The City after the Automobile: A Radical Vision of Design, Technology and Transportation for the Twenty-First Centuryby Moshe Safdie, Wendy Kohn
In the aftermath of the automobile, with struggling downtowns, spreading suburbs, and blooming private gated communities, are traditional cities becoming obsolete? In The City After the Automobile, internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie passionately comes to the city's defense. Arguing that vital cities are fundamental to civilized society and culture,… See more details below
In the aftermath of the automobile, with struggling downtowns, spreading suburbs, and blooming private gated communities, are traditional cities becoming obsolete? In The City After the Automobile, internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie passionately comes to the city's defense. Arguing that vital cities are fundamental to civilized society and culture, Safdie and his colleague Wendy Kohn describe how we can rescue cities from their current threat of demise. Today we face a choice: suburban lives of total dependence on our cars or increasingly unworkable urban lifestyles of endless traffic jams, eroding pedestrian street life, and mounting parking problems. Unlike those who want to turn back the clock to pre-industrial enclaves or those who propose science-fiction-like "cyber cities," Safdie believes we can solve our present dilemmas, preserve the best of our urban history, and create future cities of strong public life, cultural richness, and physical beauty. In vivid prose, The City After the Automobile paints a revolutionary vision of the future, one that integrates innovative architecture, technology, and policy to lead us toward richer and more humanistic places to work and live.
Much of this book is an erudite survey of familiar ground. The automobile has undoubtedly reshaped urban topography, with the flight to suburbia producing the need for more roads, parking, and cars. Accompanied by a diminished concern for public spaces, this has turned architects, once the planners of communities, into designers of individual sites. Habitat '67 creator Safdie (Architecture/Harvard) is not blinded by nostalgia for bygone days when parks and plazas were the shared center of city life, however. He recognizes that Americans are devoted to the convenience and independence of travel by automobile, and he envisions a transportation system that will retain these qualities while also revitalizing urban areas. Within his imagined city, "conveyors"essentially elevators that move horizontallywill provide easy movement between buildings. Regional transportation will be based on "U-cars"publicly owned carlike vehiclesthat can be picked up and dropped off as needed at depots located next to conveyor stops and rail stations. (High-speed trains will link cities.) Pedestrian walkways and open spaces in the core of the city will be protected from the elements by gigantic, retractable glass roofs, optimizing conditions for enjoying public life. While creating an urban utopia without completely removing automobiles, however, Safdie is amazingly obtuse about the political and economic values that he recognizes are at the heart of Americans' love for cars. A culture that worships private car ownership is not fertile ground for public spaces involving massive government expenditure and administration, and to imagine that the affluent will be willing to pay the necessary taxes is more fanciful than conveyors or U-cars.
Architects should be dreamers, but we need more from them than castles in the air.
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 ED
- Product dimensions:
- 8.08(w) x 5.79(h) x 0.79(d)
Meet the Author
Gerald D. McKnight is professor of history at Hood College, where he is chair of the History and Political Science Department.
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