John Guinther Direction of Cities

ISBN 13: 9780670841981

Direction of Cities

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9780670841981: Direction of Cities
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The author of the authoritative urban study book Design of Cities collaborates with architect Edmund Bacon to embark on a thorough discussion of Bacon's holistic urban development philosophy related to the growth of American cities and the evolution of modern architecture. 12,500 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Much ado about cities, inspired by urban planner Edmund Bacon's uncontestable plea for holistic vision in design--which vision, of a coherent continuum of harmonious buildings and spaces, supplies a governing perspective but not the requisite trajectory. The result is a discursive series of uneven chapters. Guinther is a professional author who switches gears whenever he changes the subject, and his sense of proportion is as variable as his compass is broad. For instance, he sweeps through the major architectural movements of the 20th century, but reviews the PWA, the WPA, and the merits of machine politics intently (observing that, in contrast to welfare, the machine both empowered and valued the poor); and he focuses with tedious parochialism on everything to do with Philadelphia--his hometown and Bacon's too, and so the case-study locus of choice (Philadelphia Housing Association, downtown revitalization, good-enough former mayor Richardson Dilworth). Also singled out are New York (whose Central Park is extolled for recognizing and realizing a populist esthetic imperative and whose evil-empire-builder Robert Moses is vilified), colonial Savannah for its ``rhythmic'' cellular layout, contemporary Milwaukee and Minneapolis for their unifying ``skywalks,'' Chicago for the senior Daley's style of mayoring and for its public housing projects--the horrors of which last are part of a diatribe against failures of urban renewal. Guinther critically surveys program histories (then cynically projects a welfare-recipient network that warns newcomers to cover traces of employed men in the household when the welfare worker arrives). In search, ingenuously, of a ``cohesive approach to the problems presented by poverty,'' he endorses a community-based model admittedly unlikely to attract outside support, claiming that ``the merit of an idea is always more important then any immediate quantification of it.'' Overreaching by a generalist; of spotty appeal, perhaps, to fellow Philadelphians. (photos, not seen; diagrams) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In his book that might be subtitled "The Failure of Modern Architecture," political writer Guinther explores classical examples of successful city planning and includes unfinished designs, such as Burnham's plan for Chicago. The perspective is that of a journalist, self-described as "holistic," and the approach is eclectic, drawing together urban design principles, architecture, social policy, and political history. Throughout, Guinther develops the concept of horizontality, not only in terms of spatial relationships but also in terms of government. Guinther's distaste for modern architecture is evident in several places, and he succumbs to the misapprehension that modernism embraced technology entirely at the expense of aesthetics. Despite its broad approach, the work does not achieve the insight or originality of Kevin Lynch's seminal The Image of the City (LJ 9/15/60), Edmund N. Bacon's Design of Cities (Penguin, 1976. rev. ed.), Tony Hiss's The Experience of Place (LJ 7/90), or Witold Rybczinski's recent City Life: Urban Expectation in a New World (LJ 9/15/95). Although written with a general audience in mind, the book, with its modest number of illustrations, may be of interest mainly to libraries that collect comprehensively in the area of urban planning and policy.?Paul Glassman, Pratt Inst. Lib., Brooklyn
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780140159714: Direction of Cities

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ISBN 10:  0140159711 ISBN 13:  9780140159714
Publisher: Penguin Books, 1997
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