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$100.00 $92.33 list($125.00)
1. Land Development Calculations:
$60.00 list($75.00)
2. A Vision of a Living World: The
$80.71 $66.35 list($94.95)
3. Mixed-Use Development Handbook
$63.75 list($75.00)
4. The Luminous Ground: The Nature
$28.00 list($35.00)
5. Delirious New York: A Retroactive
$26.37 $23.78 list($39.95)
6. Architecture: Form, Space, and
$89.95 $62.36
7. Great Planned Communities
$34.65 $33.95 list($55.00)
8. The Timeless Way of Building
$67.96 $55.38 list($79.95)
9. Place Making
$63.75 $52.00 list($75.00)
10. The Phenomenon of Life: The Nature
$138.00 $108.00 list($150.00)
11. Time-Saver Standards for Urban
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12. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl
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13. The Death and Life of Great American
$29.95 $20.05 list($27.50)
14. The Next American Metropolis:
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15. City Comforts: How to Build an
$69.00
16. The New York Apartment Houses
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17. Resort Design: Planning, Architecture
$34.00 $26.57
18. Smart Communities : How Citizens
$42.50
19. Conservation Design for Subdivisions:
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20. Rethinking Architecture: A Reader

1. Land Development Calculations: Interactive Tools and Techniques for Site Planning, Analysis and Design
by Walter Martin Hosack
list price: $125.00
our price: $100.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 007136255X
Catlog: Book (2001-06-26)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
Sales Rank: 25456
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"It is the kind of simplified tool that many of us in practice sorely need" - Jamie Greene, AICP, AIA, Principal, American Communities Partnership


*The first computational tool for land development and site planning analysis and design
*Real-world case studies, with photographs and plans, illustrate how alternative development options would affect the project results
*Includes a CD-ROM containing 30 interactive spreadsheets that can be used for every type of land development scenario ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely valuable tool
"Land Development Calculations" provides an excellent and innovative strategy for working towards sustainable land use and development. The models for varying land development strategies can assist local government land use decision makers and planners as well as developers determine the carrying capacity of land within realistic thresholds. The accompanying spreadsheets for the development scenarios on the CD-ROM are extremely user friendly and do not place an undue burden on the user by requiring what may be hard to find or to collect data. All of the data required just is typical of what is necessary to make appropriate land development decisions. As a local government planner, I am working towards incorporating the information received from the models in to the zoning and development code as part of the approval process by using it to further assess suitability of the property for the purposes proposed (a zoning consideration required in accordance with the State of Georgia Zoning Procedures Act). I strongly encourage other land planners and developers to read "Land Development Calculations," because of its highly practical and very timely material.

5-0 out of 5 stars Author Delivers Valuable Techniques and Tools
This is a terrificaly valuable technical reference for practitioners who need an efficient method of performing land development calulations. The book and its companion set of spreadsheets enable users to answer two key questions: 1) how much can be built on a given piece of land; or 2) how much land is needed to accommodate a given use? The material is clearly written and well illustrated, especially a series of worksheets leading through the method. Another strength is its comprehensiveness and detail, including all major land-use and micro site conditions. ... Read more


2. A Vision of a Living World: The Nature of Order, Book 3
by Christopher Alexander
list price: $75.00
our price: $60.00
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Asin: 0972652930
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Center for Environmental Structure
Sales Rank: 21684
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Book Description

In Book 3 of this four-volume work, Alexander presents hundreds of his own buildings and those of other contemporaries who have used methods consistent with the theory of living process.

Nearly seven hundred pages of projects, built and planned in many countries over a thirty-year period, illustrate the impact of living process on the world. The book provides the reader with an intuitive feel for the kind of world, its style and geometry, which is needed to generate living structure in the world and its communities, together with its ecological and natural character.

The projects include public buildings, neighborhoods, housing built by people for themselves, public urban space, rooms, gardens, ornament, colors, details of construction and construction innovation. The many buildings shown, and the methods needed to design and build these buildings, define living structure in a practical way that can be understood and copied.

". . . Alexander's approach presents a fundamental challenge to us and our style-obsessed age. It suggests that a beautiful form can come about only through a process that is meaningful to people. It also implies that certain types of processes, regardless of when they occur or who does them, can lead to certain types of forms."-Thomas Fisher, former editor of Progressive Architecture.

Christopher Alexander is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, architect, builder, and author of many books and technical papers. He is the winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, and Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for 40 years.

... Read more

3. Mixed-Use Development Handbook
by Dean Schwanke, Patrick L. Phillips, Frank Spink, Charles Lockwood, David Versel, Steven Fader, Leslie Holst, Oliver Jerschow, Deborah Myerson
list price: $94.95
our price: $80.71
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Asin: 0874208882
Catlog: Book (2003-06)
Publisher: Urban Land Institute
Sales Rank: 57609
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Book Description

The latest volume in ULI's highly respected Development Handbook Series, this handsomely illustrated reference takes you step by step through the development of complex mixed-use projects. You will learn about the key points that can make or break a project, and get in-depth information on feasibility, financing, planning and design, regulatory issues, marketing, and management. Case studies describe how seasoned professionals developed projects with a wide range of densities--from suburban town centers to high-rise mixed-use towers. ... Read more


4. The Luminous Ground: The Nature of Order, Book 4
by Christopher Alexander
list price: $75.00
our price: $63.75
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Asin: 0972652949
Catlog: Book (2003-11)
Publisher: Center for Environmental Structure
Sales Rank: 51184
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Profoundly Eloquent Glimpse of Life's Depth...
Those who know me know that I am not prone to making either quick judgements or vacuous statements, so my friends (at least) will know that both the title of this mini-review and the few words that follow are far from whimsical: Alexander's Nature of Order, and in particular this fourth volume which I have recently received and simply cannot put down, are in my humble opinion, destined to rank as one of this *world's* great literary/philosophical achievements. What Alexander has produced is nothing short of a brilliant vision for the transcendent reality that lies beneath and beyond conventional categories. I write this as a Ph.D. physicist, with two graduate-level mathematical physics texts under my belt (both on complex systems), and semi-pro photographer with 30 years of experience of trying to capture "beauty" in nature. Alexander's work has provided a tentative -- but oh so deep -- glimpse of an answer to my own philosophical struggles as scientist and artist: physics and art are but two sides of a vastly richer coin, and are merely pointers to an infinitely rich *life* that pervades this universe; indeed, the life that *is* this universe. Every human being who has ever sincerely pondered the question "Why?" when looking up at the sky, while admiring a pretty flower, or looking into a mirror, can do no better than to curl up by a fireplace with a hot cup of tea, open up volume four of this incredible set of books and start using the musings lovingly offered here to look within for answers. Truly a remarkable achievement. I have never met Christopher Alexander, but can honestly say that I have been deeply touched by this preternaturally wise soul. ... Read more


5. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan
by Rem Koolhaas
list price: $35.00
our price: $28.00
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Asin: 1885254008
Catlog: Book (1994-12-01)
Publisher: Monacelli Press
Sales Rank: 10228
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

In this fanciful volume, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, founder of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.), both analyzes and celebrates New York City. By suggesting the city as the site for an infinite variety of human activities and events--both real and imagined--the essence of the metropolitan lifestyle, its "culture of congestion" and its architecture are revealed in a brilliant new light. "Manhattan," Koolhaas writes, "is the 20th century's Rosetta stone . . . occupied by architectural mutations (Central Park, the Skyscraper), utopian fragments (Rockefeller Center, the U.N. Building), and irrational phenomena (Radio City Music Hall)." Filled with fascinating facts, as well as photographs, postcards, maps, watercolors, and drawings, the vibrancy of Koolhaas's poignant exploration of Gotham equals the heady, frenetic energy of the city itself. Anyone who loves New York will want to own this book. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars best koolhaas ever, man
koolhaas is a bit over-the-top for me, but this I think is is best work. it's worth checking out if only for the story of coney island. once you get past blisteringly pretentious phrases like "coney island is a fetal manhattan", you'll find it gloriously entertaining as both a narrative and theoretical work.

5-0 out of 5 stars the culture of congestion
This is by far Koolhaas's most accessible work, as it is rooted so clearly in detail from the city's past. Further, the book is simply brilliant. His take on urban history is to Jane Jacobs what Socrates is to common sense. New York is a special case of modernism that sprang from a special constellation of poltiical and technological forces that collectively create a cultural "big-bang" at the turn of the century. Read it. Blow your mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great starting point.
An easily digestible read filled with delicious facts about the big apple. This book can change the way one sees New York forever. Be it from a street level, or from an intellectual level. "Delirious New York" helps to rediscover Manhattan, and it helps to discover the idea of Manhattan in places far away from "The City".

This publication is a perfect starting point for any exploration into the past or the future of urbanism, architecture, and of course New York City and the people who helped to shape this ever growing marvel.

