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Urbanisms
Working with Doubt
Steven Holl

ISBN 9781568986791
Publication date 12/14/2009
8.5 x 8.5 inches (21.6 x 21.6 cm), Hardcover
288 pages, 200 2-color and 50 color illustrations
Rights: World; Carton qty: 14; (-8.7)

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Contemporary urban development is increasingly characterized by a reliance on diagrams, maps, and graphs to convey the rational, statistical point of view of the professional urban planner. In his new book, Urbanisms, architect Steven Holl suggests that just as modern medicine has recognized the power of the irrational psyche, urban planners need to realize that the experiential power of cities cannot be completely rationalized and must be studied subjectively. With a selection of urban and architectural projects from his thirty-year practice, Holl stretches urban planning into the domain of uncertainty, from prose into poetry. Urbanisms examines how perception and the senses are intertwined with the material, space, and light of urban form.

Arguments are illustrated by a catalog of projects organized geographically. Holl explores concepts such as creating cities from pieces or edges; moving in and out of the spaces between a built environment; inserting architectural elements into complex urban situations; constructing small-scale miniurbanisms; and preserving natural landscapes. Urbanisms presents design solutions for diverse locations, including Linked Hybrid in Beijing; Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu, China; Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, China; Green Urban Laboratory in Nanning, China; Toolenburg Zuid Schipol, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Fondation Pinault Ile Seguin in Paris, France; and the master plan for M.I.T.'s Vassar Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A comprehensive exploration of each project illustrates this much-celebrated and influential architect's perspective on urban planning.


Steven Holl has been recognized with architecture's most prestigious awards and prizes and has lectured and exhibited widely. He is a tenured professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning and has published numerous books, including Anchoring, Intertwining, Parallax, and House.

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Editorial Reviews


Dezeen Design Magazine:
"The experiential power of cities cannot be completely rationalized and must be studied subjectively. With a selection of urban and architectural projects from his thirty-year practice, Holl stretches urban planning into the domain of uncertainty, from prose into poetry. Urbanisms examines how perception and the senses are intertwined with the material, space, and light of urban form."

Urban Paradoxes:
"Urbanisms draws from Holls thirty years of practice of working with rational statistical design and the doubts that began to enter his thinking about design.Urbanisms is a catalog of sorts of both his uncertainties and his struggles to work his way through the doubt. Interestingly, he arrives at the conclusion that the doubts, not only will always be with us, but in fact, must always be with us." — Frank A. Mills

Off The Shelf, WorldArchitectureNews.com:
"Explores diverse concepts such as creating cities from pieces or edges; moving in and out of the spaces between a built environment; inserting architectural elements into complex urban situations; constructing small-scale miniurbanisms and preserving natural landscapes..."

Architect Magazine:
"Steven Holl argues that cities shouldn't be developed strictly according to rational formulas, and that urban design would benefit from heavy does of intuition, uncertainty, and subjectivity."

Possibilities Deeply Seeded Within the World, Englewood Review of Books:
"Steven Holls Urbanisms: Working with Doubt describes a vision of urban design based on such principles, combing landscape, urbanism, and architecture, and aiming for an architecture of deep connections to site, culture, and climate." — Brent Aldrich

Newsletter, Dexigner:
"Contemporary urban development is increasingly characterized by a reliance on diagrams to convey the rational statistical point of view of the professional urban planner.In his new book Urbanisms architect Steven Holl suggests that just as modern medicine has recognized the power of the irrational psyche urban planners need to realize that the experiential power of cities cannot be completely rationalized and must be studied subjectively."

Best Architectural Books of 2009: 10 crucial volumes from the classic to the iconclastic, ArchNewsNow:
"Steven Holl, Urbanisms: Working With Doubt. This is a dazzling model of an architects reflections upon his own work that generates open-ended questions of first-order. While disclosing the musical and poetic programs actualized in his designs, Holl articulates his sense of practical constraints that are integral to 21st-century urbanism. Annotating projects in the U.S., Europe, and Asia during the past two decades, an astute reader might want to begin the book in the middle with Holls Chinese architecture. Buildings like the Horizontal Skyscraper and Linked Hybrid cast long shadows in terms of reformulating visions of high-density urban design. Probing, adventuresome, unsettling and yet optimistic." — Norman Weinstein

New Book by Steven Holl, Urbanisms: Working with Doubt, Archinnovations:
"Steven Holl Architects has just announced the release of a new book, Urbanisms: Working with Doubt. Click HERE to read the entire review on archinnovations.com"

Dezeen Design Magazine:
"Dezeen got together with Steven Holl Architects to give away five copies of their latest monograph, Urbanisms Working with Doubt."

The Architects Newspaper:
"intriguing, compelling, seriously gorgeous, data-driven, cool"

Urban Tick:
"This is the most recent comprehensive urban statement you can get your hands on. It will challenge your position."


"...this thoughtful book, and the remarkable urban designs so compellingly presented therein, together form one of the most optimistic arguments for the importance of the city in both global and local culture, and the part architecture can play in the evolution of the contemporary city. While Holl calls for radical changes in the way we build in the city, in order to address the ecological imperatives now necessary for sustaining our survival, he also presents a series of optimistic, innovative, and inspiring designs that imagine enriching urban life in entirely new ways." — Robert McCarter

Steven Holl Architects Presents New Book Urbanisms: Working With Doubt, ArtDaily.org:
"Steven Holl Architects announced the release of a new book, Urbanisms: Working with Doubt. Contemporary urban development is increasingly characterized by a reliance on diagrams, maps, and graphs to convey the rational, statistical point of view of the professional urban planner. This volume suggests that just as modern medicine has recognized the power of the irrational psyche, urban planners need to realize that the experiential power of cities cannot be completely rationalized and must be studied subjectively. With a selection of urban and architectural projects from his thirty-year practice, Holl stretches urban planning into the domain of uncertainty, from prose into poetry. Urbanisms examines how perception and the senses are intertwined with the material, space, and light of urban form. "

Architect Magazine:
"Steven Holl argues that cities shouldn't be developed strictly according to rational formulas, and that urban design would benefit from heavy does of intuition, uncertainty, and subjectivity."



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