If Cars Could Talk: Essays on Urbanism by William H. Fain

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Places Discussed

Posted 2015-03-24

People PlacesBook Notes by John December

"If a car could talk, it would ask: 'Why do you make such a fuss over me? Why do people spend so much of their resources on me? Why do architects and city planners give such high priority to me in their designs for neighborhoods and downtowns?'" (p. 14).

Despite its provocative title, this book contains essays that cover a wide range of topics on urban planning and architecture. These essays are important because the author is a practitioner.

Fain's essays cover his views based on decades of experience. He discusses the "Good Life City" design for Singapore in the first essay. He continues the definition of a good life more in terms of public benefit versus solely private gratification in the second essay. Later essays cover the scale in city developments--comparing the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles to Postdamer Platz in Berlin in terms of scale, walkability, and block size. He further compares Rockefeller Center in NYC and CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, Century City and downtown Los Angeles, as well as Portland and parts of San Francisco. He shows how the relation of the buildings to each other, the space between, and the block length affect how pedestrians circulate and feel comfortable in different urban designs.

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2024-05-14 · John December · Terms © johndecember.com