A must read, and a perfect gift for anyone who is even remotely touched by New York.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mandatory Reading
I originally read the first edition of this book when it came out in the 70s. It completely transformed (or formed) my thinking about the city, the processes by which a city develops and grows, and the innate playfulness of the city as a form. Despite its deceptive simplicity, I believe that this book will emerge as one of the essential texts of the twentieth century on urban design. Read it!

4-0 out of 5 stars Compelling History of Manhattan
A romp through New York's sometimes jaded history with a view to uncover the roots of the modern metropolis and the singular element devised by architects to inspire (amuse?) the masses - the Skyscraper. The book looks at Coney Island as the testing ground of the Skyscaper, Manhatten as further exploration of the Skyscaper which is trialed in the name of symbols of a propserous future, economic rationale and pushing the envelope to its limits and finishes with Office of Metropolitian Architecture's own experimental projects in New York. A very compelling history of a complex city. ... Read more


6. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order
by Frank D.K. Ching, Francis D. Ching
list price: $39.95
our price: $26.37
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Asin: 0471286168
Catlog: Book (1995-12-18)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 13405
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Second Edition of this classic introduction to the principles of architecture is everything you would expect from the celebrated architect, author, and illustrator, Francis D. K. Ching. Each page has been meticulously revised to incorporate contemporary examples of the principles of form, space, and order-the fundamental vocabulary of every designer. The result is a beautifully illustrated volume that embraces today's forms and looks at conventional models with a fresh perspective. Here, Ching examines every principal of architecture, juxtaposing images that span centuries and cross cultural boundaries to create a design vocabulary that is both elemental and timeless. Among the topics covered are point, line, plane, volume, proportion, scale, circulation, and the interdependence of form and space. While this revision continues to be a comprehensive primer on the ways form and space are interrelated and organized in the shaping of our environment, it has been refined to amplify and clarify concepts. In addition, the Second Edition contains:
* Numerous new hand-rendered drawings
* Expanded sections on openings and scale
* Expanded chapter on design principles
* New glossary and index categorized by the author
* New 8 1/2 × 11 upright trim
In the Second Edition of Architecture: Form, Space, and Order, the author has opted for a larger format and crisper images. Mr. Ching has retained the style of his hand-lettered text, a hallmark of each of his books. This rich source of architectural prototypes, each rendered in Mr. Ching's signature style, also serves as a guide to architectural drawing. Doubtless, many will want this handsome volume for the sheer beauty of it. Architects and students alike will treasure this book for its wealth of practical information and its precise illustrations. Mr. Ching has once again created a visual reference that illuminates the world of architectural form.
... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars The "I Ching" of Architecture.
An excellent introduction to architecture. However, I liked the old horizontal format better. The new edition has all the same illustrations but its vertical formal isn't as compelling. Ching is the master of free-hand sketching. In this book he covers the basic principles of architecture with copious illustrations and an easy to follow progression of ideas. It is great for first year students and frustrated architects alike. My only word of warning is that once you buy one of his volumes on architecture, it is hard to resist the others.

5-0 out of 5 stars For students of architecture, one of those "must-haves".
If you're at all interested in architecture, this is really one of the unanimously acknowledged essential books to have and to study through. Ching covers every imaginable basic idea of architecture in a very clear, accessible, and readable manner, all using his own excellent hand-drawn sketches and diagrams and hand-lettered text. In fact, the presentation alone is like a case study in how to do it right; taken together, the book is an invaluable learning resource and guidebook.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - solely for architects, no-one else.
As a practicing civil engineer, I wanted a book that allowed me to add some architectural flavour to my houses. This book did not do that. It is really a coffee table book about the different ancient and modern architectural styles without really explaining how to practically go about adding such features.

I suppose in the architectural world all the flowery language and concepts mean something, but its practically useless to anyone outside.

1-0 out of 5 stars a bad book for architects
One of the most damaging books that has ever flooded architectural education. The book is the dullest and uninspiring compilation of platitudes without any critical referent. To the problems of architecture and architectural imagination, it offers as panacea the most insidious graphic banalities that can be used in a set of architectural drawings as pseudo-effective means of communication and design. The book presents in many drawings easy formulas or ready-made clich├ęs, or smooth, ever-so-accommodating confirmations of graphic conventions that prevent any critical dispute of the most pedestrian and prosaic design protocols. The instructions divulged by this pseudo-didactic and professional publication reduce both the discipline and the profession of architecture to a trade without a critical radition.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Refer to Ching!!!"
As a current architecture studio student, I have to say that this book is the architect's Bible. Any time me or any of my classmates has a question on graphic standards, we are told "Refer to Ching!", it is an old joke in the studio. Couldn't live in the studio without it. Design Drawing by Ching is also extremely helpful, to the point of necessity ... Read more


7. Great Planned Communities
by Jo Allen Gause
list price: $89.95
our price: $89.95
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Asin: 0874208920
Catlog: Book (2002-06)
Publisher: Urban Land Institute
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Book Description

Lavishly illustrated, this book features 26 innovative planned communities. Following an introduction by Alexander Garvin that describes how planned communities have evolved, you get an inside look at the concept, the plan elements, the design, and how the master plan reflects the vision for traditional and new urbanist communities, both established and just off the drawing board.

More than 200 extra-large, high-quality photographs and illustrations.
Showcases outstanding housing types, architectural themes, site plans, and other components.
Includes project data on residential, commercial, and open-space uses. ... Read more


8. The Timeless Way of Building
by Christopher Alexander
list price: $55.00
our price: $34.65
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Asin: 0195024028
Catlog: Book (1979)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 8332
Average Customer Review: 4.93 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This volume provides the opening work in Christopher Alexander's seminal trilogy on architecture (continued in A Pattern Language and The Oregon Experiment).Here he provides a fascinating introduction to the ideas behind the succeeding two books. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for software building 3 for architecture
This is the book that set the whole software patterns movement in motion. It's a great read. It made me realize how the builder blew it when they made my house. One small design change, the house is 1 ft too narrow makes it impossible to put a screen door on the front door. It made them build a extra platform which causes people to fall down into the living room.

On the other hand, if I was building a building I'd use his visualization techniques before I drew plans. But I wouldn't use this technique to actually construct a building. It would triple the cost. (The essence is to build it as you need it.)

On the other hand he explains why swiss barns look "alike" without the need for a design review committee. (Or barns in general.)

As for software, Design patterns give programmers a way to talk about problems and solutions without talking about code. Its a great idea and I use software patterns all the time. (Get the GOF book for actual software patterns.) Read this one to understand how they came onto this idea.

5-0 out of 5 stars this book blew me away
I bought this book because i am about to build a house. Coincidentally, i am also a senior software engineer and very familiar with design patterns in my field - i use them every day. They work very well for programming computers.

This book, however, literally takes the concept of living patterns to architecture, and, by extension of the act of creation, to life itself.

At the same time as being a great philosophical read, it's also a handy guide to building a house. Bonus points for the author: The book can be read in 15 minutes (reading the "detailed table of contents"), in one hour (reading only the headlines), or in the full. These modes of reading the book come from the author's emphasis of the whole over the parts, e.g. the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

I am not entirely sure that, as the author promises, i will now be able to go and build a house, without drawing a plan... but that this idealistic goal is in practice hard to attain does not make the incredibly deep insights in this book any less true or any less practical.

Like another reader said - the book changed the way i think about... everything!

Patterns as described in this book are far more refined than anything we use in computer science, and that he sees them in a much broader light. The central grandiose idea is the one of complete interconnectedness of the patterns - the whole, which is more than the sum of its parts.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Etymology of Software Architecture
I found this book so mesmerizing that I read it twice. During the first pass, I was surprised that the book was so philosophical and poetic in describing architecture. I expected something more technical. Later during the second pass, my goal was to find derivatives and analogies in software architecture. Based on what I found, I think every software architect would enjoy this book.

The writing style that I noticed in my first read of the book made me feel like I was reading an architecture bible. I hesitate to describe the book as religious, but the book's description "the power to make buildings beautiful lies in each of us already" and the description of the word "alive" giving architecture "the quality without a name" triggered an epiphany when recalling that the Bible says "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." and, "So God created man in his own image." This is why I'd say this book has a primal, sacred aspect, and this is why we like to build. Additionally, the book especially moved me so my mind's eye was opened to see "alive" patterns and to think about the morphology of architecture filling voids and generating towns.

On the second pass of reading, I was struck by this software architecture analogy in the table of contents: "16. Once we have understood how to discover individual patterns which are alive, we may then make a language for ourselves for any building task we face. The structure of the language is created by the network of connections among individual patterns: and the language lives, or not, as a totality, to the degree these patterns form a whole." Could this be the guidebook for designing enterprise software architecture?

Obviously this book was the inspiration for the philosophy and vocabulary for software architecture, and I thought some of the following excerpts were noteworthy paradigm shifts.

