Ed Koch was the right Mayor at the right time for NYC. John Lindsay and Abe Beame had groveled for bailouts trying to get America to feel sorry for the Big Apple. When Koch became Mayor he would have none of it. He said, "I'm from New York City you gotta a problem with that?" He was arrogant and NYC needed arrogant. He also added thousands of houses to the Bronx turning around its decline. He had faults. Who doesn't? But he breathed confidence back into a city that works better thinking of itself as the greatest place on Earth.
Oscar Niemeyer, one of the leading 20th century Modernist architects died December 5th. What should urbanists make of him and his career? His curvaceous buildings gave his version of modernism a Brazilian style in contrast to the stark simplicity of le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Like Corbu, Niemeyer largely failed at planning. Brasilia, which he designed along with his mentor Lucio Costa was influenced by Corbu's Ville Contemporaine (1922).
Chicago architect Thomas Beeby is the 2013 Driehaus Prize winner. Beeby has a large portfolio of projects, many actually built, including the Harold Washington Library in Chicago. Beeby served as Director of the Architecture program at U. of Ill. Chicago from 1980-85 and as Dean of the Architecture School at Yale from 1985-91. Beeby is perhaps unique in his range of types from modernist glass and steel to buildings with historic references like the Washington Library.
On Wednesday, September 19, I met with seventeen bankers, two developers, and Montgomery, Alabama Economic Development Director Chad Emerson. I spoke for fifteen minutes about CNU's Live/Work/Walk initiative, focused on federal housing finance reform.
One would expect that scientist Amory Lovins would be pretty discouraged considering the stall of the Kyoto Accords and the failure of Congress to address climate change. Depressed he's not. In the March-April edition of Foreign Affairs, Lovins happily points to data that must have the oil rich Koch brothers and Hugo Chavez about equally concerned.
Recently Ken Sides posted on the Roundabout@listserve.ksu.edu that he was impressed with CNU's new Sustainable Street Network Principles and suggested that CNU generate principles for Roundabouts.
Minoru Yamasaki was the architect of Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis. The failed housing project (1955-1972) gave the word "project" its bad connotation and eventually helped sell the design reforms we usually refer to as HOPE VI. I should have known this, but today I was surprised when someone mentioned another of his projects shown below.
What a remarkable portfolio!
NYU's Greenwich Village Superblock Plans. Photo via Curbed NY.
Harvard economist Ed Glaeser is recognized as fairly conservative, certainly an enthusiast for market based policies. His new book, Triumph of the City, calls the city man's "greatest invention". He counts the many blessings that come from well planned and well run cities; economic growth, wealth, leisure time, culture, social justice, creativity, invention and more efficient use of resources.