Drop by Hollywood’s finest art and architecture bookstore, Hennessey + Ingalls, tonight for a special event launching Shaping the City, a newly revised edition of contemporary urbanism case studies. The event will also feature a conversation with University of Toronto’s Director of Urban Design, and Shaping the City’s editor, Rodolphe el-Khoury, along with Qingyun Ma, Dean of USC School of Architecture. The conversation will also include Shaping the City contributors Teddy Cruz, Victor J. Jones, and Paulette Singley.
Archinect picked the brains of el-Khoury and Singley before the launch, here’s some tidbits:
Archinect: What was your contribution to Shaping the City?
Rodolphe el-Khoury: [Co-author Edward Robbins and I] conceived Shaping the City as a potential textbook that would sample aspects of the city without imposing an overarching conceptual framework on the complex and varied manifestations of urban forms and phenomena.
Paulette Singley: "Los Angeles: Between Cognitive Mapping and Dirty Realism”. “Cognitive mapping” refers to Fredric Jameson’s reading of this subject, who the average person navigates her/his socio-political environment (via Kevin Lynch), and “dirty realism” comes from Liane LeFaivre as a new kind of urbanism that just happens to characterize LA in a more specific way than might terrain vague. Dirty Urbanism offers a new subject to map that is particularly relevant to the genre of film about LA that examines the roadside, generic, strip conditions of the city.
A: How is Shaping the City useful to the average citizen-reader?
S: Shaping the City offers alternative models and approaches to the design of cities. With the CNU serving as the dominant power force in urban design today, a set of hegemonic “best practices” have emerged. These practices may be right for some urban contexts but not all, and they often don’t allow for the kind of radical collisions that both Piranesi and Colin Rowe espoused. Shaping the City demonstrates the multiplicity of models available to the urban designer, planner, and general public.
el-K: I imagine that some readers will be interested in certain chapters because they have particular interests in the cities they examine. I suspect that others will be more drawn to the lessons and the topics they address, as demonstrated by these cities. I don’t recommend reading the book from front to back in a linear fashion. The chapters vary dramatically in the styles and in the issues they address. The diversity is not only designed to sample different issues but also different writing styles and approaches from different disciplinary perspectives. This is not meant for a seamless and coherent reading. The book is best read opportunistically and episodically. When you are interested in learning about special economic zones you may pick up the book and read the Shenzhen or Dubai/Abu Dhabi chapters. If your current interest is in border-cities that Teddy Cruz’s chapter on San Diego/Tijuana is a must read.