"The patterns are not just patterns of relationships, but patterns of relationships among other smaller patterns, which themselves have still other patterns hooking them together---and we see finally, that the world is entirely made of all these interhooking, interlocking nonmaterial patterns." This sounds like the difference between patterns of software architecture and object-oriented software design patterns.

"Each pattern is a three-part rule, which expresses a relation between a certain context, a problem, and a solution." Deja vu for software patterns.

"You may be afraid that the design won't work if you take just one pattern at a time...There is no reason to be timid...The order of the language will make sure that it is possible." Likewise in software architecture design, as one design pattern is considered at a time to see how it fits needs into the large picture of design. If this pattern is later deemed to be dead, it can be replaced by an "alive" design pattern.

"Next, several acts of building, each one done to repair and magnify the product of the previous acts, will slowly generate a larger and more complex whole than any single act can generate." This correlates to software refactoring.

"It is essential, therefore, that the builder build only from rough drawings: and that he carry out the detailed patterns from the drawings according to the processes given by the pattern language in his mind." When I read this, I thought about the metaphor to the software architect's vision and design. The software architect's design needs to be abstract enough to accommodate change easily, but yet simple enough so software programmers can understand it, finish the detailed component design and build the component to fit the architectural whole.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Way of Thinking
Alexander's "A Timeless Way of Building" is a philosophical treatise which has informed my thinking profoundly. Without any formal training or interest in architecture, per se, this book has opened a world of awe for me. Awe of language, of systems, of people. It almost reads as a spiritual text - but with the credibility afforded only to those who clearly address specific content (architecture and city planning, in this case). Alexander's writing is clean and precise. His ideas are powerful, they are more true today than in '79 and in more domains than architecture. I recommend this to anyone who is curious about how systems work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very much worth noting
Towards the end of his life, the philosopher and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti enjoyed having sections from the Timeless Way read to him each evening. ... Read more


9. Place Making
by Charles C. Bohl
list price: $79.95
our price: $67.96
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Asin: 0874208866
Catlog: Book (2002-10-21)
Publisher: Urban Land Institute
Sales Rank: 63256
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Book Description

One of the hottest trends in real estate is the development of town centers and urban villages that include a mix of uses in a pedestrian friendly setting. This new book will help you navigate the unique development issues and options and show you how to make all of the elements work together. You will learn about the economic and social forces driving this trend; how these projects are being developed in master planned communities, infill, and redevelopment areas; special regulatory, market and finance issues; and how suburban planners and developers are pursuing town center concepts to create attractive gathering places for their communities. Illustrat-ed in full color, the book includes case studies and examples that describe how leading professionals met the challenges and developed innovative and successful projects. ... Read more


10. The Phenomenon of Life: The Nature of Order, Book 1
by Christopher Alexander
list price: $75.00
our price: $63.75
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Asin: 0972652914
Catlog: Book (2003-06)
Publisher: Center for Environmental Structure
Sales Rank: 22122
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What is happening when a place in the world has life? And what is happening when it does not? In Book 1 of this four-volume work, Alexander describes a scientific view of the world in which all space-matter has perceptible degrees of life, and sets this understanding of living structure as an intellectual basis for a new architecture.

He identifies fifteen geometric properties which tend to accompany the presence of life in nature, and also in the buildings and cities we make. These properties are seen over and over in nature, and in cities and streets of the past, but have all but disappeared in the deadly developments and buildings of the last one hundred years.

The book shows that living structure depends on features which make a close connection with the human self, and that only living structure has the capacity to support human well-being.

The other three volumes of The Nature of Order continue this thesis with three complementary views giving a masterful prescription for the processes which allow us to generate living structure in the world. They show us what such a world must gradually come to look like, and describe the modified cosmology in which "life" as an essential quality, together with our inner connection to the world around us-towns, streets, buildings, and artifacts-are central to a proper understanding of the scientific nature of the universe.

". . . Five hundred years is a long time, and I don't expect many of the people I interview will be known in the year 2500. Christopher Alexander may be an exception."-David Creelman, author, interviewer and editor, HR Magazine, Toronto

Christopher Alexander is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, architect, builder and author of many books and technical papers. He is the winner of the first medal for research ever awarded by the American Institute of Architects, and after 40 years of teaching is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, worthy of close study
"The whole is more than the sum of its parts" is commonly said or writ, but never before have i read so much detail, amply illustrated, of just how that works. There are pictures of beautiful things, and some horrendously ugly things (a certain postmodern house in particular made me laugh out loud), and some side-by-side comparisons of two moderately beautiful things that made me think...which has more "life"?

My interest in architecture is limited to a desire to build an Earthship or cob house sometime in the next few years. I wonder why i find such houses more beautiful than the conventional kind?

Well, understanding the 15 properties gives one an excellent mental toolkit for studying beauty and beautiful things, and figuring out how to make a place or structure more welcoming to human life. Practical exercises and advice, along with all the examples, help the reader develop an eye for these qualities.

As an artist, i can apply these properties to creating and
critiquing my works, and perhaps even to know better how to fix an image that has gone awry. The author's sketches of beautiful patterns of objects, some in which he didn't quite capture the magical essence of life and examines why, enlightened me as i followed the development of his ideas through the book. Always a doodler, i've had a great time hanging out in coffee shops with some 4x6 cards, pencils, Alexander's book, experimenting with following and sometimes deliberately (and sometimes accidently) violating each of the properties, coming to understand them better. Be warned: really "grokking" the material will take much time and much fun!

I actually started with volume 2 then went into volume 1, and that worked okay. Volume two reviews the 15 properties sufficiently, and i found processes to be a more interesting place to start. But partway through vol. 2 i just had to dive into vol 1 wholeheartedly to really understand all 15 of the properties.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Architects
Christopher Alexander's latest series of books, "The Nature of Order", propose new ways of understanding the built environment, as well as new methods of practicing architecture, and as such should be part of every architect's library. As a practicing architect, I have found that "The Nature of Order" series has had a profound impact on the way that I design and create buildings, as well as on the way that I understand architecture and its connection to the larger physical world. The theoretical framework that Alexander sets up in his first book, The Phenomenon of Life, coupled with the analysis and exploration of generative processes presented in his second book, The Process of Creating Life, propose a fascinating and intriguing new way of understanding the physical structure of the world. Alexander presents us with a unified theory where art and science are part of an integrated system that together define the physical structure of all matter, including "life" itself.

In the first book, The Phenomenon of Life, Alexander proposes that the physical environment consists of discreet entities that form specific geometrical relationships, and that these geometrical relationships each have an intrinsic value; a value that can be objectively identified and measured with a significant degree of accuracy and agreement among many observers. Alexander goes on to identify this degree of value as "life", expanding the current biological definition to one that includes strong coherence of geometrical structure. In analyzing thousands of examples, Alexander and his colleagues have identified 15 geometrical properties that, when present in a physical structure or design, help to increase the degree of life, in that particular place or object. These properties can be easily identified and measured, by each one of us, and thus form the basis for an objective form of aesthetic judgment. Questions that address degrees of value, such as "what is a good building?", "what is a good piece of art?", and "what is a good environment?" can now be answered using objective criteria, where consistent agreement among individuals is possible.

It is Alexander's objective approach for judging aesthetic quality, combined with his unified view of the physical and aesthetic world, that has profoundly influenced my own work. As I work on projects every day, going through the process of testing different ideas and possibilities, I now have the tools and framework for making good design decisions - decisions that can be objectively evaluated in terms of their impact on the "life" of each project. In addition, Alexander has provided me with a deeper understanding of the place of my own work in the physical world - how whatever I make, whether it is the creation of window seat or the lay-out of a series of buildings, has a direct connection to the larger and smaller geometrical structures of which it is a part. Of course this approach leads to a sense of deep responsibility for the enhancement and betterment of the physical world; a responsibility that I believe should be fundamental to the practice of architecture.

5-0 out of 5 stars The question of judgement in architecture
"The Nature of Order" is a series of four books, a work that has taken 30 years to complete. It is an ambitious attempt at synthesis, a near-impossible challenge to join together, in one generative thought, all the aspects of man in the universe. Consequently, the critical and wary reader will possibly detect traces of what could possibly resemble an immense megalomania, as Christopher Alexander aims to reunite physics, biology, and the wholeness of human beings in a geometric conception of the universe. Nevertheless, this same reaction is triggered by every real effort of synthetic thought that tries to build a vision of the world less fragmented than today's.

Often in the scientific community, great researchers allow themselves, towards the end of their career, some philosophical height in order to consider the world in the light of the particular discoveries they have made. Some of them -- the most reductionistic -- try to explain whole phenomena by a generalisation of laws they had previously discovered in a particular context. In fact, they reduce the whole world to the phenomena they are able to explain, and try to affirm the supremacy of a particular point of view. These are, for example, the common "all is social", or "all is biological", explanations. Some other scientists, much less pretentious, explain that their discoveries come to support or to lighten in some way certain elements of forgotten and ancestral wisdom. Thus, they indirectly point towards a return of those wisdoms, but without necessarily showing the way. Christopher Alexander belongs to a third category of scientific researchers : those who develop during a lifetime of inquiry their own general vision of the world, continuously nourishing it with the particular progresses of science and the local lessons of practice.

