PRINT September 1989


Ideal Cities

AMERICAN URBAN PLANNING IS a complex and seemingly wayward history of conflicting social and economic interests, a hodge-podge of styles, philosophies, and utopian programs. Perhaps its most salient feature, though, is what Kenneth Frampton points to as “the perennial American unease with the metropolis and the simultaneous nostalgia for the greatness of past urban civilizations.” Here we may find a clue to the current dilemma of urban planners and architects in constructing working concepts of “the city,” handed down in a legacy of, yes, good buildings, but overall designs that are imperialist in intent, overtaking neighborhoods with ideal projects that have little or no regard for cultural difference and community needs.

Who gives shape to the city, and how? A body of intellectual work has been produced over the past two decades in an effort to rethink the precepts of urbanism as laid

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