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The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life
     

The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life

by Jonathan F. P. Rose
 

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In the vein of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—a visionary in urban development and renewal—champions the role of cities in addressing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the twenty-first century.

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Overview

In the vein of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—a visionary in urban development and renewal—champions the role of cities in addressing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the twenty-first century.

Cities are birthplaces of civilization; centers of culture, trade, and progress; cauldrons of opportunity—and the home of eighty percent of the world’s population by 2050. As the 21st century progresses, metropolitan areas will bear the brunt of global megatrends such as climate change, natural resource depletion, population growth, income inequality, mass migrations, education and health disparities, among many others.

In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—the man who “repairs the fabric of cities”—distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity. Drawing from the musical concept of “temperament” as a way to achieve harmony, Rose argues that well-tempered cities can be infused with systems that bend the arc of their development toward equality, resilience, adaptability, well-being, and the ever-unfolding harmony between civilization and nature. These goals may never be fully achieved, but our cities will be richer and happier if we aspire to them, and if we infuse our every plan and constructive step with this intention.

A celebration of the city and an impassioned argument for its role in addressing the important issues in these volatile times, The Well-Tempered City is a reasoned, hopeful blueprint for a thriving metropolis—and the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/18/2016
Rose, an urban planner and developer, takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the evolution of cities, from antiquity to the “well-tempered” cities of the future—those that exist in harmony with their dynamic environments, constantly adapting to change. He argues that the next great shift in urban planning must combine the well-regulated planning championed by mid-20th-century systems thinking with the vitality and messiness identified by Jane Jacobs as integral to creating true urban communities. Central to this vision is the metaphor of city as natural organism: living, breathing, creating waste, and undergoing cyclical change. Rose’s tone can be simultaneously overinflated and banal (as is fitting for a book that takes its title from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier), but his conclusions about the future of urban civilization are hard to disagree with; who, after all, would seriously dispute the need for cleaner, greener, more equitable, more efficient, happier, more resilient cities? Rose is clearly passionate about urban development, and the reader who can look past his attempts to connect the notion of the well-tempered city to Buddhist concepts or the structure of a Baroque fugue will be rewarded with a thought-provoking introduction to the future of cities. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
2016-06-30
A creative city planner takes inspiration from the ancients’ sense of urban integrity to propound a holistic approach to crafting the city space.Rose, founder of Jonathan Rose Companies and other organizations that focus on environmental, social, and economic solutions to urban issues, delineates a rather grandiose, idealistic vision for cities that is already coming to pass in some places. Modeled on J.S. Bach’s work The Well-Tempered Clavier, written in the mid-18th century, Rose’s work elucidates “a vast integration that demonstrates both the perfection of the whole and the role of the individual within it.” In terms of cities, Rose chisels Bach’s rather lofty “qualities” of urban temperament down to five and treats each in order. First, “coherence” means a framework in which to harmonize the city’s various programs, departments, and aspirations for growth—what the first Mesopotamian proto-city, Eridu, called meh, “gods’ gift to humans…the key to organizing society.” Next, “circularity” includes the movement of energy, water, and food within a city in a manner that mirrors nature’s own efficient system; a good example is the isolated, utterly self-sustaining Tibetan village of Shey. The next key quality, “resilience,” represents a city’s capacity to deal with stress and volatility—i.e., challenges of flooding, biodiversity, and green urbanism. “Community” involves the creation of conditions ripe for connectivity and culture for the happiness of all residents. Finally, “compassion,” or relieving the suffering of all resident beings, is vital for a healthy city. Rose takes great pains to tidily organize his thoughtful, textbooklike work, using examples both ancient and contemporary, from the evolution of the Chinese city and the brilliant Mayan cities to PlaNYC, the strategic planning of New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who used sophisticated data to the city’s advantage. A comprehensive primer for how to contemplate urban spaces as they evolve for the future.
Sir Nicholas Grimshaw
“In an age where nobody believes anything, this book offers a rich vein of facts. It is essential reading for all those who live in cities, but perhaps more importantly those who don’t and may have to.”
From the Publisher
"A thought-provoking introduction to the future of cities." —Publishers Weekly
Philip Glass
“Rose’s non—stop tour of the cityan in depth account of its history, theory, and practice—is exhilarating and complete, wherein compassion, Bach’s The Well–Tempered Clavier, and contemporary scientific thinking finally come to rest together. This is a hugely satisfying poem-rich in history, thought and deeply felt throughout.”
Arthur Segel
The Well–Tempered City is a rich tapestry of the increasingly complex urbanized world. Rose’s depiction of the city as a living metabolism—one requiring clean calories and water, green space and buildings, happiness and harmony achieved though connectivity, community and compassion-resonates like the Bach fugues he alludes to.”
Jeremy Newsum
“Gathering a lifetime of learning, discovery, and understanding, Jonathan Rose has written an astonishing book: a treasure trove of knowledge about how our urban lives have evolved, interwoven with a compellingly pragmatic case for what they can be in the future. The Well-Tempered City is essential and exciting reading
