« Premier Ad Agency Leases Space at One MetroTech | Main | Forest City to trim work force »

November 10, 2008

Atlantic Yards Report Digest

Today's Atlantic Yards Report focuses on urban planning:

After Oil: dispatches from a conference on the challenges facing cities worldwide

I couldn’t get to Philadelphia this past weekend for the symposium at the University of Pennsylvania titled Re-Imagining Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil, but a set of jouranlists and academics blogging at the web site of the magazine Next American City posted some 16,000 words.

I’ve distilled some thought-provoking excerpts below. My overall conclusion is that, however much civic energy is spent on individual controversies (like, um, a certain Brooklyn megaproject), there are huge systemic issues we have to address, and, as noted by some of the bloggers, many of those at those conference--though more motivated than most, obviously-- didn't grasp the urgency of the problem.

In China, many eggs broken for omelet of massive urban tranformation

Last week, I mentioned how an urban planner was impressed by China's massive efforts at urbanization, and that a critic listening was appalled at the casual dismissal of the costs of upheaval.

But how much transformation is there? In an interview in the September issue of Metropolis, headlined The Chinese Century, Thomas J. Campanella, author of The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World, explained that this is unprecedented:

We’ve never seen anything like this in terms of the sheer amount of stuff being built. But we’ve also never seen so much destroyed in order to build. You know the old maxim “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs”? Robert Moses was very fond of that saying. Well, China has busted a lot of eggs to make this great big omelet. The amount of urban fabric that’s been razed to make way for all this new construction is unprecedented in the peacetime history of world cities. In fact, the only comparable thing we have—and I don’t want to make too much of this because in China it’s reconstruction—is the wartime bombings of cities like Dresden and Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Posted by lumi at November 10, 2008 5:11 AM