Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Books to give urban planner types on your holiday list

These days it's hard for me to finish a book, but there are a number of books published this year that I've started and read part way and I think they are excellent in terms of how they approach and analyze the subject at hand.

(Of course, "old" classic books are always worthwhile, and speaking of re-gifting or buying sustainably, they can be purchased used...)
Book cover, Arrival City by Doug Saunders

Arrival cities are the places where immigrants first land. They are the communities that take in and integrate into new places, immigrants. But immigrants aren't the only ones changed by the process, so are the places they come to, and the places that they've "left."

This book got a lot of press because it's by a journalist writing for the Toronto Star. Because so many of the examples are from places other than North America, it's a good challenge to more typical and staid frames of reference, although there are a number of U.S. examples that people may find easier to grasp.
Book cover, Pocket Neighborhoods by Ross Chapin

This is a beautifully done book. Incredibly well written, attractively and profusely illustrated. It's about creating small infill housing developments of say 5 to 20 houses, using a variety of principles, including shared common spaces, to maximize value and placemaking qualities, while minimizing costs.

Nothing prevents us from applying these principles to projects not exactly like these.

Book cover, A Negotiated Landscape, by Jasper Rubin
3. A Negotiated Landscape: The Transformation of San Francisco's Waterfront Since 1950, by Jasper Rubin, published by the Center for American Places and the University of Chicago Press.

It's extremely well-written (when I say that, it's about the language and the dexterity of sentence construction, and my envy and desire that I could write as well), thorough and thoughtful consideration of the redevelopment of San Francisco's waterfront.

Because the waterfront is visible from many points throughout the city, San Franciscans possess a sense of ownership of the waterfront that makes for a contentious landscape vis-a-vis private and other governmental interests. It's a well told story, and also instructive for those of us working on planning issues generally, and waterfront revitalization projects specifically.

Book cover, The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York

Again, very well written. Thoughtful and instructive in its analysis, fully relevant to today's quest for urban revitalization, center city revival, and how to develop and sustain neighborhood preservation and revitalization efforts.

Book cover, Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan

Practical advice and guidance about living in a more environmental conscious manner in cities. Covers urban agriculture, waste production, energy, and water consumption, plus "self-care".

I'm certain there are a number of other important books that were published in the last year that deserve to be read and given as gifts, but these are the tomes that come to mind to me right now.



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