If Christopher Alexander appears to have been obsessed all his life by one and only question (how to make good architecture?), he did not lock himself up in architectural practice, nor in a particular scientific discipline, nor in any philosophy. This is why he knew how to develop and considerably deepen a way of building that is not directly linked to ancestral techniques but possesses even today their immensely wise qualities.

Because of the vast implications of Christopher Alexander's work, I will comment on only one aspect of the first volume (The Phenomenon of Life) ; that is, the issue of judgement in architecture.

In this first book, Christopher Alexander introduces and describes a single criterion to define the architectural value of any building. This criterion is (1) empirical, based on experience, and (2) objective, because it can be shared among several individuals. Each building, each construction, can be characterized by its degree of life. Provided with this criterion it is possible to discriminate between "good architecture" and "bad architecture". This degree of life depends on the presence or the absence of a spatial structure which he calls living structure and which can be used to explain judgements after they have been made. Provided with the properties and qualities of this living structure, it is then possible to look for the processes that governed its growth, in order to formalize a knowledge of the ways of designing and building that lead to "good architecture".

The empirical results are based on comparisons of objects, photographs, situations, or buildings. They are obtained by asking one question : which one of these two buildings has more life ? This question can be reformulated as follows : which one of these two buildings best represents the whole of yourself, which one best represents at the same time all your qualities and all your faults, all your forces and all your weaknesses, all the events you lived and all the ones you hope to live in the future, all the things you love and all the ones you hate, etc. If the answer to this question is sincere, the results are shared in common for a majority of people, and the measurement, which is made by comparison, is valid. For my own part, I did not find anything to object to the possible validity of this method.

If one starts to analyze this question, one realizes that it cancels (or tries to cancel) the majority of the determinisms that we are carrying and that we inherited more or less luckily during our life. It cancels the determinism of personal history by the opposition of past versus future, it cancels psychological determinism since it calls upon forces and weaknesses, it cancels aesthetic determinism by opposing what one loves and hates, etc. Finally, this form of judgement tries to reach the Wholeness which is present in each one of us. It aims at a criterion which is both personal and objective.
By raising this question, one establishes empirical results without dividing the individual into biological, psychological, sociological (and many more) components, because this question addresses the individual in his wholeness. And good architecture should not address only the psychological component of the individual, or the sociological or the historical ones, but the whole individual. Hence this form of judgement constitutes a solid proposal to define the value of architecture.

However it is not easy to apply in today's world, because obviously, we are not used to asking ourselves this type of question. One could even think that all the analytical developments around architectural and urban questions that exist today have as a principal function to circumvent this question that we refuse to ask ourselves directly, and when faced with it, the majority of us is in great difficulty. But to avoid judging is to make ourselves unable to judge, therefore unable to appreciate the things that have value. Most importantly, avoiding this judgement consequently makes us incompetent to design and to build valuable buildings. The issue of judgement, which introduces this first volume of The Nature of Order, is an essential precondition to the construction of a true knowledge in architecture.

Thus my opinion on this book is extremely positive. Without doubt, it is the best book on architecture I have ever read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Nature of Order: Why I strongly recommend this work.
First of all I'd just like to clarify that I am in the relatively unique position of having read through this material, as a developing work in progress, four different times over the course of a ten year period from 1988 to 1998. During this time I had the opportunity to study with Professor Alexander and then to help teach scores of students working on learning and applying the material that forms the basis of these books.

My experience has been that for those students who were willing to approach this material with an open mind, and with sincere effort, the Nature of Order is a challenging and inspiring work. Alexander, in my estimation, is proposing an approach to understanding and shaping the built environment that not only has the potential to produce beautiful satisfying, endlessly unique and deeply personal places, this approach also happens to be one that is exceptionally creative, unique to each person and a great deal of fun.

Perhaps it is risky to speak of fun, as this can seem to make light of a subject of momentous importance, which this subject is, if you are someone who cares deeply about the world you live in. Nevertheless, my experience has been that students who not only read this work attentively, but actually throw themselves into learning to apply this material, appear to have the most fun of any architecture students I have ever known. Their work reflects this joy, this satisfaction that comes from struggling to make something that goes beyond expressing their own ego to somehow being a thing that many people could love. And what's more, their work has been quite good, in many cases outstanding and the improvement has been at times rather dramatic.

(I myself won several design competitions after I began to gain some understanding of this material.)

Please understand that the Nature of Order proposes some thought provoking, eye opening insights that can prove quite challenging. It also includes what I consider to be powerful tools that have the capacity drastically increase ones effective creativity and mastery of ones own creative process. Gaining proficiency in these skills takes time and practice.

If you want to make places or art or furniture that come from a place inside you drawing upon the very best that you have to offer, then I highly recommend reading and rereading this four volume work. This is a monumental work oriented more towards expanding the creativity of the reader than any other book I have ever encountered. If I had to sum up the Nature of Order in one word, that word would be liberation.

I am an architect living and working in California.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Magnum Opus from a central figure in design theory
This four-volume work is Christopher Alexander's magnum opus of architectural philosophy, and a book on which he has been working for over twenty years. Like Steven Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" -- to which it has been compared by a number of authors -- it is long (almost 2,000 pages), richly illustrated, and suggestive of nothing less than a new scientific world view.

The essence of that view is this: the universe is not made of "things," but of patterns, of complex, interactive geometries. Furthermore, this way of understanding the world can unlock marvelous secrets of nature, and perhaps even make possible a renaissance of human-scale design and technology.

As to the second assertion, one may be appropriately skeptical until more evidence is seen. As to the first, there are emerging echoes of this world view across the sciences, in quantum physics, in biology, in the mathematics of complexity and elsewhere. Theorists and philosophers throughout the twentieth century have noted the gradual shift of scientific world view away from objects and toward processes, described by Whitehead, Bergson and many others. Alexander, like Wolfram, takes it a step further, arguing that we are on the verge of supplanting the Cartesian model altogether, and embarking on a revolutionary new phase in the understanding of the geometry of nature.

This is much more than speculative mysticism, as some poorly-read critics will doubtless be eager to claim. The Cambridge-educated mathematician backs up his beautifully illustrated assertions with copious mathematical formulas and notes, and he includes extensive discussions of the philosophical ideas of Descartes, Newton, Whitehead and many others. He paints an extremely detailed and convincing picture of a vast world of geometric structure that is just now coming into the range of human comprehension.

Alexander even goes beyond Wolfram and the other complexity theorists in one crucial respect: he argues that life does not "emerge" from the complex interactions of an essentially dead universe, but rather manifests itself, in greater or lesser degrees, in geometric order. For Alexander, the universe is alive in its very geometrical essence, and we ourselves are an inextricable part of that life. This is a "hard" scientific world view which is completely without opposition to questions of "meaning" or "value", "life" or "spirit". For Alexander, such questions are hardly irrelevant: in fact, they are of the essence in the most physical, concrete sense.

Alexander started his career as a highly influential design theorist, and the ideas of this book are its direct if surprising progeny. Early on he was a pioneer of computer-aided design methodology, and his book "Notes on the Synthesis of Form" is a classic in the field. (Curiously, Alexander's work has more recently spawned an entire new field of computer programming language, as well as popular computer games like "The Sims".)

Later on, Alexander sought a method to handle the unwieldy thickets of complex data generated by the computer. He soon identified design "patterns" that repeatedly occurred in the built environment, and that together formed systems or "languages." Such languages, he argued, were readily observable in traditional design methodologies, and were in large part responsible for their unity and wholeness. Implicit in this phase of work was the belief that the priesthood of architects hardly had an exclusive claim to good design, and that ordinary people could be taught to make quite handsome and satisfying buildings, as they have been known to do throughout history.

A Pattern Language was met with great success, and even at $65 per copy, it is still one of the best-selling books on architecture -- some 25 years after it was first published.

But Alexander and his colleagues were disturbed to find that many of the designers inspired by A Pattern Language produced work that was crude and artless. How, short of returning to the unsatisfactory methods of the priesthood of trained professionals, could this be corrected? What was missing from the methodology he and his colleagues were offering?

Alexander came to believe what was needed was an essential grasp of the geometry of nature, in the broadest sense. The effort to come to terms with the implications of this, and to document the ideas for his readers, would occupy him for the next 25 years, and require nothing short of an overhaul of the Cartesian worldview that he believed underlies the conception of the design problem.

Alexander studied the designs of cultures throughout history and across the world, and formulated some empirical notions about their geometric properties. He distilled these down to 15 recurrent geometric properties, and developed them into a powerful and versatile theory of design.

At the core of his theory is the idea that good design is not a matter of elements working properly in a mechanistic system, but rather of regions of space amplifying one another in a larger totality. That is, one cannot take the environment apart into elements, but must see the environment as a field of wholes, each supporting and amplifying one another in an interlocking totality. One can be very precise and descriptive about these wholes, but one cannot avoid looking at the totality at each step of the way.

Alexander calls each spatial region a "center," emphasizing that it is not an isolated entity, but an embedded field within an infinitely larger system of fields, with gradually diminishing contextual influences. One cannot look at a part of the whole without looking at its relation to the whole, and the complex influences of its location within the field.

This geometric holism is not a new view of things, although perhaps, as Alexander suggests, it holds revolutionary implications for the way we order the architecture of modern society. If so, this work is a major advancement.

It is not an accident that scientists are often Alexander's biggest fans, for they understand his ideas more deeply than do many architects. If history is any guide, thoughtful people would do well to pay close attention to the insights of this fascinating, brilliant, important theorist. ... Read more


11. Time-Saver Standards for Urban Design
by DonaldWatson
list price: $150.00
our price: $138.00
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Asin: 007068507X
Catlog: Book (2003-02-24)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
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Book Description


* The foremost professional reference on the physical design of cities and urban places
* International coverage including recent European and Asian sustainability initiatives
* Covers essential topics such as preservation, renewal, patterns of settlement and more
* Outstanding contributors include Alan Plattus, Dean of the College of Architecture, Yale University
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12. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.24
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Asin: 0865476063
Catlog: Book (2001-04-01)
Publisher: North Point Press
Sales Rank: 16161
Average Customer Review: 4.35 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A manifesto by America's most controversial and celebrated town planners, proposing an alternative model for community design.

There is a growing movement in North America to put an end to suburban sprawl and to replace the automobile-based settlement patterns of the past fifty years with a return to more traditional planning principles. This movement stems not only from the realization that sprawl is ecologically and economically unsustainable but also from a growing awareness of sprawl's many victims: children, utterly dependent on parental transportation if they wish to escape the cul-de-sac; the elderly, warehoused in institutions once they lose their driver's licenses; the middle class, stuck in traffic for two or more hours each day.

Founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk are at the forefront of this movement, and in Suburban Nation they assess sprawl's costs to society, be they ecological, economic, aesthetic, or social. It is a lively, thorough, critical lament, and an entertaining lesson on the distinctions between postwar suburbia-characterized by housing clusters, strip shopping centers, office parks, and parking lots-and the traditional neighborhoods that were built as a matter of course until mid-century. It is an indictment of the entire development community, including governments, for the fact that America no longer builds towns. Most important, though, it is that rare book that also offers solutions.
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Reviews (63)

4-0 out of 5 stars Did you realize how suburban sprawl affects the USA?
This book allowed me to understand why the US cities look so different from the European ones. Over the years the cult of car and the construction of vast network of highways contributed to SPRAWL:

- cookie cutter houses

- wide, treeless and sidewalk-free roads

- mindlessly curving cul-de-sacs

- streetscape of garage doors

After the war Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration offered loans to finance new suburban homes, thus discouraging renovation of existing housing. Simultaneously a 41000 mile interstate highway construction program, couples with regional road expansion projects, and the neglect of mass transit, helped make automotive commuting affordable and convenient for average citizen.

People no longer walk, they get into their cars (most often too big, btw) to drive to the nearest strip malls. Walking is either not possible (no sidewalks, no lights to cross the road) or not pleasant because of architecture of buildings, noise protecting walls etc. Crosswalks are sometimes erased on the grounds of pedestrian safety. Indeed in some areas drivers are not used to see walking people and do not stop at their red-light-turns. Shops followed customers to the suburbs. I was really shocked by the deserted after 5 pm capital city of Jackson, Ms. The same happened in Detroit, Hartford, Des moines, Syracuse, Tampa and on many more places.

Old-time walkable cities (or their parts) like Boston's Beacon Hill, Santa Fe, Nantucket, Annapolis, Nantucket - are fun for tourists and residents but are also violating zoning regulations.

Contemporary housing subdivisions (clusters or pods) consist only of residences, even if are called neighbourhoods. You will not find a convenience shop, or a library, or a school on site. Also, they are carefully separated from the neighbouring clusters. Subdivisions have wide internal roads, which are very wide unlike old-type yield roads with one traffic lanes to accomodate both directions. Such roads/streets are good for drivers but not for pedestrians. These roads are then connected at only one point to the main collector road. Here another truth needs emphasizing - adding lanes to highways only makes traffic worse, does not solve the jams. Los Angeles, NYC or or Atlanta provide good example. Highways only mitigate people against leaving closer to work. Increased traffic capacity causes people to drive more - after discovering this truth Britain cut their road building budgets, but not Americans.

Mass transit is the only solution, and it has to start with pedestrians. Park and ride solutions are not very helpful

No more housing subdivisions!

No more shopping centers!

No more office parks!

No more highways!

Neighbourhoods or nothing!

5-0 out of 5 stars We Are All Responsible - So Let's All Look For Solutions
Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck are urban planners who have seen and done much of what America is made up of today. Here is an an overview of the origins and current status of the epidemic of Suburban sprawl, and it's heavily documented and scientifically researched consequences. Some of the concepts discussed include zoning laws, regulations, lost tax revenue, lack of aesthetics, and anonymous "soul-less" suburbs filled with alienated people.

Obviously, people have to live somewhere. They have to buy groceries and shop, send their children to schools, and live in a neighborhood that's desirable. Are separate residential and commercial zoning laws the only way? Are large sub-divisions of residential track-housing, the only option? These plans usually necessitate a car for doing anything and everything, no matter how trivial. In metropolitan areas with high population densities, we need to get in our cars, drive through congested traffic to eyesoric strip-malls, even to buy a loaf of bread. There is no sense of collective community, even in a mental sense. Office parks are separated, yet connected by hiways, into islands of emptiness. There are also negative economic consequences. It has been been proven from varieties of sources, that the current suburban model not only strains but debilitates the economy. There is a heavy-toll placed on the residents of these widespread areas.

How many times have you heard people say "the traffic is terrible," while they are driving their vehicles everyday to do virtually everything? Have you ever heard, "where do all these people come from?" or "I wonder where they're all going?" Answer: they're doing exactly the same thing you're doing: driving through suburbia, everyday, for everything, and anything. As the population continues to increase in the United States we'll see unprecedented massive growth of suburban sprawl under the current plan of the suburban model. It's not revamping the model entirely that may make living under these circumstances more livable, but some minor well-thought adjustments....

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the ten best books on American life
I found this book intriguing, because the authors understand why I like my neighborhood. Even better, they understand why I hate so many new housing projects. This is an important book, as vital as Jane Jacobs' work, and it has some uncomfortable truths to share. The US has become a Suburban Nation; a nation of badly-designed suburbs. The newest, more expensive ones are some of the worst.

My neighborhood has houses that are smallish, but sidewalks are everywhere. There are stores within reasonable walking distance, and not too many cul-de-sacs. Three parks are less than a mile away. That means I can walk more than one route to get places. More importantly, others walk the neighborhood too, so I actually meet my neighbors. A neighborhood built almost 50 years ago, the trees are mature (a rarity in Silicon Valley burbs) and provide shade, coolness, and beauty. 8000 square foot lots are neither so small that the houses are crushed together nor so large that walking seems to get you nowhere because it takes too long to pass each property.

Contrast this with the new developments going in: miniscule yards (and therefore little greenery), matchstick trees that don't receive any sun, overly wide arterials that offer only one way into or out of the development. Walls around the complex not only keep outsiders out, they prevent insiders from going out, too, unless they get in the car and crowd onto the only access road. Once in one's car, there is no opportunity to talk with neighbors on the inside, either.

Before reading Suburban Nation, I still had the same sense of what made a neighborhood compelling and we bought our home accordingly, preferring the old small house over the big new ones despite my need for closet space. Authors Duany, Plater-Zybeck, and Speck articulate these principals clearly and enjoyably. With many photographs illustrating both good and bad examples of city planning, Suburban Nation shows the consequences of bad assumptions as well as bad results. The authors like Winter Park, FL, because its downtown is walkable and residents, most of them retired and many who have given up driving, can easily participate in community life. They hate most of the new burbs being built because there is no there there, there's just a road from here to somewhere else with no central gathering point.

Most of the failure of the modern suburb is due to the automobile. Wider roads make a community less cohesive, because a wide road encourages speeding, while a narrow one encourages drivers to slow down, regardless of the posted speed limit. New communities have ridiculously wide roads, which not only lead to unsafe traffic but also discourages pedestrians. Cul-de-sacs, corners, and curves are overly wide as well, to accomodate uneeded 40 foot fire trucks; completely unneeded in a suburb where no building is over two stories but purchased by town councils wanting their fire chiefs to be happy. The net result is a 120 foot walk to cross a street instead of 40 feet because the corners are shaved to allow the stupid fire truck access, the fire truck the suburb DOES NOT NEED because a smaller truck would do just as good a job.

People claim to want to live in the suburbs for a smaller community, but the way they are built frustrates any chance of finding it. Planners consider schools to be traffic nuisances and build them away from central locations, yet larger schools are what leads to disconnection. Putting them on the boundaries instead of the center of town destroys a chance of meeting other children from the neighborhood, and further increases car usage. The authors ask why a school is considered a traffic nuisance rather than making them smaller to be community assets?

Duany and Plater-Zybeck have designed some marvelous new communities, and hope this well-written and ground-breaking book will publicize why they succeed. The first step is repealing the planning rules that prevent all these elements of vital community. Read Suburban Nation and find out how community building begins with good design.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Fantastic Book
I am not an architect or city planner, but I believe this book would be an interesting and informative read for anyone. It provides a lot of information and references for a professional and it is a great starting point for an amateur or concerned and active citizen. Additionally (and very difficult to accomplish all three), it is a very pleasant read for anyone else who wants to learn more about designing a neighborhood, how cities form, how to combat environmental destruction or simply why they do or don't enjoy a specific neighborhood.

Part of the success of this book for me was the format. There are small pages with wide margins. The margins allow for small black & white pictures directly next to the text they illustrate. The pictures by themselves are not very good, but they illustrate the text very well. Additionally, the authors used two systems of footnotes/endnotes (a system that I have not seen before) that expand and clarify the story very well, without bogging it down. For asides or amplifications, they have footnotes that you can quickly read, after you have finished your current line of thought. These sources are not always completely referenced, sometimes the authors only reference a series, article, or individual book; but if you are interested the source along with some additional thoughts from the authors are available. For the sources they are citing, the authors use a typical endnote system.

This book is a call to action. The authors try to explain the current problems with our cities (and consequently our lives) and some of their solutions. They do a very good job explaining their views, and I believe present a very convincing argument that these problems do not have one source or solution. The authors present problems with our cities today as problems that cut across all economic, social, environmental, occupational & cultural boundaries; and that only traditional neighborhoods cut across all these boundaries to solve these problems. The authors do NOT say that only architects or city planners can solve the major problems facing society today. Quite the opposite; they say that only an educated citizenry can solve these problems if they act truly collectively, and the only mechanism that they have seen that brings people together (across the above-mentioned boundaries) is a "traditional neighborhood".

I don't believe the authors are Ludites or are in any way opposed to modern technology or science; however, their basic position is that we need to re-read the texts from 100 years ago and stop using the latest gee-whiz-bang theory to design our cities and guide our lives. If fact, they directly state that experimentation is good; but that we should experiment on the rich because if the latest theory is cracked, the rich can always afford to move! Unfortunately, the rich and powerful seem to know that not all of the latest theories come out perfect the first time, so modern society experiments on the poor, with the predictable results.

Everyone should read this book!

2-0 out of 5 stars accurate diagnosis, wrong solution
Like most socialists since Karl Marks, the authors of this book accurately diagnose the problem and then prescribe a solution that will only make things worse. Of course I agree that American suburbia is a horrible disaster. But what caused it? The authors hint at the answer which seems to be land use zoning instituted by local government. The authors also describe how this zoning leads to corruption, so large developers are the only ones who can survive in this corrupt and bureaucratic environment. And what remedy do the authors offer? Why, more and "better" government, of course. What they fail to mention is that most of the old towns and cities that they so admire were built without any of this regulation. What these old towns did was to do their job and let the private sector do its job. The job of local government is to take responsibility for public space and institutions. That means that local government, not private developers, should lay out and build the roads. Local government should build public parks, playgrounds, civic buildings, many nice public schools, etc. That is what local government used to do in the US. These days, instead of doing their job, local government (and all government for that matter) spend time meddling and interfering in the private sector. The nightmare that we all recognize as American suburbia is caused by both the fact that local government is not doing what it needs to do and that local government is preventing the private sector from doing what the private sector needs to do. Simply eliminating land use and density zoning would solve many of the problems described in this book.

Some quotes to describe the above: "If we truly want to curtail sprawl, we must acknowledge that automotive mobility is a no-win game, and that the only long-term solutions to traffic are public transportation and coordinated land use." What nonsense. Like most Leftists, the authors hate the freedom that the car has given people. Why can't we eliminate sprawl by having high density, pedestrian friendly towns interconnected with massive highways? There is no conflict between pedestrians and cars when the needs of each are satisfied separately. And another: "a federal initiative is needed to better coordinate those policies which now govern the apparently distinct objectives of affordable housing provision, business assistance, job creation, and social services." This big government nonsense speaks for itself.

So this book gets 2 stars for its accurate description of everything that is wrong with suburbia. But it is a depressing reminder that the only major forces in our country are corporate fascists and big government socialists. The enterprising spirit of individual freedom and civic duty that created those wonderful old towns and cities and all that was good in America is now extinct. ... Read more


13. The Death and Life of Great American Cities
by JANE JACOBS
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 067974195X
Catlog: Book (1992-12-01)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 2587
Average Customer Review: 4.84 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A classic since its publication in 1961, this book is the defintive statement on American cities: what makes them safe, how they function, and why all too many official attempts at saving them have failed. ... Read more

Reviews (37)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Urban Work
When one begins to talk about city planning and urban land use, the name Jane Jacobs almost always comes up in the conversation. Jacobs is without question the leading scholar attacking the modern urban theories of development. If you ask any average suburban soccer mom or dad what the problem is with the city, they almost always say "it is too crowded!"

Jacobs is able to show that the real problem with cities isn't overpopulation - rather, it is exactly the opposite! The major problem with cities today is that they aren't dense enough. Empty sidewalks are inviting only to criminals. Children, shop keepers, and families hate an empty sidewalk.

Furthermore, city planners compound the situation by moving businesses (and therefore commerce) away from residences - thus resulting in a further decline of sidewalk traffic.

If you're going to be involved in city government, planning, or land use, you should definitely read this book. I'm a small government conservative, and lots of other conservatives are scared by Jacobs -- but let me tell you -- this is the future of America. We should accept and embrace this urban challenge.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic in the study of cities
One of the most insightful and thought provoking books I have ever read. Jane Jacobs' classic work on the functioning of cities, though published in 1961, offers a fresh look at our cities and how we choose to live.

Ms. Jacobs' insights grow out of two factors which combine make this an outstanding book. First, she approaches cities as living beings. True, cities are made of bricks and mortar but over time buildings, streets and neighborhoods change in response to the people who live and work in them. Secondly, she bases her conclusions on empirical experience. The author doesn't sit in some ivory tower, theorize how people should live and then expect people's actions to fit those theories. Rather, she observes daily life and from there draws her conclusions.

One item that hit closest to home for me was the book's examination of the effects of public housing. Growing up and living in the Chicago area I knew firsthand that the "projects" were not a desirable place to live. Built at the same time that The Death and Life of Great American Cities was published, Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes were promoted as an improvement to the community. Complete with large parcels of land allocated for parks and bulldozing what were considered "slums" the view at the time was that these projects would improve the vitality of the neighborhood. But, as Ms. Jacobs rightly observed back in 1961, instead of promoting community, projects such as these only set the scene for isolation and fear.

Time has proven this work to be a classic. Many of her observations went against the prevailing wisdom of the era when the book was published. But now, at the dawn of the 21st century, the Robert Taylor Homes face the wrecking ball and cities everywhere are heeding the wisdom in this book as they rethink their approaches toward urban development.

5-0 out of 5 stars inspiring & surprisingly accessible
This book reads like a novel rather than an ideological tome. If you think of it that way, the city is the protagonist and you feel like you're reading a bildundgsroman about this much put upon but always fascinating central character. Wow. Somebody recommended a Modern Library edition. I have to concur because this edition (paperback) is badly designed and hard to read. It's worth getting a nicer edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars great
This is a great book. I read it on the subway and never lost interest. Even today it helps open your eyes to bad planning that occurs in cities that kills what otherwise could be successful neighborhoods.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-have!!
The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a genius book. Words cannot explain how powerful and convincing this book is, you have to buy it yourself to understand. Even at her elder age, Jacobs is still very involved in urban issues in the City of Toronto where she now resides, but even half way around the world people have been affected by her stance on issues surrounding cities, as many municipal politicians use The Death and Life... as their policy bible. ... Read more


14. The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream
by Peter Calthorpe
list price: $27.50
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 1878271687
Catlog: Book (1993-06-01)
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Sales Rank: 81136
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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One of the foremost practitioners of New Urbanism, Peter Calthorpe, an urban designer and architect based in Berkeley, California, offers one of the most coherent and persuasive arguments for moving the United States away from sprawl and toward more compact, mixed-use, economically diverse, and ecologically sound communities. This book presents 24 of Calthorpe's regional urban plans, in which towns are organized so that residents can be less dependent upon their cars and can walk, bike, or take public transportation between work, school, home, and shopping.This book is not just for architects and urban planners, but for all concerned citizens interested in developing a cohesive, feasible vision of the sustainable city of the future. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

2-0 out of 5 stars A Small Step
The one point in favor of this book is that it promotes a much-needed land use concept: Plan and build near transit. The critical downfall of the book is that it perpetuates the auto-centric lifestyle. While Europe and Asia are beginning to perfect pedestrian districts around their transit stops, the best that we Americans can do is to simply build residential units with 2 parking spaces each near metro stops. Too much land (typically 40%) is wasted in providing for streets, alleys, driveways, and the large number of parking spaces for each vehicle.

