×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The City After The Automobile: Past, Present, And Future
     

The City After The Automobile: Past, Present, And Future

by Moshe Safdie, Wendy Kohn, Gerald D Mcknight
 
In an age of virtual offices, urban flight, and planned gated communities, are cities becoming obsolete? In this passionate manifesto, Moshe Safdie argues that as crucibles for creative, social, and political interaction, vital cities are an organic and necessary part of human civilization. If we are to rescue them from dispersal and decay, we must first revise our

Overview

In an age of virtual offices, urban flight, and planned gated communities, are cities becoming obsolete? In this passionate manifesto, Moshe Safdie argues that as crucibles for creative, social, and political interaction, vital cities are an organic and necessary part of human civilization. If we are to rescue them from dispersal and decay, we must first revise our definition of what constitutes a city.

Unlike many who believe that we must choose between cities and suburbs, between mass transit and highways, between monolithic highrises and panoramic vistas, Safdie envisions a way to have it all. Effortless mobility throughout a region of diverse centers, residential communities, and natural open spaces is the key to restoring the rich public life that cities once provided while honoring our profound desire for privacy, flexibility, and freedom. With innovations such as transportation nodes, elevated moving sidewalks, public utility cars, and buildings designed to maximize daylight, views, and personal interaction, Safdie's proposal challenges us all to create a more satisfying and humanistic environment.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Forty-three percent of the world's 5.5 billion inhabitants live in cities, many of them, says architect Safdie, regional mega-cities that are growing recklessly, with traffic congestion that daily threatens the environment. Safdie, who achieved prominence for his futuristic Habitat housing complex at Montreal's Expo '67, blames a lack of regional planning and the unexpected impact of the automobile for our deteriorating cities. In the first two parts of his book, Safdie treads familiar territory-noting the dispersal of affluent families to the suburbs that left empty downtowns and contributed to social polarization, monolithic office buildings that dwarf pedestrians, and the vast, unsafe garages in airports and commercial buildings. Along the way he touches on the role of the architect, several of his own projects that were derailed by shortsighted clients and the need for buildings to take best advantage of their natural sites. In the last third of the book, Safdie describes his vision of a new kind of urban center, one that accommodates the beauties of its particular topography and is a central spine of intense activity. He also proposes a new method of transportation, replacing private ownership of cars with a pool of government-owned electric vehicles that would be at drivers' disposal by the hour, day, week or month. These Utility cars would be instantly available from a storage depot and left there after use. But radical ideas such as this are best bolstered by practical details for implementation, which Safdie fails to offer.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Forty-three percent of the world's 5.5 billion inhabitants live in cities, many of them, says architect Safdie, regional mega-cities that are growing recklessly, with traffic congestion that daily threatens the environment. Safdie, who achieved prominence for his futuristic Habitat housing complex at Montreal's Expo '67, blames a lack of regional planning and the unexpected impact of the automobile for our deteriorating cities. In the first two parts of his book, Safdie treads familiar territorynoting the dispersal of affluent families to the suburbs that left empty downtowns and contributed to social polarization, monolithic office buildings that dwarf pedestrians, and the vast, unsafe garages in airports and commercial buildings. Along the way he touches on the role of the architect, several of his own projects that were derailed by shortsighted clients and the need for buildings to take best advantage of their natural sites. In the last third of the book, Safdie describes his vision of a new kind of urban center, one that accommodates the beauties of its particular topography and is a central spine of intense activity. He also proposes a new method of transportation, replacing private ownership of cars with a pool of government-owned electric vehicles that would be at drivers' disposal by the hour, day, week or month. These Utility cars would be instantly available from a storage depot and left there after use. But radical ideas such as this are best bolstered by practical details for implementation, which Safdie fails to offer. (June)
NY Times Book Review
. . .deliver[s] an important message.
Kirkus Reviews
Some contemporary urban realities are confronted head-on here, while others are ignored, making it difficult to decide whether Safdie's ideas are visionary or merely silly.

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 horizontally—will provide easy movement between buildings. Regional transportation will be based on "U-cars"—publicly owned carlike vehicles—that 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465098361
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/28/1997
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
208
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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews