The Selection of the Case Studies

The case studies included here are typical examples of different approaches to, and concerns of, urban design. They could have been drawn from one major city that has been self-consciously interested in the quality of its built form over the past 50 years or even those whose citizens have been less interested in or have not known how to deal effectively with physical design issues. The projects instead are a selected sample of what has been happening around the world.

With two exceptions, Rockefeller Center in New York and Riverwalk in San Antonio, the sample has been chosen from those projects carried out since the term 'urban design' came into use in the 1950s. They are not necessarily the best known, the most successful or the most notorious projects. They have been chosen to illuminate particular points in order to enhance our understanding. As urban designs often take a considerable period to evolve from initial idea to built form, a number of the cases covered have their origins in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Others, however, were initiated much more recently and have moved ahead rapidly. They were begun and completed during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Completed Projects

Many of what are called case studies deal with projects that have never been built but are architecturally interesting. These schemes sit in reports on the shelves, some very dusty, of redevelopment authorities and architectural offices around the world. Other schemes do deal with significant issues - sustainability, contex-tuality and scale - but are only at the design stage. All the schemes receiving Architectural Record Urban Design Awards in 2004 - the Chicago Central Area plan, the latest of many plans for Mission Bay in San Francisco, the Urban River Vision for Worcester, Massachusetts, the Coyote Valley plan in California, and the Recreation Corridor plan for St Louis - are projects that exist only on paper (Urban Design, 2004). Interesting and well crafted though they may be, when and how they are implemented, if they are, and the final form they take remains to be seen.

The cases presented here focus on the process used to complete schemes as much as their final forms and how they function. Thus, all but four have been brought to fruition although many (e.g. Lujiazui in Shanghai) are only partially complete and others have undergone radical changes since their official completion date. The schemes still largely on the drawing board (i.e. in 2004) are the World Trade Center redevelopment in New York, the Shanghai Waterfront scheme, the use of new schools as catalysts for development in Chattanooga and the Shenzhen Citizens Centre. The comments on them are referred to as 'notes' rather than 'case studies'. They have been included because they are of particular interest in the political climate of today. The Heritage Walk in Ahmedabad has also been included as a note because it does not involve much physical design. Arcosanti is still far from completion so its study is also referred to as a note.

The International Character of the Case Studies

The studies have been drawn from across the world. In an era of global practice it is important to understand the similarities and differences in the range of work being done in a variety of locations. The form that urban design products take is very much shaped by the aspirations of the social and political context in which they take place. It is fine to examine the form of products but if one does not understand the values that brought them about one learns little from them.

There is some emphasis in this book on schemes in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries whose legal systems have antecedents in English common law rather than the Napoleonic Code. The reason is that if one can understand urban design processes in the societies where individual rights, particularly individual property rights, are held to be paramount and where the role of precedents is important in establishing legal rights then one has the background for asking questions about the nature of urban design in the political and legal context of other societies. There are, however, also examples drawn from countries whose constitutions, legal systems, and the rights of individuals and communities within them are unknown to me. Cases that fall into this category have been covered because they illustrate a specific procedure that is common to all urban design.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment