freshly reconceptualized by the Pentagon’s New Map. As the U. 75 .LEVITTOWN RETROFITTED An urbanism beyond the property line TEDDY CRUZ (2007) COMMUNITY 1. the increasing migration of people across this global border gives shape to an unprecedented illegal flow from the non-integrating gap as the migrant communities from Latin America. On the other hand. recycling at the most outlandish levels the fragments and situations of these two cities. between “The Non-Integrating Gap” and the “The Functioning Core”). THE POLITICAL EQUATOR Along the newly reconstituted global border that this post-9/11 world has produced between first and third worlds (a division. formal and informal economies. we are witnessing how societies of overproduction and excess are barricading themselves in an unprecedented way against the sectors of scarcity they have produced out of political and economic indifference. The dramatic images emerging from this political equator converge and are intensified through the prism of the current politics of fear manifested at the border between the United States and Mexico. and Asia move northward in search of the “strong” economies of the functioning core. 2. legal and illegal occupations meet. where the city will increasingly become the battleground where strategies of control and tactics of transgression. Geographies of conflict such as the San Diego– Tijuana border become anticipatory scenarios of the twenty-first-century global metropolis. sharing resources and infrastructure. the redistribution of centers of manufacturing moves in the opposite direction. as the functioning core targets the non-integrating gap as the site to enact its politics of outsourcing and its search for the world’s cheapest labor markets.S. On one hand. dialogue. and constructing practices of encroachment into the increasingly privatized and controlled public realm. Africa. and debate. the growing tension between the various communities of San Diego and those of Tijuana have elicited a multitude of insurgent responses—new opportunities for constructing alternative modes of encounter.

as the expansion of a social legislation of fear is transforming the 11 million illegal laborers who live there into criminal suspects. “infrastructural waste” moves in the opposite direction to construct an insurgent. including garage doors and rubber tires that are recycled into new spatial narratives and informal infrastructure. a vast “ant farm”-like maze of subterranean routes crisscrossing the border from California to Arizona. this invisible flow was made visible. warehouses. These illegal flows are physically manifested. electricity. of nomadic disposable houses that literally move on wheels from San Diego into Tijuana. in one direction. Most recently. This cross-border urbanism is made. What are the implications of these forces of control on one hand and of non-conformity on the other in the reshaping of the American city? Our participation in the 2007 Rotterdam Architecture Biennale reflects on these trans-border urban dynamics. 3. all equipped with retaining walls. churches. Not only were the fantastic images of cross-border two-way tunnels. using this territory of conflict as backdrop to critically observe the clash between current top-down discriminating forms 76 . when the general public was finally made aware of the thirty or so tunnels that have been dug in the last eight years.TEDDY CRUZ Flow of waste moves north to south: migrant housing. but also the undeniable presence of an informal economy and density at work at the border. A series of “off the radar” two-way border crossings—North–South and South–North across the border wall—suggests that no matter how high and long the post-9/11 border wall becomes. for example. But. and also of a large amount of left over materials and systems. water extraction. while “human flow” mobilizes northbound in search of dollars. it will always be transcended by migrating populations and the relentless flows of goods and services back and forth across the formidable barrier that seeks to preclude them. exposed here. searching for the strong economy of Southern California. cross-border urbanism of emergency. parking lots. An archaeological section map of the territory today would reveal an underground urbanism worming its way into houses. by the informal land use patterns and economies produced by migrant workers flowing from Tijuana and into San Diego. FROM THE GLOBAL BORDER TO THE BORDER NEIGHBORHOOD This is how the perennial alliance between militarization and urbanization is reenacted at the San Diego–Tijuana border and later reproduced in many US neighborhoods. and ventilation systems. and streets.

and the emerging American neighborhoods nationwide made of immigrants. The counter-economic and social organizational practices produced by non-profit social service organizations (turned micro-developers of alternative housing prototypes and public infrastructure at the scale of the parcel) within these neighborhoods are creating alternative sites of negotiation and collaboration. community-based non-profit organizations such as Casa Familiar 77 . whose bottom-up spatial tactics of encroachment thrive on informality and alternative social organizational practices. transforming it into the urban laboratory of the twenty-first century. on the other. 4. Tijuana subdivision: mini tract homes retrofitted to accommodate growth. Human flow moves south to north: illegal zoning. They effectively search to transform top-down legislature and lending structures. in order to generate a new brand of bottom-up social and economic justice that can bridge the political equator. The forces of control at play across the most trafficked checkpoint in the world have provoked the small border neighborhoods that surround it to construct alternative urbanisms of transgression that infiltrate themselves beyond the property line in the form of non-conforming spatial and entrepreneurial practices. It is instead in the hands of progressive.S. What is interesting here is not the “image” of the informal but the instrumentality of its operational socioeconomic and political procedures.LEVITTOWN RETROFITTED of urban economic re-development and planning legislature (as expressed through dramatic forms of unchecked eminent domain policies supporting privatization and NIMBYism). The political and economic processes behind this social activism bring new meaning to the role of the informal in the contemporary city. and searches for new modes of social sustainability and affordability. Our project primarily engages the micro scale of the neighborhood. on one hand. CASA FAMILIAR: PRACTICES OF ENCROACHMENT The most experimental work in housing in the U. is not in the hands of private development or government. A migrant. small-scale activism alters the rigidity of discriminatory urban planning of the American metropolis.

these agencies will incrementally become informal City Halls. In a small parcel where existing zoning allows only three units of housing.O. In essence. through negotiated density bonuses and by sharing kitchens.) micro-policy proposes that community-based non-profit organizations such as Casa Familiar can become mediating agencies between the municipality and the neighborhood. Connected 78 . facilitating knowledge. the adaptive re-use of an existing 1927 church on the site as a community center.” it is an amount of “social exchanges per acre. managing and supporting the shifting of socio-cultural demographics within many of these inner city neighborhoods. can occur without advances in its housing policy and subsidy structures.H.S. Here. DESIGNING COLLABORATION: A. California. This “Affordable Housing Overlay Zone” (A. while becoming a political instrument to enable Casa Familiar to further transform existing rigid zoning regulation for the border city of San Ysidro. MICRO-POLICY Working with the premise that no advances in housing design in the U. offices for non-profit in the church’s new attic. in turn. and empower the community of San Ysidro to become a developer of alternative dwelling prototypes for its own housing stock. The informal negotiation of boundaries and spaces typical of this neighborhood becomes the basis for incremental design solutions that have a catalytic effect on the urban fabric. LIVING ROOMS AT THE BORDER “Living Rooms at the Border” is the small housing project that emerges from the micro-policy and serves as a catalyst to anticipate San Diego’s needed densities and mixed uses. we have designed a micro-policy with Casa Familiar that can act as an informal process of urban and economic development for the neighborhood. density is not just an amount of “units per acre. and micro-credits.Z.S. policy.H.Z. DESIGNING CONDITIONS. housing is dwelling in relationship to a social and cultural program managed by Casa Familiar. and a community garden that serves as social armature to support this community’s nonconforming micro-economies and improvisational public events.O. These types of agencies have been the primary social service organizations engaging and managing the shifting cultural demographics caused by immigration within many mid-city neighborhoods in the U. our collaboration with Casa Familiar has been grounded on the shaping of counter political and economic frameworks that can. In this context. this project proposes. twelve affordable housing units.TEDDY CRUZ working at the border neighborhood of San Ysidro.” In the last five years. yield tactical housing projects inclusive of these neighborhoods’ informal patterns of mixed-use and density. In San Ysidro housing will not be only “units” spread indifferently across the territory.

this armature is composed of a series of openair rooms that contain electricity. The ambiguity of these spaces takes a different meaning as they are inscribed with a social program and community organization managed by Casa Familiar. as a community-based non-profit organization (Casa Familiar) becomes a facilitator of political and economic frameworks for affordable mixed housing (in the border neighborhood of San Ysidro). one that conveys density not as bulk but as social choreography and neighborhood collaboration. serving as a site for a variety of neighborhood activities. Politics and the Polis. Furthermore. a conference at the University of Michigan in January 2007. In a place where current regulation allows only one use. etc. The tactical interweaving of dwelling units and social service infrastructure transforms the small parcel into a system that can anticipate. organize. Casa Familiar injects micro-economic tactics such as time banking through sweat equity to produce alternative modes of affordability (barter housing units. suggesting a model of social sustainability for the neighborhood. The pairing of ambiguity and specificity is the essence of this project.).LEVITTOWN RETROFITTED Counter tactics of development. to the garden and the church. This essay is drawn from a paper presented at Global Place: Practice. exchange of rent for social service. and promote social encounter. 79 . we propose five different uses that support one another.

” Cornel West proposed that in attempting to control the means and practices of representation. cultures and societies. Pierre Nora and Maurice Halbwachs. culture and society. p. the American South is a particularly interesting field of inquiry because of the historical relationship between black and white cultures. In “The New Cultural Politics of Difference. and memory and proposes to integrate them into a critical reading of the southern city in an effort to better understand the imprint of the phenomenal cultural forces left upon the physical form of cities. is how to think about representational practices in terms of history. their proximity to one another throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and ultimately because so many of the critical events of the Civil Rights Movement took place there. . the text examines the issues of duality. culture. A whole unrecorded history is spoken then. The political challenge necessitates a view toward the coalescing of black and white peoples based upon a commonalty of moral and political intent. Cornel. existential and political. The intellectual challenge . 1 “The New Cultural Politics of Difference. Brother. While these cultural issues are present throughout America. analyze and enact such practices today? An adequate answer to this question can be attempted only after one comes to terms with the insights and blindnesses of earlier attempts to grapple with the question in light of the evolving crisis in different histories. 1 It is in light of West’s existential challenge that I would like to examine issues of race. How does one understand. Using the work of Hannah Arendt. and memory in American urbanism CRAIG EVAN BARTON (1996) Ask your wife to take you around the gin mills and the barbershops and the juke joints and the churches. As architects 80 Aerial view of Selma. invisibility.COMMUNITY THE MNEMONIC CITY Duality. Yes and the beauty parlors on Saturdays when they’re frying hair. . Ralph Ellison. 1952 This essay explores the effect of race upon the development of the urban fabric of cities in the American South.” in West. invisibility. Keeping Faith Philosophy and Race in America (New York: Routledge Press. Alabama. 1993). Invisible Man. 5. The existential challenge requires that the cultural worker acquire the requisite cultural capital necessary to produce and survive. spatial representation and urbanism. Brother. the late twentieth-century cultural worker faced three critical challenges which he defined as intellectual. .

My interest lies not so much in using the lens of architectural design and history to acquire a synthetic understanding of the chronological development of architectural typology and in so doing to review the development of urban form in America. architecture proposes that the city is the synthesis of the memory of its political. Left unquestioned. The history of the United States is largely mute about the presence and contribution of marginal cultures. and on the significance of style in the evolution of urban fabric. the relationship between space. this synthetic. history and memory. the cultural capital which we need to acquire lies in the invisible history and memory of the city. Intellectually we bear the responsibility through our work to investigate. and yet the form and image of 81 . would leave us with the succinct impression that the worldview reflected in its interpretation of built form. Contemporary cultural criticism has attempted to re-focus the debate from object to subject. corrected by tardy acknowledgment of the contributions of many of these groups? I suspect not. form. but rather to go beyond the orthodox methods of architectural history and design to comprehend. forcing us to ask whom and what does history seek to interpret and represent. I find that the questions and issues which I keep returning to are those which seek to understand the role of race in our conception of the historical city (by which I mean the city of collective memories). the impact of their marginalized cultures has not been thoroughly examined. within the city. As a discipline. I speak from the margins. discern and ultimately to make legible the “invisible histories” to which Ellison refers. architecture.THE MNEMONIC CITY and urbanists we are among the cultural workers to whom West refers. The theoretical and pragmatic investigation of American urbanism has typically focused on issues such as technology and its impact upon typology and morphology. These have become the resonant concerns of my work. is one which contains little or no reference to any of us living and working at the margins: no women. But I feel the discussion which these issues prompt is critical to our conception of the city of the future. social and economic histories. In doing so I find that I am more compelled by that to which architecture does not yet speak directly: issues of race. ethnicity and recognition of cultural identity. collective urban history is understood to be legible and as such is subject to a variety of modes of formal analysis. Moreover. The discursive language of the city speaks to few of the components of cultural identity to which I feel a proprietary interest. and specifically black culture. and in a vision for the city of the future. blacks or any group understood to be “other. Because cities have traditionally been understood as artifacts of the dominant cultures which built them.” Is it simply a question of historical oversight. The nature of this investigation is speculative and as such is incomplete. to the development of American culture. and the architectural history of America. as a witness to an architectural culture and history which has yet to adequately represent the diversity of the culture which it shelters.

Historically the construction of American black culture has been cast in terms of duality and of opposition. Ferguson was argued before the United States Supreme Court in April 1896 and decided in favor of the plaintiff later that year. The invisibility of black cultural narrative is largely due to the informal traditions and formal statutory practices of racism. which with its gaps and omissions has tended to render black culture historically “invisible. marginalize it. when in fact black culture is rich and diverse. constructing a narrative. the physical and spatial legacy of Plessy v. Fashion. 3 Plessy v. black culture serves as a sort of avant-garde testing ground for popular culture in general. The oppositional nature and the terms of the definition of this cultural construction have resulted in a singular and monolithic representation of black culture. art and language draw heavily and directly from contemporary black culture. To be black is to be not white. West’s tenets of “production and survival” are inextricably tied to a responsibility to augment the narratives of dominant history through the “excavation” and construction of those objects and devices capable of evoking memory. American urbanism. black culture was effectively isolated and rendered invisible in the public realm of the dominant culture. In this context memory becomes a tool with which to construct a critical reading of the city by making visible that which is invisible. Constitution (which provided for equal protection under the law for all citizens). it is the history of Western Man writ small. Ferguson3 (in which the social and political doctrine of “separate but equal” was articulated) and its interpretation of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment is an urbanism of separation. yet the myth of a singular black experience prevails. By separating one culture from the other and by establishing a hierarchy of space and form. Richard Wright noted that. The irony of course is that in America. where the forms and spaces of black culture were separate from and subordinate to those of white culture. Within the form and structure of American cities.S. p. Black culture has been defined not so much by what it is but by what is not. The problem of course is that history is subjective. Richard. The concept of “separate but equal” identities creates a hierarchy of value which elevates the products of the dominant culture and relegates to a 82 .” separate and subordinate to dominant culture. and as such to be understood as being neither politically empowered nor culturally affluent. particularly in the American South. and when accepted as fact serves only to demodulate the complexity of black culture. The ruling by the U. In this case the court affirmed a lower court ruling supporting the constitutionality of a statute enacted by the State of Louisiana which provided for separate railway cars for white and black travelers. Black culture is nothing if not diverse. Supreme Court provided for a revised reading of the obligations of the Thirteenth Amendment (which made illegal the practice of slavery) and modified the scope of the language of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. “The history of the Negro in America is the history of America written in vivid and bloody terms.”2 For the black cultural worker. music. remove it from the discourse about the construction of culture and ultimately render it invisible. 1957). In the case of the Fourteenth Amendment the interpretive revisions of the scope of the amendment’s language allowed the doctrine of “separate but equal” to be articulated.CRAIG EVAN BARTON 2 Wright. is clearly linked to the presence of a black population and culture. White Man Listen! (New York: Doubleday. particularly cities in the American South.S.” Writing in 1957. To be black is to be the “other. physical and spatial structures. 109. which with its separation of black and white cultures formed a series of racially distinct social. duality and invisibility.

7 Sauer. and Gary L.THE MNEMONIC CITY subordinate status the products. As a result. 6 Ibid. and that these fragments.” in Lark. pp. courtesy Magnum Photos. In the theory of landscape architecture. For Arendt “the space of public appearance”4 is that “space” “which comes into being whenever men are together in the manner of speech and action. moreover. . forms and spaces controlled or conditioned by marginal culture. This space does not always exist.6 Yet to be visible in this space one must be able to “appear through speech and action” in the public realm. and although all men are capable of deed and word. . Within an understanding of the phenomenal forces of culture operative in the city. “Landscape.. . (Photo by Elliot Erwitt. Individually and collectively 83 Segregated drinking fountain. like the laborer or craftsman prior to the modern age. 199.) 4 Arendt. the foreigner. Perhaps the most important legacy of the American Civil Rights Movement was its challenge to enter and to be visible in the space of public appearance. eds. 139–144. that the memory of culture is inscribed onto these fragments. Within the context of architecture and urbanism invisibility is a cultural construction. political and cultural forces. the jobholder or businessman in our world do not live in it. 198–199. Dictionary of Concepts in Human Geography (Westport. The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. then.”5 Further it is the space where I appear to others as others appear to me . achieved by consciously removing from the public gaze that which is neither intended nor desired to be seen. most of them—like the slave. nominally equating it with the freedom to move unseen. the result can be defined as a “cultural fragment. There are many ways in which invisibility can be defined. 1958). Yet a critical reading of American urbanism is incomplete if it fails to include the forms and spaces influenced by black culture. form the fabric of the city. Peters.. the result of an agent or (culture) acting upon a medium or (a natural area) is defined as a “cultural landscape. Robert P. Considered in this context Hannah Arendt’s concept of “spaces of appearance” provides a critical tool with which to understand the construction of invisibility. 5 Ibid. Because the urban artifacts of black culture were so devalued within the fabric of the city they have become both phenomenally and literally invisible. “invisibility” is as much a social and political phenomenon as it is a literal and physical one. The duality of American urban structure particularly in the South made “visibility” for black culture virtually impossible. To be deprived of it means to be deprived of reality which humanly and politically speaking is the same as appearance. pp. Literally we understand that which is invisible is that which is unseen. conditioned by social.” 7 If by analogy a fragment of the city is the medium and culture the agent that acts upon it. CT: Greenwood Press. and the barbarian in antiquity. p. Contemporary culture ascribes a generally positive value to invisibility. 1983). the urban artifacts produced and/or conditioned by black culture have largely been excluded from the theoretical discourse about the conception and re-invention of American urbanism and so the impact of black culture upon it has been minor.” It is axiomatic. No man. Hannah. can live in it all the time.

” As mnemonic devices these fragments are the sites where memory crystallizes and secretes itself at a particular historical moment. 50b. Further they offer the opportunity to investigate alternative readings of the fabric of the American city by examining the issues of site. eds. Within this proposition lies the idea that “place” is codified by the relationship of form and space to a series of social. The Collective Memory (New York: Harper & Row. .CRAIG EVAN BARTON these cultural fragments are what Pierre Nora terms “lieux de memoire” or “sites of memory. some of these cultural fragments are more legible (opaque) and others are invisible (transparent). Genevieve and O’Mealley. the “collective memory” or mnemonic narrative of the city is made visible in these fragments. The most opaque fragments are historically connected to the dominant culture.. and through this altered context to develop architecture derived from the reading and analysis of these fragments and thus expressive of that culture. in a city 84 8 Fabre.” construction. and are literally the most solid and visible. 10 Ibid. The relative transparency and opacity of the cultural fragments reflects the explicit hierarchy of social values and status. 284. or forms of intervention. The cities of the American South provide an opportunity to examine the construction of invisibility. the power of the fragment as a mnemonic device lies in its ability to supplement the gaps of dominant history. political and cultural forces which historically have shaped the form of any given city. the legibility of various “sites of memory” and the articulation of narratives of collective memory.8 Linked through “excavation. 1994). p. invisible and ephemeral. History and Memory in African American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press. With greater legibility these fragments hold the potential to alter the context in which urban history is read. form and memory as they relate to the spatiality of culture and to the construction of “place” within the urban landscape.”10 and as such collective memory can function as a historical narrative. a turning where consciousness of a break with the past is bound up with a sense that memory has been torn—but torn in such a way as to pose the problem of the embodiment of memory in certain sites where a sense of historical continuity persists. As an example. For these marginalized cultures. p. Here it is important to understand the concept of memory which Maurice Halbwachs defines as the “group or collective memory. The narratives evoked by these sites of memory provide a means to further explore the idea of the American city as a cultural artifact. Maurice. When they are made “visible” in the urban fabric these forces provide a narrative structure with which to comprehend the memories of a city. Within any given urban fabric.”9 For Halbwachs collective memory allows an individual to “act merely as a member of group helping to evoke and maintain impersonal remembrances of the group. 9 Halbwachs. to examine the dominant and marginalized cultures which form the city. Robert. while the fragments of marginalized cultures tend to be transparent. 1980).

Sylvan Street. Alabama. where entrance is denied to the more formal public realm. material and implied permanence useful for the conception of architectural intervention.” The dual structure of the city in fact provided for the construction of separate sites of memory. the major political and social space in the black city is found in the street.THE MNEMONIC CITY like Selma. which connects two of the city’s major black churches (First Baptist and Brown’s AME Chapel). (Author’s photo. while allowing other spaces to derive meaning directly from the form of the city. the public square and the main street (Broad Street) and the entry into the city (the Edmund Pettus Bridge). the shotgun house. and in fact are superimposed upon an urban form that never intended to support them. For example. and the narratives derived from them are once again marginalized. With increased “visibility” these fragments can provide the narratives that alter the 85 Dallas County Courthouse. Alabama. these dual cultural narratives are distinct and in their distinction are not equally legible. bearing a muted witness to an era recalled by only a few. where there are in fact two separate “cities. so that most of the narratives and fragments of black Selma recede and become “invisible. this is precisely its role. This is the “city” which is legible in maps. not supported by a morphological structure. These cities are constructed or formed by a series of fragments codified by responses to the specific narratives of black and white culture. These elements form a critical part of our cultural history which needs to be preserved. The dual structure of the urban fabric creates spaces where this is a discontinuity between site. (Author’s photo. Within them lie the formal devices of hierarchy of scale. The political. It can be argued that the challenge of the late twentieth century American architect/urbanist is to be able to discern the “sites” of memory and from them “build” the mnemonic city by creating those interventions that increase the opacity of specific cultural fragments. and spaces of appearance. social and culture spaces formed by the morphological structure of the city are coincident with the conveyed meanings of the courthouse (the Dallas County Courthouse).) Edmund Pettus Bridge. yet within the dual nature of southern urbanism. The segregated school house. However. their memories. Selma. one finds an urbanism of duality. form and meaning. Left obscured. Selma. The equivalent spaces of the black city contain narrative structures which are more disparate. the separate cemetery and the inaccessible public building are but a few of the examples of the types of mnemonic fragments still extant in the fabric of American cities.) . This street does not read as a space of public assembly. images and texts. Alabama. This phenomenon forces certain spaces to derive meaning from a use superimposed onto them. the separate “colored” entrance to a movie theater. the unpaved street.” one black and one white with areas of overlap or superimposition. In contemporary society many of these devices with which “invisibility” was built lie obscured and unseen. these fragments. The sites of memory for Selma’s white culture are the spaces of the public realm.

these fragments constitute the basis for the mnemonic city. This task is significant because within the urban fabric of cities in the American South lie sites seminal to understanding the evolution of the American Civil Rights Movement and the social. a city of memory.CRAIG EVAN BARTON Brown’s Chapel and First Baptist Churches. analyzing and interpreting the fragments and narratives of black and white culture. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 84th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. 1996. Sylvan St. 86 . As such these cities provide a unique opportunity to examine the strategies and methodologies for discerning. (Author’s photo.” Their “invisibility” contributes to an incomplete reading of the history and culture of these cities.) perception of the history of the city. Unfortunately. Selma. Legible. for a variety of reasons. Alabama. many of these sites are now so difficult to discern that we may say that they are “invisible. political and cultural transformations which emerged from it.

. 1994).A. Los Angeles and the American Southwest have been understood as Atzlán.MAPPING EAST LOS ANGELES Aesthetics and cultural politics in an other L. individualist/collectivist)”—as a life located in both the North and South and neither simultaneously.2 This paper explores three areas of Chicano cultural production rooted in East Los Angeles in order to illustrate their importance to understandings of contemporary Latino L. scholars in both Europe and Latin America began to look to the Chicano experience in the United States as a means of understanding global processes of differentiation and ethnic identification. and Ideology (Durham: Duke University Press.A. L.A.E. The same is true of much of what is 87 3 Rubén Martínez. the spatial narratives of Asco and Frank Romero. this paper will illustrate how the politics of identity can inform the contemporary city. The Other Side: Notes from the New L. . By revisiting these past manifestations of an other Los Angeles. in part. and ideologies (Anglo/Latino.3 For Martínez.B. Mexico City. 1994) 1. and Beyond (New York: Vintage Departures. 2 See: Homi K. to its position within processes of cultural production. is shaped by social and spatial divisions that are rooted in global political geographies and realized in local cultural landscapes. Criticism in the Borderlands: Studies in Chicano Literature. re-inscribe. These conscious and creative explorations have contributed to the production of distinctly Chicano and Latino cultural landscapes. Writer and poet Rubén Martínez has described his life in Los Angeles as a “blend of cultures.1 This interest in Chicano identity is due.A. Los Angeles—particularly East Los Angeles—has become an integral part of the social identity of many Chicanos and Latinos. As the largest Mexican-American city in the U. In this sense.A. and re-claim the (post)colonial center—the modern metropolis. cultural practices tied to the politics of Chicano identity have made visible the conditions of internal colonization and of postcolonial resistance through a variety of media including art. Bhabha. Spanish/ English. languages. Here. the politics of Chicano identity have helped to translate..D. JOSÉ GÁMEZ (2000) COMMUNITY INTRODUCTION During the 1980s and early 1990s. and urbanism.: street muralism. The Location of Culture (London: Routledge. literature. 1993).. and the architectural investigations of James Rojas and the team of Margaret Crawford and A.O. CHICANO SOCIO-SPATIAL IDENTITY 1 See: Hector Calderón and José David Saldívar.S.. place and identity intersect creating both a real and an imagined geography that has served as the place of and inspiration for a range of critical practices. the Chicano cultural homeland. eds. L. Culture. Los Angeles was once a Mexican territory and became an American city via military occupation and cultural domination.

“The Chicano Movement: The Movement of Chicano Art. now considered the southwestern region of the U. The location of Chicano culture within a borderland between the social worlds of the U. by definition.6 In these documents. “A New Artistic Continent. the Chicano movement aimed to address the marginalized condition of Mexican-American groups in the United States.S. As an outgrowth of the 1960s era of social struggles. While few printed documents spell out a specific Chicano art manifesto. it is the conscious expression of Chicano identity as a representational practice that lies at the center of this investigation.” Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation.” Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader. California became a colonized space—a space overtaken by American westward expansion. artists were called upon to help disseminate information and to help define the cultural identity of the Chicano communities.” High Performance 9. Chicano art often draws its strength from everyday barrio life in which “art objects are embedded in a network of cultural sites .S. the outlines of an aesthetic can be found in a variety of sources including artists’ statements. This link between cultural identity and manifestations of that culture in material form provides a key to understanding Chicano socio-spatial practices as they apply to architecture and the city. Chicano art provides evidence of clearly motivated cultural practices: Chicano art. 6 See: Shifra M. Lavine (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution. that express the community’s sense of itself. it is not the production of the urban barrio per se that this paper takes as its focus. As an occupied territory and. . and Mexico is its greatest asset—one that has drawn the attention of scholars and cultural theorists worldwide.5 Although it shared common goals with a wide range of struggles. In the words of Guillermo Gomez-Peña. In this sense. the “strength and originality of Chicano-Latino con88 . oral histories. the aesthetic display projecting a sort of visual biculturalism. 1991) 83–95. rather. 5 See: Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. or El Movimiento.”7 This bicultural expressiveness illustrates the cultural hybridity necessary to navigate the contemporary postcolonial metropolis. see also Anne McClintock. However. edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (New York: Columbia University Press.3 (1986): 27. and the Mexican American People (Austin: University of Texas Press. Assimilation. as well as international student and Third World liberation movements. an internationally respected artist and cultural critic. Chicano art actively embraces the politics of identity in order to engage a wide range of urban audiences. edited by Richard Griswold del Castillo. and Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano (Los Angeles: Wight Art Gallery/ University of California Press. El plan espiritual de Atzlán (“The Spiritual Plan of Atzlán”). To be clear. “The Political and Social Contexts of Chicano Art. and the influential publication. later. was ideologically aligned with the civil rights movements in the U. the Chicano movement. 1991) 128–129. Los Angeles became and continues to be a cultural and physical borderland in the sense described by Martínez. that emerged from the Chicano Youth Conference held in Denver in 1969. 1975). seeks to bring to light colonial legacies and forces of marginalization by drawing upon and re-defining the cultural landscape of the city. Goldman and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. The local Mexican populations therefore became internally colonized peoples. Colonialism. one finds a political vision clearly tied to grass-roots artistic production.JOSÉ GÁMEZ 4 See: Edward Murguia. “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term Postcolonialism.” Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display.4 In this sense. 1965– 1985. this need to negotiate cultural worlds provides a tie to the Chicano movement in both art and politics. edited by Ivan Karp and Steven D. . 7 Guillermo Gomez-Peña. as an annexed state.S. 1994) 291–304. Teresa McKenna. In many ways.

12 Coco Fusco. English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (New York: New Press. Barnett. in this sense. 1994). has become the primary arena for innovative self-definition among politically disenfranchised peoples. While not solely tied to the Chicano movement. and/or biconceptual. In the work of artists such as Judith Baca. an artist and cultural theorist. Community Murals: The People’s Art (London: Associated University Presses/Cornwall. murals provided cultural commentaries tied to contemporary struggles. This was often translated into the appropriation of available surfaces for the dissemination of information and images.”10 MURALISM AND THE (IN)VISIBLE CITY The urban mural is one example of such insurgent cultural translation. as components of a political visual voice. Asian American and Latino urban histories in Los Angeles has been Dolores Hayden’s Power of Place Project. has pointed out. 27. 9 See: Homi Bhabha. located in a back alley rather than 89 Figure 1.9 The border. Symbolic action expressed via artistic creation . But for others.. 1995). often subsumed under a mythologized Spanish heritage. The Location of Culture (London: Routledge. urban murals serve as symbolic reminders to greater Los Angeles of an other L. By mixing longstanding symbolic iconography rooted in cultural tradition with images tied to local settings.T. Herrón’s mural. 13 A similar project to memorialize African American. 8 Ibid. 7..I. becomes a site for intervening into the present that “demands an encounter with ‘newness’ that is not a part of the continuum of the past and present. as representations of political identity. illustrates that the Chicano community is not easily defined (see Figure 1). the urban mural developed as a medium of expression that helped to reclaim the public realm of the city and contributed to a larger struggle to overcome racism and poverty. have also helped to shape debates within the Chicano community. This syncretic fusing of different forms of belief and practice has enabled disempowered groups to maintain their traditions while endorsing various cultural recycling methods that infuse old icons with new meanings.13 Her work has attempted to create a unified identity that confronts dominant cultural (mis)representations and re-inscribes an often overlooked Mexican past into the contemporary urban realm. 11 See: Alan W. . As Coco Fusco. 10 Ibid. Willie Herrón’s mural. 1995) 33–36. the Chicano movement called for a monumental public art easily accessed in everyday life.MAPPING EAST LOS ANGELES temporary art in the US lies partially in the fact that it is often bicultural. Urban murals. Willie Herrón’s The Cracked Wall (photo by Ramón Ramírez).11 Influenced by the Mexican muralists of the 1930s. Press. The Cracked Wall. See: Dolores Hayden. attempts to define unified notions of identity are themselves limiting. MA: M.12 Murals. . . became one of the most enduring modes of insurgent cultural translation available not only to Chicano communities in Los Angeles but also to marginalized communities in general. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge.”8 This type of cultural flexibility allows Chicano and Latino artists to operate within what both Gomez-Peña and cultural theorist Homi Bhabha have described as a third-space of cultural expression that confronts the postcolonial present. bilingual. It creates a sense of the new as an insurgent act of cultural translation. 1984).A.

A. and Patisse Valdez. drug abuse.A. Asco put the politics of identity of East Los Angeles in general. Gluglio “Gronk” Nicandro. edited by Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (New York: Columbia University Press.”15 Chicano urban art. Willie Herrón. 15 Arjun Appadurai. . and guerrilla tactics. Through the use of site-specific performances.A. In this sense. served to mobilize landscapes of images that 90 . In so doing.A. rather. in this sense. and guerrilla theater. Jr. and Whittier Boulevard specifically. Asco began their cultural assault on institutions shaping the barrio. and photography—thereby providing numerous opportunities to appropriate and re-articulate the image of the city. . Asco was the first and most influential Chicano conceptual/performance art group to come out of East Los Angeles. performance.: ASCO AND THE POLITICS OF PLACE 14 Asco consisted of Harry Gamboa. through a series of performances beginning with Stations of the Cross on December 24. 1994) 331.14 Active from 1971 to 1985. Stations of the Cross appropriated and re-deployed Catholic iconography in order to challenge local institutional power structures while simultaneously locating the politics of identity within the space of the city. Utilizing improvisation. 1971. While created prior to the present state of media technologies. each new performance introduced investigations into various media—film. “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. Additionally. WALKING IN L. film. and provincialism. Staged unannounced along a one-mile stretch of Whittier Boulevard in East L. and counter-ideologies of movements explicitly oriented to capturing state power or a piece of it. The choice of Whittier Boulevard itself was not haphazardly made. Asco returned to Whittier Boulevard several times over the following years and each new performance continued to explore the connections between the politics of identity. Additionally.. he sought to draw the community together around a set of issues critical to the development of Latino Los Angeles.JOSÉ GÁMEZ along a public avenue. Herrón did not seek a homogeneous unity. Whittier connects the east side to downtown Los Angeles and has often been called the symbolic heart of East L. was intended not as a gesture towards the city at large but rather as a commentary internal to the Chicano community and as a reminder of local problems such as gang activity. muralists like Baca and Herrón initiated a dialog that has contributed to both the physical and social shape of east L. space. Asco’s place-based interventions are early examples of what cultural theorist Arjun Appadurai has labeled the ideoscapes of contemporary cultural flows— the “concatenations of images . into play within a broad discursive landscape. muralism. and place (see Figure 2). an active Chicano journalist with the Los Angeles Times..” Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader.. Whittier was the site of the Chicano Moratorium—a Vietnam protest rally that ended in police violence and the death of Rubén Salazar. Asco transformed the city into their canvas. The internal critique begun by Herrón in The Cracked Wall carried over into his work in the collaborative art group Asco during the early 1970s..

became a symbolic and physical center in the production of Chicano identity and served as evidence that public space is tied to socio-spatial action. particularly graffiti. After the group’s demise in 1983. Right: Frank Romero’s The Death of Rubén Salazar (image copyright held by Frank Romero and reprinted courtesy of the artist).A. In doing so. .. Romero maintained a dialog with East L. Roberto de la Rocha. Romero intended to further the agenda of the Chicano movement by introducing the politics of identity into established artistic circles. East L. contributed to the on-going development of Chicano identity. and connected the space of 91 16 Los Four were contemporaries of Asco and the group was active from 1973 to 1983. The members of Los Four were: Carlos Almaraz.A. Los Four co-founder Frank Romero continued to paint scenes of East Los Angeles in order to bring the message of Chicano struggle to outside audiences. For Romero. took on the politics of identity in Los Angeles. or collaborative artistic groups. among them Los Four. two of his paintings. the importance of place remained. Los Four grew out of this tradition by incorporating street imagery into their work. The influence of Asco’s urban theater spread as other groups. Whittier became a paradigmatic site of cultural resistance.A. as a means of bringing the politics of everyday life into the realm of artistic production. Left: Asco performing First Supper (After a Major Riot) in 1974 (image copyright held by Harry Gamboa and reprinted courtesy of the artist).16 Grupos. are in many ways a legacy of the Chicano movement that persists to this day. grupos were often formed around local arts centers and aimed to promote grassroots artistic practices including social and spatial action. of established artistic practices. As with the previous efforts of Los Four. (see Figure 3). Gilbert “Magu” Luján. represent clashes between the dominant society of Los Angeles and the Chicano community in East L. Figure 3. The Closing of Whittier Boulevard and The Death of Rubén Salazar. POST-ASCO TACTICS: COLLECTIVE URBANISM Figure 2. This agenda remained a central part of Romero’s work and provided a lens onto the politics of identity in Los Angeles for both Chicano and mainstream art audiences. and mainstream perceptions of the East Los Angeles. and Frank Romero. However. by addressing sitespecific events.MAPPING EAST LOS ANGELES challenged notions of a unified Chicano identity.

. Los Four. Rojas provided not only a reading of a Chicano cultural landscape but also a new academic terrain largely overlooked by schools of architecture and urbanism. fences. a 92 . and urban planning circles (particularly in academia) where both faculty and students have drawn upon his work as the basis for further research. successive projects within a particular family of resemblance—entities within an on-going set of cultural negotiations. urban design.17 Here..18 EVERYDAY PRACTICES AND THE OBJECT OF STUDY 19 Mike Davis. 18 See: George Lipsitz. M. Rojas’ master’s thesis has been widely influential within architectural.. Rojas illustrated the means by which the city is tailored to meet the cultural preferences of Mexican and Mexican American communities in East Los Angeles. (Berkeley: University of California Press. East Los Angeles is an enacted landscape where the “identity of place . “Chinatown Revisited?” in Sex. Rojas.”20 Through his work as a graduate student in the Department of Architecture at M. by 1994. the gallery to the streets of the barrio. architectural. In this sense. “The Enacted Environment: The Creation of ‘Place’ by Mexicans and Mexican Americans in East Los Angeles. it is a set of collective inheritances to be continually re-articulated.” Master’s Thesis. Rojas. In this sense. vendor carts—that are incorporated into the existing urban fabric and help to create distinctive cultural landscapes. Death. the socio-spatial “praxis” and “material force” of Chicano and Latino communities illustrate processes of urban transformation and provide ways to re-think contemporary urbanism. 1990). . This process of place-making through enactment involves various forms of architectural and urban props—murals. in many ways. and academic practices.I. This was not simply a process of historical revision: this was a spatialized project that took the urban realm as a part of its tactical base. Although unpublished. By delving into social and political issues.T. Romero did not participate in either of the events he depicted in The Death of Rubén Salazar or in The Closing of Whittier Boulevard.A. and Romero are not only related but are. Rodolfo F.T. Department of Architecture. 14. Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 20 James T. this line of work had entered the mainstream of artistic.19 For urban planner James T. subject. The importance of Rojas’ work can be gauged by more recent research into Chicano Los Angeles. Romero drew upon the collective memory of East Los Angeles for his inspiration. the city is not a rigid plan. Chicano artists began the process of re-writing the history of Los Angeles in order to include pieces of a story previously left out. is created through the culturally related behavior patterns of the residents.JOSÉ GÁMEZ 17 The Closing of Whittier Boulevard was painted in 1984 and The Death of Rubén Salazar was painted between 1985 and 1986. 1994) 35. rather. the works of Asco. Interestingly. the often de-politicized context of artistic display was disrupted through the introduction of the politics of identity. In this light.I. each event occurred in the early years of the Chicano movement while Romero’s paintings were executed some fifteen years later. and God in L. Acuña. The city became the site. 1991. In doing so. and text for critical intervention.

A.O. served to remind M.O.E. has both continued the line of inquiry begun by Rojas as well as the tradition of the grupo—a central component of the Chicano art movement. Urban Revisions: Current Projects for the Public Realm.D.21 Similarly..O.. L.A. L.O. Anything But Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles. and Crawford illustrated cultural practices of appropriation while challenging accepted architectural representational standards. exhibition catalog (Cambridge.A.MAPPING EAST LOS ANGELES Chicano Studies Scholar whose work has chronicled the history of East Los Angeles.”24 Conceding the oversight.E.D. Additionally.D.B. to intervene in the main exhibit. A. and Latino neighborhoods.O. In response.’s visitors of an other urban reality.’s work in two major architectural and urban design exhibitions: Urban Revisions: Current Projects for the Public Realm. Carp. Anything But Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles (London: Verso. 22 A.A. and political concerns.O.E. L. Press.B. A.A. A. and designers in Los Angeles whose members have included Ulises Diaz.D. has also taken the cultural landscapes of L. (Architects and Designers Opening the Border Edge of Los Angeles).B. included a section on Chicano urbanism in his book. cultural.23 Urban Revisions intended to focus attention on a number of selected urban design and planning projects from around the country addressing a range of social. L.D.E.E.E. pag.B. the collaborative art and architecture group. artists. L.A. A. held at the Museum of Contemporary Art (M. invited A.. and an urban map detailing the overlaps of toxic waste sites.A.D. Richard M.C.A. East L.D.A.T. ed. 24 Carp n. Acuña.’s call. Ignacio Fernandez.A. House Rules grappled with the problem of re-thinking the American ideal of the single-family detached home through design interventions and theoretical speculation. Here. L. L.C. Leda Ramos. the Crawford/A. Elipio Rocha.E. L. Ohio. L.O.D.B. was paired with urban theorist Margaret Crawford.A.A.B.A. ed. M.) in Los Angeles and House Rules. 1996) 11–12.O. sites of under-employment. Saber es poder/Interventions (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. .O.B. was established in 1992 as a collaborative and activist group of architects.A. Using a hyper-realistic architectural model depicting a typical Californian suburban bungalow transformed to meet the cultural needs of Mexican Americans in East L.A. L. ecological. and Rosa Velasco.E. A.’s ubiquitous vendor carts were parked between project displays. Further illustrating the growing influences of non-traditional architectural investigations within mainstream circles was the inclusion of A.O. Gustavo Leclerc.O. the project by A.E.E. 1994). project added critical theoretical depth to the 93 21 See: Rodolfo F. that is based largely upon the work of Rojas. Alessandra Moctezuma. submitted a proposal that highlighted an absence from the exhibition: “vernacular design on behalf of cultural survival.D. and later published in the architectural journal Assemblage. which was held at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus. In response to M. created pieces that worked themselves into the gaps of the larger exhibit in order to metaphorically illustrate the appropriation of urban landscapes common in many Latino communities in Los Angeles: gallery spaces were tagged with cultural markers. economic.B.A.A. see also: Elizabeth Smith.I.O. 1994).’s Latino neighborhoods as the objects of both academic and professional pursuits. MA: M.O. 23 See: Assemblage 24 (1994).C.O.C.B.D.22 Through continued investigations into the cultural trans-formation of urban spaces and through design practices that actively engage Chicano and Latino communities in Los Angeles.B. further illustrating the infiltration of Chicano politics into the main-stream.

O. Romero. and Crawford/A.A. In this sense. the re-enactment of place through both symbolic and physical means is a vital part of the continued struggle towards visibility and to stave off cultural disappearance.B. Rojas. the project of speaking the unspoken is simply not enough. The power of making visible the previously invisible exposes not only formerly silenced voices but also the mechanisms by which silence is maintained. As Arjun Appadurai states. The charge must be one of “developing a vigilance for systematic appropriations of the unacknowledged social production of a differential” within the practices of the center. These views frame the city as something more than the site of nostalgia or cultural consumption.D.. the “image. L. and artistic 94 . However.D. L. as with any marginalized position working from within the center itself.O.B. Outside in the Teaching Machine (New York: Routledge. creative and imaginative practices are now important aspects of cultural expression.A.O.JOSÉ GÁMEZ 25 Margaret Crawford and A.27 As a practice. In this on-going battle.A. By looking to various forms of cultural production. both formal and informal.A. As Dolores Hayden has stated. and Crawford provide ways to examine the public realm that avoid reductions to zero-degree cultural categories implicit in many contemporary urban and architectural practices. the politics of identity have made in-roads primarily via cultural critique.E. Both the M.25 CRITICAL PRACTICE AND SPACE 26 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. they provide momentary glimpses of another reality. Los Four.. Therefore. rather. the city provides an important zone of interaction—a space of cultural hybridity within which to explore the politics of identity. “Mi casa es su casa.B. 27 See: Renato Rosaldo. A. the imaginary—these are all terms which direct us to something critical and new in global cultural processes: the imagination as a social practice. architectural props.E. Largely overlooked in both theory and design. The Power of Place.A. 28 Dolores Hayden. given that the ability to consume and maintain space as transparent and/or ordered is tied to operations of power. 29 Appadurai 326. 1989). Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis (Boston: Beacon. serves to maintain in motion an understanding of the politics of identity that seeks to reclaim histories while preserving the power that critique holds.C. the works of Chicano artists such as Asco.” Assemblage 24 (1994): 12. work of Rojas by illustrating how the “heroic bricolage” described in the work of Michel de Certeau can be found in East L. and Wexner Center exhibits indicate the extent to which the margins have entered into the center of theoretical debates.”28 In this sense. and Romero as well as more recent works by Rojas.E. L. the imagined. Here. one finds that murals. “[o]ne of the consistent ways to limit the economic and political rights of groups has been to constrain social reproduction by limiting access to space.”29 This is not to say that the works described above present true images of urban life. the practice of revisiting past forms of cultural production remains a necessary project. the revisiting of past works such as those of Asco.26 This calls for a continual re-reading of past cultural productions in an on-going effort to keep culture in motion—to free cultural productions from reification. spatial practices.O.D. 1993) 63..

95 .MAPPING EAST LOS ANGELES representations emerge as important tools in the development of an aesthetic and an ability to exhibit culture from within a marginalized community. 2000. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 88th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

not surprisingly. projects. would like it to be. They are then. in a way that reveals as well as conceals. To paraphrase Clifford Geertz’s famous description of the Balinese cockfight. programmed and spontaneous. and are usually both. that is certainly one of their principal functions. but certainly still with us) which charts the rhythms of our seasonal religious and social life in cities—provide an index for both the continuity of tradition fundamental to the existence of cities and the disjunctions of change. that—as the Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin has argued—liberates as well as represses or oppresses. PLATTUS (1987) The urban festival provides a bridge between the ordinary city of everyday experience and the extraordinary city—projected in part by the festival— of idealistic and technological urbanism. and the reiterated festival calendar (now much reduced from its peak in the late middle ages. among the most significant vehicles for understanding the city. They are often key episodes in the most ordinary histories of architecture: for example. But they have often done so dialectically. one-time-only special events. they are stories we tell ourselves about ourselves—and about our cities. certain constituencies within the city.CELEBRATING THE CITY COMMUNITY ALAN J. We are quite familiar with some of those moments of heightened. and illusions. Festivals—both the singular. but also for more active interpreting. Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition of 1893. The extraordinary city provides a glimpse of the city as it might be—for good or ill—as certain groups. intensified. of utopian hopes. and therefore ultimately shaping the city. Such events may be arrière or avant-garde. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 75th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. They may serve as harsh urban reality. 1987. highly concentrated urban vision. 96 .

2007. (Photo by Rebekah Modrak. Ann Arbor.) 97 .CELEBRATING THE CITY Parade of Fools. Michigan. April 1.

As one learns more about the individual complexity of each of these businesses. River. They are going under the bridges.P. health facilities. Numbering in the thousands. People know to drive to this part of the city to bring food and clothing for the homeless.’s Skid Row. by the L. some offer a bed for as little as twenty five dollars a night. but some don’t want to go there. restaurants. Since the fall of 2006 the climate in the streets of Skid Row has changed when the L. Many of the hotels built long ago to accommodate travelers became S. I had the feeling that I was seeing its last days.” The police finally have gained control of Skid Row. and the Union Rescue Mission. and their relationship to the missions and the street people. Now. in addition to corporate and government buildings. When I asked who was pushing the homeless a woman explained “the city.’s equivalent of Greenwich Village. San Julian at Sixth Street. providing another cheap place to live. the more extraordinary this urban economy seems. but none impressed me more than one in May of 2007 when I heard a loud police siren.m.A. old industrial buildings have been transformed into lofts.A. The missions were followed by soup kitchens. galleries.” I asked: “Where are they going?” She replied: “They are going to jail. They are going to the missions. furniture. and serving the homeless are the main activities of L. The missions came to the area first. I heard a Whole Foods is coming to downtown. In a decade Skid Row will perhaps become L. The Fred Jordan Mission is over forty years old. disease. L. I witnessed many searches and arrests in Skid Row. It was 9 a. and methadone clinics. the police. The person under the blanket had overslept.SKID ROW.’s old downtown is becoming the city center officials had proudly declared unnecessary. now people are kept moving from corner to corner. then “Wake up!. . derelict people have been concentrated in a small area of about fifty square blocks. 98 Omar Avenue at Boyd Street. 2007. started to increased searches and arrests of the homeless. Skid Row has been the largest public display of human misery in the United States and it has been so since I started documenting the area in 1995. storing and processing fish. thriving as it has for decades among the misery. artificial flowers.D. Surprised.R. 2007.O. now in a new building.s after the train station was relocated. and their charity gives further impetus for the down-and-out to congregate here.A.A. Wake up!” came blaring from the loud speakers of the patrol car. I looked and saw a policeman standing in front of a sleeping person on South Fourth Street. and hotels. and despair.A. has been here for ninety years. the maintenance people. LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA (2007) Making toys. their interdependence.

SKID ROW. Fifth Street between Towne Avenue and Crocker Street. 1994. 99 . LOS ANGELES Fifth Street at Stanford Avenue. 1996.

2007. Julian and Sixth Street. 2003. 441 Towne Avenue.CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA Southeast corner of St. 100 .

101 . LOS ANGELES Gladys Avenue south of Sixth Street. Towne Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets.SKID ROW. 1999. 2006.




Contemporary urban development has responded to these changing factors in ways that might loosely be called “market urbanism. organized. Post-World War II suburbia has likewise been transformed by the tsunami of subdivisions. we’ve divided the section into subsections under these three titles. Although the essays assembled in this section do not all fit smoothly or completely in these three categories. in hopes of sketching the outlines of a more integrated position. cultural. However. methodologies and modalities. the taxonomy helps structure the conversation about urban design. has transformed many urban centers. professional planning and design services. gated communities. This market-driven redevelopment is kin to what Robert Fishman refers to as “reurbanism” in the Foreword. There are. The collection 105 . This essay examines their overlaps and oppositions. and. and construction for the thousands of real estate development projects that spring up in places and at times determined by macro and micro market forces and by the decisions of private developers. financing. Indeed. although his two exemplars—Battery Park City in Manhattan and Millennium Park in Chicago—are of a higher and more exalted order. however. and retail malls. Most of these projects are small or unremarkable. their accumulation inevitably changes the face of America in ways that are not planned. arterial strips. strengths and weaknesses. to a lesser extent. or self-conscious. but not in equal proportion—at least for most American cities at this point in their evolution.” This term is used here to refer to current conventions and modes of land acquisition. and ecological milieu. Everyday Urbanism. We invited several provocative urban designers/writers to punctuate the papers. or factories and warehouses into residential lofts. for better or worse. three contemporary paradigms of urbanism that are self-conscious: New Urbanism. technological. I would like to contend that all three paradigms are basic and somewhat inevitable conditions and that each has its merits and demerits. the recent conversion of downtown office buildings into hotels and condominiums. it is hard to call them movements) represent the cutting edge of theoretical and professional activity in Western architecture and urbanism. or both. economic. Thus.INTRODUCTION Further thoughts on the three urbanisms DOUGLAS KELBAUGH It is an article of faith that we design the built environment in an everchanging social. government regulation. These three approaches or attitudes (other than New Urbanism. what I call Post Urbanism.

The built environment is organized along the urban “transect. with a seventh zone for special districts.) to reduce auto-dependency and Traditional Neighborhood Development (T. The continuum has six zones of gradually increasing building density and height. and where offices and affordable housing can be located above retail shops. New Urbanism’s Charter advocates mixed-use centers where low.U. with the Congress for the New Urbanism (C. walkable city with a hierarchy of buildings and places that promotes face-to-face social interaction. The aspirations are an explicit mix of both noble ends and practical means: to equitably mix people of different income.N. Its basic model is a compact. aspires to truly utopian goals. In more specific terms.N. Its idealized urban hierarchy runs the gamut from background housing and private yards to foreground civic and institutional buildings. It is the most organized. to build public architecture and public space that makes citizens feel they are part of. to sponsor and integrate transit.” which. and age. subdivides and codifies a prototypical cross-section of development from natural countryside to urban core. it must be said. and to be economically sound and ecologically responsible at the scale of the building. mixed-use.O. ratified in 1996. It is not dense by European or Asian standards.DOUGLAS KELBAUGH attempts to characterize the dialogue over the last decade about urbanism in general and urban form in particular. neighborhood. New Urbanism seeks to counter the physical fragmentation.and mid-rise buildings form a continuous street wall. like the ecological transect. and region.N.) to encourage mixed-use. The Charter of the New Urbanism. and functional compartmentalization of the modern city. especially in a single project or community. Among these are models for Transit Oriented Development (T. lofty principles indicate. race. and parts of Europe. THE FORMAL/CLASSICAL PARADIGM New Urbanism is by far the best known of these three paradigms. a common culture and community. social dislocation and polarization.U. but it is denser than conventional American sprawl. with public squares and parks. are its ideals fully achieved. 106 . planning. albeit with reservations and criticisms. and governance at the metropolitan scale. It is also the one with which I am most familiar and aligned. and proud of.) to promote and defend its tenets. ethnicity. diverse. to weave a tighter urban fabric that mixes land of different uses and buildings of different architectural types. the C. and maintains that good design can have a measurably positive effect on the sense of place and community. As these ambitious. Australia.D. transit-friendly. revenue sharing. It envisions a structural relationship between social behavior and physical form. To engage with these practices. has popularized a set of alternative principles and practices throughout North America.D. Rarely.

(Photo courtesy of Calthorpe Associates. its architecture is also historically derivative—in a style that is. and it embraces open spaces and housing typologies that recall the Garden City tradition. and built to the sidewalk to define a continuous street wall with residential and office uses above retail shops— a traditional but still compelling configuration that should be the norm in urban developments.000 homes. or utopian as New Urbanism. Nor is it even an established movement. They seek the patient capital of investors who would stay in a project for the long haul. Its aim is to help people adapt and improvise. proponents of Everyday Urbanism support such activities as the appropriation of space on sidewalks and in parking lots (as well as on vacant lots and in private driveways) for informal commerce 107 . In practical terms. For instance.) By comparison. it downplays.) Above right: Mixed-use buildings at Stapleton designed in a background. multiplicity and simultaneity. and unlike New Urbanism. master-planned by Calthorpe Associates.700 acre New Urbanist community with 12. its adherents have sought to reform contemporary financial and banking practices that encourage developers to build and “flip” projects for quick profits. Everyday Urbanism is not as tidy. it has a body of literature and a clearly stated goal: to celebrate and build on ordinary life. Typically. often in spite of physical design and planning. Its proponents argue for “elements that remain elusive: ephemerality. the relationship between physical form and social behavior. in a word of its own coinage. And they lament the way Wall Street. Its advocates frequently celebrate the ability of indigenous and migrant groups to respond in resourceful and imaginative ways to ad hoc conditions and marginal spaces. has limited the architectural palette to a limited number of standard “product” types. through real estate investment trusts. Nevertheless. New Urbanism is reminiscent of the City Beautiful movement. as opposed to formal and top-down.INTRODUCTION In terms of historical antecedents. Neotraditional. and even denies. THE INFORMAL/VERNACULAR PARADIGM Above left: Denver’s former Stapleton Airport is being converted into a 4. doctrinaire. (Photo courtesy of Calthorpe Associates. The New Urbanist vision also seeks to influence society beyond physical planning and design.” Everyday Urbanism is informal and bottom-up. cacophony. contemporary architectural style. with little pretense about the possibility of a perfectible or ideal environment.

even if it’s contemporary. politicized. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Crawford. With its embrace of dynamic global information and capital flows. bus transit system. ethnic neighborhoods such as those of Los Angeles. and vacant lots are productively taken over by informal markets in Everyday Urbanism. it favors bold form—either broken and fractal. and democratic than the standard “product” built and financed by mainstream developers and banks. this urbanism is critical of most traditional norms and conventions. Despite its grassroots quality. Brazil. THE AVANT-GARDE/INVENTIVE PARADIGM Parking lots. the poor. sidewalks. I use it here to refer to the avant-garde paradigm that has grown out of what has been called the post-structuralist or critical architectural project of the last several decades.g. Its very ability to fly below the organized financial radar and work in the gaps and on the margins has allowed it to empower disadvantaged and disenfranchised people and communities. minorities) and mainstream zones of fantasy commerce. Nevertheless. are other examples. predictably unpredictable. An international example might be Curitiba. information exchange. and without formal orthodoxies or principles. celebrity-conscious consumer of the built environment. However. Everyday Urbanism should not be confused with conventional real-estate development. the homeless. although sometimes in a playful. no matter how modest the building program or unimportant the site. It champions the vernacular architecture and street life and art of vibrant. new hybrid possibilities. A variety of avant-gardist shock tactics may also be deployed. Post Urbanism argues that shared values or metanarratives are no longer possible in a world increasingly fragmented and composed of heterotopian ghettoes of the “other” (e.” Espousing ever wilder and more provocative design. Frank Gehry’s proposals for Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Grand Avenue in Los Angeles. with its populist ethic and low-tech. or continuous and flowing. Zaha Hadid. and some less strident proposals of Steven Holl. the abstract architectural language and topological explorations of Post Urbanism are often one of surface and skin. Urban works born of these ideas include the mega-forms of Rem Koolhaas. satiric way. and free-range tourism.DOUGLAS KELBAUGH and festivities. new unpredictable forms of freedom. Post Urbanism also aspires to engage an increasingly sophisticated. It is more personalized. Relativistic. Post Urbanism is not even a widely used term. In formal terms. however. driveways.) It must be said that no one formally labels themselves a Post Urbanist. as well as Daniel Libeskind’s Denver Art Museum complex. These liminal and exciting zones of taboo and fantasy and 24/7 zones of unfettered consumerism are viewed as liberating because they allow “for new forms of knowledge. it is sometimes difficult to know if a project is neo-avant-garde or truly avant108 . There is little direct reference to the physical context. At its purest.

I.N. Its Post Urbanist architecture is visually dynamic and aggressive. It is also the most normative. it could only juggle one ball at a time. and positive sea change. a new 109 The BMW plant by Zaha Hadid overtly expresses flows of industrial assembly. social. Meanwhile. the C.N. is now the one and only urban approach that everyone. Politically active.A. the ad hoc liveliness of Everyday Urbanism. technological. and the A. from Leon Krier to Rem Koolhaas. as well as historical examples and traditions as they intersect contemporary environmental. Nevertheless. New Urbanism’s desire for orderliness embodies nostalgia for a romanticized past that never existed. These links have given it traction and clout as a national organization. with laminar forms invading the site and surrounding the existing buildings like solidified lava. New Urbanism is clearly the most precedent-based. METHODOLOGIES AND MODALITIES Underlying these paradigms are three very different methodologies. For them. it is questionable whether Post Urbanist works give back as much as they take from the city around them. and other organizations such as the Urban Land Institute. with its walkability and chance encounters. and adapted to local conditions through the relatively standardized tool of the community design charrette. Meanwhile. if not self-centered. as seen in the postKatrina replanning of the Gulf Coast. (Photo courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects. and economic practices. with little faith in the work of others to complete a fragmented urban fabric. in Ken Greenberg’s words. sprawling auto-centric cities like Atlanta. They have thus lambasted the post-World War II zoning that separated and compartmentalized land uses.S. pervasive. however. Despite their theoretical and aesthetic sophistication.U.INTRODUCTION garde—that is. would lack aesthetic cohesion and ambition for them. U. Charter. has also built coalitions with other movements such as Smart Growth. It aims to extrapolate from enduring architectural principles and typologies. New Urbanists believe that a coherent hierarchy of architectural types. Green Building Council. or whether the principal motive is to inspire genuine belief in the possibility of change. Post Urbanists have described their discordant and exceptional insertions into the city as examples of open. especially digital media and what I call the Electronic Now. democratic urbanism. while less scenographic and predictable. Houston.) . as if. However. mixed-use urbanism. and Las Vegas are sometimes held up as models of a liberating mobility. To be sure. This is a major. and public spaces can best sort out and make legible the complex mixture of land uses and buildings that cities have always possessed and are now requiring. The projects themselves are typically selfcontained. with its goals and principles carefully inscribed in the C. seems to embrace. street types. And they criticize New Urbanist communities as stultifying and irrelevant in light of modern lifestyles and technology. whether surprise and spectacle is employed for its own sake. as single-use zoning is phased out.U.

perhaps as a trope but irresponsibly in any case. Perhaps the quintessential Post Urbanist is Rem Koolhaas. New Urbanists believe. A typology also provides familiar architectural vessels into which new functions can be poured. that there is no longer any hope of achieving urban coherence or unity. and recently been revived in others. New Urbanist emphasis on typology partly derives from a desire to dignify the many background buildings needed to make a coherent city. and compassionate of the paradigms. incremental. the Everyday Urbanist overestimates the power of the commonplace. Thus. they advocate form. the vanguard Dutch designer and brilliant provocateur. He has proclaimed. the effective practice of urban design and planning is almost impossible. helping to preserve the memory of the city. its projects are bold and experimental rather than normative. without agreed-upon design typologies.DOUGLAS KELBAUGH way to create urban order is needed. Post Urbanists also don’t tend to engage the public as directly in open dialogue—perhaps because they feel the traditional “polis” is increasingly obsolete.and typology-based codes promoting normative architectural and urban forms. and a participant more than a leader of public dialogue. Everyday Urbanism’s concern for citizen control makes it the most open-ended and populist of the three urbanisms. and its civic institutions too calcified to promote new possibilities. and often relish the chance to violate design guidelines. if the New Urbanist romanticizes the past. These are flaws that Post Urbanism seeks to take on directly by accepting. Celebrated in the media as solo artists or lone geniuses. Rather than seeking accommodation. they cultivate Howard Roarkish personas. A new appreciation for architectural typology. the powerful techno-flow of a global world. Like the 110 . Where New Urbanism grew out of concern for precedent and typology. in place of zoning codes focusing on function and bulk. can provide this foundation. Builders and designers are freed to refine details and building form rather than overhaul or re-invent them. that urbanism is dead. it emerged from the community design movement that has stubbornly survived since the 1970s in a few cities. zoning codes. And because it is about celebrating the ordinary rather than starting over with a new and presumably more sophisticated model. Everyday Urbanism is far less normative and doctrinaire. However. both real and virtual. with the strongest commitment to social and economic justice. existing typologies. It views the design professional as a student of the popular and the quotidian rather than the ideal and elite. And it makes future architectural and urban form more predictable. Indeed. it is also the most modest. and seeking to express. despite the reality that large multidisciplinary teams are needed to realize their designs.

shared values and is free to be arbitrary. their commissions and projects are more modest. But unlike Modernism. They can be sophisticated foreground architecture and icons of great formal skill and elegance. Everyday Urbanists often work for nonprofit and community groups with limited resources and political power. And. with almost zero attention to offsite relationships. Where New Urbanists want to be normative at too many scales. However. may be sponsored by government agencies or public/private partnerships. they tend to be perceived as confrontational. However. thus. Like mid-twentieth-century Modernist projects. this is not to tautologically imply that they are solely the result of different clientele. ranging from subaltern minorities to middle-class consumers to urbane cognoscenti and glitterati. however. more intrinsic modes of thought. 111 . including Hope VI. In this sense. they want to make a radically new start and are comfortable and even like and depend on being at odds with their surroundings. sometimes built with volunteer labor. For this reason. if New Urbanism tends to hold too highly the best practices of the past and Everyday Urbanism overrates a prosaic present. their lesser-known but numerous urban redevelopment projects. New Urbanists often work for land developers. The paradigms do seem to represent and resonate as deeper. especially on the suburban greenfield projects for which they are best known. and patrons who seek high profile. the Post Urbanist is overinvested in endlessly exciting topology and an audacious future.INTRODUCTION talented and less nihilistic Steven Holl. many a Post Urbanist building is a spatial and formal tour de force. he has dropped typology in favor of topology. if New Urbanists are overly optimistic about urban centers and neighborhoods as aesthetically consistent wholes—beautiful in the traditional Viennese or Parisian sense—Post Urbanists may be criticized as too willing to settle for the city of internally unified but disparate fragments. and production. corporations. It must be said that the differing clientele for the three paradigms may explain some of these proclivities. in spite of their hubris. however convoluted. design. or haunting their shapes. even bizarre. enigmatic. These different client groups have different missions and audiences. it is no surprise that the three paradigms lead to different physical outcomes. Post Urbanists projects are typically the result of prestigious competitions and commissions by wealthy and powerful institutions. iconic buildings. form is now increasingly un-tethered from a sense of common. Post Urbanist projects often seem to be designed within an invisible envelope. Post Urbanists want to be free at too many scales—from the baluster to the building to the bioregion. Rigorously consistent within their own architectural vocabulary and physical site. even brazen. Yet.

gravitydefying buildings of Post Urbanism better than North American cities. fractal geometries. However. for whom there is less human-scale nuance and architectural detail to reveal itself over the years. day or night. Everyday Urbanism has trouble achieving any aesthetic coherence. where a wealthier citizenry has the luxury of punctuating a mature and dense urban fabric with Modernist commercial and institutional buildings as counterpoint to the traditional architecture. Tourists in rental cars experiencing the city through their windshields may be better served than actual users. But it is egalitarian and lively. Such skin-deep pastiche is more understandable for speculative housing. achieves the most aesthetic unity and coherent sense of community. especially public structures that are allowed to break the design code. And while Post Urbanist site plans look exciting. and where glass curtain-wall buildings already dominate. and attitudes that are deeper than outward and visible form. its formal harmony is usually achieved in historical styles that lack authenticity and tectonic integrity. Many New Urbanists claim that the issue of architectural language or style is irrelevant or overblown. which must sell in the marketplace or bankrupt the developer/builder. It orchestrates different uses at a human scale in familiar architectural types and styles. And if style is of little consequence to developers (and their public).and under-classes seek a stake in the urban economy. already ubiquitous in the informal squatter settlements of global cities. in a sense. And the heavy masonry fabric of European cities sets off the new. with their laser-like vectors. Everyday Urbanism is. why isn’t there more contemporary architecture in their projects? Clearly. one that might merge the best of these three 112 . judging from the ferocity of the debates. New Urbanist infill usually adds the greatest value. But clearly it does matter to design professionals and academics. NAGGING QUESTIONS What can be said then about the possibility of a more integrated approach to urbanism in America. micro or macro. and sweeping circulatory systems.DOUGLAS KELBAUGH OUTCOMES New Urbanism. But it doesn’t make much sense in the cities of Europe. It is less excusable for nonresidential buildings. architectural style is important because it embodies and expresses values. Because our cities lack the horizontal viscosity of European cities and are often underprogrammed and made empty by parking lots. but all too rarely rise to first-rate design. in my opinion. By contrast. with its Latinate clarity and order. which are more spatially open and sporadic. meanings. especially to pedestrians. jumbled fragments. Ironically. they are often overscaled and empty of pedestrians. just as tourists have become citizens of the world. where the working. Post Urbanism suggests local citizens are tourists in their own city. when realized. highly glazed.

wouldn’t the typical American metropolis benefit most from New Urbanism at this point in its history? Arguably. the unevenness of American urbanism would also benefit from “some rules that prove the exceptions. Can it produce good but quiet background buildings that are more urbanistically sensitive and architecturally contextual? Certainly.INTRODUCTION approaches while avoiding their weaknesses. Can it raise its design expectations and standards as its clientele becomes more mainstream? New Urbanism is too often formulaic. Americans can expect a more physically ordered and architecturally ambitious commons than Everyday Urbanism offers and a more humane one than Post Urbanism promises. There are a number of serious questions that New Urbanism needs to address if it is to evolve into a more integrated paradigm.” For most North American cities. realized in banal and cloyingly historicist architecture. Like all movements. not to work. less glamorous than Post Urbanism and more ambitious than Everyday Urbanism. and be more sustainable than any of the three on its own? Is there any hope for integrating these three paradigms into a richer and more lasting urbanism? Everyday Urbanism is too often an urbanism of default rather than design. But can it learn from the other two paradigms and their cultures? Despite being the most comprehensive and successful design and planning movement of its generation.” just as European cities are enriched by Modernist “exceptions that prove the rule. It often fails to deal with either regional or economic issues. form-based codes and regulations. Can its exemplary urban principles be realized in contemporary architecture. and moral mandates? As the late Jane Jacobs pointed out in Dark 113 . it will ultimately ossify and lose its meaning and value as it runs the inevitable and ever faster historical course from archetype to type to stereotype. of which a city needs and can absorb only so many. outdated technics. It is a bottom-up approach that is “too much bottom. such as jobs/housing balance.” and embrace a more raw and potent mix of uses. especially the public and institutional buildings. including industry? Post Urbanism is too often an urbanism of trophy buildings. Can it move beyond “the post-modern notion of the city as solely a place to live. New Urbanism must evolve if it is to remain responsible and responsive. and employ the talent and skill of Post Urbanist architects? Can it live up to its egalitarian ideas of social diversity and affordability as seriously as Everyday Urbanists? And can it fully address ecological challenges and develop a bio-urbanism? Last. not enough up” in Michael Speaks’ words. New Urbanism represents the responsible middle path. Although Europe may delight in Post Urbanist avant-gardism and the developing world may embrace the informality of Everyday Urbanism. is New Urbanism flexible enough to align with and harness the emerging forces of the global economy? Or will it rely too heavily on top-down formal templates.

New Urbanism will become another failed utopian vision and movement. Otherwise. sustainable. a misfortune in a field littered with broken dreams and promises. only if underlying economic and social forces make it an inevitable. sprawl will densify and diversify. and voluntary process. 114 . natural.DOUGLAS KELBAUGH Age Ahead. and inner cities will rebound and redevelop.

and me. 2 For this essay I am utilizing the following version of this article: Douglas Kelbaugh. Urban Theory and Urban Culture” sought to broaden discussion of urban design practices in the context of “Urban Revisions.” a 1994 exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art curated by Elizabeth Smith. “A World Less Ordinary. We were interested in the neglected places and experiences of cities that other urbanisms ignored. Still. Everyday Urbanism (The Monacelli Press. co-edited by John Chase.” Everyday urban design is also not taking over planning departments. We thought these could be a starting point to construct a practice of inclusive. editors.EVERYDAY URBAN DESIGN Towards default urbanism and/or urbanism by design? JOHN KALISKI (2007) EVERYDAY URBANISM. I am not surprised that Kelbaugh reached the conclusion in his essay that our efforts were potentially “urban design by default rather than by intention. one can argue that the concept of the everyday remains a notion that all designers reckon with at some point in their professional life. “best read as essays in architectural ethics. regionalism.4 While Kelbaugh was an articulate advocate for the idea that three urbanisms were wrestling with each other.” . Time has demonstrated that he was one of the few commentators who trucked faith in our ideas. he claimed there were three competing urbanisms: New Urbanism.3 We were seeking means to observe and remain open to the diversity of cities. 3rd International Space Syntax Symposium. 4 Dell Upton. Margaret Crawford and John Kaliski. the everyday as expounded in Everyday Urbanism was grounded in a reaction against the determinism of any defined urban design practice. When Douglas Kelbaugh wrote “Three Urbanisms and the Public Realm” in 2001. and our sense that professional designers would do well to acknowledge the vitality of the tactics of the everyday to produce urbanism. “Urban Design. Most critics of Everyday Urbanism dismissed the ideas as irrelevant to professional design practices. Given our interest in exploring the complexity of the whole city. However. historicism. this hardly constitutes a design movement. In this review Upton states that Everyday Urbanism is. in truth his match 115 1 John Chase. AND INFRASTRUCTURE Whatever happened to “Everyday Urbanism?” Is it an organized urban design movement? Does it actively influence urban policy and shape cities? I ask these design-oriented questions because this is an ill-defined area of inquiry left open in the book. Everyday Urbanism. In contrast. 3 Our first collective act as likeminded individuals was to help organize a symposium for the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.1 Certainly there is no “Everyday Urban Design School. we were pleased Kelbaugh put us in the same league as people who have changed urban design. Margaret Crawford. etc. and Everyday Urbanism. Post-Urbanism. pages 54–55.” Architecture. 2001). non-dogmatic urbanism. Atlanta. 1999). February 2000.2 While he stated that other forms of urban design were relevant including “environmentalism. LANDSCAPE URBANISM. meant to sensitize designers to the intellectual and political contradictions inherent in their professional positions rather than to recommend specific design practices. everyday urban design is better described as an attitude that needs better definition. championing of the role non-experts play in ameliorating neglected urban environments. New York. I know of few people who have constructed explicitly “everyday” design practices.” the first three were the ones that most succinctly encapsulated for him the millennial moment. “Three Urbanisms and the Public Realm” (from Proceedings.” Despite the critique.

Ann Arbor. and accepted by decision-makers. and communicable. I recall the moment in 2000 when a team of professionals working with students in a design charrette sponsored by the University of Michigan proposed just such an approach for a shrinking area of Detroit. For example. traditional infill house forms. like Duany’s now. a tactic of self-help set loose to revitalize a community.6 Our belief then. walked right by our project and enthused about the certainty of the picket fences. New Urbanists quickly adopt concepts from outside their canon. just a good narrative that highlighted the preeminence of New Urbanism. Andrés Duany. Notwithstanding Duany’s right to utilize anything that works. was never a contest. New Urbanism’s bread and butter— codes—would be forgiven. .”? Can one construe everyday urbanism as inspiration for a set of urban design principles without being forced into essentialist proclamations? The following thoughts are an attempt to frame a practice of city design through an acknowledgement of the everyday. . When I reminded Duany of this incident (and the possibility that perhaps he had evolved into a closet everyday urbanist). Dennis Archer. a smart tactic that creates constant renewal within the movement. will feel incentivized to rebuild. holding a sustained interest in the everyday makes it difficult to claim a singular position in urban design. are everyday practices becoming a treasured hammer in New Urbanism’s toolbox? To a small extent. James Singleton. “(y)ours is but one of the tools. Kelbaugh’s middle-way. is that in certain cases it is useful to free individuals from the miasma of constraining regulation. but an important one and increasingly so. for instance. February 2007. New Urbanism’s appeal is also related to its fleetfootedness. 2000). . yes. 116 . 7 February 22. adopted by developers. It is demanded by publics. and prescriptive pattern language proposed by a team led by Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. “but I am not a New Urbanist because . New Urbanism. Doug Kelbaugh. The student team was led by myself. Andrew Zago and I concentrated on developing zoning game theories that were performance oriented as opposed to prescriptive and working with the students tried to animate the land use implications of the approach through time. he explained to me.” Why can’t I find constructive language to respond to the same question. 2007 e-mail from Andrés Duany to John Kaliski. pages 6–11 and pages 32–39. Despite the interest of New Urbanists in some aspects of the everyday. It provides straightforward place-making principles that are imageable. Kelli Kavanaugh.”7 So.” Metropolis.JOHN KALISKI 5 See Andrés Duany. the keenest New Urbanist of them all. freed from the restrictions of government. Patricia Machemer. was the champion in 2001 and six years later is the near hegemonic approach to urban design in the United States. Starting and ending points in everyday planning and design remain always contingent upon the variable situation at hand. The consequence of this is that I am compulsively programmed to state in response to questions regarding my underlying principles acknowledgement of New Urbanism followed by the negative sounding phrase. “I am an everyday urbanist because . recently proclaimed the need to consider “opt-out zones” in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. Its preeminence amongst planners is simple. reassuring. Presumably landowners and developers. “Restoring the Real New Orleans. Despite our convictions we were not surprised when the Mayor at that time. . and Andrew Zago. 6 See Michigan at Trumbull: Turning the Corner (A.5 In these free zones. the Briggs neighborhood near the old Tiger Stadium. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning—University of Michigan.

One person mentioned a specific bench in 117 8 See www. . shopping malls. like an organic urbanism. The incremental legal changes that shape everyday environments. not connected by common design tropes. the present.com. The ideas contained in these discourses are most often memorialized through codes. In this regard a framework of democracy becomes the most cogent means to shape citizens’ as well as designers’ ideas regarding the space of the city. a web-based design community. The forms and places of communities are therefore most justly formed through incremental design processes implemented through time. Each everyday urban design realized is unique unto itself. shaped by individual circumstance. With regards to design. “Discussions. single-family houses. I prefer the beginning everyday stance described above. While some good designs are constrained.archinect.EVERYDAY URBAN DESIGN Everyday urban design begins with respecting and honoring the daily rituals and cycles that shape communities. also benefit from the scrutiny of public debate. believing that each addresses a human need and that all remain a subject for betterment as opposed to obliteration. and the ubiquity of the present in the past and the future. In everyday contexts designers are asked to facilitate the portraits that communities desire to draw for themselves. While it is useful to have a framework to describe the potentials of urban design shaped by the everyday. are far superior to either acts of book burning or wholesale clearance.” I want to thank all who participated in the post and thread for their generous and open thoughts. Precedence can thus meld with innovation. and asked this virtual world what they felt were the “designed” places that best exemplified the everyday and everyday practice.8 There was a wide range of response: examples proffered included Jon Jerde’s orchestrated shopping centers as well as Louis Kahn’s monumental central court at the Salk Institute. on balance. I believe that it leads to the possibility of specific design subtlety and complexity. working with communities. but stitched together through careful observation and evolution of highly specific situations and conditions. or practices. Under these conditions urban design becomes a specific and singular opportunity to nurture daily life—hardly an “urban design by default. Some bloggers felt the everyday was best exemplified by informal spaces or pathways to and about local scenes. Consequently the North American everyday urban designer is simultaneously accepting and critical of automobility. and all the other accretions of contemporary urbanisms. suburbia. themes. Reform thus is built into or anticipated by each act of urban design.” While one might question openness to all urban experiences in a harsh world that demands ready and predictable solutions to pressing needs. I remain confident that this leads to urban design where each project is necessarily different. sprawl. awareness of the everyday as a motive force encourages each individual to learn equally from the traditional as well as the new. weak ideas are strengthened. are there specific places and principles that exemplify the approach? With a sense of speculation I recently turned to Archinect. Designers.

The broadness of response solicited on Archinect constitutes a critical recognition that everyday urbanism. The vitality of developing world favelas and the rawness of Downtown Los Angeles’ skid row were each seen to have qualities that. such as the scripting of spaces. environmental factors establish an almost infinite network of present clues 118 . the thread on Archinect also featured a less evolved discussion of everyday urban design principles. within the context of the design act. In this regard the range of places that were mentioned demonstrated a core principle of inclusiveness. another. as was The Grove. Jackson Square in New Orleans. acceptance of democratic design discourses to reform these starting points. Yet everyday urban design could nevertheless be construed as an approach to a broad-based and inclusive critical practice with case studies and approaches that seek to promulgate more humane and liberal approaches to the production of the city. because unlike its new urban or posturban cousins.JOHN KALISKI Montserrat. if not always comfortable. All of these principles suggest that there is a nascent theory of everyday urban design that transcends narrowly drawn urban ideologies or fetishized place making. all possibilities can be vetted with equanimity. While no canon of everyday design was fixed through this discussion. Spain. Jane Jacobs’ notions of incremental city making were mentioned as well as more intentional urban tactics. Everyday equanimity forces one to eschew the notion that there should be a formal “Everyday Urbanism” or “Everyday Urban Design” movement. and application of design intelligence to addressing the concerns and needs of everyday design discourses. and Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. leftover space just off a sidewalk where people gather to talk. a shopping center in the middle of Los Angeles incorporating architects Koning-Eisenberg’s renovations of the historic 3rd and Fairfax Farmer’s Market. Notwithstanding an aversion to fixed theories or outcomes. were certainly related to the range of everyday experiences that need to be learned from. there are givens that distinguish design practitioners interested in the everyday from their colleagues who adopt more focused approaches. Even within extraordinary situations without any pre-existing pattern of human inhabitation. Oregon. downtown Culver City. Douglas Loop in Louisville. Others emphasized that designing the informal and formal spaces and land in-between structures is of greater importance than the buildings themselves. constitutes a true middle ground. Moore Ruble Yudell’s student center at the University of Cincinnati was nominated. Communities necessarily start with the present. Kentucky. Amongst these are three key concepts that relate to the open approach just suggested: interest in present contexts as starting points. Another principle that came up in the posting was the idea of both acknowledging and anticipating uses of time in urban design and architecture. Rem Koolhaus’ architectural work was discussed as well as Covent Garden in London. California.

9 Communities are also made up of competing interests that have varying visions for urban life.EVERYDAY URBAN DESIGN to guide any prospective urbanism. and creative attitude towards practice open to any designer interested in the ecumenical practices and productions of the contemporary city. 10 See John Kaliski. what the everyday demands is not so much design leaders as designers who deploy design intelligence. and region. and their transit. as the first source for inspiring a better future. In short people want their Downtowns. than many designers steeped in universal approaches would care to admit. each with a different opinion. The individual urban designer is asked by publics to contribute a broad palette of ideas and approaches. Democracy is the increasingly accepted tool to debate and shape neighborhood. The consequent urban program based upon the here-and-now emphasizes an ideal of betterment. reform. as opposed to precedent. and the retrofit of an existing situation. humbling. Urban design in these circumstances is an opportunity on the part of communities to utilize designers. Returning to the original question. a book that described how practices of everyday life are related to and can influence understandings of urbanism. this is what I as a designer have been attempting to realize. and their suburbs. and their cars.” Harvard Design Magazine. whatever happened to “Everyday Urbanism. In the seven years since the publication of Everyday Urbanism. community. city. as opposed to design ideologues or ideologies. The process is more akin to the decorating of individual domestic environments for highly particular clients. Spring/Summer 2005. 9 This concept establishes a crucial difference with New Urbanism that at its root utilizes precedent as the source for an inspired future. and their Main Streets and they expect urban designers to use collaborative talents to illustrate. educate. the visualization of urban options for the citizenry at-large in order to facilitate decisions that reflect the consensus of an open and democratic community.” urban design within the context of everyday urbanism is never an organized movement but a critical. 119 . and through the medium of design allow for the illustration of alternative points of urban departure. “Democracy Takes Command: New Community Planning and the Challenge to Urban Design. In essence. and their freeways. and frame unique approaches to each new situation.10 Democratic urban form making demands urban design nimbleness. The urban designer influenced by the everyday imagines the present.

” Harvard Design Magazine (19. Rather than relying on the formalistic solid/void of older models where void and. replaced the word nature in that it is used as the measure of freedom.”2 While reflecting many positive changes. Charles Waldheim. suggesting that.harvard. including more reciprocal relationships among design disciplines. Waldheim and Young. and Ecology” in Bart R. AND INFRASTRUCTURE 1 See Anne Whiston Spirn. the widespread adoption of landscape terminology and ecological metaphors is a means to expand the techniques by which architecture is produced. 3 For a related discussion on erasure and void. 110. landscape has. which is perceived as the great failure of modernism. which positions landscape as the generator. WITHOUT END Mats. and Renewal in Design. landscape as a representation of urbanism is more developed than landscape as a production of it. by extension. positions Tschumi’s Parc de La Villette as its progenitor. in a sense. landscape urbanism is described as an interdisciplinary model. which promulgate a “nature” apart from cultural construction. “Landscraping” in Daskalakis. who coined the phrase landscape urbanism in 1996. holes. see James Corner. The authority of nature has been usurped by the authority of landscape. p. Johnson and Kristina Hill. Planning. suggesting an architectural lineage that 120 . “The Emergence of Landscape Urbanism. landscape is a residual of architecture. rather than backdrop. In tracing the lineage of landscape urbanism. LANDSCAPE KAREN M’CLOSKEY (2005) URBANISM. landscape urbanism suggests the opposite. Spirn describes the dogma associated with appeals to nature as given or original.. Charles Waldheim and Jason Young. the recurring notion of the “hole” becomes evident. Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning (Washington: Island Press. Stalking Detroit (Barcelona: Actar Press. 2002). eds. we have not yet fully advanced her conception of landscape as a healing salve to decentralizing post-industrial cities.edu/hdm. “Decamping Detroit” in Georgia Daskalakis. For an excellent review of this book. eds. “The Authority of Nature: Conflict. wherein the public landscape infrastructure organizes and shapes urban development. I briefly outline the role of “holes” as they relate to landscape and will argue why they must be delineated more specifically if landscape urbanism is to productively combine both its architectural and landscape architectural predecessors. In other words. pp.3 This paper positions Alison Smithson’s essay “The City Center Full of Holes” (1977) as a direct antecedent to contemporary landscape urbanism. While covering the same geographic territory as landscape architecture or urban design. of urban development. For architects.. which positions landscape “as the most relevant medium for the production and representation of contemporary urbanism. and the promise of landscape urbanism 2 See footnote 27 in Charles Waldheim and Marili Santos-Munne. 122–125. the current framing of landscape urbanism has not gone far enough beyond the simple replacement of master planning with the equally generic term landscape.gsd. see Grahame Shane.1 Though no longer appealing to an idealized nature as the measure of morality and counterpoint to the city. One way this shift has become manifest is in the emergence of the “field” of landscape urbanism. 2001). Confusion. Fall 2003/Winter 2004): www.EVERYDAY URBANISM. providing alternatives to conventional master planning. and as an emancipator from architecture. though we have adopted her use of landscape infrastructure as a holding strategy for unpredictable futures.

20. Case: Downsview Park Toronto (Munich. there is no doubt that both landscape and architectural practices today increasingly emphasize diagrammatic processes and organizations over pictorial representations. and secondly. 3 (1977): p. p. using ecology as a paradigm for connectivity and indeterminacy.. indeterminacy and landscape. Waldheim and Young.4 In the primary texts outlining the theoretical impetus for landscape urbanism. Landscape Urbanism: A Manual for the Machinic Landscape (London: Architectural Association. less formulaic and more site-specific alternative to New Urbanism or the generic city. “The City Center Full of Holes. landscape architecture’s legacy of the picturesque. 2001). and never evolved beyond the picturesque. which uses infrastructure and 121 9 Alison Smithson.10 The last essay in the book.. in her essay “The City Center Full of Holes. to what he terms mat urbanism.. In Landscape Urbanism: A Manual for the Machinic Landscape.” 9 The concept of mat building. Case: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital (Munich. and Team X members criticized many practitioners of their day as being stuck in a static and deterministic “Euclidean Groove. ed. 2003).WITHOUT END draws landscape out of its position within landscape architecture and regional planning and more closely aligns it with architectural critiques of the 1970s and 80s. Team X Primer (Cambridge: M. Alejandro Zaero-Polo states. .” Alison and Peter Smithson’s work has recently been positioned as a progenitor to contemporary architects’ interest in flexibility. as evidenced strongly in the work of Ian McHarg. eloquently lays out the shift from mat building. decentralized or so-called Shrinking City. The Smithsons were instrumental in prompting a shift from fixed functionalism to one in which time was recognized as a primary factor in design.T. outlined by Alison Smithson in 1974.I. see Waldheim and Marili Santos-Munne. where inward vacancy and outward expansion are its defining characteristics. ed.. and the incorporation of humans into ecological systems. pp. 8 Alison Smithson. See also essays by Christopher Hight and Michael Hensel in the same publication and Waldheim. 133. in Daskalakis. The term “Euclidean Groove” was used by Aldo van Eyck. Waldheim points out that this strategy is particularly suited to the postindustrial. Press.” Praxis 4 (2002): 10–17. 105–121.” Architectural Association Quarterly 9/2. 1968). “On Landscape” in Mohsen Mostafavi and Ciro Najle. p. by Stan Allen. 2001). “the [landscape] discipline never developed a means of producing complexity away from imitation. 11. 5 Alejandro Zaero-Polo. several authors distance themselves from landscape architecture in two ways: first. from the environmental determinism of the 1960s and 70s. 10 Hashim Sarkis. Her essay “How to Recognize and Read Mat-Building” became the basis for a recent Case Series book on Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital. which uses architecture as the primary method of ordering.7 4 Charles Waldheim. NY: Prestel. Praxis. 7 In addition to Praxis. which gave ecology a central role.” 5 Though this is a common and reductive sentiment. which foregrounds formal and pictorial representations. 6 See Julia Czerniak.6 The conflation of cultural and natural processes. “Landscape Urbanism: A Genealogy. The greening of the depleted city centre may even be the most obvious characteristic of the future city centre. are very promising developments that position landscape urbanism as a viable. eds. NY: Prestel. ed. focused on flexible frameworks for accommodating growth and change and challenged the separation of architecture and urbanism. London. Alison Smithson 8 The inversion from conventional planning using architectural solids to a green infrastructure of holes was introduced by Alison Smithson in 1977. London.

see Joan Nassauer. This strategy has been the basis for several of O.12 Using abandoned railroad right-of-ways and areas adjacent to freeways.11 then “The City Center Full of Holes” addresses its corollary: vacancy and abandoned infrastructure. 1995).’s large-scale projects. p. 124. Smithson states “If we can see what to do with the disused railway yards. S. This was. p. “Mat Urbanism: The Thick 2D” in Sarkis. she does footnote the necessity of natural resource conservation. Therefore. 14 This framework was seen to sustain an infrastructure able to absorb social. Though Smithson did not directly combine the “mat building” concept with the “green holes” concept. Positive associations with large scale connective landscapes.. at the time.A. For example. 1997). cultural. who differentiated between fixes. 13. interstical [sic] places. using them as connective places. she proposes that these infrastructures be appropriated to provide connective tissue from the city centers to dispersed regions beyond. 68.. p. and more transient uses: If this distinction between the changing and the fixed were observed there would be less need for elaborate control over things for which no good case can be made for controlling.M. the Smithsons were among the first to recognize the potential of infrastructure to influence the future development of the city. the part-to-whole relationship of the mat is akin to the site-to-system connectivity of the strategy of holes. Also.” Rem Koolhaas et al.. a unique proposition for architects. Placing Nature: Culture and Landscape Ecology (Washington: Island Press.”13 These derelict sites and outdated infrastructures become conduits for the future reorganization of the post-industrial landscape. just three years after the publication of her “Mat-Building” essay. While she laments the deteriorating urban fabric. Stan Allen. well-known to the English via garden cities. and legislative energy could be concentrated on the long-term structure. we might begin to indicate to people how to behave towards small vacant sites.15 122 14 Smithson.KAREN M’CLOSKEY 11 “If on the one hand. “Cultural Sustainability: Aligning Aesthetics and Ecology” in Joan Nassauer. Though Smithson did not speak to environmental concerns as the basis for her thesis. Team X Primer. on the necessity for framing ecological function within aesthetic convention.” p. 11. after the so-called fall of the master plan. 13 Ibid. p. sustainability in this context refers to the construction of provisionary uses and infrastructures which hold together disparate and changing urban circumstances. in the planning framework for the new town of Melun-Senart (1987).L. Yet in 1977. would encourage the acceptance of wildness in small vacant city sites without negative allusions to abandonment. “The City Center Full of Holes. and environmental changes but it also sustains our (architects’) relevance to large scale practice. . 15 “This project is more a discourse on what should not happen at Melun-Senart than on what should. 974. The “Holes” essay is an outgrowth of earlier writing by the Smithsons and other Team X members. they also unwittingly endorse the conceptual apparatus of modern sprawl”. she recommends that the holes appearing in cities be landscaped as “holding operations” for future development. Instead. If Smithson’s infinitely extendable mat inadvertently leads to expansive development and sprawl.M. Alison Smithson’s seemingly overlooked essay “The City Center Full of Holes” is the first to explicitly propose a landscape strategy to address the depopulation occurring in postindustrial cities. landscape as organizing frameworks. ed. Koolhaas describes their approach as outlining what should not happen rather than what should. she doesn’t propose to fix it with architecture.XL (New York: Monacelli Press. 12 Smithson. such as roadways and associated greenways.

Without being specific about how they are generated. 12.’s diagram of Melun-Senart. Praxis.18 McHarg. appear to be another formal device unrelated to the specificities of the site. provided the basis for the location of design interventions and resulted in gradations of grey which “revealed” areas best suited to certain types of development. maintained or connected. Performance: Landscape at Downsview” in Czerniak. Also. 18 Ibid. 17 Waldheim.WITHOUT END A system of bands . 1995). yet he recognized the underlying geologic and hydrologic aspects of landscape process which could give rise to defining appropriate locations and uses. in general. (New York: Monacelli Press. was unquestionably narrow in his view of designers as mere objective collectors of data. 12–21. implemented.M. privileged performance over appearance. Rem Koolhaas et al. 36.M.A. founder of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning department at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the highly acclaimed book Design with Nature (1969). Smithson. the holes provide an infrastructure of protection. p. Despite McHarg’s reductive conception of design. . O. In the examples shown.A. See “Appearance. McHarg’s mappings. but still present landscape generically. comprised of transparent overlays each containing a different value with both social and natural characteristics. p. while being able to retain the projective order of the plan.. he was concerned with the connectivity of systems and performative aspects of landscape as 123 16 Ibid.XL. Waldheim distinguishes landscape urbanism from landscape architecture’s roots in regional planning. And for McHarg.L. 981. pp.A. in S. the instrumentality of the hole is based on the materiality of landscape and natural processes.’s ambition is to render more flexible measures absent in the solid/void of master plans. p.M. Ian McHarg’s work has been criticized due to his neglect of cities and dogmatic belief that ecology was the only relevant basis for design. the appearance of the landscape and its performance are inseparable. these bands would be fixes. O.. like the voids of the master plans.M. They no doubt had criteria by which the bands were determined. Even so.”17 To this end. the ways in which the landscape could be framed were essential to a landscape’s function.19 For Koolhaas. 980. We propose to invest most of the energies needed for the development of Melun-Senart in the protection of these bands.M.’s Melun-Senart. is inscribed on the site like an enormous Chinese figure. the Chinese figure self-contained. 10. though he neglects the design repercussions at the site or human scale. For Smithson. but these were not elucidated. 19 I am referring to Julia Czerniak’s introduction to the Downsview Park competition where she states that the projects. Reprinted with permission from O. the landscape is described by Koolhaas as “void” or “empty” and the criteria by which it is generated remain largely hidden. . see Anne Whiston Spirn. Koolhaas and McHarg all use the instrumentality of the hole as a way of guiding action. As mentioned earlier. pp. the holes. The blackest areas represent “no-build” zones and resemble O. p. 981. Knowing that the entire network could only be selectively maintained or occupied. yet still acknowledges that one of the most pressing issues facing contemporary designers is “the relationship between natural environments and processes of urbanization globally. 16 By Team X’s definition.A. in maintaining their emptiness. .

213–252. 1997). 81. . Mappings (London: Reaktion Books Ltd. ed.). Inc. material.21 The approaches taken by Smithson. Steiner. eds. 2002). 1992 edn.. I share the ambitions of this work. but am concerned about the generalizations and flattening out of precedent. “Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity” in George F. This had a great influence on his students. no grand scheme .. 21 James Corner. such as James Corner. 20 It was Corner’s phrase “landscape as urbanism” to which Waldheim has acknowledged his debt. Praxis. See footnote 1 in Waldheim. Corner states that “There is no end. Complete openness can be as reductive as complete control. with conflating natural and cultural systems. 22 James Corner. Inc. without whom there would be no “landscape urbanism” as it is currently defined. While I am encouraged by the aspirations and collaborative framework of landscape urbanism.” 22 While it is true ecological processes have no goal. Ecological Design and Planning (New York: John Wiley & Sons. that is not necessarily the primary characteristic towards which we should strive. . Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons. Critique and Invention” in Denis Cosgrove. He also emphasized the use of mapping as a generative tool. pp. 17. p. p. and with describing mapping itself as the most creative and formative act. Koolhaas and McHarg—aesthetic. Thompson and Frederick R. programmatic and material—should not be considered exclusive or competing interests but must be creatively incorporated together.. In describing the influence of ecological thinking on landscape practice. in Design With Nature. 37.. p. our fear of repeating the mistakes of the modernist master planners and apprehension regarding the reductivist nature of environmental determinism risks leaving landscape urbanism without criteria. “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation.KAREN M’CLOSKEY McHarg’s mapping of physiographic obstructions in order to determine road alignment. Right 124 .. Ian McHarg (New York: John Wiley & Sons. just a cumulative directionality toward further becoming.20 Corner has made a significant contribution to the conceptualization of landscape by devising methods of representation to better explain the processes of change inherent to landscapes.

). the criteria of dwelling.. 1992 edn. p. 2002). p. Inc. Inc. Image courtesy of PRAXIS. 25. 8. we should construct a much broader history of precedents and begin to incorporate. in Design With Nature. Writing + Building. Ian McHarg (New York: John Wiley & Sons. Instead. there is an over reliance on bracketing landscape as urbanism primarily through park design—Central Park to Parc to La Villette to Downsview and Fresh Kills—but parks are only one necessary aspect of urbanism. Phasing Diagrams of Fresh Kills “Lifescape” by Field Operations. in Praxis 4: Journal of Building + Writing (New Orleans. albeit in reconstituted relationships. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons.WITHOUT END McHarg’s successional diagrams of dune development. Cambridge: Praxis. now. 125 .

”24 NOTE This essay was written in 2004 and I have left its content unaltered though the discourse supporting landscape urbanism has been advanced since then. Since then.A. I am referring to Charles Waldheim. 23 23 Mohsen Mostafavi. p. “Landscapes of Urbanism” in Mostafavi and Najle. As it stands now. 2005. with its temporal and political characteristics. set the scene (albeit momentary) for democracy in action. Just as the modernists and New Urbanists are criticized for tying architectural form to social betterment. 9. is any more likely to democratize. transportation and recreation set forth in the C.M. Waldheim has published The Landscape Urbanism Reader (New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Architects have already answered the call of Team X. as suggested in the above quotation. founder of the Landscape Urbanism concentration at University of Illinois. In particular.I. 2006). democracy or ameliorative to architecture. Team X Primer.” Now we have to take on their other challenge of disciplining dispersal “so that any resultant development does not become absolutely structureless. we cannot assume that adopting a landscape model. and Mohsen Mostafavi and Ciro Najle’s involvement with the post-graduate certificate in landscape urbanism at the Architectural Association and work as editors of Landscape Urbanism: A Manual for the Machinic Landscape. and individual project examples and essays demonstrate its potential and complexity. which includes essays from fourteen authors whose diversity positively expands the historical and theoretical framework of landscape urbanism. Landscape urbanism will in future. the question about its efficacy as a “disciplinary realignment” remains when considering its pedagogical implications. functionalist city. While the term is useful for describing collaborative practice. 24 Alison Smithson. 64. landscape is still representative in many descriptions and projects—representative of freedom. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Chicago and current Director of Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto.KAREN M’CLOSKEY working. which was to move beyond the “Euclidean groove. p. 126 . even if it is not a formal one. critiques of which began with the Smithsons and Team X over fifty years ago. The essay is framed within the context of how landscape urbanism has been positioned by those involved in developing programs of landscape urbanism within schools of architecture.

2) to provide a continuous boulevard for pedestrians. nearby suburbs. The objective of the New Urban Ring is to address large-scale urban design. political. Our contemporary urban and suburban landscape is often a homogeneous assemblage of meaningless commercial difference. What follows is a proposal to transform the metropolitan area centered on Boston. This scope mimics that of earlier utopian schemes. Massachusetts. that we are representing the heterogeneity that today is taken in architectural discourse to be synonymous with political pluralism. politics. We are not. simply because buildings look different from one another. and thereby allow the urbanity of the city to grow to metropolitan dimensions. rather than between neighborhoods. and even parts of the airport) around the central core of Boston to serve the following purposes: 1) to provide a circumferential transportation system to link the existing radial subway and transit lines between the city center and Route 128. some neighborhood streets. a strong. and under-developed industrial land. rather than allow it to continue to wither in the face of competition from edge cities. and regional forces. and cultural diversity in our cities. spaces. and other citizens to move through. paradoxically. we need. We should not expect. for public buildings. The New Urban Ring engages this metropolitan scale while allowing for the kind of deference to local historical urban fabric that so often eluded earlier utopian schemes. and in the space between them and the suburbs. The New Urban Ring is a proposal to assemble a ring of space (composed largely of under-used parts of the city such as railroad right-of-ways. tunnels. and monuments to accrue meaning and express difference by virtue of their relationship to one another. bikeways. spatial order that can lend hierarchy to public life. but with an important difference. and 4) to provide a place for civic representation. LANDSCAPE URBANISM. 3) to act as a catalyst for urban development in the area between the city and the suburbs. and because the landscape between them seems fractured and uncontrolled. AND INFRASTRUCTURE .BOSTON’S NEW URBAN RING An antidote to urban fragmentation GEORGE THRUSH (1996) The premise of this paper is that clear spatial order and hierarchy are necessary if we are to attain meaningful social. into just such a meaningfully heterogeneous landscape by means of an urban design strategy called the New Urban Ring. and social order. turnpike air-rights. amid the neighborhoods. bridges. and suburban sprawl. centered. Indeed the very act of making a figure-ground drawing of a 25 square mile area 127 EVERYDAY URBANISM. If we want a heterogeneous landscape capable of representing real differences in culture. cyclists.

Kaus.. Somerville. and therefore more meaningful. They make distinctions between public and private life (Sennett). (Drawing by Salvatore Raffone. MA). Many architectural. and ideas will be more recognizable. This phenomenon is the source of a very real fear about the increasing homogeneity in our society. In relation to this “common ground. Davis. food. When we look around us at even the most successful of today’s urban developments we see commercial culture as the only source of our collective identity. New York: Basic Books. Brookline. D.GEORGE THRUSH Figure 1. 3 City of Quartz. Chelsea & Everett 1996. rather than individual. 4 The End of Equality. and political pluralism promised by American cities. and political critics. These critiques rely on making distinctions between economic identity on the one hand. who had nothing to do with creating the current confusion between fantasy and reality) and the increasingly eerie similarity of experience that one finds in such formerly disparate places as Georgetown (Washington. 2 The Fall of Public Man. Lukas. wares. actual and pseudopublic places (Davis). Regional Figure/ Ground Drawing with New Urban Ring: Boston. politics. Norton & Co. the latent heterogeneity of American society seems to be evaporating despite the fact that the country is composed of more different kinds of people than ever. Mickey. The New Urban Ring is a proposal to establish a shared realm: a datum around Boston that conforms to and reinforces the city’s urban morphology. 1990. London: Verso. Chelsea & Everett 1996. cultural.3 and Mickey Kaus. people. Meaningful differences between people and places seem to be disappearing in the face of rampant commercialism and burgeoning communi128 .4 have discussed the ways in which we avoid the social. If we desire that meaningful difference in our society be reflected in the built environment. and political or civic identity on the other.) 1 Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. IL). and create artificially homogeneous communities instead. Mike. experience the same landscape—indeed. Sennett and Davis speak to the fact that architecture and urban design are often complicit in this descent into individual isolationism. New York: Alfred A. George Thrush. and a host of other increasingly “mall-like” new urban districts. Brookline. eat the same fast foods. Sennett. We buy the same products..). Cambridge. 1985. Cambridge.W. social. Regional Figure/ Ground Drawing: Boston. race. habits. Kaus attempts to re-define public expenditures in terms of public.2 Mike Davis.”1 differences in ethnicity.C. Halsted Street (Chicago. and the concomitant loss of public life. an Imprint of New Left Books. 1992. Somerville. It is often taken to be the most pressing problem in our rapidly changing culture. style. From the waterfront developments of The Rouse Corporation to the “Eisner-ization of America” (to call it “Disney-fication” seems unfair to the real Walt Disney.) centered on downtown Boston (Figures 1 and 2) speaks to the desire to address both scales. Richard. including Richard Sennett. Harvard Square (Cambridge. Knopf. and “social” versus “civic” spending by the government (Kaus). and activities of the participants all seem remarkably alike. (Drawing by Salvatore Raffone. we must find a way to make difference recognizable. The New Urban Ring is in some important ways a proposal to resist the commercial forces that make our society and its built environment increasingly homogeneous. George Thrush. HOMOGENEITY AND HETEROGENEITY Figure 2. the shops. watch the same TV shows. Anthony J. New York: W. good. 1974.

or civic means. The End of Equality.” In its place. or the traditional liberal agenda that “seeks to prevent income differences from corroding social equality by the simple expedient of reducing the incomes differences—or. to desecrate the flag. but if we are serious about trying to forge prescriptive connections between the form and content of our society in our roles as designers of the built environment. Isaiah. the effects of which we have not even begun to understand. rather than by manipulating the unequal distribution of income generated in the capitalist marketplace. 1969. 7–16. pp. while it is disturbing that we all may one day wear the same tasteful plum colored shirts and khaki pants. Berlin. lack of meaningful contact with others. 8 “The Passive Body.8 while at the same time retaining the strength of our shared political will? If the answer is 129 5 The End of Equality. place. advocates many political measures that might replace what he calls “money liberalism” (or government efforts to try to balance private economic fortunes) with “civic liberalism” (a more direct strategy of renewing civic life and civic obligations). “positive liberty”? Is the freedom to support something as a society not also a very important freedom? Finally. 7 Four Essays on Liberty. Because. they are not observations that we can afford to ignore. 28. many critics miss the opportunity to resist the cultural and spatial homogenization of our society through non-economic.6 but they are all means by which we might resist the superficial heterogeneity of capitalism with some elements of a more substantive homogeneity associated with a more cohesive society: a more cohesive society that might. to own and shoot guns. the author of a strategy for the renewal of American Liberalism titled. xxxvii–lxiii (Introduction). it almost goes without saying. and reduce difference in the world.BOSTON’S NEW URBAN RING cation technologies that further minimize the importance and character of actual. and impoverished civic life. But by fretting about the physical and spatial results of our economic system (which the electorate shows no signs whatever of wanting to change). p. etc. p.” Sennett. Oxford: Oxford University Press.” This distinction between money liberalism and civic liberalism holds tremendous opportunities for programming a re-designed landscape for America’s cities. provocatively. But it is in the nature of capitalism to standardize products. GSD News. 6 Kaus describes the failure of what he calls money liberalism. These are not new observations. 18. Is the promise of America truly “the right to be left alone” (what Isaiah Berlin would call negative liberty)?7 Or is there an affirmative good that resides in his conception of its opposite. Harvard University Graduate School of Design. to not pay taxes. he offers civic liberalism. This lack of civic commonality threatens us much more than the fact that we will soon all buy everything we own from “The GAP”.) we do not discuss what we would like to have as the common property of the community. it is more disturbing that we may take this to be the total measure of our social worth. actually see benefits to the community as clearly as we now see benefits to ourselves. The idea behind the New Urban Ring suggests that it is not the aforementioned commercial homogeneity that is the problem so much as its opposites: excessive heterogeneity. Winter. Because our political discourse is so dominated by discussion of individual rights (to have abortions. The End of Equality. 1995. through government action. rather than virtual. to smoke pot. to build on wetlands. which “pursues social equality directly. Mickey Kaus. more accurately. psychological isolation. . pp. suppressing the income differences continually generated in a capitalist economy. increase market share. is there a way to revise our public life so that it is both accepting the kind of difference that Richard Sennett describes. We also know that capitalism also widens gaps in income5. Richard.

the most vexing segment of the “middle landscape. 12–16. Cambridge. 1999 (copyright The Muriel G. Over time these 130 . and more contiguous land mass (Figure 3). Norwell. Herb Heidt and Eliza McClennan. to the thickened “neck” connecting the peninsula back to Roxbury. to the enlargement of Charlestown and the beginnings of the long process to in-fill the Back Bay. Cambridge. Charlestown. It joins the regional scale of transportation planning to the human scale of urban design. BOSTON’S GEOGRAPHY: ISOLATION AND IN-FILL 10 Boston: A Topographical History. the essay will first address these issues with respect to the city. a new metropolis could be born. we must first look at the forces that have pulled the region apart and how. 118. then the suburbs. 1968. David.T. the completion of the Back Bay. South Boston. then the urban design program of the New Urban Ring is a call for such an affirmative step. What began as a “hilly peninsula. The New Urban Ring derives its strength from synthesis. Figure 3. In keeping with the rationale for the New Urban Ring itself. from Catalogue #2: The New Urban Ring. its political and social ramifications.GEORGE THRUSH 9 “Ring Dreaming and Making. Thrush. One can follow the evolution from the original Shawmut peninsula. but they all share a similar animus. p. to the early town with its active waterfront. ferries and bridges were the only way to connect them. Leventhal Family Foundation. Brookline and Boston Proper. flatter. Whitehill. When there were large bodies of water separating these communities. All of these places existed in Boston’s earliest days. and East Boston. Press. it relates the importance of spatial order to political identity. yes. City of Boston Evolving Landmass. They are all responses to what Alex Krieger calls the lack of “rims” to connect the “hub and spoke” structure of the Boston region.I. can all trace aspects of their distinctiveness today to the physical separation of their pasts. Various rings for Boston have been conceived by different people at different times along a number of different routes. 1994. MA). 1630–1995 from Mapping Boston by Krieger. MA: Belknap/ Harvard University Press. the completion of the in-fill at Fort Point Channel. and finally the New Urban Ring. and Norman B. M.” Krieger. Charlestown. and it focuses its energy on the crucial space between city and suburb. And it was due to their separation that the system of spokes connecting them to the hub of the original Shawmut peninsula was born. and East Boston for what is now Logan Airport. cartography by MapWorks. Walter Muir. George. The evolution of Boston as a geographical entity is interesting in its own right. and if spatial order can be said to play a role in the construction of such public life. Alex and Cobb. and the accompanying transportation strategies that have evolved to serve the region. pp.” So to understand the importance of this proposal for Boston. to the enlargement of East Boston. but they were more a series of islands than part of a cohesive city. and finally. But much of the city’s original form came from civic divisions that remain to this day. Boston: Northeastern University. and the construction of Fan Pier. p. by weaving it back together. Alex. It holds the possibility to serve as what we might call the footprint of an improved social order. 1.9 This article will describe the history of that spatial order. almost completely surrounded by water”10 has been transformed through landfill over the past three and one half centuries into a much larger.

Brookline (politically distinct but virtually surrounded by Boston). East Boston. and urban) and their Protestant counterparts (traditionally English. p. since the Protestants continued to control State politics for some time. Republican. In a 1986 design studio at Harvard’s GSD. They were created at different moments during this evolution of landmass and shoreline. New York: Addison-Wesley. Dorchester. Chapter 7. 1986 from “The Order of the American City”. and Allston/Brighton. Gandelsonas. But the system of radial arteries lived on. and urban morphology. the watery voids that separated the landmasses began to shrink. 269. density. and to a lesser extent. but what is remarkable is the extent to which one can still describe the area’s politics in these terms. such as Charlestown. however. Mario Gandelsonas directed his students in describing some of this complexity through a series of drawings which are very helpful in making this point about the city’s inherent morphological contradictions (Figures 4–6). Landfill has subsequently made whole that which was separated at the start. 1992. and suburban). though it has never fully succeeded in re-connecting the fabric of the region. A prolonged series of landfill projects began to construct the Boston that we know today. Beatty. so they often shared little in the way of orientation. In a town that had been politically dominated by Protestants since the time of the Puritans. is the ongoing friction between Catholic voters (traditionally Irish. 65 (figures 2a–c). and with respect to its internal “islands” of Roxbury. So. they quickly began to emerge as a political force in the city. Perhaps the best known. . from a physical standpoint. Jack. because even as the city became a more contiguous piece of land. The result was that. and independently of one another. Diagram of Boston. The most powerful tool in this repressive arsenal was (and remains) something called “Home Rule. 1987. After the great migration of the Irish to Boston in the middle of the nineteenth century. Democrat. 263 and p. p. and most easily recognized. This has evolved over time. South Boston. they became even more important than ever as orientation devices. PAROCHIALISM IN POLITICS Figures 4–6. the political rise of the Irish was seen as a threat. they sought to limit the power of their urban brethren by limiting the political power of the city. As the city grew. The physical distinctions that describe Boston’s neighborhoods and nearby suburbs are reinforced by political distinctions that mark their ideals and prejudices. its neighborhoods remained quite distinct. Mario Assemblage #3. Boston was conceived as a collection of parts: both with respect to the parts of the city that remain separated from the “hub” by water.” a State law under which the City of Boston must gain the approval of the legislature before levying any new taxes.BOSTON’S NEW URBAN RING initial radial routes from the center of Boston Proper became the primary roads in the adjoining communities as well. Moreover.11 By controlling the city’s ability to raise 131 11 The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley (1874–1958). The city has had a long history of conflict between local and regional interests.

refer to the images of the contemporary city with overlays of the B. and racial boundaries. So. the area known as “the Boston Region”—which is actually no larger than an average-sized metropolis—could not be planned like one. ethnic. AND RECREATION The most important precursors to the regionalism of the New Urban Ring were Arthur Shurtleff and the Boston Society of Architects’ (B. Each of these urban boulevards has the added regionalizing effect of crossing economic. American politics is filled with ethnic and religious conflicts like these.) Committee on Municipal Improvements. class. While they are all different. there were profound political obstacles to coordinating the physical planning of the city as a whole. The Committee’s proposal for an Inner and Outer Boulevard was remarkably like today’s proposed New Urban Ring. the Protestant suburbanites limited the potential power of the Catholic Irish.GEORGE THRUSH revenue. then Governor Michael S. in a place where cooperation between small political entities was essential. He certainly benefited from the previous administration’s decision (with his encouragement) to abandon the so-called “Inner-Belt” expressway that would have so fractured Boston’s physical landscape as to make it nearly irreparable.S. and each connects radial routes through circumferential connections. and remain so today. more beneficial regional alliances that might have served the metropolitan area much better than the latent parochialism and separatism that emerged. Perhaps the most profound regionalization of Boston’s transportation planning and infrastructure came in the 1970s under the leadership of Fred Salvucci. To reinforce the similarity of conditions which support the need for the New Urban Ring (in any of its variants) today. Shurtleff’s analytical drawings of both existing and proposed radial and circumferential routes throughout the region offer the evidence that such boulevards were necessary then. Dukakis’ Secretary of Transportation. and racial boundaries. Due to its inherently fractured and separated physical character.A. But Salvucci inherited a Metropolitan Transit Authority whose range was limited to fourteen municipalities. But this mutual animosity also caused Bostonians and their political leaders to resist other. and the author’s alignments of the New Urban Ring. each alignment takes advantage of the same latent morphology in the region.S. REGIONALISM IN TRANSPORTATION. but in Boston they were particularly destructive to planning and designing the built environment because this conflict between the city and all of its neighbors restrained inter-municipal cooperation and regional planning. INFRASTRUCTURE. It consisted of circumferential (or ring-like) boulevards that would cross municipal. its 1994 plan. and as such 132 .’s 1907 plan. class. This is important because it is the regional scale of transportation infrastructure that can serve as the armature for the regionalized urbanism of the New Urban Ring.A.

Board of Directors. which ultimately led to many important improvements in this area.B. There were even steps taken toward making “inter-modal” stations. 8/22/95. former Member of M.12 SUBURBANIZATION: POLITICS REDUX 12 From an interview with Claire Barrett. J. or loop was needed. Dionne calls 133 .” So it became clear that some sort of ring.A. The intersection of these goals could create the physical landscape for a new kind of politics. and finally. The most critical improvements were the extension of the Red Line subway route. The resuscitated transportation network also took the concerns of inner-city pedestrians to heart for the first time since the advent of the large-scale highway systems after World War II.T. in the case of the Southwest Corridor Park. The interests of the suburban commuters to downtown were being served at the expense of the even greater needs of the residents of the space “in-between. much as Route 128 had for the suburbs a generation earlier. that offered automobile commuters the chance to exchange their cars for public transit while still well outside of the city. an entirely new pedestrian sequence was created alongside the new Orange Line. and extending far out into suburban Boston. The regionalization of the Boston area’s transportation infrastructure made the entire region much more accessible. but that served instead as more of a urban development generator. the Orange Line extension/Southwest Corridor Park. one that political writer E. the depression of the Central Artery and the construction of the Third Harbor Tunnel. THE NEW URBAN RING: AN ANTIDOTE TO URBAN FRAGMENTATION So the mission of the New Urban Ring is a complex one. For even as the area’s radial connections between inner city and suburb were being strengthened.BOSTON’S NEW URBAN RING had little regional impact. something that approximated the scale and connectivity of the Inner Belt. most influentially. the purchase of commuter rail lines to the north and south of the city from the Boston-Maine and Conrail respectively. or belt. But there remained an aspect of even these enlightened transportation planning efforts that continued to segregate the region. He left with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority serving seventy-eight cities and towns. It is to resist the latent parochialism of the Boston region from both a political and bureaucratic standpoint and to take advantage of the opportunities for regionalism. such as those at Quincy and Alewife. Special attention was given to the quality of stations and. the circumferential connections through the often under-developed “middle-landscape” of nearby suburbs and disenfranchised urban neighborhoods were being ignored. It became possible to commute between the city center and the more distant suburbs. The key to his overall regionalization efforts was the Boston Transportation Planning Review of 1974.

E. the commercial (or artificial) heterogeneity of haphazard development patterns could be replaced by a heavily structured public sequence where key sites would have tremendous opportunities for real civic.. the need for a strong political middle:13 a political movement that could harness that great deal about which Americans do not disagree. where travel through previously unwelcoming neighborhoods would now be possible. Such a system would create the possibility of two-sided building types like supermarkets which could sit directly on the street front on the central boulevard. When liberals hear talk about ‘the common good’. Conservatives who dislike government see the revival of a civic politics as a way of invoking old language to justify modern big government. that would include dedicated lanes for rapid transit. in some of the tighter existing conditions. another astute observer of the contemporary political scene.and pedestrian-based central boulevard. “conservatives and liberals are suspicious of an ethic of the ‘public good’ for very different reasons.”14 Mickey Kaus. the draft. or even three. it should serve as an especially safe place in the city. URBAN DESIGN STRATEGIES In order for all of these opportunities to find their way into the real experience of the city. J. it would allow for the representation of Boston’s rich (and parochial) character along a regional route. meaning. different ring typologies would have to be developed to accommodate the widely varied spatial conditions found in the Boston area. As discussed earlier. pp.” His “civic liberalism” is a program for required national service. 14 Ibid. Of course it must also serve as the kind of infrastructure that can create jobs. rather than commercial. fear that civic talk will mean the creation of a homogeneous community. 329–355. along the lines of Vienna’s Ringstrasse. This will not be easy. and controlled vehicular lanes (Figure 7). 15 The End of Equality. public day care. national health care. Dionne. Perhaps most importantly. the Ring might continue with only 134 . 1991. In addition. Chapter 13. fearful of too much talk about virtue and community. complex boulevard. provide transportation..GEORGE THRUSH 13 Why Americans Hate Politics. One would be a single. As Dionne notes. ample pedestrian paths. however.15 But the program and alignment for Boston’s New Urban Ring is designed specifically to make a place for Kaus and Dionne’s vision of a renewed public sphere. all as a means of encouraging the racial and class mixing that traditional “money liberalism” has failed so miserably to produce. road system of parallel streets that would allow the separation of truck service and automobile traffic from the transit. Liberals. Physical homogeneity could make cultural and political heterogeneity possible. 7–16. The second would be a two. New York: Touchstone. pp. Finally. and play other more prosaic roles in contemporary life. and civic celebrations. There would be three basic cross-sectional typologies. 333. p. is more specific in his description of exactly how we might physically achieve this “common good. they often think of Jerry Falwell. while retaining ample parking access from one of the secondary circumferential streets.

Another way that the Ring could be apprehended is as an episodic series of nodes. more preferably. By making constant reference to a single center (the downtown core. Austria. and indeed could not and should not. REGIONAL MASTER PLAN Figure 7. and as such would be able to work with a subway type transportation system. the Ring could perform a critical role in the spatial orientation of both visitors and residents alike. towers. as a series of parts connected by the New Urban Ring. building setbacks. because its visibility along the route would be important for maintaining the Ring’s “continuity. such as a trolley or dedicated bus line. node-based Ring would rely more on landmarks. vast tracts around Sullivan Square. Vienna. and colonnade dimensions would be part of the visual guidelines used to inform development along the alignment. large 135 16 A combination of a large convention facility and a domed football stadium currently under review by the Massachusetts State Legislature. . because the stations would occur at the specified nodes and their route beyond the nodes would be of less importance. Instead it can serve as the backbone of a regional “master plan” that would encourage development in the Boston region that would be integrated.”16 either as a whole or. This type of urban design strategy would work best with a surface transportation system. the character and definition of the nodes (presumably at key transportation transfer points) would be especially important. is one example.BOSTON’S NEW URBAN RING allées of trees and building setback and height regulations to help transform existing streets into parts of the New Urban Ring. The location of a “megaplex. progressive and morphologically appropriate. depend on the selection of either the continuous or episodic structure for the Ring (and there is no reason why both could not be employed along different portions of the Ring). of course. Building regulations would. The Ringstrasse. For the continuous type. Many neighborhood-specific proposals could grow from the New Urban Ring. There are tremendous development opportunities along the Conrail railroad right-of-way in Cambridge and Somerville. but there are several others. both the physical and political structures of the city are reinforced. height limitations. and other identifiable elements visible from a great distance.” The episodic. or center of the Ring). something which has always been notoriously difficult in Boston—even for long time residents. be implemented all at one time. Using the New Urban Ring as a regional “master plan” would do more for maintaining the oft-cited and presumably much-loved “character” of Boston than any collection of historical stylistic guidelines. however. In either case. without being unnecessarily nostalgic in the process. helping to form a mental map of one’s surroundings. In this configuration. The idea has tremendous power because it need not. rather than as a continuous spatial corridor. Such a plan could have a major impact on many important projects that are being considered right now.

Mike. the transit connections envisioned in the New Urban Ring have been extensively studied as a prelude to some form of implementation. The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley (1874–1958). New York: Touchstone. BIBLIOGRAPHY Beatty. Four Essays on Liberty.. ideas. Boston: Northeastern University. Berlin. Mickey. 1994. 29. p. But the power of this fundamentally urban design proposal must not be allowed to dissolve into merely a question of ridership estimates based on current conditions. 1969. the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will commission a study of the idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press. and The Boston Globe convened The Boston Conference on “the accessible region” at which a national jury admonished the city and state to get together and “build the Urban Ring. The End of Equality. Jack. Davis. Citizens must be persuaded that there is more to American life than pure individualism. beliefs.T. there is un-used or underused land looking for a vision of how it might all work together. The New Urban Ring is a proposal that could repair and re-make the region by re-connecting its citizens. 1994. October 30. THE FUTURE 17 “Turning Point”.I. New York: Basic Books. Thrush. Alex. M. New York: Addison-Wesley. The Boston Globe Magazine. 1992. “Ring Dreaming and Making” from Catalogue #2: The New Urban Ring. NOTE As of 2007. In 1994. Harvard. If we desire a heterogeneous public life in place of the commercial homogeneity that we currently endure. We need not build it all at once. London: Verso. J. Isaiah. But we need to start (Figure 8). George. an Imprint of New Left Books. 136 . 1991. Lawrence W. Dionne. Krieger. and all the way from South Boston to Roxbury. 1992. Why Americans Hate Politics.GEORGE THRUSH portions of Charlestown’s waterfront that are now underutilized.”17 and in 1996. Planning the City Upon the Hill. Kennedy. 1990. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press. and activities into a greater whole. the space between Boston’s downtown core and its nearby suburbs offers the perfect place to try to build it. more than separatism and commerce. City of Quartz. 1992. but because the region still lacks a regional planning authority. But it will not happen merely because designers think it is a formally attractive idea. Kaus. E. A 1989 state transportation study reviewed circumferential transit. Central Square in East Boston has the potential to be one of the city’s most beautiful. the larger and even more critical physical and economic development aspects of the proposal have not yet received similar attention.

Boston’s New Urban Ring. Schneider. June 1992. 1995. Sennett. Whitehill. October 30. The Boston Globe Magazine. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 84th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. MA: Belknap/ Harvard University Press. William. Richard.BOSTON’S NEW URBAN RING Figure 8. 1968. Sennett. Knopf. Harvard University Graduate School of Design. “The Passive Body”. “The Suburban Century Begins”. George Thrush. Anthony J. Walter Muir. GSD News.) Lukas. Norton & Co. Richard. Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. with two case study areas built-out in Boston University/ Cambridgeport and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Roxbury. Boston: A Topographical History. New York: Alfred A. The Fall of Public Man. The Atlantic Monthly. (Drawing by Salvatore Raffone. Thomas C. 1996.. 1996.W. 1974. 137 . “Turning Point”. 1985. New York: W. Winter. Cambridge. Palmer. 1994.

BROWN (1995) LANDSCAPE URBANISM. sewage. To describe infrastructure as public works. AND INFRASTRUCTURE Infrastructure is a metaphor for a much bigger set of issues or a much deeper reckoning about the future. It’s these built systems that create our hoped-for protection—and connection. emphasizing infrastructure development as one of the primary tools for accomplishing both. water supply. and to define public works as those utilitarian functions which merely support the economic productivity of the community. garbage disposal and. 138 INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT . Structures are important. we found ourselves reexamining some fundamental questions. infrastructure became the buzz word of the day. the network for community connections. and maintenance of the “practical” aspects of city services. and a vivid display of local ecological resources. tossed about as casually in the media as it was at cocktail parties. It’s a metaphor for how we care about and cope with the future. It’s not just concerned about structures. design. When the Clinton Transition Team contacted us regarding our thoughts as urban designers on the role and function of infrastructure in the remaking of community. President Clinton spoke of the need to establish a new compact between the national leadership and its citizens in a common quest to rebuild America’s economy as well as its communities. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. I believe a starting point for any kind of strategy on infrastructure is to think about the built environment with as much discipline and passion as the most concerned bring to the question of the natural environment. such as transportation. Each community has a public works department responsible for the planning. plant. dams and water systems are also a means by which we relate to each other as humans and this fragile and beautiful planet. we found that infrastructure is often narrowly equated with public works. WILLIAM R. in many cities.EVERYDAY URBANISM. hides the broader possibilities of infrastructure as the repository of cultural imagination. But the highways. What is infrastructure? How can an expanded understanding of it maximize the benefits of new infrastructure dollars for human. Nancy Rutledge Connery Executive Director National Council on Public Works Throughout his 1992 election campaign. parks and recreation. Before long. bridges. They provide a service that has value. and animal communities? Unfortunately.

A ROOM WITH A DIFFERENT VIEW: CONSEQUENCES OF THE SPLIT As in Le Corbusier’s drawing. This bisection was successful as long as these systems remained inconspicuous and little in number. tied to the houses in this idyllic landscape by neutral thin lines. sewage. and families recreate. which performs the dirty job of transforming natural material into head. Thus. Landuse planning would protect their “room with a view”—their uninterrupted “view” of the sun. treating it as a mere utilitarian system to tap for needed services. ugly workings of infrastructure are stowed out of sight like the power plant of a transatlantic ship. The Radiant City. power plants. many suburbanites have believed that they could escape the ugliness of the urban infrastructure and environmental degradation of the city and start over in the woods and wetlands of the surrounding suburban communities. most suburban comprehensive plans are based on the separation of two worlds: the utilitarian and the natural. published in 1933. and garbage disposal as mere utilitarian systems rather than cultural artifacts or forms of public art. and factories—is drawn below the picture frame. children are raised. Infrastructure blight—electrical lines. and power below the water line of the ship. and the highway skillfully hidden in foliage. 139 .INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT INFRASTRUCTURE AS A REPOSITORY OF CULTURAL IMAGINATION: MEANING AND BEAUTY Builders of the post-World War II landscape have separated function from form in infrastructure. In it. With the unsightly clutter of infrastructure hidden beneath the drawing. water supply. Le Corbusier illustrates how he and many other designers have selectively edited infrastructure out of the new urban utopia. single-function service systems that by-passed homes as they supplied the needs of economic productivity. power lines. Infrastructure would be constructed outside the picture frame. They could leave untouched the natural. The results have been mixed. Since the 1950s. In his scheme the landscape is green. the sun bright. This split is clearly illustrated by Le Corbusier’s central text on urbanism. we have designed and planned our postWorld War II American cities under the illusion that infrastructure was a utility to be placed out of sight and separated from the landscapes that nurture us spiritually as well as economically. One of the book’s infrastructure diagrams is particularly telling. and the purity of their water. and there was enough undeveloped land to buffer subdivisions from infrastructure. sewers. The messy. regarding the city’s network of transportation. the residential landscape takes on the contours of a 19th century park. environment where homes are established. We assumed that the landscape had an ever-increasing capacity to absorb growth and remain a pristine scenic backdrop. a tranquil place to re-create oneself far from the modern world’s assaults upon the well-being of the inhabitant. Utilitarian structures were conceived as benign. or aesthetic. clean water. their patch of green.

has crept into full view in the front yard. Infrastructure can—and should—make those lines of connection clear and vivid. Small county roads are being expanded into trunk highways to meet increased demand. or architecture. John Brinckerhoff Jackson. and the hinterland whose natural resources sustain it. In the suburbs. Today. New thoroughfares are treated as mere functional conduits whose sole purpose is to move goods. and homogenizing a landscape which was supposed to be a safe.WILLIAM R. the infrastructure. BROWN Consequences of the split view of infrastructure: “From the backyard into the front yard. comfortable refuge from the grittiness of the city. wetlands have been drained and channeled into storm sewers. says that the most magnificent city complexes “recognize the need to integrate infrastructure. which was supposed to remain in the alley at the rear of the house.” Infrastructure is the visible underpinning of civic life. with landscape. In his book Discovering the Vernacular Landscape.” But the newness of the suburban landscape has begun to wear off and the older infrastructure of the inner city is collapsing. not a necessary evil to be placed “below the picture frame. a civilizing amenity. destroying. and people fast and efficiently. services. which can instruct citizens about their values and relationships to each other and highlight the connections between the city. the noted scholar of American landscape. fracturing. woodlands have disappeared. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. or civil engineering. To build infrastructure that participates this deeply in the imaginative life of its community requires a fundamental shift in our attitude toward the landscape. Both are learning that infrastructure is a cultural utility. suburb.” Beautiful 140 . WHERE DO WE LOOK FOR ANSWERS? The city and suburb are beginning to find that degraded and degrading infrastructure is an issue they have in common.

a man-made system of spaces superimposed on the face of the land. “If it looks good. Chief among these goals is enriching our sense of place. we believe that infrastructure must fulfill broader cultural. identity. by bridging our commonwealth and enhancing the workings of ecological systems.” For Jackson. The infrastructure in these human-made landscapes should serve multiple goals. He points to Holland. or Frederick Law Olmsted’s design for the Boston Fens as examples of this synthetic landscape whose “organizations of space have been so well assimilated into the natural environment that they are indistinguishable and unrecognized for what they are. Sometimes we neglect exploring the cultural possibilities of infrastructure under the misguided policy.” one of the essays in the book. and history. In “The Word Itself. and ecological functions. social. INFRASTRUCTURE AS LANDSCAPE: THREE BACKGROUNDS FOR OUR COLLECTIVE EXISTENCE In order for infrastructure to become the background for our collective existence.INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT and brilliant schemes are created when “they both reorganize space for human needs. presence. and if background seems inappropriately modest we should remember that in our modern use of the word it means that which underscores not only our identity and presence. we have conceived of infrastructure as a neutral gray utility. as objects and spaces devoid of cultural expression or celebration out of a fear of distracting the motorist or drawing attention to the messy plumbing of the city. INFRASTRUCTURE: ENRICHING OUR SENSE OF PLACE Traditionally. infrastructure not only provides the backdrop for culture but the very ingredients that make it possible: In the contemporary world it is by recognizing this similarity of purpose that we will eventually formulate a new definition of landscape: a composition of made-made or man-modified spaces to serve as infrastructure or background for our collective existence. but also our history. both produce works of art in the truest sense. functioning and evolving not according to natural laws but to serve a community—for the collective character of the landscape is one thing that all generations and all points of view have agreed upon. Jackson writes: A landscape is not a natural feature of the environment but a synthetic space.” To do this we need to recognize the inseparability of landscape and infrastructure.” We must remember that these pieces and systems perform the essential 141 . it costs too much. an engineered landscape largely reclaimed from the North Sea.

to give priority to infrastructure projects that improve formal. the steam-driven 142 . place. One of America’s most outstanding examples of the rich layering of cultural and function in infrastructure is Philadelphia’s Fairmount Waterworks. and aesthetic connections and create a heightened sense of place for our citizens. Beautiful infrastructure that is inspired by and responsive to the physical and topographic features of the locale is primary to creating community identity and a personal sense of orientation. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. We need. They enrich our sense of who we are and characterize the places we inhabit. ecology and commonwealth. then.WILLIAM R. built in 1815.” “cultural workings” of our society. connect and enhance. BROWN Three infrastructure backgrounds to our collective existence: “Enrich. Among the country’s first urban water systems. spatial.

civic buildings. where city water pumps battle round the clock to prevent the groundwater from flooding the slim crust of elevated land upon which the city’s character is defined. is the construction of 143 . Though newer facilities have been built to meet the city’s increased demands for water. and waterworks—as signature landmarks that can guide us through the complex web of places in urban landscapes. the waterworks stand today as a historic landmark. our whole web of infrastructure—roads. and prominent topographic features as visual landmarks that help us orient ourselves in the city and mark sub-districts within a larger metropolitan area. Just as it provides the lines of continuity between the past and the present and provides the foundation upon which our future rests. a utilitarian acropolis set into Fairmount Park that symbolized the new democratic urban landscape amid the park’s natural systems. however. As part of a proposed $1 billion infrastructure development. as in New Orleans. we have given little thought to the usefulness of infrastructure— the highways. to establish an orientation and path-finding framework. garbagetransfer facilities. power lines. The city of Phoenix has taken steps to capture this opportunity. Following the Fairmount Waterworks. underscored the basic legacy among American cities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries of building public temples and parks to house infrastructure. the city asked us in 1987 to assist the Phoenix Arts Commission in constructing a unique urban design plan which used public works to improve the physical quality of the community. infrastructure can also shape a spatial framework for cognitive path-finding to help citizens find their way across a metropolitan landscape. according to the Phoenix Public Arts Plan. More recently. the city chose a group of Greek Revival temples. The city’s goal. To house these waterworks. in his way. for example. an infrastructural “ruin” that provides a tangible reminder of the cultural values that have shaped the city. pumping stations. and water treatment plants—need to be more broadly conceived as not only service system. water mains. they have three functions: to provide a repository for collective memory. Not only did they define the public realm and symbolize democracy’s collective power. and to provide a clear curriculum of civic instruction on how to use and value this investment. designed by Frederick Graff. but these landmarks remind us of our daily struggle to shape the forces of nature into the landscapes which provide the foundation for our modern cities.INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT plant pumped water from the Schuylkill River into the homes of Philadelphia residents. parks.” Keillor. it’s “remarkable that all the towns in Iowa were named after their water tanks. As such. In the past we have used historic monuments. Where do we go from here? Garrison Keillor once joked. but as armatures for culture.

value. and a garbage-truck transfer station into a public landmark and environmental education center. This can be created by responding to the context of natural and built landscape. climatic conditions and the historic/cultural tradition of the desert Southwest. This plan has resulted in several public artworks. That connection provides a common set of experiences that facilitate a clearer understanding of how we. and vegetation recovery 144 . recyclable materials sorting. a series of sites linked to the spatial and public infrastructure systems of Phoenix. director of the city’s Department of Public Works. these canals and water systems have become new focuses of community activity and development.” says Ron Jensen. Phoenix citizens have learned that the city’s infrastructure legacy dates to the irrigation canals of the Hohokam that crisscrossed the valley floor nearly 1600 years ago. but also for the creation of a public orientation system. Described as a multi-functional marketplace. “I would like this facility to become one of the features visitors come to Phoenix to see. a standard highway overpass into a new neighborhood gateway. . these irrigation canals provide the basis for linking neighborhoods and the city with the basic life-giving force of the area’s water. Supported by the Phoenix Arts Commission. Infrastructure is now part of Phoenix citizens’ “mental map. In a city dominated by streets and highways. and a framework for a new community map. the facility not only serves as a site for solid-waste transfer. artists Linnea Glatt and Michael Singer— with the help of consulting engineers Black and Veach—transformed this standard landfill project into an educational landmark. including the transformation of a new cross-town expressway into a desert parkway heavily planted with native vegetation. The public art “system” idea helps a person locate oneself within the expansive urban landscape partly by creating a heightened sense of orientation. Collectively individual works of art and the public art system as a whole can help the citizen to better understand and comprehend both the city and the region.WILLIAM R. The city of Phoenix has extended this kind of civic instruction into one of the most banal of urban infrastructures—a garbage-transfer and recycling center—with impressive results. are related and how our actions are connected to maintaining the quality of the place. BROWN . Incorporating instructional devices establishes a connection between the community and the engineered utility. This approach allows for not only the provision of sites suitable for artists’ works. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. Today. as individuals. These infrastructure facilities were also designed to be didactic—instructing citizens about the meaning. transforming basic facilities into attractive public places in which citizens experience key lessons of public responsibility.” These cognitive landmarks help them define themselves and the place in which they live. For example. and function of the systems that support their communities. .

a solid-waste library. but also hosts educational and demonstration projects for the public.” and mulching. Designed as much more than the standard single-use dump. amphitheater for films and lecture. recycling displays that chronicle the history of waste disposal. Phoenix’s new waste facility includes a desert landscape built upon a mound of discarded concrete sidewalk and demolition material. and an elevated walkway that allows visitors to view 145 .INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT Phoenix Public Art Works “cultural infrastructure.

the facility teaches more responsible “refuse” habits. recycling. out of mind’ context. few citizens are aware of the magni146 . Recent federal reports state that deferred maintenance has contributed to America’s economic decline. in others.” fulfilling a goal outlined in a project brochure: “Unlike most recycling or transfer facilities that operate in an ‘out of site. The waste complex. Furthermore. the system is more efficiently used and maintenance costs are reduced.” Though the costs for this innovative and imaginative investment are comparable to those of building a standard landfill transfer station. for example.and second-ring communities. this facility will encourage visitors to view the entire operation. the payoffs are much greater in the long term. the public got its first glimpse of the facility at a black-tie event called “Dance at the Dump. Instead of building upon this foundation. An adjacent storm-water recharge landscape. BROWN waste operations. We’ve stretched our resources to such an extent that gaps have begun to appear in the fabric of not only our inner cities. Site landscaping and connections between the building and the surrounding mountains remind visitors about how good waste management can help to reduce degradation of the area’s fragile desert. subdivides what we share. Starting in the 1950s and ending in the 1980s. but our first. we have diverted system maintenance funding to capitalize on new infrastructure at the outer limits of urban centers—at the expense of our networks in our existing city. more than $3 trillion are needed nationwide to upgrade our existing systems. In 1992. since 1980. And by making this facility a civic showpiece rather than a dumping ground. For one thing. Not surprisingly. By some estimates. as well. aging infrastructure is in rapid decline. could serve as an anchor for new private and public development centering on education. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. INFRASTRUCTURE: BRIDGING OUR COMMONWEALTH In our earnest efforts to provide the needed infrastructure to service a vital economy. we’ve pursued a wasteful. currently under construction. the city multiplies the land-use possibilities of surrounding sites. we focused our natural resources on building an infrastructure system for our cities across our nation. and abandons poorer communities. and the environment. we’ve often forgotten that infrastructure is one of the most visible fruits of a community’s collective labor. inequitable course that squanders this collective infrastructure investment. visitors learn about the impacts of their waste behavior on the larger eco-community. these systems exist with underutilized excess capacity. By teaching citizens how to be better consumers of the service. As a result. In some areas. The future costs of this neglect are staggering. Infrastructure is a public resource that requires continual maintenance. teaches lessons about desert water harvesting.WILLIAM R.

and waterfiltering stations. Ohio (population 350. storm-water channels. This major community investment—bridges. We must focus our attention on the public square—the common good that undergirds our national and global destinies. greater awareness of this investment is changing urban attitudes and policies. As such. As Cornell West describes. The success of these efforts rests on the recognition that infrastructure is created by our collective efforts and represents our collective wealth. The vitality of any public square ultimately depends on how much we care about the quality of our lives together. In cities such as Cincinnati. a city commission of business and community leaders recently inventoried city facilities and procedures. With the help of neighborhood groups and individual citizens. But this hasn’t happened.000). however. The lasting benefit of this civic exercise is an engaged public. river-front esplanades. This community involvement proved so valuable that citizen committees are now appointed on an ongoing basis to advise a variety of city departments. infrastructure should be designed as bridges to link us rather than walls to divide us. involved in the long and difficult task of making public infrastructure contribute to community revitalization. we have ignored the possibility of using those same systems to reinforce and access the “common” wealth of an interconnected city. The commission’s final report presented more than 100 recommendations. We have so successfully placed it out of sight that we have lost contact with its fundamental role in shaping our collective existence. it becomes the public domain that we own and share. city officials and business leaders calculated the replacement cost of that infrastructure as $10. One of the most positive results of this public effort was the enlistment of the larger community in the making and maintaining of public works. from economic prosperity and social vitality to the physical quality of the city’s neighborhoods.2 billion in 1990 dollars. including an earnings tax proposal that voters passed as one of the first steps towards rebuilding the city’s infrastructure and neighborhoods.INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT tude of the investment we have made—in money. energy. Therefore. and social upheaval—to construct and maintain existing infrastructure in our cities. 147 . In our eagerness to use infrastructure primarily to maintain the wealth of central marketplaces. Aware of its valuable heritage. not to mention more linear miles of retaining walls than any other American city to keep neighborhoods on the hills overlooking the Ohio River from sliding down its banks—provides civic identity and ensures Cincinnati’s competitive edge as a regional marketplace. The neglect of our public infrastructure and sewage systems. park systems. As part of a recent public assessment of the city’s infrastructure. Cincinnati has begun to rebuild a stronger sense of community by leveraging its infrastructure heritage.

