A Better Place to Live: Reshaping the American Suburb

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9780870239144: A Better Place to Live: Reshaping the American Suburb

What is it about modern American suburbs that has led to so much dissatisfaction? How has the typical suburban design of the past fifty years exacerbated the stress of daily life, and what better alternatives can be found? With these questions in mind, Philip Langdon crisscrossed the country to see how suburbs are being built and to interview designers, developers, planners, and residents. The first results of his research were published in a 1988 cover story in the Atlantic. Since then, he has broadened his analysis to create this well-illustrated and highly readable book. Training his eye on houses, streets, parks, gathering places, stores, employment and transportation, Langdon shows how these elements can generate frustration and isolation or, under better circumstances, contribute to a more congenial way of life. He points out the underappreciated virtues of older suburbs and takes a close look at the neotraditionalist movement in community design, whose advocates seek to emulate the most pleasing aspects of older suburbs. Without ignoring the obstacles to change, Langdon shows how suburbs could be designed much differently than they are today - with networks of walkable streets, neighborhood stores and gathering places, compact town centers, and more varied and affordable housing. His book provides both an incisive critique of existing practices and an intriguing glimpse of some of the best work being done by a new generation of community designers.

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Philip Langdon's engaging look at life in America's suburbs is a must read for anyone who grew up in, lives in, or is thinking of living in these ever-expanding communities.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A would-be Jane Jacobs of the suburbs offers some savvy analysis and worthy advice. ``The suburbs we build are fostering an unhealthy way of life,'' declares Langdon (Urban Excellence, not reviewed), as he expands on his Atlantic Monthly articles on the topic, citing examples from around the country as well as his home community in New Haven, Conn. Thus he critiques the distortions our culture wreaks on houses and neighborhoods and observes that such fragmented communities can't teach kids street smarts. He suggests good streets make connections between people and local institutions. Noting that outdoor life has shifted from social front porches to private backyards, he suggests that zoning changes and limits on mortgage deductibility could hamper the spread of overlarge houses; and he recommends that building-trade publications acquire a more critical ethos. He closely describes the Florida Gulf Coast suburb of Seaside, showing how ``neotraditionalist'' architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater- Zyberk have created a more connected community. A success story in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area shows how city and suburb have reduced competition by tax sharing, and Kirkland, Wash., is an example of suburban renewal, having rebuilt its downtown with offices, housing, and discreet parking. Observing that robust neighborhood life in the past was the product of scarce resources, Langdon tempers his prescriptions with the caution that current surplus wealth fosters waste, but he suggests that a heightened environmental consciousness could presage reform in community design. Langdon's narrative voice sometimes could be smoother as he cobbles together previous writings with new material, but this is a vital contribution to a too-often neglected issue. (104 illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Philip Langdon
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Book Description University of Massachusetts Press, United States, 1994. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. What is it about modern American suburbs that has led to so much dissatisfaction? How has the typical suburban design of the past fifty years exacerbated the stress of daily life, and what better alternatives can be found? With these questions in mind, Philip Langdon crisscrossed the country to see how suburbs are being built and to interview designers, developers, planners, and residents. The first results of his research were published in a 1988 cover story in the Atlantic. Since then, he has broadened his analysis to create this well-illustrated and highly readable book. Training his eye on houses, streets, parks, gathering places, stores, employment and transportation, Langdon shows how these elements can generate frustration and isolation or, under better circumstances, contribute to a more congenial way of life. He points out the underappreciated virtues of older suburbs and takes a close look at the neotraditionalist movement in community design, whose advocates seek to emulate the most pleasing aspects of older suburbs. Without ignoring the obstacles to change, Langdon shows how suburbs could be designed much differently than they are today - with networks of walkable streets, neighborhood stores and gathering places, compact town centers, and more varied and affordable housing. His book provides both an incisive critique of existing practices and an intriguing glimpse of some of the best work being done by a new generation of community designers. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780870239144

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Book Description University of Massachusetts Press, United States, 1994. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. What is it about modern American suburbs that has led to so much dissatisfaction? How has the typical suburban design of the past fifty years exacerbated the stress of daily life, and what better alternatives can be found? With these questions in mind, Philip Langdon crisscrossed the country to see how suburbs are being built and to interview designers, developers, planners, and residents. The first results of his research were published in a 1988 cover story in the Atlantic. Since then, he has broadened his analysis to create this well-illustrated and highly readable book. Training his eye on houses, streets, parks, gathering places, stores, employment and transportation, Langdon shows how these elements can generate frustration and isolation or, under better circumstances, contribute to a more congenial way of life. He points out the underappreciated virtues of older suburbs and takes a close look at the neotraditionalist movement in community design, whose advocates seek to emulate the most pleasing aspects of older suburbs. Without ignoring the obstacles to change, Langdon shows how suburbs could be designed much differently than they are today - with networks of walkable streets, neighborhood stores and gathering places, compact town centers, and more varied and affordable housing. His book provides both an incisive critique of existing practices and an intriguing glimpse of some of the best work being done by a new generation of community designers. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780870239144

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