Andrew Zolli
“Huge in ambition, grand in scope, dazzling in accomplishment. You will never look at your city, yourself or your neighbors the same way again.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee
“This provocative, important, and majestically composed book about the future of cities should be essential reading for our times. An urban planner, environmentalist, and musician, Rose takes us on a rollicking centuries–long journey through the history of cities, never forgetting to marvel at their resilience and human core. What does Bach tell us about the complexity and organization of our urban environments? What is the ‘metabolism of the city’? By the time I had finished Rose’s book, I began to see the city and the world around me in an entirely new light. I could not put this book down.”
Laurie Anderson
“This provocative, important, and majestically composed book about the future of cities should be essential reading for our times. An urban planner, environmentalist, and musician, Rose takes us on a rollicking centuries–long journey through the history of cities, never forgetting to marvel at their resilience and human core. What does Bach tell us about the complexity and organization of our urban environments? What is the ‘metabolism of the city’? By the time I had finished Rose’s book, I began to see the city and the world around me in an entirely new light. I could not put this book down.”
Edward Norton
“Someone once said that the ideal city is ‘a garden for growing better people.’ Few people alive today have synthesized a vision of what that ideal city would look...how it would work...with more wisdom and inspired insight than Jonathan Rose. And the cold truth is that the survival of any civilization we’d actually want our children to live in hinges on evolving toward his vision.”
Peter Calthorpe
“Cities are the social body of mankind, and herein is the finest portrait of that body produced in decades. Rose doesn’t just advocate abstract principles, he tells fascinating stories that engage and reveal the true potential of cities. He is a generalist in the grand tradition of Jacobs, seeing cities through the prism of history, ecology, cognitive science, geology, anthropology, climate science, technology and biology… this book is proof that such a perspective is the only way to understand urbanism.”
Eric Beinhocker
“For millennia cities have been cauldrons of progress, innovation, and growth. Jonathan Rose draws on an incredible range of research to give a new, deeply insightful, and sweeping account of why and how cities develop. Many of humankind’s greatest challenges and opportunities lie in cities and The Well–Tempered City shows us the way to a bright urban future.”
Bart Harvey
The Well–Tempered City is a joyous journey spanning urbanism from ancient times to the present day, with wisdom for the future. A true Renaissance thinker, Rose’s brilliant interdisciplinary observations are tempered by years of hands—on knowledge and lucidly composed into a crescendo of remarkable insights uniting us in common purpose.”
Daniel L. Doctoroff
The Well–Tempered City is a joyous journey spanning urbanism from ancient times to the present day, with wisdom for the future. A true Renaissance thinker, Rose’s brilliant interdisciplinary observations are tempered by years of hands—on knowledge and lucidly composed into a crescendo of remarkable insights uniting us in common purpose.”
Paul Hawken
“The pragmatic and the visionary rarely integrate this harmoniously into the re-imagination of what a city is and could be.”
Darren Walker
“The Well–Tempered City reveals a fresh understanding of inequality, urbanization, housing and public health. Rose weaves rigorous cognitive neuroscience research with powerful, authentic stories of people who often live at the margins of society. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone committed to the idea of successful and inclusive cities.”
Janette Sadik-Khan
“The purpose of cities extends beyond their tallest buildings, and their possibilities are more inspiring than the sum of their institutions and landmarks. The Well–Tempered City shows what is possible ecologically and economically when a city is aligned with its people and its environment, and it offers a vivid roadmap not merely to survive, but to thrive in a rapidly urbanizing world.”
Daniel J. Siegel
“From the very first pages of this brilliant book, I was hooked. The transformative knowledge this book conveys has enabled be to know what I didn’t think was even possible to know. Weaving a captivating in-depth story about the history of city life, exploring the various and intriguing ways our human nature works with—or against—nature, and addressing the pressing needs of our fragile planet, Jonathan Rose provides us with a unique and practical guide to where we’ve been and where we need to go to make our global, urban-dominated home a more resilient and compassionate place. This magnificent book, based deeply on extensive science we rarely hear about, is both informative and profoundly creative in illuminating novel and achievable applications that can create positive changes in our collective lives. Bravo!”
Daniel Goleman
“Jonathan Rose shares his brilliant vision in this fascinating look at cities past and present. The Well–Tempered City offers a plan for urban—and ecological and social—thriving into the future. Anyone who lives in a city or cares about them will find this a rewarding read.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062234728
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/13/2016
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
72,017
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

Meet the Author

JONATHAN F. P. ROSE works with cities and not-for-profits to plan and build affordable and mixed-income housing and cultural, health, and educational centers. Recognized for creating communities that literally heal both residents and neighborhoods, Rose is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the integration of environmental, social, and economic solutions to issues facing cities today.

For his work as founder of the investment, development, and urban planning firm Jonathan Rose Companies, he has received awards from the Urban Land Institute, the American Institute of Architects, the American Planning Association, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, among many others. With Diana Calthorpe Rose, he is cofounder of the Garrison Institute and the creator of its Climate Mind and Behavior program.

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