The resulting isolation makes it easy to abandon established neighborhoods for “safer” places ever farther out on the metropolitan fringe. the woodlands. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. and streams that enhance the quality of their lives and underpin the basic economic value of their home investments.and upper-middle-class residents in suburban areas. but also the low priority we place on our common life. fields. orientation and. thereby despoiling even more open space. highways. many city residents have lost control of their streets to commuter traffic and their trees to disease and pollution. residents find that they have lost their cherished natural resources. Yet. BROWN bridges. mixed land-use development. subways and streets—reflects not only our myopic economic polities. 148 . Before we consume more raw land. we should successfully capture the full potential of our existing investment.WILLIAM R. reinforcing in some cases and causing in others a de facto form of class segregation. most importantly. and services available to middle. they find woodlands cleared and streams channeled into box culverts for warehouse discount stores. office parks and massive highway rights-of-way. goods. In their place. our sense of community. The narrow utilitarian focus of past infrastructure has created invisible barriers between economic classes and ethnic groups. Already. which impede productivity. In the outer suburbs. As we lose these features. To balance the existing investment disparity between city and suburb. Despite the fact that inner-city residents are taxed at higher rates to maintain the basic core of water and power systems that serve the outer edges. We should give priority to infrastructure projects that address basic inequities between inner city and suburban neighborhoods. new development growth should be forced to pay the true cost of infrastructure at the expanding metropolitan edges rather than simply the construction price tag. restricting job access to low-income families without automobiles. Where do we go from here? Infrastructure systems must improve both the functional and physical sense of connection between neighborhoods and the larger community. we lose our sense of security. Dispersed employment centers in the suburbs are poorly serviced by transit. tunnels. they are increasingly segregated from the growing range of jobs. highways subdivide inner-city neighborhoods to accommodate job commutes for suburban workers crisscrossing the metropolitan area via the central core. We should give priority to new infrastructure projects that build on past investments and seek to reunite the segmented parts of the commonwealth—projects that link and integrate development with compact. whose traffic spews heavy metals and noise into the air.

” We should encourage infrastructure projects that evolve out of public participation. in the long term it increases the effectiveness and acceptance of the system as a cultural amenity and minimizes the possibility of protracted citizen protests and environmental lawsuits. Because we have viewed infrastructure as the servant of industry and national defense. Access means getting to more places conveniently. And public involvement produces educated users of the system. are average citizens. Public participation. ultimately 149 . the focus is on places. INFRASTRUCTURE: ENHANCING ECOLOGICAL FUNCTION Until now. “The key to integrating our thinking about transportation and land use.INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT Transportation planning should begin with the premise that we must reduce travel time to work. often to the neglect or even the destruction of places. while it builds the long-term commitment necessary to support both construction and operating costs. public participation produces solutions that leverage each dollar to improve both service and quality of place. Finally. Countering our municipal funding crises. we need a language that transforms “arterial streets” into community avenues and “detention ponds” into neighborhood parks. Mobility focuses on paths. Mobility means going faster and farther. The primary users of infrastructure. the supply side of the economy—businesses and manufacturing—has been seen as the primary client of infrastructure development so that we’ve produced industrial systems rather than a public realm for community. Instead we must promote projects that underwrite employer-based transportation programs. in which infrastructure denies the richness of natural systems. to assist this dialogue we need to develop a new vocabulary for infrastructure that enlarges functional engineering terms to include words that describe the cultural and social life of a community and its qualities of place.” says planner Joel Woodhull of Southern California’s Rapid Transit Development. if properly orchestrated from the beginning. On the contrary. to incrementally change worker habits and locational decisions. To create infrastructure that bridges the diverse social patterns and needs of our metropolitan commonwealth. reducing abuse and decreasing maintenance costs. We must recognize that there is no such thing as truly free parking (even if the driver does not pay for the privilege). With access. Traditionally. through consolidating destinations and providing convenient access to alternate modes of travel. “is to focus on access rather than mobility. we’ve favored the conventional simple engineering approach. Federal programs should encourage projects which incorporate their needs and demands while improving service and the quality of place. however. the terms for its planning and design are technical and standardized. does not add cost.

We have created infrastructure to turn “straw into gold. we should not forget to maintain the fields that grow the straw. and character of the landscape to benefit both society and natural systems. In the process we have ignored the diverse physical and cultural features of regional geography in our construction of a rational infrastructure system. Even in a global “information” market. And it totally transforms the area. Nebraska. we have crisscrossed the American landscape with such simple systems in our attempt to create a standardized national system of support for our nation’s participation in the global market.” This project and others like it clearly point to a new type of artistic ecological engineering that provides public service while adding beauty and fiscal value to our civic investment. even the most mundane and “un-public” of urban functions—the sewage-treatment plant—can become a beautiful ecological civic landmark. and builds what J. in “The Word Itself. In 1990. providing twice the benefit from a single investment. Using a serpentine form inspired by Native American earthworks. The engineering approach creates a single-use network that moves goods. “The results have just been excellent. we still need living forests to supply the timber for our houses and replenish the air we breath with oxygen. and people over the land through capital-intensive concrete and steel conduits that neither give nor receive much support from the landscape through which they pass. Jackson.WILLIAM R. complex systems are also multiuse. the village of Alvo. On the other hand. functions. an alternate complex design approach mimics ecological function and the spirit of the landscape. Unfortunately. It no longer looks like your typical sewage lagoon at all—it’s beautifully artistic.B. cleaner and clearer in appearance. then the maintenance of natural systems should be the starting point for the creation of future 150 . “We chose it because it costs less and we believed it would be environmentally kind. hired Minneapolis artist and engineer Viet Ngo to create a sewage-treatment system.” to control nature and make it the supporting foundation for our lives. village vice chairperson. As we collect the gold.” says Barbara Hollinger. they metabolize excess algae while absorbing and bio-concentrating harmful chemicals. in a 1991 Artnews article on the project. Ngo created a sewage-holding pond covered with a carpet of duckweed. Using this new definition of infrastructure. and it’s prevented any algae’s growth. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. If natural resources are fundamental to our lives. As plant-massings drive from the pond’s intake pipe to the outflow in an adjacent lake.” This system seeks to use the ecological features. BROWN stripping away complex wealth from the landscape.” calls “synthetic organizations of space [that] have been so well assimilated into the natural environment that they are indistinguishable and unrecognized for what they are. services. Designed to be integrated into the landscape.

favoring projects that function ecologically and use natural systems as extensions and components of an infrastructure. Biologists believe that these pathways will become increasingly important as the climate band shifts. Without it. promote projects that improve the “living” viability of the natural systems. Multi-functional systems tend to require the acquisition of land. infrastructure ceases to function. We should develop infrastructure projects that protect and replenish natural systems. projects that use native plant materials and provide protection against the invasion of foreign plant materials that undermine local plant and animal habitats. but they can also provide pathways for plants and animals on their cyclical migrations. could have stalled the spread of the destructive kudzu vine that has used the highway corridor as an expansion route on its devastating northbound rampage to engulf and damage power lines and bridges. Native vegetation planted along the East Coast interstate system. Infrastructure is more than a utility. thereby increasing local maintenance costs. We should favor projects that enrich and connect existing communities of plants and animals. changes the way we define the word landscape. Where do we go from here? Whenever possible we should choose multi-functional systems over singleuse systems. Moreover. Ultimately. healthy forests. air. but those additional property costs can be off-set in the long-term municipal maintenance costs of concrete and steel systems. Water quality is rapidly becoming the number one environmental issue for both the public and private sector. there is no economy without a living nature. A 1992 151 . for example. We should encourage the development of this kind of infrastructure that serves economic growth at the lowest long-term municipal cost. Without clean water. plant. the infrastructure will cease to run and thereby sustain our existence. It is a foundation for our sense of being and place and carries within its veins the lifeblood of many different communities—the neighborhoods and habitats for human. therefore. Just how much environmental health and economic recovery are connected is perhaps best illustrated by the struggling economies of Eastern Europe. For one thing. We should. and individuals lose the common ground of community. The recognition that our infrastructure facilities and natural systems are interdependent. and animal populations. Highway and pipeline corridors move people and oil. Corridors connecting species-rich patches may become vital to preserving our existing bio-diversity.INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT infrastructure. the marketplace withers and dies. and unspoiled land. and that long-term viability of the systems is necessary in order to support social and economic stability. they are more economical in the long term. driving the movement of many species northward. lands bordering a green system command higher property values.

and residents of the Phalen neighborhood to revitalize this older. Incentives should be given to infrastructure projects that clean their wastes as much as possible on site and recharge local water resources. 3 To daylight piped and buried portions of Phalen Creek that run through the community and rebuild this ecological waterway system. make effective use of the natural systems that use hyper-accumulator plants to clean polluted water and soils. improving the quality of the water that ultimately flows into the Mississippi River. 2 To remove a deteriorating. The strategy was: 1 To create a neighborhood commercial transit center and park to serve as a new focal point for this mid-density ethnic community. Paul. Just as people cannot survive drinking water contaminated with mercury and other persistent contaminants. The Phalen neigh152 . and to a limited degree in the United States. BROWN Environmental Science and Technology article estimated that 70 percent of Czechoslovakia’s waters are heavily polluted. it would also enhance habitats for herons and waterfowl that use the area as a flyway. Not only would the waterway provide recreational green space within the Phalen community. Much of the country’s water is unusable for industrial consumption. Plastics are collected and recycled into new public benches for neighborhood parks and streets. In Minnesota. wetlands. inner city neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown St. woodlands. this low-cost ecological water-management and treatment system would filter and clean water upstream. Newark. At the same time. crime-ridden 1960s shopping center and reclaim the pre-development wetland beneath the site. New Jersey Mayor Sharpe James instituted an aggressive recycling program that both cleans up the city and unites citizens in a common civic mission. we have buried many streams.WILLIAM R. As we recycle our waste into new products. industry cannot thrive without larger quantities of clean water. Excellent models found abroad. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. recycling them into a new road-surface material to replace asphalt. Paul. and other natural systems. The public works department in Phoenix shreds thousands of discarded tires. the University of Minnesota’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. the RomoseWashington Metro Watershed District is working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. not to mention damaging to plants and animals. we should also reclaim the used sections of urban areas and the riches of their natural systems buried long ago by early metropolitan expansion. 30 percent cannot even support fish. In our haste to built metropolitan landscapes. We must use every means to encourage infrastructure projects that aggressively recycle products and reclaim places. This recycled material has the added advantage of increasing traction and reducing solar heat gain on road surfaces. the City of St.

“The Duck Weed Factor—Devil’s Lake. complex metropolitan regions.” Places 5:4 (1988): 64–77. National Council on Public Works Improvement. The Fountains of Rome. John Brinckerhoff. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Architectural Review. 1991). 1988. find our identity and common ground between each other and supportive natural processes. The View From the Road. City of Phoenix. Cronon. Morrish. we can reclaim the natural systems that will help us manage our waste while rejuvenating local economies. 1991.” ARTnews 90:2 (February.D. K. Northcott. Le Corbusier.W. 153 .). February. David Gobel and Mary Mead (eds. Forman. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. and John Myer. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. Fragile Foundations: A Report on America’s Public Works. as individuals. H20 and the Waters of Forgetfulness. the social fabric. Arctic Dreams. and Michael Godron. 1984. 900–1900. New York: Heyday Books. “The Word Itself. 1970. Richard T. “The Urban Spring: Formalizing the Water System of Los Angeles.INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE NEW SOCIAL COMPACT borhood project demonstrates that just as we recycle our aluminum cans. 1991. Department of Public Works.I. Furthermore. “The Public Landscape. we can also reclaim from underneath the architectural solid waste of past development. Wolfgang. William and Catherine Brown.” In Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. and social equity while preserving and replenishing natural resources. “Western Civic Art: Works in Progress. New York: Orion Press. Ivan. 1964. Lopez. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Press. —— .V. N.). Trans. Morrish. Barry. The Radiant City. Infrastructures can become the vessel to carry forward the dreams of a new compact into physical reality. 1966. Morton. Braunfels. New York: W. Kevin Lynch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.. Norton & Co. H. supporting a diversity of animals and beings across large. 1984. cultural expression. 27th Avenue Solid Waste Management Facility. 1963. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1986. We believe that the role of infrastructure in President Clinton’s new compact is to create the systemic framework for each community’s mission: to nurture economic productivity. William. William.T. Illich.” In Modulus 17. The Necessity for Ruins. 1988.J. 1985.” In Landscapes. and the beauty of our neighborhoods.. —— . BIBLIOGRAPHY Appleyard. Urban Design in Western Europe: Regime and Architecture. Ervin Zube (ed. Donald. The collective wealth of our community’s infrastructure binds us together and provides a public landscape within which we. 1986. Kastner. Landscape Ecology. 1980. New York: Chares Scribner’s Sons. Cambridge: M. New Haven: Yale University Press. Jeffery. Jackson.

Portions have been published in “Beautiful Infrastructure. “How Alternate Forms of Development Can Reduce Traffic Congestion. West. The Work of Nations. The Granite Garden. Los Angeles: Eco-Home Media.). Joel. Betsy (ed. Smale. winter/spring 1995. Robert B. New York: Basic Books. a publication produced by the Architectural League. 1984. and in Patrick Condon. 1992. 154 .. City of Cincinnati: Department of Public Works. City of Phoenix: Phoenix Arts Commission. Stodola.). “Learning to Talk Race.WILLIAM R. 1987. 1993. New York: Vintage Books. Ann Whiston. Sustainable Urban Landscapes: The Surrey Design Charrette (Vancouver. Bob Walter (ed.” The New York Times Magazine (2 August 1992): 24–26.” On the Ground. Spirn.” In Sustainable Cities: Concepts and Strategies for Eco-City Development. BROWN Reich. MORRISH AND CATHERINE R. Cornell. Infrastructure Commission Report. Woodhull. 1996). John. 1990. ed. This article was originally planned for Productive Park. Public Art Works: The Arizona Model.

I want to make the case that the way in which modern architecture is introduced at Harvard is one important source 155 . the city to its own history and the role of public space in the culture of the city came together long ago. There was something radical in the canon of modernism as it was initially applied to American architecture and town planning that modernist aesthetics in other pursuits did not share. This exhibition dealt powerfully with the question of modernity and the relationship of modernism to a long cultural legacy that predated it. of the city to its transportation infrastructure. In the nearly seventy years that modern architecture has been taught at Harvard. but on an influence of the school that has been pernicious. modernity and the isms it has spawned have taken many forms. It brought into focus for me the most perplexing questions about the movement called New Urbanism that I have been part of.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? DANIEL SOLOMON (2007) NEW URBANISM This essay is a stew that began to cook some time ago with a beautiful exhibition of women’s fashion at New York’s Metropolitan Museum entitled Chanel. In that seventy years there have been many people of extraordinary and diverse abilities who have taught in Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. about the stunning successes New Urbanism has had. In their earlier incarnations they were resisted and ultimately crushed by the collision of the same rigid orthodoxies— modernist and revivalist—that marginalize New Urbanism today and make it in the eyes of many the domain of maudlin saps—aesthetic and political reactionaries whose ideas about the city are discredited upon arrival because of the imagery in which they are clothed. however. and about its equally stunning failures. as Director of the Weimar Bauhaus and later in his role as program director of Harvard’s School of Architecture beginning in 1937. In the decades since the 1920s. Similar ideas about the relationship of urban land to hinterland. For the purpose of this essay. The person most clearly identified with this radicalism was Walter Gropius. and ideas hatched at Harvard became an almost universally shared and rarely questioned set of received opinions among American architects. designed and sponsored by the current director of the House of Chanel. I want to focus not on the many fine achievements of people on the Harvard faculty. the term modernism in relation to architecture and town planning has a more specific and prescribed meaning than it does in other places and other disciplines. The set of ideas and practices that carry the banner of New Urbanism have a history much longer than the name. In America. Karl Lagerfeld. and their individual accomplishments are indisputable. variations on its curriculum became the norm at schools of architecture. curated.

The thesis of Space. equivalent to the discovery of perspective. The syllabi I have for this course begin with Space. modes of production are effectively reprogrammed for life in the new industrialized world. He then claims a similar relationship among a series of modern phenomena including the theory of relativity. American architectural education became a widespread cult of unlearning. Sigfried Gideon. Time and Architecture. In the sixty-nine years since the Gropius anschluss at Harvard. The idea is that young people need to be protected from the corrupting influence of knowledge. Gropius’ idea of education for modern architects represented a kind of revolution that shared its most basic idea with Mao Tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution or the revolution of the Taliban. cubism. he launched his colleague. Architectural theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design is taught by Professor Michael Hayes and his survey course is required for all first year students. Time and Architecture occupied the position next to our bosoms that Mao’s Little Red Book did for the Red Guards. on the writing of two extraordinarily influential books. even though it is safe to say that most architectural historians now regard it as an ingenious work of propaganda as pseudo-history. even 3000 miles from Harvard. modern architecture plays a significant role in an ongoing cognitive revolution—that extended process of intellectual transformation whereby a society whose life habits and perceptual apparatuses were formed by other. Time and Architecture goes something like this: the way people see and perceive things changes with the times. Professor Hayes tells his fledglings how to read Gideon by providing in the syllabus a handy “Premise for Interpreting Gideon. Space. The term space/time is his shorthand for a modern revolution in the perception of architecture and cities. Perhaps to insulate his students from this heretical view. 156 . Following his lead. Time and Architecture and Mechanization Takes Command. Gropius tossed architectural history as it had traditionally been taught out of the professional curriculum. Gropius did everything he could to insulate young architects from architectural history and from the traditional mimetic and representational skills of the Beaux Arts.DANIEL SOLOMON of the debilitating style wars that now swirl through the world of urbanism causing debilitating havoc. now anachronistic. steel frame construction and high speed transportation. For my generation of architecture students. As evidence. Space. things have become more sophisticated without really changing. . .” . but at Harvard modernism needed some new theoretical grounding. To fill the bill. Gideon invokes the standard art-historical view of the relationship between Renaissance humanism and the discovery of the laws of perspective.

were Jewish. The thrust of Adorno’s essay is to compare and contrast false modernity and true modernity. was the true adventurer in the modern spirit since his twelve tone system is a pure abstraction. on the other hand. Right after Gideon in the syllabus. giving it a new name—The Revolution. society would remain in a fundamental state of disorder. One of the forms of “premature harmony” that Adorno attacked most viciously was American jazz. no joy allowed until after the revolution. dissonant turmoil of modern life as opposed to Stravinsky’s “neo-classical objectivism. Schoenberg. The infuriating smugness of this self-validating Gropius/Gideon pedagogy was bound over time to create merciless backlash. which he pronounced “yatz.” and associated with the German word “hatz. Adorno is the keystone. Therefore all worthy art must have an element of negativism or dissonance about it.” May God spare architecture students from suffering anything as indulgent as “premature harmonies. you have an obligation not to listen to them. but he found one thing 157 . Though they were assimilated and secular. Until the revolution came. and they freely appropriated the Jewish doctrine of the Messiah. marches and classical structure. Schoenberg’s harsh dissonances are an appropriate art for the harsh. ignoring the persistence of social contradictions. He dismissed the great jazz of the 1950s as watered-down Delius and Debussy. Stravinsky was the prisoner of historical sentiment. but smugness as a theory and a world view. published in its final form in 1949. represented respectively by the music of Igor Stravinsky and that of Arnold Schoenberg. As a modern architect and an initiate into the true workings of historical process. they retained an element of Judaism in their thinking. never having heard any jazz in live performance.” Sorry everyone. What’s more. Art that does not suffers from “premature harmonies. an invention of the mind incapable of reference to anything outside itself. For Adorno. This is not smugness just as an unattractive personal habit. comes an introduction to the Frankfurt School for Social Research with special emphasis on Theodor Adorno and his Philosophy of Modern Music.” Most of the Marxist intellectuals of the Frankfurt School. references to folk tunes. He wrote the long vituperative essay On Jazz in 1933. now into the second week of graduate school.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? To paraphrase Professor Hayes’ paraphrase of Gideon in other and simpler words. The function of art is to reify or give expression to this state of disorder and thereby raise social consciousness and hasten the revolution. like Karl Marx himself. don’t worry: it’s their fault.” a construct of what he called “premature harmonies. If Gideon is the foundation for a system of ideas. In jazz. he saw American Negroes as complicit in their own oppression. his music filled with primitivism. but continued revising it and making it even nastier after he came to this country in 1940. he is saying that if people don’t like the mechanization and abstraction of our brand of modern architecture.” a pejorative for the baying of a bloodhound.

from a strategy for contemporary urbanism. From the studiously unpretentious language of Frank Gehry to its opposite in the many big words of Peter Eisenman. But these later readings are a bit like comparative religion as taught at Notre Dame. the saxophone is OK. These ideas are completely pervasive in architectural culture whether or not those who believe in them have any idea of their source. where positive is negative. is clear: populist hostility to an abstract modernism is philistine ignorance to be ignored. and some. his course goes on to present other contending points of view.A. He observed that the saxophone is a metal horn played like a woodwind. are more congenial to New Urbanism. what unites the purveyors of the blobs to those of the wiggles and the shards is a set of ideas that comes from Sigfried Gideon and Theodor Adorno out of Michael Hayes.C. and since this androgyny represents a critical challenge to the established sexual order of society. The Hegelian view of history says that revolutions breed counterrevolutions of equal and opposite force. In fairness to Professor Hayes. There is no question that the I. and the architecture department at Notre Dame are doing something important and desperately needed after the modern academy’s seventy year assault on architectural knowledge. negative is positive and the redeeming quality of a saxophone is its androgyny. If Michael Hayes’ tune has a familiar ring to it. it is because you cannot listen to a Charlie Rose interview of a star architect without hearing echoes of it. it explains why after seventy years of the Gropius curriculum in schools of architecture. 158 . It therefore has a kind of sexual ambiguity or Zwischengeschlechtlichkeit. Recovery of the knowledge that helped make the world civil for centuries is unquestionably a good thing. like those of Robert Venturi and Colin Rowe.A. the seeds of hostility to New Urbanism are well sown at Harvard. The institution has a point of view and Professor Hayes’ message to fledgling architects at Harvard. Newly minted graduate students in architecture at Harvard are taken in their second week on this through-the-looking-glass journey into the topsyturvy world of Marxist aesthetic theory.C. I think a long way apart.. and to those unfortunate enough to be elsewhere.DANIEL SOLOMON positive (that is in Marxist terms—negative) in the lead instrument of the bebop of the 1950s—the saxophone. unlikely to win large numbers of converts to Islam or Buddhism.” not “tainted” or “stained”—that sets it apart. the imperatives of place or classicism are inadmissible and dissonance not harmony is the order of the day. If this is true. By the third week of school. many of its members. But the I. is tinted in a way—notice I say “tinted. references to vernacular building. an institution like the Institute for Classical Architecture should suddenly appear on the scene and flourish with such remarkable vitality.

N. Astonishingly for an architectural gathering. Quinlan Terry. He accepted the award and said the following: We must build in the manner of our forefathers. unwilling to engage with what is around us. the largest perpendicular Gothic interior I’ve ever seen. was. do these people shop? The highlight of the evening was the awarding of the Driehaus prize to the English neo-classical architect Quinlan Terry. have many speeds forward. but mostly it was a big crowd of surprisingly young strangers. I later learned that the youngest of the young were actually Notre Dame’s architecture students attending on assignment. pre-Raphaelite innocence that I thought had been expunged from the world forever by Coco Chanel and her generation twenty years before I was born. like a good bicycle.U. That this skillful and intelligent architect.) and elsewhere. Except for the conspicuously frumpy presence of the C. in brick and lime masonry. announces events all the time and the subject matter is usually something about a fabulous collection of Dresden porcelain or a tour of a 200 room mansion owned by Doris Duke or someone like her on a thousand acre estate in Santa Barbara or Newport. It is the same choice to resist assimilation into the larger culture for the sake of traditional values that the Shakers or the Hasidic Jews of Brooklyn make. I found myself by fluke at the annual Driehaus Awards dinner in Chicago. If we do so. but also like a bicycle. like a musician joining an early music consort. surrounded by I. I wondered. The young women—whatever their talents. It is a choice that is perfectly OK for an architect. There was a sprinkling of people I knew from the Congress for the New Urbanism (C. way up in a high-rise. next to Westminster Abbey. He said this with a straight face to enthusiastic applause while standing on the 12th floor of a high rise surrounded by the architectural treasures of Chicago Loop from William Lebaron Jenny and Louis Sullivan to Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion across the street.A. neither saw nor acknowledged any contradiction was clearly a matter of choice.C. Where in the world. trying to ride our bicycle backwards and like him. What is around us are the forces of 159 . no reverse. Many people outside of New Urbanism think that we are all just like Quinlan Terry. the natural orders of architecture will re-emerge: the Doric.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? I. the Ionic and the Corinthian. Board. the hundreds of mostly young men seemed to frequent the same excellent tailor as Prince Charles. thanks to American building technology of the 1920s. but not for an urbanist. surely one of the great public spaces in America.U. The room. members at the event sponsored by Notre Dame.A. accomplishments and politics—were absolutely radiant with a fragrant.C.N. there was not an unstructured black jacket in sight. Last year. It was twice the size of any similar room at Cambridge or Oxford. Urbanism is engaged with the history of the city and the gears of history.

Without any exaggeration.S. Naughty. that is exactly what is happening in Shanghai and Beijing today and it is what Rem’s building celebrates. We can thank Rem Koolhaas’ newest book Content for defining the very look of with it and for contextualizing the work of town planners and architects in current events more vividly than any New Urbanist has done. Sweat Shop Economy. which is attractive to some young people. Rem puts his dark insights about the world and his own work right on the cover of the book—Big Brother Skyscraper. The single exception was the extraordinary program on Frontline on the scale of what can only be called slave labor in China under the ironic name of Communism. of global warming.DANIEL SOLOMON CCTV Building. The Driehaus Awards dinner was a gathering of a committed sub-culture. Rem Koolhaas. To achieve the symbolic and terrifying about-to-topple cantilever of the CCTV Building. 2004). Content (Köln: Taschen. of environmental degradation. I guess is the point. naughty. “Why don’t they just say NO?” 160 . Imagine a situation in which 97 percent of the residential fabric of New York and Chicago including the most vibrant neighborhoods were demolished in ten years and the population was forcibly relocated to sterile new suburbs through a massively corrupt system of expropriation. He wonders about what happened to the scientific rationalism that would have been revolted by the exercise and he asks wistfully.” he discusses how ARUP used their computational might to analyze the indeterminate redundancies and concentrations of loads on the exposed truss-work that holds up the monstrous cantilever and to derive the irregular patterns of the trusses. and why? Most of them do not choose to decontextualize their own lives. Koolhaas enlisted ARUP Engineers. according to his own vision of hell. His design for the CCTV Building in Beijing is not only a dazzling symbol of oppression. of hegemonic urban sprawl. press and an internet police force forbidding any murmur of protest. and he knows the enormous social consequences. Where do the other young people go. but I think not very many. Beijing. To me what is simply amazing is the gleefulness with which he casts himself in the role of Prince of Darkness. technological change. and he sneaks in some Larry Flynt style photographs of female genitalia. In a little essay he calls “Post-Modern Engineering. He records for our amusement some light-hearted banter with Prada fashionistas about the desperate poverty of Lagos. CCTV’s control of information is vaster and more insidious than its co-conspirator Google. China. Imagine that occurring with the television. which eradicated the existence of Tank Man from the internet in China. Rem understands and actually diagrams how China’s sweat shop economy has sucked the economic life out of Europe and the U. At the same time he portrays the dark side of globalization in a more terrifying way than almost anything I have ever seen. in fact they regard being with it and plugged in to the way things are going as a high virtue. of population pressure. Rem Koolhaas. it is the very instrument of oppression.

On the other hand. has found steady employment as an agent of the dark side of globalization. But New Urbanism finds itself in a loony situation. from its early days as the cultural arm of Bolshevism. HOPE VI is where the aesthetically conservative strain of New Urbanism found a high social purpose. Turks. The cadences of Winston Churchill during the fearful days of 1940 come to mind: “a new dark age made more sinister. Reference to anything prior to the modern period is culturally inadmissible and belief in social purpose is just not hip. Madrid. designed by MVRDV with Blanca Lleo de Arquitectura.” So. The social housing in On-Site is exactly the opposite of what we New Urbanists were able to accomplish through HUD’s HOPE VI program. including avant-gardist housing where the Spanish put their Algerians. where immigrant populations and our own poor were integrated into classic American neighborhoods. avant-gardism. 2006). the professional architectural press and most newspaper and magazine critics. by the likes of perverted science. Do not think for a minute that Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV is an aberrant exception in this regard. Spain. after almost eighty years wandering in the wilderness. For them town building and architecture are history-less and a-political subjects. Terence Riley. The social housing shown by the Museum of Modern Art in its 2006 exhibition entitled On-Site celebrated what curator Terence Riley considers the vitality of new architecture in Spain. and perhaps more protracted.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? Edificio Mirador. On one hand there is a powerful modernist establishment comprised of the best universities and museums throughout the world. Africans and Arabs: dwellings and play space for the next generation of train bombers. On-site: New Architecture in Spain (New York: Museum of Modern Art. There are of course exceptions to this—Yale as a school and architects from Lou Kahn to Rafael Moneo—but the exceptions are just that: exceptions to the juggernaut of modernist right-think. opposing the juggernaut is this now thriving neo-classical 161 .

(New York: Museum of Modern Art. gifted and prolific designer of her generation. It is the abstraction of the bottle that makes the sensuality of the contents all the more vivid and meaningful. and she built an industrial empire. Before Chanel #5. the first and probably history’s most powerful woman C. and also love of the beautiful form of the Helvetica #5. The Chanel #5 bottle rejects all that in favor of an abstraction. But she never concealed or was in the least embarrassed by the fact New dresses designed by Coco Chanel. The bottle of Chanel #5 is. I would like to focus on a pair of my own cultural heroes who seem to me to point the way around the cultural schism that threatens the great cause of urbanism and urban reconstruction.E. she was a business genius on the scale of an Andrew Carnegie. perfumes all had names like Night in China. At first glance this design appears to confirm Adorno’s conception of the modern. absolutely penniless. But Chanel was not selling perfume bottles: she was selling perfume.. Let’s consider Coco Chanel. and smell—the most animal of the senses—packaged in a bottle. which of course never existed. but we find ourselves in the cross-fire of an intolerant modernity on one hand and a revival of classical knowledge that has so far failed to separate itself from a longing for the riding-to-the-hounds society that was eradicated in World War I. We New Urbanists have our own agenda about the city which seems barely connected to this cultural debate. She is most often associated with a quintessential modernist object—the supremely beautiful. demographic and political changes that distinguish our time from other times. a splendid contradiction and a seamless synthesis of opposites.DANIEL SOLOMON movement that does little to dispel the impression that it is willfully oblivious to the technical. She started in a foundling home. Chanel. all of her own conception. elegant and unchanging sixty-year-old design for the bottle of Chanel #5.O. Harold Koda et al. Perfume is all about sexuality. Chanel was not only the most original. in its abstraction and rejection of narrative reference.) 162 . 2005. a bit of pseudo-science implying the formulation and testing of Chanel’s 1 through 4. like her clothing and like her life. Harem Musk or Dark Fantasy.

on a reworking of the ballet Le Chant de Rossignol. If one tries to draw some lessons from the synthesis he brought about. which evolved from fencing exercises in the court of Louis XIV. more force and more enduring success than any other artist in any discipline. Her version of femininity was simultaneously egalitarian and aristocratic.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? that she began her career as a demimondaine whose rich lovers competed for her sexual favors with gobs of money to back her first ventures. His first assignment was to collaborate with Igor Stravinsky and Henri Matisse. Coco Chanel hosted the cast party after the opening and Stravinsky played the piano at the party. no less. often appearing in the fabled Maryinsky Theater with its greatest stars. undernourished and unemployed in Paris.” Chanel’s two main ideas—her conception of women and her idea of the relationship of abstraction to life—are completely congruent with those of a friend and collaborator of hers. The October 1926 Vogue called her classic “little black dress” the “Chanel Ford. age twenty-one. classical ballet. the costumes and the make-up and arranged red and white chrysanthemums in the hair of the principal ballerina. Serge Diaghilev. his work. Petersburg. 163 . After the tumult of World War I and the Revolution. the great choreographer George Balanchine. She referred to classical antiquity in clothing made of industrial mass-produced fabrics like jersey. She dressed a woman to go the opening of the Paris Opera in such a way that you knew she was capable of climbing a tree. as confident and reassured by her dress as they. it is worth knowing how Balanchine became Balanchine. because his story is as rich with contradictions as Chanel’s. simultaneously athletic and erotic. Alicia Markova. Karl Lagerfeld says splendidly. “Chanel was a mystery and a paradox. part of the court of Tsar Nicholas II. Then fatefully. His career began at the age of ten when he was accepted into the Imperial Ballet School in St. Reality is bearable only if it is made up of such things. invited him to audition. his contribution and his life story are one and the same. the bishop and the head of state. and she absolutely mastered the traditional crafts of the milliner and the tailor. the 20th century’s greatest genius at recognizing genius. Matisse did the sets. he found himself. She wanted to dress a woman so that she could enter a room on equal terms with the army general. She believed in physical ease as the predicating condition for elegance. In the Frenchified court of the Tsars.” In her cosmos it was inconceivable that femininity and feminism could be considered different ideas. was preserved and perfected. the frock that all the world will wear. It is not overstating the case to say that Balanchine united a classical tradition and modernism with more originality. In this regard. Diaghilev audaciously made this superbly trained classical dancer and the most supremely elegant of all 21-year-olds the Ballet Master of his world famous Ballets Russes. Balanchine was raised at court.

Lotte Lenya—an unbelievable list. Tchelitchew. Over their long careers. choreographing elephants. in the most sensual of the arts— ballet. costumes that refer only to the dancer’s Dance choreographed by Balanchine. Balanchine was a modernist who extended the tradition of classicism he inherited. and never compromise their own standards. Balanchine’s grand abstractions demanded more from the corps de ballet than had ever been asked of it before—more athleticism. When his vision exceeded what even his own superbly trained corps could do. He was also a modernist who was not a slave to modernity. and Stravinsky had only one question. more musicality. excel within it. He asked Stravinsky to collaborate with him. “Would the elephants be 164 . (Windsor.DANIEL SOLOMON The other Ballets Russes artists that young Balanchine was thrown in with included Picasso. 2003. They were able to engage popular culture in its own terms. Stravinsky and Balanchine managed a trick that architects and town planners should be able to do and one that is strictly forbidden in the dictat of Harvard aesthetic theory. And Balanchine’s dancers were better schooled in classical dance. more speed. and it is revealing that Stravinsky found his natural collaborator. movies and Broadway musical comedy. Prokofiev. When things got slow in 1941. the most characteristic and famous of the Stravinsky/Balanchine ballets strip away all narrative reference: no story telling and no sets. Jean Cocteau. Michael Hayes begins the education of architects with Adorno’s sour diatribe against Stravinsky. more disciplined than any dance company had been before. Balanchine even took a job with Ringling Bros. Balanchine: Celebrating a Life of Dance. He went from the court of the Tsar to Diaghilev’s court of modernism at its absolute pinnacle of excellence. He carried the whole history of ballet in his head and did all kinds of things with it—narrative story ballets. he would arrange his soloists in formation and use them like a chess master attacking with his bishops. which he helped revolutionize. Just like the bottle of Chanel #5. Connecticut: Tide Mark Publications. huge spectacle ballets. Costas. George Balanchine. There is nothing on the stage but the life force of the music and the geometries he makes of the dancers themselves. Kurt Weill.) bodies.

were there ever people in the world of architecture and urbanism who were as cosmopolitan. Cities and city dwellers suffered in many ways from the 1850s through the 1920s. Regulation of the Stubenviertel. 165 . Chanel and Balanchine were such complete masters of their disciplines that they could draw upon its entire history as situations demanded. fascinated by implications of new technologies and the problems and possibilities of the new industrial city. the last Hapsburg emperor. Wagner was a schooled classicist who consciously placed himself in Development of the Quays of the Danube Canal. the one who for me stands out as the most gifted and the most interesting is Otto Wagner. Neither was ever prevented from doing anything that interested them by an ideology or an aesthetic canon that made some things off limits. There is a list of architects during this proto-modern period who were cosmopolitan eclectics in a way that seems appropriate as role models for contemporary urbanists. Of this list. During that long span of time there were classically trained architects in many places. Sketches. but one thing they did not suffer from during those years was the systematic unlearning of their historic craft by architects and builders. Otto Wagner. as eclectic. New Aspern Bridge. Projects and Executed Buildings (London: Architectural Press. A question to ask is.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? young?” Balanchine assured him that they would be young and beautiful and the collaboration proceeded. He perhaps more than any other represented the contribution that architecture should make to urbanism and as teacher what architectural training should consist of. That came later. so that generations of architects can contribute to urbanism as the conditions of the city change. architect to Franz Joseph. 1987). as simultaneously modern and as embracing of history as Chanel and Balanchine? The fact is that modernity as a driving force in architecture and town planning predates the rigid prescriptions of Harvard modernism by half a century at least.

sponsored by garment workers’ unions for their members. The 1920s garden apartment movement in New York reached its apogee in a series of social housing projects in the Bronx. The architecture of Red Vienna put in a brief appearance in the United States. Simultaneously the architecture of Red Vienna itself came to an even more abrupt and symbolic end in 1934 with the routing of the socialist administration and the shelling of the most famous icon of Red Vienna. and we all know the rest of that story. In America the cultural wipe-out 166 . But he considered it his mission as an architect and as a teacher to move from classicism to a modern Nutzstil. the new socialist government.DANIEL SOLOMON competition with Michelangelo. architect to the emperor. After the war. In Europe it was wiped out by neo-classicism from the left in Russia. Eva Blau’s splendid book The Architecture of Red Vienna tells this amazing story. by right-wing militias called the Heimwehr. controlling only the historic city center and not its surrounding countryside. urbanism and the modern spirit. without copying them directly. Palladio and Bernini. Who better than the Wagnerschuler to bring about this synthesis of new circumstance and the historic city? To this day. the Wagnerschuler. He was fascinated both by the spatial order of the traditional city and the new infrastructure of the industrial city. died of starvation and influenza in 1918. It is significant that that the Wagnerschuler ethos was eradicated by the same cultural forces that New Urbanism is battling today. The planning. And they had to be housed quickly and economically in the midst of the remaining glories of the baroque imperial city—but in a way that celebrated their status as the backbone of the new economy and the new political regime. the social housing of Red Vienna is one of the glories of the world and it represents a synthesis. however. Abruptly. and by the adoption of conservative vernacular in the form of Heimatstil by the political right. of classical architectural principles. from the right in Germany and Austria. who had exactly the right skills to adapt and to build magnificently in the new Marxist/Leninist Viennese Social Democracy that emerged in the ruins. had an urgent need to house a dispossessed urban proletariat. programming and decorative language of these enduringly beautiful buildings are straight out of Red Vienna and even today. Karl Marx Hof. The collapse of the AustroHungarian Empire brought about a completely new political and economic situation in Vienna. the garden apartment movement came to an end as the high modernist form of Euro-modernism seized the American stage in the early 1930s. Otto Wagner. they are some of the most livable dwellings in the city. a classically based negation of revivalism that was directed at appropriate expression of the programs and building methods of the times. never equaled. seven weeks before the armistice. and it was Wagner’s pupils.

Chanel lives. That attitude consists of a fascination with what is new and promising in the moment that one is living through and simultaneous reverence for the historical past of one’s discipline—simultaneous fidelity to the highest standards of excellence and an absence of dogma—a playful. creative eclecticism that allows one to do many things and perform in many situations. the very same attitude that the Wagnerschuler embodied was flourishing in other art forms and is still flourishing to this day in some of them. cities will be better if we can live as well. (Photos by Daniel Solomon. emanating first from the new Museum of Modern Art and slightly later from Harvard. Austria. Vienna. Karl Marx Hof.WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MODERNITY? was at the hands of hegemonic modernism. Balanchine lives. designed by Karl Ehn. At the same time this cultural wipe-out was occurring with respect to architecture and the city.) 167 .

The public buildings are to be freely designed by architects selected for their known sympathy with the regional vernacular. abdicates direct responsibility for the design of individual buildings and acts as the municipal authority. to be shared by adjacent communities. To this end.P. The program is expanded to include a service station and a workshop district. The private buildings will be commissioned by the individual citizen/buyers subject to the provisions of a Master Plan and Zoning Code. These documents are intended to generate an urban environment similar to that of a small southern town of the period prior to 1940.A. In designing and administering the plan and Code. 168 . the retail center is conceived as a downtown commercial district. Civic character is further reinforced by reserving sites for public buildings such as a chapel. followed by an appraisal by Andrés Duany twenty-five years after its design. Building is. D. Meeting in 1986. A study of towns throughout the American South indicated that a community of genuine variety and authentic character could not be generated by a single architect. the conference facility doubles as town hall and a portion of the recreation budget is dispersed to create small civic amenities throughout the town. DESIGN The site and the program were perceived to approximate the size and components of a small town. depending on economic conditions. a fire station and a post office.S. therefore. given over to a multitude of designers.C. The Code has been tested several times in university design studios and has proven workable. permitting the turning away from the methods of contemporary real estate development toward those of traditional American urbanism.Z. a primary schoolhouse. It is envisioned that the town of Seaside will be substantially built out in ten to fifteen years.THE TOWN OF SEASIDE NEW URBANISM Designed in 1978–1983 by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. ANDRÉS DUANY AND ELIZABETH PLATER-ZYBERK (1986) This essay comprises an excerpt from the presentation of the new town of Seaside at the 74th Annual A.

it has the following characteristics: • Geometric perfection at the center which disintegrates toward the edges as a result of circumstance. In addition. a commercial center. a civic/conference facility and a recreational building. PROGRAM The given program calls for a new vacation resort of some 300 dwellings of different types. • The existing grid of Seagrove to the east is received and extended to • provide multiple access points and social continuity. In addition. minimizing the need for parking lots and reducing vehicular speed. It straddles County Road 30-A and fronts 2300 feet of beach to the south. increasing the building frontage on the ocean. an extensive system of footpaths through the blocks 169 The public pedestrian areas consist of walks at both sides of every street. retail and offices. • High ground determines the location of the clubhouses and the small squares. The provision of on-street parking throughout. • The most wooded areas are preserved along the diagonal avenue and in open areas around the tennis club and city hall. EXISTING CONDITIONS The layout of Seaside responds to pre-existing natural and manmade conditions as follows: • Two large gorges providing access to the beach determine the location of the central square and the easternmost street. • • WALKWAYS The public pedestrian areas consist of walks at both sides of every street. The new street grid is left open to the north allowing access to the inland lake at some future time. squares at important street intersections and larger squares related to public buildings. In addition to providing access to all parts of the town. A concentric layout which increases the number of buildings with an ocean view and allows a majority of the streets to terminate at the shore.THE TOWN OF SEASIDE SITE The site is 80 acres located in Walton County in Northwestern Florida. adjacent to the settlement of Seagrove Beach. a formal organization common to most of the towns studied. 100–200 units of lodging. an extensive system of footpaths through the blocks makes walking more convenient than driving. squares at important street intersections and larger squares related to public buildings. . STREETS The vehicular network structures the master plan. • A central square opens to the south.

The plans of the public buildings as shown in the drawing are hypothetical. In order to provide a relatively neutral urban fabric and to facilitate marketing. A boardwalk along the length of the beach secures the public nature of the shoreline. There is little possibility of unsatisfactory spatial results because nothing is invented. school and chapel) are located inland to activate those areas farthest from the shore. Building forms will be generated by the provisions of the Code as interpreted by many designers. to insure public identity despite a size which is often less than that of private buildings. tennis club. Public buildings are not subject to the Code except for the provision that they be painted white. shops. many lots are standardized. lodging or workshops. PUBLIC BUILDINGS The major public buildings (town hall. but loosely determined by a conjunction of specified building form and urban location. since most have not yet been designed. The variety is intended to be sufficient for residents to be oriented without resource to street signs. There is a gradual downsizing of residential lots toward the center of town in order to increase density. These buildings are bound to the central square by corresponding public spaces: the town hall is connected by a secondary square. 170 . PUBLIC SPACES The proportions of the squares. Building uses are not strictly controlled as in conventional codes. The southern portion of the central square will contain small public outbuildings responding in an ad hoc manner to changing needs in the early years of the town.ANDRÉS DUANY AND ELIZABETH PLATER-ZYBERK makes walking more convenient than driving. the tennis club by a major avenue and the chapel by a market square. avenues. Pavilions at the beach termini of each north–south street belong to the residents of these streets. offices. PRIVATE BUILDINGS The private buildings may be houses. PRIVATE LAND The proportion and dimension of lots are specifically related to their intended building type. but others do not avoid the idiosyncratic characteristics which generate unusual buildings that serve as landmarks. The variety of types is controlled by a combination of right-of-way widths of the plan and the height assignments of the Code. These paths provide a secondary level of urbanism related to outbuildings at the rear of residential lots. apartments. streets and alleys at Seaside are derived from exemplary types found in the town studies.

three are principally residential and one is for workshops. The location of parking within the lots is specified with precision to prevent parking lots from causing discontinuities in the street frontage. 171 • . ZONING CODE The Seaside Code applies to all privately owned lots. This is essential to the southern town as a type. The Code employs the conventional tools of zoning but with substantial variation.THE TOWN OF SEASIDE This drawing approximates how Seaside would be completed if the building envelopes were all filled to the maximum. These create a secondary level of urbanism tied to the footpaths and tend to generate rental apartments dispersed within single family areas. Principal among these are the following: • Variances are granted on the basis of architectural merit. • Picket fences are mandated for some lots with deep front yards for the • same reason. This is intended to prevent homogeneity of age and income common to modern developments. Three are for mixed use. It is a highly distilled document controlling only those aspects of building form which directly affect the public realm. • Outbuildings at the rear of lots are encouraged. Porches in residential districts and arcades in commercial districts must be built to a specified percentage of the frontage. • A specified minimum percentage of the lot frontage must be built out in order to maintain the spatial definition of the street. so that the owner/designer may understand its provisions without professional assistance and not perceive it as a tiresome obstacle to building. and a positive influence on the social utilization of the street. The Code is graphic rather than written. There are eight building types.

This allows streets and squares to be perceived as coherent spatial entities with similar building types on all sides. they are possibly better than the 172 . Boundaries between zoning types occur at mid-block rather than more conventionally along streets.ANDRÉS DUANY AND ELIZABETH PLATER-ZYBERK • Minimum and maximum heights of roofs and porches are specified to control the spatial proportion of the public spaces and to determine the degree of formal variation in streets. The deviations that did occur. Towers of small footprint (200 sq. 1986. are not at all bad. Indeed.) are encouraged everywhere so that even the most landlocked house may reach for a view of the sea. ft. SEASIDE AT TWENTY-FIVE (2007) Seaside is very similar to and also very different from what we thought it would be. such as the drastic proliferation of the “temporary retail” shacks on the gulf front. Seaside as built is very similar physically to the plan of twenty-five years ago—perhaps more than any of our plans since. • • The above is excerpted from the original published in the Proceedings of the 74th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

conducive to better urbanism. now the backbone of the town center. Perhaps the most difficult of all. have been achieved. Way gone are the days of the house that I sold for less than fifty thousand dollars! Another unexpected improvement to the plan: Robert. This resulted in a more human and ecological pattern. however. which was coded to be similar to Jackson Square in New Orleans. has not been Seaside’s only influence. Berke.THE TOWN OF SEASIDE open square that we originally proposed. What the Seaside model achieved is to extend the value previously confined to the waterfront in depth. the Krier Tower. quite independent of the urbanism. though. It is a credit to the Seaside plan that it had the capacity to absorb them. through their publication. Generally. just different. Massengale. Stern. but which has emerged as a layout more akin to the lawn at the University of Virginia—it is neither better nor worse. Much of the outcome of today’s Seaside is due to the personality of the founders as surely as to any of the technical aspects of the plan and Code. the building envelopes envisioned by the Code became more filled out. Robert and Daryl Dans were true architectural connoisseurs and Seaside now has a series of brilliant architectural pieces that exceed the Code standards. it was able to attach. so influenced by Seaside that it is completely compatible. Solomon and Merrill buildings (I am listing only the better known names—not just the better buildings) caused Seaside to become a kind of architectural Mecca. The scars of that early disease are still visible nearby. became great incubators of local commercial talent. Hall. Seaside’s inception intercepted the then-emerging development pattern of high rise coastal condominiums and row houses with the inland areas abandoned to undervalued second-rate uses and parking lots. Even the hard-to-implement parts of the plan: the live-work units. Machado-Silvetti. This was not expected and it is not necessarily for the better. and also great wealth: a wealth that has been 173 . the chapel. some starting as humbly as a barbecue or a flea market table. Despite the constraints of the Code. Also different is the Athenaeum. Seaside has spawned scores of private businesses. the later ones are boxier and in my opinion. over time. these buildings are almost always too idiosyncratic to be the background buildings that the town thrives on. Gorlin. which in turn permitted the better workmanship. and particularly Daryl. and when the much bigger Watercolor came along. as the house lots became more expensive. which raised the sales prices. Too bad for affordability. Chatham. is today closer to reality than ever. they did make Seaside more visible. Be that as it may. The early houses were smaller and articulated into pavilions. this little patch of provincial Florida has more first-rate architecture than anywhere else in Florida—not excluding older and larger cities. but they have not necessarily led to the best urbanism. This. These may be the best buildings. The Rossi. the public school. Mockbee. Regarding capacity to grow which is essential to urbanism: we did envision that Seaside would expand to the north. So today.

restaurateurs and most hearteningly. then shopping for dinner and staying up. at the square. as they charge well for it. It requires getting up in the morning and walking out to find the coffee and bread and paper and then having the independence all day long of family members with plenty to do. That Seaside’s influence became widespread was certainly not expected. The very latest houses at Seaside are built like ships or cabinets. diverse and walkable community. the contractors and their craftsmen. over the years. The Type III buildings (live–work townhouses) in the center of Seaside. because unlike architecture. Photo courtesy of DPZ. Living in a place is crucial to understanding urbanism. 174 . Twenty years later the construction crews. And important it became if influence is the measure. This workmanship has decanted to the subsequent towns of Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach—where design and craft are. I remember hearing Leon Krier early on saying that it would be a very important project. Yet it is precisely as a result of the rental program that hundreds of thousands of people have been able to experience what it means to live in a compact. if possible. not only at Seaside but throughout the Panhandle. even better. The crews with which Seaside first started its buildings could hardly hammer a nail or hang sheet-rock straight—the usual. Robert and Daryl Davis’s fanaticism gradually raised the standard of craftsmanship. proving bit by bit. have become masters unsurpassed anywhere in the U.ANDRÉS DUANY AND ELIZABETH PLATER-ZYBERK distributed not just among Robert and his siblings but broadly among realtors. that people will pay for quality design and construction. urbanism cannot be properly assessed from photographs. in some cases very late. The influence has been helped along by a much-criticized part of Seaside: that it is “not a real town”—that it is a resort and that the houses are available for rental.S. not even from a short visit. This excellence has created wealth for the working people.

This was made easier because as a resort. The idealism of a resort can give clarity to a concept. This has influenced the development industry to no end. Seaside attempts an ideal. A full-time community of everyday living cannot be quite as effective. Without Seaside we may have become architects of a different sort. Resorts are compelled to be better. For us as teachers this has been particularly satisfying. 175 .THE TOWN OF SEASIDE Many suburban people (developers included) have taken the experience back home and implemented what they lived and learned. As for the planners. The criticism that Seaside is a resort we understand. the whirlwind of New Urbanism has taken over our lives as well. Seaside with sequential residents has become a propaganda machine. Least expected was the way that Seaside took over our lives. They also proved that it is better business to do one such project for thirty years than three conventional ones for ten each. no one displaces themselves for vacation to live as one does daily. We continue to design them because they are the closest that we urbanists have to experimental sites. After all. The process of sequential building design enabled by the Code has involved scores of young architects whose careers are better for it. We like to remember the many designers that Seaside has touched. utopian even. Robert and Daryl have lived in Seaside for two decades and defined the modern role of town founders. inducing the software of society and culture as well as the hardware of buildings and infrastructure that mere developers supply. but on balance I approve of its destiny as a demonstration project.

design professionals. K. congestion. 38–60. D.5 The Traditional Neighborhood Development advocated by architects Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Andrés Duany and the Pedestrian Pocket concept developed by Peter Calthorpe have received careful attention from both popular and professional journals. D. February 12. 4 Reich. Recently. 1990. Kelbaugh. Renewed interest in more tightly planned communities from developers. Section 10: 1. R. “Take our Poor: Angry Hartford Tells Suburbs.1 The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered municipalities to provide a “fair share” of affordable housing in their region (the Mount Laurel decisions).” The New York Times. April 21. P. 5 Peterson. 85. 2 Moran. “A Good Place to Live. M. 176 . Poughkeepsie. Connecticut. any optimism must be guarded. It may be seen as the spatial dimension of an economic reorganization to a service economy accompanied by a decade of conservative administrations whose fiscal policies have widened the gap between rich and poor.” The New York Times. Editor. “Planned Communities are Multiplying. March. The Pedestrian Pocket Book. “Secession of the Successful. The impact of environmental destruction. Connecticut. “The system isn’t working. “Reordering the Suburbs. 78–91. 6 Boles.6 While the present regional discontent may provide a window of opportunity for comprehensive planning efforts. 11.3 While the wealthy have been able to insulate themselves from the distressed and tense urban centers—“the secession of the successful”4—the suburbs are not immune from the consequences of unplanned development. Interview on National Public Radio. The historical record suggests that only a commonly perceived national emergency can induce Americans to challenge their deep-rooted ideological antipathy to government intervention in urban and regional development.”2 The disequilibrium between central cities and their surrounding regions is reaching crisis proportions. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Langdon. declared. N. 1991. and the public at large attests to a widespread dissatisfaction with suburban sprawl. The former Mayor of Bridgeport. I.THE IMPACT OF IDEOLOGY ON NEW URBANISM AMERICAN TOWN PLANNING TONY SCHUMAN AND ELLIOTT SCLAR (1992) DEMOCRACY’S CHALLENGE CITY AND REGION IN DISEQUILIBRIUM 1 Johnson.” in Progressive Architecture. We may have reached the limits of development guided by market responses to the ideals of a privatized society.” in The Atlantic Monthly.Y. 1989. The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath. proposed the dispersal of inner city public housing residents to surrounding suburban communities. 1991. Station.” New York Times Magazine. 1988. the City Manager of Hartford. 1991. and chaotically dispersed land use has raised the cost of doing business and diminished the quality of daily life. 3 Phillips. January 20. August 23. 1. New York: Random House. pollution. in filing for municipal bankruptcy protection. K. Accumulating evidence suggests that the ownership of a single-family detached dwelling accessed by private automobiles and situated in self-governing communities located at a safe distance from the economic and social woes of the center city is no longer economically viable for increasing numbers of people. 1991. May 1989.

they believed this should go no further than modest regulation of market activity.C.” PLANNING IN TIME OF CRISIS INDUSTRIAL HOUSING FOR WAR WORKERS 7 N. Although even conservative housing reformers were convinced that some degree of government intervention in urban development was necessary.C. Executive Secretary of the Committee on Congestion of Population. 8 The profession of social work.C. Only a national emergency—the impact of inadequate housing 177 . Those who viewed the problems of the poor as moral failings advocated uplift and education. At issue were two sets of questions. and municipal reform to curb the political power of clubhouse machines. their views as to the goals and mechanisms for this new field were extremely diverse. to two current developments in New York City—Roosevelt Island and Battery Park City. Chicago. planning was nothing less than “democracy’s challenge to the American city. Facsimile edition.8 Those concerned with identifying and dealing with the under-lying systemic causes of congestion sought more drastic measures. 1909. Those who viewed the problem as systemic advocated community organizing. in 1909.THE IMPACT OF IDEOLOGY ON AMERICAN TOWN PLANNING This paper traces the evolution of the contradictory pulls of ideology and circumstance on American town planning from the 1909 National Conference on City Planning. Proceedings of the First National Conference on City Planning. there was considerable disagreement about what this public role ought to be. the paradigmatic debates that would characterize the profession to the present day were already well formed. Facsimile edition. Was the goal of planning a more beautiful city or. IL: American Society of Planning Officials. 105. “a more beautiful life?”7 The second set of questions asked whether the problems of urban life were due primarily to the systemic failings of a political economy based on private investment or to the individual moral failings of the population. Horsfall.P. p. Those who subscribed to the latter view sought relief through building codes and zoning regulations to control the physical fabric of the city. (National Conference on City Planning]. While the 43 Conference participants were united in their enthusiasm for the developing “science” of city planning. 1909. in the words of English planner T. IL: American Society of Planning Officials. where the terms of debate were first framed. Proceedings of the First National Conference on City Planning. which developed in parallel and overlapping step with the planning profession. Marsh. 9 N. 77.”9 For him. had a similar split. Despite general agreement that the planning function ought to shift from private civic and commercial organizations to public commissions. The first asked whether the discipline of planning should focus on improving the physical appearance of cities or on improving the conditions of daily life for their inhabitants. p.C.P. (National Conference on City Planning]. Benjamin C. blamed congestion on land speculation and exploitation and insisted that these evils “must be checked by the only competent power—the government. These two projects offer competing paradigms for future urban development and exemplify a century-long ideological struggle over the role of government in guiding metropolitan development. FRAMING THE DEBATE By the time the first National Conference on City Planning was held in Washington. D. Chicago.C.C.


10 Testimony by leaders such as Homer L. Ferguson, president of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, turned the tide. The Newport News Daily Press of March 9, 1918 carried this account of his testimony before the Senate committee investigating shipyard conditions: In his stirring appearance before the committee, Mr. Ferguson described housing conditions in Newport News as insufferable and he called for immediate action by the Government . . . [He] testified to the alarming conditions at the shipyard where, because of inadequate housing, they were unable to employ enough men for a single shift, even though the yard could and should be operating day and night to turn out the ships so urgently needed. Finally, he warned that such conditions prevailed at all the shipbuilding centers of the nation—and for the same reason. 11 United States Housing Corporation. Report of the United States Housing Corporation. Vol. I edited by James Ford. p.22. 1920. 12 Ibid., p.1. 13 Ibid., p.7. 14 Ibid., p.44.

15 May, C. “Yorkship Village: A Development for the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, N.J.” Architectural Forum, June. 1918.

conditions on industrial production during World War I—allowed the progressives a brief opportunity to expand the acceptable boundaries of government control of development. Even under this duress it took a series of dramatic appeals by representatives of private industry—shipbuilders and munitions manufacturers—to impel the government into direct provision of housing.10 On June 13, 1918, the Secretary of Labor announced the war-time production measure, stating that “The Government will build, own, control and rent the houses until after the war” (emphasis added).11 Reflecting the prevailing sentiment against permanent government involvement, the enabling legislation gave explicit instructions that “such property shall be sold as soon after the conclusion of the war as it can be advantageously done.”12 With this mandate, the U.S. Housing Corporation was created in July 1918 to implement the construction program. The magnitude of the task was impressive: housing was needed for 292,649 workers in 71 different cities or districts.13 In assuming responsibility for this undertaking, the government had no long term vision for the future of these communities beyond recouping as much of its investment as possible after the war. The planners, on the other hand, under the leadership of Town Planning Division director F.L. Olmsted, Jr., saw the program not only as an emergency measure, but as a demonstration of the potential of comprehensive town planning. They envisioned the developments as “model communities in the sense that they are being studied and will inevitably be copied by the architects and builders of the future.”14 In the planning stages this discrepancy between the planners’ expansive goals and the government’s more restricted ones posed no problem. On the contrary, the government’s overriding concern with recouping their investment and salvaging materials after the armistice led to the decision to build permanent housing of good quality rather than quick temporary shelters. Since the appropriations did not come through until August 1918, only a small part of the construction program was implemented. After the armistice on November 11, 1918, only 22 of the initially projected 83 projects were carried through to completion, with 15 more built on a curtailed basis. The quality of these projects, however, did not escape notice. A contemporary review in Architectural Forum grasped the significance of this commitment of government funds to community development: “The opportunity for the individual to live in surroundings of decency and amenity, so often denied to the man without financial backing, becomes now a matter of national policy.”15 Communities such as Fairview (in Camden, New Jersey) and Hilton (in Newport News, Virginia) along with residential districts such as those in Bridgeport CT and New Brunswick NJ remain socially and economically viable neighborhoods, often in the face of grave deterioration in surrounding areas.



Despite continuing opposition to government intervention in the housing market, the Depression afforded progressive town planners a second opportunity to implement their broader vision of balanced regional growth. This time the economic crisis was so severe—a fourth of the work force was unemployed in 1932—that they were able to go far beyond the scope of the World War I housing projects. Funded under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, the program was intended first and foremost to provide construction jobs for relief workers. Between 20,000 and 30,000 workers participated in the construction of the three new towns built under the program. Greenbelt, Maryland, alone employed over 13,000.16 As in the war worker housing effort, the planners involved in the greenbelt program were interested in pursuing a broad agenda. Guiding the operation was Resettlement Administration chief Rexford Guy Tugwell, whose intellectual affinity with the Garden City ideals of Ebenezer Howard included a belief in planning as a device to implement broader social and economic restructuring of society. Tugwell’s version of the Garden City did not propose fully independent cities but rather a network of suburbs located near major cities on which they depended for employment. Other features of Howard’s “social invention” survived intact: single ownership of land, controlled land values through government ownership and leasing, the establishment of the city as an independent legal and political entity, and the greenbelt itself. In the greenbelt towns, housing was seen as only one aspect of a broader problem. By building independent self-governing cities for the poor, the R.A. confronted the more basic problem of disenfranchisement. The original greenbelt program called for construction of 19 satellite towns close to major cities. As in the earlier case of industrial housing, conservative pressure imposed limits on the scope of development. Just three of the towns were actually built—Greenbelt, Maryland, Green Hills, Ohio (outside Cincinnati), and Greendale, Wisconsin (outside Milwaukee). The R.A. retained ownership until Congress ordered divestiture following World War II, with sale preference given to snug residents and veterans groups. The greenbelt towns are frequently cited as the high point of comprehensive planning in the United States.17 Ironically, although successful government-led effort failed to launch serious regional planning movement in the United States, the lessons were not lost on the British. The greenbelt program provided the blueprint for the English postwar new town effort.18

16 Christensen, C. The American Garden City and the New Towns Movement. Ann Arbor, MI: U.M.I. Research Press. 1986.

The prosperity of the decade following World War II seemed to make the planning debate a moot issue. For the first time, home ownership appeared within reach of every working family. A suburban boom fueled by cheap oil, industrial jobs, and V.A. and F.H.A. mortgages transformed a nation of renters into a solid home-owning majority. By the mid-1960s, however, a

17 Arnold, J. The New Deal in the Suburbs: A History of the Greenbelt Towns Program, 1935–1954. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. 1971. Christensen, C. The American Garden City and the New Towns Movement. Ann Arbor, MI: U.M.I. Research Press. 1986. Stein, C. Toward New Towns for America. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press. 1951. 18 Hall, P. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. London: Basil Blackwell. pp. 164–165. 1988.


19 H.U.D. (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development). New Communities: Problems and Potentials. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of H.U.D., 23. 1976. 20 According to a 1976 study, H.U.D. was acquiring Flower Mound (near Dallas, Texas), Jonathan (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Newfields (Dayton, Ohio), Park Forest South (Chicago, Illinois), and Riverton (Rochester, New York). Development was continuing on Harbison (Columbia, South Carolina), Maumelle (Little Rock, Arkansas), Shenandoah (Atlanta, Georgia), and Soul City (Raleigh/ Durham, North Carolina). An environmental lawsuit enjoined further development at CedarRiverside (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Gananda (Rochester, New York) was being phased out as a conventional subdivision. St. Charles, Maryland (Washington, D.C.) was continuing development but was begun as a conventional subdivision in 1964 (H.U.D. 1976). 21 H.U.D. (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development). New Communities: Problems and Potentials. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of H.U.D. p. 34, 1976.

combination of social, political, and environmental problems forced another look at the need for planning. Central cities were becoming enclaves of lower income minorities; suburbs were frustrated by the proliferation of jurisdictions; and there was growing concern for the environmental consequences of suburban sprawl. A legislative response to these concerns emerged in 1970 as Title VII of the Urban Growth and New Community Development Act. Part A of the legislation directed the President to prepare a national growth report to assist in formulating a national growth policy; part B expanded the program of loan guarantees and grant assistance for new communities, making this aid available to public as well as private developers. In 1970, President Richard Nixon, in his State of the Union message to Congress, asserted that “the Federal government must be in a position to assist in the building of new cities and the rebuilding of old ones.”19 On the surface it appeared that the Title VII program represented the culmination of a 60-year campaign for regional planning under government leadership. Here was a program to channel national growth explicitly based on the English new towns model. Yet by 1975 the program was a shambles and a moratorium was placed on Title VII contract approvals. H.U.D. had funded 13 separate projects with loan guarantees up to $50 million. Of the eight projects started under Title VII and at least partially occupied by December 1976, H.U.D. was obliged to acquire five. One was phased out as a conventional subdivision, another blocked by a lawsuit. Only the Woodlands, outside of Houston, Texas, was holding its own.20 H.U.D.’s own internal evaluation revealed that the program staff was thin on management, finance, construction, and marketing.21 As a result, H.U.D. relied on projections by the developers and their consultants with regard to regional growth rates, market share, and land valuations. Moreover, neither H.U.D. nor the Administration had formulated any national growth policy to guide the staff ’s work in selecting developers for Title VII new communities. Ironies abound in this story of a new initiative gone awry. As long as the government built new communities for purposes other than planning (e.g. emergency war worker housing, depression work relief) it employed the finest planning minds in the nation who did careful research before committing federal funds. When at last the government sponsored a planning program as such, it turned over effective control of the process to the developers themselves. In the end, despite the good intentions of the bill’s sponsors to encourage innovative and balanced development, Title VII was a pipeline of federal funds to private real estate companies whose motives were often no different from conventional land speculators. In the process, the reputation of government-assisted planning got a black eye. One arena where the federal regulations did make a notable impact was in the racial and economic integration of the federally funded new communities. Although not all projects embraced the concept with equal


enthusiasm, the results, especially with respect to income mix, were significant.22

The Plan for New York City, published in 1969, described two new communities planned for Manhattan—Roosevelt Island and Battery Park City. The projects shared several important characteristics. Both involved innovative site assembly—the recycling of a derelict island in one case and the creation of landfill in the other. Both projects contained a mix of uses. The residential populations of both projects were described as a roughly even mix of low–middle- and upper-income residents.23 As built, however, the two projects could not be more different. While Roosevelt Island has held to the original intentions as a heterogeneous community, Battery Park City has become an exclusive upper-income enclave. This shift represents more than a dramatic retreat from the democratic premise of the initial proposal. Battery Park City is emblematic of the privatization of planning activity that attended the ideological shifts of the 1980s. The public authority abdicates control over land-use decisions in favor of deal-making and negotiation.24 The process is justified by the economic efficiency of the market-place. In the face of these same pressures, however, Roosevelt Island continues to pursue its original mandate. At stake are two competing views of urban life and social structure.

22 A survey which compared H.U.D. new towns with 13 non-federal communities found only 2,000 subsidized units out of 222,000 in the non-federal communities compared with 27 percent of all housing units in the Title VII projects. Moreover, the satisfaction of residents in subsidized housing in the new communities was found to be substantially higher than for residents in subsidized housing elsewhere (H.U.D. 1976, Appendix D). 23 C.P.C. (New York City Planning Commission). The Plan for New York City. New York: Dept. of City Planning. 1969.

24 Fainstein, S. “Promoting Economic Development: Urban Planning in the United States and Great Britain.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 57. 1: 22–33. 1991.

Occupying a narrow 147-acre strip of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, Roosevelt Island is a remarkable community in many respects. Many of these reside in the accomplishments of its physical plan. It is accessed by the only commercial mass transit aerial tramway in the country. Vehicular traffic has been substantially curtailed. It is the only large-scale residential project in the country with an underground garbage collection system. The island is barrier-free and provides a substantial number of units for the physically challenged. The landscaping includes 4l acres of parks and a 4½ mile pedestrian promenade at water’s edge. The provision of such recreational facilities and generous open space is not uncommon in upper-income suburbs or luxury condominiums. What is distinctive about Roosevelt Island is its ability to deliver on its original commitment to a “diverse community.” The General Development Plan written in 1969 established a precise unit break-down by income, with specific provision for the elderly and physically challenged: 30 percent lowincome; 25 percent moderate-income; 20 percent middle-income; and 25 percent market rate units.25 In addition to this income mix, Roosevelt Island has maintained an integrated racial composition, with a 23 percent minority population. Significantly, the median income for Black households on the

25 A.K.R.F. [Allee, King, Rosen, & Fleming, Inc.]. Roosevelt Island Southtown: Final Environmental Impact Statement. New York: Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. 1990.


26 Ibid., C-10

27 Russo. A. Planner, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. Personal interview. 26 August. Stein, Clarence S. 1978. Toward New Towns for America. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press. 1991.

island is higher than for White ones, suggesting that the island is a residence of choice for middle-income Blacks.26 In Northtown I, the first phase of development, completed in 1977, all 2,142 units received some form of public subsidy. The low-income units were dispersed throughout a large (1,000 units) apartment complex so that only management knows which tenants require the deeper subsidy. In 1984, however, when development resumed after an interruption caused by New York’s fiscal crisis and the Urban Development Corporation’s near bankruptcy, the flow of federal funds for housing subsidies virtually dried up. The developer for the second construction phase, Northtown II, was designated because they had access to enough Section 8 rent subsidy certificates to make 20 percent of the project affordable to low-income households. While this permitted the new development to maintain its mixed income character, conventional market wisdom concentrated all the subsidized units in a single, detached building, with four other new towers devoted to luxury rental units. For the first time, low-income households were segregated by place of residence, leading to some stereotyping of “the Section 8 kids.” In response to this experience, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation is exploring ways to disperse the subsidized units throughout Southtown, the final phase of development.27 In the absence of federal funds, and with only modest assistance available from city and state sources, Southtown will depend on an internal cross-subsidy where low- and moderate-income units are subsidized by fees from developers of luxury apartments. Because the housing market is still mired in a deep recession, no contracts have been signed for Southtown. The present stalemate illustrates an inherent dilemma in linking the supply of “affordable” housing to the demand for luxury units.

28 Deutsche, R. “Uneven Development: Public Art in New York City.” In Out of Site: A Social Criticism of Architecture, edited by Diane Ghirardo. Seattle, WA: Bay Press. 1991. 29 C.P.C. (New York City Planning Commission). The Plan for New York City. New York: Dept. of City Planning. Vol. 4.26 1969.

