Jane Jacobs published The Death and Life of Great American Cities back in 1961. It was an important, provocative book at the time and remains a classic, celebrated read today. Jacobs continues to champion cities and a sensible human approach to urban design. In a March 2000 interview (Jane Jacobs, Urban Agitator) in Architecture Magazine she expressed surprise that architects took such interest in her writing. An excerpt:
I’m not against architects. I think many do beautiful and sensible things, and they often do it against great odds. But their training – well, there are two kinds of training. One comes down the line of architecture as a fine art – the cathedral-makers. And the other one is architecture as mundane engineering. I don’t think either is an adequate expression of what architecture should be. I don’t think architects come out of school aware enough of context, that everything they do is in a context – even when it stands out from the context… I would add that an architect must become aware of what is “essential context” and what is “contrived context,” unessential and just a burden. I don’t think this is taught in architecture schools – that there is a context, and the context is not staying still any more than the things in it.