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October 12, 2011

The Witold Rybczynski Interview by Brendan Crain

Urbanophile

From an interview with author/architect/academician Witold Rybczynski:

Jacobs definitely espoused density + a mixture of uses. In “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” she wrote almost exclusively about Greenwich Vilage, which is an extreme example of both. I don’t think you have to interpret Jacobs literally to be influenced by her, and like almost all town planners post-DLGAC, the New Urbanism movement has found inspiration in her writing. It is true, as Robert A. M. Stern pointed out in his recent adress to the CNU convention in Philadelphia a few months ago, that the accomplishments of New Urbanism have had more to do with suburbs than with city centers so they have usually been built at lower densities. That has partly to do with the market in the 1980s, when New Urbanism started. Today, a few developers have figured out how to do high-density, mixed-use and we are seeing more new construction along those lines (Atlantic Yards, for example).

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NoLandGrab: If by "figured out" Rybczynski means "figured out how to get the government to seize the land, grab lots of subsidies, divide communities through race-baiting, make empty promises and turn a neighborhood upside down with 24/7 construction," then yes, Forest City Ratner has "figured out" how to do high-density, mixed-use, if by "mixed-use" he means "a basketball arena and huge surface parking lot."

As Norman Oder points out in the comments, Rybczynski was much more critical of Atlantic Yards in an interview last December with WNYC's Leonard Lopate.

Posted by eric at October 12, 2011 11:35 AM