Such a design is still auto-centric if it makes automobile use the quickest and easiest way to shop at [a physical store] versus providing a pedestrian environment to walk 2 blocks to shop at a Mom & Pop store. Pedestrian environments with local grocery/pharmacy, schools, offices, day-care, sports fields, and other weekly needs are going to be able to eliminate 90% of automotive travel requirements. The other 10% can be easily provided through carsharing, a fast growing market in 21 North American cities now. Parking structures on the periphery of the district provides parking for carsharing and private automobiles (though the latter is retained by a modest percentage of households).

A book that envisions the progression of cities to pedestrian/transit use is Carfree Cities, by J.H. Crawford. There are also many websites that describe the many carfree areas already in place in Europe and Asia, whose residents require very little in the way of imported oil.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read!
This work is terrific if one is interested at all in the way in which cities could be developed. The ideas which Calthorpe presents are revolutionary and instrumental if one wishes to gain any sort of idea of the concepts and ideas proposed by "New Urbanism". His explanation of his Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is vital in understanding the difference between these developments and traditional versions. His use of specific examples makes the work that much better as it becomes more tangible and less simply theory. I would highly recomend this book to anyone involved in any sort of urban or city planning or simply interested in cities themselves. ... Read more


15. City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village, Revised Edition
by David Sucher, David M. Sucher
list price: $21.95
our price: $18.66
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Asin: 0964268019
Catlog: Book (2003-10)
Publisher: City Comforts Inc
Sales Rank: 151148
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The book shows examples of small things — City Comforts— that make urban life pleasant: places where people can meet,methods to tame cars and to make buildings good neighbors, art thatinfuses personality into locations and makes them into places. Manyof these small details are so obvious as to be invisible. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Planning Commissioner's Bible
I am so glad that David Sucher has revised and reissued this book. I used the first edition for several courses that I teach in community development and urban planning, and I know of no better single volume text on urban design issues. The new edition is even better. The book is particularly useful for those who have an interest in planning and design issues, but have limited technical training or experience. As a consequence, it makes excellent reading for city planning commissioners.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good reminder about what all the "little things" are.
This book provides brevity with depth. It reminds you about all those little things that sometimes get left out during development, but which make a world of difference to the people who live in it. Plenty of examples are provided, usually with the thought behind why they work. The author clearly enjoys his native city because almost all the examples come from the Northwest, but this makes them no less impactful. I highly recommend this book to students of architecture/planning, developers, city officials, or anyone who has an interest in the "little things" that make our built environment better. This would be a GREAT book for anyone who has any influence in high growth subruban areas--neighborhood assns., zoning officials, subdivision developers, etc. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have for any city planning department
This is a fantastic book detailing all the little amenities that make great urban places. Copiously illustrated and simple to follow, planning departments everywhere should invest in multiple copies for the members of their boards and commissions. This is a must have work for anyone interested in quality of life. ... Read more


16. The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter
by Andrew Alpern
list price: $69.00
our price: $69.00
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Asin: 0926494201
Catlog: Book (2002-02-01)
Publisher: Acanthus Press
Sales Rank: 195423
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

FIRST MAJOR WORK PUBLISHED ON 20th CENTURY MASTER APARTMENT BUILDING DESIGNERS, ROSARIO CANDELA AND JAMES CARPENTER

Living on Park Avenue or Fifth could be regarded as a good sign you've arrived in New York but, for some, good is never quite good enough. True arbiters of taste define ultimate opulence by what hovers above and beyond the address: past the uniformed doorman, up the elevator, and across quiet thresholds. Here lies a world only a very privileged few call home — the coveted suites created by Rosario Candela and James Carpenter, time-honored masters of 20th century apartment house design.

Now, Acanthus Press offers the first major work on two of the most significant figures in the history of apartment house architecture: "The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter, by Apartments of the Affluent author Andrew Alpern.

Richly illustrated with archival photographs and floor plans, Alpern's book provides the architectural and social history of the great buildings of Candela and Carpenter, demonstrating the breadth of the designers' contribution to Manhattan's exterior and interior landscape. Added to the vintage photographs of elevations and interiors are later interiors done by some of New York’s design elite: Buatta, Couturier, Cullman, Ferguson Shamamian & Rattner, Gwathmey, McMillen, Mark Hampton, Molyneux, Parish-Hadley, and others. Illuminating the volume with carefully researched facts and anecdotal narrative, the author demonstrates how Candela (1890–1953) and Carpenter (1867–1932) produced a golden age of apartment house design that was parallel to the golden age of New York's skyscrapers.

"Rosario Candela has replaced Stanford White as the real estate brokers' name-drop of choice," writes New York Times "Streetscapes" columnist, Christopher Gray."Nowadays, to own a 10- to 20-room apartment in aCandela-designed building is to accede to architectural, as well as social cynosure."

Indeed, Candela and Carpenter not only understood the needs of discerning clientele; they effectively defined those needs. In concert with enlightened builders, these distinguished designers helped the affluent appreciate the amenities that separated the finest New York edifices from common residential buildings."There was a wonderful assurance and solidity to his [Candela's] buildings," writes architecture critic Paul Goldberger. "They don't display any visible effort, in the greatest traditions of old money."

With well-proportioned rooms and imaginative layouts, Candela and Carpenter created the lavish structures that to this day continue to be the gold standard of Manhattan living spaces. More than a half-century later, their suites of rooms in the 124 remaining structures of the 127 they built prevail as the homes of the most successful New Yorkers.

The New York Apartment Houses of Rosario Candela and James Carpenter, features introductory essays by Christopher Gray and the prominent architectural designer David Netto. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Fancy buildings with awkward, boring floor plans.
I'm an architect and I bought this book hoping that I would get some good ideas from famous architects. I was disappointed.

The floor plans are choppy with poor flow. Rooms are awkwardly shaped. Foyers are not as grand as I would hope for. There's nothing special about these apartments except for probably their price tags.

5-0 out of 5 stars Andrew Alpern's Labor of Love
Candela and Carpenter were two of New York's most noted architects of the inter-war era, specializing in luxury apartment buildings. Architectural historian Andrew Alpern has assembled a reference text of their buildings, organized in geographic sequence. In this book, a typical building has two pages dedicated to it. One page consists of a floor plan, and the facing page has a photo or rendering of the exterior, combined with a one-to-six sentence description. Also, there are several brief essays at the beginning of the book.

I enjoyed this volume, which Alpern has directed at a very narrow segment of readers, but it's not for everyone. This is a volume for architectural enthusiasts who are intrigued by room arrangements. Others might be better served by a book broader in scope (including some by this same author).

5-0 out of 5 stars Alpern's best work yet
Alpern has written several books about New York apartment buildings and this is his best. This time he focuses exclusively on the genius of two ground-breaking designers, James Carpenter and Rosario Candela. If you are not adept at reading floor plans (of which there are many), it might not be immediately obvious what defines the genius of these two architects. It is the innovation of their layouts and the graciousness of their spaces that made apartment house living so desireable, allowing for the migration from town house to apartment building. Regardless, everyone will still enjoy the exterior and interior views of these great New York buildings and get a sense of how the rich really live. Alpern raises our awareness of the apartment house type in the City to a higher level, just as others had focused on the greatness of NYC's commercial structures.
Each building is described in detail and there is some chatty material about who lived where, who bought what, and maybe a little more of that would have added fun to the book. There is a chronology of all the buildings and I would have liked to have seen thumbnail pictures of the buildings next to the timeline, since the book is organized geographically. It is otherwise an excellent and elegant study of the complete apartment house works of these two great designers.