Battery Park City is a mixed residential and commercial development on 92 acres of landfill in the Hudson River stretching north from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. The current development plan is actually the fifth proposal for the site, and the only one whose residential component is entirely based on market rate housing. Although earlier proposals for the site also emphasized luxury housing,28 by the time the Plan for New York City was published in 1969, the housing mix had become equal thirds of low– middle- and upper-income units.29 Battery Park City got off to a slow start. The landfill was not complete until 1977, and by then the city was mired in a recession. In 1979 Richard Kahan, the newly appointed head of the Battery Park City Authority (B.P.C.A.), hired architects/urban designers Alexander Cooper and Stanton Eckstut to produce a new master plan. To convince the N.Y. State legislature to continue its support, this plan had to reconfigure the development not only in its physical dimension but in its legal framework and financing


strategy as well. The new legal approach was to have the N.Y.S. Urban Development Corporation condemn the site and convey the title to B.P.C.A. By transferring ownership to an independent public benefit agency this maneuver exempted the project from New York’s planning and zoning regulations, and from public scrutiny as well. The economic strategy was to attract private financing by eliminating all subsidized housing, offering tax abatements, and relocating the commercial buildings to the center of the project opposite the World Trade Center. Thus the much praised physical character of the Cooper/Ekstut site plan—the reintegration of the landfill into the Manhattan grid—was as much a rediscovery of New York’s history of incremental private development of small land parcels as it was a romantic invocation of its most livable neighborhoods. The physical aspects of the plan have received a great deal of critical acclaim. The New York Times hailed it as a “triumph of urban design.”30 Writers wax enthusiastic over its public parks and promenades.31 But if the exterior spaces are indeed handsomely designed and inviting, the residential construction is less convincing in both physical and social terms. Despite the street and avenue organization of the Master Plan, Battery Park City lacks the heterogeneity of Manhattan’s culturally diverse neighborhoods like Chelsea or the Upper West Side. It has no side streets to speak of and lacks the row houses to leaven the scale of the large apartment buildings. The apartments themselves are relatively small, both in the number and size of rooms, leaving the exterior styling an empty gesture to New York’s grand old apartment buildings. Demographically, the development reflects the flat profile of the narrow stratum that benefited from the 1980s surge in the financial services sector: the new households are young, wealthy, and childless.32 There are few neighborhood services, and families with children had to organize to get a playground built. The social justification for all this private luxury in a publicly aided project is that Battery Park City spins off profits that the City uses to rehabilitate low-income housing in poor neighborhoods like the South Bronx and Harlem. Excess Battery Park City revenues are used to guarantee Housing New York bonds issued by the N.Y. State legislature. Proceeds from the first $210 million in bonds have already been applied to rehabilitate 1,850 units in the South Bronx and Harlem.33 The public/private partnership which generates funds for subsidies through market development reinforces uneven spatial development in the process. The mostly uncritical praise which Battery Park City has received for the excellence of its “public” spaces masks both the exclusion of the public from the decision-making process and the ways in which different groups are affected by the broader development process involved.

30 Goldberger, P. “Public Space Gets a New Cachet in New York.” The New York Times. Section H, 35. May 22. 1988. 31 Gill, B. “The Skyline: Battery Park City.” The New Yorker. 20 August. 1990 Hiss, T. “At Land’s Edge, a Contentment of Light and Shape.” The New York Times. Section C, 1.18. October 19. 1990.

32 According to a 1988 tenant survey, 85 percent of the residents had incomes over $50,000 and 37 percent over $100.000. Less than 12 percent of the population was under 19 years old or over 65, and over 88 percent of the units contained only one or two people. 73 percent of the apartments are studio and one bedroom (B.P.C.A., 1988). Curiously, in two tenant surveys, the B.P.C.A. has not collected data on the racial composition of the residential population. 33 B.P.C.A. Annual Report. New York: B.P.C.A. 1988. Internal memorandum. April 6. 1987.




The transfer of funds from Battery Park City to the South Bronx parallels the Regional Contribution Agreements (R.C.A.s) that compromise the New Jersey M.L. Laurel decision. The R.C.A.s permit municipalities to buy their way out of 50 percent of their obligation to provide their “fair share” of low- and moderate-income housing. The result benefits willing receiver cities like Newark, Camden, and New Brunswick, but in the process reinforces the very economic and racial spatial stratification they were meant to redress. Whether manifest in the bankruptcy of Bridgeport, Connecticut, or the explosion of pent-up racial rage in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, the spatial segregation of American society is an economic and social time bomb. The failure to develop a strong and systematic approach to town planning and hence orderly regional growth has left us with a pattern of regional development in which speculators erect scattered subdivisions for individuals who seek personal solutions to the crises of urban life by fleeing cities and segregating themselves in small, homogeneous enclaves. Although a consensus is emerging among planners and civic-minded members of the business community that more compact socially and economically mixed communities are a necessity, it is not clear that this consensus can produce a politically effective coalition. The willingness to concentrate on the aesthetic qualities of new developments regardless of their socio-economic composition dilutes the strength of this consensus. Projects such as Seaside, Florida, offer scenographic and tightly concentrated plans that exploit the social appeal of the town center. In the main, however, these new (or borrowed) town planning models do not address issues of equity. Their seductive appeal only fosters the illusion of solving problems by avoiding them. Only a public authority can assure a balanced resolution to the efficiency/ equity dilemma. Government has both the responsibility and the resources to take a long-range view of social and spatial development. Money spent after the fact to clear up the social and economic problems of sprawl and isolation does not add value to the products of America; it only slows the rate at which they deteriorate. Town planning history teaches that societies with a long-term perspective will be both more efficient and more equitable than those that choose to place ideology before experience.

This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 80th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 1992.



New Urbanism’s unusual combination of neo-traditional styling and progressive attempts at social reform has made strange bedfellows out of its liberal and conservative critics. Bashed from the left as conservative nostalgia and bashed from the right as liberal social engineering, New Urbanism has an uncanny way of attracting uncommon enemies and advocates.1 Urbanism, “new” or otherwise, is far too complex to advance purely right- or left-wing agendas, and critiques of New Urbanism that attempt to dispose of it neatly on ideological grounds tend to be grossly oversimplified. New Urbanism has been able to attract a surprisingly diverse following precisely because it cannot be easily reduced to a single agenda, as its critics claim. As a forum and a model, it merges popular, pragmatic, critical, idealistic and subversive strategies, allowing for many interpretations. I find myself attracted to New Urbanism not for its traditionalism, but for its radicalism; not for its capitulation to market forces, but for its critical defiance of them; not for its formulaic responses, but for its truly multi-disciplinary approach. I admire New Urbanism’s commitment to a political process of mobilizing and empowering communities to challenge the pattern, regulations and financing of seemingly out-of-control sprawl. Where many of my academic and architect colleagues see Luddite reactionaries resisting progress by indulging in nostalgic simulations of the past, I see committed reformers critical of the status quo debating and sharing multiple strategies and scales of alternative forms of development. In a post-industrial world dominated by the placelessness of digital media and global transactions, I see New Urbanism as a counter-project to postindustrialism. How do we determine if such a position is reactionary or revolutionary? Assuming continued advances in computer and telecommunication technologies, post-industrialism promises peace and harmony through global economic interrelationships and unlimited access to information. These, in turn, will presumably lead to abundant good equitably distributed, laborless leisure and self-determination. This view portrays the decentralized and dematerialized post-industrial world as a very progressive place.2 Architects like Frank Gehry and Bernard Tschumi make extensive use of digitally mediated design processes that expressively endorse the promise of a postindustrial future of unlimited possibilities. Similarly, Rem Koolhaas and

1 For liberal critiques of New Urbanism, see the comments by Margaret Crawford, Detlef Mertins, Michael Hays and Michael Sorkin in the CD-ROM proceedings of Exploring (New) Urbanism, Proceedings (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Department of Urban Planning and Design). From the political right, see for example the on-going defense of sprawl and critiques of New Urbanism in the libertarian journal Reason. Their recent articles are summarized in “Sprawl Brawl,” Reason Online (April 8, 1999).

2 Various writers and futurists have contributed to this rosy picture: Daniel Bell, Marshall McLuhan, Alvin Toffler, George Gilder, Thomas Friedman and William Mitchell, etc.


3 Rem Koolhaas et al., S. M. L. XL. (New York: Monacelli Press, 1995), 971.

4 From 1980 to 1990, cities with strong downtown markets retained about 40 percent of office growth, while weaker downtown markets lost up to 85 percent of office growth to their suburbs. See William C. Wheaton, “Downtowns Versus Edge Cities: Spatial Competition for Jobs in the 1990s,” Working Paper 45 (Cambridge, MA.: M.I.T. Center for Real Estate, 1993).

“Layers” from a photographic series titled “Welcome Home” exploring loneliness in new subdivisions around Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Lee Hughey.)

Peter Eisenman embrace the freedom represented by the speed, mobility and malleability of digital, nomadic, post-industrial culture. Koolhaas argues for a “lite urbanism” that ridicules traditional preoccupations with matter and substance.3 But post-industrialism has a dark side as well. The pace of innovation in digital technologies has been matched by an ever-widening income gap between rich and poor. As the economy has become more integrated globally, it has become increasingly decentralized locally. In U.S. metropolitan areas, 60 to 85 percent of real estate development during the past thirty years has occurred on suburban peripheries.4 The resulting landscape of decentralized, disconnected pockets of office parks, malls, strips, condo clusters, corporate campuses and gated communities clipped onto suburban arterials reflects the values and policies of mobile capital, the service economy, post-Fordist disposable consumerism and banking deregulation. This pattern, expanding at the periphery in ever lower densities, further exacerbates the spatial segregation of rich and poor, consumes open space, requires more and more driving and degrades air, water, land and habitat in the process. New Urbanists see the environmental and social impact of the postindustrial landscape as regressive. They have turned away from this future to promote diverse, compact, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit- and pedestrian-oriented communities. While their critique and concern for social and environmental goals may indeed be viewed as progressive (though hardly new), the prevalence of neo-traditional styling in New Urbanist projects that perpetrates the cultural dominance of traditional elites means they are generally viewed within architectural discourse as conservative. Can New Urbanism open itself more to the progressive aspects of postindustrialism? Can it recognize the positive impact of the global and the digital, and use these to induce more inclusive expressions of design, place and power? I will argue that New Urbanism’s continued development as a progressive force would benefit from a greater recognition of its role in the shift from industrial to post-industrial culture and development. Instead of providing a retreat from the post-industrial present, New Urbanism’s promise lies in creating stronger interchanges between physical neighborhoods and digital networks, in not simply countering post-industrialism but urbanizing it.

During the 1970s and 1980s, while the American economy was hard at work producing sprawling beltway boomtowns and Edge Cities, architectural discourse focused on divergent theories and their associated styles while professional journals highlighted the individual buildings of star designers. New Urbanism emerged in the early 1990s as one of the few organized forums for an ongoing discussion of alternatives to conventional


suburban development. Various approaches coalesced and diverged, from reconfiguring suburban patterns into new mixed-use towns to infilling underdeveloped locations in existing cities. Some proponents were motivated more by the environmental advantages of walkability and transit-oriented development. Others were more inspired by the social benefits of the renewed emphasis on well-designed public spaces. All recognized a common enemy in the regulations and development practices that perpetuated sprawl. The movement grew as it took on the rewriting of regulations and the partnering with various agencies and disciplinary groups including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, Fannie Mae, the Urban Land Institute, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Resources Defense Council. The involvement of diverse professionals focused increasing attention on the non-physical aspects of city design, such as community-building programs, affordable mortgage policies and financing structures. Initially recognized for its concern with greenfield new towns, New Urbanism has expanded its attention to urban and suburban infill, most notably through work on HOPE VI public housing projects.5 If sprawl is the post-industrial landscape of private investment, the insistent now, speed, disposability and the temporary contract, New Urbanism counters that by emphasizing that which is public, pre-existing and enduring. New Urbanism urges people to slow down, to get to know their neighbors and to become more connected with their environment. New Urbanists have proposed a now-familiar alternative pattern that recasts the isolated office parks, strip malls and subdivisions into mixed-use, walkable, transit-served districts and neighborhoods oriented around public town centers. Wide cul-de-sacs and wider arterials are replaced with gridded networks of narrow streets that calm and distribute the flow of traffic. Sidewalks, street trees and architectural codes governing the basic profile of the building front treat the space of the street as a figural public space or outdoor room. Front porches, or stoops (depending on the regional architectural history of a place), are intended to enable sociability among neighbors; the close mixing of lot sizes and building types is intended to encourage socioeconomic diversity. Densities from eight to forty dwelling units per acre are sought both as means of increasing social interaction, preserving unbuilt land and wildlife habitat, and supporting shops and transit service. This is more than an alternative template. New Urbanist developments seek to build on the existing identity of a place, rather than allowing it to be determined by ever-changing stores and short-term uses. Unique landscapes, whether streams, forests or wetlands, are preserved and made into identifying or recreational features. Regional building types, materials, landscape and planning strategies are called upon to further link the present to that which has endured in a place. Codes and covenants are intended to sustain

5 Despite the inclusion of projects executed in a variety of styles, scales, densities and locations in books like Peter Katz’s The New Urbanism (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994), and The Charter of the New Urbanism, Michael Leccese and Kathleen McCormick eds. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999), the neotraditional small town has firmly established itself as the dominant model of New Urbanism in the eye of the public, the architectural press and many C.N.U. members.

the Department of Housing and Urban Development hired the New Urbanists to write the design guidelines for the HOPE VI public housing revitalization grants—a $5 billion program aimed at deconcentrating poverty. the U. It has helped to empower designers and non-designers alike to refuse to accept sprawl’s logic of autonomous development as inevitable.S. This belief in the power and meaningfulness of design has helped attract many designers to the movement. 1996. They reject the design autonomy sought by post-structuralist theorists and neo-avant-garde designers. From Seaside to the New York Regional Plan Association’s aerial views of conventional versus reconfigured development patterns. and how it could look if reoriented around its village center and rail station. New Urbanists engage and redesign it. the early New Urbanist designs were startling precisely because they so radically broke with conventional expectations. environmental and economic effects within the urban whole. Green Building 188 . new development becomes an opportunity for radical re-imagining. STUCK IN THE PAST OR MOVING INTO THE FUTURE? Three views of an exurban highway interchange: at the present. Instead.ELLEN DUNHAM-JONES this character. myself included. Based on their successes with mixed-income neighborhoods. they fervently believe that design is not autonomous but synergistic: Each individual design decision matters in terms of how it triggers social. through the power of design. Moreover. as it will look with current development patterns. Similar partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency expanded the Smart Growth Network while partnerships with the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Even more revolutionary is the New Urbanists’ willingness to work on regulatory and procedural issues in order to empower their designs and fundamentally change the rules of the game.) New Urbanism arose out of its founders’ reformist impulse to improve situations through design solutions. Instead of critiquing culture. (Source: New York Regional Plan Association. emphasizing predictability instead of post-industrial flux and changeability.

simply another formula to replace the earlier one? New Urbanism is premised on the idea that designers armed with strong knowledge of good precedents can translate the movement’s simple principles into a masterplan and images from which to generate design codes in a relatively short time—during a seven. and that the execution of the design by many builders over a period of time will introduce architectural variety. exemplifies this change. in fighting for change and winning over converts. What happened to the spirit of invention and discovery that the changing of the regulations was meant to empower? Has New Urbanism become a part of the machine it set out to resist. and the quiet gentility and formal civic behavior associated with them. While the agenda looks forward to a world of vital neighborhoods and diverse communities. most notably along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where New Urbanists were invited by the Governor to assist in planning the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Quatremère de Quincy distinguished between the type. the places themselves seem increasingly frozen in a very singular image of the past. Often overshadowed by the architectural media’s attention to individual projects. of which many permutations are possible. Even where regional characteristics help particularize the architecture. Developing in larger increments means more repetition of 189 6 In his Dictionnaire of 1832. The shift from interpretable design codes to pattern books. as New Urbanism moves into the mainstream. Types have become models. .. which is repeated precisely.D. easy answers and a recognizable marketing image. production builders and financing entities seek to undertake projects in ever larger increments. there is a generic quality to designs that draw almost exclusively on white upper middle-class traditions. however. there seems to be little recognition of the value of ongoing change. As New Urbanism has become more successful. as well as the development of L. discussed later. its designs have become more reactionary and less revolutionary. It could not have happened without the New Urbanists’ strong convictions about the need for change. However.6 The elasticity and ingenuity of design is increasingly being sacrificed to the need for formulas. a new system for ranking environmental benefits at the neighborhood scale. Sadly. for example. New Urbanist principles have increasingly stiffened into rules. this collective work by the Congress for the New Urbanism to reform the rules of development continues to effectively challenge the status quo. and the model. form-based codes like the SmartCode.E. There is an odd disconnect between what is exciting about the ambitious New Urbanist agenda and the places New Urbanists claim as successes.-N. Model ordinances for Traditional Neighborhood Developments.NEW URBANISM AS A COUNTER-PROJECT TO POST-INDUSTRIALISM Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council have resulted in new street standards with greater attention to pedestrian safety and comfort.to ten-day charrette.E. The expectation has been that the charrette introduces urban variety through the inclusion of many hands. and comprehensive plans are inspiring policy changes across the country. the possibility of change and the viability of their alternative.

These workers cannot really choose to live anywhere. intended to raise the quality of the work of production builders while keeping costs down.N.7 The bigger New Urbanism gets. See “Alternative Workplace Strategies. Seaside is an expensive resort hotel. environmental and transit possibilities of New Urbanism. Conversely. in Cumming.” Wharton Real Estate Review. New Urbanism’s stress on the availability of transit may be an especially strong attraction to this group of part-time commuters. William J. New Urbanism offers people working all day at computer screens easy opportunities to take a break from technological interfaces. Perhaps New Urbanism has written off the promise of a post-industrial future too quickly. Mitchell predicts that the emerging wired generation will gravitate to precisely this kind of lively twenty-four-hour neighborhood. As sociable. local neighborhoods become overlaid with highly used global information networks they are likely to foster ever-more flexible. the more it repeats itself. has resulted in far greater uniformity than at Seaside. consumerist sprawl? Certainly not. Designers’ efforts to tweak.8 But New Urbanism could go much further in imagining how telecommuting. they still must live within commuting distance of their workplace. New Urbanism needs to think more creatively about how to use new technologies to create a future that rises to its challenge of simultaneously addressing the larger scale of the region. but never allowed those lessons to squelch a love of design and innovation. and the smaller scale of the neighborhood. There is a far greater balance between individual expression and a unified communal identity than in many later New Urbanist developments. I worry that as New Urbanism becomes more focused on formulaic recreations of the past.ELLEN DUNHAM-JONES 7 There are notable exceptions. Do the digital and the global have to work against placemaking and result in decentralized. 1:1 (Spring.D. But. E-topia (Cambridge. The result is a place with both a strong identity and surprising variety. in which varying degrees of variety and individual expression might be encouraged. 1999). Mitchell. It is infused with a respect for tradition and feeling for place. Press. it still speaks in varied voices. People-filled places and natural habitats are a short walk away. models. in fact. where characteristics of the land and ecosystems might dictate broad development patterns. and this is where there remains room for design innovation. at projects like Celebration. a Greenfield T.: M. Akin to post-Fordist mass customization. GA. Even though a non-coded common interest in Victorian architectural language settled into the place. MA. it will lose its commitment to design and fall short of providing for the post-industrial future. It cannot be the poster child for New Urbanism. change. the use of pattern books. Hedgewood Properties is the developer and production builder for Vickery. hybrid building types—such as new combinations of retail and 190 . with almost no repetition of house designs and unique public spaces distinguished by their preserved trees. each house riffs jazzily on familiar themes. customize and improve the world no longer seem welcome. 1999). neighborhoods and regions. economically segregated. Many of the increasing number of telecommuters are likely to embrace the social. GRASPING THE POST-INDUSTRIAL FUTURE 8 Some research indicates that the growth in telecommuting is expected to be greatest in people who telecommute three to four days a week and visit traditional offices on another day. William J. rather than development of typological variations.T. Many New Urbanist developments are heavily wired and are already attracting the digerati who can choose to live anywhere. it got so many things so right.I. computer software and digital networks might more radically reconfigure buildings. accessible without using a car.

Like the now-ubiquitous wifi-coffee shop’s successful combination of hightech and high-touch. Such digital information can be extremely useful in designing plans and green building designs that are more place-specific and environmentally responsible. And just as New Urbanists think about the benefits of the corner store. Ped-GRiD can predict which locations will better support pedestrian activity and where community-building development should be directed. Taking full advantage of the new technology and economy requires a willingness to further adapt neotraditional typologies. accommodation of delivery services and variously sized office suites/workshops). Sophisticated market monitoring and analysis enabled this kind of “mass customization” to be linked to consumer preferences. Charles. (Photo by Steven Patterson. and living and working. Analyzing diverse data such as how many beds in a hospital. For example. traffic counts and parks. “Driven to Despair. This mixing and integrating of activities is consistent with New Urbanist principles and in many cases can be easily woven into traditional neighborhoods. we may soon see more organic farms incorporated into business centers.I. many sectors of the industrial economy have employed computation to better coordinate supply and demand and produce more consumer-responsive high-quality. used 191 Sales Center at New Town at St. drainage and transportation patterns of places.000 citizens to vote their preferences. While analysis of regional vernacular building materials and typologies can go a long way toward helping New Urbanists design in relation to climate and place. In recent decades.” Guardian-Online (July 15. sun. using skinny floorplate buildings with incubator office space in neighborhood centers. . New Urbanists have done a better job at integrating retail and residences than workplaces and residences. entertainment and education facilities. computational fluid dynamics modeling and traffic modeling programs can be used to better understand the specific wind. More thought could be given to converting office parks into mixed-use urban neighborhoods. automated. varied product lines. New Urbanists would also do well to consider the newer digital tools that allow designs to be more specifically responsive to their particular places.9 Some New Urbanists are already finding innovative ways to use digital technology to empower local voices in the process of design and construction. In a small step toward “mass customization” in housing construction.NEW URBANISM AS A COUNTER-PROJECT TO POST-INDUSTRIALISM services. and designing live–work units that allow for the running of a small business (with dual entries. See Dan Damon. Marc Futternan wrote a program called “Ped-GRiD” that layers information about pedestrian activities onto a G. who could then upload their own information to the database and conduct their own research as a form of teledemocracy. Armonics.S. an Indianapolis-based New Urbanist architecture firm. database. they could consider providing neighborhood-based telecommuting.) 9 To help Los Angelenos establish neighborhood centers. Peter Calthorpe recently posted growth scenarios for Salt Lake City on the internet and got 17. they might also be put to the service of New Urbanism. Though these techniques have been used to develop niche markets where fashion serves to differentiate consumer identity and exacerbate class and economic differences. 1998). He hopes to make the technology available to individuals. delivery-coordination and business support centers. MO. small-batch. even to develop new ones. but it requires new approaches to flexible building design. a new urbanist community designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. Innovative uses of geographical information systems. development financing and land-use regulation.

resonates especially effectively at a time when these seem threatened by post-industrial forces. as a counter-project to post-industrialism’s doctrine of speed. diversity and choice. not a tyrannical consensus. Instead of the absolute order and lockstep conformance of perfectly unified 1970s-vintage planned urban developments. In addition to contributing a significant amount of variation in finishes and details to the completed homes. the fixed and the enduring. The more perfect the recreation of the past. this process recirculated dollars in the community and provided opportunities for disadvantaged businesses. The challenge for New Urbanists is to continue seeking ways of looking not just to the past.ELLEN DUNHAM-JONES 10 Since the original publication of this article. Similarly.or two-person teams. face-to-face communication. several New Urbanists have collaborated with modular and manufactured housing producers both as a means of reducing costs (such as the Katrina Cottage “starter home” designed by Marianne Cusato and sold as a kit-of-parts from Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores) and as a means of providing customizable variety within typological continuity. public agencies’ and consumers’ and bankers’ expectations of predictability. innovative and inclusive aspects of post-industrialism. with diversity and with less perfect neighboring conditions. mobility and malleability. New Urbanism was premised on a somewhat looser process of incorporating multiple voices into the system. to enable them to monitor numerous contracts (fifty-seven in all. New Urbanism was initially proposed as a forum for promoting democratic tolerance for difference. New Urbanists would benefit from remembering that there is a virtue in the inclusion of the imperfect and the unfixed. connecting to existing conditions. NIMBYs’. New Urbanism’s privileging of local places. but to the future.000 to $2. New Urbanism should be wary of being overly committed to replicating the slow. In confronting the realities of working with production builders’. a bit of peeling paint and the occasional purple house remind us that we are not slaves to consensus and conformity. a fervent and creative embrace of post-industrial opportunities 192 . However.8 million) on a 200-unit HUD HOPE VI housing project. the Congress of the New Urbanism is already a postindustrial information exchange. New Urbanism has lost much of that original flexibility. ranging from $2. communal interaction and preservation of unmediated landscapes and natural habitats.10 New Urbanism is not a one-size-fits-all model. with the intent of producing more variety—albeit within strict constraints at the interface between public and private space. the more inflexible it becomes for dealing with the future. New Urbanism’s critique of the destructive and regressive aspects of post-industrialism and sprawl provides the movement with tremendous strength. Many of the contractors were from the local area and consisted of one. They adapted “Expedition. to open design back up to the positive. digital software to expand and diversify the number of builders involved in a large housing project.” a program commonly used for construction management. As such. It is a forum for sharing strategies about a variety of models that implement the principles of its charter.

NEW URBANISM AS A COUNTER-PROJECT TO POST-INDUSTRIALISM and tools may help New Urbanism avoid becoming a slave to consensus and conformity. 193 . This article was originally published in Places. Number 2. Volume 13. and the author is grateful to the Design History Foundation for permission for republication. Enriching the interface between neotraditional neighborhoods and the internet may provide the opportunities for New Urbanism to better connect the past with a progressive and diverse future. Spring 2000. It has been updated with slight modifications.

a manifestation of utopian ideas and practical policy. Constructed upon Jane Jacobs’s idea of “organized complexity” a city. 1969). have been mainstreamed into planning practice. The ideas guiding the city down different “avenues of thinking” are as diverse as the people who reside in them. Post Urbanism vs. ready for the next idea. III (Ann Arbor. was recognition that there is no right answer to designing a city. 194 . MI: The Regents of the University of Michigan. or town is a complex organism consisting of interconnected parts. much as other forms of action have.3 The New Urbanist theories concerning “community. Merely to think about cities and get somewhere.2 Negotiating a place between New Urbanism and Post-Urbanism may or may not lead to any new solutions. 2005). but it will emerge fresh. sometimes for the better. The most popular of the recent urban movements is New Urbanism. keeping some of the thoughts of each. In the end. Which avenues of thinking are apt to be useful and to help yield the truth depends not on how we might prefer to think about a subject. The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House. NEW URBANISM 2 Robert Fishman. 1969). Vol. Thinking has its strategies and tactics too. while discarding those that no longer apply. New Urbanism and PostUrbanism describe current ideas of the existence of a city. despite whatever disagreements the participants may have had. The recent Michigan Debates on Urbanism created dialog among many seemingly disparate ideas of urbanisms. we can only hope to ask the right questions. The two schools of thought often appear at odds with each other.” as both an idea and a physical object. for all problems cannot be thought about in the same way. Barbara Littenberg and Steven Peterson. one of the main things to know is what kind of problem cities pose. but it may raise better questions as to how we can form a more integrated urban theory. This paper will outline a possible “next idea”. The Death And Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House. Michigan Debates on Urbanism. What always emerged. Re-Urbanism: Peter Eisenman vs. The city has the power to absorb and reflect whatever theory is being thrust upon it. but rather on the inherent nature of the subject itself. Its theoretical foundation relies upon creating lively neighborhoods that possess diverse styles of living. the city will evolve. Jane Jacobs 1 The city is the culmination of the human condition. sometimes not. when treated as ingredients they actually make up a more complete idea of urbanism. 3 Jane Jacobs. however. neighborhood.INTEGRATING URBANISMS NEW URBANISM Growing places between New Urbanism and Post-Urbanism CARL GIOMETTI (2006) 1 Jane Jacobs.

These manuals have shaped a multitude of plans throughout the country. The Economy of Cities (New York: Random House. II (Ann Arbor. like Peter Calthorpe and other founders of the Congress for New Urbanism. 2005). it will be the staging of 195 .” Critics point to those such as Leon Krier for an extreme case of the historical approach to urbanism. his positions are worth noting.INTEGRATING URBANISMS The practitioners of New Urbanism have expanded beyond theory and many explicit design “manuals” exist on how to execute the ideals of the New Urbanist. New Urbanist developments are typically enormous. and regardless of whichever period of urbanism one aligns with. Diversity is only achievable by differentiations in several urban qualities. Although Krier is a fringe element. as each building serves is own particular. his schemes must serve as a warning to whole-heartedly accepting historical models of urbanism.and middle-classes. Therefore. A healthy city is not nostalgic. While they may seem absurd under most circumstances. As Modernism demonstrated. Even Peter Calthorpe. Moreover. particularly time. not cataclysmic creation. These projects attract labels of being “nostalgic” or “old-fashioned” and disappoint those. 1969). These sorts of purposes will be brought about by the evolution of an area. If there is to be a “new urbanism” it will not be based on the twin fantasies of order and omnipotence. it must be executed on an enormous scale (this business model is often referred to as the Wal-Mart model). Michigan Debates on Urbanism. no lesson has been more valuable than understanding the sensitivity needed when making changes to the urban fabric. and often unrecognizable. a good neighborhood is a terrible thing to destroy. New Urbanism: Peter Calthorpe vs.5 It has proved problematic to create truly mixed-use. not determinations of it. New Urbanism copes with projects that are just as architecturally sterile and economically unsustainable as its Modernist predecessors were. Unfortunately. Vol. are difficult to fulfill in new construction. purpose. POST-URBANISM 4 Robert Fishman. From a theoretical perspective. Certain roles. MI: The Regents of the University of Michigan. questions whether New Urbanism has become a style rather than a set of open-ended principles. This point is the most relevant criticism for New Urbanism. over-planned communities with little variance in architectural or economic style. who see their ideas gone awry. where profit margins tend to be small. It may contain elements that represent a previous period but imitation of the past produces stagnation and devolution. large urban renewal projects are inappropriate and in conflict with ideas of neighborhood and economic growth. Lars Lerup. such as lower income housing and local retail. In order to fund new construction for the low. 5 Jane Jacobs. a well-known proponent of New Urbanism.4 Reasons for this may arise from the difficulty of executing a project of truly spontaneous diversity. Historical models are useful as lessons for the future. mixed-income developments. New Urbanists seem “too ready to return to the old city.

9 The “post-urban” object. . and the notion that there is no context. cities display the place-making effects of having a Post-Urbanist building. Across the world. WA: University of Washington Press. Peter Eisenman. include names such as Frank Gehry. as it is described here. to this classification. “The Decentering Event in Social Thought” in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. and signature practitioners. a sculptural reaction against the urban fabric. They earned the moniker of being “post-” or “anti-” urban by designing buildings that act to differentiate. Post-Urbanism is necessary for the creation of the unique. Cities are no longer centers but a “gray” area lacking edges or boundaries. and Daniel Libeskind. the icons. agreed-upon ideals. “What Ever Happened To Urbanism?” in Theories and Manifestos of Contemporary Architecture.T. the current spirit of the age. He aligns the writings of Rem Koolhaas. Charles Lemert (Boulder.I. These buildings are the points of reference that Kevin Lynch championed.CARL GIOMETTI 6 Rem Koolhaas. The Image of the City (Cambridge. Post-Urbanists are the Gucci of architecture. entirely unique piece of architecture that is used for its iconic value. placelessness. Buildings respond to technological achievements that allow people to become more connected. CO: Westview Press. uncertainty . Their rejection of context has given its architects incredible proficiency at creating places. If New Urbanists’ developments resemble the “Wal-Mart model” of architecture. Post-Urbanism refers to a group of people practicing design around a shared philosophical foundation. 1960). Jacques Derrida 7 If New Urbanism is looking to a city’s past for guidance. 1999). At first. their architecture exploits the loaded adjectives used repeatedly in postmodern discussion. There is no such thing as context. Those who fit the classification of “Post-Urbanist. West Sussex: Academy Editions. and Los Angeles all have a Gehry building—an abstract. A building is not bound by its function or its geography. among others. Press. Post-Urbanists are the trendsetters.8 Unlike the term “New Urbanism” which represents specific. Put another way. they end up creating even stronger ones. 1997). MA: The M. while removing the necessity for physical proximity. Rem Koolhaas 6 The center is not the center. 8 Douglas Kelbaugh. Post-Urbanism is looking beyond the present for its direction. Bilbao. although most seek to refrain from any association as such.” beside Koolhaas. Since it is out of control. “Post-Urbanism” is a term coined by Douglas Kelbaugh to represent those who believe that urbanism is an idea of the past or will soon become of the past. Chicago. . nor is there anything to be referred. This ideology is the zeitgeist mentality. Repairing the American Metropolis (Seattle. 2002). Armed with the philosophies of thinkers such as Jacques Derrida. . in their rejection of the ideological “centers” of architecture. It is a representation of an urban 196 9 Kevin Lynch. Adjectives shared among these philosophies are disconnectedness. 7 Jacques Derrida. the departure from communal context. Charles Jenks & Karl Kropf (Chichester. the urban is about to become a major vector of the imagination. can be traced throughout time: it possesses permanence. it may seem difficult to discern how a design philosophy that preaches the destruction of contexts is necessary in an urban philosophy.

Absent is any architectural contrast in quality. Aldo Rossi undertook the task of analytically dissecting a city and defining the role of each of its parts. the city becomes a virtual gallery of architecture. However. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. where Saarinen’s church might emerge and stand gracefully among a real urban fabric and truly create a place. Rossi’s system has some distinct advantages. AN URBAN TYPOLOGY 10 Aldo Rossi. He argued that the city is a collection of two principal types of architecture: dwellings and primary elements. something meant only to be experienced in a certain environment. quality. among many others. MA: The M. There is a collection of buildings and block layouts. Each building stands out as an extraordinary architectural achievement. the actual application of his typologies is an open-ended system. but in a rather odd way. signified with architecture of a different scale. generally describable as “ordinary. like a city 197 Satellite image of Paris. The Architecture of the City (Cambridge. The syntactical structure. I. . Instead. it is engaged in a battle with every other building for dominance over the area.11 The satellite picture of Paris (right) defines these two elements better than a textual definition. a language is useful to guide the dialog of the city and define roles within the urban whole. Harry Weese. the exception has become the rule.INTEGRATING URBANISMS condition at a particular point in time. the Post-Urbanist dream. which are all slightly similar to each other. . Rossi articulated this condition: “In order to study the irrational it is necessary to take up a position as a rational observer. the town remains architecturally stagnant. despite the quantity and quality of the numerous designs. .M. Otherwise. observation and eventually participation give way to disorder.I. Pei and Richard Meier. By constructing individual pieces that each demands its own attention.”12 One of the strengths of Rossi’s idiom is that while dissecting different parts of a city into its components. This conflict is akin to placing two Eiffel Towers right next to each other. a Disneyland of architecture. The over abundance of defining elements diminishes their effectiveness to a null value. Columbus.T. That is. 1982). To begin the formulation of a theoretical intermediary between these two. In this case. PostUrbanism is not without its shortcomings as well. It boasts buildings by Eero Saarinen. it is more like placing fifty together. Press. Indiana has long been visited for its unique array of architecture. like its counterpart.” The context of Columbus is to have no context. The absence of an urban fabric prevents the city from developing community and architecture from gaining an identity. While it may seem problematic to rely on a structuralist dialect to describe the chaotic forces apparent in a city.” Departures from this understood pattern are present. To use Robert Venturi’s language “. or aesthetic. the idea of dwellings and primary elements is more ephemeral than it is explicit.10 However.

CARL GIOMETTI 13 Lars Lerup. The approach to understanding this condition is similar to that of Bernard 198 . They do not exactly determine our values. the “element(s) capable of accelerating the process of urbanization in a city. The values of the city are established by the vernacular and the dwellings arise out of the need to “summarize the city’s image. its ability to dissent from the ordinary.” It is a complete entity unto itself: it does not require an immediate aesthetic relation to its surroundings.T. The primary element is the artifact of a city. MA: The M.I. These plain buildings will never appear on the cover of architecture magazines. For example. if not greater merit. an item that is not unique but responds to the entirety of a superior structure. but a theory of urbanism that does not value the vernacular of an area is simply incomplete. the ability of a piece of architecture to satisfy its role within the urban form should be given equal. Dwellings are the present representation of a city.14 The dwelling is reliant on the whole. constructed image to fill the spaces along the street. 15 Jane Jacobs. but direct and constrain them. Rossi titles the second of the two principal city typologies as the primary element. San Francisco its cascading row houses. 1969). Chicago its bungalows. the common everyday interconnectedness that allows a city to function. The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House. can evolve through time while still maintaining its pertinence and applicability. Lars Lerup employed a French word. the suburban dwelling exploits mobility and privacy. However. Old buildings are small business incubators and can be more valuable than any signature piece of architecture. old brick building” in terms of its socioeconomic function. After the City (Cambridge. The dwelling builds what is to be the urban fabric. meme. those buildings that depart from the context. After all. A place cannot be unique without the ordinary. Often architecture is judged solely on its artistic achievement. primary elements are most often considered such because of their disassociation with previously established patterns. itself. encouraging small businesses and the eventual development of an interconnected neighborhood. It is a created perception of what is normal to a city.”13 It is this process by which the urban fabric is created and sustained. The idea of the primary element gaining its distinction by emerging from the dwelling demands a brief mention of the relational architecture. He states. how often will a building achieve notoriety for its ability to “fit in”? This criterion limits the title of “good architecture” to that of primary elements. Jane Jacobs first described the value of the “plain. 2000). Meme is reproduction through imitation.15 The dwelling establishes the field from which the primary element will depart. Press. New York has its brownstones.” The dwelling embodies the values of the culture that it houses. creating “American distance” between people. 14 Ibid. Re-engaging the two presiding theories now creates a more complete picture of what is urban. to describe the way dwellings are constructed. New Urbanism describes the life of a dwelling. In fact. “Memes help affect our values. It provides cheap rent.

a perceptive businessman thinks that perhaps the people in this town would like to have their own glasses to place upon their world famous coasters.”17 For example. The Architecture of the City (Cambridge. Perhaps this is a reason for New Urbanism’s widespread acceptance outside of the planning and architectural professions. the existing structures become its dwelling. when an aspect of its culture grows unique to that of a greater whole. That is. The ability of a city to provide opportunities for the particular to emerge is incredibly important. he builds a shop making various glasses that work in conjunction with the coasters. . It does not possess the maturity to develop its own architecture. an area is developing an industry around the production of coasters. Upon the incorporation of a town or village. freezing that uniqueness in time. 1982).I. economists have understood this model as “import replacement.16 The evolutionary process of creating dwellings to earn new unique elements is perhaps the most explosive innovating force in the architecture of a city. The interplay between the two can test a city’s architectural life. it lacks industries to create drinks to place on the coasters. While it exists in this “seedling” form. it earns a primary element. and a slew of other forces. MA: The M. this process is not without precedent.INTEGRATING URBANISMS Rudofsky’s Architecture without Architects but brought to a contemporary context. The local craft of making coasters is sought after worldwide. This is the architect’s realm. economic. they respond to other universal ideas.T. When a city begins to diversify its fabric. It has 199 16 Aldo Rossi. especially when discussing the growth of a city. a piece of architecture will be constructed to serve as an artifact. 1969). the particular. The interpretation is the responsibility of the whole population. For an area to grow into a city it must have some original structure: in other words. While the town is the center of the coaster-making world. His business becomes popular and the town no longer needs to import glasses to place on its coasters. Dwelling spaces are not artistic expressions. Therefore. it draws architectural resources from outside areas. The Dogon village Rudofsky studied is the result of social. It produces artifacts that will either question or celebrate the execution of the universal. The Economy of Cities (New York: Random House. THE GROWTH OF A CITY’S ARCHITECTURE The joint resolution between New Urbanism and Post-Urbanism is more than a theoretical compromise. artistic interpretation. However. Press. environmental. At this point the goal of the city must be to grow worthy of a primary element. It is responding to the commonly held ideals that shape the universal nature of our environment. it must have a collection of people. so must import them. Eventually. The appearance of contextcreating and context-departing buildings tracks the rise and fall of an urban area. For some time. 17 Jane Jacobs. Post-Urbanism is then sufficient to explain the primary element.

the town will be developing new industry after new industry. The next import could be cup holders or perhaps paper towels to clean the unfortunate spill. If this process continues and compounds. 1930–70: Building. That is. and is now searching for another import. Ethnic neighborhoods each began their own. the process stalled. Because of their role as the symbol of a culture’s pervasiveness. however. The city grew at incredible rates. The influx of people demanded the expansion of the dwelling space. Chicago during the late 1800s and early 1900s was departing from its bungalow context more rapidly that perhaps any other city at that time. the growth eventually slowed. diversified its economy. Planning. were smaller. Chicago.18 London. Every populated area will possess its own dwellings. Architectural imports were absorbed and replaced quickly. German architect Mies van der Rohe took his ideas of Modernism to the city. as it does in growing cities. The ability of a city to import new types of architectural elements into its own model and then replace it with another import is a measurement of a city’s vibrancy. Often excluded from these histories is the role of the dwelling. From this point.19 Architects began to copy each other and created memes. Immigrants of all nations stitched themselves into the urban fabric. As in most cities. the Loop was the center of all economic activity in the American Midwest. the city began to attempt to build the vernacular support for new unique elements. in the early part of the 1900s. Every large city has experienced this type of architectural growth during some period of prosperity. as evidenced by the rapid construction of primary elements. and Urban Technology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chicago. 1973). Paris. 200 . Rome. less diverse towns that grew because they were able to create unique primary elements and then rapidly build on the strength to construct another one. or “original industry. Returning to Chicago. and Urban Technology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Planning. popularly known as the American “melting pot” effect. The Tribune Building competition gathered ideas from throughout the architectural spectrum where they battled each other for primacy on Chicago’s turf. did not occur until it produced something other than its beloved coaster. 1910– 1929: Building. All. and many others all had similar periods.” will determine its architectural achievement. at one point. the neighborhood. perhaps even over achieving its original businesses. absorbed an import. and created some of the best artifacts that remain of this period. Chicago was increasing in population faster than any city previously had. This growth.CARL GIOMETTI 18 Carl Condit. but its ability to depart from this context. instead of new artifacts being created. During this same period. the creation of primary elements is also a good indicator as to the health of a city. 19 Carl Condit. The strength of a context has a direction correlation to the amount of meaningful opportunities to depart from it. 1974). and Chicago ceased to replace its architectural imports with new ones. more localized process of city vernacular.

3 The scale of the entire city. consisting of a group of blocks with common characteristics. Whether it is a center of retail or entertainment or whatever functions it specializes in is irrelevant. Press. The center-suburb is the primary element for the suburban region.) or transit-oriented development (T. 2 The scale of the district.. The suburb creates an artifact by growing a portion of city life. The Pedestrian Pocket Book: A New Suburban Design Strategy (New York: Princeton Architectural Press. not simply explain the past. Businesses relocate to suburban locations while people move outward in search of open space. the 201 20 Aldo Rossi.) come to exist. Press.T. 22 Lars Lerup. including the built areas and empty spaces that surround it. The levels were: 1 The scale of the street. After the City (Cambridge. The Architecture of the City (Cambridge. a fourth scale must be added: 4 The scale of the region. considered as a group of districts. In addition to the various social and environmental arguments.20 In the present day. sub-city life in a suburban setting. At the time Rossi authored The Architecture of the City he set forth three scales with which to study a city. suburban development has been criticized for its lack of place.”21 They begin to develop street life and other urban characteristics. a “pedestrian pocket. it is the ultimate achievement for a suburb to create its own center. These developments could perhaps represent the maturity of the suburb. and mostly thanks to New Urbanism. 21 Douglas Kelbaugh ed. few topics have received as much attention as suburbia. have areas such as the suburban central business district (C. 1982). Only recently. due to some unique circumstance. it is more appropriate to view it as something that is benevolent to the urban area.INTEGRATING URBANISMS FORMULATING STRATEGIES Armed with the joint theories of New and Post-Urbanism. MA: The M. .O.D.22 This idea changes the role of the architect in suburbia. Cities have struggled for years to cope with the transition into becoming a region. each imitating the other with slight variation. Certain suburbs are dwelling areas. 2000). it is necessary to look how they may shape the future. It is an endless. Rather than labeling the suburb as detrimental to a city. 1989). an area made up of a city and its subordinate areas.B. MA: The M. Suburbs have always been characterized as a sort of thief to the city. Therefore.I. become centers.T. The individual suburb can be analyzed using the same criteria. By adding this new level.I. Rossi’s hierarchical system of describing an area still pertains. Rather than attempting to change the patterns of life set forth by universal values. the bedroom communities. Others. undulating row of strip developments and detached single-family houses.D. the meme. These developments enclose areas of density and diversity in a suburban setting. Recently.

an element that recognizes its own local identity while paying homage to the greater whole. and life. I would also like to thank my family. a silhouette against the darkening sky.CARL GIOMETTI architect should seek opportunities to create suburban primary elements playing the role of the Post-Urbanist. Cities are guided by urbanisms with all varieties of suffixes and prefixes. a sensualist who worships the flesh. The most valuable “next” idea will be the one that continues to meld different thoughts and observations into a more integrated urban theory. Charles Jenks & Karl Kropf (Chichester. 202 . whether it is that of a park or that of a region. cities.23 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 23 Lebbeus Woods. a constructor of worlds. a primary element is that which will accelerate the suburbanization of an area: that is. in Theories and Manifestos of Contemporary Architecture. Reworking Rossi’s words. perhaps maturation will bring greater understanding as to the opportunities that exist. for waiting two years for this paper. especially Alison. The city and its relatives are constant interplays between the particular and the universal. we begin together the construction of a city. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 94th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.” He attributed this to the complexity that is inherent when discussing a subject such as the city. Tomorrow. Nor can you know mine. As Douglas Kelbaugh noted while he was moderating the Michigan Debates. Through this acceptance. I would like to thank all my friends from Miami University for many extended nights discussing the nature of architecture. 1997). 2006. the suburb can reinforce the identity of the city and region. West Sussex: Academy Editions. I cannot know your name. the series gave birth to new types of “urbanism. The relationship of architecture and city to the modern suburb is still in its infancy. It is a field for theories to battle at any scale. each one bringing a different understanding to the organized complexity that is a city. I am an architect. “Manifesto”. the melody.

and achieves much. giving us dreams that ring true.” Charles Dickens’s London. more perceptive. falters much. S. extremist.XL. he is a poetic journalist in that he realizes his material with feeling and intuition. Koolhaas the poetic realist has more to offer us. Coney Island. fierce in his conviction that a world constructed to satisfy human desire can and should supersede the natural world that common sense calls real. Disputing the details would be pedantic. poetic perceptions of urban realities—at times entail their own limitations: forced. It is a mistake to approach this kind of writing demanding the kind of careful historical accuracy that one would expect of conventional or academic historical writing.2 203 “Luna Park at Night. 1995). in his writing. a fantast. 40.XL. monolithic. Koolhaas remarks that it would be pedantic to include footnotes in much of his writing because it is more like dreams than history. to be unboxed and unboxable. for Koolhaas. and ultimately simplistic claims (even on behalf of complexity). Koolhaas’s poetic/gnomic perception of cities can be seen to follow a line of representations including. 1978).S.) 1 Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (New York: Monacelli Press. focuses on the concrete (this place. display some of the megalomania that Koolhaas sees in Le Corbusier and believes is endemic to most highbrow architecture. originally published by Oxford University Press. However. determined above all to maintain freedom of thought.” and especially the essays “Atlanta. Koolhaas is eagerly self-contradictory. N.” in which most generalizations spring directly from specific experiences and observations. a surrealist. rather than in essays like “Bigness” and “Whatever Happened to Urbanism?” which make absolute. like these other writers.Y. he is. dares much. in fact.” “Field Trip.M. Rem Koolhaas et al. p.. than Koolhaas the fantasist. If he dared less.M. SAUNDERS (1997) POST URBANISM Rem Koolhaas.1 The sharper.L. 2 In a conversation with George Baird published in Summer 1996 GSD News. unconventional. and instructive Koolhaas (the focus of the last part of this essay). like a journalist (as he once was). on the other.L. promoting many selves. On the one hand a fiercely tough realist.” and “Generic Cities. he would falter less and give less. in his writing about cities. and T. Koolhaas is at his unreductive best in the essays “Globalization. (Courtesy of the Monacelli Press.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES Poetic perception and gnomic fantasy WILLIAM S. in the English language.” Koolhaas has failed to demonstrate convincingly hints of the sublime in the mere extravagance of this fantasy world. Koolhaas the poet of perception and Koolhaas the pseudopoet of fantasies mingle throughout his writing from Delirious New York to S.” and “The Terrifying Beauty of the Twentieth Century. His achievements—astute. as long as those larger perceptions are on the mark and being effectively served. from Delirious New York. this latter Koolhaas can. despising nostalgia or any other wishful thinking. . wants to register the larger underlying truths and is willing to take poetic license with history. 1994. Satanic Mills.” “Singapore. Urbanism). this history) and not the abstract or categorical (Bigness. William Blake’s “dark. (New York: Monacelli Press. also fierce about his right to create ex nihilo. melodramatic pseudopoetry.” the poem “Learning Japanese. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

no more than 15 years ago. In its monotony. All this does not mean. 206. “The Bijlmer offers boredom on a heroic scale. Dickens. So much of surrealist art (which has been highly influential on Koolhaas) is embarrassingly bad because it assumes that dreams are automatically profound. As an iconoclast of pretensions. the unself-conscious. 871. after all?) whole areas of alleged urban desperation.M. In “The Terrifying Beauty of the Twentieth Century. harshness. determined to be unconventional.L. Koolhaas can be devastating but salubrious. manipulate politicians with their savage statistics—bow ties the only external sign of their madness? 5 5 Ibid. reverses expectations that Europeans will view America condescendingly. 4 Ibid. Koolhaas overreads and romanticizes many of the urban phenomena that he at the same time so sharply and originally perceives: Coney Island. taste. not its truthfulness. skyscrapers. following Roland Barthes or Jacques Derrida or Jean Baudrillard. and integrity. congestion. that poetic writing cannot or should not be measured for any kind of truthfulness—that. Koolhaas the contrarian. to an opposite extreme and becomes a gullible. he goes. 199. condemn (or was it liberate. bedazzled idealizer of the American and associated phenomena: blankness. it is. among his own words. and a Nietzschean who prefers vital evil to conformist goodness. and Koolhaas. refreshing. and even brutality. he writes.. the ordinary. a despiser of moralism (from his sense of what is more truly moral). and the quality of the poetry depends on its responsibility to realities beyond the writer’s psyche.”4 Although one can understand becoming jaded with postmodernist architecture and with the burden of European tradition to the point of angry revolt. speculate seriously on the future with diagrams of untenable absurdity. Radio City Music Hall.. Eliot. at times. even though the best measure of this quality might be not “factuality” but rather the presence or absence of the author’s self-deception. the crude. the Berlin Wall. his ability to distinguish. the banal. ironically. however. SAUNDERS 3 S.XL. and so on.” he calls edge-city conditions “ridiculously beautiful” and speaks of “the arbitrary delusions of order. leave entire auditoriums panting over doodles left on the blackboard. the self-indulgent. are all that matter (since knowing “truth” can only be a wishful illusion). 204 .WILLIAM S.” 3 About a late modernist development in Holland hated by many. Hating European snobbery and effeteness. Manhattan(ism). the ugly. this last response has pushed revolt into unreason. Who else has such a biting sense of how architects can fool themselves into feeling heroic and powerful? Who does not long feel an acute nostalgia for types who could. There is bad poetry as well as good in Blake. change entire destinies. phony rhetoric from careful articulation of genuine experiences. the vitality and interest of the vision or language.

91. 104. according to Koolhaas’s inflated 205 6 Ibid. . and gullibility of the lower and middle classes. a “revolution. and merely private self. appears in some historical and novelistic accounts (like Maxim Gorky’s) not only as an amusing. Koolhaas participates in a key weakness of poststructuralist thinking: Without a belief in the knowability of otherness.”8 The equation of adventure with private journeys is symptomatic. the deprivation of more reliable fulfillment than that self-indulgent fantasy can provide is overlooked.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES Who else resists knee-jerk negativism about figures like John Portman and can therefore see complexity where others see only stereotypes to scorn? But it is in the name of this worldly realism that his romanticization. 344. like other amusement parks. even for the architect. This confusion of freedom with caprice (the Italian capriccio perhaps conveys the sense of footloose fantasy better).”10 Instead of appearing as humanly grotesque and cruel as it must have been.”11 The lake at Luna Park. 76. base desire.”9 and an expression of “genius. In Delirious New York. A colleague has suggested that claustrophobia might be evident in much of Koolhaas’s thinking. Coney Island’s Midget City becomes an abstraction to Koolhaas. . This reflects a very different Nietzschean idea—Amor fati—you are free when you love what fate provides you. the stupidity. and in the process. It implies a regime of either/or decisions often claustrophobic.. . has skewed and cramped Koolhaas’s entire intellectual career. desire becomes onanistic. Koolhaas’s basic romanticization is of fantasy itself. a springboard for philosophizing: “ ‘a miniature Midget City Fire Department responding [every hour] to a false alarm’— effective reminder of man’s existential futility. But Coney Island looks to Koolhaas like a great liberation from the shackles of Western rationalism. Built form that plays out fantasies of wished-for states of mind or lifestyles is glorified for its putative freedom. In this way.. this linked assumption that a predetermined (designed) environment is a limitation. of the banal is justified. dazzling fantasyland of “harmless” escape. 70. 49.. however localized. 7 Delirious New York. even sentimentalization.”6 Quite the opposite might be true: each good architectural choice leads to the exhilarating sense that the next choice has a measure of necessity to it. and the achievements. for handsome profits. He describes Theodore Starrett’s 1911 proposal for a one-hundred-floor building: “each compartment is equipped to pursue its private existential journey: the building has become a laboratory. “Architecture is monstrous in the way each choice leads to the reduction of possibility. habitual. 9 Ibid. at the end of the Shoot-the-Chutes.. of recent “highbrow” architecture and urban design (for instance that of Rafael Moneo and the city of Barcelona) are neglected. “Private meanings . as the architectural work suppresses the architect’s mere capriciousness: the work frees the architect from his or her determined. Coney Island. the ultimate vehicle of emotional and intellectual adventure. 10 Ibid. 8 Ibid. not an enablement or a vitalization.. 11 Ibid. and inner life lacks imagination’s grasping for fulfilling engagement with the nonself. but also as a place of delusions exploiting. insulated against the corrosion of reality”7 have romantic appeal for Koolhaas.

Manhattan put an exciting. 174. He writes of the edge-city condition around La Défense that it “mysteriously works. and—most important here—their more extravagant skins.. like his concept of freedom. Koolhaas. these buildings’ overwhelming activities.M. the early skyscrapers were motivated. from Delirious New York to S. compacted into large areas. create a condition of maximum potential for desirable life. Koolhaas continues to press on his material a highly unified vision that has both the power of myth and the distortion of melodrama.L. in their program.M. is based on a questionable assumption: that proximity by itself creates significant interaction—that some kind of precious vitality is automatically obtained when working. “The Monolith spares the outside world the agonies of the continuous changes raging inside it” (p. However. as “a conceptual speculation. Manhattan’s grid.. Hugh Ferriss.) What he has done is demonstrate the enchanting escapism of these ingenious inventions. 15 Ibid. 39. in any conditions of vast scale and great congestion. 14 Ibid. A particularly flagrant romanticization/existentialization of bigness in Delirious reads. at least. leisure.” “claims the superiority of mental construction over reality . Architecturally. 101.L. by business interests. their multiplication of floorplates. .”12 When Koolhaas refers to “the arguments respectable culture will mobilize to denigrate its probable replacement: the potentially sublime is criticized for being cheap and unreal. I would argue. 16 S. the governors of Singapore—Koolhaas is captivated by the Promethean desire to remake reality and supersede nature. or. even exhilarating. Rockefeller Center a richer 206 . 20. is full of people”16—there’s a big difference between the two. has the notion that multiple fluid programmatic uses. “invites descent into the regions of collective unconscious. John Portman.XL. Like the figures that resonate most as heroes (and sometimes also monsters) in his dreams—Wallace Harrison. 13 Ibid.”13 he has failed to demonstrate convincingly that there are hints of the sublime in the extravagance of this fantasy world. and residing occur in propinquity. Writing about Manhattan and the creation of skyscrapers in Delirious New York. that office pods for the humanly dead transactions of the great gray corporate world were not. Raymond Hood..XL. the subjugation. of nature is its true ambition. demoralizing anonymity and isolation. emphasis added).. SAUNDERS 12 Ibid. interpretation. the Great Gatsby flair served mammon. if not obliteration. 67. entails an extraordinary degree of felt contact with suprapsychic otherness. this notion. as is obvious in the World Trade Center. 205.”15 The reality is surely more mundane: the grid was chosen for its simplicity and efficiency. shopping. There is little reason to believe that Manhattan skyscrapers ever were significantly mixed-use. .”14 “Manhattanism is the only program where the efficiency intersects with the sublime. flourish on the making of money. ostentation dominated more than Nietzschean vitalism. they mill around each other unseeingly. (The sublime. people experience a lifeinhibiting. The just as likely (if not more likely) scenario is that.WILLIAM S.

making absolutistic statements like “Bigness is ultimate architecture”(p. to neglect that interiors of even the largest buildings still could contain refined architectural detail.. Single sentences form whole paragraphs to suggest their great weight of meaning: “Coney Island is a fetal Manhattan. blankness.M. 23 Ibid. falling in too easily with the forces of hyperdevelopment (capitalism at its most rapacious). to serve the reality of our mind. 21 Delirious New York. have named it Narrioch—‘Place without Shadows’—an early recognition that it is to be a stage for certain unnatural phenomena. Where there is architecture.XL. Koolhaas is at his most abstract.” In that essay. it is another thing to assume that no architectural refinements or subtleties are possible at that scale (consider Rockefeller Center). also appears: “The Carnarsie Indians. scene of “eating oysters with boxing gloves. we get forced. with its fluid building sections and mixed programs. everything is possible. the hokeyness of mystical/magical thinking.”19 And. sloppy generalizations: “The sphere appears throughout Western architectural history. whereas it can easily be seen as oppressively dulling and depersonalizing. 516). the most extreme form of unrealism. 20 Ibid. nothing (else) is possible.”21 In his ideas about Bigness. presenting certain conditions—such as those in new Chinese cities— as the conditions. the original inhabitants of the peninsula. and globalization. 18 Ibid.L. He would like to think that the characterlessness of huge buildings dialectically “exacerbates specificity.”22 Perhaps his most prominent epigram is.XL is “Bigness. 511. The weakening of Koolhaas’s tough-minded realism with romantic fantasy is evident in repeated stylistic tricks.. generally coinciding with revolutionary moments. finally. and megalomaniac.. 30. 155. 238.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES environment? Certainly. . Koolhaas commits the logical fallacy of presenting part of the truth as the whole..M.”18 The pulp-fiction device for conveying immediacy and “drama”—the “historical present” verb tense: “Hood meets secretly with him at midnight”—appears frequently. this is an unfortunate confusion of freedom with 207 17 Ibid. The essay displays the “ParanoidCritical Method” that Koolhaas accuses Le Corbusier of using: “The reality of the external world is used for illustration and proof . 19 Ibid. unless your idea of such living is a rich man’s hedonism. 22 S. Whereas it is possible to understand why certain aspects of architecture as traditionally understood—attention to detail. on the nth floor”17 a setting for maximum creative living? Certainly not. apocalyptic.”20 One of the weaker moments in S. Most surprisingly. 495) and “Bigness is the last bastion of architecture”(p. “Where there is nothing. . Koolhaas believes that the blandness. naked. . proclaiming the death of architecture. craftsmanship. and “neutrality” of huge architecture is liberating because it is programmatically indeterminate. and relatively small spatial and formal gestures—might become irrelevant or impotent at huge scales. Generic Cities. 199.”23 Again. The Downtown Athletic Club.L. 71. and to avoid considering that vast quantities of building will be done at small scales for the foreseeable future.

ed. New Urbanist development. 25 Koolhaas shares. and therefore less restricting architecture. that are expected to become more common in the developing world). of life—the kind of sense one gets in Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities.XL. edge-city office complexes—as anything but enervating. crowds. Bigness does and will dominate new “urban substance” except in extreme situations like those in China. however blank the architectural results might be. and made larger than life. Koolhaas says of generic edge-city towers that “the least these things represent is an enormous freedom: freedom from formal coherence.”28 the impersonal dominates. . without qualification.”24 Freedom as freedom from. and residing—mobs at Coney Island. more intimate scales in their attempts to meet market demand. traffic. freedom from behavioral patterns. 514. where the population explosion forces the rapid creation of new cities (conditions. “Bigness” brings me to one last aspect of Koolhaas’s writing: the general absence of people except as abstractions. imagine any such structure or complex—Empire State Plaza in Albany. the diagnosis of the essayists in Variations on a Theme Park. 26 Richard Ingersoll. 27 S. 28 Ibid. a realignment with neutrality. in built form..) When he confesses the “primitive fact of simply liking asphalt. recreating. tension.M. 1996).WILLIAM S. “surrender to technologies. 40–41. neon. But can any of us. Portman. that authenticity is increasingly elusive in an environment of more and more simulacra. working. mythologized. to engineers. Koolhaas’s view of people is as if from a great height. turning our thoughts to examples of what Koolhaas thinks of as huge.” but indifference to anything but making money. However nostalgic and fake. it is worth seconding Richard Ingersoll’s point26 that Bigness means surrender to “bidness” (Texan for “business”) more than. one might argue. crowds moving on escalators and ramps. the architecture of others. as espoused by Andrés Duany and others. 208. Strong and distinctive architecture could be defined as that which arouses and challenges us to meet it with an equal inner strength. Seldom is there a sense of the daily experiences of ordinary people or the consciousness of individuals—the only real locus.”27 Big bland structures communicate not “neutrality. so that they appear as ants. SAUNDERS 24 Sanford Kwinter. engaged in generic activities—shopping. to politics. flowing in masses. . freedom as arbitrariness. many developers want to create smaller. in fact. caprice. they enliven us. 1992) and cultural theorists like Jean Baudrillard and Guy Debord. with little spontaneous human interest or content? In addition. But Koolhaas retains more hope than these thinkers in the possibility of honestly expressing. “Bidness. Hood. blank. The best buildings do not dominate us. Michael Sorkin (New York: Hill and Wang. Before I turn to Koolhaas’s enormous contributions to an understanding of new urban conditions. ed. to others . admittedly. there has been a significant popular reaction against large buildings. as atoms in a spectacle of larger. even. 208 . New York: Princeton Architectural Press. as Koolhaas says. manufacturers. (Koolhaas is moonstruck by circulation in itself.. and Ferriss—are dramatized.” ANY 10: 5.L. the World Trade Center in New York. Rem Koolhaas: Conversations with Students (Houston: Rice University School of Architecture. freedom from having to simulate a community. Those individuals that do appear in his writing—for example. and endless suburban “colonial” tracts are what American consumers predominantly prefer to any vibrantly congested megastructure. contractors. the conditions of modernity. impersonal forces. it is important to ask whether. not freedom for. action without engagement. In the developed world.25 Finally.

cruelty. 36 Ibid. from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s film Un Chien Andalou. and deluded. like the Marquis de Sade. 233. of a woman’s eyeball being sliced36 and seems sympathetic to Georges Bataille’s ideas of the “ ‘sacred’ animal world based on disorder.1056. 35 Ibid. there is only a generalized sense of the violence of this act and of people’s apparent adaptation to this extreme change. Koolhaas also imperiously appropriates quotations as if they were part of his own writing. 226. 37 Ibid. This Koolhaas is fascinated by pornography. and power. 235.M. 214.M.”30 He presents the impersonal and anonymous as comforting. p.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES When Koolhaas describes the relocation of hundreds of thousands of Singapore shantytown inhabitants into high-rise apartments. 209 “Asian City of Tomorrow.. 30 Delirious New York.U. sentimental. quickened by the horrifying. “The [Berlin] wall suggested that architecture’s beauty was directly proportional to its horror.. Reprinted in S.. this Koolhaas includes pictures.) Group. probably) imperiously peeling away blocks of old Parisian urban fabric from a model. 34 Ibid. without seeming to consider the nasty implications of this for health and happiness. . 38 Ibid. is drawn with excitement to the realm beyond morality.34 This Koolhaas. 1102.R. “Understanding the New Urban Condition: The Project on the City. Koolhaas’s ideal of the culture of congestion.. 512–13. . (S. Jean Genet.XL.29 A Sartrean nausea with the human and certainly the humanistic appears in many of Koolhaas’s essays.”31 This Koolhaas includes in the same book a picture of a hand (his. eager to create alternatives to nature. 32 Ibid.” Singapore Planning and Urban Research (S.) 29 Rem Koolhaas. with no identification of writers or sources except in footnotes.M. an inheritor of the Dutch refinement represented by the Vermeer picture of a woman playing a harpsicord that is placed. Courtesy of the Monacelli Press.. He associates humanism with the soft. for ironic contrast. and he italicizes others’ words without saying “my italics. . offers degrees of serenity. 14.L. “Sick unto death” with intellectual and moral conventionality and selfrighteousness. In S. 31 S.. 1037. He speaks with exhilaration elsewhere of “chickens on the fortieth floor” of housing near Hong Kong. among images of his antigenteel. the mad Corbusier who would flatten all to create endless sterile Villes Radieuses. Several pictures of hands holding models in S. a retreat from social stress: “Bigness . 142.P.U..XL. John Portman trying to make Atlanta a monument to his self-proclaimed genius. the governors of Singapore wiping out hundreds of thousands of poor people’s dwellings. .” GSD News (Winter–Spring 1996). this Koolhaas might be sick also with that side of himself that is morally fastidious.L.XL are quite similar to iconic images of Le Corbusier’s hands doing the same.” 33 Ibid. overly sensitive.L. the subjugation of women in male fantasies.P. to be God’s rival.M.”38 This Koolhaas is fascinated by what he loathes: he spends many hours interviewing people in Atlanta architectural firms whose practices appall him. and Henry Miller. dramatizing it as his diction on the erasing of old Singapore—“a convulsion of uprooting”35 (emphasis added)—makes evident. 1108. Promethean. Bigness is impersonal: the architect is no longer condemned to stardom. highly cultured. extremism.XL. the shock. the obvious insanity”33 of Le Corbusier’s similar attempts. antibourgeois Villa Dall’Ava in Paris.. even at some cost. This side of Koolhaas likes and wants to play with the heartless Big Boys: the developers.R. . This Koolhaas loves the clean impersonality of machines and sees in the Rockettes’ line dance “an exhilarating surrender of individuality to automatism. excess”37 to which he refers just before he proclaims.32 even after referring to “the harshness. And this Koolhaas is Faustian. 232. Koolhaas is drawn to their daring. .L. The Nietzsche in him wants something much more fierce.

David Harvey on Baltimore and Thatcher’s London (in Architectural Practices in the Nineties. the tone of this writing is cool and factual. 1992). Whitman-like. the attitude is one of radical political toughness.M. The strength of this writing is its determination to see the underbelly of misleading appearances. 41 S. rage. American. one that stares down and exposes the worst in the harshest possible light. including awareness of whatever 210 . greed. the man revolted by crudity. even in Europe—it could be again possible to become innocent about architecture. no constructive. we see his longing for lost Eden in the essay “Last Apples”: “When we realized that we identified 100% with these programmatic enterprises that intervene drastically in the cultural and political landscape of Europe. disgust.L. Koolhaas’s responses are often multiple.”41 This confession of a momentary wish to be free of responsibility. cruelty.XL. the highbrow. and it offers no hope. that sees corruption. There are heavy black ironies in just “stating the facts. On the surface. we wondered whether—paradoxically by playing with the real fire of Bigness. Koolhaas’s possible need to break from an enervating Dutch refinement might also help explain his attraction to the ordinary. (Its weaknesses are two: it has no lightness—it lugubriously neglects whole realms of positive experience.L. no matter how unpleasant the experience. ignorant. realistic resistances or alternatives.WILLIAM S. and Neil Smith and Christine Boyer on New York (in Michael Sorkin’s Variations on a Theme Park. 70. Koolhaas participates to some extent in a mode of contemporary historical/cultural thinking that seems to predominate in recent “cultural studies” of cities—writing of unrelenting negativism and cynicism. 42 Cynics will read this as a rationalization for wanting to chase the big bucks of developers. lowbrow guy. contains an underlying sadness at the impossibility of being spontaneous. the ugly. to imagine—no longer paralyzed by knowledge. with the Pop artists. and despair. such as the harmless pleasure one can take in Disneyland. he celebrates “the spontaneous urbanism of the masses.”39) This part of Koolhaas shares attitudes with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown of Learning from Las Vegas.”40 Most startlingly. and power. to use architecture to articulate the new. 668. Overall.XL dictionary quotes Jodie Foster: “My dream in life is to wear sweats and go to a mall.” Beneath the surface are shock. the banal— his wish to exist prior to evil as a simple. 1990). experience. he presents historical narratives (such as the story of John Portman building in Atlanta) that are neutral on the surface and caustic just beneath. the refined. childlike. But unlike these writers. 1996).42 This brings us to the need to see the other sides of Koolhaas: the European. but the conditions being presented are quite disturbing.) Koolhaas shares this determination. and with the poststructuralists who reject the high-/low-culture distinction. SAUNDERS 39 Ibid. 70. to be swept away by larger forces. He is—and this explains his lasting interest—a man of many selves. These writers include Mike Davis on Los Angeles (City of Quartz. and callousness as pervasive in the recent development of cities. 40 Delirious New York. (His S.. correctness—the end of the Potemkin world.M.

“Sometimes it is important to find out what the city is—instead of what it was. 48 Ibid. and the New Pastoralism. We have no projects in China. 45 Sanford Kwinter. innocent and worldly. in the forces of contemporary urban development. writes more vividly and allows the violation of (or indifference to) any totalizing polemical ideas. as poets usually do..” single perspective responses to his ideas are off the mark. .M. because so far I haven’t discovered a single project I would like to be involved in personally. or what is should be. . this is simply the way things are. new alignments with powerful forces in moral terms.L. 1256. 49 Ibid. hedonistically or rebelliously amoral and puritanically moral.” Nancy Levinson. “The Future City: A Conversation with Rem Koolhaas. personal and impersonal. a compulsion to be “free” even if that forces selfcontradiction. . We are involved in operations that we think deserve support . 971.” ANY 9:22. a defensive maneuvering to stand on no one spot for very long. writes. “The Building.XL. 47 S. the Book. speaking of the Generic City. the first sentence of the Atlanta essay. “The Generic City” is a playfully messy soup of astute observations presented in an unpredictable diversity of tones.” Since Koolhaas more often embraces “both/ and” than chooses “either/or. To string out some of his many contradictions: Koolhaas wants to be (or is) both American and European. .” GSD News (Summer 1996): 49. . to avoid. if modestly.” Graphis 304 (July– August 1996): 75. lowbrow and highbrow. and factual: “This is hideous . if not most. this is exciting . . He espouses “lite urbanism”43 and is. I will try to demonstrate below that many. heroic. practical and theoretical. . celebratory. and creative in what is also grotesque (like Singapore’s tabula rasa). .” “Learning Japanese”49—a series of detailed anecdotes and sociological observations from his first trip to Japan.M. “Strangely. For that very reason.44 self-important seriousness is what he thinks we should have learned. 44 See especially the exuberant sarcasm of sections 9 and 11 of “The Generic City” in S. Although he hardly mentions any specific places—as a social scientist interested in proof would—we know full well what he is talking 211 43 S. . on immediate experience. 46 George Baird has set forth his own set of four “paradoxes” in Koolhaas’s work. meek and powerful. His attitude is more one of fascination than of evaluation. 88–110. “We have been careful to approach .M. . . individualistic and anonymous. Koolhaas’s primary motivation seems to be provocation and the subversion of conventional perceptions. . when he focuses. from the heroic modernists.XL. of his perceptions of new urban conditions and productions are exceptionally clear and convincing: one has that “I knew that was true. Koolhaas. he is attacked by the bleaker urbanists for being opportunistic or naive: How can one expect to “inflect”—to use Sanford Kwinter’s word—the course of a tidal wave? Why surf it at all?45 Koolhaas’s writing is multivocal. encapsulates what Koolhaas does best. nobody has thought that cumulatively the endless contradictions of these interpretations prove the richness of the Generic City”47—or of Koolhaas’s perceptions. but never could put it into words” feeling.XL.L. boldly uncensored—illustrates how Koolhaas.46 “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” (Emerson).L.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES might be impressive.. See “Rem Koolhaas in Conversation with George Baird. Koolhaas’s “poem. Similarly. as a writer. he dares to hope that one can participate meaningfully. simple approval or disapproval of his “positions” will usually neglect that there are conflicting sides to his thinking. often playful and humorous. 832. The same sentence can seem caustic.”48 This. It is worth noting that Koolhaas has said. yielding and controlling. Yet there can be slipperiness in this complexity. And Koolhaas is not merely cynically detached.

as a feeble attempt to revive streets.”50 More “authentic” urban activities now occur at Paris’s periphery. few and far between emotions. However. the city of efficiency. but also hideously dead. . tyranny. Its main attraction is its anomie. bridges. about and when he is on or off the mark.C. but without Koolhaas’s biting humor: “History returns not as farce here. 52 Ibid. in principle.”52 This helps us realize that for Koolhaas.C. and existential intensity. (2) (Bad) public art is prevalent in the G. interpretation.’s pathetic attempt to “beautify” by returning the natural/real to the city—with the laughable effect of making nature seem fake. is witty. and motorways—a huge proliferation of the paraphernalia of connection—[are] frequently draped with ferns and flowers as if to ward off original sin” (p. 1250–51.C. Consider these observations: (1) The Generic City (I will abbreviate it as G. “It is a place of weak and distended sensations. . a polished caricature. sharp.”51 The alternative that Koolhaas does not consider—that strong identities can and should provoke strong responses and that the lack of identity provokes mere caprice—leads him into celebrating the Generic City as. He begins with the argument that I have criticized above: “The stronger the identity. disease. Planting and landscaping are the G.” which turns the city’s history into a consumer commodity—an observation that pervades Variations on a Theme Park as well... the stage for freedom.C. 212 . . not only refreshingly authentic. 1248. places of fertile chaos. and often original diagnosis. . aside from a few moments of melodramatic exaggeration. Surely we are familiar with the demoralizing “Stay off!” hygiene of litter-free and over manicured lawns surrounding corporate towers. His hard-nosed (or nose-thumbing) main point is that these similarities express current authentic articulations of life and that any individual identities of cities— derived from clichés and artificial resuscitation of their histories—are relatively inauthentic. by the third page of the essay. . is nothing like his Manhattan of the teens. and thirties or like Fumihiko Maki’s metabolist city of the sixties. . 1254). the more it resists expansion. SAUNDERS 50 Ibid.WILLIAM S. maximum interaction. contradiction. dedicated only to business. but as service: costumed merchants (funny hats. The nature of the overwhelming similarities of cities worldwide is his focus. He is mainly on. renewal. 51 Ibid. 1253). twenties. veils) voluntarily enact the conditions (slavery. the more it imprisons. . The serenity of the Generic City is achieved by evacuation of the public realm. The remainder of the essay. poverty. bare midriffs. . The Generic City is sedated. tunnels. (4) Each G. a moralistic assertion of good intentions” (p. .) is unified by “controlled neatness. (3) “Decks. has a quarter called “Lipservice. Koolhaas has begun forgetting this principle and describing the Generic City for what it is. The reality is not now the historical identity but the packaging and selling of that identity: “Paris can only become more Parisian—it is already on its way to becoming hyper-Paris.

the second. but they also help dispel the common critique of Koolhaas that he yields to contemporary urban conditions uncritically. 1257).REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES colony)—that their nation once went to war to abolish” (p. In a public conversation with George Baird. For Koolhaas. you cannot hope to have any effects at all. .C. a triumph of glue over the integrity of materials” (p. painfully. It is Koolhaas’s driven. (6) Hotels and airports are becoming cities unto themselves. . The key distinction. Atlanta is a prime example of a Generic City. now providing places for business and leisure activities. They have their inherent revelatory value. . Nothing could prove this as well as the final paragraph of “Generic Cities. 1257). (8) Atria—big empty spaces—are used as substitutes for impressive architectural substance. In our work. as the playing in reverse of a Hollywood Bible story movie—from a wild. seems to be the seed of the 1994 “Generic Cities” essay. is that the terms like and dislike are not pertinent in this case. and lifeless.” presented as a talk in 1987 and revised in 1994. new building depends more than ever “on the curtain wall industry. I think. that we take an uncritical position toward the phenomena that interest us.”) (7) The typical colors and shoddy postmodern design and construction techniques of building in G.s are presented in satirical detail: for example. of course. Koolhaas tried to clarify this key issue: “Alignment doesn’t mean. This list of sharp observations could continue for another page. Here tourists congregate in droves around a cluster of stalls” (p. we try to combine criticism of a phenomenon with an ability to work within and parallel to it. as it is. chaotic bazaar to that scene evacuated. It’s possible to want to respond to a tendency that seems triumphant. often solitary pursuit of an awareness of what is newly real in cities and his insistence on opposing our need not to see these realities that leads to the mistaken sense that he likes all of what he sees. 1260]. “Atlanta. without necessarily being euphoric about it. the city as it should be is the first. (It’s a sign of flexibility that Koolhaas’s feeling here is that this “implies imprisonment” [p. . In the halls of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). is between accepting as real and accepting as desirable. teeming. in contrast to his glorification of huge mixed-use structures in “Bigness. 1261). discussions of this essay center on whether Koolhaas likes or dislikes Atlanta: some are unsure.” in which Koolhaas imagines the production of the G. as well as shopping. but it is also possible to see reason in Koolhaas’s assertion that unless you accept most of the terms the world presents you. The reality. 213 53 “Rem Koolhaas in Conversation with George Baird. not necessarily with water . barren. for me.”53 Reasonable people certainly can and do disagree with Koolhaas about how helpless design professionals are to influence the dominant modes of development and about how significant exceptions to those modes are. diverse. on ever more effective adhesives and sealants that turn each building into a mixture of straitjacket and oxygen tent . .C. others sure but with opposite conclusions. (5) “Each Generic City has a waterfront.” GSD News (Summer 1996): 50.

or of attitude (“seamless artificiality. 855). lush. amusement. 835). a new form of professionalism. . it is a landscape” (p. Again. But in presenting most details on the city. SAUNDERS Koolhaas is. a fluid collective domain. Working on the emergence of new urban 214 . [These architects] no longer create order. welcoming. Koolhaas’s sensibility here surely deserves to be called poetic. 836). Perhaps the most interesting and complex of Koolhaas’s responses in “Atlanta” is to the new breed of architects he encountered on a tour of Atlanta firms. These are the architects of postmodernism. makes inspiration an outdated concept. instruments of the unpredictable: from imposing to yielding in one generation. dominant because it can be made quickly and cheaply. John Portman writes. rather. Other cutting observations: Portman’s reinvention of the atrium is “a container of artificiality that allows its occupants to avoid daylight forever—a hermetic interior. . sealed against the real” (p. and whatever evaluations he has change subtly from sentence to sentence. “In a book on John Portman by John Portman. glimpsed through tinted glass. ‘I consider architecture frozen music’ ” (p. horror. and so on. fabricate entities. “The vegetal is replacing the urban: a panorama of seamless artificiality.” The realization that Koolhaas loves his cities congested and chaotic like Piranesi’s Rome we bring in largely from outside this essay’s context. designers of the new downtown towers don’t care about the towers being a complementary group—they want them to compete. conveys the undertone of stewing emotions: hatred. his tone is. venetian blinds. streamlined dogma . From form givers they have become facilitators. or at least it has a Richard Meier museum” (p.WILLIAM S. have become its official agents. resist chaos. architects have aligned themselves with the uncontrollable. perfect nature where no leaf is ever out of place. a new efficacy in applying new. 835). Atlanta is not a city. “No leaf is ever out of place. so organized. welcoming”). postmodern architecture. astute observations proliferate: “[Atlanta’s] strongest contextual givens are vegetal and infrastructural: forests and roads. you’re always in nature” (p. “Atlanta has nature. Certainly. both original and improved—a sparkling. In Atlanta. 839). there is plenty of sarcasm: “Atlanta has culture. Its artificiality sometimes makes it hard to tell whether you are outside or inside: somehow. of architectural education. intensely interested in Atlanta. “That’s just the way it is. chagrin. like a seductive fairy tale” (p.” however. so organized. catching telling complexities of experience (“glimpsed through tinted glass”). that it sometimes seems like another interior. and the other distancing devices of the alienated architecture—almost accessible. lush. not one that creates knowledge or culture. imagine coherence. disgust. 841). it’s what we have to work with. feels mainly wonder about it. of feeling (“you’re always in nature”— metaphorically). but a technical training that creates a new unquestioning.

. . there is some envy and ironic admiration for architects who have the chance to create huge swatches of urban substance. Yes. p. 848). “Technical training .XL. . the market and the developers.XL. 852).’ possibilities hovering somewhere. it is a richly informative and detailed historical narrative. (pp.M. Yes. they have discovered a vast new realm of potential and freedom to go rigorously with the flow. architecture/urbanism as a form of letting go. Koolhaas. and it is not absent from even his best essays. ‘Hell is other people’ ” (S. it is unequivocally negative: “The model was a complete inversion of metropolis as we know it—not the systematic assembly of a critical mass but its systematic dismantlement. . A post-cataclysmic new beginning that elaborates revolutionary forms in liberated relationships. Koolhaas’s inclusion of question marks here connotes his awareness that his speculations have turned footloose. 841). Promethean . So he sometimes romanticizes: “Each site in Atlanta is exposed to a theoretical carpet bombardment of ‘centers. despiser of nostalgia. a seemingly absurd dispersion of concentration. Not content with convincing us that new urban conditions exist. But what about that last sentence? Doesn’t it show admiration and a touch of envy? One must here articulate and critique Koolhaas’s “position” carefully. not the architects.L. It expresses a poised 215 54 S. 856). . justified. 55 See also. might be his finest. “Razed plane (in Singapore) as the basis for a genuinely new beginning. in “Atlanta. We have seen this melodramatic streak in Koolhaas’s other writing.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES conditions.M. finally. No.M. But unlike Delirious. . . . wants us to be excited by their potential. 847–9) These comments are amazingly multivocal.55 Koolhaas’s Singapore essay. at least more so than its alternative.L. . facilitators”—clearly these are caustic words.) . (A truer statement of his belief appears in “Whatever Happened to Urbanism?”: “The only legitimate relationship that architects can have with the subject of chaos is to take their rightful place in the army of those devoted to resist it. if anything. it contains very little pseudopoetic inflation. one of his most recent and connected to a multiyear project (started in 1996) of studying urban conditions in Asia with Harvard GSD students.1030. Yet when one looks back at Koolhaas’s description of the work they are doing. Alarmingly. Like Delirious New York. . waiting to be activated by a mysterious process—only vaguely related to money” (p. but the not-so-mysterious show runs for the maximization of profits—what else? Of Portman’s renderings for a new exurb: “Is this the reappearance of the sublime? . are calling the shots—his realism turns mushy. . courageous . merciless” scraping of old urban fabric. . . 969.XL. it suggested that the elements that had once made the city would now cease to work if they got too close together [congested]” (p. unquestioning .” “Heroic . from S. dogma .” his forced comparison of Portman’s atria with panopticons: “Everyone becomes everyone else’s guard—architectural equivalent of Sartre’s No Exit. Then when Koolhaas refers to their “vast new realm of potential and freedom” (that misguiding word again)—unquestionably.L. and fail. (Courtesy of the Monacelli Press. these architects are the “realists” who have no illusions about where “the flow” is and the possibilities of resisting it. to engage us. .”54 He is multivocal. by no other reason than their appeal to our senses?” (p. the atrium spectacle is a kick even to traveling salesmen.

the simple being of its subjects.” “courageous. . . factory.” and “insanity” and in one design plan. to what extent its magnetic field— the unusual cohesion of its inhabitants—is imposed. tradition.000 families between 1965 and 1988: “The leap from the Chinese shophouse— typology that packs store. however. and poverty. but Koolhaas makes a constant effort to make sure they are not blinkering. This is “the Asian factor”—the relative lack of the western insistence on individual autonomy.XL. cut off from connective networks of family relationships. The bureaucrats of Singapore achieved something monumental: “saving” the population from living in filth.L. fixity.” “Promethean. France.L. are abruptly forced into another civilization” (p. in focus. SAUNDERS “[T]he process of erasure could be spread over time in a surreptitious way—an invisible reality. 1015). merciless . Koolhaas’s vision might never be more clear and balanced than here: “The entire operation ambiguously combines the fulfillment of some basic human needs with the systematic erosion of others— tradition. 1013. continuity”—there is no sarcasm about these words this time. power. Koolhaas has an uncompromised sense of the violence that must have been done to nearly 270. and balanced set of attitudes.”56 The essay is not free of judgments about Singapore. . Needless to say. because the new inhabitants. . Although lacking a sense of individual lives. “Tradition. . When Koolhaas writes of a leftover remnant of old Singapore. an assertion against the western intellectual’s knee-jerk scorn for its ways: “Our refusal to read Singapore on its own terms is frivolous: our most sophisticated reflections on the contemporary condition of the city are completely disconnected from the operational. disease. . 1108–9. 1017).M. primarily a resistance to positive or negative judgments for the sake of preserving. how and where the exact repression occurs. fixity.’ a perceived common interest” (p. The price paid was loss of certain freedoms.) 56 S. But its cruelty also makes it appalling. . pp. whether free speech is worth the cultural trash it also produces” (p. Paris. 1035. he does so with respect for its “authentic subversiveness . Daring.XL. 1991. Competition. We could gradually scrape . Courtesy of the Monacelli Press. 216 . Singapore raises questions for Koolhaas that are being raised more and more urgently by political theorists writing on the United States: “whether democracy promotes or erodes social stability. the ability to put the good of the group first—that makes comparisons with urban renewal in the United States invalid. “harshness. habits. the result of a ‘deal. continuity—a perpetuum mobile where what is given is taken away in a convulsion of uprooting. a state of permanent disorientation” (pp. To preserve the being of Singapore. family living quarters together in a single block around a courtyard—to Singapore’s high-rise containers is . 1037). or more ambiguously. Koolhaas sees both. La Défense. the most salient fact about Singapore since 1960 is its radical urban renewal: its near total destruction of the old and its rapid modernization. . But Koolhaas is careful to keep open the possibility that the people might have willingly gone along with their losses: “It is difficult to identify what precisely is unfree.M.” The power and unstoppable drive of the government seem intoxicating.” Mission Grand Axe. This “delirious transformation” excites Koolhaas as “heroic. (Photograph by Hans Werlemann from S.WILLIAM S. is for Koolhaas a polemical act. 1021).

about the ideas and work of Fumihiko Maki and the other Japanese metabolists in the sixties. 1073) Only the ingenuous “alarming” and “myths” hedge this approbation. . community. It seems ‘tropical’ in the sense of dirty. detail. durability—all these are outdated and irrelevant in this program-driven. “pumping through like life blood” (ibid. rare demonstrations of the kind of performance that could and should be the norm in architecture but rarely is. There is no criticism or ambiguity in the paragraphs on Maki’s Koolhaas-like ideas. .” “ ‘a pattern of events’ more than . . by shedding modernism’s artistic. . have discredited and discarded. . extensively connected by multiple linkages. . a level of abstraction that matches Koolhaas’s in “Bigness. 1067). everin-revision architecture. form.. 1044. supporting mixed-use towers: they are containers of urban multiplicity. heroic captures and intensifications of urban life in architecture. . He bemoans the city’s having “adopted only the mechanistic. he sees actual built form that approximates to his realistic ideal of “a modern-movement Chinatown” (p. 1041). subversive ambitions— revolution without agony” (p. The questions provoked by his sarcasm about “we” who have rejected these models remain unanswered: Do “circumstances” 217 57 There is also. irrational. and built ambitious examples of vast modern socles teeming with the most traditional forms of Asian street life. Beauty. fed by modern infrastructures and sometimes Babel-like multilevel car parks. a composition of objects. in the Singapore essay. crystallized. I doubt if one could find a passage in Koolhaas of such unmitigated approbation as this: In the late sixties.” in infinitely more affluent circumstances. uncontrollable. 1039). (p.57 And when Koolhaas looks at some of Singapore’s large-scale mixed-use projects built after its housing need had been addressed. drugged—absolutely other” (p. corrupt. defined. low-cost new building (to house the exploding population) but without sacrificing spontaneity.” a vision of the city as “a dynamic field of interrelated forces. penetrated by proto-atriums. rationalistic program and developed it to an unprecedented perfection . in the words of Maki that Koolhaas quotes. giving an alarming degree of plausibility to the myths of the multilevel city and the megastructure that “we. 1049). Singapore architects . There can be no doubt toward which end of the continuum from hygiene to dirtiness the romanticizer of Coney Island prefers. When Koolhaas writes. . lazy. built in a now authentic way and fostering maximum urban vitality.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES against the overwhelming quantity of hygienic newness around it. It seems likely that Koolhaas’s experiences of Maki’s book and these projects were prime influences in his intellectual career. Koolhaas is an existentialist. at least in Asia. and heterogeneity—all that “the culture of congestion” meant in Delirious New York. he finally clarifies for us what ideal he has been implicitly holding all along: an architecture/urban planning that accepts the need. efficient.” in which people are seen from a regrettable distance. . for radically large-scale. . He values authenticity and the gritty mess of spontaneous life even as he sees those values becoming more and more inevitably out of reach. “we” are clearly fools to have dismissed this model.

the reconstructed tropicality of landscaping” (p. It would mean learning to make do with what is or what is about to be. “The resistance of these assembled buildings to forming a recognizable ensemble creates. hyper-densities of trivial commandments. . being able to think as Koolhaas has done in this essay—rigorously looking to find the world as it newly is. overcharged with commercial effluence from hermetic interiors. adding beaches to its shoreline. Now that the delirium of “building-out” is over. The capricious Barthesian sign isn’t enough. We can make things. . elsewhere allow this sort of project to work? (And does this sort of project really work? Has that been carefully studied?) No sooner has Koolhaas suggested that Singapore has provided ideal models for urban megastructures than he draws back. leftover. the third millennium will be an experiment in this form of soullessness (unless we wake up from our 30-year sleep of self-hatred). .” adding Chinese ornamentation to its high rises. 1077) Is this a stunning reversal? A call for history’s revival in the present? A waffling? No. .WILLIAM S. above all. Singapore represents the point where the volume of the new overwhelms the volume of the old. In such imposed identities. Much that is uncontrolled must enter in. public art. rather. 1075). making its landscape “stand for” “the tropical. a constantly misleading idea during Koolhaas’s career. is forced and phony. or the creation has no otherness. “Architecture and Globalization. without wishful illusions. the overall effect increasingly unreal . Creation ex nihilo.” GSD News (Winter–Spring 1994): 48. to see once again what is lost in the larger context of these isolated gains.” Rem Koolhaas. Singapore is trying to remake its image as place of fun and leisure. determinedly realistic. a condition where the exterior—the classic domain of the urban—appears residual. the putative freedom of the tabula rasa. Chinatown and the megaprojects must somehow be integrated. Mathematically. Koolhaas supports designing interiors as if they were exterior public realms. So what would it mean for “us” to “wake up from our 30-year sleep of self-hatred”? It would mean.58 But more. SAUNDERS 58 Koolhaas’s characterization is yet more harsh in a talk he gave at Harvard in the spring of 1993: “Singapore was . Koolhaas now finds no identity at all: “Singapore is a city without qualities” (p. eyes opened wider: Singapore reveals a cruel contradiction: huge increases in matter. (p. a petri dish of Chinese Stalinist modernism followed by Chinese postmodernism. I think it is. such as the creation of 218 . Koolhaas as poet of perception winning the struggle with his other selves. has not yet developed its own vitality. organically. is now seen to end as well as start with emptiness. doomed to remain a Potemkin metropolis. That is not a local problem. Asian or not. has become too big to be animated by it. but he is unwilling to shut his eyes to what the outside then becomes. 1077). but not necessarily make them real. perceiving it freshly. Places fabricated out of whole cloth to support some predetermined pattern of activity seem unreal.

when given the impossibly difficult problem of designing in two weeks a city for three million people. “We are increasingly confronted with utterly irrational problems. that architects and urbanists can avoid making Potemkin villages. or else he would have given up making architecture and doing urban planning. . We should be able.” 13. This essay was originally published in the Journal of Architectural Education Vol. And in making do. 59 Koolhaas. In a talk he gave at Harvard in the fall of 1995. . he said. Koolhaas would like to think that one might enable some degree of making real. but not hopeless. 51 No. 219 . problems that we no longer have the luxury of refusing . to respond with vigor and skill.REM KOOLHAAS’S WRITING ON CITIES “countless” Chinese cities based on the model of Singapore. “Understanding the New Urban Condition.”59 He is very skeptical. 1 (September 1997).

It also makes it difficult to synthesize his views into a simple summary. he does not deal with them in any significant depth. the familiar factors of exploding demographics and of the late-capitalist economy are 220 . Even though he alludes to the forces he considers central to urban transformation. old theories of urbanism. to insist on the relevance of context.” Bill Lacy.” in El Croquis. nor does he explicitly describe the research methodology that led him to the conclusions he draws from Bigness. This factor accounts in part for his failure to influence the urban planning profession. states that beyond a certain scale buildings can be considered autonomous urban sectors.” See Rem Koolhaas. is that what we call cities today are really a series of “city islands” grafted onto the larger field of the “un-city.” Koolhaas proposes the theory of Bigness as a response to the need to develop new taxonomies and models that will help us understand and operate in the contemporary metropolis. a more careful comparison of the two reveals that Bigness ignores the democratic components of its alleged precursor.” Rem Koolhaas.“BIGNESS” IN CONTEXT POST URBANISM Some regressive tendencies in Rem Koolhaas’ urban theory JORGE OTERO-PAILOS (2000) 1 “The irony is that the obsession with history and specificity has become an obstacle in the recognition of these new realities.” in Rem Koolhaas et al. To insist on the right of certain buildings to exist. Schliemann. as quoted in Alejandro Zaera Polo. “The Terrifying Beauty of the Twentieth Century.2 The reality. lauded the architect during the award ceremony for his ability to “continually blur the line between urban design and architecture. Koolhaas appeals to models of nineteenth century objectivity. History. 79 (1996). are considered repressive veils keeping us from an authentic experience of the real. 206. 19.L.XL (New York: The Monacelli Press. independent of the context in which they sit. Koolhaas speaks of urban planning as a thing of the past.” the most popular of his theories. His reflections are purposefully impressionistic and fragmentary.1 In calling for a fresh look at the real.. insofar as they are the wrong tools for looking at the present. n. However. Rem Koolhaas’ views on urbanism have been taken up as a “renewed commitment to the American city. is to apply outdated conceptual structures that increase the rift between the discipline of urbanism and the real forces shaping the present. and specificity are all seen as concealing reality. Koolhaas does not provide a systematic and comprehensive theory of urbanism. which Koolhaas received in 2000. Moreover. and Freud. he claims. 1995). S. For example. p. p. Although Koolhaas situates Bigness formally and historically as an extension of the American City Parks tradition. 2 “To disentangle the resulting landscape requires the combined interpretative ability and 19thcentury classificatory stamina of Champollion.M. Darwin. Context is also seen as a thing of the past. “The Day After: A Conversation With Rem Koolhaas. to think of urban planning in terms of formal relationships articulated architecturally in space is obsolete. Since buildings have a life span of about twenty years.” “Bigness. executive director and juror of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. context.

gas lighting. The fact that he would allow himself to consider the great expanse of metropolitan fabric as a void in spite of its vibrant reality and presence denotes. 1. the desire for stability and the need for instability are no longer incompatible. 5 Alejandro Zaera Polo. . 4 Koolhaas uses the traditional Nolli plan analysis of urban tissue as solid and void. 1. he would make this estimation more explicit: “If you look at our project for Melun-Sénart. His description is more figurative and projective than objective and researched. and political homogenization of the rural and the urban. It is a conclusion more than an observation. It is a form of institutional and semantic oppression. a value judgment. n.” 5 But he does not simply mean that this architecture looks bad.M. 4 Rem Koolhaas. to describe the metropolis.” in S. In a rather short but telling essay entitled “Imagining Nothingness” Koolhaas credits his teacher O. 53 (1992). Ungers for describing the possibility of resurrecting the traditional city within the larger metropolis. Cerda’s process of “urbanización” accounted for the increasing physical. there were explicit judgments of contemporary architecture: it is mostly ‘merde’ [shit]. to say the least. Vol. 201. Elsewhere. social. such a city becomes an archipelago of architectural islands floating in a postarchitectural landscape of erasure where what once was a city is now a highly charged nothingness. it is bad. The coercive aspect of architecture is something he feels is constitutive of its mission. p. gave Koolhaas the insight that: In such a model of urban solid and metropolitan void.“BIGNESS” IN CONTEXT deployed but without any scientific evidence to map the specific channels of interaction between these factors and urban tissue. Koolhaas has been fascinated by the loss of the classical “closed” city to the more open urban form of the contemporary metropolis. Through the parallel actions of reconstruction and destruction. “Finding Freedoms: Conversations with Rem Koolhaas. p. and the telegraph) to the country gave rise to new bureaucracies and professionals whose competencies extended well beyond urban centers. 1867). who in 1867 coined the now common word “Urbanización” (urbanization).XL. THE CITY AS ISLAND: RESURRECTING A DEFUNCT MODEL In modern times our understanding of urbanism was probably first articulated by Ildefonso Cerda. They can be pursued as two separate enterprises with invisible connections. 221 3 See Ildefonso Cerda’s Teoría General de la Urbanización (Madrid. For him. Cerda argued that the extension of infrastructural services associated with city living (such as sewage.L. “Imagining Nothingness. parte 1.M. p. Introducción. figure and ground. Ungers’ realization that most European historic centers “float” in larger metropolitan contexts.3 Since his school days. 24. Koolhaas argues that these developments challenge the disciplines of architecture and urbanism and point towards a new kind of synthetic practice guided by the general theory of Bigness.” in El Croquis.

The park was to be a Republican Institution where the classes would mingle as a single collective in the spirit of democratic fraternity. But in reality this “void” is a complex system of parks where. THE SICK CITY Islands of urbanity are contained by a series of parks. The most famous example in the United States is Manhattan’s Central Park. 226.” He senses “an enormous reservoir of resentment against architecture. nature was the last bastion of resistance to the city’s ferment. “Field Trip: A (A) Memoir (First and Last . . it was inevitable to transpose the despair. but an entire visual and formal system that would 222 . to provide increased light and air circulation. A field of what is described as “nothingness” eliminates the sprawling metropolis and contains a series of neatly encapsulated urban islands.). city bureaucracies in Europe and America. p. with the new evidence of its inadequacies—of its cruel and exhausted performance— accumulating daily. and to the devastation of cholera and diphtheria pandemics. 1991).M. p. Nature returns as the mythic edge of urbanity. reconciles the two ideas that marked his student days: his contempt for architecture and his fascination with the closed town. It was to be a pleasure ground where citizens could find an escape from the pressures of cramped living. superintendent of the park since September 11. 1857. and to furnish citizens with spaces for recreation. is a strategy with roots in the nineteenth century. studied options for improving conditions. responding to alarming health reports. city dwellers are presented as exercising or toiling the land. looking at the wall as architecture. From Jaques Lucan. In 1993 Koolhaas describes his 1971 visit to the Berlin Wall as the experience that was to make him a “serious student. For the Transcendentalists.XL. In the United States. Rendering of Rem Koolhaas’ competition entry for MelunSénart (1987). Olmsted and Vaux endeavored to construct not just a fragment of the country inside the city. frustration it inspired to the field of architecture. the idea of the urban park slowly surfaced as a way to accommodate the need to insert new infrastructure. France. Rem Koolhaas: OMA (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press. and main strategist of the place Koolhaas now calls a “void. Frederick Law Olmsted. his competition entry for a city at Melun-Sénart.JORGE OTERO-PAILOS 6 Rem Koolhaas. The ideas behind Central Park were accented by the moralistic overtones of the American transcendentalists who believed in a metaphysical need for individual communion with nature. to store clean water. famed landscape architect. 15.” won the 1858 competition to design the park with the help of his partner. In their eyes Central Park was to be much more than just a work of engineering to hold fresh water in the Croton Reservoirs.L. or “voids” as he calls them. as a way of salvaging personal autonomy from the social conformity spawned by the nascent commercialism of American culture.” in S. as shown in his explanatory sketches. .”6 Sixteen years later. Koolhaas’ formal sanitizing of the city with parks. By the mid eighteen hundreds. and as its cure. the English architect Calbert Vaux. hatred.

I.” and substitutes it with Bigness. the notion of form in flux is misread and radicalized as absence of form. Olmsted Jr. It integrates nature and urbanity over large expanses of territory. though formally autonomous from the more urban parts of the city.L. He caters to the highbrow rejection of sprawl as valueless and meaningless.7 THE VOID Olmsted’s parks interest Koolhaas because they resist the stability of the formal language making up the traditional city. and London: The M.” Although he singles out some “good” structures like the university or the future T. Forty Years of Landscape Architecture: Central Park. See David Schuyler.” The danger of such reductivist essentialism becomes clear with Koolhaas’ treatment of sprawl. p. In the parks’ formal indeterminacy. F. illustrates Koolhaas’ facile translation of public opinion into an endorsement of urban purges. each ‘eyesore’ realized there has prevented an invasion of the center. They rejected more utopian arguments about the city in favor of processes that would transform the existing one. He describes Central Park simply as a “void” or as “nothingness. could nonetheless complement and ameliorate it. as well as his belief that the void and the traditional city depend on each other for survival. Press. in an attempt to create an autonomous environment.“BIGNESS” IN CONTEXT serve as counter balance to the existing urban form. . and complies with conservative public opinion by acting as its willing executioner.”8 In Koolhaas’ hands. The sprawl is equal to. The New Urban Landscape: The Redefinition of City Form in Nineteenth-Century America (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. He writes: “This is La Défense. 1986). however. Through a questionable leap of logic. Koolhaas’ treatment of sprawl as a “void” is not entirely innocent. the cycles of the economy produce fast changes in the formal make-up of entire districts. MA. They turned vistas inward. 1996). “a kind of erasure from all the oppression. .V. ed. He cleanses the metropolis of the “merde. he finds an example of liberation from the formal coerciveness of architecture. 63. Nature. 7 David Schuyler provides a convincing argument that what resulted from Olmsted and Vaux’s work was really an entirely new urban form that is typically American. What was once separated was here brought together within an entirely new kind of urban form. station. Its presence has saved Paris. 8 Rem Koolhaas. and re-organizes city life in accordance. and thus grants himself the license to replace the existing urban fabric with his designs. Olmsted and Vaux believed that by relating the non-urban to the urban they were improving the whole. opposite p. Conversations With Students (New York: Princeton Architectural Press. a park. His 1991 competition project for the Mission Grand Axe.T. Koolhaas sets up a simple relation of equivalences between all entities that are voids. in which architecture plays an important role. and can therefore be turned into. and Theodora Kimball (Cambridge. Olmsted. or an infrastructure. Paris. His sleight of hand is revealed when he describes his own projects as “voids” that resist formal stability. . The constant metamorphosis of form in time is understood by Koolhaas as the sprawl’s complete lack of formal presence. and masked the edges of the city with plantings. “everything else is plankton—the typical accumulation of undeniably inferior buildings built 223 An open boundary between the urban and the non-urban: Manhattan’s Central Park circa 1970. 200. From F.L. the office-city that nobody really likes but that has one undeniable virtue . 1973). In peripheral metropolitan areas where elite architectural capital is usually at its minimum. La Défense.G.

M. but with a ready made. and the “sabotaging” of the classical city by modernization. In essence. between the fifties and the nineties that forms the index of 20th-century architecture. His objective is to produce an architecture that will resist the alienation of life experience and the demise of collectivity.XL. is his dissatisfaction with a loosely defined loss of reality in subjective experience. the attraction of Bigness is its potential to reconstruct the Whole.JORGE OTERO-PAILOS 9 Rem Koolhaas. idealized Bigness structure. one must engage in comprehensive research. La Défense. disclamation. resurrect the Real. higher dependency on communications technologies. but as a series of mutually exclusive “good” and “bad” parts. Koolhaas breaks with a major aspect of the City Parks movement.XL. “Bigness. he paves the newly bulldozed site with a version of the Manhattan grid.M. and instrumentalized observation. Paris. “Tabula Rasa Revisited: Mission Grand Axe. What remains strong. 510. Bigness is a broad metaphysical view about history and about 224 10 Rem Koolhaas. 1090–6. Bigness replaces the whole with a new totality which is fundamentally independent of its outside. In defense of Bigness he states: in a landscape of disarray.” in S.L. . Koolhaas runs through the canonical list of reasons popularly understood to be the cause of these conditions: rising world population. disassembly. It is not possible to accept the view that metropolitan life is “bad” in the absence of convincing evidence. 10 By placing the possibility of authentic and wholesome life strictly inside of Bigness. reinvent the collective. pp. however. To move beyond the rhetoric of the canon. and its forces of formation.”9 The sprawl is not replaced with nature.” in S. France. Cholera and diphtheria are not killing large sections of urban populations. dissociation. This insistence on projecting the model of the decontextualized fragment onto the existing blinds Koolhaas from discovering any new realities of the modern metropolis. with disinterested attempts to describe the complex temporal and material substance of the real and of its contexts. 1991. What exactly are the diseases harbored by today’s metropolis? What does Bigness really solve? Some of Koolhaas’ descriptions of the city’s ailments have changed over the course of his career. we are no longer dealing with the same problems that faced the nineteenth century. reclaim maximum possibility. and thinking of the city not as a whole. p. one must not confuse designing.L. Today. the impact of late capitalist forms of production and consumption on social structures. Specifically. and a similarly ambiguous dissolution of social unity. or infrastructure. His early condemnation of the dull complacency of bourgeois urban life has given way to a more abstracted discourse about freedom that has been emptied of inflammatory rhetoric. It is still more dangerous to accept proposals based on false assumptions if we consider them in the light of their implications. There is an emptying out of history and specificity in the notion of Bigness that limits the right to live only to those willing to be equalized into sameness.

Unfortunately these historical conclusions. according to Peter Cook (an A. each large scaled architectural project “acquires the pretension and sometimes the reality of a completely enveloping reality. The concept came with a whole supporting stratum of ideas: the development of the multilevel environment. like the walled city. history. Olmsted and Vaux explained that growth should not be feared because the growth of nineteenth century metropolises induced major advances in urban conditions. Alison and Peter Smithson were researching how to introduce new large structures into cities without disrupting existing use patterns of association. They investigated a number of complex planning issues from transportation. 1970). professor. had crystallized by the mid 1960s into numerous theories and built projects. They are worldsin-themselves. values. and which greatly diminished epidemic diseases. It is Stephen Hawking’s model of the universe. p. The abandonment of compact buildings in favor of more open. “Finding Freedoms: Conversations with Rem Koolhaas. For Koolhaas. and member of Archigram).A. It is still valuable to remember that through research Olmsted and Vaux had rebuffed the prevailing assumptions regarding city growth as inversely related to quality of life. Bigness permits the reformulation of the idea of singular place. Paris. Experimental Architecture (New York: Universe Books. and air filled arrangements had indeed made cities larger. and serves Koolhaas as a tool to battle the forces of dispersal that he feels are eroding today’s society. On a smaller scale. It is interesting that today this rhetoric drives the homogenizing commercialism that Bigness appeals to. culture. especially central in British urbanism. 20. and which depicts society as a bad system that must be overthrown by attacking the language. better yet.” p.12 In relation to his proposal for a library for the University at Jussieu. See Peter Cook. but it had also contributed to making them more salubrious. It is a seamless interiority. light. ONE WORLD 11 Alejandro Zaera Polo. Cook argues that the concept captivated theorists because of its clarity and homogeneity. and credits mega-projects with the power to transform culture or. Bigness also addresses the sixties debate. which is derived from vulgar Marxism. bounded but without edges. The expansion of cities had precipitated public health reforms and the delivery of urban services which were previously unavailable.”11 To the degree that these mega-projects separate us from the world “out there. Bigness is the ideal singularity. who argued for improving the existing through the careful insertion of new elements. he states: I find that one of the most pregnant and provocative elements of the library program in Paris was to re-formulate the idea of a “communal 225 . along with equally relevant contemporary studies.A. it is chaotic but at the same time establishes a boundary which contains that very chaos. to expansion. Koolhaas proposes Bigness as an index of possible new freedoms. and because it combined the compact character of the much treasured Italian town with the heroism of the Unité d’Habitation. of stable identity. By analyzing the evolution of street plans from medieval towns to contemporary metropolises they came to embrace the accelerated enlargement of cities. and ideology of bourgeois culture. It plays on the erroneous diagnosis of reality as doomed. about how to insert the new into the old. to create new forms of culture.” they also liberate us from it. and on the nonsensical promise of liberation along the single path of Bigness. Michael Webb’s experiments with mobile inflatable systems for individual habitation were attempts to resolve the deficiencies of the city through punctual insertion of new elements at the level of the user. Koolhaas finds in Bigness a guarantee for uniqueness because. 12 Bigness must be read in the context of the many critiques of the contemporary metropolis circulating inside the Architectural Association in the late sixties when Koolhaas was a student there. are stamped out by Bigness’ one-dimensional view of reality. 97. and the study of the building as container for random development. and of traditional community. and an absolute autonomy. Bigness plays on the idea of the building as a city that. There were those at the A. and to housing costs. to infrastructure. Thus.“BIGNESS” IN CONTEXT how society works.

See S. 13 But Bigness is a place that floats above reality. parks. shops. cafés. the outside (as with the shopping mall) becomes not only irrelevant but also inaccessible.. The abstract system and its interrelations are now the outside.JORGE OTERO-PAILOS 13 Rem Koolhaas. this boulevard generates a system of supra-programmatic ‘urban’ elements in the interior: plazas.” p. p. 1995). to quote Koolhaas. “Bigness.M.M. facility”. the life span of the structure and that of the crust of the Bigness closes itself off from the urban and seeks to replace it: Rem Koolhaas’ photomontage of “Exodus” (1971). It is a “void” that has clear boundaries but is internally unstable. . 14 Rem Koolhaas.” a more “concentrated” city where visitors drift along a hyper-urbanized environment. 21. p.XL. Koolhaas is always deliberately vague about precisely what kind of community he envisions inhabiting Bigness. 16. the former city. We must insist on asking. They have walls.” p. at most. “Finding Freedoms. and they are owned by selective constituencies. “Finding Freedoms. 15 Koolhaas quoting Frederic Jameson to define “Bazaar” is particularly telling in this regard: “The Blade Runner syndrome is the interfusion of crowds of people among a high-technological bazaar with its multitudinous modal points—all of this sealed into an inside without an outside. “the final.L.XL. the former dome. 502.”14 Once inside. it coexists. which thereby intensifies the formerly urban to the point of becoming. Against the obvious homogenization of electronic media. It can no longer operate as the mythic locus of Spirit.L. p.” in S.M. It determines autonomous worlds that can pose as the Real and feign totality. It is an alternative world: a complete enveloping virtuality where the horizon of the real is a man-made bubble.16 Architecture is the only ship capable of containing humanity and of saving it from the technological flood. beyond which no subject position is available so that it cannot be inspected as a thing in its own right. No matter how one depicts it. the effect of the inhabited planes becomes almost that of a street. against the erasure of the necessity of place. an “entity” in the midst of a complete collapse of the public realm.” Koolhaas’ understanding of Bigness in terms of capitalism denotes his desire to design a totality so perfectly autonomous that it erases its own boundaries. 8.XL (New York: The Monacelli Press. most radical break: Bigness is no longer a part of any urban tissue. 16 “Through their scale and variety.] Also. 17. the reality is that Koolhaas’ projects are not for everyone. and Alejandro Zaera Polo. It exists. or being analogous to. against the triumph of fragmentation . who is being excluded from this ark. Inside his library project for Jussieu he envisions a network of boulevards creating a “new public realm. [. the unmappable system of late capitalism itself. although it is a totality. 226 . . they have gates.15 Koolhaas reasons a world where nature has expired. Its subtext is fuck context. . .—and certainly of its classical appearance. as quoted in Alejandro Zaera Polo. and why. They are not the porous Republican Institution of Olmsted. monumental staircases. however. Bigness is.L. From Rem Koolhaas et al. S.

” Rem Koolhaas. In this structure. His 1972 thesis project at the Architectural Association entitled “Exodus.” Outside stand the menacing forces of power politics. types of community.XL. without affecting architectural character.M.M. His projects draw on mappings of the site from various disciplines (from geology to air traffic) in order to produce a composite picture of the forces of formation of the site from which a site-specific response to a program may be modeled. program can change continuously. “a behavioral sink. From S. Bigness. S. instead of investigating the rich potential of sprawl as the source for a new kind of urbanity.” This attitude towards the city has been a constant in Koolhaas’ work from the start. The paradox of course is that the parks were manicured environments. and that this brings them close to effacing their own artificiality. They can and should be read as highly constructed ambiences. Koolhaas designs a linear megastructure in which the subject is forced into action and denied his or her historicity and specificity.e. social and sexual mores. on the other hand. 515.L.XL. or better still. aesthetic forms. and the Protestant work ethic. At the very least Olmsted’s parks speak a formal language that is completely antithetical to the architecture of the city. was that they stood in for that which was beyond human control and design. thus foreclosing on one important possibility of imagining resistance to the establishment.”19 depicts London as a sick city. and personal identities. 18 Other architects around the globe are proposing new methods to visualize the existing. health care. 982–3. He challenges the existing by calling it “nothingness. Koolhaas’ new city stands inside a double wall meant to “enclose and protect this zone to retain its integrity and to prevent any contamination of its surface by the cancerous organism that threatens to engulf it.” in AA Files (Spring). the infill of the libraries to that of individual architectures. Yet we cannot overlook that they are alive. in order to make their projects arise from a fresh discovery of the site. pp.”17 Read in the light of the American city this break liquidates the progressive.” The problem of the city is really the problem of the subject’s apathy.” but instead of really taking a fresh new look at it. democratic function of the non-urban. it preempts the city. n. Instead of non-urban pockets in an urban field.XL.L. We are in effect faced with a complete internalization of metropolitan life behind a new kind of city wall.M. or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture. 23–36. i. They have a life of their own. kinds of livelihood. The new city offers 227 ‘settlements’ are not necessarily the same. 17 Rem Koolhaas. the bourgeois home. Then they generate a situation-specific organizational structure out of their research. On this count. Koolhaas gives us islands of urbanity in a sea of non-urbanity. family structure. What gave the parks of the nineteenth century their revolutionary power.18 he replaces it with an idealized view of the city and its indeterminacy. The work of UN Studio in Holland uses parameter-based computer technologies to visualize the correspondences between the various elements of the site and the program to be inserted. 38. “UN Studio: Arnhem Central.” in S. “Bigness. it is the city. See Patrick Schumacher. They are not simply compensatory environments. the parks keep open the possibility of a different life and social reality. Everything must be created anew: feelings. that is. 1326–9. In this sense. . the path and the public domain are analogous to the permanence of the city. Individuals are forced into group experience. nature. and not the result of some prolonged study of the city. folds the city back onto the city. “it represents the city. White urban islands float in a sea of black “nothingness”: Figure/Ground diagram of Rem Koolhaas’ competition entry for Melun-Sénart (1987). Bigness internalizes urbanity and demotes the contemporary metropolis to “un-city. Koolhaas fails to carry out his project to a successful conclusion. p. the power to contest and to transform the conventions of authority operative through the traditional city. and a deep understanding of the forces that shape it. Urbanism meets psychology.” proclaims Koolhaas. pp. Shayne O’Neill in the United States is less dependent on technology and more resistant to giving the program priority from the start. Borrowing heavily from Superstudio’s “Continuous Monument” project (1969). to map even non-visual elements.L.“BIGNESS” IN CONTEXT INVASION OF THE CITY SNATCHERS “Bigness no longer needs the city.

Theory. Koolhaas liquidates its very possibility. only the semblance of exteriority in a perfect interiority. v. pp.JORGE OTERO-PAILOS 19 See Rem Koolhaas.L. Bigness as infinite confinement. 228 . Bigness confuses its myopic understanding of sprawl with a license to ignore the real. By appealing to the old rhetoric of the new.” For those “strong enough to love it. 2000.L. A preliminary version of this article was originally published in the Proceedings of the 88th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. (November 2000). Policy. and ultimately impoverished. His Bigness is a representation of urbanity that lays claim to reality in the name of consumer culture. provide the answers.XL. or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture.” the city makes individuals “ecstatic in the freedom of their architectural confines. n. freedom is now held up to the standard of a new synthetic nature: Bigness. Resistance is futile. In his model the particular stands in for the universal. From S. varnished.XL. 2–21.M.M. 4. A more complete version was later published in City: Analysis of Urban Trends. and of a pure mirror of the world it replaces. but fails to account for socialism’s failure. STATUS QUO Koolhaas’ claim that he is resurrecting the Real and the Whole is false. It is the early promise of infinite confinement that Bigness would deliver twenty years later. Koolhaas’ urban theory plays the game of naïve socialism. there is no outside. As such it can claim to effect connections to all that is outside. made safe. “Exodus.” as Central Park is for Olmsted. Where morality was once measured against nature. once you are in.” The building is not just a “social-condenser. because. His Bigness is an attempt to replace the world as the ultimate horizon of life with miniature cities. The outside becomes inaccessible: photomontage of Rem Koolhaas’ “Exodus” (1971). 7 (April 2000). The freedom that Koolhaas values most in both Bigness and capitalism is the freedom to exclude. pp. It was also republished in Italian in Il Progretto. 3. and how he describes them. Culture. But what is at stake in this freedom? Freedom from what. The refusal to address history and context leads Bigness down the double path of a bureaucracy of authenticity doomed to self-destruction. It proposes a “germ-free” world that is not contaminated by the same social ills of the world outside. Londoners “collective facilities that fully accommodate individual desires. Action.” in S. and for whom? Koolhaas’ projects. Just as the nineteenth century urban park acquired moralistic proportions through the writings of the transcendentalists and the combined efforts of planners and landscape architects. Inside Bigness is a program of the classical city that has been aestheticized. v. 8–9. Bigness is polished with the wax of virtue by Koolhaas. n. 4. cleaned up.

grain by grain. “Las Vegas of the Welfare State. Habraken has consistently advocated for the creation and preservation of fine-grained urban tissue in the built environment. ironically. A LATTER-DAY VILLE RADIEUSE 1 Rem Koolhaas. was begun in 1966 by the Amsterdam Department of Urban Development and continued into the 1980s. 871. In its monotony. M. Habraken’s countryman Koolhaas argues polemically that the Extra Large is a contemporary reality to be welcomed. based on the ideas and projects of H. 229 . refreshing.3 3 D. it is.M. The extension.A. J. O. Pinder. “Urban Expansion and the Bijlmermeer Project in Amsterdam. and even brutality. XL (New York: The Monacelli Press.” Housing and Planning Review 28:1 (1972): 17–20. though related. on a large reclaimed sector of land to the southeast of the central city. “The Control of Complexity. using figure-ground plans of Amsterdam as a telling example of the transformation. WILLIAMSON (2000) POST URBANISM The Bijlmer offers boredom on a heroic scale.A. John Habraken and Rem Koolhaas. Habraken carefully outlines his arguments about structuring scale—point by point. not bemoaned. The project was a revision of the final phase of expansion envisioned in the 1930s General Extension Plan for Amsterdam from the 1930s. 1995).HABRAKEN AND KOOLHAAS Two Dutchmen flying over Bijlmermeer JUNE P.” Places 4:2 (1987): 3. S. One may also characterize as “top down” the planning process that led to the design and construction of the district. The intention was to ease overcrowding in the central city and other low-income areas by providing housing for up to 120. 2 N. He has observed and described the increasing coarseness of grain that characterizes twentiethcentury urban projects. In his 1998 book The Structure of the Ordinary. as exemplified by their reactions to the residential district of Bijlmermeer in South Amsterdam.” in Rem Koolhaas et al. Berlage. L. Conversely.P. An aerial vantage point is required to comprehend the scale and spatial organization of the Bijlmermeer district in the southern sector of Amsterdam. harshness.. Habraken 2 This paper examines the differing.000 lowincome residents. the synthesis of many years of observation and reflection. particularly mass housing. John Habraken. Rem Koolhaas 1 How can we design large projects without necessarily imposing uniformity and rigidity where variety and adaptability over time are desired? How can the big project nevertheless do justice to the small scale? N.’s 1986–87 project for Bijlmermeer illustrates this position. attitudes toward scale exhibited by N.

Industrial and recreation uses are kept distinctly separated from residential areas. consisting of 4. Leylstad.” Royal Town Planning Institute Journal 57:7 (1971): 313–316.420 acres of virgin land.I. The very large project. provided an opportunity to comprehensively realize the forms and concepts of Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse.JUNE P. crossed by pathways for pedestrians and cyclists.A. When examining the overall plan and development strategy at Bijlmermeer is it clear that the Ville Radieuse provided a very direct model. WILLIAMSON Aerial photographs of the Bijlmermeer extension of the 1960s and 1970s. 230 . the open land was intended to be freely accessible landscaped parkland. The corridors of the long block buildings were intended to serve as “streets in the air” where residents might interact socially. The fixed nature of the plan does not reflect later calls within C. Athens Charter. This “retrospective” adherence to ideas of the 1920s and 1930s is curious. Three new metro lines were also planned.M. The planners carefully aligned their vision with the program of the 1933 C. Automobile traffic is concentrated on elevated high-speed motorways with direct exits to collective parking garages.I.M. to address open-endedness and capacities for growth and change. The majority of the housing is concentrated in flats in medium-rise eleven-story linear buildings placed far apart on open land. maximizing access to natural light and air. (AVIODROME Aerial Photography. NL. Conventional streets are eliminated. removed from the congestion and grime of nineteenthcentury corridor roads.4 In accordance with Le Corbusier’s vision. to provide a sense of human scale. “The Bijlmermeer development and the expansion of Amsterdam.A.) 4 Hugh McClintock and Michael Fox. The housing projections anticipated inhabitant densities higher than in other newly built sectors of Amsterdam.

The backlash was immediate. John Habraken’s intellectual coming of age.A.H. rather than directly connected into. in Dubrovnik. His focus is on careful descriptions of ideas supporting a seemingly modest and eminently sensible proposal: the “conclusion must be that the return of consultation and involvement on the part of the users.” The essence of his argument is that M. Repetition is used to “support” the hypothesis—the arguments are built up. called “support dwelling.”6 Rather than incitement to revolution. His first book. The critique of modernist planning by Team X was the context for N.5 Only at the periphery of the masterplanned area may low-rise buildings be found that do not conform to this monotonous formal theme.HABRAKEN AND KOOLHAAS The majority of the buildings adhere to a relentless hexagonal geometry. Some found his ideas naïve and over-generalized. the problem is described in terms of the conditions and values that provide the context for M. the Bijlmermeer provides few of the advantages suggested by the C. so striking from the aerial perspective.H. In contrast to the seductively illustrated manifestos of modernism and other utopias. Instead. point by point. Supports. program. the hexagonal shapes extend down in scale to the jungle gyms in the children’s playground. must be accepted. eliminates the user/inhabitant from the process of designing housing.) as a solution to the postwar European “housing problem. 7 Robert Gutman. As Koolhaas notes.M.I. 876.” would provide inhabitants with the opportunity for involvement in determining the form and configuration of their dwelling units. The essay was published without illustrations or specific examples. It is a reactionary polemic against industrialized mass housing (which he abbreviates as M. the reader is provided with a text of intoxicating reasonableness. S. solutions against which a possible alternative is juxtaposed.M. such as Aldo van Eyck and his follower Herman Hertzberger. M. just like the fine-grained urban tissue he was later to advocate. the concrete walls of the corridor-streets are covered with graffiti.I. The generation of Dutch architects with the most influence in the late 1960s and early 1970s were protagonists and followers of Team X (organizers of the last C. The open space is barren. 1956). 866. was published in 1962 (English edition in 1972). asphalted. In its realized form. and the poor immigrant inhabitants are isolated from. L. “Simple-Minded Utopianism and Autocratic Nonsense. they were highly vocal critics. HABRAKEN’S FLY-OVER 5 Koolhaas et al. Habraken provides only a hypothesis. 231 6 Habraken. the center city life of Amsterdam. This geometry is the main deviation in the scheme from the orthogonal orthodoxy of modernism. XL. in the most literal sense..A. Habraken’s rhetoric is measured and calm. within a predetermined infrastructure.H. 3.” Landscape Architecture 63:2 (1973): 166–169. and littered with errant automobiles. . 1972). This alternative. Supports: An Alternative to Mass Housing (New York: Praeger Publishers.7 Others were mobilized to concrete action.

JUNE P. 1988). much less simple to develop a close and fine-grained territory than an open coarse-grained territory with the same housing density.8 Habraken extended the argument in Supports to a more general argument against professionalism and towards an appreciation for the territorial complexity of vernacular and self-built urban areas. WILLIAMSON 8 Habraken. The low-rise Bijlmer support system was developed in 1970 in conjunction with K. Holland to explore the architectural potential of industrialized support dwelling. Press. Dinjens. Laboratory of Architecture and Planning. which he called tissues. “density simply cannot be the rationale behind the arrangement. Transformations of the Site. A. His critique extends a life-rope to the moribund.” 57. One of the first design applications of the resulting formal ideas of support and infill structures was at Bijlmermeer.J. The same density can usually be reached with three or four story buildings along residential streets.T.9 He writes. 324. plate xi. J. to structure and control the extent of variation possible in determining the layout of individual units. . “it is . 11 Habraken.I. The undeniable difference of highrise projects compared to the lowrise solution is the dramatic shift towards full public control of outside space. 232 .M. Variations: The Systematic Design of Supports (Cambridge. MA: M. 126–135. Therefore. Habraken was the organization’s director until 1975. Habraken. 7.”10 In other words. In 1964. Thijssen and P. Rijnboutt. 182.A. . The Structure of the Ordinary (Cambridge.”11 Explicit in Habraken’s argument is the ever-present propensity for change. But he also admits. the S. The Structure of the Ordinary. instead. “within areas of the same size we see hundreds of independent physical units in the first and only a few in the latter. Implicit is a broad acceptance of differing visual and form-making approaches as long as the apparatus of centralized control is dismantled. “The Limits of Professionalism. the natural desire of those in control (i. 1998).T. Habraken. Boekholt. . Finer-grained urban environments are usually territorially more complex.e.” AA Quarterly 8:1 (1976): 52–59. . 12 Habraken. 10 Habraken.T. The dwellings are designed to be accessible from a covered pedestrian street. 1976). professionals) to consolidate the amount of territory over which they may exert their control has gone unchecked.12 His set of values assumes the desirability of variety in the urban environment. “The Limits of Professionalism. Habraken repeatedly uses aerial photographs or figure-ground plans of the Bijlmer compared to seventeenth-century central Amsterdam as a leitmotif in his criticism of the coarsening of the urban grain. 9 Habraken. . The capacity for transformations in the site is of course directly related to the number of configurations that can change independently. He characterizes urban tissues in terms of graining. MA: M. he addresses the centralized bureaucratic structure of the organizations that planned and designed it.I. Transformations of the Site (Awater Press. suggesting that fine-grained interventions over time might transform the site. His theories propose methods and strategies for maximizing the opportunities for individuals to exert control over the physical form of various portions of the built environment. The building is separated into zones and margins.P. (Foundation for Architectural Research) was organized in Eindhoven.” And. Habraken does not directly critique Bijlmermeer.R. an architect in the Department of Public Housing of the City of Amsterdam.

863.A.A.R.”15 In its excesses he identified a retroactive polemic against the “postmodernist.I.13 The notion of dissecting a building (or a landscape. embodying the extreme result of the themes of “equality.M. as a “soft-core gulag for the vulnerable. XL.I. Koolhaas and his partners were already familiar with the site. 1997). .A.M.M.M. before it was even completed the Bijlmer district of Amsterdam had become an embarrassment to the city. officials commissioned O. In the 1976 essay Koolhaas had accused the major Dutch architects of the time as having turned to an architecture of “social remedy” and described their output. L. projects from the early 1980s.”18 In contrast. such as Hertzberger’s De Drei Hoven (Old People’s Home) and van Eyck’s Orphanage.HABRAKEN AND KOOLHAAS KOOLHAAS’S FLY-OVER The principle of defining zones as a tool for designing adaptable schemes as developed by the S. 14 Koolhaas. 64–65. As already noted.. S. XL.A. 157. 16 Ibid. or an urban area) into zones to be considered independently rather than as an integrated whole held enormous appeal both as a tool for analysis and as a methodology for design. just as Venturi and Scott Brown delighted in the signs and symbols of Las Vegas. Hertzberger and other Team X influenced architects in Holland whom he accused of a “fetishistic concern with the ineffable and the qualitative” that equaled C.”14 The principles of zoning used as the basis for a design methodology are apparent in the competition design for Parc de la Villette and other O. rather than reject it. Christoph Grafe. When teaching at the Architectural Association in London in 1978 he and his partners used the Bijlmer as a site for a studio requiring students to propose large building interventions. is completely different from the charts and diagrams of the S. Nicola Kornig.A. a New Age. his text awash in irony and simulacra. Koolhaas and O. proposed to learn from the Bijlmer. anti-C. L. M.M.A. 15 Koolhaas et al. Delirious New York (1978. in search of alternate solutions.A. however.A. Proposals were floated to tear the slab buildings down. Zoning as an analysis tool was explored in the discussion of the Downtown Athletic Club in Koolhaas’s 1978 book Delirious New York. “In an abstract choreography.. M. 17 Catalog of work at the Architectural Association. Koolhaas delights in sexual innuendo and the playful use of language. O.. 867. 867. group is a significant precedent for the design strategies later reinterpreted by Rem Koolhaas. in a 1976 essay entitled “Las Vegas of the Welfare State” Koolhaas had characterized the Bijlmer as a socialist spectacle. 1994). New York: The Monacelli Press. Design and Analysis (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold..” and Koolhaas found this refreshing. principles” of van Eyck. the building’s athletes shuttle up and down between its 38 “plots”—in a sequence as random as only an elevator man can make it—each equipped with techno-psychic apparatus for the men’s own redesign. physical and mental health.’s project at Bijlmermeer.A. Marc Lampe and Peter de Zeeuw. in 1986 to propose a plan to revitalize the district.M. proposed that the district 233 13 Bernard Leupen.’s concern with the objective and the quantifiable. The rhetoric of zoning in this guise.M. puritanism. London during the 1978–79 school year. 18 Koolhaas et al. S.17 In their alternate plan. This was also the primary design strategy utilized in O.16 The Bijlmer offered “boredom on a heroic scale.R.

and a process of “typological bombardment” would introduce new uses interspersed between the housing slabs to provide new focus and identity to each hexagonal courtyard within the project. They proposed to infill the site by adding new. Bauen + Wohnen 6 (1999): 42–45. with apartment slab block beyond.” Space and Society 67 (1994): 70–71. Koolhaas’s story of his involvement with the Bijlmer ends with the disastrous El Al freight plane crash of 1992. regardless of political ideology. One notable recent project at the site is a memorial garden by Descombes Architects with Architectuurstudio Herman Hertzberger. underutilized no-man’s land. But the project was not implemented. See also “Dal Suriname a Bijlmermeer. was at the center of Habraken’s critique of mass housing.) needed increased urbanization. open space. overlapped zones of programming across the barren.. if not its motivation. First would be added street-like bands of parking rather than centralized garages.”19 The airplane crashed dramatically into one of the housing slabs.” Werk. 234 . “Then one day a jumbo jet fell from the air and made a start with the destruction. WILLIAMSON View of the minarets of a mosque at Bijlmermeer. followed by the introduction of an international marketplace/ boulevard in the empty space below the elevated metro tracks. The issue of control. The green space would contract into intensely landscaped bands. 886.JUNE P. not removal and replacement. COLLISION COURSE 19 Ibid. causing the loss of 250 lives. meandering paths would become direct. (Photograph by Anneli Bengtsson and Rob Kanbier. 20 “The Growing Monument. and renewing focus on the plight of the majority immigrant population (from Surinam) who live there and on the attempts by Dutch culture to come to terms with multiple ethnicities. Interestingly this strategy.20 The ideas of Habraken and Koolhaas collide over the issue of control in the design and planning process. The other side had won. nor was the Bijlmer demolished. 2000. built to serve the immigrant Muslim population. aligns with the goals of Habraken. Inquiries into the crash and memorials for the victims continue.

for yesterday and tomorrow are of no concern if one has access to control today.” 57. “I have yet to succeed in demonstrating the morphological differences between the public housing products of capitalism and those of Marxism as long as the process in both cases is not the process of the fine-grained division of power. Added to his advocacy of large-scale projects with centralized control is the recognition that current building practices do not guarantee a life span for a building of more than thirty years. Habraken writes. The Structure of the Ordinary.. L. The essential difference is that Habraken seeks to recreate variety within the ordinary. “Whatever variety exists is obviously a simulated variety that attempts to reproduce synthetically an Umwelt free from all the controls that are responsible for its very formation. “The Generic City. build big. regardless of ideology. familiar to us from the historic pedestrian fabric.”23 It seems that it is now his desire to build fast. XL. 871. M. 24 He has continued to pursue variable housing methodologies that utilize the potentials of industrialized mass production. and corridors begin to articulate hierarchy in an exclusively pedestrian three-dimensional net form. 121. 22 Koolhaas et al. the result may ultimately create richer hierarchy within city form. Habraken. cannot escape it. the office tower. “The city is no longer. M. while Koolhaas. through the vehicle of the spectacle. . XL. L. He is too cynical to accept Habraken’s line. He has retained his optimism about the power of careful description and the potential for designers of the built environment to learn through recognizing the processes that “structure the ordinary.”22 SUBSEQUENT TRAJECTORIES 21 Habraken. a member of the post-68 generation. Koolhaas encourages the simulation of variety. which has piloted projects in Japan and Holland with the cooperation of industrial manufacturers. 24 Habraken. S.” He writes: The pedestrian realm moves into the shopping mall. . may be reinterpreted in the large building.”21 Conversely. Since 1986. build NOW. “The Limits of Professionalism. He is involved with the “Open Building” group. rather than its actuality. He has announced. The focus has shifted to improved infrastructure systems that may be easily separated from the main building 235 23 Koolhaas. 1264. Atria. he writes.” S.HABRAKEN AND KOOLHAAS Koolhaas chooses to address ideology directly when blaming (or praising?) the welfare state for the refreshing boredom of the Bijlmer. especially in Asia. escalators. . Intensive relations between form and use. meanwhile. has doggedly continued applied research into ideas growing out of the initial premises of Supports. He suggests that larger spatial sizes are accompanied by shorter temporal intervals. the institutional complex or residential apartment complex. Entire areas will be wiped out and rebuilt—as required by the forces of capital—rather than accrued piecemeal over time. Koolhaas has increasingly embraced the ideology and ethics of late capitalism. .

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For sharing personal memories and documents from his library. 236 .O. coupled with a baseboard for electrical conduit. “The Open Building Approach: Examples and Principles” (paper delivered at the Housing Seminar.C. One promising example is the Matura infill system. Taipei. which includes a matrix tile layer above the floor holding water. support structure and selectively replaced or reconfigured. 2000. and sewage piping (pressurized to run horizontally). Meanwhile. 1994). designed.JUNE P. the future trajectory of the Bijlmer remains indeterminate. and delivered. thanks to Dr. R. WILLIAMSON 25 Habraken. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 88th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.25 These very small elements have the capacity to radically alter how large housing projects are conceived. heating. Ron Lewcock at the Georgia Institute of Technology. my academic home when this essay was composed..

This paper then gives a theoretical foundation for migrations in meaning of enclaves within a semiological system based on urban morphologies (Type A for old city enclaves. These fragments operate within a larger. functioning to differentiate one area from another. which has received less attention. Enclaves are differentiated from the rest of the city as new pockets of growth or old areas equipped with a new image. bi-polar. prisons. Type B for the mall). It is the argument of this paper that Urban Design creates fragments or enclaves in the city. hospitals. These enclaves work as heterotopias. but Urban Designers draw on architecture for their design skills and projective abilities. This paper argues that his category of “Illusory” heterotopias. It is interdisciplinary by nature and necessarily looks at the geography. The creators of the armature and enclaves want to differentiate their work from its surroundings. Foucault’s theories on “Disciplinary” heterotopias are well known. successful. While effective formulas may be repeated. based on his studies of madness. new. to make it attractive. Architecture is the constructional base from which they work as they engage the city at a variety of scales and in a variety of modes. etc. system of urban semiology. the developers and designers have to refine and adapt for every new project. 237 . Each development unit combines with its neighbors to form a disjunctive urban ecology with planned and unplanned relationships. These meaning systems are linked to Foucault’s theory of heterotopias. It examines the culture of the city and the designer tries to act in response to this perceived larger cultural environment. economy and politics of an entire city as the setting for the design operation. This differentiation can be based on historical. without being able to control the larger city or every architectural intervention. The response may take many forms.HETEROTOPIAS AND URBAN DESIGN DAVID GRAHAME SHANE (2000) POST URBANISM WHAT IS URBAN DESIGN? Urban Design is a strange and imprecise mixture of architecture and city planning whose practitioners envision and construct small fragments of cities. HETEROTOPIAS AND THE ENCLAVE SYSTEM One of the premises of this paper is that enclaves and armatures act as heterotopias in relation to their surrounding city. Urban Design controls this differentiation and refines it further. ethnic or marketing strategies adopted by a variety of stakeholders in the Post-modern city. sociology. is important when new media shape our perception of the city and its differences in an age of accelerated communications.

managerial households in both Type A and Type B morphologies. residential or commercial enclave. containing social service centers. Thus what was once an efficient.G. national or local stakeholders with a mission. whether the Upper East Side in New York (Type A) or Beverly Hills in Los Angeles (Type B). Architects are also cutting these early malls up and converting them into Type A village centers. domestic living arrangements. In a similar fashion. with its fortuitous mixtures and messes that defy categorization. not once but twice (fruit market in the 19th century. as the Covent Garden history illustrates. European or Asian cities. There are also enclaves of upper middle class two income. 1998. whether commercial. domestic areas. It is not hard to read Post-modern American. cultural. spaces of high efficiency and great specialization. In contrast to these private. Just to consider residential enclaves. as a system formed by a series of enclaves of specific typologies or pathologies. The semiological urban system of armatures and enclaves reflects the larger social and economic life of the city. Their public order is different from the vast majority of our urban experience that may appear to be chaotic and appear to have no code. London Enclave: Covent Garden Festival Mall. their mirror function. Another type of 238 . Enclave and Image/ Armature Diagram. clearly inhabitants of great wealth and power can reside in both Type A and Type B enclaves. colleges and chapels. strip or mall. health clinics. Shane. jails. Also. the festival mall in the 20th century). Their interaction has created the dynamic inter-relationships that power the history of the city. The 300-year history of Covent Garden illustrates that this sign system shifts as the “floating signifier” changes its position over time.) Enclaves are areas of control and order in relation to the rest of the city (Figure 1).DAVID GRAHAME SHANE Figure 1.) Figure 2. with urban neighborhood associations (Type A) and suburban residents’ associations (Type B) protecting their interests and family values. Enclaves in this system act as heterotopias. This sign system embedded in the social life of the city forms the nexus within which its creators imagine the purity of the enclave. police stations. In this shifting situation enclave spaces may lose and regain their critical edge. the mirror image of the normal everyday experience of private. (Drawn by D. which temporarily serve as pinnacles of profit. political. early malls are now being recycled as low budget. sometimes medical or moral. This sign system is the background against which the urban public consumes the enclave as the latest attraction. the same enclave under different circumstances can re-emerge as a heterotopic pocket of development. social control. main-street. community facilities. whether Type A or Type B. Enclaves and armatures participate in the semiological system of the city. without a residential component. both recognizably the same yet at the same time distorted with their codes reversed in the mirror space. (Author photo. the armatures and enclaves of the city are disciplined and ordered by global. fashion or decay. This meant that heterotopic enclaves were like mirror reflections of their society. single minded and pure enclave can be incorporated into the messy body of the city (Figure 2). Their different nature is the inverse code.

