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Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities Paperback – September 2, 2011

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Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities + The Image of the City (Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies Series) + The Death and Life of Great American Cities
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Editorial Reviews


“Impressive… [Rybczynski] writes with disarming ease… Our finest architecture critic.”—Francis Morrone, Wall Street Journal

Makeshift Metropolis is a deceptively slender distillation of some of the best thinking of one of the best thinkers about cities and urban planning. It’s a terrific meditation on the past, present, and future of cities—a critical subject now that human life, increasingly, is urban life.”—David Owen, author of Green Metropolis

“Rybczynski offers a glimpse of an urban future that might very well serve as a template for cities around the world… Instructive and always engaging… He not only writes about what people want from their cities, he inspires the reader to imagine the possibilities.”—Publishers Weekly

"Makeshift Metropolis is a wonderful book. It shows us how cities have been shaped by an unplanned dance between urban planners and the demands of ordinary consumers. Rybczynski is the ideal expositor of urban design, blessed with an abundance of inside knowledge."--Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Harvard University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Witold Rybczynski, born in Edinburgh, raised in Canada, and currently living in Philadelphia, is the Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written on architecture and urbanism for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker and Slate, and is the author of the critically acclaimed Home and the A Clearing in the Distance, a biography of frederick Law Olmsted, for which he was awarded the J. Anthony Lukas Prize. He is the recipient of the National Building Museum’s 2007 Vincent Scully Prize.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416561269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416561262
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book presents the emergence of ideas regarding city planning and how they were refined over time. Present planning concepts favor more use of private sector entrepreneurism than many past planning theories considered.

Lewis Mumford is noted by the author as having ideas of regional planning that still resonate as he theorized the coming reality of sprawl spreading to exurbs. Jane Jacobs is noted as correctly foreseeing urban neighborhood vitality, but not with a steady middle class as Jacobs saw, but with wealthier results and more mobile newcomers. Frank Lloyd Wright correctly forecast urban decentralization. All together, these and others' planning ideas helped shape applicable theories today.

The U.S. has undergone relatively unplanned development, which is something Jacobs woud defend. Many of the primary factors determining how development occurs are decided by private developers rather than a few city planners. Planners strive to set and meet general goals of keeping cities livable and economically viable, safe from crime, diverse, and environmentally responsible. Economic decisions determine what people are willing to purchase. This had led to clashes between those desiring consistent urban design and those who want unique architectural designs. A major clash develops when the desires of what people wish to purchase may not be in the best interest for others, or the best for the environment.

Public parks are unique to North America. Most European cities, by contrast, have areas for visual viewing of gardens, flowers, and tended plants.

The public sector has often sought to work in conjunction with the private sector. An example of this is the Brooklyn Bridge Park where piers, parks, and housing are simultaneously under construction.
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Great book. My niece is in landscape architecture and her thesis is going to be about turning a city into an Olympic games site and the aftermath and how to beautify the city afterwards all while doing everything environmentally responsible. Great book for her to reference.
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Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities
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