3-0 out of 5 stars New York Luxe
Alpern has collected a comprehensive array of images and information both past and present that illustrate the breadth of work by Carpenter and Candela. Their buildings still house the privileged members of New York's social set that these apartment houses were designed for. Netto's intro is overwrought, pretentious and obviously included to lend a certain cachet from a card carrying member of Park Ave society. The book is a good visual reference, yet somewhat anticlimactic in it's format. ... Read more


17. Resort Design: Planning, Architecture and Interiors
by MargaretHuffadine
list price: $69.95
our price: $62.26
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Asin: 0070308713
Catlog: Book (1999-10-26)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
Sales Rank: 125554
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

All-inclusive guide to designing vacation retreats Hospitality building is todayÆs fastest-growing construction category. Resort Design: Planning, Architecture and Interiors, by international expert Margaret Huffadine, gives you a foundation for working successfully on a wide range of resort projects, casino-based, spa, sport, beach, ecotourism, urban and theme resorts anywhere in the world. This from-the-ground-up guide takes you from feasibility studies through planning,financing, and design stages. Renderings and photographs of architectural and interior design details of public areas and guest rooms at renowned resorts richly illustrate profit-determining concepts. You get critical front-of-house and back-of-house operational details for restaurants and bars...security...housekeeping...structural, mechanical, and electrical requirements...executive and administrative offices...staff working conditions and accommodations...and much, much more, details guaranteed to help your projects go smoothly and cost less. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

2-0 out of 5 stars Exaggerated title
The book analyses the subjects at an amateur level and it is lacking in content. As a necessity of my doctoral dissertation I bought it and regret.The letter fonts are unnecessarily too big; according to me the real volume should be about 175 pages.Photographs and drawings(plan, etc.)are inadequate and print quality is not good.I was expecting a satisfying book.

4-0 out of 5 stars An architect's guide to resort planning and design.
This text book guides the designer through the ins and outs of resort design. Specific detailing of how spaces function (Casinos, Hotels, Restaurants...) gives example to many programatic considerations.

A very well written and thorough analysis.

Highly recommended. ... Read more


18. Smart Communities : How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future
by Suzanne W.Morse
list price: $34.00
our price: $34.00
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Asin: 0787965162
Catlog: Book (2004-03-05)
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Sales Rank: 327752
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Based on the results of more than a decade of research by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, Smart Communities provides directions for strategic decision-making and outlines the key strategies used by thousands of leaders who have worked to create successful communities. Smart Communities offers leaders from both the public and private sectors the tools they need to create a better future for all the community's citizens. Using illustrative examples from communities around the country, Smart Communities shows how these change agents' well-structured decision-making processes can be traced to their effective use of seven key leverage points:

  • Investing right the first time
  • Working together
  • Building on community strengths
  • Practicing democracy
  • Preserving the past
  • Growing leaders
  • Inventing a brighter future
... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Smart Commununities
This book is an antidote for the cynicism and sense of helplessness that pervades too many of our communities. We are given actual examples of communities builing on their strengths, talents, histories and values to create new energy and optimism. As an amatuer historian, my favorite chapter was the one on preserving the past as a way to begin building the new. Now I have the language to encourage renewal by honoring the past.

5-0 out of 5 stars Strategic Thinking and Acting
I was attracted to this book while looking for insights into strategic thinking for work in another arena. I was not disappointed.

Smart Communities offers many very useable ideas for anyone with responsibilities for thinking and acting strategically to enhance our lives together. And that probably includes most everyone.

Along with very practical help, the accounts and interpretations of real experiences also offer inspiration and hope.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Bonanza For Anyone Working to Bring about Change
Finally, an exceedingly hopeful book about how to effect meaningful change in a community, large or small. Here, Dr. Suzanne Morse, in her characteristic lively and to-the-point style, has given us a guide, repleat with documented examples of how to move the needle on those issues we're all too familiar with: poverty, lack of a board base of leadership, chidren's welfare. Armed with more than 10 years of hands on experience working with groups in communities all across the country, Dr. Morse's book, as well as many of her other supportive pieces such as What Works, guarantees us all that we no longer have to start at square one. If you were depressed by Robert Putnam's novel a few years back, Bowling Alone, which bemoaned the lack of citizen involvement in communities today, this book and the work of Dr. Morse will give you not only hope but the tools to join forces with others where you live to make a difference.
Read it for the cheer joy of finding out how this is done, and done well.Each chapter ends with, How to Get Started in Your Community, a virtual workbook for action. Her reference section will also help guide you in fruitful directions.Putnam's latest book, Better Together: Restoring the American Community, speaks of a hint that citizens are beginning to "bowl together". Dr. Morse's book is proof that they are and have been doing so effectively for the past decade.Enjoy--an exhilerating read. ... Read more


19. Conservation Design for Subdivisions: A Practical Guide to Creating Open Space Networks
by Randall G. Arendt, Holly Harper, Natural Lands Trust, American Planning Association, American Society of Landscape Architiects
list price: $42.50
our price: $42.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559634898
Catlog: Book (1996-08-01)
Publisher: Island Press
Sales Rank: 61867
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In most communities, land use regulations are based on a limited model that allows for only one end result: the production of more and more suburbia, composed of endless subdivisions and shopping centers, that ultimately covers every bit of countryside with "improvements." Fortunately, sensible alternatives to this approach do exist, and methods of developing land while at the same time conserving natural areas are available.

In Conservation Design for Subdivisions, Randall G. Arendt explores better ways of designing new residential developments than we have typically seen in our communities. He presents a practical handbook for residential developers, site designers, local officials, and landowners that explains how to implement new ideas about land-use planning and environmental protection. Abundantly illustrated with site plans (many of them in color), floor plans, photographs, and renditions of houses and landscapes, it describes a series of simple and straightforward techniques that allows for land-conserving development.

The author proposes a step-by-step approach to conserving natural areas by rearranging density on each development parcel as it is being planned so that only half (or less) of the buildable land is turned into houselots and streets. Homes are built in a less land-consumptive manner that allows the balance of property to be permanently protected and added to an interconnected network of green spaces and green corridors. Included in the volume are model zoning and subdivision ordinance provisions that can help citizens and local officials implement these innovative design ideas. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars More people need to read this book!
What a concept! Rather than trying to get the most acreage per lot, make smaller lots with more shared open space. A must read for every developer, planning board, and zoning commition. Easy to follow examples show how to preserve historic and environmental features while adding to the value of the land that is developed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Should be a guide for the future of subdivisions!
If we developed land in the manner the author teaches, America would look so much nicer! A very common sense approach to maintain rural character in an area and stop sprawl from destroying your area. Every developer, planner, new home buyer, builder, conservationist and private citizen should read this and also buy the author's book, "Rural By Design".

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent reference guide that will help combat urban sprawl
Cheers for Randall G. Arendt, et al. For years my government agency has been fighting a loosing battle in Florida with unmanaged and unfettered urban growth. It seemed as though nothing could stem the tide of urban sprawl until two things happened. One was an election of a more centralist government and the other was the introduction of "designing for conservation" into our policy making levels. This concept was brought into clear focus by Arendt's book. The authors not only presented a practical and economically sound guide for growth that can benefit developers, but the reference can act as a mechanism to help preserve the environmental cohesiveness of any community. The policy makers in our community were so impressed with this book that fifteen (15) copies were purchased to be placed into the hands of influential politicians, developers and regulatory agencies.

4-0 out of 5 stars this book is a blueprint for land development of the future.
As a land developer this book brought into focus the problems that haave been growing as more and more of the land in my area has been consumed, and we have less and less to develop. At first I thought it would be another environmental tirade against land development,but instead realised it was a very practical and economically sound guide for development that would benefit me and also help maintain the character of my community. Arendt's concern is for the environment and the preservation of open spaces and connective corridors of space and natural habitat between differing parcels of land in a given area. His solutions achieve these goals, but of special interest to me as a developer is that his solutions also mean no loss of density, reduced costs and higher land values. Excellent illustrations, easy to understand and worth the price many times over. ... Read more


20. Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory
by Neil Leach
list price: $38.95
our price: $38.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415128269
Catlog: Book (1997-04-01)
Publisher: Routledge
Sales Rank: 15241
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This invaluable reader brings together the core writings on architecture by key philosophers and cultural theorists of the Twentieth Century.

This careful selection of the very best theoretical writings offers a refreshing take on the question of architecture and provocatively rethinks many of the accepted tenets of architectural theory from a broader cultural perspective. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars Mis-reading architecture
I read this book and was instantly struck by the mis-representation and editing of the theories of some of the centuries most important thinkers. The discourse is limited to a one-dimensional view of architectural theory that seems to dismiss the most potent ideas of critical theory and radical critique. The book is structured around themed chapters containing several extracts with a logic of "this is a critique of this" in a rather naive way. The author's ommission of Heidegger's thinking is bizarre and his critique of Loos misses out the crucial influence of the intellectual milieu of early 20th century Vienna (Kraus, Wittgenstein etc.). Some interesting lesser known figures are brought to light (Kracauer for example)and there is some fantastic material here extracted from larger works, but be warned! this is a book with its own agenda.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rethinking Compilations
This book is a compilation of essays on architecture from a very distinctive and unique point of view, which shows people involved with architecture or its related fields the perspective of recognised sociologists, communicators, semiologists et cetera, and which constitutes a very valuable tool for a deeper understanding of our everyday proceedings in such a globalizing practice as the art of designing works of art where we can dwell. ... Read more


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