This book is a lively, readable account of two revealing figures in the history of that renaissance: the urban economist Jane Jacobs and the architect Christopher Alexander. Their key insights have shaped several generations of scholars, professionals, and activists. However, as the book argues, this renaissance is still immature, and more must be done to achieve its promise -- especially in an age of rapid, often sprawling urbanization.
The author is a noted scholar on both Jacobs and Alexander, and a participant in the development of the "New Urban Agenda," a historic United Nations agreement emphasizing the pivotal role of cities and towns in meeting the challenges of the future. As the book documents, Jacobs and Alexander played key roles in formulating the conceptual insights behind the New Urban Agenda, and they continue to offer us crucial implementation lessons for the years ahead.
This book is ideal for students, professionals, government officials, activists, and anyone who is interested in the future of cities. The author, Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D., is currently Senior Researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and Director of the Future of Places Research Network. He is a popular educator, speaker and author with periodic appointments in seven graduate institutions in six countries, and a consultant in sustainable urban development with an international practice. This is his third book.
“Lucidly describes what’s coming in the world of design — and what needs to come.” — Ward Cunningham, Inventor of wiki, and pioneer of Pattern Languages of Programming, Agile, and Scrum
“Essential reading for all urban designers.” — Jeff Speck, Author of Walkable City
“Brilliant.” — Charles Montgomery, Author of Happy City
“Inspired, compelling and fascinating… Recognizes that a true architecture can be dug from the facts, insights, and theories, that occur with a broadening of science to include the human being.” — Christopher Alexander, Author of A Pattern Language and Notes on the Synthesis of Form
Some comments on the individual chapters:
“Packed with detail and beautiful in presentation.” — Gil Friend
“Human society must find a path of retreat. Salingaros and Mehaffy point the way.” — David Brussat, Providence Journal
“Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros have written some brilliant articles on how we can co-create cities which are truly resilient, rather than being ‘engineered resilient’.” — Smallworld Urbanism
“For me, this essay was like a flash of insight, and I suddenly saw the world in a new light.” — Oeyvind Holmstad, Permaliv
“We’ve just come across a very thoughtful article by Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros… [who] draw a number of lessons from biological systems and use them to draw conclusions about how resilient human systems must be designed.” — Resilient Design Institute
“Salingaros and Mehaffy take us from the configuration of city spaces to the order of cells in living beings.” — Jaap Dawson, Delft Institute of Technology
“If you wanted to know where the cutting edge was in urban design, it is here.” — Patrick J. Kennedy, CarFreeInBigD
“This is the single most intelligent and illuminating article I’ve seen on Archdaily in 3 years.” — Nìming Pínglùn Zhě, China
Michael Mehaffy is an urbanist and design theorist, and a periodic visiting professor or adjunct in five graduate universities in four countries and three disciplines (architecture, urban planning and philosophy) including the University of Oregon (US) and the University of Strathclyde (UK). He has been a close associate of the architect and software pioneer Christopher Alexander, and a Research Associate with the Center for Environmental Structure, Alexander’s research center founded in 1967. He is currently executive director of Portland, Oregon based Sustasis Foundation, and editor of Sustasis Press.
Nikos A. Salingaros is a mathematician and polymath known for his work on urban theory, architectural theory, complexity theory, and design philosophy. He has been a close collaborator of the architect and computer software pioneer Christopher Alexander. Salingaros published substantive research on Algebras, Mathematical Physics, Electromagnetic Fields, and Thermonuclear Fusion before turning his attention to Architecture and Urbanism. He is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has been on the Architecture faculties of universities in Italy, Mexico, and The Netherlands.
This global consciousness inspires space travellers who then provide emotional and spiritual observations. Their views from outer space awaken them to a grand realization that all who share our planet make up a single community. They think this viewpoint will help unite the nations of the world in order to build a peaceful future for the present generation and the ones that follow.
Many poets, philosophers, and writers have criticized the artificial borders that separate people preoccupied with the notion of nationhood. Despite the visions and hopes of astronauts, poets, writers, and visionaries, the reality is that nations are continuously at war with one another, and poverty and hunger prevail in many places throughout the world, including the United States.
So far, no astronaut arriving back on Earth with this new social consciousness has pro- posed to transcend the world's limitations with a world where no national boundaries exist. Each remains loyal to his/her particular nation-state, and doesn’t venture beyond patriotism - "my country, right or wrong" – because doing so may risk their positions.
Most problems we face in the world today are of our own making. We must accept that the future depends upon us. Interventions by mythical or divine characters in white robes descending from the clouds, or by visitors from other worlds, are illusions that cannot solve the problems of our modern world. The future of the world is our responsibility and depends upon decisions we make today. We are our own salvation or damnation. The shape and solutions of the future depend totally on the collective effort of all people working together.