Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reading "Happy City" Made Me Sad - Terry's Tiny Book Review

I just don't know what's wrong me. I am the worst advocate ever. And here we have this terrific source book for urban advocates which I claim to be. And doesn't everyone want happier cities that make people happier?

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery. Thanks to Atlanta City Studio for lending it to me.

I recommend reading it in little chunks. This is where I'd go if I needed a couple slides for a presentation. It covers the waterfront, quotes from Aristotle to Freud to Jacobs, vignettes, anecdotes, psychological research, with 316 footnotes to back it up.


But I just can't get through it. Your results may vary.

See, I have these trigger warnings.

First: The subtitle is "Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design" and he really means it. But I lump subtitles like this in the self-help section and I'm am beyond self-helping - ask my family. Honestly if there was a book that proposed "transforming our lives with meatloaf and key lime pie," I'd probably stop eating them so much.

Second: The proposition is that my suburban brother Kenny has no soul. As Montgomery puts it (frequently), "Does the detached suburban home REALLY make its owners more independent and free?" (emphasis added). We know the answer to that one, it's urban activist speak for "Kenny has no soul." It irritates him to have no soul, makes him extra cranky to know that he is ruining it for everybody. Worse, Kenny no longer listens to perfectly good urbanist advice.

Third: Why can't we all be Vancouver? I wish Atlanta could be Vancouver except in Atlanta. Vancouverism as almost a real word. Atlantism isn't. I'd settle for a Medieval piazza with a Renaissance upgrade, a Piazzas del Campo instead of Centennial Olympic Park. Don't we all deserve it? Sure would make urbanism easy.

Fourth: I only need one of these sorts of books and for me that was Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck to explain why Kenny has no soul and that makes me sad.

The next Terry's Tiny Book Review will be Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas about Cities by Witold Rybczynski which I got through just fine. Anyone know how to pronounce his name?

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 9, 2016

People, street trees, & buildings share a comparable life expectancy, about 80 years

Building life expectancy:  "There's a lot of spread in that. The average residential building lasts about  150 years, but the average Walmart or a (not so hot) apartment complex last 10 or 15 years but the average is 80 years." Paul Knight's Streets Lecture - Part 1 

Please Come see part 2: Streets: Designing a Master Street Plan (Part II) on Tuesday, December 13th at 6:30 pm at the Atlanta City Studio on the 2nd floor of Ponce City Market.

"Streets" is one the Architecture Tourists favorite subjects, streets as public spaces, making them more fun, less boring, more democratic.

It's free. I'll be there. Please say hey. Don't let the word "lecture" scare you off. This will be fun.

Paul L. Knight, architectural and urban designer at Historical Concepts and president of Douglas C. Allen Institute for the Study of Cities, will present his second lecture about Streets on Tuesday, December 13th at 6:30 pm at the Studio. Last month we learned why streets are the most critical and long-lasting components of our cities. If you missed it, you can view a recording of the lecture below. This month, Paul Knight returns to explain how to analyze the best examples of American town planning, garnering design lessons and principles that can be used for future development.The free second seminar focuses on master street planning and design. Come join us to learn how streets can improve our cities. Please come early--it was a packed house last time and we ran out of chairs.

Here's part 1, about 38 minutes. Part 3 to be announced soon.

What is the Douglas C. Allen Institute for the Study of Cities?

Blog Archive