Eclectic Curiosity

Posted on June 4th, 2002, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

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.

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