Here building demolitions and fires have eroded the Type A street structure. Each of these systems of enclaves has its own set of codes.HETEROTOPIAS AND URBAN DESIGN enclave accommodates the working class. hospitals. Together these are woven into the fabric of the city as residential enclaves. asylums etc. a similar pattern of demolition and arson has reduced once prosperous suburbs to open fields and isolated buildings. Later scholars have extended this “compensatory” category to factories and places of production. closed world. inner city or suburban neighborhoods of row houses. One code defines the interior relationships of the fragment and sets up its internal consistency. which stretches widely across the system. which reflects its individuality against all the others. interacting with commercial. In the Type B inner ring suburb. This second code entails a knowledge of the neighbors and their qualities. bungalows and tract homes (Type B). Michel Foucault wrote that heterotopias were “A single real place made up of several spaces. Foucault’s model for this world was the “Theater of the Absurd” of Artaud or Ionescu. those of great poverty and abandonment.” The surprising combinations gave an innovative edge to their operations and rationalized emerging new orders.” These secondary. Both codes retain a memory trace of their opposite. in which all 239 . This complex and contradictory condition is typical of heterotopias in eras of rapid change. free from the interference of the rest of society in islands of efficiency and comparative order. Foucault also had a second category of heterotopias that he never developed in such an extensive survey as the “Disciplinary. while the isolated object building of the suburban mall contained within it the memory trace of the main street of the city. Finally there is the fourth category of enclaves. industrial. Covent Garden contained an object building at its core. which defines its position relative to the others. semi-detached. mixed use and transportation systems. a curious paradox remains. Values could change in a second. codes could be flipped and the world turned upside down in an instant. as mentioned earlier. several sites that are themselves incompatible. A double code is at work. Foucault focused his research on the regulatory machinery of the state. Here the “compensatory” disciplinary system was reversed and chaos reigned. mirror function. as in Detroit. living in tenements in the old city (Type A) or in small lot. blue collar workers and lower middle class administrators. prisons. For Foucault heterotopias were specialized enclaves in which specific knowledge is efficiently applied in a highly controlled. were much more fluid and unstable in their internal order. “Illusory” heterotopias. At the same time. Another code controls the exterior relationships. based on the reflective. which provided “compensatory” discipline for those unfortunates who did not conform to the codes decreed by the rational ordinances of a rational society. Each enclave is defined in the system by its own specialty.

aiding in place production and advertising images has made these enclaves especially important to scholars of the Post-modern city. T. Las Vegas Enclave: The Venetian Casino. the desire and manufacturing illusion. They have both a regulatory side and an illusory image making side. which is concerned with rules and regulations. Between metropolis and colony. agency or intelligence (Patrick Geddes’ Watchtower). reflexive gap existed. Enclaves and armatures operate as dual hybrids within this system or network of flows. HETEROTOPIAS AND THE “MACHINE CITY” The fragmentary system of Urban Design has only emerged as a distinct discipline in the last 50 years in western and industrialized nations. All functions would be carefully segregated in mono-functional zones for maximum efficiency. (Author Photo. it has become increasingly important in the market driven and highly mediated environment of the Post-modern city. casinos.DAVID GRAHAME SHANE Figure 3. 1999. with its “floating signifier. Modernist city planning presumed a synoptic overview. inspections. work and leisure. 240 . Foucault cited the theater. On the other hand there is the designer and marketing arm which is concerned with the image of the city.” was paradoxically and ironically incorporated in Foucault’s sketch of a heterotopic system.” This image. cinemas. implied but did not articulate the fundamental connection between capitalism and heterotopias. The semiological dimension. Differentiation is crucial to survival in this environment and the capacity of “Illusory” heterotopias for marketing places. that everything could be planned and designed by a central state. Other scholars have extended this category to shopping arcades and malls—places of consumption. linking the heterotopia to a Modernist machine interacting with trade and empires. While Foucault scarcely considered this latter aspect. the disciplining and punishment of offenders. Manfredo Tafuri pointed out that after the Depression of the 1930s state planning was the rule in Marxist. traveling “from port to port and brothel to brothel. between European and colonized. On the one hand there is the legal department. In this portrait of heterotopias as specialized enclaves their dual aspect has emerged. Such differentiation drives desire and the consumption/production cycle in the capitalist dynamic. also fueling the Post-modern enclave and armature creation around highly differentiated images. an enormous. A long history of city making was lost in the Modernists’ drive for progress and their abrupt break with history.A.V. Foucault specified the ocean liner as the perfect heterotopia. It was presumed that the city was transparent and the centralized organ of government could control everything. bordellos and the stock market as belonging to this Illusory category (Figure 3).) social conventions were questioned beyond the existential minimum. enforcement. like the central jailer in Bentham’s Panopticon (Foucault). etc). Fascist and Democratic countries (Roosevelt.

panoptic views etc.. universal. 241 Figure 4. industrial uses. belonged to this tradition.” surrounded by Green Belts. A brief review of the utopian projects of Le Corbusier. jobs and industry. The New Urbanists also look back longingly to such dreams of tightly planned and controlled environments. peripheral. planning and functional segregation. with satellite new towns set in a ring around the “mother city. varying from fear (as a defense against atomic attack after Hiroshima) to the political (the desire to create a large. one that broke the dream of total control and the privileged center. Urban Design coordinated the internal aesthetics of these urban enclaves. Ebenezer Howard: Garden City Diagram. urban dispersal was prompted by many concerns. Kevin Lynch: City as a machine Diagram. As the city dispersed into the city-region. the city became a system of more or less dense urban fragments. neighbors or competitors.) . non-specific space.” based on new media communication and transportation systems (such as the automobile and T. segregated from all others. property owning middle class). They had clearly defined perimeters and a sense of enclosure and were clearly differentiated from their surroundings. These urban enclaves were dispersed throughout the landscape around the highways. all contained strong urban armatures (linear sequences/narratives) to counteract Modernist notions of free flowing. With the breakdown of Modernist total design and planning methodologies (with their non-physical/statistical orientations).G. Howard foresaw the demise of the center city and the rise of a system of self-sufficient new towns around the periphery.HETEROTOPIAS AND URBAN DESIGN Communication and transport systems connected these enclaves and privileged the center. The planned and unplanned decentralization of the Post-War years gave a peculiar twist to the Modernists’ utopias. segregated functions. can be easily replaced and has no sense of the whole (Figure 5). linear. The unintended consequence was the draining of the inner city of population. (Drawn by D. Mies or Hilbesheimer reveals their preference for the center. These enclaves. whether planned or free-market. commercial uses. recreational uses etc. Urban Design emerged as a mixture of urban planning and architecture. stable. Robert Moses. Shane. railways. A polycentric. To the inhabitant traveling at speed. Kevin Lynch in Good City Form described this system of urban production as the “City-Machine. Shane. with his gigantic model of New York City. Total Design. airports etc. aerial perspectives.G.) Figure 5. linked by channels of communication.V. bringing aesthetic controls to the large urban fragments and investment packages created by the dominant system of finance. An intended consequence was the creation of enormous. Ebenezer Howard provided the crucial diagram for the Modernist city in his book on The Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1904) (Figure 4). new urban centers were required and the center also had to reequipped for an altered regional role. These enclaves might contain housing.” in a diagram which showed how each part is self-contained. (Drawn by D. “Edge Cities.). The city was seen as a polycentric city-region. The new discipline broke down the Modernist city.

access and travel time replace close pedestrian proximity and public transportation in the center city. Here Joel Garreau’s “Edge Cities” (1991) surround the older central core (Figure 6). but easily understood by Marshall McLuhan. ranged along a spine or armature of a highway. whether in the center or at the edge. This implied an increase in the scale of operations of the architect. paradoxically. With the increased mobility and isolation of the population. Edge City: Modified Model Diagram. Mall owners have responded with a variety of themed environments to attract customers. mobility. produced the Post-modern patterns of ring and radial development. in reaction to the Modernist City Machine model to manage the aesthetics of the resulting fragments. the communications media (telephone. allowing our perceptions of the city-region. Instead of a whole city. to be easily manipulated by those with a clear agenda or large financial backing. which were reshaping the city. Also abandoned was the Modernist idea that architecture might help create or even enforce the creation of a better “New Man”. Shane. In this city. Thus architecture and Urban Design take their place amongst a number of disciplines which might be said to construct the city setting. its inhabitants and locales.) Lynch’s model.G. Post-modern Urban Designers gave up the utopian aspirations of their predecessors and accepted that they were only a part of a larger social situation that was fundamentally beyond their control.) come to play a bigger and bigger role in making links between people. (Drawn by D. taking advantage of the high-speed automobile travel to restructure urban functions within a regional landscape. making for virtual communities.DAVID GRAHAME SHANE Figure 6. This isolation makes us very dependent on the media. THE TRIUMPH OF THE HETEROTOPIA: THE LIMITS OF URBAN DESIGN Urban Design emerged. radio. Thus the image of the city in the Postmodern city takes on a meaning never intended by Lynch. The larger social and economic setting is obviously very important along with a host of other factors beyond 242 . Along with this shift in allegiance amongst Post-modern Urban Designers went an abandonment of the Modernist claim that architecture could create a “New Man” or entirely new city. a diminution of the power of the planner. television. Good architecture or Urban Design alone cannot make a city successful or safe. They aligned themselves largely with the corporate forces of the market place. now only the enclave or the single armature might be controlled. many other disciplines and people are involved. service and media interests. real estate interests. when combined with Howard’s earlier Garden City. The moral imperatives that had inspired the Modernists were exchanged for the commercial and marketing imperatives that inspired their new clients. but also. In this situation Urban Design takes on a mediated dimension that is rarely considered in discussing the newly founded discipline. in part. Many authors have pointed to the linear nature of these peripheral cities. the internet etc.

.. Cambridge.. M. in Ockman. Postmodern Cities and Spaces..I. and Roost. “The Galleria Houston as Mega-mall” in Architecktur Jahrbuch 1998/ Architecture in Germany 1998. B. 1983. Press. 1995. 1999. London: Pleiades Books. agents and forces participating in the creation and recreation of our cities. 1995.T.. London: Barrie and Jenkins. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.HETEROTOPIAS AND URBAN DESIGN the designer’s control. K. 1998. 2000. (Editor). “Urbanism and Semiology” in Jencks. F. Architecture/Culture 1943–1988: A Documentary Anthology. 1986. 1993. 243 . New York: Routledge. S.T. U. and Izenour.” in Watson. Venturi.. S.. J. and New York: Routledge. Foucault. 1972. Sassen... 1997. S. S. “Discourse. Munich: Prestel Publishing. J. S. K. (Editor). MA and Oxford: Blackwell. Cambridge. Georgian London. “City Models and City Form” in Good City Form. Simulations.. J. G. Shane... K. Discontinuity and Difference: The Question of the Other” in Watson. Hetherington. MA: M. MA and Oxford: Blackwell. “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias”. The Badlands of Modernity: Heterotopias and Social Ordering. and Gibson.. C. Press.1984. REFERENCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY Baudrillard. Lynch. G. Cambridge. The Tourist City. F. E.. Summerson. Gennochio. New Haven: Yale University Press. MA: M. Travels in Hyper Reality.. New York: Columbia University. Cambridge. R.. “Heterotopologies: A Rememberance of Other Spaces in Citadel L. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 88th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Eco. Meaning in Architecture. K. Postmodern Cities and Spaces. New York: Semiotext. Scott-Brown.A. D. and Baird. Learning From Las Vegas. D. and Gibson. 1948.. Contemporary Urban Design has become a risky and shifting business with many complex actors. “The City: Strategic Site for the Global Entertainment Industry” in Fainstein.I. 1969. Soja. Choay.




Society is shaped by the character and interaction of human institutions. urban design. Society is not simple to analyze or explain. This third and final section of the book focuses on the more salient and consequential trends and issues. dialectics. with an emphasis on how they impinge on the design and planning of the built environment. The contemporary public realm is rich if not fraught with pithy contradictions and polarities. customs. and policies. Nonetheless. It is the social and cultural condensate of evolving civilization—complex. laws. there is a great deal of academic and professional discourse on longer-term change. as well as technology and natural circumstances such as geography and climate. The sum of countless vectors of different magnitude pushing in different directions. especially in fields and mediums that are meant to be long lasting—like architecture and urban planning. and planning. Societal changes seem to be both cyclic/recurring and structural/transformative. the third and last section of the book. urban process and urban form. landscape architecture. Like the dozen or so essays in this section. These shorter-term trends are on designers’ radar. what societal changes are of most interest and concern to those concerned with the built environment? And what issues. a much broader array of fields is concerned with urban society. and unwieldy. much less to design or control.INTRODUCTION DOUGLAS KELBAUGH If the design disciplines and professions can lay special claim to urban form. On the other hand. and what is private and idiosyncratic? What belongs in the public and private sectors? What is everyday public space and what is civic public space? What surveillance and intrusion rights does government have? The public realm also touches on 247 . but considered too ephemeral and superficial to write or even talk about. There are potent questions about public and private space—what is public and collective and shared. Stylistic considerations are important but unacknowledged. it is constantly shifting its center of gravity and trajectory. design theory tends to focus on the deeper and more lasting societal changes and their impact on architecture. often in ways and with consequences that are not easily or immediately apparent. there are some more obvious changes that seem too widespread and inexorable to be ignored by the design fields. And they are interconnected in transparent and opaque ways to each other and to the other two sections of the book. and technology—the three foci in this section of the book—are of paramount relevance. The former have to do with matters of fashion and style. and antinomies preoccupy and shape practices and policies? The public realm. If urbanism and society are inextricably entangled. dynamic. globalism and local identity.

particularly racial and gender equity. The growth of free-trade zones and extra-jurisdictional spaces to circumvent national laws and exploit cheap labor begs difficult ethical questions about political and corporate behavior. more expensive energy. with 90 percent of the estimated 3 billion increase in world population expected to live in urbanized areas (often in mega-agglomerations that are unlike cities as we presently know them). Like the ones on the public realm and globalism. universal space and postmodernist neotraditional place. and very poor—will need to develop infrastructure. To this long list of perennial problems must be added the dilemma of the carbon-based world economy and the resultant juggernaut of climate change. It is a chronic and perhaps unavoidable clash between modernist. As noted in the Preface. both legal and illegal. as well as all the attendant economic and social recalibrations and dislocations. So too do contested borders and cross-border activities. terrorism. are central to societal sustainability. made all the more acute by forces of globalization and technology. people are uneasy about. social upheavals. as well as rising sea levels and more severe weather events. as they always have and no doubt always will. production. society is fast becoming both global and urban. intended and unintended. the notion of “place” is challenged as a romantic. and war will continue to ravage society. and identity. if not threatened by. these final essays delve into and try to untangle the contradictions and conundrums of techno248 . very diverse. Technology is so pervasive and commonplace in today’s society that we tend to either take it for granted or miss the forest for the trees. as well as physical design and planning. of authenticity. longing for a past that may never have existed in the first place. and distribution. Natural disasters. The remarkable acceleration in the urbanization of society is both promising and challenging. The notion of technological determinism is frequently challenged by these writings. The post-petroleum megalopolis—very big. transportation systems.DOUGLAS KELBAUGH issues of social class. to embrace is essentially a socio-political act. On the other hand. In addition to providing social benefits and amenities. disease. But no subject is off the table. Cities will also have to negotiate and learn to live with the globalization of finance. and buildings that can survive and flourish with less plentiful. cities are inherently more energyefficient and environmentally sustainable than low-density development. poverty. especially in a diverse society? Also social and economic justice. the breathless rate of change in their lives. Whose reality and whose identity. and have a growing appetite for the stability of tradition and grounded place. It is easy to forget that choosing which technological waves to ride and which consequences. This section ends with four essays on technological issues. very rich. Urban design aspires to make places and communities that democratically balance these competing interests and resolve these questions. geo-political tension. even maudlin.

corporate vs. place. The tension between the embedded/ ambient and the public/monumental in urban design is both exacerbated and relaxed by new science and technology. public. we are chronically torn by the merits and demerits of technology. They will forever require adjustment and correction. the natural. local. but also controlled by the logic of mechanical and digital devices. and to attempt to resolve them. absolute vs. strongly shape society and. east vs. urban form. and urban society. nature. For instance. This collection of essays begins to sort out some of these challenges.INTRODUCTION science and techno-culture. and rich vs. selfregulating system. or transformative and cataclysmic. The challenge is to untether these problems from dogma and myth. background vs. government. as well as to ask important new questions. 249 . postmodern. religious. the built vs. whether digital or vehicular. whether obliquely or frontally. and polarities—inevitably part of any complex. universal vs. and to posit some answers. This third section in particular and the book in general are rife with dialectical dilemmas and difficult choices: technology vs. or recurring and incremental. foreground. space vs. The list could go on. secular vs. south. dichotomies. to identify promising opportunities. The ubiquity of electronic communication and the pervasiveness of computing have fundamentally altered our lifestyles and environments. relative. These are both old and new dualities. to use Frampton’s terminology. north vs. including the book’s triad of urban process. networks. not to mention transformed the public realm. modern vs. west. in turn. which can be temporary and provisional. the built environment. poor. Empowered and exhilarated. private vs.

But what really chills me is the means by which the system will be run. Technologically speaking. While the police disingenuously offer that a CCTV camera on the street is simply equivalent to an additional cop on the beat. both for its reliance on cameras and license plate scanners (and its potential to incorporate face recognition software and other suspicious algorithms) and for the massive. The Chinese government is in the process of installing more than 20. and Stockholm. routes into the city are to be guarded by cameras that will photograph all incoming cars and record their license numbers. stored. civil libertarians suggest that there is an important difference between simply being observed in a public place and having information about your movement.000 private and public security cameras already in operation in lower Manhattan. Earlier this month. activities. Modeled on programs in Singapore. largely unregulated. and whereabouts recorded. the system is intended to curb vehicular traffic (and to raise money for public transportation) by imposing charges ($8 for cars and $21 for trucks) to enter the borough below 96th Street. As in London.” These cameras would join close to 5. And there are many who suggest that the burden of the charges will fall disproportionately on the poor. The proposal has the support of virtually every bien-pensant urbanist in town.000 CCTV cameras 250 .BIG BROTHER IS CHARGING YOU THE PUBLIC REALM MICHAEL SORKIN (2007) As part of his recently released plan for “New York 2030. the plan is identical to the apparatus for congestion pricing.000 Cameras—New York Seeking More Antiterror Aid.” Mayor Michael Blooomberg is actively promoting a scheme for congestion pricing in the busiest parts of Manhattan. And the system will presumably be capable of other levels of photographic observation and is sure to be linked to other networks and databases administered by our anxious state. and shared. I certainly support radical measures to reduce traffic in Manhattan and congestion pricing has a good track record in the cities that have tried it. particularly from the outer boroughs and suburbs where car dependence is highest and public transport thinnest. the front page of the New York Times carried a story headlined “Police Plan a Web of Surveillance for Downtown—Like London Ring of Steel—A Call for 3. The authoritarian risks of such systems are thrown into particular relief by their congeniality to more unabashed authoritarian regimes. The arguments that it will be a trivial burden to the man in the Mercedes and a serious one to the busboys in the battered banger have real merit. information that will be used to generate billing. But there is something disquieting about the system. London. database it will compile. although it has met some resistance.

squares.” The supportive incorporation of “terror” as part of the standard repertoire of architectural and planning due diligence—like fire or seismic protection—is astonishingly sinister and far exceeds any simple utilitarian account. and other historic settings for the face to face. The problem with Starbucks isn’t the instance but the aggregate. credit. And. This critique is predicated on the idea both that these spaces fail to acknowledge the existence of multiple publics and that a purely spatial definition of public space is inadequate in the internet (or any other) age. Public space is produced from the private: in democracy. including work. medical insurance status. Public space that excludes the civic—supporting only private forms of exchange—puts our democracy under radical threat. and other intrusive technologies is a political and cultural development of truly frightening implications. landlord phone numbers. whether for nominally progressive or for out and out reactionary reasons. DNA testing. I’ve just returned from several weeks in the suburbs and 251 . extends beyond these Orwellian developments. we are far too compliant in advancing this threatening regime. Consider Starbucks. As a profession. “The ‘war on terror’ has everywhere been deployed as an excuse to diminish political and civil liberties. China Public Security. public and private. including what Henri Lefebvre has famously called “the right to the city. transit payments. bio-metric screening. phone taps. Clearly. Cities—and the organization of space in general—are key media by which we sort out the boundaries between public and private and the public side of the equation is increasingly squeezed. While the idea of a one-size-fits-all public arena surely risks its own oppressions. The contraction of the public realm. and reproductive histories. spaces of free access are foundational to civil liberty and winnowing them. These cards will have embedded chips (again with software from China Public Security) that are to contain staggering amounts of information. the Shenzhen police already have the capacity to track the location of all cell phones in use in the city. police records. religious and ethnic data. such invasive systems threaten any reasonable idea of a right to privacy. parks. incorporated in Florida) that are to work in tandem with new ID cards for all residents. As David Harvey observes. the commons is always a compact about what is to be shared. There’s been a lot of criticism from certain academic quarters about traditional notions of public space.financed company. and room for lots more. about where we choose to interact with the other. an erosion of our most basic freedoms. are enjoying virtual carte blanche to intrude both in the traditional public realm—the streets of the city—and in the private as well.” The profusion of data-mining. what reserved. is very risky. This transformation is fundamental. about over-identifying the idea with streets. however.S.BIG BROTHER IS CHARGING YOU in the city of Shenzhen (with face recognition software provided by a U. The dramatic acceleration of surveillance post-9/11 is one marker of the contraction and police agencies.

I’d love to get some traffic out of the neighborhood but those cameras may be too high a price to pay. sandwiched with a couple of other smallish shops between a monster supermarket and a gigantic Lowe’s box. the fact that a coffee always comes from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts and that the street on which these stores sit is always a parking lot or supermarket aisle. The difficulty is not the lovely houses and gardens. I’ve counted the security cameras on the single block between here and there. It’s Sunday in New York and I’ve just returned from a walk to buy a coffee . and for those people it excludes.” The line between the friendly cop on the corner and Big Brother is not obscure. and relaxed vibe. Technology is a human artifact and its role in culture is neither autonomous nor neutral. deli. it was also an oasis of conviviality with its comfortable chairs. There’s one a block away and. free newspapers. Being there. Fifteen. Not simply the only source of decent coffee for miles. Over years of visiting elderly parents in the suburbs. but an interstitial tissue that is only negotiable by car. liquor store. despite the foolishness I feel when forced to order a “grande” instead of a medium. at Starbucks. This paranoid voyeurism by the authorities surely contracts our relationship to the spaces over which we—whatever “public” we happen to belong to—exercise proprietorship and in which we feel comfortable and “at home. and control. The problem with the suburbs (and increasingly the city) lies in both the homogeneity of their formats and the frequent elusiveness of a genuinely public realm. but in the fact that the character of the public realm is under 252 . This is a toll even more severe than the downside of congestion pricing—financially. in the alienating effects of hours spent sealed up alone. I have watched their possibilities contract in a system in which a carton of milk or a visit to a friend requires an increasingly perilous drive on the highway. visibly staggered by the sheer scale of the operation and of the choices on offer in American capital’s most perfectly staged spectacle of consumption. the coffee is tasty. hardware. a bank. nor the qualities of neighborliness they can produce. Not that we had no choices: another local supermarket had a kind of satellite Starbucks right inside the store. The Starbucks we frequented was part of a big shopping center. I have no doubt that we are at a watershed not simply in terms of the way in which we deploy technologies of surveillance. mobility.MICHAEL SORKIN Starbucks was a lifeline. and various category stretching elements of the supermarket itself: bakery. florist. While strolling over. I felt a little like Nikita Khrushchev on tour. There are fifteen visible to me. as I’ve mentioned. . along with a pharmacy. Such are the ambiguities of unfreedom that the exclusion of cars on the one hand and their indispensability on the other can be servants of the same agendas of monitoring and control while at the same time their use (or non-use) remains emblematic of the freedom at the core of what makes both cities and suburbs desirable to their denizens. . etc.

BIG BROTHER IS CHARGING YOU enormous threat from both too much government intervention (by the getgovernment-off-our-backs creeps in power) and the concession of too much of the public realm to private interest. 253 . A shopping mall is not the same as a street and a security camera on every corner is not a pal.

there exists a public realm which holds our pride as a people. the street was a stage of activity and chance encounters from the beginning. Still. This public life 254 . cows grazed here.THE PUBLIC REALM COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM SPIRO KOSTOF (1987) If I begin with Boston Common. And so the place continued. nor even a carefully reasoned argument. The Massachusetts State Houses at on an eminence on this Beacon Hill side. And it was without artifice. At the far side. In the seventeenth century. a biased one at that. formal. and “the Gallants a little before Sunset walk with their Marmalet Madams. This is not a research paper. There were churches with their graveyards. with an imposing set of stairs descending toward the Common. with few exceptions. trees were planted on the Tremont Street side. a straight line. it is because it is all there. manicured. from the very first European towns planted on this continent. of our history as public persons. “till the nine a clock Bell rings them home to their respective habitations. and to celebrate that sense we have of belonging to a broad community—a community with a shared record of accomplishment. For over three hundred years it has remained an open space. shops. The public realm was of course there at the beginning. and the local militia exercised. the walkway they framed was called The Mall. I want to talk to you about the public realm—and I have nothing new to say about it. a lovely Public Garden was installed—small. Every town. fighting “progress” that should have eliminated or reduced it long ago. designs into its fabric a stage of this sort. however small.” the English visitor John Josselyn wrote in 1663. It was. Monuments cropped up. This is the public face of America. beyond family and neighborhood. I offer you instead a simple synthetic review. and ill-defined by abutting structures. there in the heart of a thriving city. where all could come and go as they pleased and encounters were easy and unrehearsed. to honor publicly what Boston thought worth honoring. elegant houses along Beacon Hill. a common ground for pleasure and civic use. Beyond self. more or less free of encroachments. We want public places in order to enjoy the unplanned intimacy of civil society. toward Arlington Street. on land reclaimed from the mud of the Back Bay in the mid-nineteenth century. Buildings surrounded the Common. The street was the commonest public place of all.” Early in the next century. I offer a hymn of praise for what we were— and an elegy for what we have become.

they led their cattle to the “close” in this open area of town. which also served as temporary courthouse and stage stop. and lead them back at dusk for the returning men to take them home. the city cleared its common. miraculously. Otherwise. the well. and the graveyard fenced in with a neat stone wall. moved the graveyard. Once the meeting house was set up. the tavern. the monopoly of the Congregational church on town life had first to be broken. Its public uses were reflected in its furnishings: the hay scale. and so very often did the main church.) . preferably some sort of public building that would provide a good excuse for wanting to be there. looked out on the waterfront. and lined up three 255 The town common in Petersham. other buildings gathered around—the nooning house. But there were also intentional public open spaces. which doubled as a parade ground here too. a time of socializing. the whipping post. and the town square. then called the Market Place. of its old buildings and roads. evocative public place. In the early morning. The real reason for the common was the meeting house. In the middle of their gridded pueblos. Americans. To turn this stern Puritan civic center into the town green we now admire. (Photo by Kit Krankel McCullough. horse sheds for the parishioners. rutted piece of barren land. When the allocation of land was first made in a new town. the bulletin board. and in port or river towns with their shops. where in the winter months the parishioners could find some shelter and heat during the breaks in the long. French towns were on rivers. A herdsman would then lead the town cattle out of here to graze in the common pastures. a schoolhouse. the bustle of the wharves. longer than it was wide and surrounded by porticoes where goods were sold. so you wouldn’t be presumed to be loitering or wasting time. lives still—a charmed. a blacksmith shop. After the War of 1812. The buildings that defined the square included a barracks and a hospital. a large plot was set aside for this most important building of community life. for their fiestas and the customary evening stroll or corso. But there was nothing in the middle: that was for the people. The administrative palace and other public buildings fronted the plaza. In New Orleans. religious center and town hall in one. full of shade and smell. flirting. In New Haven we have the classic early case of this transformation. Massachusetts. that side of them that derives from the English at least. were never very comfortable with an empty public place. The open space had a useful purpose at first. the crowds that arrived on boats. the common was an unsightly. Take the New England common. the Spanish invariably left a large plaza. cold services of Sabbath. There might be a magazine for the storage of powder. the square. They liked it filled with something. showing off.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM was especially lively in administrative capitals like Williamsburg and Annapolis. when the men walked from their houses to the fields at the edge of town. riddled with stumps and stones.

The townfolk spoke of it proudly as the “park” or the “grove. surrounded by trees. with no relation whatever to the street pattern. and edged with elms. When the elms matured this became one of the most celebrated public squares in America. local retail businesses. Within its confines. both in form and intention. Behind the three churches rose the new state house. The sense was of a pleasure ground. in these old days. replacing an older building that was now found to spoil the symmetry. At the same time. it was small. a place of quiet and passive enjoyment. Now the urban park. and found strength in their local tradition.) churches down the middle where the old meeting house had stood unchallenged. On the northwest side. was an invented. (Photo by Kit Krankel McCullough. By then. This was the central feature of towns that served as county seats. The courthouse stood in the middle of the one-block square. and where the prevalent values and beliefs of the community were made manifest. on a slight rise. this green oasis was a statement of survival and permanence. in the new railroad towns of the Midwest and the South. where collective civic actions like markets and parades took place. Texas. it took its shape from the street pattern. romantic landscape. Board roofs projecting from the fronts of these establishments furnished shade. the park would provide a neutral setting where the poor and the rich could come together as equals. The space held them. some of them unplanned. In the courthouse were kept land grants and commercial debt-bonds. The park would set us free of the structured order of the town. But the urban square was political territory. a hotel. was a very different sort of public place. people knew their place. On the grounds there was room for the weekly market and the country fair. none more sacred than Johnny Reb. It is where they learned to live together. in the 1830s and 1840s.” The jail and a fireproof clerk’s office might be at the corners of the square. It had many uses. and for electioneering. visually. The farmers came in regularly from the surrounding countryside on legal and tax matters. So a public urban place like the courthouse square. What it offered. one of them Episcopalian. The area was fenced in. It was anti-city. free of its tensions. Yale’s Brick Row faced it across College Street. The space was well bounded and its scale intimate. Here statue-soldiers on pedestals betokened past wars. gave them identity. a restaurant or coffee shop where the businessmen ate their lunches. behavior.SPIRO KOSTOF The courthouse square in Lockhart. in temple form. free of its organized. and plank seats between the roof supports made it easy to spend time there. the New England green had found its counterpart in the courthouse square. Planned spaces were also allotted to the Methodists and Baptists at the two corners. but also volatile. In the vast treeless plains. the midnineteenth century. 256 . For the rest. coming in around the same time. was the setting where all sorts of people came together informally. to begin with. It was now called the Green. The institutional building—the courthouse or the public library or the town hall—dominated.

” Radical History Review 21. Within his parks. . 1982). and R. on our true public places. away from the adventures of city streets. Winter 1984. and to make proper Americans out of them. all the more serious because so polite and well-couched. pp. Starr.” Public Interest 74. MA: M. Cranz. Laurel Hill in Philadelphia. as an uplifting device.I. from the very start. you did not have to pay to get a lot. In general. pp. the immigrant labor of the Yankee-owned businesses. Mount Auburn. The creators and administrators of parks were gentlemen idealists. It was.” as Charles Eliot put it. What he really intended to do with his parks was to wean the working classes away from their ethnic neighborhoods. behaved like their betters. it was very much as if you were being reunited with your loved ones and with God. with serpentine carriage avenues and gravel footpaths and statues of patriotic figures.1 This is how Frederick Law Olmsted thought of the park. the cultured upper crust. 31–46. the first of them introduced in New Haven by James Hillhouse in 1796. more for the living than for the dead. And then in quick order. Press. and instructive inscriptions to remind us of the virtues of the deceased and the fearsomeness of death. was the first. St. in 1835. there were to be no monuments. no decorations. people got buried in the churchyard. the cemetery becomes a specialized. 66–76. “The Motive Behind Olmsted’s Park. Lowell. In colonial days.T. These unlandscaped. Death here is no longer something to be dreaded. fully visible churchyards in the center of town were a kind of collective monument that stressed the oneness of the living and the dead. In the 1830s death got an alternate setting—the romantically conceived garden they call the rural cemetery. You have to pay to be buried now. and so on. to my mind. Louis. The urban square was the proper place for such “townlike things. When this idea of the formal lay-out takes over. in Cambridge. two current sources are indispensable: R. which really came to making sure that the working classes.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM So ran the rhetoric. and this polite attack found an echo in the native prototype of the urban park. The Politics of Park Design (Cambridge. so that private and not collective commemoration becomes the ruling order and cemeteries become showplaces for fancy family monuments. the need for larger and more sanitary burial grounds led to planned cemeteries. see G. among the urban poor. the rural cemetery. Rosenzweig. much as 257 1 For this discussion of the urban park. But in effect what happened was that death was neutralized and prettified. But this outward look of innocent escapism and fraternal equality in fact couched a much more serious purpose. The tombs had headstones with symbolic carvings. removed from the urban scheme. The city folk flocked to these pastoral. They viewed the park. “Middle-Class Parks and WorkingClass Play. a means to improve the social behavior of the citizenry. Fall 1979. Olmsted was uncompromising on the issue of built structures. Brooklyn’s Green Wood— which was called “The Garden City of the Dead”—others in Baltimore. isolated place. laid out in a regular grid. It had to do with the imposition of moral order where it was thought most wanting. Burial was the right of any church member. By 1800. nostalgic gardens to spend the day among the flowers and the trees. the first major attack. often reused by others.

were exclusive communities that harbored a special way of life. and picturesque suburbs. to drain the public realm of tension and spontaneous ferment. the very symbol of urban congestion and promiscuity. these upper storeys would be taken up by professional people like lawyers and physicians. The business premises were on the ground floor. the row houses built against each other in series enclosing street corridors and so intensifying the public aspect of the street. and tall false fronts advertised the owner’s intention to go up a second storey when he could.SPIRO KOSTOF Commonwealth Avenue. cemeteries. merchants. Boston. There you could associate with neighbors of your own kind. an intermediate space is created. open to the farm land at either end. which derived precisely from the social interaction of the diverse and the unequal. the suburb. the ultimate in this kind of promiscuity was the great American contribution to modern urbanism in the nineteenth century. It was an early manifestation of that nineteenth-century tendency for family. livery stables. the tendency to remove public business from the stages of daily life. from rival claims of allegiance. shopkeepers. All three are attempts to diffuse communality. urban parks. often in the large front room. Suburbs. urban parks. as I suggested. It has always seemed strange to me that architectural historians would link the form of rural cemeteries. the 258 . A suburban street. a great invention of the nineteenth century. instead. very well-defined channels. This urban convention had overtaken our early streets that were so ill-defined. and in small towns. is to the urban street what the park is to the urban square. and refuse to see the more serious agenda that brings them together. Artisans. a pedestrian island that increased the possibility of chance encounters between abutters and between abutters and passers-by. the local newspaper. of course. The exterior sides would be used for advertising. plied their trade. had created channels. The houses are brought together close to the edge of the lots and between them and the street channel. lethargic environments which induce social harmony and outward tranquility by distancing themselves from potential conflict. the sidewalk. Main Street—usually two or three blocks long. and a third element. That suburban street is a reaction in part to the phenomenon of row houses. and to create. there was a pattern of urban use. the legacy of Andrew Jackson Downing.) the urban tensions of those vital cities of the nineteenth century were neutralized and prettified in urban parks. Front and side yards are gone. In the urban core. In this slow process of the dominant classes to diminish us as public persons. the barbershop would be there. and by groups as meeting rooms. had a very specific role to play. church and community to drift apart. wider than the rest of the streets. and of course. and to homogenize it. (Photo by Kit Krankel McCullough. from reminders of misfortune and pain. So Main Street was a place where farmers could come in for supplies and luxuries. When they existed. by the early nineteenth century. and.

To the reformers. which replaces the pre-row house memory of the fenced-in. Pittsburgh. rejecting Olmsted’s purism on the subject. intolerance. Everyone makes the same income. stressing the sense of a community. no problem people. those compacts. a soothing middle landscape between raw nature and the unseemly entanglement of cities. “The social sympathies take shelter securely under the shadowy eaves. prosperous lawyers. self-same public aspect. And there were the related conflicts of use. cosmopolitan elite of Olmsted’s peers who saw the park as a pristine work of art. Just our sort of people: large store owners. a symbol of ignorance. as small town writers like Sinclair Lewis and Sherwood Anderson sharply exposed. Behind this polite. Here Downing said. cut of one cloth—no social tensions. I don’t want to know what’s going on out there. zoos.” Precisely. Very early it became a battleground of two contending social factions. front garden. no problems.) . in time. aquariums. It was the ideal place for cultural enlightenment and. ensconced themselves within its bounds. outwardly welcoming. where decency and common sense always ruled. In fact. Downing’s suburb was envisaged as a relief from that arrangement. no Jews. and creates a continuous unfenced environment down the street. The Gothic cottage that he sells us in his books was a private place. closed-mindedness. who could move their place of residence away from the city and thus shun contact with that melting-pot population of immigrants. and this is later where the young people would cruise on weekends and kill time in the drug store and in the movie theater. educational institutions like museums and conservatories. But it was also. Main Street was much more than a street. insular life of wholesome. On the other hand. as we all know. (Photo by Kit Krankel McCullough. a Christian place. Everyone has the same number of children. The house has a nice open lawn.) Downing-style cottage. the cultured. a church for the family. Buildings were rough-hewn and clashed with each other in their styles. It was also a gritty. as if striving to shut out whatever of bitterness and strife may be found in the open highways of the world. and so on. those tensions of Main Street and row streets. bigotry. But the working classes were 259 Main Street. (Photo by Kit Krankel McCullough. brokers. discordant site.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM saloon. the family turned in upon itself and began staging its own rituals of communion and leisure. This is where the 4th of July parade would be held. At any rate. There are no funny people: no Blacks. wholesalers. manufacturers. The park had a harder time doing its leveling work. Lockhart. On one side. the ward politicians. the park was where the classes could rub shoulders. It represented the simple. producing front yard. not at all the sanitary look and uniform nice Victorian frontages that you see in Disneyland’s version of Main Street. to whom parks were vacant land that could be filled with job-producing structures. Don’t bother me. Things are cozy. Texas. honest folk unconcerned about the fashions of Paris or the Boer War—the setting of Andy Hardy movies. a set of values. It was a state of mind.

It made pre-war courthouses. and public playgrounds. earlier retirement—all of this was creating. There was now. and got their own playgrounds. picnic areas. began to take place between our daily rituals and their aggrandizement through architecture. state capitols. at Munich. shopping. We now also joyously embraced public art. These they now put to work in their public programs of art. to make us atone for our ugly Main Street. The connectors would be green boulevards and parkways. in fact. The scale. The boulevards and parkways would now use stately public buildings as focal points. and colleges look almost residential by comparison. a place for fun and games. Now came a sudden profusion of municipal beaches. of our public buildings had steadily escalated after the Civil War. Size was not all. After 1900. By the end of the century. after 1900. But Olmsted won too. as you know. They peopled our public places with monumental sculpture. unable to absorb the erudite references that kindled the artist’s work. Something had changed. as markers of avenues and landscaped vistas. Now this new worldliness at the end of the nineteenth century. at the École des Beaux-Arts. The rich harvest of allusion in our new public art left the average viewer far behind. painted friezes. 260 . and to go far beyond. mounted on impressive architectural frames finely proportioned to the landscape of the city. society felt. at the Hague. These conflicts were never resolved. were now being ensconced in luxurious settings. what became known as “leisure time” and it was best if it could be filled in an orderly way now. It is in the nature of public places to act as fields of interaction and to change character in the process of mediating social behavior. The working classes insisted on. I think.SPIRO KOSTOF much more interested in a sturdy playground. which may not seem like much to us. American artists trained at Dusseldorf. which aimed to put us on a par with Europe. Our vision of ourselves was not what it had been. a spectacular monumentality had seized our cities. stadiums. towards a vision of the city as a landscape at large. During his long career. There were sheathings of lavish materials. sometimes violently. traveling. and fixed with studied care in entrances to parks. came at a price. came back armed with sophisticated techniques and a style that stressed historical pageantry and the rhetoric of allegory. They didn’t want to be particularly cultured in that way. And a similar distancing. tennis courts. in friezes and personifications. stained-glass windows. but which were different—and that is the point—from the refined pleasure garden of the middle class. a new type of park that stresses organized activity appears. There were longer vacations. a shorter work week. in public squares. Reading. with a whole constellation of parks linked together into an integrated system. and showy furnishings. far grander than the functions themselves called for. he managed to give substance to twenty or so urban parks of his particular brand.

The change brought about by this imperial monumentality was twopronged. too. and so. now created a kind of uniformly monumental townscape. But faith compromised something of its public force when the temples of commerce began to overwhelm the landscape of God.or four-storey office buildings grew into spectacular towers. not in the traditional sense. that once rose over government buildings alone. or even railroad stations. clubs and apartment houses as well as town halls. were now pre-empted. a genuinely “public” pattern: the market. Cities raised their own civic monuments to art in the manner of the great European palace museums.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM The Boston Public Library on Copley Square was called “a palace for the people” by the trustees. in libraries and countless buildings—or rather. Wanamakers. set up a colossal public scale that overwhelmed the once-dominant scale of churches and government buildings. Jordan Marsh. places of assembly. but obviously could never speak for us collectively as a civic society. They were monuments to private interests and we basked in their splendor through the courtesy of companies that courted our business. banks as well as state capitols. the same monumental dress covered now a whole range of buildings. it was steeples and domes that punctuated American cities. railroad stations. in the new City Beautiful plans whose radial avenues now began to cut through fine-grained neighborhoods in the name of slum clearance—a kind of premonition of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s. This was not true of banks and skyscrapers and department stores. between 1880 and 1910. This new tendency to design and build for show as much for utility did not stop with government and culture. and been represented by. the wharf. The enjoyment of art. First. and most were housed in monumental buildings. from the business district out to the upper-class residential avenues. And finally. Marshall Fields. as planned and viewed by the City Beautiful planners. indeed. Indeed. shopping areas became palaces of consumption called “department stores”—Macy’s. by the end of the nineteenth century. and so it became very difficult to assign symbolic priorities among individual institutions. town halls—these were paid for by us and in a fundamental way they belonged to us. whole sections of towns. Metropolitan railroad stations now sat ponderously in the modestly scaled townscape. The second aspect of this new public domain was that it was really not public. Traditionally. courthouses. was also elevated to a public spectacle. department stores. it was. Once our collective activity had centered upon. the great private collections were open to the people by bequest and grant. once a domestic pleasure of wealthy Americans and their friends. At the same time three. Church steeples had always been omnipresent—whole forests of them in the big cities. There was now total disdain for the classic plotting device of American cities. the grid. these became the true centers of the downtowns. The more our public 261 . Domes. office towers.

politicians. in trying to control the machine and traffic. These included very simple devices that had very longterm consequences: the widening of streets. we had long refused to behave as a public. But. the average width of the sidewalk was 15 feet. sex. we deserved these new private-public monuments. might as well not have been. of course. In the suburb. But I think. not community. Piecemeal adjustments had now to be made to accommodate this new machine. a playing public. We forced a split in our environment between the intensely built-up downtown and the unaccented spread of the residential suburb. except in small towns. sick with fear of public places. the family turned itself into a microcosm of society. architecture celebrated the private sector. the sidewalk. We sequestered the family inside the house and moved the house away from the work place. was its motivating force. in a sense. Sennett’s The Uses of Disorder (Knopf. Through the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. to separate human life into isolated functions and assign to each one its own physical setting. the restless. In the downtown.SPIRO KOSTOF 2 The best general statement of these disjunctions. The next thing was that curbs were gone. Then the squares and streets became parking lots. It is an easy target. in 1912. is still R. we directed into consumption and recreation. leaving public places to the homeless. car culture could care less. we introduced fears into our daily lives. and later on. At any rate. by 1960 it was 11 feet. of course. and that. Traffic hazards were nothing new. this great invention of the nineteenth century. 35 miles per hour—an elevated street car would go nine miles an hour at most—and so we became. a broad coalition of reformers. that is to say. True public places like streets and squares declined in favor of department stores. a traveling public. the weaker grew our sense of being a distinct and whole community. True public places declined because we chose. life ebbed after the work hours. but we tended to fragment. 1970). The width of the roadway and community spirit seem to be inversely related. Ethnicity pulled us apart. very consciously. shopping centers. So what civil and political cohesion we could not attain. to my mind. The merchants understood that. worked hard to mold us into a homogeneous society. another unexpected phenomenon would destroy what remained of a truly public sense. is the car. They resisted the widening of streets because they knew that after a certain point you couldn’t get people to relate from one sidewalk across to the other. for one thing. more importantly. stadiums. a body of people with a clear political and social identity. and I don’t want to belabor it.2 From 1920 on. The point is obvious. 262 . Atomism. What was ours once. So. educators. as we all know only too well. beaches. but never before had we vehicles hurtling by at 30. special interests pulled us apart. of course. class. by 1925 it was 13 feet. at the expense of sidewalks. In New York. and the rough. because we had become a buying public. and so use the street as a communal space.

the rot removed. no use for the slow accretion of buildings through time. and run highways into the center-city shopping areas. In a sense. and in its place. the less we used those vehicles that tended to bring us together in the days when we had no alternative. Even the more flashy. Urban renewal was supposed to free cities “that were enslaved to the 20 to 25 foot lot. You know the story.” It was meant to enlarge the street system. We went down from 17 billion rides in public transportation in 1929 to 13 billion in 1940. Now came urban renewal. what little remained of all this that the car hadn’t done away with. little by little. because of their God-given width. First the boulevards that were meant to be for slow. the urban expressways made it even easier to leave the city. offered funds to cities for the clearance of slums and blighted areas. and it continued that way. The amended version of 1954 recognized the practical value of rehabilitating old buildings as a means of reversing urban decay. What little remained in our poor cities of that lively mixture of big buildings and modest-scaled ones. centercity parcels by the exercise of eminent domain. or a lightly enclosed urban square. modern buildings must be put up that would look nice and would bring in moneyed clients to revitalize the downtown. and the Act gave license to the often-indiscriminate destruction of old neighborhoods with their own public spaces marked with the character of their age and use. fast traffic arteries. new ones began to come downtown. In effect. to state the obvious. The steady flight into the suburbs had long condemned the older center city to decay.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM And again. of course. of starchy commercial blocks and promiscuous neighborhoods. The earlier generations of tall buildings saw no conflict between themselves and the traditional public spaces of streets and plazas. the land would be completely cleared of structures before it was turned over to a local redevelopment agency. our memory. of course. but wholesale clearance and rebuilding was much the easier alternative. at the expense of the pedestrian. Modern architecture was then going through a tradition-denying phase. the intimacies of the waterfront street. historicist brood usually had a neutral space-defining facade up 263 . It had no use for the familiar historical styles or story-telling declaration. gentle rides when Olmsted and his peers set them down became. public transportation began its slow but certain decline. Typically. what was being destroyed was our history. Its premise was that the deteriorating fabric must be razed. and then when they were not enough. the worst fate of all: highways coming into town. The more we used cars. And then. and the installment of apartment towers and commercial buildings lapped by vast open spaces where the thick of things had been. It all begins with the Housing Act of 1949 which. At the heart of the program was government’s power to buy vast. then. would come under attack after World War II. through Title I of the Act.

but rarely came to rest in pockets that might invite passersby to stay a while and relax. for us. 1949–1951.) to a certain level before they gave way to the fanciful in their strange crowns. The mall is covered and air conditioned. corporate clients would make room for a public plaza on their lots. transfixed by sleek. The turning point in this slow slide away from a truly public realm was the 1960s.” The National Register of Historic Places now was expanded to include buildings and districts of local as well as national significance. of course. it is not part of a larger downtown. Crowds now roused by some common worry poured into the streets and open spaces of America. but life rarely found a perch in these sleek unsheltered wastes.” as he put it—this dogma was now fully subscribed to. space flowed around and even under them. our developers cooked up new schemes for the downtown. Rallies and demonstrations became endemic. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 included the following. The old town squares livened up. as business always does. which was a terrific success. Old row houses were gentrified. absolutely extraordinary language. the policy of urban renewal began to raise doubts. in the shadows of their gleaming towers. The inner city witnessed a gradual return of the middle classes from the suburbs. We should. As a trade-off for some of the bending of the rules in their favor. But the sealed.SPIRO KOSTOF Lakeshore Drive Apartments. To take advantage of this gregarious mood. and so public places were reinvested with civic purpose. Our cities went into convulsions. of 264 . and H. uncommunicative monuments of abstract art.’s block grants helped revive old neighborhoods.U. They looked at the suburban shopping mall. cafes and restaurants opened in once-derelict urban stretches. Chicago. Public life turned political. as articulated by Le Corbusier in the 1920s—“It is a wonderful instrument of concentration to be placed in the midst of vast open spaces. “Congress finds and declares that the historical and cultural foundations of the nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life and development. isolated nature of these malls. by Mies van der Rohe. strengthened the hand of preservationists who were struggling to make their point. and at night strollers could be seen along piers and restored Main Streets. Was the gutting of our cities really for the good of the people? Were the benefits of corporate towers and their immaculate plazas really so clear cut? This ferment. (Photo by Douglas Kelbaugh. In the general anxiety of self-examination. But the modernist dogma. It seemed that America might be going public once again. that the skyscraper be a free-standing object.D. in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people. and they tried to replicate it in the city. It was the decade of our discontent. with their shop fronts turning inward to face the courts. does not suit the casual interaction characteristic of downtown street activity. As shiny towers stayed clear of one another.

with all the legal rights pertaining thereunto. Pennsylvania. and staged with intimate corners and interdependent levels that encourage people-watching. the Supreme Court looked at it one more time and said that freedom of speech on private property can be protected through state law. They need not be very fancy at all. These inner courts are often exciting places: cage-like. They are. and that has to do with the exercise of First Amendment rights. and so on in so far as the exercise of First Amendment rights was concerned (picketing. in the case of Logan Valley Shopping Center of Altoona. We are guests who come in from the street and are expected to behave. not our spaces. in the end. the safe retreat of them. There is a constant coming and going of people with different errands and diversions in mind. They’re well-connected to the street system. like those of Milan or Naples. In 1968. the glimmer of high technology. parks. and then in 1980. that spontaneous and always unpredictable—indeed. There is in them a working relationship between boundary buildings and open space. fruitfully compare it to the old galleria. there is also a legal issue sharply focusing this distinction. lighted dramatically. a constant shifting of the human landscape. Such places are usually in the heart of things. You have to make the decision to brave the smartly polished revolving doors. in the end. fail to inspire. Something of that same inhibition that can’t make malls work as true public places is also evident in corporate buildings of the 1970s that internalize the underused open air plazas of the previous decade by giving us atria. And indeed. the cleanliness we are offered. etc. or Trump Tower. a street corner will do. the Supreme Court voted. a mixture of indolence and scurrying industry. 265 . about them. and so rejecting any discrimination between an outside cityscape and an interior architecture of the arcade itself. Ford.) But in 1971. These places are ultimately private places and the Supreme Court had to deal two or three times with the issue of whether we can pass out leaflets and make speeches there.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM course. threatening—mingling that goes on in the open air pockets of real public quality. But there is something too controlled. California and several other states immediately began to put into law the identification of shopping malls. the metallic lobbies with their uniformed guards. which you did not have to make a special trip to get to and which are wide open to the city—not only by being literally wide open. but also by bringing street architecture straight into the arcade. before you can experience the atrium of IBM. the Burger Court reversed this. even too secure. in the case of the Lloyd Shopping Center in Portland. university campuses and corporate parks as new public places in the American metropolis. But even with all legal assurance that we can behave in malls and atria as public persons. leaflet distribution. that the shopping center was “the functional equivalent of a sidewalk” and therefore no distinction could be made between it and public places like streets. indeed. And. Oregon.

and muzak are forbidden. “of the transformation of our society.) 3 The City Observed: Boston (Random House. toward the city and toward the water. landscaping.” In other words. The design issue is simple. pp. etc. This occupancy is almost literally.”3 That leaves the pedestrian mall. and Brambilla and Longo. Shopping mall fare. however. Baltimore. He creates what he calls festival marketplaces. of course. And then the cascade of stairs from the ledge down to the water. We appropriate a big urban scrap that has lain neglected or defunct. where the three-masted frigate Constellation. For some. and of our absorption with our own superfluous pleasures. USA”—in 1959. and New York’s Roused-up South Street Seaport are celebrations of the trendy superficiality of our time. The inner city to Rouse. 4 On pedestrian malls. then.2. (Photo courtesy of Douglas Kelbaugh. designed in terms of sight and smell. 1977). There is the sea to look out on. of aspiring good taste. see chiefly: E. You can cover 266 . of crafts. There is the open sequence of shops and restaurants on a generous ledge above the quay. 45. the emphasis is on fun. The master of this wizardry is. as in Harbor Place. at least. pour in and out without inhibition. and like them the pedestrian mall is artificial and sanitized. There are strict rules about the conduct and look of each business premise.. February 1969. remembered fondly and judiciously. Institutional businesses are avoided. So the spontaneity is totally deceptive. and V.O. leisure.4 The model is the suburban mall and Disneyland. urban centers like Faneuil Hall Market. that ancient waterfront scene of waves and boats and birds. and showmanship without stressing any of the problems which public life ultimately must have constantly on exhibit. benches. 1982). like indoor fountains. These transparent walls allow people to see through the buildings. p. which started with Kalamazoo—“Mall City. “Anatomy of the Mall. and let indoor activity spill over casually to the outside. lighting. You stress street furniture. American Urban Malls (U.SPIRO KOSTOF Harbor Place. Some businesses it invents. which makes an adventure out of a stroll. is “a warm and human place with diversity of choice full of festival and delight. and only a small number of chain store outlets. of course. nasty businesses are avoided.P. 40–50. There are no department stores. open on both sides. The Rouse Company interviews hundreds of businesses before it selects a handful of tenants.S. as Donlyn Lyndon put it of Faneuil Hall. James Wilson Rouse. Longo. G. mindless level. Baltimore. Lately we thought we had refound the knack of creating this kind of magic out of whole cloth. 1977). They speak. fill it with shops and eating places. Fresh fish is avoided—it smells too much. And on an innocent. You eliminate curbs. Sometimes he begins with what is there—as with Faneuil Hall. it works. the use of materials. is permanently moored. Harbor Place. not long ago a decaying waterfront which gets two waterside pavilions that hark back to the low. of franchise. Brambilla.” AIA Journal 51. Contini. commissioned by the young nation in 1797. Sometimes the old is removed altogether. clinically calculated.G. You can have children’s play areas. long wharf buildings of the site. on the apolitical and the uncontroversial. R. plastic plants. For Pedestrians Only (Whitney Library. The means of this popular setting are. and he has a proven way of bringing this about. Dzurinko. in crowded centers that want to combine commerce.

” Fresno also has a slowspeed electric tramway. shade trees. running rivulets. with somebody saying “May I help you?” And of course the system tends to create.” This is why we must separate malling from rehabilitated main streets. Hennepin Avenue is as close as he comes— insisting that it must be. with the black people down at street level and the white folk in the skywalks. You can make water the main feature.” In the past.000 feet is about as far as a shopper will walk. “people are prepared to trade off their environment in return for motorized accessibility. but practical solutions to some urgent urban problem. It viewed the pedestrian mall as an instrument of action. Most others are launched with much fanfare but without a long-range program for downtown improvement.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM the mall and air condition it. who had some time ago told us that the main street was almost all right. as in Victor Gruen’s Fresno Mall (Fulton Street) where there are fountains. this system too is privately funded. an inbuilt segregation. as at Berkeley. The planner’s rule is that 1. People will simply not walk that far— we have lost the knack. Malls and the like are attempts to revive the commercial spirit of the city. At least Fresno was comprehensive. But in fact. as stated plainly and resignedly in 1983 by the author of the Buchanan Report of 1963. privately owned. both Hennepin and Nicollet are suffering from the skywalk system of Minneapolis—yet another example of the slow privatization of public space. It’s too long. Equally bloodless is the attempt to bring back the communal character of residential streets. which first stressed the need to correlate the numbers of cars with the quality of life in the cites. “To view the pedestrian environment as a glorified botanical garden is a cowardly way out. and turn its interactive tensions into a festival. and corporate plazas. Great examples are Magazine Street in New Orleans. as we all know. Venturi. never quite got around to telling us what we had to do to make it really all right. a transit and entertainment avenue. like Rochester’s Midtown Plaza. and Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. where traffic is not necessarily banished at all. Malls. based on a central area plan adopted in 1960. famous because of the Venturis’ project with its controversial reflector trees. It is intimidating. as Roberto Brambilla puts it. by reducing or eliminating traffic on the model of Holland’s woonerven. You always end up in a store at either end. as it was in the past. malls. Is any of this for real? Is it possible to tame the automobile without curtailing severely the very advantages that gave it its fantastic success? Why hasn’t it worked? Because. But as Edgardo Contini said about it. ponds. and so incidentally avoiding the competition from the nearby fancy shopping street at Nicollet Mall. Like atria. trellises. Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. “are not urban idylls created in an artist’s eye. streets and public places were stages where social classes and 267 .

“We can offer a self-contained city. and. schedule encounters with our friends. Some see a fundamental change of society in the works. stages of solemn ceremony and improvised spectacle. of recreation. they were also time channels—the safeguard of those continuities of culture and place that made us users of the public realm vastly and substantially older than our age and infinitely wiser than our own natural gifts. but it was also both school and stage of urbanity. which in the end means nothing less than the belief that people. I am. p.5 The public realm was all those things not because of the container. I am talking of Tech Center in Denver. Velvet Turtle at Pleasanton and Bishop Ranch in San Ramon. and there is much evidence to prove them right. and that’s a hell of a selling point. of the cumulative knowledge of human ways and the residual benefits of a public life. and travel on our own in climate-controlled and music-injected glossy metal boxes. Now we have started as momentous a revolution. a fun place and a museum—but also the burial place for our hopes to exorcise poverty and prejudice by confronting them daily. As long as we would rather keep our own counsel. but because of what we were all willing to put inside. of people-watching. This public realm of the past was an untidy place. In their changing architecture. as long as we are not ready to reinvest it with true urban vigor. and in my own Bay Area. the momentum to recreate a genuine public realm has been lost. After the residential component removed itself. Ben Carpenter’s Las Colinas and the Golden Triangle in Dallas. urbanity. the heart of the metropolis was still held together. 1982). yes. the resurrected public realm will be a place we like to visit every so often but not inhabit. Cumberland and Galleria Malls north of Atlanta. physically and morally. of course. The developer of Velvet Turtle is quoted as saying. social uses mixed. the burial place of unrehearsed excitement. it is my conviction. of the new information economy—those gigantic pseudo-cities where hundreds of thousands work and live without any need of or love for the traditional city. all “people can live together in proximity and interdependence. the Princeton Forrestal Center on the Route 1 Corridor. it would seem. and the factories and industrial establishments followed suit. At the turn of the twentieth century we culminated a great revolution that shifted us from a nation of farms to a nation of factories and moved us from country to city. their slow shifts and adjustments. the Galleria in Houston. 57.” as Gerald Allen put it.SPIRO KOSTOF 5 In Cities (Rizzoli. I don’t see much point in reviving the container now. In the 1980s. and from city back to country. from factory to service and information. We seem ready to take our losses.” These instantaneous cities of the countryside have little to do with those dormitory communities that resulted from an earlier and long-lasting abandonment of the old downtown. avoid social tension. talking about megacenters—the landscape of postindustrial America. at least in the day268 .

it is as a ribbon in the hair. intimacy. like scraps of San Antonio at Las Colinas with pseudo-Venetian teakwood water taxis and Spanish house fronts that conceal garages. that the institution of megacenters will erode the much-celebrated renaissance of the downtown. and lead to yet another major exodus. a machine for traffic to pass through but a square for people to remain within. . professional. restaurants. movie theaters. When you do use it. “It is possible. if the trend holds. . At best. and luxury “townhouses” or apartments. and along with it the city itself? It is clear that they are depriving the metropolis of its only remaining mystique.” the Goodmans conclude. white. The work pool needed by the information economy is already out there in the suburbs—upscale. “that this urban beauty is a thing of the past . . we might grudgingly recognize the old urban core as one of these centers—for those who care to be there. Percival and Paul Goodman justifiably announced the first death of the public realm. and profoundly sad. had just been translated for the first time into English. conference centers. . . . In 1947. Now they too are beginning to leave. not at all coincidentally. that downtown cluster of towers that is supposed to hold corporate might. They wrote in Communitas: A city is made by the social congregation of people. and administrative buildings symbolically holding the city down in the manner of the old guild hall. accessory urbanis—like the miniaturized City Beautiful boulevards in Houston megacenters when the real thing. If it is 269 . Let us recall that some 70 percent of all Americans now live in suburbs and rural areas and only 30 percent in cities. it is a grievous and irreparable loss . for business and pleasure and economy . . But you do not confuse the alternate city environment with schools or churches. They invoked Sitte. So you take the plant out to them. and the incorrigible romantics who would rather run their rat-race down corridor-streets and live in Victorian houses yanked from the jaws of bulldozers. banks. the Rathaus. It is entirely possible. is crumbling unappreciated and used only as an urban expressway. his city esthetic of enclosure. . South Main Street.COMMUNITAS AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC REALM time. the palazzo di podesta. no streets in the traditional sense and no history of course. It is entirely possible. the managing world of entertainment and design. You give them shopping malls and parks. in our multicenter “global” city with its network of telecommunications. with poor people or ethnic concentrations. If this is so. leaving these old worn-out artifacts to the poor who cannot escape them. Are these megacenters the final challenge in the traditional public realm. interaction— Camillo Sitte whose 1889 book. political muscle. A person is a citizen in the street. A city street is not . by offices.

It gives me acute discontent. our city crowds are doomed to be lonely crowds. 1987. The original illustrations have been lost. or we no longer think of community and liveliness and culture in that old urban way. I think we lapsed. That is my prejudice.SPIRO KOSTOF so. or resigned to it. humanly uncultured crowds. bored crowds. and uncultured in a fundamental sense. bored. NOTE This talk preceded by several months the publication of my America by Design (Oxford University Press. The reader will find a full bibliography on the issues discussed here in America by Design. The few notes appended to this paper account for quotations and other obvious debts. It may also be that the Goodmans were right—that the consequence of that loss is as they announced—that we have become lonely.” We made an effort to reverse the trend. and it is in part based on its contents. Many of us. If so. however. I think we lapsed because that beauty is by now a thing of the past. most of us. beyond resuscitation. 1987). Most of the latter half. are contented to live the new way. is not included in the book. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 75th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. 270 . The photographs included here were selected by the editors. we no longer recognize it.

democracy. derived from extremely narrow and normative definitions of both public and space. over use of the streets and public places reveal the emergence of another discourse of public space suggesting new forms of “insurgent citizenship” and offering new political arenas. producing new forms of insurgent citizenship.” to urban critics Michael Sorkin’s and Mike Davis’s announcements of “the end of public space” and the “destruction of any truly democratic urban spaces. 1974). MA: M. the New England town square.1 These narratives of loss contrast the current debasement of the public sphere with golden ages and golden sites: the Greek agora.” in Michael Sorkin. and Michael Sorkin. Richard Sennett. “Fortress Los Angeles: The Militarization of Urban Space. allegedly. argues that urban residents are constantly remaking public space and redefining the public sphere through their lived experience. the media. .” claims that once vital sites of democracy have all but disappeared are widespread.” and the blurring of private and public as equally significant aspects of the public sphere.CONTESTING THE PUBLIC REALM Struggles over public space in Los Angeles MARGARET CRAWFORD (1995) THE PUBLIC REALM This article. in response to architectural “narrative of loss” lamenting the disappearance of public space. we can begin to recognize a multiplicity of simultaneous public interactions that are restructuring urban space. this article questions the insistence on a unified public and private space that characterizes the bourgeois public sphere and proposes contestation. Following Nancy Fraser. and citizenship are continually being redefined in practice through lived experience. This narrative inevitably climaxes in what these critics see as our current crisis of collective life which places the very identities and institutions of citizenship and democracy in peril. Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space (New York: Hill and Wang.” street vendors and the homeless. space. cohesive public discourse once thrived. Press. In fact the meanings of concepts such as public. competing “counter-publics. 1989). Today. and revealing new political arenas for democratic action. “Introduction. the desire for fixed categories of time and space. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge. where. The Fall of Public Man (New York: Vintage Books.” and Mike Davis. many discussions of the public sphere and public space are dominated by a narrative of loss. the struggles of two “counter-publics. 1992). By eliminating the insistence on unity. ed. and the intrusion of the state into private life. the coffeehouses of early modern Paris and London.T. and the rigid concepts of public and private that underlie these narratives of loss. From the political philosopher Jurgen Habermas’s description of a public sphere overwhelmed by consumerism. In Los Angeles. I argue that this perceived loss is primarily perceptual. to Richard Sennett’s lament for the “fall of public man.I. 271 1 Jurgen Habermas.

and virtuous public debate. often structured around workplace or ethnic identities. 3 Ibid.and twentieth-century America. “A Glittery Bit of Urban Make-believe. Here social and economic inequalities are temporarily put aside in the interest of determining a “common good. Working-class men also founded their own public organizations. Habermas’s account of “the liberal mode of the bourgeois public sphere” links its emergence in early modern Europe with the development of nation-states in which democracy was realized through universal rights and electoral politics. for example. middle-class women organized themselves into a variety of exclusively female voluntary organizations that undertook philanthropic and reform activities based on private ideals of domesticity and motherhood. pp. 4–6.. and workers’ concerns were presumed to be economic and thus excluded as self-interested.4 Recent revisionist history has contradicted this account.” Los Angeles Times. 4 David Wharton.” Similarly. 1994: 10. This version of the history of the public sphere emphasizes unity and equality as ideal conditions. 1993) pp.” Los Angeles Times.3 she questions many of its underlying assumptions. “Dream Street. and political organizations. In nineteenth. In her important article. the requirements for rational deliberation and a rhetoric of disinterest privileged middle-class and masculine modes of public speech and behavior by defining them as universal norms. and riots. If we broaden the definition of public from a singular entity to include these “counterpublics” a very different picture of the public sphere is revealed. “Rethinking the Public Sphere. The Phantom Public Sphere (Minneapolis. and created through competing interests and violent demands as much as by reasoned debate. 31. Less privileged women found access to public life through work and public roles that addressed both domestic and economic issues. strikes. Women’s rights were presumed to be private and therefore part of the domestic sphere. and Charles Jencks. the modern bourgeois public sphere began by excluding women and workers. non bourgeois publics also emerged. “A Walk on the Mild Side.” in Bruce Robbins.” Nancy Fraser identifies some significant theoretical and political limitations contained in the argument about these disappearances of the public sphere. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. 46–51. producing competing definitions and spheres of public activity in a multiplicity of public arenas. In Athens. The public sphere is depicted as a “space of democracy” that all citizens have the right to inhabit and where all the public discourse takes place. Leon Whiteson. rather than unity.” Los Angeles Times. Heteropolis (London: Academy Editions. Oct. 1993: B17. 1993: K1. However. one based on contestation.. like the often-cited ideal of Athenian democracy and the agora. ed.MARGARET CRAWFORD 2 Nancy Fraser. May 27. as well as struggles over issues such as 272 . such as the unions. July 18. Valley Edition. MN: University of Minnesota Press. lodges. but in practice this excluded the majority of the population— women and slaves—who were not “citizens.” Discussion about matters of common interests is achieved through rational. disinterested.2 While acknowledging the importance of Habermas’s influential concept of the public sphere as an arena of discursive relations conceptually independent of both state and the economy. this model is structured around significant exclusions. access was theoretically open to all citizens. Moreover. Demonstrations. Norman Klein. 1993). demonstrating that non liberal.

In contrast. and the redefinition of public and private be extended and applied to the physical realm of public space without losing their connection with larger issues of democracy and citizenship? First of all. with democracy guaranteed by the electoral and juridical institutions of the state. addressing issues and concerns dealt with through political debate and electoral politics framed within clear categories of discourse. arenas where multiple publics with inevitably competing concerns struggle and where conflict takes many forms. the multiple and 273 . and workers have historically not only defended established civil rights. Feminist activists have attempted to create an alternative domestic sphere to the family by creating shelters and other communal living arrangements for battered women. contestation. counterpublics of women. These constantly changing demands continually redraw the boundaries between public and private. Fraser instead argues that democracy itself is a complex and contested idea that can assume a multiplicity of meanings and forms. These often violate the strict lines between public and private on which the liberal bourgeois concept of the public sphere insists. the religious right is attempting to transform abortion from a private decision about one’s own body into a public act regulated by civil law. On the other side. to mobilize public opinion. they suggest that no single physical space can represent a completely inclusive “space of democracy. While pursuing conventional remediation through legal or legislative means and attempting. propose alternative public spheres. immigrants. RETHINKING PUBLIC SPACE How can Fraser’s ideas of multiple publics. but also demanded new rights based on differentiated roles originating in the domestic or economic spheres. Thus. the physical spaces often idealized by architects—the agora. the piazza. through public debate. public citizenship is primarily defined in relation to the state. or the town square—were similarly constituted by exclusion.” Like Habermas’s idealized bourgeois public sphere. feminists are attempting to transform domestic violence from a matter of strictly private or domestic concern. dealt with within the family or through specialized institutions of family law or social work. Two current efforts to re-define public and private behavior demonstrate both the intensity and the complexity of these struggles. into a matter of public concern and legal control. In the bourgeois public sphere. both groups also adopt less conventional methods that further blur the line between public and private. This assumes a liberal notion of citizenship based on abstract universal liberties. On one side.CONTESTING THE PUBLIC REALM temperance or suffrage. Antiabortion demonstrators have abandoned rational discourse in favor of direct action and civil disobedience. instead of a single “public” occupying an exemplary public space. the forum.

