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Rybczynski (A Clearing in the Distance), professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, offers a glimpse of an urban future that might very well serve as a template for cities around the world. Just as the dense and green Israeli city Modi'in mixes old and new modes of urban planning, this book integrates history and prediction in its survey of the development of the American city. A brisk look back takes us from colonial town planning through the Garden City and City Beautiful initiatives of the early 20th century that defined and delivered the distinctive aesthetic character to such cities as New York and Chicago to the big box era. He also examines how contemporary urban designers and planners are revisiting and refreshing older urban ideas, bringing gardens to a blighted Brooklyn waterfront. Rybczynski's study is kept relevant by his focus on what the past can teach us about creating the "cities we want" and "cities we need." The prose is instructive and always engaging, and the author's enthusiasm for the future of cities and his enduring love of urban settings of all kinds is evident. He not only writes about what people want from their cities, he inspires the reader to imagine the possibilities.
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So much of modern American architecture, for good or ill, derives from twentieth-century movements dubbed “city beautiful” and “the garden city” as well as the tumultuousness of highly regarded architects, from Le Corbusier to Frank Lloyd Wright. Acclaimed architecture writer Rybczynski begins with a review of nineteenth- and twentieth-century movements that produced magnificent parks and grand classical structures that continue to dominate the downtown areas of many American cities. He examines the fierce debates among architects and planners searching to balance grand design and practical use, a debate fueled by Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) and Lewis Mumford’s contrasting views on urbanism. Rybczynski goes on to examine the trend toward arcades, malls, and big-box retail stores and to critique mixed-use development projects in a variety of cities in a never-ending search to find the right mix of aesthetics and practical, user-friendly spaces in an era of scarce resources and emerging environmental issues. An engaging look at changing perspectives on urban architecture and development. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Great read for someone just starting to learn about the profession of city planning.Published 2 months ago by Mark Beatty
Makes you appreciate the world we're all in and why it became what it is.
I've enjoyed this author's views and insights through several books over the past two... Read more