Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 08.10.11 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Reading in Public



Four enterprising 2011 graduates of D-Crit have started a design communications consultancy called Superscript, and have decided to launch in a both public and critical way: with the Architecture and Design Book Club (ADBC). It meets next Thursday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. on the High Line, where they've asked me to guest host the first edition on William H. Whyte's classic 1980 text The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Future texts and locations, including some fiction, TBA.

Now that Phase 2 is open, the High Line hardly seems, in geography or reputation, like a small urban space, but as I hope we'll discuss next Thursday, I think it is the biggest small space a designer could imagine. All the insights in Whyte's book: the importance of sittable space, people's preference for standing in (pedestrian) traffic, the uses of art and food as conversation starters (the original definition of triangulation), are on prominent display along the High Line. Since we'll be right there, I hope we can identify some of the failures as well as the successes of the park's design from a social point of view.

The book is well worth buying, but if you don't feel like it, xeroxes of a few key chapters will be distributed at the club meeting.Snippets of the videos from Whyte's multi-year research project are also available on Vimeo.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the inspirations for the club, critic Christopher Hawthorne's yearlong Reading L.A. project for the Los Angeles Times. It is the kind of idea that is perfect for the blog form, and so obvious as to make you smack your head. Here's his up-to-date take on Mike Davis's City of Quartz, which makes a good pair with Alissa Walker's account of the L.A. Urban Rangers' Bonaventure Adventure. Let's hope the new New York Times critic, about whom the New York Observer writes this week, will have some as-good ideas about how to draw more people into reading about, looking at and commenting on the city.
Share This Story

RELATED POSTS


Landscape Is Our Sex


Herbert Spencer and The Book of Numbers


The New Orleans Corner Store


Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?


Sweat Equity Infra



LOG IN TO POST A COMMENT
Don't have an account? Create an account. Forgot your password? Click here.

Email


Password




|
Share This Story



Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>