May 11. it is usually unoccupied. except for a few hours at lunch time. these public spaces are constantly changing. Burning All Illusions.” Los Angeles Times. The public activities that occur here suggest that urban politics and urban space can be restructured from the bottom up as well as from the top down. To many architectural and urban critics. which simply reproduce the existing ideology. Although still physically recognizable as a traditional public square. Citywalk’s success demonstrates the total absorption of public life by private enterprise. often sites of struggle and contestation. The civil unrest of April 1992. Most critics agree that the city’s low density development and wide-spread dependence on the automobile have eliminated street life and public interaction. and heavily policed spaces. These events unleashed a complex outpouring of public concerns. involving a number of 274 .. this complex of movie theaters. and Universal Studios. Fraser’s redefined public sphere allows us to identify other sites of public expression that propose an alternative conception of public space. shops. Unlike normative public spaces. and its emptiness visibly demonstrates the city’s impoverished public life.A. In contrast. The narrative of lost public space presents Los Angeles as particularly compelling evidence for the disappearance of public life. an explosion of multiple and competing demands (some highly specific. creating and using spaces that are partial and selective. as users reorganize and reinterpret physical space. has failed to reinstate its public function. owes as much to its crime-free image as to its architectural spectacle. can be interpreted as a spontaneous and undefined moment of public expression. For example.” Los Angeles Times. The management of this privately owned space has the right to exclude anyone it deems undesirable. “In L. May 11. has lost any public meaning. Pershing Square. counterpublics that Fraser identifies necessarily produce multiple sites of public expression. historically the central focus of the downtown business district. others barely articulated) on the streets and sidewalks of Los Angeles.C. “The Path to Fury. Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta’s recent redesign. six dollar parking fee. the sidewalks of Citywalk are always jammed with people. a collage of Los Angeles’s most attractive urban elements supervised by mall designer Jon Jerde. over the last thirty years. Rather than being fixed in time and space. Citywalk’s popular appeal. Los Angeles. responsive to limited segments of the population and to a limited number of the multiple public roles individuals play in urban society. for example. plazas. and restaurants was designed as a simulation of a public street. bankrupt. these spaces. Operated by M. 1992: 743. Designed by Ricardo Legorreta. 5 Frank Clifford.A. 1992: T1–10. and Mike Davis.” The Nation. June 1. featuring brightly colored walkways. “Rich–Poor Gulf Widens in State. The city’s traditional public spaces support the argument that public space and public life in the city are either commodified.MARGARET CRAWFORD Pershing Square. and seating areas above underground parking and a subway station. however. help to overturn it. or nonexistent. in addition to those groups of the public already discouraged by its suburban location.5 However. 1992: A1.

parks. Arenas for struggle over the meaning of social participation. sidewalks. and the homeless. mostly recent immigrants. their informal commerce supplements income. streets. parking lots. The riot also pitted immigrants against one another. this constituted a denial of fundamental rights of citizenship. Korean-owned stores were the focus of much of the burning and looting. Streets. 74 percent of damaged buildings were retail stores and restaurants. have become sites where public debates about the meaning of democracy. vacant lots. 51 percent were Hispanic. Despite public perception. Without claiming that they represent a totality of public space.” attacked the inadequacy of urban politics to redress the juridical inequality demonstrated by the Rodney King and Latasha Harlins verdicts. Existing on the margins of the formal economy. Briefly. Looking around the city. To many. serving as targets for pent-up frustration about the lack of economic self-determination in low-income neighborhoods. swap meets. these new public spaces are continually in flux. Although all types of street vendors openly occupy space all 275 . sidewalks. rather than constituting an occupation. allowing them to avoid public responsibility to more specifically defined ethnic and social groups. they protested their economic exclusion and political and social disenfranchisement. many of whom called the uprising the “justice riots. Thirty-four percent of those arrested were black. the poor. The riots also dramatized economic issues: poverty and the lack of jobs. The violent dissatisfaction revealed by the unrest makes it imperative to look more closely at the lived experience of different groups in the riot areas and to acknowledge their use of everyday space as a site of public discourse.CONTESTING THE PUBLIC REALM different ethnic and social groups. or else supports only the most marginal of existences. Liberal concepts of universally defined civil rights failed to address the visible racism of the police department and the court system. Also economically marginalized and exploited. reclaimed by immigrant groups. exacerbated by the recession and the long-term effects of deindustrialization. Los Angeles’s streets. STREET VENDORS No longer deserted. and vacant lots are increasingly populated by street vendors. producing constantly changing meanings. we can discover innumerable places where new social and economic practices re-appropriate and restructure urban space. This was expressed through highly selective patterns of looting and burning that largely spared residences while attacking commercial property. African-Americans. sidewalks. the riots were multicultural. and the public assertion of identity are acted out on a daily basis. the nature of economic participation. in their manifold forms these public activities collectively construct and reveal an alternative logic of public life. and other places of the city. and mini-malls became sites of protest and rage: new zones of public expression.

their products represent both hobbies and an income supplement. or nuts that they have prepared or packaged in their own kitchens. Other vendors recently demonstrated against police harassment. Aug. many of whom are undocumented. over the city. 2. For example. Replicating the domestic order of the surrounding neighborhoods and expanding the private roles of grandparents into the public realm. a parking lot between a gas station and a supermarket has become a scene of intense. and household production. the ubiquitous orange vendors. The organization of Vendadores Ambulates represents the interests of more than eight hundred vendors to the city government. Dramas of immigration are played out daily on the streets of Los Angeles. a van parks in the lot. providing a social magnet for neighborhood men who pass by. setting up tables to sell homemade crafts and gifts. Defending the right to sell on the street has become a political issue to many immigrant vendors.” Los Angeles Times. In other parts of the city. two local men who are now retired. selling tropical fruits. their vending carts provide an alternative to sweatshop labor and may eventually lead to a stall at a swap meet or even a small store. are almost always undocumented immigrants. offering car detailing services. On weekends. vending takes different forms. female vendors extend the domestic economy into urban space. social and commercial activity. not criminals). 1994: B3. increasingly exposing to the consciousness of the city stories both heroic and horrifying. Street vending constitutes a complex and diverse economy of microcommerce. set out chairs. working on street dividers all over the city. other immigrants use vending as a means of economic mobility. “Vendors Protest against LAPD. Along streets in the Zona Centroamericana. In Baldwin Hills. In the process of pursuing their trade. street vending remains illegal. vendors blur established understandings of public and private in complex and paradoxical ways. they sell the fruit the coyotes supply to pay off the cost of their illegal crossing. On holidays and weekends.6 Defending their livelihood. For many self-employed vendors. chanting.MARGARET CRAWFORD 6 Robert Lopez. recycling. The operators. no criminales” (We are vendors. The innumerable variety of vendors publicly articulates the multiple social and economic narratives of urban life in Los Angeles. Mostly grandmothers who work at home. Current discussions about centralizing vendors in designated locations acknowledge the existing reality of widespread vending but attempt to restrict one of the main advantages of vending: its flexibility to respond to changes in activity and demand. selling “home-cooked” ribs and links. their local activities provide a focus for the 276 . therefore doubly illegal. tamales. a group of middle-aged women joins them. “Somos vendedores. if fluctuating. vendors are becoming a political as well as an economic presence in the city. On most days. a portable barbecue is set up nearby. a middle-class African-American neighborhood. wearing aprons. Lined up along sidewalks. Working for the “coyotes” who brought them across the border.

Instead. see Jennifer Wolch and Michael Dear. they assert their identities as unique individuals in need of 277 7 For an excellent overview of homelessness in Los Angeles. Their private use of public space tests democracy’s promise of universal access in a very literal fashion. minimal boundaries exist between public space and the spheres of domestic and economic life. such as bedrooms. they claim the space necessary for their own personal and economic survival. It is often impossible for them to secure domestic privileges that are taken for granted. the activities in this parking lot strengthen the neighborhood while they visibly represent its culture to outsiders. public spaces become their primary venue for seeking work and acquiring money. homeless men and women claim their rights to be economic actors.7 Using cardboard signs to explain their circumstances. or collecting and reselling refuse or castoffs. Although most homeless people work. . and the lawns of public buildings. Simultaneously local and public. THE HOMELESS No group challenges the limits of the concept of public more than the homeless. Hollywood. or extreme poverty. Waiting for day-labor jobs. streets and sidewalks also function as important economic spaces. into a generic category. CA: Jossey-Bass. For many homeless people. sidewalks. recycling cans and bottles. such as joblessness.CONTESTING THE PUBLIC REALM Clothes for sale. Malign Neglect: Homelessness in an American City (San Francisco. posting bills. For the homeless. street-side garage sale. closets. Occupying parks. This forces them to live at least part of their private lives on the street and in other public places. 1993). disability. Even the designated social category of homelessness can be seen as a method of removing a group of people from the larger collectivity of the public by collapsing various life situations. they do not earn enough money to afford shelter. and private bathrooms. community that is also accessible to anyone driving by. streets.

9. far more intense struggles over public space are taking place in Santa Monica. Even panhandling can be understood as an economic transaction. Intent on criminalizing the daily activities of the homeless. they are stripped of “the right to have rights. “Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy.” In Santa Monica. the homeless are not just evicted from public parks.m. with some parents demanding that homeless people be evicted from parks with playgrounds and sports facilities. based on official residence. 8 Nancy Hill-Holzman. the right to public space has become conditional. 1991: J1. June 10. “Spaces of Insurgent Citizenship. and Jeff Kramer. “Brother. Baldwin Heights. Even in daytime. Defined as undesirables. Nov.8. was explicitly designed to repel the homeless. July 11. Keep Your Dime.MARGARET CRAWFORD Mother’s Day on La Brea Avenue. the city closed all parks from midnight to 6 a. 1993: B1. Other antihomeless measures include eliminating food programs in city parks and preventing the expansion of social service agencies.” Los Angeles Times. For these people. with its hard surfaces and intense security.10 Yet even these minimal social and economic rights are under attack. the definition of a “public” place has become a space without homeless people. to be distributed to approved social service agencies. or adherence to a set of values that defines “proper” use. “A Lightning Rod for Anger over Homeless. 10 James Holston. “City Wants to Shut Palisades Park at Night. they have initiated a campaign to urge pedestrians not to give money directly to panhandlers but instead to put donations into a bronze dolphin. 10. Local merchants are also attempting to eradicate panhandling. the presence of homeless people in city parks has become a point of tension.” Los Angeles Times. Nancy HillHolzman. appearance. a job or money. 1992: J1. 278 . If Pershing Square. the city council is incrementally redefining the nature of public space while gradually expelling the homeless from the city. After a ban on sleeping in public parks proved unenforceable.” Los Angeles Times. 9 Rosalyn Deutsche.” Planning Theory 13 (Summer 1995): 30–50. Homelessness is perhaps the ultimate determination of citizenship. encouraging individuals to evaluate requests for a certain amount of money or a specific need on the basis of their own judgment or financial situation. Los Angeles.” Social Text 33 (Fall 1992): 37–39.

cultures. and they are based on social demands that are not constitutionally defined but that people increasingly perceive as entitlements of citizenship. The homeless and the street vendors. and contestation. multiplicity. raises complex political questions about the meaning of economic participation and citizenship in our cities. rather than constituting the failure of public space. demanding access to public space. and suburban enclaves. privatization.” These emergent sites of citizenship accompany the processes of change that are transforming societies locally and worldwide. residents with new histories. In cities such as Los Angeles. In the course of expressing the specific needs of everyday life. they concern people largely excluded from the resources of the state. Their urban experiences. are blurring. and other economic changes increase social reterritorialization. reshape cities like Los Angeles. they also engender exclusion and violent reaction. the private and the public. they dramatize the large-scale public issues of economic change and migration. Change. these multiple experiences increasingly define a new basis for understanding citizenship. migration. are just two of many social groups articulating new demands. Holston warns that. By recognizing these struggles as the germ of an 279 . may in fact define its very nature. The emergence of these new public spaces and activities in Los Angeles. As new and more complex kinds of ethnic diversity come to dominate the city. and fortification. Here differences between the domestic and the economic. The dominant classes have met the advances of these new citizens with new strategies of segregation. industrial restructuring. not yet fully comprehensible. which in turn can lead to new social movements that challenge existing formulations of democracy. The public sites where such struggles occur serve as evidence of an emerging order. and demands inevitably disrupt the normative categories of social life and urban space. These rights emerge from the social dramas acted out in the new collective and personal spaces of the city. while the city is an arena for the self-creation of these new citizens. Just as the local and the urban appear as crucial sites for articulating new social identities. based on the needs of lived experience outside of the normative and institutional definitions of the state and its legal codes. the focus of their struggle to redefine the conditions of belonging to society. When they appear in the city. shaped by lived experience more than built space. Expanding the definition of urban political activity to include these new social bases can produce new forms of self-rule.CONTESTING THE PUBLIC REALM NEW FORMS OF INSURGENT CITIZENSHIP These struggles define what anthropologist James Holston has called “spaces of insurgent citizenship. it is also a war zone. The war zone includes gang-devastated neighborhoods. The demands of the urban poor for “rights to the city” and of women and ethnic and racial minorities to “rights to difference” constitute new kinds of rights. corporate fortresses.

49. Vol. 280 . This essay was originally published in the Journal of Architectural Education. we can begin to frame a new discourse of public space—one no longer preoccupied with loss.MARGARET CRAWFORD alternative development of democracy. No. 1 (September 1995). but filled with possibilities.

. • If the formal order of historic space is based on singular. establishing the city as a unique laboratory for the evolution of urban open space. it is based on the realization of a continuing misfit between contemporary culture. The characteristics of the phenomenon are represented by a series of challenging new parks and plazas. and constitute examples of what can be termed a type of “action space. action space tends to be highly directive and programmed.” which can be defined by its polarization from earlier spatial models: • If the perception of historic space is dependent on defined limits distinguishing clearly delineated voids. utilizing props that specify particular patterns of use and cognition. private basis. public setting which is both a product and generator of social agreement. geometrically derived shapes conceived as indivisible wholes. its order is perceived through the nature of contained human activity.ACTION SPACE RICHARD SCHERR (1996) THE PUBLIC REALM Over the last two decades there has occurred a transformation in the design of urban public space. action space is conceived independently from the design of its peripheral edge. 281 1 The inspiration for this article largely comes out of exposure to Barcelona’s program of urban spaces and public art. and changes incrementally over time. or zones whose order is achieved through the sequencing of experience.1 These plazas diverge significantly from traditional public spaces. • If historic space establishes a collective. • If historic space tends to be permanent. with its evolving tendencies towards displacement. action space can have irregular limits determined by circumstance. privatization. Paris. • If historic space tends to be neutral and passive. allowing the user to initiate activities or experiences with minimal constraints. which has resulted in over 200 new parks and 50 site specific works since 1980. action space can be conceived as fragments. It is suggested that the development of this new type of space should be seen as more than simply another formal trend. the most important of which have resulted from urban development programs carried out in Barcelona. and developed in conjunction with the design of surrounding buildings. rather than formal composition. and New York. but is engaged on an individual. resulting in varied possibilities for behavior and personal cognition. action space is also public. marking a radical shift from its historical roots. More fundamentally.

and the making of urban spaces whose formal criteria continued to be based on static.A. the qualities of which are based more on the active. Action space is an expression of 21st century culture. 7–24. The more recent manifestations of action space constitute a corrective rupture with the precepts of 19th century space. formal qualities of the space itself. and other manifestations of the “PostModern” city. pp. and the introduction of large-scale. New York. representing a product of market conditions and opportunity rather than a vision of modern culture. described by step-by-step formula and diagrams that were easily adapted to other contexts. 3 George R. Rector Place in Battery Park City. formal principles that were deduced from a reexamination of the historic city. Votive Church Plaza. “drawing room” settings more in keeping with cultural and esthetic sensibilities of earlier historic periods. Recent interventions in the modern city that are based in programmed events. the plan is straight-jacketed within a most conservative. Yet appearing more than two decades after Cubism. 1978). and later. Collins. designed in 1931. motion. performance. their sources have less to do with the history of urban space. directed experience of the user rather than the self-referential. Colin Rowe and other collaborators in the development of “Contextualism. Christiane C. and more with the influences of cultural and aesthetic shifts that have evolved throughout the 20th century.2 One of the reasons that historic spatial models continued to be persuasive well into the modern period was the publication in 1889 of Camillo Sitte’s City Planning According to Artistic Principles. The failure of earlier modern public spaces is evidenced by one of the greatest urban designs of our age. 1986). the central mall and plaza of New York’s Rockefeller Center. a shift from the politics of collective order to the fragmented. influencing the work of Cullen Davis and the British Townscape movement. generating a defining statement of the modern metropolis. Sitte’s work was rediscovered by modern planners after the publication of the 1945 English edition. rigidly framed. In this treatise.C. Camillo Sitte: The Birth of Modern City Planning (Rizzoli. as evidenced in the design of public spaces such as Pioneer Square in Seattle. private aspirations of the individual. Two sources 282 . the art of designing space is based on succinct. 2 Alan Balfour.RICHARD SCHERR Camino Sitte. such notions as spatial enclosure. New York. Vienna. a new world order. much of the work of Leon and Robert Krier. The aspirations and symbolism of the project were of the new age of communications. site specific sculpture suggest another type of space. axial space functioning as little more than a viewing stage to the then R. Collins. axiality. and simultaneous frames of reference. 19th century Beaux-Arts order—a centralized. Building and spatial relief from the overall project density. After the proliferation of Modernist urban experiments of the 1920s and 1930s based on Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse. pp. the culture of personal control.”3 The principles derived from this work continued to play a role in the redevelopment of the city well into the 1980s. 126–127. Rockefeller Center: Architecture as Theater (McGrawHill. and perspectival order proved to be an attractive alternative.

. the action and movement continually shifts.. vary in political agenda. 4 Ernst Eichhorn et al. and indeed. Sometimes. but rather. have been staged.ACTION SPACE in particular have received little critical attention: One can be traced to the realization of the so-called “spectacle. the planned public display and programming of urban space as a field of human activity. an “instant city” that can never be duplicated: at the gathering of 500.C. and more on the activity within the setting to create a specific sense of place. 130 antiaircraft searchlights spaced at intervals of 40 feet around the stadium are turned on. THE URBAN SPECTACLE The nature of the spectacle.4 Mass gatherings and marches do not end with Nuremberg. the 1970 anti-war demonstrations on the New Haven Green. with 70. totally unlike any other ever conceived in history. sending vertical shafts of lights 6–8 kilometers into the sky. also: Albert Speer. While sometimes circumstantially contained within spatial boundaries. In 1936.” or programmed event. Germany. used to promulgate a political and cultural agenda beyond the bounds of known civilization. exercise drills. as a generator of modern space. 1936. 200. and elsewhere. While there exist many examples throughout the 20th century. one of the most memorable took place in Nuremberg.000 283 Albert Speer. depends less on the physical attributes of the defined setting. 59. consider the definitive spectacle taking place in a rural setting. the civil rights marches in the Mall in Washington. Nuremberg Rally.000 spectators in the stands. participants flow between interior and exterior spaces. part of a week-long series of speeches. and are absorbed into the landscape and out into the streets beyond. as described by Speer. and parades to promote policies of anti-bolshevism and National Socialist unity. On the evening of the fifth day. Finally. it can be argued that some of the greatest urban designs in this century were not permanent spaces within fixed physical boundaries. 1992). bringing an element of surrealistic surprise to the mirage. have continued as an enduring feature of 20th century culture. p. The 1968 student uprisings in Paris. only several years after the completion of the Beaux-Arts plan for Rockefeller Center. Only at the moment that Hitler’s car enters the stadium.000 flags march into the stadium in darkness. Kulissen der Gewalt: Das Reichsparteitagsgelände in Nürnberg (Heinrich Hugendubel Verlag.” The stadium is transformed into an otherworldly space of potentially infinite limits. “a cloud moved through this wreath of lights. D. Inside the Third Reich (Macmillan Co. Albert Speer designed a “cathedral of light” to contain the Nuremberg Party Rally. temporary events of unparalleled focus and intensity. but share similar characteristics. New York. mostly centered within a series of investigations which were part of the Minimal and Performance Art movements of the 1960s and 1970s. 1. the other is derived from the influences of the development of 20th century art.. 1970). .000 participants holding 25. In fact. marches. Munich. finally merging together into an overall glow.200 floodlights are focused on the main stage of the Zeppelinfeld.

fixed points of reference.P. The other sources for the new urban space come out of the development of art and film during the 20th century. either by removing work from the gallery setting and inserting it into the outside world. singular forms into dissociated fragments layered.. modern space suggests a shift towards a non-centralized. Dutton & Co. 6. six concrete planes are vertically positioned in a field related to the slope. generating a form of “marginal” space. one of the movement’s most prominent sculptors. 1968). Minimalism. p. New York. no. a city whose only fabric is human presence. and Earth Art all tended to break down traditional relationships between the art work and the observer.5 For instance. Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (E. In this work and many others from the period. New York. . a community of a half million private desires. and multiple events articulated within an interrupted. 20TH CENTURY ART 5 Perhaps the seminal statement of the basic characteristics of Minimal Art comes from the writings of Robert Morris. defined by surrounding buildings. 1978). Performance Art. that would define the cognitive experience of the observer. 7 Michael Fried. more ambiguously interactive with surrounding conditions. “Notes on Sculpture. peripheral vision.. October. in a work such as Richard Serra’s “Shift” of 1970–72. or events in external settings. or focusing not so much on the object itself but on the perceived space between the work and the observer. the experience alone is what matters. The invention of Cubism and montage techniques in filmmaking fundamentally shifted traditional notions of perspectival space. What mainly sets the stage for the radically shifted role and form of recent public space comes out of the art investigations of the 1960s and 1970s. p.RICHARD SCHERR youth in 1969 at the Woodstock concert at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel. the performance and event depended less on the assigned performers and more on the directed. 6 Roald Nasgaard. ed.”6 The selfimportance of the object has been supplanted by the experience of the object—“you just have to experience it . artists programmed activities. in which each plane establishes a horizontal datum within a fluctuating topography. and bounded. 2. “Art and Objecthood” in Gregory Battcock. The walled limits of space have all but disappeared. If traditional urban space is dependent on being perceived as a clearly conceived focal center through a tightly bounded gestalt. Ontario. 1966). blurring the distinction between the observers and the observed. and contribute little to the experience—the notion of place has been achieved purely by a program of activity. shared presence of the audience. “the character of sculpture has been modified from concentration in a discrete thing to expansion across a behavioral space in which the symbiotic relationship of sculpture and viewer becomes the real object of experience. Structures for Behaviour (Art Gallery of Ontario. Some of the 284 . 1966 and 5. February. or collaged within an open field.” Art Forum (4.”7 In other cases. . Conceptualism. no. shifting points of reference. 131. During this period of intense activity along a number of fronts. the viewer has to traverse over the whole field from one plane to another to perceive the overall work. See: Robert Morris. non-linear flow of time. 14. all participants were compressed into a bowled field.

unrehearsed. he doesn’t need me—subjective relationship. I can follow a person—street as “promising line of development. get into the middle of things (I’m distributed over a dimensional domain)—out in space—out of time (my time and space are taken up into a large system. Lilian Pfaff.” homeless. Adjunctive relationship—I add myself to another person—I let my control be taken away—I’m dependent on the other person—I need him. the space collapses into abstract locations. insignificant and devoid of meaning. and played out on an individual basis.)9 In this piece.” Avalanche (Fall. . whereby action is performed within uniform. or the collective spectacles described above. p. directed activity that takes place within the space. an early performance artist. I was thinking in terms like these: I need a scheme.8 One example is his “Following Piece” presented at the Architectural League in 1969: Daily scheme: choosing a person at random.ACTION SPACE Vito Acconci. when it’s over. or rules of behavior. 9 Vito Acconci. within 285 8 Acconci has been creating since the late 1980s large-scaled interior and exterior interventions in cities that perform as art. I have to find someone to cling to. Jean-Claude Massera. following him wherever he goes. The activity takes on a different nature from theater. etc. I can follow a scheme. the interaction between activities and participants is distinctly private—the action is unpredictable. A way to get around. 31. but rather by some planned. “Following Piece” 1969–71. the notion of “place” is determined not by fixed boundaries. agreed upon systems. any location. The perception of space only acquires significance through its cognitive occupation—the space exists as long as the work goes on. Vito Hannibal Acconci Studio (Barcelona: Actar Editorial). See: Vito Acconci.). office. say. For Acconci. in the street. however long or far he travels (the activity ends when he enters a private place—his home. (Photo by permission of Vito Acconci. 2005. Christophe Wavelet. and function for human occupation. 1972).” “channeling of effort”—“on the street. “Following Piece.) seminal works of this period are the “Peopled Space” experiments from 1969–71 by Vito Acconci.

Federal Plaza. 98.” Art Forum (23. For the spectator of “Tilted Arc”. It is this demand for the viewer to be directed within a prescribed. and not ours. see: Clara Weyergraf-Serra and Martha Buskirk. fears. The issue was not that a work of art as “object” was placed in the space that could either be interpreted. . lower Manhattan. conceiving “a way to dislocate or alter the decorative function of the plaza and actively bring people into the sculpture’s context. change the nature of urban space was exemplified by Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc” project installed in Federal Plaza. . . or remain distant from public consciousness. what it means for vision to be invested with a purpose . “Tilted Arc.”10 Or. were compromised. as later interpreted by Rosalind Krauss: The kind of vector “Tilted Arc” explores is that of vision. The Destruction of Tilted Arc (M. Summer. MA. and unlimited possibilities. 286 11 “Tilted Arc Hearing. Serra allowed the public no choice. p. New York. as a form of resistance. specifically aligned to the cultural sensibilities and freedoms of the 20th century. if not subversively. These restrictions were clearly felt by the users of Federal Plaza. “ ‘Tilted Arc’: Enemy of the People?” Art in America (73. For documents from the public hearings and court proceedings. limited set of possibilities.RICHARD SCHERR Richard Serra. 92. forcing a response on the part of anyone coming within contact. limited how one could traverse the space.11 What “Tilted Arc” did was to specifically take away some of the participant’s options.I. poorly scaled space with little meaning or role other than serving as a decorative setting for the even less distinguished adjacent Federal Building. in 1981. that divided the space. 1990). it demanded that we interact on its terms. the freedom to move. the space was radically transformed in terms of the sculpture setting new terms of engagement. inserting a curved wall (not an object). . Cambridge. maps the path across the plaza that the spectator will take. non-directional field. More specifically. September.) 10 Robert Storr. and needed human occupation and context to become activated. 1985).T. 1985). or see within an unlimited. our choices.” 1981. a private world of desires. Once the sculpture was installed. The plaza was an undistinguished. (Photo by the author. determined what one could see and not see. 120 feet long and 12 feet high. this sculpture is constantly mapping a kind of projectile of the gaze that starts at one end of Federal Plaza and . The power of art to radically. Press. p. . and ultimately became the instigator of the public’s outcry for its removal.

was modeled after Gramercy Park. or expose an additional layer of content. densely landscaped. is to be viewed from apartments above. with every part designating a particular pattern of use. and artist (Mary Miss). and even an area where the platform surface of the South Cove. We are exposed to traces of the waterfront’s history. an observation structure that recalls the crown of the Statue of Liberty. and open lawn. and is only minimally defined by a built edge. flowered gardens.ACTION SPACE rather than be placed in a position to freely act on one’s own terms. designed through a collaboration of an architect (Stanton Eckstut). isolated piers. Battery Park City. is another matter entirely. proceed up steps to a platform overlook. The park sits in the South Residential District parallel to the river. Every detail of the project seems to have been designed to force a response. and then forces you to retrace your steps. All of the action takes place within. One park. The South Cove. and built within a quarter mile of one another. New York. an arched bridge. landscape architect (Susan Child). which dead-ends. initiate a bodily action. pleasant. One is directed to move along straight paths. and the jetty’s disintegrated form to suggest the typical pier forms along Manhattan that are gradually decaying. PUBLIC URBAN SPACE The differences between historic public space and the nature of action space are made graphic when comparing two parks within Battery Park City. The space serves to provide an open relief from the dense surrounding development. or even continue around a broken jetty-like extension into the river. and formally organized along a longitudinal axis extended from the Hudson River. curving paths. which presents a paradigmatic shift in the formation of urban space. Nothing much goes on in the space itself—the obligatory benches. both of which were designed almost concurrently (in the early 1980s). an “English square” concept surrounded by built edges that define a regular trapezoidal solid. (Photo by author. or cognition. Rector Place.) 287 . or conversely. but hardly stimulating. Manhattan. establishing a setting that enhances the view to adjacent buildings. a natural oasis in contrast to built structures.

together these scenes are each given a particular role to impart information. around which the park is designed.” Art in America (Vol. and induce a directed dialogue with a captured observer. action is determined by particular sequences and landscaped forms. we must act.” in Hannah Arendt. which invites the spectator to contemplation. action space can be compared to film. Brace & World. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. until the information is absorbed. Press. (Photo by the author. Architecture and Disjunction (M. The varied components deny any notion of compositional unity. whose controlled passage of continuous events interrupts free association and reflection. so that one can understand that the whole affair is really an artificial construction built over water. or turn one’s attention away. follow a prescribed narrative. exposing the structure below.12 Many of the new spaces planned in Barcelona over the last decade can be characterized as action spaces. in one form or the other. New York. removing all critical distance between viewer and perceived space. and the event is over. In other cases. Most of them incorporate public art. or theme. interacting with a series of props and loaded images. A further development of Benjamin’s work. film. relaxation. acknowledge. and the implications of program relative to space. “Public Art and the Remaking of Barcelona. Cambridge.) 288 . Each component establishes an independent “quotation” that is perceptually assembled in a linear sequence. individuality. 1994). completely “distracted” by spatial circumstance. which provides possibilities of directing a physical response to its presence (as in “Tilted Arc”). The participant is held captive. 79. with its sublime landscape and open fields that inspire reflection. 1991). the action completed. Illuminations (Harcourt.RICHARD SCHERR 12 These and other insights relative to painting.I. If the perception of the historic garden can be said to be analogous to painting. unpredicted possibilities. February. ed.” from Bernard Tschumi. learn. 1968). linearly connected on a path allowing little chance to veer off the intended sequence. The South Cove represents a transformation of designed space into the realm of staged “event. and move on within a highly specified context. Here. and the theme is derived from a dialogue between new design forms versus traces of the context which are left to co-exist and interact with the new interventions. or establishes the conceptual framework.” One enters into a form of private theater.. park has been removed. can be found in “Spaces and Events. This is a radically different scene from the historic garden. and free associations into unlimited.. Inc. with similar characteristics to those defined above. MA. and perception are discussed in Walter Benjamin. Barcelona.T.13 Parc du Clot. 13 Garry Apgar.

in terms of literal physical movement as well as cognitive awareness of its history and transformation. the work in question exists for him alone. The lack of traditional formal resolution actually lets the park be more integrated into the context and be absorbed by the neighborhood. As in many of the recent Barcelona parks. it’s what’s inside that counts. leading to another bridge crossing a sunken paved play area. and allowing observation of the events below. programmed for action. and not the object itself. connecting various activities.”14 This critical shift in perception. . industrial remnants. participate. etc. interact. and the direction. are orchestrated to put the viewer into a precisely staged series of perceptions. which crosses the park diagonally. The goal is the limitation of certain possibilities. or non-involvement. . bridges. and respond—one must only go along and experience the possibilities—passivity. 140. the space was not conceived in the context of new surrounding development. or of one’s everyday interaction with the environment at large. The essence of Parc du Clot is the perception of space through directed action. or performance. cit. has long been a critical arena for perception and meaning in art. most of which have been removed. but the design of the experience itself. is a particularly strong example of the latter. which is sponsored. which sends an extended curtain stream of water into an adjacent pool. or proportioned. All parts of this space are charged. it has been waiting for him. are transformed into a kind of aqueduct along one edge. 289 14 Michael Fried. it doesn’t seem to be particularly well defined. and while the space is somewhat contained by surrounding building walls. or activated by the setting. p. of others. All of the remaining choices lead to individual action. is incomplete without him. The act of design is not so much the arrangement of forms as an autonomous construct. has now become a central condition that shapes our relationship to public space. the work [space] depends on the beholder. if they exist at all. with the audience reduced to the scale of an individual. op. designed by Dani Freixes and Vicente Miranda in 1988. whether of sculpture. Both bridges direct the routing of residents through the park. in which all the props—the paths. Its overall form is irregular. relationships to the buildings are circumstantial. . But it hardly matters—as in the case of South Cove. from an independent form within its own gallery setting to form completely depended on the shared space of the viewer.ACTION SPACE The Parc du Clot. The park was originally the site of a series of large brick factories. or programming. even if he is not actually alone with the work [or in the space] at the time . The experience is a form of theater. . gardens. is simply no longer an option. while some wall fragments remain as a reminder of the past. and in one case. These ruins now provide unique settings for activities. . This wall is then cut by a new bridge.. placed “within a situation that he experiences as his . but was carved out of an existing context. the inducement to move. Such a relationship between the viewer and the object(s) within the space.

16 The influence of earlier garden typologies and city form has been documented extensively. Paris. The success of the new urban space is measured not so much from the quality of its design as a physical artifact or independent setting. which continues to require critical reassessment and renewal. 290 . and mark a decisive break with earlier models which have proved to be most resistant to change and transformation. one of the most convincing explorations remains the work found in: Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter. 175–177.16 possibly the characteristics of these new urban spaces can lead to more persuasive possibilities for redefining the late 20th century city. Press. pp. an excellent description can be found in: Bernard Tschumi. Cambridge.15 and elsewhere are the result of shifting paradigms in art and culture throughout the 20th century. Most importantly. Cingramme Folie: Le Parc De La Villette (Princeton Architectural Press. and the perceptual response of the participant.T.I. 1978). New York. the richness and satisfaction of the induced action. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 84th Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. 1996. but the quality of programmed event. Princeton. The recent urban plazas and parks in Barcelona. MA. Collage City (M.RICHARD SCHERR 15 Bernard Tschumi’s widely discussed La Villette park in northern Paris is clearly one of the primary models for the concept of action space. just as earlier landscape forms and spaces inspired parallel models of city form more charged and richly defined than anything the existing city has to offer. 1987).

being the realm of organized political action. Alexis de Tocqueville. so that even in educational establishments. . developers and special interest groups seek ways to allay the gap between suburban life and urbanity. The terms public and civic should in fact be in quotation marks. because of the changes in meaning wrought by so much interpretation. GAMBLE (2003) THE PUBLIC REALM The city used to be something that you get for free. Democracy in America This is not a narrative about the universal decline of the public realm. market force and policies based on control and consumption. The definition of public space is indeed a site of debate. effects of the market economy and through the withdrawal of the public sector and the kind of complimentary invasion of the private sector.1 As the contemporary city grows and designers. PBS commentator In our day it seems to me that civic spirit is inseparable from the exercise of political rights . The term public remains bracketed throughout this discussion. automobiles and pedestrians. I realize that the “decline” of public space was essentially classspecific nostalgia for a place that never existed on the terms so imagined. . sustained debate on the term public is essential. even in religious establishments and certainly in cultural establishments there is always this kind of commercial presence . the place 291 1 I was fortunate enough in graduate school to participate in Rosalyn Deutsche’s course on Public Space and am indebted to her for insight and debate related to the subject. ambiguous spaces? How are the boundaries between public and private inscribed? Public space is literally required in order for democratic society to exist by the Bill of Rights and Amendments to the Constitution. In what ways can public life manifest itself in an increasingly privatized world? Is public life now limited to residual. . ambiguous public space and the public realm. I do believe that we need public spaces that are free from private influence. .THE INSCRIPTION OF “PUBLIC” AND “CIVIC” REALMS IN THE CONTEMPORARY CITY MICHAEL E. . I cannot mourn the loss of something that has hardly ever existed in parts of Atlanta. policy makers. nor am I locked in a search for the once vital site of democracy or a unified public. Rem Koolhaas in an interview with Ray Suarez. which is expressed through shopping. and it enables the citizens to assemble in a kind of collective sense. to something that you have to pay for. It’s been a public space. the nature of the city has changed from something that is fundamentally free. especially by middle income suburbanites. but basically through the process. denaturalized.

“Action and speech create a space between the participants which can find its proper location almost anytime and anywhere. self-preservation and public dialogue. appearance—something that is being seen and heard by others as well as by ourselves. The question is where is it and how is it made manifest in suburbia. The Human Condition. this definition. darker. of free speech and freedom of assembly. 29.. for us. To Hannah Arendt. self-presentation. 23. The space of appearance is the world itself. 5 Ibid. . and where the activities connected with sheer survival are permitted to appear in public. privately maintained. GAMBLE 2 “no-longer-but-not-yet-their-own.”3 The space of appearance. which are now privately maintained and monitored through video surveillance and security. as we will see. is the other. to have no private place of one’s own meant to be no longer human. is “. the Private Public are all recent themes associated with the increased privatization of American public space. society is the form in which the fact of mutual dependence for the sake of life and nothing else assumes public significance. . in Atlanta’s newest park.. to Arendt.MICHAEL E. Pure public space should be democratic and responsive. hidden side of the public realm. 47. most parks and outdoor spaces are now privately maintained and monitored. Centennial Olympic. and a locus of public action. where men exist not merely like other living or inanimate things but make their appearance explicitly. as it is common to all of us and distinguished from our privately owned place in it. . consumer havens with little or no civic or public infrastructure. the space where I appear to others as others appear to me.”5 While Arendt’s definition of the public was representative of a hierarchical political system. can be problematic. “. Shopping Mall Urbanism. the private body that maintains the space prohibits some forms of public gathering and the expression of political opinion. p. she 292 . Why is the continued cultivation of the public realm important? Public space today is understood as a place in which a range of different individuals who don’t necessarily know each other can interact. p. urban retrofits and new public/private partnerships? Is the public realm now relegated to the temporary2 status described by Margaret Crawford in Everyday Urbanism? The Generic City. was essential in the formation of private identity. that constitutes reality. Perimeter Town Center and Atlantic Station are developer-driven. but because so many public spaces are now part of larger public/private partnerships and not essentially democratic. accessible to all groups. by her definition. In Atlanta. and was not essentially social.” p. . New developments in Atlanta such as Lindbergh City Center. The trend has even reached many of Atlanta’s sidewalks. Some would say that today the defense of public space is a radical project. Similarly. a subject that is now widely understood as the essence of Arendt’s position on political representation. p. 198. tolerance. Public life. For Arendt. 4 Ibid.”4 Privacy. It is the space of appearance in the widest sense of the word. and while to be political meant to attain the highest possibility of human existence. Simulated Urbanism. 3 Arendt. namely.

Unexpected and unplanned use of these places enables the specificity of the liminal urban terrain to become visible: “. Focused on public art discourse and working with Claude Lefort’s thesis6 stating that democratic power comes from the people and is located in the social. we lose our private place in it. rather than unity. de Certeau and more recently Nancy Fraser. Margaret Crawford.“PUBLIC” AND “CIVIC” REALMS IN THE CONTEMPORARY CITY articulates a clear vision of the significance of public space to society. responsive to limited segments of the 293 6 Lefort. and created through competing interests and violent demands as much as by reasoned debate. Eliminating conflict obscures the basis of democracy. the social order has no basis. See specifically the chapter on Politics and Human Rights. creating and using spaces that are partial and selective. The recognition of public space as the locus of conflict and the struggle for representation is an attempt to prevent the conversion of the public sphere into a private possession. “counter publics” and “subaltern counterpublics. Without a singular identity. . proposes an alternate reading of public space to that of Arendt’s. the privatization of the public realm is an attack on society. In her book Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics. The existence of democracy is based in the fact that the social is an open. drawing from the writings of Lefebvre. ‘public’ occupying and exemplary public space. through Fraser. the social has no unity and power. the search for “public” space has traditionally focused on an idyllic place. for the development of new social and spatial practices where new meanings are continuously being created because new users keep reinterpreting and reorganizing the place over and over again.” Crawford seeks locales. both public and private. What happens when everything becomes privately held? Like Arendt’s definition. This misconception of public space rises through the definition of democracy. Arendt’s urban epistemology evolves from the fact that without a visible public realm. With no central core of power. in essence.” Crawford dismisses the public as a single entity and defines a public sphere “based on contestation. making public space artificial. The Political Forms of Modern Society. . By introducing. but is structured by multiple relationships. it belongs to no one. incomplete entity. The security of a public/private division shelters the subject from public space. Deutsche further defines public space as the place where the meaning and unity of the social is negotiated. and extends Habermas’ concept related to “communicative action” and “dialogues” beyond systems of equal power. In essence. Individual and group identities are formed in public space and only become meaningful through sustained debate. Rosalyn Deutsche contends that conflict is a prerequisite for the existence and growth of public space. instead of a single. Like Aristotle’s. something that is often attempted in the name of democracy. the multiple and counter-publics that Fraser identifies necessarily produce multiple sites of public expression. and states that public space is possible only when society accepts that the social field doesn’t have an essential identity. . made possible by the elimination of conflict.

Deutsche’s in the contested. “How do we know it’s New Urbanism?” is a recent addition to the Congress of New Urbanism’s 294 . population and to a limited number of the multiple public roles individuals play in urban society. What is the nature of public and civic space in the contemporary city? Privatization makes public space. Whether implicit or explicit. we can begin to frame a new discourse of public space—one no longer preoccupied with loss. While Arendt considers the social as an anomaly caused by the confusion of public and private. 326. many new developments.” In her evolving definition of democracy. be they New Urbanist or other. 8 Deutsche. Crawford’s theories of public space are grounded in the radical ethnicity and suburban sprawl of Los Angeles. parks.MICHAEL E. fear and market instabilities proliferate. debates about the representation of diverse publics are suppressed. problematize the role of public and civic space by either sanctioning private definitions of the public realm. compressed spaces of Manhattan. many private and public development agencies see the tenets of New Urbanism only as a brand or a commodity. civic and social institutions like sidewalks. “when we recognize these struggles as the germ of an alternative development of democracy. Unfortunately today. Against any notion of collectivity or “oneness. Democracy is all that supports the construction of public space—enigmatic. grounded in the struggle for representation of all individuals and based on multiple publics. Deutsche argues that private identity should be formed in the public sphere. community centers. we discover a complex and contested idea that can assume a multiplicity of meanings and forms. p. in which private activities are allowed to take place in public spaces. Her commitment to close readings of selected texts was very beneficial to this research. security and pervasive retailing as decreased consumer demand. Evictions. Everyday Urbanism. because the social (or “phantom public”) has no essential identity.” Deutsch and Crawford warn us against the dangers of a society distracted by the “benign fantasy of social completion”8 which negates plurality and conflict through the construction of an image of social space on authoritarian ground.”7 Arendt’s theory is formed from an idealized public space.” According to Crawford. GAMBLE 7 Crawford. museums. Significant and parallel is a concern with the definition a public and private. but filled with possibilities. On the heels of many successful projects like Seaside and the Kentlands. Deutsche and Crawford encourage it. or by failing to describe the role of civic and institutional structures on democratic terms. Crawford and Deutsche argue that it is this very condition that must be accepted and enhanced. and schools vulnerable to censor. arguing that private individual identity should be formed in public spaces. squares. New Urbanist practice is seen now more for its capacity to produce profit than to create the types of spaces outlined by the Charter and desired by the Congress. While Arendt refers to the rising phenomenon of the social. The boundaries between public and private become blurred and “violate the strict lines between public and private on which the liberal bourgeois concept of the public sphere insists. In many cases. Many thanks to Ana Maria Leon and her work in my Public Space seminar on parking lots.

are we too seduced by private pleasures and personal conceits to cultivate a rich.” Arendt. Is. The Human Condition. Everyday Urbanism. Press. The Practice of Everyday Life. the marketplace the final arbitrator and regulator of life? It’s an exciting time for many American cities. Hannah. but it is not clear that sufficient quantities were ever present in the past. Democracy in America. London: University of Chicago Press. 1988. for the balance and discipline required?”9 What and where is the public? Maarten Hajer and Arnold Reijndorp observe that the lack of authenticity and a limited form of control don’t have to obstruct the experience of public domain. New York: Monacelli Press. community and representation in the public realm. translated by George Lawrence. “Three Urbanisms. 1999. edited by J. 1967. Berkeley: University of California Press. 295 . like great cultures before us. Doug Kelbaugh asks. The construction of identity in public is only possible when places in which each of us can appear as democratic citizens are willfully conceived and implemented. Alexis. Michel. the new social forms under construction in Atlanta are inadequate. In Search of New Public Domain: Analysis and Strategy. 1995. New York: Harper Perennial. de Certeau. More public and civic spaces are needed. rather than relying on misconceptions of earlier examples. which New Urbanism can help sponsor. Rosalyn.”10 As Americans stroll forth from franchise cafés and bookstores in search of more varied public space. Deutsche. Margaret. WORKS CONSULTED 9 Kelbaugh. Good Urbanism and its progeny New Urbanism both place high value on civic identity. “People in the Streets. But in the contemporary city is there simply no space for civic and public space in the developer’s pro forma? Is shopping the ultimate expression of public life? Where does branding end and public life begin? In America there are well over five and a half billion square feet of retail space. de Tocqueville. 2002. “As citizens. are we prepared.11 However. translated by Steven Rendall. as blighted areas are revitalized and new developments realized. Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics. or that we would not be better served creating settings and activities fitted to our current needs. coherent.“PUBLIC” AND “CIVIC” REALMS IN THE CONTEMPORARY CITY website. John Chase and John Kaliski. “I shop therefore I am” should not be our only mantra. Crawford. it is important to at least qualify this desire by looking to the future and the past. Mayer. and democratic public realm? In our quest for a new civitas. and as I see it.T.I.” 10 Hajer and Reijndorp.P. 11 Smithsimon. and of the provocation of voluntary manifestations of diversity. “The existing need for the consumption of events in a protected space won’t necessarily obstruct the experience of public domain. Cambridge: M. experience in relation to social form is what’s at stake here. The design of public domain is just a matter of designing the crossings between the different landscapes. as Koolhaas contends. that they were not highly exclusive.

Lefort. “Whatever Happened to Urbanism. The Political Forms of Modern Society: Bureaucracy. Rem. Everyday and Post. Totalitarianism. Kelbaugh.” in S. Fishman. MA: The M. Andrés.edu/~gs228/writing/ importanceps.M. Hall.M. Douglas. GAMBLE Duany. “Cities After the End of Cities. pp. Koolhaas.” Harvard Design Magazine (Fall 2000).” Harvard Design Magazine (Fall 2000). 1987. Robert.edu> and <http://www. “75 Percent. Claude. 1995.com/feature/122197> Koolhaas. Dunham-Jones. 2001. New York: North Point Press. New York: Monacelli Press. 14–15. Postmodern Urbanism. Cambridge.” Harvard Design Magazine (Fall 2000).” in S.XL. 73–79. 1998). Ellen. Nan. available at <http://www. Rotterdam: NA: Publishers. Peter. Krieger.tcaup. pp. 30–34. “Whose Urbanism. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press.umich. 296 . “Three Urbanisms: New.L. Alex.columbia. Press. Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck.” Architecture (Nov.T.I. In Search of New Public Domain: Analysis and Strategy. 2001. Ellin. 2003. “Retro Urbanism.fathom. 1999. pp. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. 1995. Hajer.MICHAEL E. Maarten and Arnold Reijndorp.” University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Rem et al.L. New York: Monacelli Press. “Atlanta.XL. 5–12. “People in the Streets: The Promise of Democracy in Everyday Public Space” available at <http://www. Smithsimon.htm> This essay is excerpted from the original published in the Proceedings of the 91st Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. pp. Democracy. Greg.

suffrage and diplomacy) are events that may not have an orthodox political pedigree. these thinkers return with complex models of multiple sovereignties to match the necessity of multiple ethical platforms. hoax and hyperbole that finally rules the world.s. global/local. some of whom are included in this anthology. F. Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (Durham: Duke University Press.E. shelter and launder their identity to create the most advantageous political or economic climate. Crucial then might be a working knowledge of the logics of duplicity.net>.” or the “worlds” about which many theorize. extra-jurisdictional spaces (S. Observers. 1996).Z. but nevertheless create a shift in sentiment. not rely on location.Z.ZONE KELLER EASTERLING (2007) GLOBALISM AND LOCAL IDENTITY DUPLICITY As global powers juggle multiple sovereignties and allegiances.s etc. 1999).s.. their behavior is.T. It is much more likely that the multiple realms of influence are kept in play to lubricate the obfuscation so important to the maintenance of power. Having often escaped the bounds of parliamentary politics. G.F.1 The contention that the nation state is weakening in the face of burgeoning transnational forces is nowhere near sneaky enough. nation states are more vigorously partnering with non-state forces and deciding together how to release.A.A. a cessation of violence or a turn in economic fortunes.A. Non-state forces may seek out relaxed. We might now consider locality to reflect not primordialism. continue to report the failure of political orthodoxies to assess contemporary global powers. Aihwa Ong. Marc Auge. 2006). citizen/non-citizen. An Anthropology for Contemporaneous Worlds (Stanford: Stanford University Press.T. Beyond the well-rehearsed techniques of national sovereignty (war.” Aihwa Ong’s “situated ethical regimes.petersloterdijk. <www. researchers and theorists.T. They reject universals or world system theories as they reject binary oppositions of national/non-national. We emphasize patriotism and citizenship while looking for cheap labor and unfilled quotas in the global market. citizenship. by necessity. the notion that there is a proper forthright realm of political negotiation usually acts as the perfect camouflage for a rich medium of subterfuge.” Peter Sloterdijk’s “spheres. discrepant. Indeed. this extrastatecraft resides in the unofficial currents of cultural and market persuasion. 1 Arjun Appadurai. 297 .).Z. Whether one refers to Arjun Appadurai’s “scapes.P.) while also massaging legislation in the various states they occupy (N. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. in fact. Manipulating both domestic and international sovereignty. E.T. The stances of any one nation are therefore often duplicitous or discrepant reflections of divided loyalties between national and international concerns or citizens and shareholders. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are written not in the language of law and diplomacy but rather in the language of architecture and urbanism. but rather the complex mixtures and tinctures of global forces on the ground in any location or in any very particular organization that may.

E. China’s Special Economic Zones (S. Since then special zones of various types have grown exponentially. resilience or violence. enjoying the insulation and lubrication of tax exemptions. Indeed.” O. no. 1995). while also rejecting its incompatibility with state rhetoric or banishing it as a contradiction to the state’s purity.2 Special zones handle over a third of the world’s trade.E. Many of the new legal hybrids of zone. 4 (Cambridge: Blackwell. oscillating between visibility and invisibility. Cross-national growth zones in the South China Sea move products between zones in different jurisdictions to take advantage of different quotas and levels of regulation. streamlined customs and deregulation of labor or environmental regulations.R. If it is the corporation’s legal duty to banish any obstacle to profit. aggression. some grow in conurbations that are hundreds of kilometers in size. Osamu Onoder and Enrico Pinali.s to quarantine the capitalist market has exploded to produce scores of different zones of various types all across the country. The earliest historical urges to incorporate express this desire for freedom and exclusivity. 19.D.Z. China’s S. In Eastern Europe the zone allows other 298 . (North Korea) introduced zones like Rajin Sonbong and Kaesong to act as cash cows for the state but also remain separate and vilified as a capitalist economy.P. 593–621. have neither been mapped nor analyzed for their disposition—their patency. <http://www. Most banish the negotiations that are usually associated with the contingencies of urbanism—negotiations such as those concerning labor. “The Evolution of Free Economic Zones and the Recent Development of CrossNational Growth Zones.K.org/> 3 Xiangming Chen. Export Processing Zones appeared in the late 1950s and 1960s.3 Breeding more promiscuously with other “parks” or enclave formats.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Countries just entering the marketplace may use the new zone economy. emerged in the 1970s. knowledge villages.KELLER EASTERLING ZONE 2 Michael Engman.Z. Among these urban changes is the emerging paradigm of the free zone. from a few hundred in the 1980s to between three and four thousand operating in 130 countries in 2006.s). I. In 1934. exclusivity.Z. Heir to ancient pirate enclaves or the freeports of Hamburg or Genoa.oecd. the United States established Foreign Trade Zone status for port and warehousing areas related to trade. May 22. Trade Policy Working Paper No. vol. the zone as corporate enclave is a primary aggregate unit of many new forms of the contemporary global city. Some zones accumulate a few hectares. human rights or environment. campuses and cultural institutions that complement the corporate headquarters or offshore facility.” “one-stop” entry into the economy of a foreign country. identity and anonymity. the zone is the perfect legal habitat of state—non-state partnerships. foreign ownership of property. offering a “clean slate. allowing for an even broader range of market activity. The D. 53.E. the zone now merges with tourist compounds.s are the world’s model of this phenomenon.C. More and more programs and spatial products thrive in legal lacunae and political quarantine. 2007.E. The zone launders identities. As the zone merged with manufacturing.T. Their early experiment with four S. and the zone is the spatial organ of this externalizing—a mechanism of political quarantine designed for corporate protection. “Export Processing Zones: Past and Future Development.

the hermetic organization develops shrewd auxiliary tactics and strategies to fortify its stupidity and defend against contradiction. The orgmen who tend the self-referential organizations of the free zone are proud of the fluid. an enormous intelligence is deployed to reset or eliminate any errant or extrinsic information. information-rich environments they have created. renames and redistributes many of the products produced in Mexico under N. Many countries in South Asia.ZONE European corporations to take advantage of less expensive labor from entering EU countries. Texas. among many others. Forth Worth.A. context. campus development thanks to help from the developers of HITEC City in Hyderabad.P. They grow while deleting information. China and Africa used Export Processing Zones as a means of announcing their entry into a global market as independent post-colonial contractors of outsourcing and offshoring. Indeed. This information paradox—wherein an enormous amount of information is required to remain information poor—is a common tool of power.Z.T.) that move around the world. Calling each new Below left: Alliance Texas.F. Below right: Dubai Internet City. 299 .A. take on the title of “city” as an enthusiastic expression of the zone’s evolution beyond being merely a location for warehousing and transshipment. Similarly. calling centers. offices. campus as free trade zone.S. agreements so that they can be calibrated to the desired profitability in a U. Regimes of power at once diversify their sources and contacts while consolidating and closing ranks. factories. robust. development with I. extending and tightening their territory. the first I.T. The zone has become a new primordial civilization and a warm pool for the latest cocktail of spatial products (e. software production facilities etc. north of Fort Worth. The zone often calls itself a “city. a classic corporate city as office park and distripark. While remaining intact.T.” HITEC City or Ebene Cybercity. with Ebene Cybercity. Dubai has rehearsed the “park” or zone with almost every imaginable program beginning with Dubai Internet City in 2000. For example. AllianceTexas. warehouses. Mauritius has merged E.g. Their automated warehouses and information Landschafts slowly and obsessively sort and stack enormous amounts of information: yet only information that is compatible to a common platform qualifies for inclusion.

Dubai Knowledge Village. Jeju.”4 On the island of Kish off the coast of Iran. India. the new corporate enclaves also need to get away and relax. for instance. Nearby fantasy hotels like the Dariush Grand Hotel recreate the grandeur of Persian palaces with peristyle halls.A. campuses in India and Malaysia like Multimedia Supercorridor sometimes refer to themselves as I.s’ Emaar developers on the Red Sea near Jeddah.T. a production of the U.kr/> Kish Island.” it has either planned or built Dubai Health Care City. is a quintessential island retreat that has housed. they can easily be maintained outside of the work-week environment. Transforming itself from penal colony and strategic military position to citing Dubai. as have many islands. I. there is not only a loosening of headscarves and a greater opportunity for socializing between men and women. that assume the ethos of free zones for their entire territory. resorts offering lush vegetation and a mixture of small scale vernacular buildings and mirror-tiled office buildings. Singapore and Hong Kong as models. but the standard set of exemptions to which the corporation has grown accustomed. Companies like CIDCO and SKIL can now be hired. for instance. Able to materialize and dematerialize with the caprice of petrodollars and offshore holdings. The zone has become a resort. offers cultural. Dubai Techno Park. Even more extreme are those zones that merge with the offshore island retreats. enclave “city. 4 <http://www. While corporate headquarters in national capitals and 300 . Here. City-states like Hong Kong. Dubai Maritime City. Dubai Industrial City and Dubai Textile City. Operating in a frictionless realm of exemption and merging with other urban formats. Fly-throughs with swelling traditional music render the city as a shimmering golden man-made island filled with multiples of traditional Islamic palace buildings and programmed with leisure space.KELLER EASTERLING Cyber Gateway.T. gigantic cast stone sphinxes and ornate bas reliefs depicting ancient scenes. has transformed itself into a “free economic city. Iran. business and residential programs merged with a resort. to deliver an infrastructural legal environment like those in Shenzhen and Pudong. as they were in Navi Mumbai. King Abdullah Economic City. Dubai Silicon Oasis. The world capital and national capital can shadow each other. all of those programs or illicit activities that do not fit into the logics of the continent. educational.E. Dubai Outsourcing Zone. alternately exhibiting a regional cultural ethos and a global ambition. Kish Free Zone similarly attracts business to an island notorious for its relaxed religious standards. Dubai Humanitarian City.jeju. the zone also naturally merges with the resort and theme park. Hyderabad. Dubai Media City. The zone is a double. Singapore and Dubai. have become world city models for newly minted cities with not only commercial areas but a full complement of programs. Indeed if corporations are often only vessels for liberated money. even assuming an ethereal aura of fantasy.go. the island of Jeju. Now major cities and national capitals are engineering their own world city Doppelgangers—their own non-national territory within which to legitimize non-state transactions.

Mitsubishi. and the World Bank. cultural and educational programs in addition to commercial programs. The gulf widens between the extremes of the Dubai development model and the slums of Lagos or Kinshasa. which includes 1660 acres of skyscrapers and residential properties. here the zone projects the image of a kingdom of unencumbered wealth.S. these backstage formations are not given the “city” designation. Technology parks around the world grow their own satellite and cable networks with their own headquarters or embassies at the interstices of the network. The new corporate city only underlines the extreme discrepancies between oil wealth and the exploitation of oil 301 . The corporate city not only provides a double to the national and financial capital: it has its own double in these offshore enclaves. Yet the zone is a formation within which poverty can be strictly maintained without the chaos of informal economies. The zone is the parliament for the de facto global governance of private corporations. The zone prefers non-state violence to military conflict that might be bad for business. automated transit and skyscraper engineering.A. an American architecture firm.M. is a complete international city on the Dubai or Singapore model designed by K. the New Songdo City video messages are accompanied by new age tunes or heroic strains in the John Williams style—the spectacular theme music of the nonstate capital. While the emotional streaming videos for any of the smaller “cities” are often accompanied by tinny fanfares of low production values. the Alsunut Development Company Ltd. deliver transshipment and warehousing technologies.F. Enjoying quasi-diplomatic immunities. More discrete and less visible. Real estate operators like Emaar provide the spatial environments and amenities that corporate “families” recognize as home. aspiring to the cosmopolitan urbanity of New York. Bin Laden. Networks of construction companies and infrastructure specialists like Bouyges.F.T. corporations function in an elite parastate capacity.P.. Export Processing Zones and Special Economic Zones crystallize. like modern counterparts of British or Dutch East India company franchises. To the ports around which so many free trade zones. New Songdo City.. In Khartoum. Venice and Sydney.C. an expansion of the Incheon free trade territories near Seoul. Kawasaki or Siemens deliver technologies for high speed rail. The offshore sweatshops in Saipan or the maquiladoras on the thickened border between the United States and Mexico organize a form of labor exploitation that is stable and within the law.ZONE financial capitals portray a glamorous business-like atmosphere.. Here. conglomerates such as P. whole families of corporations stick together in the same legal habitat recreated anywhere in the world and separated by a plane trip or a satellite bounce.&O. is building Almogran. Hutchison Port Holdings or E. P.. the zone is filled with residential. providing to nations the support and expertise for transportation and communication infrastructure or relationships with the I. the capital of Sudan.

2007. Most urgent for architecture. The zone tutors impure ethical struggles. the players in the game and the cards being dealt returns more information about the tools and techniques of extrastatecraft. 2007). Duplicity is the prevailing logic and organizational disposition of this space. The zone is an especially discrepant territory within which to rehearse a new species of spatio-political activism. expressions of oil money are among the chief tools for instigating war and violence in the south. agile repertoire. Some backstage knowledge of the bagatelle in exchange. 302 . Portions of this essay were adapted from an article prepared for the Rotterdam Biennale. The logics of righteousness and the insistence on orthodox political sentiment evaporate in these environments.KELLER EASTERLING resources in the mostly non-Arab southern Sudan. then. Indeed. Visionary Power catalog (NAI. may be not the consolidation of a singular position but rather the acquisition of an expanded. Curiosity and ingenuity nourish a position wherein one is too smart to be right. the overt. even hyperbolic.

and spatial outcomes that may result from different dynamics even when they look the same.DIS-ASSEMBLING THE URBAN The variable interactions of spatial form and content SASKIA SASSEN (2007) GLOBALISM AND LOCAL IDENTITY This short essay examines the tensions between the shapes of a built environment and the underlying dynamics feeding it. The L. the homogenized state-of-the-art built environment of major cities. the variability of spatial forms given similar underlying dynamics makes legible the diverse constraints shaping the spatializing of similar dynamics across different cities and urban regions. I focus especially on these.A. I distinguish between spatial outcomes that may result from similar novel dynamics even when they look very different. on the one hand. no matter how original the architecture. even though conceivably stemming from a similar underlying dynamic. I regularly invoke the models of the so-called Chicago School and the Los Angeles School. diverse spatial outcomes may result from area-specific constraints on the scaling and spatializing of the same particular dynamic rather than from intrinsic urban forms. That is to say.A. Path-dependence eventually sets in. on the other. whether modern or post-modern. region is the urban form of today’s new (post-modern) economy while the Chicago model reflects that of an older (modern) economy. Once a distinct spatial form is produced. To make it concrete and allow the reader to visualize some of the conceptual points. further confining the options for future spatial outcomes and potentially raising the divergence between two urbanized areas as a function of path-dependence rather than the underlying dynamics getting spatialized. and. my emphasis is on the extent to which their articulation is partly shaped by a range of intermediate variables. obscures drastically different economic logics. DIVERSE SPATIAL FORMS BUT SIMILAR UNDERLYING DYNAMICS RECOVERING THE ROLE OF A PLACE IN TRANSLOCAL CIRCUITS In focusing on spatial form versus underlying dynamic. In its most extreme instances. as they represent familiar contrasting understandings. with the centrality of agglomeration as its organizing dynamic. This is perhaps best exemplified by the contrasting logics for real estate profitability evident in the original development of 303 . model’s core proposition is that the L. it will have its own effects on outcomes. Because some of the sharpest tensions can be found in economic spaces.

The evidence shows that globalized firms and sectors contain both agglomeration and dispersal moments in their spatial organization. Dispersal might be at a regional. T1+2 Gallery). An emphasis on intermediate variables questions the easy opposition of Chicago vs. dispersal in the L. both Chicago and L. including for the same firm.A. as models of urbanism representing respectively an old and the future phase in the evolution of urban form.A. Areas with complex spatial organizations such as those represented by the L.A. Chicago’s 304 . for instance. region and agglomeration in Chicago. 6 (London. Translocal chains of operations are increasingly common for many firms and for whole economic sectors. L. national and global level. or the Chicago model. and Chicago models is the fact that complex trans-local processes comprise diverse geographic moments. The Paraculture Nr. We need to know where a particular area fits in such multi-sited processes.SASKIA SASSEN Hilary Koob-Sassen. Just describing the spatial organization of an area does not allow us to get at such deeper economic dynamics. And they may contain predominantly one of those moments in a firm’s or a sector’s spatial organization of its activities. A critical but easily overlooked variable when comparing formats such as the L. and agglomerations might vary sharply in content and in the specifics of the corresponding spatial form—for instance. are likely to contain both moments of agglomeration and dispersal.A. notably agglomeration and dispersal.A.

A. That is to say. In my own research I found that the most globalized and innovative firms were characterized by the fact that agglomeration is itself a function of dispersal. model represents the spatializing of a new dynamic that makes itself legible in the L. I counterpose the hypothesis that the more an urban region is being shaped by the new economic dynamics. because the Chicago model is predicated on an older notion of agglomeration. by Scott. post-modern urban form that captures novel economic (and other) dynamics.A. One way of specifying some of this empirically is to establish whether agglomeration economies. A focus on the presence of such translocal chains of operations helps us situate the specifics of a city. (But see the work on L. and thus that the geographic dispersal at the heart of the L. the more likely the presence of agglomeration economies in particular moments (the production of top-level headquarter functions) of that firm’s chain of operations.-type region in a far broader systemic condition. for a firm or a sector. in contrast Chicago style agglomeration is then represented as belonging to an older economic phase—the modern city. The L. the more spatial organization will involve agglomeration economies precisely as a function of geographic dispersal of economic activities under conditions of systemic integration no matter the scale—regional. that I derived from this 305 . It became one of my core theses in specifying the global city model. one that might include points both of sharp agglomeration and of sharp dispersal. Christopherson. Storper. both agglomeration and dispersal.A. I would add that we need the same type of analysis for Chicago. model captures a whole new economic phase that is reshaping urban form. model as per Dear (2002) posits that agglomeration economies have ceased to be a locational determinant in the new economy and hence a marker of urban form. or an L.A. both the city and the larger metro region.A. one shaped by the weight of core inputs and by transport costs. model that spatial dispersal is the new.DIS-ASSEMBLING THE URBAN financial center and L. landscape. alluded to earlier. the more globalized and thus geographically dispersed a firm’s operations. i.A.) To organize the argument one might posit that the underlying new economic dynamic is the same in significant and indeed in growing segments of each region even as spatial form diverges. especially as a function of dispersal.A. Soja and others for analyses that diverge to variable extents from Dear’s.e. Let me elaborate briefly on the hypothesis. This is a type of agglomeration economy I found in my research on global cities. but it can also be applied to national or regional scales.A. it underlines the fact of a single dynamic with diverse spatializations. region. For the purposes of this essay.A. This would then engage the thesis that the L.’s Hollywood or Northern California’s Silicon Valley. This is critical given the proposition in the L. national or global. matter for understanding the spatial organization of the L. a metro area.

A. where weight and distance are seen to shape agglomeration outcomes. A third key dynamic is that the more large corporate clients buy components of their top-level headquarter functions from the specialized corporate services sector. In my current research I have added yet another variable to explain the importance of such agglomerations to the most advanced sectors. The complexity of the functions that need to be produced. Among these options is moving out of global cities. makes a certain type of dense environment function as a strategic knowledge economy wherein the whole is more than the sum of (even its finest) parts. This sector needs to be a state of the art.A. This is an option precisely because of the existence of a spatially concentrated network of specialized producer services sector that can increasingly handle some of the most complex global operations of firms and markets. “debugged” through specialized cultural work. It is the fact that organizational complexity allows firms to maximize the benefits they can derive from the new digital technologies. the higher the benefits this sector can derive from being in a global city. is a mix of conditions that constitutes a new logic for agglomeration. and more generically. In the L. region we find elements of this in Hollywood 306 . thereby further underlining the importance of agglomeration to the new economy. model. and the growing importance of speed in all these transactions. it is not the logic posited in older models. that the greater the capabilities for geographic dispersal a firm can evince. as made emblematic in the L. not simply the number of corporate headquarters of the biggest firms in the world. the uncertainty of the markets such firms are involved in.SASKIA SASSEN finding—to wit. coordination and control contained in the new information technologies and in the power of transnational corporations need to be produced. networked knowledge economy. and of absorbing the growing uncertainty and risks facing their corporate clients as these go global. and ultimately also designed and invented. the more it can benefit from agglomeration economies for the increasingly complex management of a globally dispersed set of operations (see Sassen 2001: New Preface for a brief explanation of the nine hypotheses that specify the global city model). A second key dynamic that articulates dispersal and agglomeration is that the more headquarters actually buy some of their corporate functions from the specialized services sector rather than producing them in house. as is often suggested. the greater their locational options become. This is a crucial asset for highly globalized sectors. serviced. The fact of having to “produce” these capabilities adds what is often a neglected dimension in discussions about how the new technologies neutralize distance and place. The mix of firms. out of agglomerations. talents and expertise in a broad range of specialized fields. It is precisely this specialized capability to handle the global operations of firms and markets that marks the global city production function. capable of producing a global service. the capabilities for global operation. Further.

A.A. Interpreting what is novel about the L. or obscures.DIS-ASSEMBLING THE URBAN for the global entertainment industry and the L. But it is essential work for specifying whether the new dynamics reshaping the urban condition necessarily spatialize according to the L. What is coded as multipolarity in the L. path dependencies and contents hamper the legibility of possible similarities in underlying dynamics. At the same time. dense concentrations of the most innovative and globalized sectors subject to agglomeration economies are present in both L.A. region gets coded as “relocation to the metropolitan area or beyond” in Chicago and New York. model on urban form and the new economy. But key conditions are not. region to include sub-regional microagglomerations. and Chicago/ New York. These are intense agglomerations that are very much part of the new economic phase. comes a second possibly spurious inference. This then also problematizes the proposition that the L.A. even when the final visual outcomes may look similar. Both propositions—that similar spatial forms are indicators of both similar economic dynamics and of convergence—may indeed capture various situations. gets us only so far in analytically neutralizing the diverse histories and contents of each region.A.A. model represents the new urban spatial 307 .A.A. HOMOGENIZED BUILT ENVIRONMENTS OR INFRASTRUCTURES FOR ADVANCED ECONOMIES? RECOVERING THE SPECIFICS OF A PLACE My key argument here is that the common notion of the homogenizing of the economic urban landscape misses a critical point. the fact of the diversity of economic trajectories through which cities and regions become globalized. Diverse economic histories. This contests the key proposition of the L. based on homogenized landscapes. they are rendered invisible by such notions./Long Beach harbor economy. The available evidence. Hence we cannot assume that such inferences from the visual order always hold. It misses. indicates that key factors shaping the spatial organization of leading firms are operative in both the L. Upon closer examination we might also say that it is perhaps to some extent a question of coding. and there is plenty of it.A. in fact. but their contents are very different. that similar visual landscapes are a function of convergence.’s multipolarity is actually better understood as reflecting the presence of agglomeration economies. But it all looks so different. and the L. Rescaling the Chicago area to incorporate the metro area.A. particularly its most advanced sectors.A. and perhaps now also in the corporate office complex of Orange County and even in downtown L. Out of this surface analysis. region would then entail analytic rescalings that allow us to capture the possibility that some of L. model—dispersal and multipolarity. and. region and in older cities such as Chicago and New York.

The complexity. accounting and legal expertise. form arising out of what are today’s new dynamics. 2 Lloyd 2005. 308 . Why did it happen so late—almost fifteen years later than in New York and London? It is easy to assume that Chicago had to overcome its agroindustrial past which put it at a disadvantage compared to old trading and financial centers such as New York and London.g. e. developed to handle the needs of its agro-industrial regional economy. scale and international character of its agro-industrial complex required highly specialized financial. then. clearly. Because financial. the expansion of professional firms and households.3 It took making to execute the switch. It was one key source of its competitive advantage. quite different from the expertise required to handle the sectors New York specialized in—service exports. finance on trade. disembedding that expertise from an agro-industrial economy and re-embedding it in a “knowledge” economy—that is to say. But that switch is not simply a matter of overcoming that past. Having a past as a major agro-industrial complex makes that switch more difficult than a past as a trading and financial center. It is common to see Chicago as a latecomer to global city status because of its agro-industrial past. The specialized economic histories of major cities and urban regions matter in today’s global economy because there is a globally networked division of functions. the city today has a specialized advantage in producing certain types of financial. What led me to question the prevailing homogenization and convergence theses was the research comparing Chicago and New York. legal and accounting instruments. and finance on finance. It entails. and of the cultural sector. It requires a new organizing logic that can revalue the capabilities developed in an earlier era. But for this specialized advantage to materialize entails repositioning that past knowledge in a different set of economic circuits. While this is most visible and familiar in the fact of its preeminence as a futures market built on pork bellies. 2006. function as a key input. But I found that its past was not a disadvantage. gave Chicago a key component of its current specialized advantage in the global economy.SASKIA SASSEN 1 For some initial elements see Greene et al. an economy where expertise can increasingly be commodified.1 Other sectors are.2 some of these have developed as a result of this particular core knowledge economy. 3 Sassen 2006a. This then also explains partly Chicago’s “lateness” in bringing that switch about. it also underlies other highly specialized components of its global city functions. This fact is easily obscured by the common emphasis on inter-city competition and by the standardization (no matter how good the architecture) of built environments. legal and accounting experts in Chicago had to address in good part the needs of the agro-industrial complex. high end components of the hotel and restaurant sector. including prominently economic dynamics. and thereby constitute a new type of intermediate economy. also critical to the advanced service economy of today’s Chicago. The knowledge economy. Chapters 1 and 5.

This opens up a whole research agenda that takes us beyond city rankings.4 It also points to the fact that “the” global network comprises multiple. São Paulo and Shanghai. Chicago illuminates aspects of global city formation that are far less legible in cities such as New York and London. Along with Chicago. To recover this particular specialized advantage. such as global civil society actors. The other 309 4 Taylor 2004. have not undergone the type of switch we see in Chicago. The aim is to recover the more complex city networks that are a strategic infrastructure for the global operations of markets and firms. one akin to a positional good. But most once important manufacturing cities. even as these also build their own distinct city networks. we need empirical research about the intersections of regional locations and functional activities.5 Through its particular type of past. often specialized networks. and on which a variety of other types of actors and networks can build. which did have very large manufacturing components but were nonetheless dominated by predominantly trading and banking economies. São Paulo and Shanghai are perhaps among today’s major global cities with particularly strong histories in heavy manufacturing. it becomes clear that there are several specific networks of cities in play. 5 Sassen 2006b. It is not simply a question of dropping that past and converging/homogenizing on the headquarters– services–cultural sector axis. Critical is executing the switch described earlier—whatever might be the specifics of an area’s past. Chapters 5 and 6. One concerns what it takes to become part of leading sectors. A city like Chicago dominates some of these financial circuits but is a fairly minor player in others. The economic trajectory and switching illustrated by the case of Chicago contests the thesis of homogenization on two levels. many once important manufacturing cities have not made the switch into a knowledge economy based on that older industrial past.DIS-ASSEMBLING THE URBAN Recovering this specialized advantage linked to a city’s specific economic history also brings to the fore a key argument by Peter Taylor about cities that derive their significance from their location in global networks rather than only their position in a hierarchy. A second issue raised by the Chicago case is that while there are a number of global cities today with heavy manufacturing origins. alternative cultural circuits. notably Detroit and the English manufacturing cities. and so on. transnational migration networks. Chicago’s history points to the mistake of assuming that the characteristics of global cities correspond to those of such old trading and banking centers. This points to the importance of thresholds in the scale and diversity of a city’s manufacturing past to secure the components of knowledge production I identify in Chicago’s case—specialized servicing capabilities that could be dislodged from the organizational logic of heavy manufacturing and relodged in the organizational logic of today’s so-called knowledge economy. . I have found this to be the case with financial markets: once we disaggregate the global capital market into its multiple specialized financial markets.

