Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World

Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0062196316

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From the acclaimed landscape designer, historian and author of American Eden, a lively, unique, and accessible cultural history of modern cities—from suburbs, downtown districts, and exurban sprawl, to shopping malls and “sustainable” developments—that allows us to view them through the planning, design, architects, and movements that inspired, created, and shaped them.

Dream Cities explores our cities in a new way—as expressions of ideas, often conflicting, about how we should live, work, play, make, buy, and believe. It tells the stories of the real architects and thinkers whose imagined cities became the blueprints for the world we live in.

From the nineteenth century to today, what began as visionary concepts—sometimes utopian, sometimes outlandish, always controversial—were gradually adopted and constructed on a massive scale in cities around the world, from Dubai to Ulan Bator to London to Los Angeles. Wade Graham uses the lives of the pivotal dreamers behind these concepts, as well as their acolytes and antagonists, to deconstruct our urban landscapes—the houses, towers, civic centers, condominiums, shopping malls, boulevards, highways, and spaces in between—exposing the ideals and ideas embodied in each.

From the baroque fantasy villages of Bertram Goodhue to the superblocks of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City to the pseudo-agrarian dispersal of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City, our upscale leafy suburbs, downtown skyscraper districts, infotainment-driven shopping malls, and “sustainable” eco-developments are seen as never before. In this elegantly designed and illustrated book, Graham uncovers the original plans of brilliant, obsessed, and sometimes megalomaniacal designers, revealing the foundations of today’s varied municipalities. Dream Cities is nothing less than a field guide to our modern urban world.

Illustrated with 59 black-and-white photos throughout the text.

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California, became enchanted by the courtyard apartment complexes common in the region in the 1920s and ’30s, which were inspired by traditional Spanish buildings but adapted to early twentieth-century California: typically one-story rental cottages arrayed along a linear landscaped courtyard or path, affording privacy and greenery in a dense urban setting. Polyzoides undertook a careful study of the remaining examples, published as Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles in 1982, a pioneering

exhibit halls have been added to an environment that originally served only retail activities.” Gruen’s ideal mall was a direct critique of American society: by reattaching the “Communal” to the “Stores” he would return suburbanites to the public life they had abandoned when they abandoned the city: “In the sound city there must be a balance between the pleasures and comforts of private life and the values which only the public phases of life can offer. We in the United States have upset this

conference in 1951, in Hoddesdon, England. There Tange met his hero Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and other modernist luminaries. Afterward, he toured Europe for two months, visiting Rome to see Michelangelo’s Saint Peter’s Basilica and other classical buildings, and Marseille to see Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation, then under construction. Back in Japan, Tange’s career thrived, as he completed his Hiroshima Peace Center (1956), the Kagawa prefectural office (1955–58), as well as several

kind of human habitat that is adaptable, sustainable, and inspiring. The firm talked of a direct lineage to Fuller: early designs resembled the Climatroffice closely, and the finished structure, with its icosahedron frame and hollow transparency, looks like a rocket-shaped, computer-generated elongation of a geodesic dome. And yet it raised as many questions as it answered. Can a building with a technologically “sustainable” design really mitigate the risks of climate change? Can architecture

IV’s Royal Pavilion at Brighton—a fantasy castle in the invented “Indo-Saracenic” style, a pastiche of Orientalist tropes that was the colorful, gay alternative to gray Gothic; it became the official style of the British occupation of India, and inspired square miles of bad architecture worldwide, from wedding cake London hotels to the American circus magnate P. T Barnum’s onion-domed “Iranistan” mansion in Connecticut. Ultimately, the revolutionary intent of the Arts and Crafts movement failed:

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