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Global City Blues

"This is a book about the making of cities and the buildings that compose them. It is about the conditions under which an architect engaged in those activities now works, how those conditions evolved and why they are changing. It is about the qualities of life that are threatened by the ways cities are built at the beginning of the 21st century and intelligent response to those threats. It is about why the city planning ideas and the cultural cuisinart that came in the box with modern architecture are a lingering menace." -- from Global City Blue.
Much of the architecture and town planning of the past fifty years has been based on an unsubstantiated optimism about the promise of modernity. In our rush to embrace the future, we invented new ways of building that rejected the past and sent people headlong into a placeless limbo where they are insulated from each other and cut off from such basic experiences of location as the weather and the time of day. Despite calamitous results, many architects and planners remain enamored of the modernist ideals that underlie these changes.
In Global City Blues, renowned architect Daniel Solomon presents a perceptive overview and an insightful assessment of how the power and seductiveness of modernist ideals led us astray. Through a series of independent but linked essays, he takes the reader on a personal picaresque, introducing us to people, places, and ideas that have shaped thinking about planning and building and that laid the foundation for his beliefs about the world we live in and the kind of world we should be making.
As an alternative, Daniel Solomon discusses the ideas and precepts of New Urbanism, a reform movement he helpedfound that has risen to prominence in the past decade. New Urbanism offers a vital counterbalance to the forces of sprawl, urban disintegration, and placelessness that have so transformed the contemporary landscape.
"Global City Blues" is a fresh and original look at what the history of urban form can teach us about creating built environments that work for people.
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About the Author

Daniel Solomon, FAIA, is emeritus professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and was named to Architectural Digest's list of 100 foremost architects in 1991 and 1995. He lives in San Francisco, California.


A founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism, architect Solomon (emeritus, Berkeley; ReBuilding) relates how post- World War II urban planning blighted our cities and turned the countryside into sprawl, then proposes his brand of New Urbanism as the fix. Solomon blames the Modernism of Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, et al., describing how its misguided principles and practices are now disfiguring cities around the globe. Like other big names in New Urbanism, such as Andres Duany and James Kunstler, Solomon believes in relearning the forgotten lessons of traditional city planning, but he also sympathizes with critics charging that the movement has spawned little more than overpriced subdivisions featuring quaint front porches. Solomon is intent on refashioning the existing "urban fabric." Shunning flashy architectural statements, he explains that "normative" buildings-the mix of ordinary housing, offices, stores, etc.-must be orchestrated to form streetscapes that encourage a vibrant and diverse urban lifestyle. Peter Calthorpe's New Urbanist manual, The Regional City, is more polished and persuasive than this collection of chatty, semi-autobiographical, loosely connected essays. Still, Global City Blues will energize architects, planners, and citizens working to revitalize ailing urban neighborhoods. For academic and large public libraries.-David Solt?sz, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Global City Blues is one of the rare architecture books that will resonate with any thoughtful reader." - SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE "If only all architects could write as engagingly as Daniel Solomon!... This is a big-picture book rather than a how-to book, but it's much better reading than most overviews of the transition from the modernist mindset to however it is that we think and see design now." - PLANNING"

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