"Good city building is not created by complex statistics, functional problem solving, or any particular decision-making process. Successful cities instead come from people advocating easily understood human values and principles that take into account the sensory, tactile, and sustainable qualities of environment and design in relation to what is the best of human endeavor."--from the introduction to City Building
In the twenty-first century the design of cities is more important than it has ever been. Far from being the cause of contemporary problems, cities can offer solutions to many of today's most serious concerns. Good city building counters the sprawl of suburbia with concentrated land use, replaces globalized design with regionally appropriate building types, contains infrastructure to a small footprint, and otherwise allows for livable, desirable communities. John Kriken of the award-winning planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has been at the forefront of urban planning for over forty years, and he brings both his wealth of experience and his great optimism for the future to City Building. In writing that both experienced designers and typical city-dwellers will enjoy, he illustrates a means for comprehensive problem solving rather than symptom-based problem solving.
City Building is organized into three parts. Part 1 examines the past and defines the current practice of city building, addressing its shortcomings and proposing a comprehensive framework for rethinking the approach to cities in the future. Part 2 translates this framework into nine best-practice principles that are common to successful, livable, urban environments: sustainability, accessibility, diversity, open space, compatibility, incentives, adaptability, density, and identity. These principles are illustrated in a global portfolio of city building projects, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, that show how best practices have been applied successfully--and sometimes not so. Part 3 makes the case that, far from being the problem, cities, properly organized, can be a mechanism for sensible, sustainable uses of increasingly scarce resources. The book concludes with a call for a national planning process and a comprehensive framework for settlement.
John Lund Kriken, Fellow, American Institute of Architects, is a renowned city planner and architect. In 1970, he joined the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, ultimately becoming the partner-in-charge of SOM, San Francisco's Urban Design and Planning Studio. Today, he continues to work at SOM as a consulting partner and as an adjunct professor for the Masters of Urban Design program at the UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design. He wrote this book as a tool to teach city design, as well as to encourage greater public participation in building good cities. "City Building for the 21st Century" benefited particularly from the assistance of two colleagues: Philip Enquist, Fellow, American Institute of Architects, is an urban designer and architect who collaborated with John Kriken in San Francisco before becoming the partner-in-charge of Urban Design and Planning for SOM's Chicago office. During the book's development, he was a thoughtful critic and contributor, many of whose projects help define and illustrate the book's best-practice principles.
Richard Rapaport is a San Francisco Bay Area-based journalist, writer and lover of cities. His support helped make this book more accessible to a wider audience of city lovers.
San Francisco Chronicle:
"The principles are straightforward: Growing cities need to be accessible and diverse, with increased density but ample parkland. There's an abundance of real-world case studies, many of them drawn from SOM files. Among the local examples is the plan for a ferry-centered neighborhood on Treasure Island - and the failed 1980s effort to make downtown San Jose into a thriving destination, a plan that Kriken said was thwarted in part by the fact that the nearby airport kept height limits low and prevented the daytime population that vibrant downtowns need.Cities need to be able to reinvent themselves, Kriken writes. They thus need the ability to define alternative futures, even radically different futures, without necessarily being disrespectful of the past. It's a quiet call to arms - and one that doesn't always play so well in the author's hometown."
— John King
" City Building stands as a useful contribution to best-practices literature on urban design and planning. This highly readable, accessible and elegantly illustrated volume offers a collection of urban design best practices, arguing for both the universality and value of sustainable urbanism."
Nine Planning Principles for the 21st Century, andDesign Magazine:
"The book presents the idea that good city building is not created by complex statistics, functional problem solving, or any particular decision-making process. Successful cities instead come from people advocating easily understood human values and principles that take into account the sensory, tactile, and sustainable qualities of environment and design in relation to what is the best of human endeavor."
— Martin Rayala, Ph.D.
"A very insightful read and has helped me in the realm of planning and urban design. Just a great book to have as reference material and to learn how proper planning makes people better prepared for the future as the environment rapidly changes."