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ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking Hardcover – February 17, 2012

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Parking spaces clumped in lots shape this rigorous analysis of open space. In ReThinking a Lot, Ben-Joseph explores this potentially powerful, sustainable terrain, anchoring much more than cars.

(John Stilgoe, Harvard University)

In ReThinking a Lot, Eran Ben-Joseph convincingly urges the need to bring sound design to a ubiquitous, usually negative, environmental feature: the surface parking lot. Ben-Joseph understands design too well to offer a formula for improvement over a vast diversity of conditions. What he does offer is the courage to address a neglected opportunity for design excellence and to provide discussion and examples that facilitate such design.

(Stanford Anderson, Professor, Department of Architecture, MIT)

Parking -- perhaps the most disruptive and nonproductive component of our contemporary landscapes -- is in this book finally represented in all its manifestations both analytically and poetically, with a challenge to designers to 'rethink' the integration of cars and the critical space they occupy in urban systems.

(Rahul Mehrotra, Professor and Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University)

As residual and mundane spaces of everyday life, parking lots have not captured the attention of urban designers until now. Eran Ben-Joseph sets out to correct this significant oversight. Very well illustrated, concise, and clear, this book provides a rich cultural history of these overlooked urban settings. It also effectively shows that with creative design and policy, cities can indeed turn their ugly lots into 'modest paradises.'

(Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Professor, UCLA Department of Urban Planning)

The book is sturdy and handsome with useful notes and bibliography.


...[T]he depth of research into the topic and the presentation of it in a lot of context and history make it a truly useful addition to your library.

(Urban Tick)

About the Author

Eran Ben-Joseph has worked as a city planner and urban designer in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT, he is the author of The Code of the City (MIT Press) and coauthor of Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities and RENEW Town.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1st ed., 1st Ptg edition (February 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262017334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262017336
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking by Eran Ben-Joseph is a beautiful book from the MIT Press. Fully illustrated and printed on very heavy paper, although it only had 157 pages the book seemed a lot thicker. It was a pleasure to hold and examine ReThinking a Lot, and I learned more than I could ever imagine about parking lot construction, the history of parking lots and about the environmental impact lots have wrought. A casual reader such as myself can be entertained by a book about parking lots, and Ben-Joseph showed how lots can serve drivers as well as those without cars.

Through data gathered from municipal plans, parking revenues and mall layouts, Ben-Joseph asserts that there is a superabundance of parking places in the US. So how come drivers are always complaining about the lack of parking? The answer is that drivers are greedy, and expect a convenient spot everywhere they go. This sense of entitlement makes drivers circle endlessly through lots looking for a better spot. Ben-Joseph cites a study about this circling phenomenon, which concludes that drivers who park further away from their destination (like the mall doors) take less time getting there than drivers who keep trying to find a spot that is closer. In the long run, the extra driving doesn't pay off.

Ben-Joseph continues:

"Something similar to this 'split personality' is at play in our attitudes toward parking lots; we demand convenient parking everywhere we go, and then learn not to see the vast, unsightly spaces that result. For many, parking lots are a necessary evil--we hate them, but we can't do without them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is filled with a lot of large pictures. It is really short on history and actual insightful content. Written by an architect who laments that parking lots are often overlooked when designing developments. As an engineer I was hoping for a more in-depth look at how they are designed and how that design could be improved. I was disappointed...

Also, to fix in the next edition. There is a Columbus, OH in the text and a picture with Columbus, IN caption right next to it obviously referring to the same city.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lila A. Bartz on March 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If this doesn't start you thinking of better ways to use our shrinking open land, you are not paying attention, you heathen.
There is only so much fresh water available; evaporation/condensation/rain equals reservoirs and run-off. Run-off goes to lakes and oceans, and do you know what is in that run-off? All the debris that has collected in the paved places, industrial, farm and commercial wastes, exhaust particles from vehicles, rubber bits from tires, cigarettes, gum wrappers, used Kleenex and other stuff to disgusting to list. And when it hits the ocean it is ingested by marine organisms where it enters the food chain. Are you thinking yet? Consider permeable paving, public transport, car-pooling, after hour and multiple use standards for parking lots, solar arrays and other neat stuff that you can learn by reading this book. And thinking. Get on it.

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By Corey T on February 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The text was entertaining and raised a many questions about parking design today. Book came in great condition to read.
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