SASKIA SASSEN 6 Sassen 2006a.A.A. Chapter 7. Hollywood and downtown L. and so on. and it is.’s sub-regional microagglomerations.A. varies sharply and each is located on very different sets of global circuits. This illustrates the thesis that different dynamics can run through similar institutional and spatial forms. The critical question becomes what inhabits that “infrastructure. in turn making the distinction city versus region somewhat less meaningful.A. brings to the fore the question of the boundary. are partial geographic moments. The actual economic content of each downtown Chicago. concerns the meaning of homogenized landscapes. Finally. critical components of its economy correspond to Chicago type spatialities marked by concentration. and vice versa. This is yet another indicator of the growing distance between people and technical domains that is one of the features of some of the most developed economic sectors. are actually more akin to an infrastructure for the advanced sectors. model—might be one moment of a multi-sited process. then. And while L. critical components of its economy inhabit a larger metropolitan geographic terrain and constitute what have been designated as L. frequently presented as today’s quintessential urban visual order. It becomes critical to establish the particular specialized sectors that might inhabit that homogenized landscape. There is a kind of convergence at an abstract systemic level. above all. closure whether at a city or regional scale becomes problematic. Rescaling can make legible respectively Chicago’s regional dimension and L. From here. but at the concrete. thinks itself a vast region. material interface of the urban. The substantive character of convergence in the global city model is not the visual landscape per se but its function as an infrastructure. including the visual landscape that functions as a necessary infrastructure— state of the art office districts and commercial and housing areas. moments of a process. Yet all three have a spatial form marked 310 . if our concern is to capture the translocal processes within which both Chicago and L. the development and partial importation of a set of specialized functions and the direct and indirect effects this may have on the larger city.A. type spatialities. airports. the specific contents of the global located in Chicago may diverge considerably from those of L. the actual content of the specialized services that inhabit that built environment can vary sharply. circuits. even when these are the most demanding of talent.A. Turning to the second issue addressed in this essay. This qualifies the convergence thesis.A. Thus although Chicago thinks itself a city. One does not preclude the other.6 CONCLUSION: REASSEMBLING URBAN FRAGMENTS INTO NEW FORMATS Introducing the possibility that a given format—whether the Chicago model or the L. my proposition is that critical components of the homogenized/convergent urban landscape.” Looking similar does not necessarily entail similar contents.

R. Here I find the emphasis in the literature and general commentary on homogenization of the built environment of globalized places misleading.. Cities in a World Economy. Sassen. —— . 2006b. NeoBohemia: Art and Commerce in the Post-Industrial City. Tokyo. P. Princeton. One step here is to distinguish between the formal aspects of today’s built environments for new economy sectors and the actual economic activities they contain. Washington. M. Overlooked in most of the literature is the fact that the specialized differences among cities within national economies and across borders assume renewed value in today’s advanced economic sectors. Closed formats such as those represented in the L. D. I recode these homogenized built environments—the hyperspace of global business—as an infrastructure for advanced global economic sectors. This indeterminacy makes them more akin to an infrastructure. and Chicago models need more analytic elaboration in order to incorporate some aspects of these types of scalar interactions and spatial forms. 3rd Edition. City and Community. 2002. The Global City: New York. Princeton. D. NJ: Princeton University Press. J. London. 2005. Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages.A. 2006a. Territory. Chicago’s Geographies: Metropolis for the 21st Century. 2006. convergence and homogenization of the built environment become an envelope. Under these conditions. 1(1). a standard applied to potentially very different economic contents. national and global.DIS-ASSEMBLING THE URBAN by agglomeration. 5–32. and Grammenos. with all the features that requires. 2001. Thousand Oaks. We need to specify with far greater detail what they contain. Bouman. 311 .: Association of American Geographers. M. This means that the specialized economic history of an area can be critical to the development of its specialized advantage in the global economy (or state of the art national economy). J. Greene. It signals they are state-of-the-art. They are indeterminate in that they can be used for a very broad range of specific economic functions.. R. —— .. editors. New York: Routledge. All three are also marked by dispersal of many of their operations. Similar looking landscapes may contain very different types of operations and very different moments of a firm’s multi-sited processes. Lloyd. Los Angeles and the Chicago School: Invitation to a Debate. The interactions between their agglomeration and their dispersal moments can encompass one or all of three scalings— regional. 2nd Edition. CA: Sage/ Pine Forge. A refinement on such scalar and formal interactions concerns the built environment of a region or city. REFERENCES Dear.C. NJ: Princeton University Press. Authority. S.

P. 2004.SASKIA SASSEN Scott. CA: University of California Press. J. Taylor. A. Berkeley. E. and Soja. World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis. editors. J. The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century.. 312 . 1996. W. London: Routledge.

that “no structure can stand alone. Whither Honolulu. Hawaii. 2. 2 Lewis Mumford. p. typical of a regionalist. 1945).TROPICAL LEWIS MUMFORD The first critical regionalist urban planner LIANE LEFAIVRE AND ALEXANDER TZONIS (2001) GLOBALISM AND LOCAL IDENTITY Lewis Mumford is not generally thought of as a tropicalist. slum clearance. Because of the war. Whither Honolulu is the report he prepared. 313 . no function exists by itself. The report is based on a four-week study of the parks and playgrounds of Honolulu in June 1938 and on a second visit in August. under the directorship of Lester McCoy. His aim was to ensure that Hawaii “conserve(d) resources that are already in existence”2 because it had “now reached a point where some of her natural advantages are not 1 Lewis Mumford. Brace. Pencil drawing of Diamond Head. Harcourt.1 He had attended an education conference at the University of Hawaii and was invited by the Honolulu Park Board to conduct a survey on parks and playgrounds. was sustainability—again typical of a regionalist. the report rapidly grew into a comprehensive planning memorandum also dealing with problems of air pollution and congestion. land use and municipal administration. however. Nor is he usually considered an urban planner. Lewis Mumford. Yet the one time he departed from his role as a historian. Initially meant to address park planning only. to be precise. theoretician and critic and put his ideas into practice by entering into urban planning practice was in the tropics. it is the first master plan for any city planned along the lines of critical regionalism. to survey the need for recreational sites. “Report on Honolulu” in City Development: Studies in Disintegration and Renewal (New York. He had been invited to Honolulu in 1938 by the City’s Park Board.” His overriding concern. One may say that it stands not only as the first master plan for a tropical city planned along the lines of a garden city. Mumford defended an all-inclusive rather than piecemeal approach by arguing in manner. the 67-page text’s publication was delayed until 1945.

S. when the regional plan by the Tennessee Valley Authority was set up to modernize the then impoverished southern states.”4 The short but dense book extended for the first time his regionalist approach. 1938 was the same year he published his first major book. inspired and practical. eventually leading to the publication of his book called The Architecture of Social Concern. p. Such an acute maldistribution of population may be beyond the physical powers of a park commission effectually to correct. with designs for new public buildings such as schools and hospitals.” As we have written elsewhere. At the same time. based on what we would today call sustainability and social justice. Mumford Archive. Both books were written during the first effort of the Roosevelt administration in the U.”3 Although Mumford was a New Yorker. 1941). Brace.S. 1938). Technics and Civilization. 2004). The South in Architecture contains two such examples: that of Thomas Jefferson. Technics and Civilization (New York. After the memorandum on Hawaii. The conditions in Honolulu at the time were dire. “Mumford Lectures. is a tribute to the personalities of their inhabitants. when the physical conditions of life are considered. One of the cultural paradoxes of globalization is that outsiders sometimes express better than local people the character of a particular region. Harcourt. merely in danger of being neglected. 6 Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis. Todtmann.7 his evolutionary study of modernization from the early Renaissance to the present. 1948). he wrote The South in Architecture (1941). Brace.5 Lester McCoy’s call to Mumford to help plan Honolulu is also part of this trend.” Saturday Review. the Roosevelt administration was also sending experts to Puerto Rico. Mumford never pulled together in a comprehensive way the various regionalist fragments to be found in his different writings. ending with a defense of what he termed a new “biotechnic” order. Prestel. 353.LIANE LEFAIVRE AND ALEXANDER TZONIS 3 Lewis Mumford. Critical Regionalism: Architecture in an Age of Globalization (Munich. and Richardson. The overcrowding of the land in the central areas imposes upon a park program a burden that park planning by itself cannot retrieve. to counter the traditional indifference of the North to the South. a patriotic address to Southern soldiers at a military academy in Virginia about to leave for the front in Europe. 7 Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania. 4 Frank Lloyd Wright. The Architecture of Social Concern (São Paolo. which he saw as the necessary replacement for the current 314 . apparently an isolationist. Here is what Mumford wrote about them: “The slums themselves are among the filthiest and the most degraded in the world: that they are not even viler. undated. Harcourt. Frank Lloyd Wright. until then focused on historical and theoretical issues. Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library. slum infested Puerto Rico. they have already been spoilt” and that “more disastrous results may follow unless steps are taken at once to conserve Honolulu’s peculiar assets. wrote in his review of the book that its purpose was to “throw the lives of American boys at Hitler. 5 Richard Neutra. to a hands-on one. it was when writing about Southernness that his regionalism was at his most passionate. a Northerner settled in the South. The South in Architecture (New York. the Southerner who more than any other shaped the particular character of architecture in the Northeastern U.6 To situate the Honolulu study within Mumford’s life’s work. Richard Neutra was hired by the federal government to consult on the development of impoverished.

without realizing how empty a form is without the life it once supported.”10 This attitude. so that we may face the opportunities of our own day and deal with them in an equally creative spirit. The great lesson of history—and this applies to all the arts—is that the past cannot be recaptured except in spirit. 9 Ibid. There are current books announcing the impossibility of recapturing regional authenticity in contemporary architectural design. we cannot except in the spirit of a masked ball . as we have also argued elsewhere. It is a piece of rank materialism to attempt to duplicate some earlier form. but to understand it. As far as architecture is concerned.9 Given this.. . written three years later. There is no such thing as a modern colonial house any more than there is such a thing as a modern Tudor House. . pp.”12 Accordingly. 13. 13 Ibid. Winter 1991.11 Such an announcement would have been all the more shocking in 1941. The first tenet of traditional regionalism that Mumford overturned in both these writings is that regionalism necessarily entails a return to authenticity. That purely theoretical book. indicating the issue is still alive today.” he wrote. p. is his clearest statement about what a new kind of architecture might be. it is equally clear that there is a thread running through Mumford’s writings and that this thread interweaves four strands. as well as being a major historical study. p. “Regionalism.” Design Book Review. “is not a matter of using the most available local material or of 315 8 See Lefaivre and Tzonis. University of California Press. he declared that “if one seeks to reproduce such a building in our own day. . 1998).” he balked at the idea of mimicking them in new buildings. .TROPICAL LEWIS MUMFORD “neotechnic” one. In fact. he wrote: “Our task is not to imitate the past. We cannot live another person’s life. one could say that Whither Honolulu is his clearest statement about a new kind of urban planning. 10 Mumford. based on an environmentally wasteful and socially oppressive industrial one. was the most systematic formulation of his personal credo and the theoretical foundation of everything he wrote afterwards.8 When looked at as a whole. The South in Architecture. 18. and the harder the architect works to conceal that fact. in his strongest worded statement. This hardly deterred Mumford. 11 Shelly Errington.. each one constituting a critical rethinking of traditional regionalism. There is no method of mechanically reproducing these forms or bringing these back to life. p. The South in Architecture. “Lewis Mumford’s Regionalism. 14. 20. . is still novel and surprising today.” he wrote. 25. every mark on it will betray the fact that it is fake. equating the historicist with kitsch. 12 Mumford. and that The South in Architecture. 19. “the forms that people used in other civilizations or in other periods of our own country’s history were ultimately part of the whole structure of their life. The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress (Berkeley. because of its delight for the eye. although he did advocate the preservation of actual historical buildings built in the “vernacular brick tradition” of the South because it “deserves to be regarded with a far more appreciative eye that people usually apply to it.”13 With Mumford’s rejection of architectural historicism as the equivalent of a masked ball was his reaction to local materials or local building crafts when they were not adapted to the function of the building. the more patent the fact will be . “Let us be clear about this.

This is only natural. 13. here too he balks at the idea of preservation for the sake of preservation.17 For him “regional” meant “something besides a place for the personal touch.”14 In fact.16 The Return to Nature was a second keystone of traditional regionalism that Mumford consistently tried to adapt to mid-twentieth century urban.. he praised Richardson for adapting local architecture to new industrial building techniques and materials. he was for the total abandonment of precedents of any kind if they were not adapted to the evolving needs of the region: “People often talk about regional characters as if they were the same thing as the aboriginal characters: the regional is identified with the rough. p. 27. He wrote that “there was a romantic movement from its beginning in Rousseau. As with architecture in The South in Architecture. 77. the dark tones of the banyan trees”18 and proposed that the city tap the local population of Chinese and Japanese inhabitants to create Japanese and Chinese gardens.” It was in a—so to say—tropical Rousseauiste spirit that he saw Honolulu as a “great park” made up of “tropical foliage with the pepper red of the Poinciana. that is as the purely aesthetic or spiritual enjoyment of landscape for its own sake. social and political realities. arguing on the contrary that Honolulu had much to learn from the social housing projects or Siedlungen of Frankfurt and suggesting inner city slum clearance in these terms. Indeed. On the other hand.” although it must be stressed that he did love the land in these terms too. the feathery greens of the palms.. That is a serious mistake. the purely local. for the cherished accident. the provision of a parking area and the wiping away of the collection of miscellaneous buildings marring the view. in Mumford’s view a rigorist or functionalist like Greenough. p.. the primitive. the brilliant yellow of the golden shower. for his capitals at the University of Virginia because its innate brittleness damaged the ornaments of the building. And it is equally in this spirit that he proposed nude bathing for Hawaiian beaches. innovative Richardson. industrial. Mumford disapproved of Jefferson’s use of the local stone. 18 Ibid.LIANE LEFAIVRE AND ALEXANDER TZONIS 14 Ibid. Since the adaptation of a culture to a particular environment is a long complicated process. 16 Ibid. p. copying some simple form of construction that our ancestors used. Bishop Street. He rejected the equation of regionalism with the cult of the genius loci and picturesqueness. an element of energy and vitality that could not be denied: the belief in nature.”15 In fact. 15 Ibid. p. We are only beginning to know enough about ourselves and about our environment to create regional architecture. as a resource of the human spirit. In general he preferred the more modern. a full blown regional character is the last to emerge. schist. 316 . 30. for want of anything better a century or two ago. 17 Ibid. to the more tradition-bound Jefferson as a model for regionalist architects. so with urbanism in Whither Honolulu. economic. It is in this spirit that he suggests opening the city up to the view of the mountains by widening and planning the major thoroughfare.. p.. 32. His roots stretched back to Rousseau’s love of the natural life as he mentioned several times.

” The greenbelt could be “as little as a hundred feet wide. Superintendent of Public Works Louis S. 23 Mumford. . Honolulu was partly surrounded by mountains.”23 Greenbelts had been first proposed as a means of limiting the size of garden cities. but which in the late thirties was perceived as the height of prurience and raised derision in the local press. City Development. As “the spurs of the mountains that lead into the city form natural open areas that can only be developed for urban building at an extravagant cost.. the attachment to nature was not just a matter of pastoral nostalgia. pp. p. December29. and of the forest cover to provide shelter for wildlife. 20 Mumford. 21 Mumford. City Development.22 For Honolulu.” or park girdle. Technics and Civilization. as facetiously referring to Mumford’s “two novel suggestions—beaches for bare bathers and spooning alleys. which could give as much coherence to a modern neighborhood as the ancient wall used to for medieval cities. preferring a more robust search for policy-guiding economic and social planning based on decentralized neighborhoods.”19 But for Mumford.24 This brings us to what distinguishes Mumford from Geddes.” he proposed that “where these areas have not been sacrificed to the subdivider.”20 In this. The city of the future will have a better sense of its natural limits. As an indication of Geddes’s influence. a Study of Parks. Cain. One article quoted Lester McCoy’s opponent. 19 “Mumford Book on City Parks Rapped by Cain. “Regional forms. Gardens and Public Institutes. are those which “most closely meet the actual conditions of life and which fully succeed in making a people feel at home in their environment: they do not merely utilize the soil but reflect the current conditions of the culture of a region. this meant an extension of both the garden city idea and regional planning idea: Mumford suggested the provision of the old Garden City “greenbelt. 24 Ibid. 103. Mumford’s “Report on Honolulu” appeared along with other essays by Mumford in a book entitled City Development. a direct reference to Geddes who had published a book under the same title a quarter century earlier in 1904. bucolic sentimentality or hedonistic hippiedom. p. rather than to evade its actual difficulties and its actual deterioration by encouraging its population to move out to the outskirts and permit the interiors to become more completely blighted. the conservation and restoration of soils. City Development. The South in Architecture.” Honolulu Star Bulletin. 1938. 98. they should be retained and connected together as a greenbelt. 30. 22 Mumford. “Planning for indefinite expansion is now wasteful and obsolete. p. he was a disciple not only of Rousseau but of the regional planning philosophy of Patrick Geddes who had abandoned the Garden City Movement as a way of designing leafy residential suburban areas. It will attempt to make the most of what it has. What 317 Lewis Mumford. Pencil drawing of palm fronds.21 Among the aims of biotechnic regionalism expounded in Technics and Civilization had been the restoration of the balance between man and nature. 431–3.” he wrote. He had a deep commitment to redefining the meaning of the landscape in order to deal with new realities. This is the purpose Mumford put them to on the scale of the city of Honolulu in order to act as a brake on sprawl.TROPICAL LEWIS MUMFORD something he and his own family regularly practiced on Long Island.

Mumford called not only for the provision of broad boulevards in the city center leading to the water and two east–west parkways. This abandonment had caused “the spotty and erratic nature of their growth. however. He saw greenbelts as what he called the locus for what he termed “arterial parkways.” which he called one of the “great weaknesses in Honolulu’s development.” parks with highways running through them. In his chapter called “Can Cities Hold their Population?” he railed against “the tendency on the part of many people to escape from the more congested and sordid internal sections of the city to outlying urban developments where at least a little sunlight. “Reckless expansion. “the cities that now exist will A sketch on top of a map of Honolulu by Lewis Mumford indicating the greenbelt he wished to place between Honolulu and the mountain range above it. fresh air. If Geddes could not have imagined sprawl this was not the case for Mumford.” was something he put down to the abandonment by local government of the city center. sprawl and its potential for ecological and social disaster was just beginning to dawn.LIANE LEFAIVRE AND ALEXANDER TZONIS Mumford had in mind as a greenbelt Geddes could not have imagined. linking the opposite sides of the city. but also for two “arterial parkways” in the greenbelt.” If these trends continue. His conception of what a greenbelt should be took that new reality of vehicular traffic into consideration. and free play can be secured for their children.” necessitating “a premature building up and exploitation of the land in the remoter suburban areas. In Mumford’s. section by section. he goes on.” In turn this meant that “large tracts of land near the middle of the city have long been held out of use” preventing “the orderly and systematic development of the city. one Mauka and one Makai. called Ewa and Diamond Head.” Mumford put his finger on the economic consequences of sprawl. In order both to limit car traffic in the inner city and establish a strong link to both the sea and the mountains. therefore. Geddes had not been concerned with the issue of sprawl and automobile traffic because they had simply not been a problem in his day. 318 .

long before. often tax-delinquent or otherwise approaching private and public industry at the edges. “The question.. 128.” This.” so with Honolulu. p.” For Honolulu. Here “in many cases. leaving a mass of rotting or dilapidated structures and a vast burden in capital investments whose returns are annually becoming smaller and shakier to the point of eventual tax delinquency and forfeiture.”26 Among his urban planning ideas. the areas zoned for business and industry are five to fifteen times the amount that any city would normally have used. 28 Ibid. for example. they should have been made available. this translated into his criticism of the restriction of the present parks to mere “recreation zones”25 He called “for the systematic improvement of housing. Having argued to contain sprawl outside the city limits through a greenbelt and rationalize the flow of traffic through parkways in the center of the greenbelts. has been accompanied by the “extremely costly development of the hillside sites of the city.” As with “cities throughout America” that had “been decaying in their old centers. 27 Ibid. reducing glare and strain. the establishment of healthy standards of density. can be successfully answered only if it is recognized that the older cities must be made into sound biological environments.TROPICAL LEWIS MUMFORD be emptied out in their central areas. and over-extending themselves in ragged fragments. parks and recreation grounds on a scale that will give to the city all the advantages that the suburb usually has at the beginning of its existence— before the suburb itself becomes a prey to speculative disorder and congestion.. It was costly in terms of the local water supply that “by itself limits this expansion”.. in Mumford’s assessment. p. Louis Heights.. providing visual delight for play and relaxation and supplying one of the most sanative of all modes of work—the care of plants themselves. in the ordinary course of things. to overcome it by drawing upon distant supplies would create water shortage. he borrowed the idea of ribbon parks from Radburn and “Frankfurt housing projects before 1932” (that is before the rise of Nazism) for the inner-city area of Honolulu instead of the “isolated open area in the midst of a pattern of built up blocks”27 because it was the natural site for elementary schools and made it possible for a child to walk to school. the creation of necessary open spaces” as well as for the provision “of gardens. Another way he proposed that parks be more integrated in urban life was as a potential cooling mechanism capable of “renewing the air. he then went onto the other side of the coin: how to manage the resulting inner city density. . I submit. the prevention of overcrowding.”28 He noted that the trade 319 25 Ibid.” Sprawl was costly in other ways. 89–90. 95. 26 Ibid. p. tempering the heat of the sun. land has been opened up to middle-class home owners “who could ill afford the excessive site preparation and utility costs that such a development calls for: and the city has been forced to expand its municipal services at a disproportionate cost. 111. pp.” In tracts of St.

31 Mumford. 88. City Development. This is the third element of his regionalism that was patently at odds with traditional regionalists. bridges. like that of the Hawaiian Pineapple company. for all his ecological concerns. neighborhood planning and park development. he was also for the use of the most advanced technology of the day in the service of economic modernization. 30 Carl Abbott. air circulation. Mechanical air conditioning may be a useful auxiliary 320 .LIANE LEFAIVRE AND ALEXANDER TZONIS 29 Ibid.”29 Like a true regional planner. No city. p. Against what he called the “congestion-for-profit” or the “spear to everywhere” school of thought he advocated “collective democratic methods” in order to “end blight in the city and waste of resources in the suburbs.” In order to promote his remedy—satellite towns and the dispersal of industry—he called for “a strong executive agency that would reinforce its legislative mandate without bending to local prejudices. he not only placed urban planning under regional planning but also called for the setting up of a centralized planning commission in order to set limits and control laissez faire development. “every well administered municipality.” And like a true Rooseveltian.” The Oregonian Forum.” This. Not merely must the municipality discourage such uneconomic growth by resisting premature subdivision. Numerous physiological investigations.” he argued. he favored a measure of government intervention in arguing that a regional planning authority should be set up. “does not merely mean open houses: it means an open and oriented type of planning. can afford to grow in the haphazard and wasteful fashion that prevailed in the past. must offset the tendency toward reckless suburban growth by taking substantial measures towards its own renovation. He argued that “to take care of the possible increase of population involves not city planning but regional planning for the islands at large. he specified. The relation between open planning. In a well organized factory. the principal working units are designed so as to permit the free circulation of the air. p. large-scale housing. have shown that the lowering of the temperature is not so important as the direct air cooling of the body. with its open-air life. 1979. in a climate like Honolulu’s. no matter how drastic the pressure of population. by withholding assent from ill-advised express highways. or tunnels that open up cheap land outside the municipality’s area of control: what is much more important is that it will seek to make the city itself permanently attractive as a human home by slum clearance.”31 On the other hand. and efficiency is worth extra emphasis here. beginning with Winslow’s classic experiments. February 1. “Oregon came around to Mumford’s ideas but 40 years late.. the main degree of ventilation. winds that swept over the city from the northeast formed “an admirable air-cooling apparatus that a community could boast. of which Honolulu as yet can show but few good examples. 111.”30 “Ultimately. in order to save itself from bankruptcy and hopeless arrears.” The purpose was to “command the fullest possible exposure to sunlight.

Chinese and various Haole groups (western) who made it a “significant experiment in the hybridization of cultures which perhaps will mark the future development of human society. He described a city as a multicultural city. 38 See F. 35 Richard Neutra. Lefaivre and Bruno Stagno (eds. Mumford espoused the view that community could be something multicultural.” Brooklyn Bridge and the Galerie des Machines in Paris.. railroads and airports all interlinked. p. 50.38 Second. 36 Ibid. . Mumford’s The South in Architecture makes the point forcefully. and for most circumstances of living. He had great admiration for Buckminster Fuller’s streamlined Dymaxion car. The New Yorker. 30. “Three Tropical Design Paradigms. p.37 Surely the most radical departure associated with Mumford’s regionalism was his definition of “community. p. Li Kuan Yew. Japanese. Beneath the American Renaissance.”33 Such conditions included the work place. 1949.36 An interesting feature was landing strips for helicopters at the railroad station and on the roofs of elevated stations. 1941) and David Reynolds. blood ties and attachment to the soil. the Union Pacific train. 34 See Philip Bay. in Mumford’s Technics and Civilization (1934) we have a celebration of technical inventions such as the modern steamship. Harvard University Press. the Soviet “rail zeppelin sphero-train. Although scientific research has shown that the lowering of temperature was not so important as direct air in cooling the body. January 8. p. the more natural modes of air conditioning that would be available to everyone in the city through adequate planning must retain major importance. p. Hoffmann. .34 Thirty years before Reyner Banham’s Theory and Design of the First Machine Age (1960). His “Report on Honolulu” is where he applied this view hands-on. he could not abide the traditional regionalists’ equation of community as monocultural.) Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalization in the Age of Globalization. the first philosopher in Germany to propose an alternative to the Blood and Soil theory of community that had dominated German thought since the theme of Gemeinshaft versus Gesellshaft had been introduced by Simmel. who declared the air conditioner the best invention of the twentieth century. 33 Ibid. Wie Baut Amerika (Stuttgart.TROPICAL LEWIS MUMFORD to nature under special conditions. City Development. But in most circumstances of living. American Renaissance (London. 39 Mumford “Report on Honolulu. preceding Singapore’s founding premier. Oxford University Press.35 where the emphasis was placed on movement. as an heir to Whitman and the Transcendentalists.” in Tzonis. .” p. The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville (Cambridge. it is a miniature experimental station. he was for the air conditioner. with ubiquitous freeways. London. 95. 1988). 259. he was a follower of the philosopher Martin Buber. natural modes of air conditioning through ventilation was the best. Here his definition of regionalism is consciously opposed to Heidegger’s. local and express elevated train systems.32 As is evident. 37 Lewis Mumford. 1927). 94. he admired Neutra’s image of the modern city put forth in his largely forgotten Rush City Reformed scheme published in his early Wie Baut Amerika. based on tribal or national affiliations.” First.. but for the mass of the population. Wiley. 60. 2001). Mumford wrote in 1949 that Neutra’s “kind of thinking should now be resumed and perhaps public competitions should be held to enlist the imagination of the younger generation of architects and planners.”39 321 32 Mumford.O Matthiessen. Finally. . still Mumford allowed that “mechanical air conditioning might be a useful auxiliary to nature under special conditions. made up of original Polynesians.

in principle collaborative so to speak. He saw regionalism not as a way of resisting globalization. The fact is all transportation in Mumford’s plan was car-dependent and he made no provision for a public transit system. and during the last century that problem has shaped itself more and more into the question of what weight should be given to the universal imprint of the machine and the local imprint of the region and the community.” to use Buber’s term. p. . is yes. we must often seek help from people or ideas or technical methods that originate elsewhere . it must be open to fresh experience and yet it must maintain its integrity. separated from the local region in space or time or both together. taking the view that there was nothing mutually exclusive between one region and another.41 The originality of this last proposition cannot be overestimated. slum clearance. Was Mumford’s urban plan for Honolulu a good one? In terms of its broad integration of elements of planning. and from different cultures. As with a human being. Again. land use and municipal administration. It would be useful if we formed the habit of never using the word regional without mentally adding to it the idea of universal—remembering the constant contact and interchange between a local scene and the wide world that lies beyond it. not completely. This marked a major swing away from the centuries-old pattern of regionalist thinking based on either an adversarial stance or on resistance to one based on dialogue and negotiation.. we believe. or between one region and the globe. One may ask if parkways were a good solution to sprawl. Finally.”40 This was another way of saying that every regional culture necessarily has a universal side to it. Mumford saw no opposition between what he called the local and the universal. p. Even in 1938. scheme of things. For the first time a regionalist steered a middle course between the particular and the universal. 5. . it is in The South in Architecture that he introduced the notion in these terms: “The philosophical problem of the general and the particular has its counterpart in architecture. Mumford struck a balance between regionalism and globalism. between what we would call “regional” versus “global” today. or rather good enough. the blindness 322 41 Ibid. or rather. that there was the possibility of mutually beneficial negotiating to be carried out within a wider. 50. what one might call “in betweening. In no other art is that process more sharply focused than in architecture. the answer. To make the best use of local resources. The South in Architecture. at a time when the car was not nearly as dominant as it is today. including not only landscape but air pollution and congestion. . It is steadily open to influences that come from other parts of the world.LIANE LEFAIVRE AND ALEXANDER TZONIS 40 Mumford. every culture must both be itself and transcend itself: it must make the most of its limitations and must pass beyond them.

Mumford proposed broad boulevards leading to the water and two east–west parkways. According to planner Gerald Hodge45 many of Mumford’s proposals “would have made the problems more manageable. 1938. Smyser. Critical Regionalism: Architecture in an Age of Globalization. May 11. Instead Honolulu opted for the H-1 expressway— a ruthless gash across the landscape—and Nimitz and Kalanianiole highways which scarcely take advantage of their closeness to the water. with its wide traffic lanes and trees shaded and beautified by it would have changed this. economic modernization. p. social justice and community—it just gets more relevant all the time. Or curse your luck at 4:30 pm traffic jam almost everywhere. for the “highly dubious Pali Tunnel which would further disorganize the growth of the city. School. was a disaster. Besides this shortcoming. as appraised by urban designer A. involving issues of memory. . Munich: Prestel. London: Wiley 2001.” In order to establish a strong link to both the sea and the mountains. writing in a local newspaper in 1965. 44 David Smollar.” Honolulu Star Bulletin. A. died in 1941.”44 By 1980. “Mumford Revisited.A. 42 “Mumford Book on City Parks Rapped by Cain. overhead wire strewn ugly streets all over town.” Honolulu Star Bulletin. This left him defenseless in the face of the attacks by the Republican Louis S. 43 A. A version of this essay was published in the Proceedings of the International Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. or look at crowded. pp. December 29. but .” in Honolulu. Though ignored for so long— with its shortcomings as well as its remarkable inclusiveness. how did the plan fare? The unfortunate fact is: not well. Mumford felt that the two parkways would clearly link the Ewa and Diamond Head sites of the city. Cain. “Mumford’s parkway running from the shore from Honolulu harbor out to Koko Head. 1965.” The Sunday StarBulletin & Advertiser. “Old advice valid. technology.” he wrote. 45 Gerald Hodge. who called Mumford’s plans “mumblings” that “fumbled the facts. “Lewis Mumford’s Unfinished Vision of Honolulu. December 1980. much opposed by Mumford. 2004 and Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization with Bruno Stagno. tree-less arterial to town from Honolulu International Airport. sustainability. In fact it has been completely ignored. the territorial superintendent of public works who was soon to become the mayor of Honolulu. 323 .TROPICAL LEWIS MUMFORD to this issue is serious and the failure to address the issue is a definite shortcoming. Seventy years have passed since Mumford put forth a working model for a critical regionalist urban planning model. Dillingham.”42 The result.”43 He went on to decry the lack of Mumford’s Makai and Mauka parkways to solve traffic congestion and complained about the plans. Smyser. Mumford’s main Democrat supporter. things were no better. 1975. This text is a much expanded version of a section of Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis. 2002. May 15. A-9. 90–93. Today travel to or from the Ewa side is still thwarted by a maze of inconclusive streets such as Vineyard. Honolulu. Lester McCoy. . “Cruise along the ugly. The authors wish to thank the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Pennsylvania for permission to reproduce all the material related to Mumford’s Honolulu plan here.

” Architectural Record. one witnesses a direct contrast to the normative commodity of convenience and capitalism found throughout most of the United States. As the pace of the American lifestyle increases. ranked the sixth largest tourist economy in the United States. In the tourism industry of Southern Louisiana. waterborne commerce a year. “Patricia Gay: Working Hard for Preservation in the Big Easy. is its built environment and the perceived cultural meaning that this environment holds for those who live outside of it. The Mississippi river. especially in New Orleans. Robertson. these remaining restored places stand as symbols of a slower time and of languid human interaction without the distractions of modern speed. It is the access point to four of the eleven largest U. 256. North to Natchez. drive-thru windows. and built environment of the United States rely on efficiency and speed.000 workers and generates 5. parking lots. The most apparent scale is that of New Orleans and its buildings. In its scale. and freeways. Port of New Orleans. The primary gauge of the commodity of time is its acceleration.S. (Image by Grant L. including nearly half of all American grain exports. (It employs over 87. If the efficiencies 324 . ports (in foreign commerce tonnage) and they handle more than 457 million tons of U. People save money and accrue vacation time for the momentary opportunity to travel and experience a languid cultural landscape. the built environment is essential to this escape. Retaining and providing access to an idea of “languid space” is one of South Louisiana’s major economic products. the small towns. from Natchez to New Orleans. and planning.”1 The area finds itself in a contemporary contradiction of preserving and promoting its “languid spaces” of tourism within an atmosphere of convenient and immediate speed. The spaces we construct reflect that pace. It is a city known primarily as a tourist destination of languid escapism.THE LUXURY OF LANGUOR GLOBALISM AND LOCAL IDENTITY MICHAEL A. “It’s buildings that give cities their identity. style. one finds “languid space” at a smaller scale along the Scenic Byways. August 2002. Immediately adjacent to New Orleans’ urban scale slowness.S. even though it contains the United States’ third largest port. so does the need for temporary escapes into the opposite. strip malls. culture. For this paper. Speed spaces such as these have become the public spaces of America.2 billion dollars per annum). like other areas of cultural and infrastructural uniqueness. and the singular spaces of plantations frame these routes and contribute to the region’s spatial slowness. McCLURE AND URSULA EMERY McCLURE (2003) 1 Ingrid Whitehead.) The present economy. One of the greatest commodities of the lower Mississippi river valley. Retained and re-used architecture of the area creates “languid space” and it is evident at many scales. we define Southern Louisiana’s “languid spaces” by their differences from what is seen as the American norm.

movies. and strolling).” They do so. convenience. The main goal seems to be a proof-of-attendance or the postcard.”2 Southern Louisiana very efficiently and progressively caters to. the inefficiencies. define unique “languid space.” Through advertising.” Inefficiencies in communication are mostly spatial and historic: porches. and protects both the idea and the reality of its greatest commodity: “languid space” as an alternative to the normative. and accelerated obsolescence define normative American space. 30 percent of Louisiana’s residential structures pre-date 1950. These tangible places encourage inefficient human interaction (chatting. This leads to the contemporary contradiction Southern Louisiana relies on: maintaining its obsolescence in order to remain viable as the alternative. however. charming towns and villages which still celebrate a style of life that has become increasingly elusive for many of us. Tourists flock to experience a “languid space. and plazas. historic example. as of March 2000. they usually only experience an idea of space. For the 325 2 James Fox-Smith. Kevin Lynch’s notions of how we come to understand our position within space become important. Thus. then the opposite. there was no need to demolish the built fabric. “Imageability.” or the quality of a physical environment that gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in the mind. porticos. lounging. . “Country Roads Area Map. and urban and rural districts/landmarks. the older.” Because of this significance in understanding and nomenclature. the idea of “languid space” also increases in value and has become as important as the space itself. is essential to understanding the value a built environment has on the escapist “languid space. and television commercials. and tree-lined. exaggerates. . . Inefficiencies in spatial convenience decrease acceleration: pedestrian districts. Because the value of the “languid space” is both perceived and actual. books.THE LUXURY OF LANGUOR in communication.” Country Roads Magazine (every issue). a flattened visual reference (the postcard experience). residential thoroughfares. t-shirt. Delayed obsolescence has value in a “languid space. within such short periods of time and with such vigor. we will now briefly examine three examples of Lynch’s elements of imageability in relation to the “languid spaces” of tourism of Southern Louisiana: paths. and coffee mug that serve as a memory of attendance at this unique space. With little economic motive to modernize from the end of the civil war to the mid-twentieth century. meandering byways. For example. People are drawn to the area through promises like this byline of something other: “The small roads that traverse the countryside from Natchez to New Orleans offer access to small town America . They encourage and sometimes force one to stop and observe. Rarely will they experience the inefficiencies and slow value of the space that drew them there initially. less conformable and least similar spaces increase in value and define a “languid space.” We measure the value of these spaces by the difference from what is progressive. This built spatial slowness coexists in the midst of a highly evolved port/factory economy and tourism remains the primary perceived commodity of the area.

(Image by emerymcclure architecture. 1995). it is a walking. McCLURE AND URSULA EMERY McCLURE purpose of this study. Charles Avenue is composed of the inefficient and obsolescent overlay of uses and scales. and cultural meaning. not a well-established thriving urban thoroughfare. unreliable public transportation of the electric trolleys. and not much has changed from its intended use.MICHAEL A. Now. mahogany seats. It is a thoroughfare for cars. it is a corridor for the outdated. Not only was it constructed of much better material. and not only did you pass block after block of mansions oozing romance and old prosperity. Putnam’s Sons. it is both a linear public park and an important thoroughfare for the city. Interstate 10 and several high clearance bridges over the river 3 Tony Dunbar.) 326 . and cities. Charles Avenue. solid hunks of steel. Each space exists as a complex overlay/compression between the artifacts of a “languid space” and the contemporary efficient condition of speed space. than any form of public transportation put together in the past 50 years. What was originally an efficient. we will discuss them in terms of their physical space. There was a grand feel of luxury about the streetcar. The visitor measures the avenue’s value as a forty-five minute surface tour for one dollar. St. ports. The use of St. Connecting uptown to downtown. who have always come to St. The cultural meaning has also remained consistent. The experience is singular and linear.P. City of Beads (New York: G. is a rural “languid space” that has changed more dramatically from its initial condition. the River Road. but also the ride was slow as summer. Charles to view the elaborate homes of the social elite under a canopy of live oaks. and the rural River Road. view it as an artifact in a museum. stout leather straps. but a critical balance has changed. 7. the visitors. The “languid space” of St. slow. PATHS: URBAN AND RURAL Two of the most identifiable paths of the area are the urban St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.3 Another identifiable path. modern connector of economic centers to the river. bicycle path. Charles is all of these. running. The real urban value is not a concern. use.

It is still a dense space of multiple levels of social interaction. One can now very efficiently exit the freeway. The volume and intensity of Bourbon Street has also grown exponentially so that the idea of the “Bourbon Street Experience” is paramount to those who occupy the space. The River Road’s value as a “languid space” comes now from its obsolescence. caught in the fixed space between the Mississippi River Levy on one side and chemical plants and sugar cane fields on the other. the ubiquitous “languid spaces” of escape. (Image by emerymcclure architecture. its meaning as a “languid space” now occurs in segments because of the alternate routes that have replaced it. more efficient. The commodity is reliant on an actual built space. Historically those support spaces were the port. The French Quarter in New Orleans. Its main use is the idea or image. and transient housing of the city. The New Orleans Convention Center brings in 1.THE LUXURY OF LANGUOR have replaced. drive through a small town. Its use is still a place for celebration and release dependent on support spaces. specifically Bourbon Street and Jackson Square. tour a plantation. drive a short distance along the river at an inefficient pace. and convenient. The outside perception of these spaces holds their value. is simultaneously an actual example of “languid space” and an intense commodification of the idea or image. The idea of a night on 327 . but the commodity has become primary. Only at occasional moments does one come across a small town or remaining plantation home. Bourbon Street has remained constant in its space. not as a vital contemporary space. One must drive slowly through the tight curves. city homes of country farmers. The River Road may still physically link the modern chemical plants and serve as access for the vital upkeep of the levy. through historical use and the international advertising of a highly developed tourism industry. eat a good meal. Now those support spaces are exponentially larger. and then efficiently return to I-10.) Along each of these paths exist districts and landmarks that identify what have now become. and cultural meaning. DISTRICTS/LANDMARKS: URBAN Cane Field/Factory on the River Road. use.5 million people annually.

and then move on. it acted as a market and social promenade. Now that these spaces are no longer required to inform and celebrate information exchange on a daily basis. rely on the physical space that has been preserved and re-adapted for the new reality. the plaza’s use and cultural meaning have been transformed. take a photograph. the postcard view is primary and the exchange is a proof of attendance. Any plaza is a rare space in the United States in both its physical form and contemporary vitality and use. does one find in Jackson Square. government. Both the idea and the experience. it served as a civic meeting place. The primary change in the physical space of the plaza is a telling addition to the classic plaza formed by the Law of the Indies. if any.) have become a primary program.MICHAEL A. the tourism industry and contemporary speed space have changed the use and cultural meaning of Jackson Square. (Image by emerymcclure architecture. (Image by emerymcclure architecture. now rivaling the bars and strip joints of the streets in leased square footage. What was once an open side on the square to the river is now a tourist information exchange and snapshot platform. During the week.” trolley tours. Access to “river walk. and commerce. McCLURE AND URSULA EMERY McCLURE Above: T-Shirt Shack on Bourbon. Like all of the “languid spaces” of Southern Louisiana. politics. Jackson Square once acted as the town center. Based on the Law of the Indies with church.) Above right: Jackson Square. however.) Bourbon Street has surpassed the actual experience. On the other hand. the spatial town bulletin. Very few locals. but the exchange has changed. etc. The proof-of-attendance shops (T-shirts. Instead. The contemporary reality of use and meaning is still exchange. One now goes to the plaza to view a street performer. like Bourbon Street. the experience secondary. and boats to 328 . Experiential value is no longer essential or valuable for society. coffee mugs. On the weekends. the idea has become primary. and commercial buildings occupying the sides of a central open square.

however. the remaining grand homes and few support buildings provide an extremely limited vantage into the spatial and cultural space of a working rural factory and social center. They are artifacts of the formal public façade whose vestiges remain in the public access faces of strip malls and box stores. self-reliant space as a comparative escape from the norm. Their value still relies on their spatial characteristics. LA: Pelican Publishing Company. These over-scaled interior rooms coupled with the deep. Chemical factories. 1998). the plantation houses survived originally through inattention and lack of better economic alternatives. tourism economy. They continue to operate in much the same inefficient and isolated manner that they 329 4 Lyle Saxon. It still exemplifies the spatial inefficiencies of a plaza and demonstrates the tangible contradictions required for a “languid space” of tourism. occupied façades are unique. and space. DISTRICTS/LANDMARKS: RURAL The same contradictions in the conditions of adaptive re-use and adaptive re-meaning can be seen in the rural “languid spaces” of tourism. Plantation sites along the river road may have experienced the greatest change in their use. The hierarchies of spaces. exterior support spaces of fields. Now House Museums. when distance is so easily bridged. large corporate fields. meaning. are spatial. for history has removed the vast. formal to informal and public to private. non-connected.THE LUXURY OF LANGUOR the aquarium and zoo now dominate the riverside of the plaza. Jackson Square is a prime example of the value of a “languid space” in today’s society. Old Louisiana (Gretna. They give the spaces value in the escapist. and grand dining rooms. Like the entire remaining valuable “languid spaces” of Louisiana. “Their self-sufficiency seems strange today. Now they exist as an asset because of their low availability to the rest of the country. also provide an example not seen in today’s non-hierarchical architecture of instant total access and convenience. The plantations’ remote and infrequent locations along the Mississippi continue to accurately provide an experience of a slower. The small towns along the River Road exemplify some of the last “languid spaces” that the tourist industry has not transformed. parlors. and suburban developments now occupy the once essential. extended landscape spaces of plantations. docks.”4 Originally centers of economic and cultural exchange. Some of them stood a day’s long journey from the nearest town. which consists of the social gathering spaces: ballrooms. barns. much like plazas are spatial artifacts whose vestiges can still be seen in food courts and parking lots. . The porches provide the public threshold to the ground floor. To continue the illusion we are expected to ignore the contemporary extended landscape. 147. they acted as the rural versions of Jackson Square. but in those days the houses were remote indeed. These porches. and slaves’ and workers’ quarters. not merely a flat sign located on the street façade.

one must only look to the new hybrid building of the area. The difference in areas such as Southern Louisiana is the existence and re-established meaning of the original artifacts. Again. McCLURE AND URSULA EMERY McCLURE Bocage Plantation. Its program and spaces perform in the same complex manner as the newest and most contemporary Las Vegas casino. To further substantiate that Southern Louisiana’s built environment is not just a time capsule of artifacts from a slower time. The free plantation workforce lived in these towns and a commercial center formed to serve the immediate area. Harrah’s Casino in downtown New Orleans. The towns along the river between New Orleans and Natchez were originally local centers for the plantation culture outside of the three larger cities. They have not been incorporated yet into the tourist economy through the overlay of efficiency and convenience. Harrah’s in New Orleans is 330 . (Image by emerymcclure architecture. the workers are employed mostly at the chemical factories (the contemporary plantation crop). The towns abut the river levy with low-density residential blocks adjacent to denser commercial streets with shaded sidewalks and they still mostly serve the local population. and efficiently captured audience is familiar and can be seen at its purest in Las Vegas. Now. This restaurant’s prices and cuisine are well above the scale that the small community population should support. “Country Roads Area Map. True. operated by one of Southern Louisiana’s most famous gourmet chefs.MICHAEL A. A compression of languid and speed space can be seen in Las Vegas and any other tourist area that originated for those who journey for pleasure. The exceptions are few. but the towns serve the same function. Most notable is Lafitte’s Landing. but a complex overlap and collision of the speedy and slow.) 5 James Fox-Smith. This archetype of spatial escapism.” originated. replication. One is the recent opening of high-end Cajun/Creole restaurants with bed and breakfasts. Harrah’s Casino is a modern American casino. “access to small town America”5 in conjunction with the lure of “authentic” or high-end cuisine lures visitors to the place with the promise of the opposite of what they experience in their daily environment. John Folse.

However. culture.6 This investigation into notions regarding the complexities of space. or if. culture.THE LUXURY OF LANGUOR unique because of its adjacency to the original artifact. time. Italy. However. valued only as a past thing. It is not a simplified and sanitized version of entertainment (Disneyland) or a regressive capsule of the past (Williamsburg. without changing their nature. Many similarities exist between the two cities regarding the value of architecture. reliant on ideas of regression. Chicago). and not really any of them. This detritus is its own unique progressiveness. This is not possible in New Orleans. New Orleans and Southern Louisiana differ from other historic tourism centers like Venice. That difference exists in the vast compression and complexities of space. The New York historian. Southern Louisiana has kept its architectural detritus. The two co-exist simultaneously. One could visit the Vegas Venice and never have seen the original. and space within its economic viability as something other. To know oneself is to know one’s region. This same notion of compression allows the chemical plants to hold the same economic positions within their rural landscapes that their neighboring Plantation Homes once did. Italy. One can find spatial replicas of the canyons of New York and the canals of Venice in Las Vegas. He asked the question whether or not New Orleans had given up its role as a vital progressive urban environment. It is partly all of these. urbanism. The homes exist now as museums of what was once an efficient culture. time. Kenneth Jackson. economy. and tourism. The overlays of inefficiencies and efficiencies and of inconvenience and convenience seem to demand a unique hybrid building like Harrah’s Casino. it had become an artifact frozen in time. It is also to know the world. at a lecture given at the College of Art and Design at Louisiana State University. concluded his lecture regarding New Orleans by drawing comparisons between modern day New Orleans and turn of the century Venice. like Venice. Virginia). paradoxically. but now is outdated. It is a contemporary architecture that relies on imitation. they can be seen through each other. or a vibrant contemporary cultural and economic center (New York. 34. It is not in a zone or area separated from modernity. It is a tourism space that replicates a re-used and re-interpreted original only blocks away. Mystery and Manners (New York: The Noonday Press. and it is also. and tourism. itself a contemporary flattened experience of its original space. the Las Vegas replications are far removed from the originals. 1997). a form of exile from that world. One experiences Harrah’s flattened imitation of the French Quarter within the view of the spatial original. Art requires a delicate adjustment of the outer and inner worlds in such a way that. economy. seemingly without conflict. . and the contradictions/overlays/ ironies of the new “languid space” are enormous. Couple this with the contemporary condition of the French Quarter. stems from a desire to teach and 331 6 Flannery O’Connor.

http://www. it is necessary we understand the constant influences of everything and nothing at all.” specifically a viable “languid space”? What type of practice can relevantly negotiate in any of the infinite unique landscapes? Can it be simultaneously local and global? REFERENCES U. Census Bureau. and bayous. contemporary industry.S. 2003.MICHAEL A. In a time when hierarchies are fluid. Regional Economic Accounts. This essay was originally published in the Proceedings of the 91st Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Economic Indicators. the Atchafalaya Basin. 2002.la. Systems Support Division of the U. 332 .I. Cambridge. 2002. and replication. It is landlocked by the Mississippi river. The Image of the City.S.html. http:// www. 2003 (prior to Hurricane Katrina). Lake Pontchartrain. preservation. Its “languid space” is a speed space that capitalizes on the idea and the experience of the regressive. Malcolm.gov/bea/regional/gspmap/.lded. and the numerous swamps. and non-hierarchical. 10. Southern Louisiana presents a unique microcosm of the conditions found in the contemporary global environment. Press. Louisiana General Demographic Characteristics. 1997. Lynch.T. 1994). should not the practices and pedagogies that attempt to translate them into the built environment be fluid as well? We ask ourselves these questions: Can a contemporary practice be critical and/or relevant within the “culture of congestion. Census Bureau. practice relevant architecture in Southern Louisiana. The compression and overlay of these infinite influences and their lack of clear hierarchy epitomizes the contemporary “culture of congestion.bea. Heard. dynamic. Its built environment consists simultaneously of adaptive re-use.” 7 If we are to contribute to the built environment and cultural identity of Southern Louisiana (or anywhere). Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Jackson. Kevin. http://www.gov/main/ www/cen2000. MA: M. To understand oneself and environment is dependent on these influences vying for relevance.us/. Delirious New York (New York: Monacelli Press.S. MS: University of Mississippi Press. McCLURE AND URSULA EMERY McCLURE 7 Rem Koolhaas. 1960.census. Louisiana Economic Development Department. French Quarter Manual: Architecture Guide to New Orleans’ Vieux Carre. the Gulf. The process is fluid. U.state. rivers.

Rutsky High Techné. High Techné (Minneapolis. 1999 1 Thus. which will very probably end in the implementation of networks of virtual reality. Such a politics would itself be a complex. . nor the ethics of the Western democracies. whose consequences often cannot be foreseen. Such a realm is precisely the realm of politics. nothing is inherently stable. pp. but its codes are continually subject to mutation and rewriting. Paul Virilio The Information Bomb. the realm of techno-culture is at once over-determined and constantly in process. Rutsky.TECHNOSCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CULTURE A provisional critique KENNETH FRAMPTON (2001) TECHNOLOGY The consequences of techno-cultural processes are not inevitable. 121–122. This is a cyberoptics which will leave intact neither the old aesthetics that was a product of European modernity. generative process in which fixed values and power relations would be unsecured. If there is to be a techno-cultural politics that does not simply try to control the processes of techno-culture. comes the imminent establishment of real networks of transmission of the vision of the world. MN: University of Minnesota Press.” which tomorrow will be subject to the pressure of the acceleration of historical reality. 2000 2 333 1 R. in the twenty-first century. it must imagine human beings as participants in the techno-cultural unconscious—riding its waves.L. 157–158 2 Paul Virilio. guaranteed. contested and brought into being. with the incalculable risk that the “commerce of the visible” will bring about what no totalitarian regime has managed to create through ideology: unanimous support. The Information Bomb (London and New York: Verso. 1999) pp. to developing the panoptical (and permanent) tele-surveillance of planetary sites and activities. generating new relations and processes. where futures are imagined. In this realm. I am referring to that “representative democracy. but also by their actions.” in which hybridity and partiality would be valued over purity and wholeness. 2000). Like the Freudian unconscious. as if decreed by the blind gods of a mechanical fate.L. the audiovisual information superhighways of those on-line cameras which will contribute. it is coded. attempting to navigate its currents. secure. initiating unsettling new movements within it. with the network of networks. after the development of the transport networks in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. in which connection and interconnection with others would be “essential. R. the Internet.

digital drafting along with cybernetic production will continue to facilitate the generation of forms “hitherto unimaginable. static. “What is false creates taste. What is new is the way the economy has now come to declare open war on humanity. building as an overall process tends not to be high-tech. less dynamic. “Feuerbach’s judgment on the fact that his time preferred ‘the sign of the thing to the thing signified. It is sometimes said that science today is subservient to the imperatives of profit. particularly when we compare it to the latest advances in microcircuitry. That CAD has had and will continue to have a major impact on the design process does not imply that builtform must directly reflect or even mimic the constantly transforming morphology of the telematic world. . paralleling the distinction in French between meubles (furniture) and immeubles (apartments). Against the all-but-seamless kaleidoscopic flow of digital and telematic images that continually pass like luminous phantoms across the surface of our screens. although this does not mean that computer-aided design (CAD) will have an impact comparable to that experienced by building culture between 1870 and 1920. Despite the precision of high-tech architecture. architectural practice has been transformed by cybernetic procedures. as had already been foreseen by the situationists some forty years ago. . for architecture 334 . identified by some as the technological sublime. and in several spheres where the nineteenth century preferred to keep its distance from what was already its fundamental nature: industrial capitalism. and indeed can no longer think. heavy. writes: “It is indeed unfortunate that human society should encounter such burning problems just when it has become materially impossible to make heard the least objection to the language of commodity. we may posit the ponderously wet aggregate of in situ concrete. Building. when the perfection of steel and concrete frame construction. the material world still has to be made. to resemble the false. while the rate of technological change has greatly escalated over the past two decades. is involved with the more basic. . power not only loses its ability to think but also concludes that it no longer has to think. combined with the introduction of the elevator and other electromechanical services. Thus it The ascendancy of technoscience and the rise of the mediatic bring into question the capacity of democracy to survive our ever accelerating rate of technological change. And what is genuine is reconstructed as quickly as possible.’ has been thoroughly vindicated by the century of spectacle. and reinforces itself by knowingly eliminating any possible reference to the authentic.KENNETH FRAMPTON PAPERLESS? 3 Guy Debord. 1988). totally transformed the physical nature of builtform. in Commentary on the Society of Spectacle (London: Verso. Thus. massive. This unstable field of continually fluctuating data and mediatic images. . Clearly. It is here that science— renouncing the opposition to slavery that formed a significant part of its own history—has chosen to put itself at the service of spectacular domination. just when power—quite rightly because it is shielded by the spectacle from any response to its piecemeal and delirious decisions and justifications—believes that it no longer needs to think. as Guy Debord predicted. . aspects of existence and hence is more intimately connected to the slower metabolic rhythms of the biosphere. in itself. However. p. Nevertheless.3 Thus the situation arises in which space previously accorded to thought becomes subsumed by cybernetic calculation. in many aspects. 38. but this is not sufficient justification. fancy to reality. expensive. We may note in this regard that we still distinguish in the environment between the mobile and immobile. . Under these conditions. by its very nature. but our chances of survival. and building culture remains exceptionally subject to this rubric whether we like it or not. building as a generic process remains. ideally assembled dry from machine-tooled parts. along with the collapse of history into the immediacy of an ever more fungible present.” to borrow Konrad Wachsmann’s memorable phrase. attacking not only our possibilities for living. lends itself to the domination of the spectacular. but that is nothing new. and genetic engineering. the copy to the original. as the urban economist Saskia Sassen reminds us. where a tolerance of even a centimeter is hard to maintain. and relatively intractable. like many other design disciplines. smart weaponry.

the authentic document. the paperless studio has already contributed as much as the word processor and the fax machine to our exponential. such as axonometrics.” The inescapable interaction between technology and culture may be further revealed by noting the different environmental conditions that have been engendered by automotive versus locomotive modes of transportation and distribution. as opposed to other forms of three-dimensional representation. models. However. Admittedly. passing from hand drawing. to digital projection. however. Today. precise historical criticism. perhaps. for the tourist’s cameras. together with some 100 species of flora and fauna. Such a comparison may appear to be rather academic given the current dominance of the automobile throughout the world.TECHNOSCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CULTURE to pursue the allure of spectacular form for its own sake or to strive for a technocratic legitimacy based on its computer generation of exotic form. never ending consumption of paper. the original object. while at the same diurnal rate. for nothing surely is more artificial in our admass 335 . and a similar causality surely obtains with regard to the continual suburbanization of the earth’s surface. and vice versa. Everything will be more beautiful than before. the tendency to replace the real with the artificial is ubiquitous. The current tendency to transform the traditional architectural atelier into a “paperless” studio is surely just as reductive in its implications as the erstwhile beaux-arts insistence on the rendered drawing. That is to say. Japan. the exploitation of cybernetic perspectival projection as a seductive substitute for all other modes of representation. to model making. In this regard it is fortuitous that traffic pollution has necessitated the replacement of the Marly Horses in the Place de La Concorde. above all. in the generation of form. the world loses an area of the rain forest the size of Manhattan. This apocalyptic state of affairs can barely be justified opportunistically in terms of gratifying some popular consumerist desire. from prototype to production drawing. that the rain forest would ever have been subject to devastation had it not been for the mass ownership of the automobile and the concomitant building of autoroutes. or the Roman Statues in the doorway of Saint-Trophime in Arles. but it is nonetheless instructive to observe that the two successive infrastructures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have had very different consequences in environmental terms. Thus we need not only to assimilate the computer but also to guard against its abuses. by plastic replicas. TRANSIT was that the bourgeoisie had widely disseminated the rigorous mentality of the museum. one needs to continually pass through multiple modes of representation at all stages of the project. from the use of laser cutters in the fabrication of models to the cybernetically regulated production of reiterative large-scale components such as we find in the varying tubular steel frames that make up the torus volume of the terminal building in Kansai Airport. one needs to verify the work in different ways throughout the design process. etc. into the architectural design process until the mid-twentieth century.. Ironically enough. the digital is a supremely effective tool at many levels in the design and realization of builtform. far from being paperless. It is unlikely. for example. The United States loses some 50 acres of virgin-cumagricultural land per day to suburbanization.

4 The freeway opened up hitherto inaccessible agricultural land to suburban subdivision. the locomotive provides a more restrictive mode of distribution. it will be possible to travel from the center of Nîmes to the center of Paris in two and a half hours. policy in this regard has been to maintain through state subsidy and taxation the existence of different complementary means of transport. Spain. and Japan.C. high-speed rail begins to emerge as the more efficient mode for distances up to 500 miles. highspeed rail transit has been able to coexist with the car in such a way as to emerge at the end of the twentieth century as the optimum vehicle for transport over intermediate distances. and to minimize environmental pollution. Switzerland. short-haul travel than comparable journeys by plane over similar distances. One year from now. Where the automobile has had the effect of emphasizing the sovereignty of the individual to the exclusion of the collectivity of the railroad.” The “motopian” chain reaction initiated after 1945 by powerful oil and automotive interests. The E. which in its turn gave rise to the shopping center and the mall. not to mention the fact that we are enclosing with acoustical barriers every freeway of consequence that passes through any suburb of standing. 1961). Given the ever increasing delays at so-called hubs due to aircraft congestion at both the intra. This is independent of its side benefits—its tendency to reinforce civic memory. is more advantageous for intercity.and intercontinental levels. England. and where the former favors decentralization. high-speed rail travel. manipulation of taste. is too well known to require reiteration here. As the environmental engineer Guy Battle recently remarked. 336 . appropriate development should meet the needs of the present “without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs. These new outlets effectively vitiated the main street shopping frontage of the average small town. Germany. not to mention the perennially clogged autoroutes leading to and from the airport. I am alluding to high-speed rail as this has been developed over the past quarter of a century in France. along with the railroad station that had been its lifeblood. aided and abetted by the governmental subvention of the freeway system. the latter still focuses on the city. with the result that today the T. but people are perhaps still insufficiently aware of how the mass ownership of the automobile and the proliferation of the suburb were the two symbiotic agents that brought about the demise of the American provincial town. Where the automobile tends towards a commodification of the environment.V.G. That this split in technological application also implies a parallel differentiation in sociopolitical terms is partially confirmed by the prominent role played by the European Community in subsidizing intercontinental.KENNETH FRAMPTON 4 The term motopian was coined by Geoffrey Jellicoe in his book Motopia: A Study of the Evolution of Urban Landscape (New York: Praeger. Furthermore. the automobile remains a major source of pollution contributing to our excessive production of carbon dioxide.

since its recommendations come to be represented as being either economically infeasible or as popularly unacceptable. and in this regard we may note that we are still using essentially the same system of reinforced concrete construction that we used over a century ago. The first important planning initiative for light rail occurred in 1961 in Bremen. the rational argument all too often fails to prevail. Transport in Cities (London: Architecture. and Politics. Not only has London been slower than Zurich to provide a direct rail link to the city center. Here we already touch on policies favoring the amortization of public investment as opposed to assuming the durability of the fabric. say. One may further note that the Swiss authorities developed an ingenious luggage cart for use on escalators and travelators with absolute safety throughout the terminal and its corresponding rail connections. if ever. 115. What is of concern to power is not reason but rationalization as a means for arriving at a consensus in favor of certain vested interests. Jeremy J. Design and Technology Press. has a rail link that is fully integrated with the federal rail system. Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Science. to a much improved design. on the grounds that they conflicted with vehicular traffic. trans. pp.7 It is not that we lack appropriate models for addressing the seemingly intractable problems of 337 7 Jurgen Habermas. On this concluding page of the study Flyvbjerg writes: “At times direct power struggle over specific issues works best.” 6 Bent Flyvbjerg. where the rhythm of stopping and starting is symbiotically related to the walking speed? Thus. (Boston. as a mode of nonpolluting transit. that is. p. 62–67. which is where constitutional and institutional reform come in. As he puts it in his book Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice (1991). through the work of Dr.” As the Danish planner Bent Flyvbjerg has remarked. Under the late modern conditions of distorted communication. MA: Beacon Press. experiential level as when we compare. along with various forms of light rail. laying open the relationships between rationality and power will help to achieve the desired results. Richards writes of light rail: “This is a development of the conventional tram. power is imbued with a reason that it is unaware of. discussed in the institutions of government and higher learning.5 The edict that each successive technological innovation must ipso facto eliminate its predecessor does not always apply. LAND SETTLEMENT 5 See Brian Richards. on the other hand. Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest. 1990). the means of airport access obtaining today in London and Zurich. but even now this link is inadequately coordinated with the main line and intracity systems. 236. and sometimes writing genealogies and case histories like the Aalborg study. 1998). In the past trams were often removed. . where passengers invariably have to walk long distances without the aid of travelators and where luggage has to be hand-carried up and down escalators or stairs. may still assert itself as an ecologically valid system of urban transit. May we conclude that such innovation and investment depend upon “cantonal” culture. either in civil engineering or in building culture. Today that position has been reversed. Is it equally symptomatic of direct democracy that Zurich is one of the few cities in the world where the electric tram is still in use. Zurich. 1970). p. Dorfler. in favor of buses. there is a disjunction between power and reason that is rarely. the city traffic engineer. power is invariably the stronger.6 This explains why in the conflict between reason and power. whereas reason is unfortunately not equipped with a comparable power. Shapiro.TECHNOSCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CULTURE This infrastructural interplay between technology and culture seems to have ramifications at a more immediate. on other occasions changing the ground rules for such struggle is necessary. we see how the tram. since clearly it is addressed to the convenience and comfort of the ordinary citizen? One cannot help noting how different this is from the paucity of passenger convenience provided in large airport hubs throughout the United States.

exemplifies only too directly the constraints imposed by populist consensus in our admass democracy. “In July. Nov. This difference in political mandate perhaps partially explains how the wholesale commodification of our urbanized regions has taken place without too much public investment. PA: University of Philadelphia Press. 21. land use.” in New York Times. the county pastoral. It is rather that we lack the conviction or even perhaps the political means of convincing society of the necessity of adopting certain measures. “long time landowners . 79–153. It is rumored that this finding was rejected by the current socialist administration on the grounds that “middle England would not stand for it”. It is a sobering thought that the less open bourgeois democracies of the nineteenth century were more effective in managing the expansion of the metropolis than contemporary megalopolitan governments have been in managing the environment. 1964). both were predicated on economizing in infrastructural costs. The first of these was the abandoned plan for the town of Hook in Hampshire. save for the provision of an auto-infrastructure that was considered to be essential to land speculation and the expansion of consumerism. automotive. on virgin or agricultural land that has not been built on before. architects. pp. Where the first was a relatively dense yet flexible form of settlement conceived as an appropriate response to the constraints and opportunities of the welfare state.” 9 Melvin Webber. the second was a more generic alternative of motopian sprawl. derived from Melvin Webber’s rationalization of Los Angeles as the ultimate. particularly where these affect market forces and the rights of private property. “Suburban Comfort. . while the second was set forth as a low-rise. Thwarting Plans to Limit Growth.8 In a recent inquiry commissioned by the British government with the intention of evolving an appropriate national planning policy for the twenty-first century. urban realm. nor incompatible in any way with the mass ownership of the automobile. strongly recommended that there should be no more construction on “green-field” sites. fought the plan bitterly because it meant they might not be able to sell to developers. that is to say.” neither was categorically anticapitalist. and fuel and hence were dedicated to limiting the consumption of nonrenewable natural resources. Both models were equally rational and pragmatic and although the realization of either would possibly have entailed “the power of eminent domain. high-density paradigm in Serge Chermayeff and Christopher Alexander’s Community and Privacy of 1963.KENNETH FRAMPTON 8 Efforts to check suburban sprawl in the burgeoning megalopolis surrounding the urban core of Atlanta have been categorically opposed by private interest. That the lowrise. See David Firestone. “nonplace. the commission dropped the plan. However. Two alternative models may be seen as exemplary alternative land settlement strategies that were posited in the second half of the twentieth century. Explorations into Urban Structure (Philadelphia. . gridded infrastructure of Milton Keynes (1972) was realized instead of Hook (as the last British new town) was due to the adoption of the American free-market. low-density. if true. a rumor which. designed for the London County Council in the late 1950s and published in 1961 as The Planning of a New Town. 1999.”9 338 . our time.” Elsewhere Firestone notes that in Atlanta. and urbanists. a committee of experts comprising engineers. land speculation model.

The alienating “nonplace. the miles of treeless commercial strip. For Rainer. near Linz. For him. the imperative still remains one of maintaining a balance between culture and nature. This may be the most fundamental reason why landscape design is of greater cultural consequence today than the traditional environmental disciplines of architecture. who employed it to refer to industrial design elements. As the high-tech architects have convincingly demonstrated. It is obvious that such sophisticated building techniques challenge our traditional building methods. the fact remains that the American megalopolis has already been built and that there is little chance of radically recasting it. from 1960 to 1980. urban realm” is already a ubiquitous condition covering vast areas of the continent and clearly there is little that can be done to humanize this ruinous situation except possibly the gradual application of fragmentary landscape interventions. PLACEFORM VERSUS PRODUCTFORM The term productform derives from the Swiss architect Max Bill. Ours is the epoch of miraculous glasses. high-density development as an alternative to the current patterns of megalopolitan development has been well demonstrated by various architects. The so-called high-tech architects have clearly done much to transform the craft of building along these lines—they have frequently created buildings that have been determined as much by fabrication methods as by function. this is an age that favors lightweight. and urban design. a project that would be elaborated as a general principle in his seminal book Livable Environments of 1972. thinner and more efficient insulating membranes. longspan construction. not to mention the pollution of the water table and the land itself through the excessive use of nitrate fertilizer and detergent—all may be open to mediation through the adoption of more sustainable techniques and through remedial topographic treatments. in his Puchenau Siedlung under construction on the Danube. the cultivation of the land and the biosphere are strategies with which to compensate for the maximizing drives of our technoscientific. and the constant depletion of the soil caused by excessive storm water runoff. motopian economy. the general lack of parks and recreation spaces. including the Austrian Roland Rainer. The proliferation of heat-absorbing. high-density settlement. which are determined by constraints of production rather than by ergonomic or functional considerations. particularly where these have become too expensive or where they are ultimately unattainable due to the degeneration of craftsmanship.TECHNOSCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CULTURE The viability of low-rise. cybernetically varied modes of production rather than simple serial prefabrication. blacktop parking areas and shopping malls. tessellated skins. planning. of 339 . and above all. always assuming that society will not only be willing to undertake such works but also to maintain them. Irrespective of the topographic potential of low-rise.

the cladding. heavyweight component in order to provide a substantial base for the productform. as it were. and even temporary piece of architecture. productform.KENNETH FRAMPTON 10 Renzo Piano. In such a combination. transparent. rationally assembled. The way in which such a technological. whether we like it or not. consumerist technology may go beyond the earthwork. of gluing rather than welding. and third. the fenestration. which is poised on top of it. This part is normally massive. In this respect. I believe that it is possible to create a tension between these two aspects. both of which are envelopes potentially responsive to the specific location of a given work. Technology. it is sculpted in position. of prestressing and posttensioning. the building consumes excessive amounts of energy. but they may certainly coexist. Place and Architecture: The Jerusalem Seminar in Architecture (New York: Rizzoli. that is to say the foundational. opaque and heavy. Then you craft a light. the place and the building. rather than manually operated controls. of servomechanisms and “smart” buildings. but clearly this cultural perception of a dialogical relationship obtaining between the “earthwork” and the “roofwork” is a culturally apposite way of regarding the interaction between a wet. however. Once again we have evidence that such legislation is never as neutral. partially handcrafted or industrially produced. sociocultural benefits come to be incorporated into building legislation. placeform and a dry. second. the structure that is invariably erected on top of it. landscaped. laminates and plastics. Moreover. the heavy is permanent and the light is temporary. Current Dutch building law mandates that all office structures must be provided with manually operable windows. Against all these lightweight. p. dry technological developments