Dream cities Seven urban ideas that shape the world

Wade Graham

Book - 2016

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New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2016]
Main Author
Wade Graham (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xii, 323 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Introduction
  • 1. Castles: Bertram Goodhue and the Romantic City
  • 2. Monuments: Daniel Burham and the Ordered City
  • 3. Slabs: Le Corbasier, Robert Moses, and the Rational City
  • 4. Homesteads: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Anticity
  • 5. Corals: Jane Jacobs, Andres Duany, and the Self-Organizing City
  • 6. Malls: Victory Gruen, Jon Jerdo, and the Shopping City
  • 7. Habitats: Kenzo Tange, Norman Foster, and the Techno-Ecological City
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by New York Times Review

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CRITICISM: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth, by A. O. Scott. (Penguin, $17.) The author, a co-chief film critic for The New York Times, reconsiders the relationship between criticism and the art it assesses; rather than art's antithesis, such evaluations are part and parcel of the creative process. "Criticism, far from sapping the vitality of art, is instead what supplies its lifeblood," Scott writes. DREAM CITIES: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World, by Wade Graham. (Harper Perennial, $15.99.) Graham chronicles the familiar institutions around which the world's cities are organized - including shopping malls, monuments and suburbs - and profiles the designers and planners who imagined them. Cities, in his view, are best seen as "expressions of ideas, often conflicting, about how we should live." A MOTHER'S RECKONING: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, by Sue Klebold. (Broadway, $16.) Klebold, the mother of one of the teenagers who killed 13 other people and themselves at Columbine High School in 1999, approaches her book gingerly: Aware that the project could draw ire or claims of insensitivity, she uses it to warn about mental illness and consider what could have been done to prevent the tragedy. THE BRICKS THAT BUILT THE HOUSES, by Kate Tempest. (Bloomsbury, $16.) Tempest, a spoken-word poet and a rapper, reprises characters from earlier work in this, her debut novel. Harry is socking away money for the future by dealing cocaine to the wealthy, while Becky, an aspiring dancer, works as a masseuse. Tempest turns her ear for language to their love story, as well as the characters that surround them. "The cumulative effect is deeply affecting: cinematic in scope; touching in its empathic humanity," our reviewer, Sam Byers, wrote. ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR, by Elizabeth Brundage. (Vintage, $15.95.) How much tragedy can one farmhouse hold? When Catherine Clare, a college professor's wife in small-town New York, is murdered in her bed, it recalls an earlier trauma at the house: an incident that left three brothers orphaned. Brundage unspools stories of the Clares' marriage and their home in this masterly thriller. ONLY THE ANIMALS: Stories, by Ceridwen Dovey. (Picador, $18.) Dovey's narrators are the souls of animals linked to artists and writers, including a dolphin with an affinity for Ted Hughes. In these "tragic but knowing" tales, "the wronged do not howl at their executioners as much as hold their actions in the light, and accept their place in history," our reviewer, Megan Mayhew Bergman, wrote. ?

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [January 1, 2017]
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This survey of prominent architectural trends through the 19th and 20th centuries serves as a concise historical primer of mainly American urban development, though it fails to live up to some of the promises Graham makes early on (American Eden); he is a versatile writer whose enthusiasm can't quite tie the book together. When Graham writes that "architectures are expressions of the desires of their designers and builders: these forms intend to shape people and thus shape the world," he sets up a goal that may be too lofty to meet through the history of different styles and their leading architectural proponents. Graham's precise encapsulations of architects' biographies and philosophies hit the relevant highlights with a lively, accessible style; he deftly captures Bertram Goodhue, a prominent borrower of neoclassical styles whose ideas informed the Art Deco movement, and the rural utopianism of Frank Lloyd Wright's vision. The author is less convincing when he argues for the lasting impact of the New Urbanism approach or the Japanese-influenced Metabolism movement, among other innovations, in brief sections that fail to go beyond mentions of the most representative buildings. An exception is his examination of the influence of the shopping mall and how Victor Gruen's take on shopping centers was first adapted cheaply, then transformed by James Rouse to create highly successful "festival marketplaces" such as San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square and Boston's Faneuil Hall. His assertion that a place has "the ability to trigger aesthetic emotion" and "can reinvigorate cities" reaches beyond biography and addresses the wider effects of architectural change. 59 b&w photos. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Garden designer and historian Graham (American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are, 2011, etc.) explores how modern cities were built on foundations made of the fantasies and utopian dreams of individual architects. The author examines a variety of conceptions of architecture. He shows how building design and city planning have combined to destroy our sense of community, which is the life of any city. In this field guide to architectural styles, Graham provides examples of each style mentioned, represented by particular buildings, neighborhoods, and properties. Photographs and illustrations accompany each section. His heroine is Jane Jacobs, who organized the resistance to Robert Moses' destructive plans in New York in the 20th century. She helped save the community-based neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, including Washington Square, from his proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway. Moses' bulldozers had forced the large-scale relocation of people on behalf of building and city designs promoted by the architects Graham discusses. Among them is the Swiss utopian Le Corbusier, whose skyscraper slabs and open spaces were intended to impose a sense of "order" as seen in New York City's Stuyvesant Town, which opened in 1947. Frank Lloyd Wright's individualized agrarian homestead communities provided a dream of advancement embodied in the uniformity of American suburbs. He sought to "do away entirely with the notion of an urban or even town center, scattering the center's traditional functions around the landscape." These and other styles put structure ahead of community, and Graham outlines their common underpinnings, which are often fantastic dreams about recovering lost golden ages or overcoming present chaos with some abstract future order. The author's spirited defense of Jacobs' successful struggle against Moses points to an alternative in which people and community again became primary. Graham delivers an intriguing architectural history and an effective antidote to the excesses of urban renewal and city planning. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.