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Crisis City Library

September 12, 2010

Below is a list of pertinent books to Crisis City & my own research trajectories along with the product descriptions.

Verb Crisis:

Current architectural intervention has demonstrated a tendency towards the production of the superficial: Effects, ornamentation, and embellishments are applied to programs defined by social, economic, and technical conditions that fall outside of the profession. Verb Crisis tackles the conflict that marks the collision between the physical nature of the architectural commission and the demands of a world that is increasingly dense and interdependent, a world marked by undeniable environmental problems and economic inequalities. Given the shortfalls of standard professional attitudes, Verb Crisis presents projects and investigations that grant the practice of architecture an updated optimism and social relevance

Architectural Positions: Architecture, Modernity and the Public Sphere:

The changing public sphere is one of the crucial themes of contemporary architectural debate. In today’s world, where can we find collective spaces in which people can meet and form public opinion?  Contemporary thinkers such as Lieven De Cauter, Michael Sorkin, and Bruce Robbins argue that urban diversity is now giving way to growing worldwide uniformity. Public life is gradually moving from the squares and the streets to hotel lobbies, shopping malls, and entertainment centres.  As the twenty-first century begins, architects still face the task of designing public buildings and spaces – whether libraries, squares, or airports. They are in search of forms they can use to connect the many different gradations of the public sphere that exist today.  Architectural Positions presents the views of thirty-six international architects who, over the past fifty years, have made their voices heard in the debate on the public sphere. They include Aldo Rossi, Rem Koolhaas, Mathias Ungers, Daniel Libeskind, Luis Barragán, and Peter Eisenman. The essays in this book give an overview of the past fifty years of architectural discourse on this theme. A detailed introduction provides background and context, focusing on the links between architecture, modernity, and the public sphere.


These designs for a ìlow speed,î ìurban,î neighborhood in Valencia, Spain, created by 13 international architecture firms (Toyo Ito, MVRDV, FOA, Francois Roche and others) under the direction of Vicente Guallart, look again at public housing as a site for architectural utopianism. Each contributor was asked to bring an agricultural sensibility to the high-density project, and to use as a guide the inhabited orchards and gardens that had once anchored local communities. The results include both open meadows and Toyo Itoís stacked lawns, a parking structure of vegetation. While these plans and drawings were gathered in time for the Valencia Biennial and shown there, hey are not just art; the community plans to build them and thus to influence development elsewhere.

Young Architects 3: City Limits:

City Limits presents the work of the best of a new generation of architects, as selected by the jury of the Architectural League’s annual Young Architects competition. This year’s winners were asked: In what ways do current modes of architectural production address cities as artifacts and cities as visions? The responses are varied and accomplished, from Petra Kempf’s hand drawn series of diagrams of urban movement, transportation, and form, to Teddy Cruz’s ongoing involvement in the development of the US/Latin American border, through SERVO’s series of product lines, Thaddeus Briner’s design for a football stadium, Manifold’s RANT project, a design for Manhattan’s east side, and nARCHITECTS’s Hotel Pro Forma. Together these exciting new designers explore the possibilities for urban development in adroit texts and dazzling graphics.

Recombinant Urbanism – David Grahame Shane

This book provides a simple but comprehensive framework for the emerging academic discipline of urban design, from its origins in Europe and America, to contemporary issues of imagery, finance and marketing in an age of globalization.  Aimed at both students and teachers, this book provides a simple and accessible framework, from the origins of urban design and the main techniques developed to deal with the design of fragments of cities, to participatory planning processes, codes, imagery, finance and marketing. Finally, it proposes an innovative vision of contemporary practice based on the work of leading actors and projects in the field.

The Image of the City – Kevin Lynch

What does the city’s form actually mean to the people who live there? What can the city planner do to make the city’s image more vivid and memorable to the city dweller? To answer these questions, Mr. Lynch, supported by studies of Los Angeles, Boston, and Jersey City, formulates a new criterion–imageability–and shows its potential value as a guide for the building and rebuilding of cities. The wide scope of this study leads to an original and vital method for the evaluation of city form. The architect, the planner, and certainly the city dweller will all want to read this book.

Delirious New York – Rem Koolhaas

In this fanciful volume, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, founder of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (O.M.A.), both analyzes and celebrates New York City. By suggesting the city as the site for an infinite variety of human activities and events–both real and imagined–the essence of the metropolitan lifestyle, its “culture of congestion” and its architecture are revealed in a brilliant new light. “Manhattan,” Koolhaas writes, “is the 20th century’s Rosetta stone . . . occupied by architectural mutations (Central Park, the Skyscraper), utopian fragments (Rockefeller Center, the U.N. Building), and irrational phenomena (Radio City Music Hall).” Filled with fascinating facts, as well as photographs, postcards, maps, watercolors, and drawings, the vibrancy of Koolhaas’s poignant exploration of Gotham equals the heady, frenetic energy of the city itself. Anyone who loves New York will want to own this book.

Architecture and Disjunction – Bernard Tschumi

Avant-garde theorist and architect Bernard Tschumi is equally well known for his writing and his practice. Architecture and Disjunction, which brings together Tschumi’s essays from 1975 to 1990, is a lucid and provocative analysis of many of the key issues that have engaged architectural discourse over the past two decades — from deconstructive theory to recent concerns with the notions of event and program. The essays develop different themes in contemporary theory as they relate to the actual making of architecture, attempting to realign the discipline with a new world culture characterized by both discontinuity and heterogeneity. Included are a number of seminal essays that incited broad attention when they first appeared in magazines and journals, as well as more recent and topical texts. Tschumi’s discourse has always been considered radical and disturbing. He opposes modernist ideology and postmodern nostalgia since both impose restrictive criteria on what may be deemed “legitimate” cultural conditions. He argues for focusing on our immediate cultural situation, which is distinguished by a new postindustrial “unhomeliness” reflected in the ad hoc erection of buildings with multipurpose programs. The condition of New York and the chaos of Tokyo are thus perceived as legitimate urban forms. The essays: The Architectural Paradox. Questions of Space. Architecture and Transgression. The Pleasure of Architecture. Architecture and Limits. Violence of Architecture. Spaces and Events. Sequences. Abstract Mediation and Strategy. Madness and the Combinative. Disjunctions. De-, Dis-, Ex-, Six Concepts.

Digital Modeling for Urban Design – Brian McGrath

While there is a rich array of urban theory, design, and representation books available, there is currently no book which brings together, in a single volume, urban design theory and new digital technologies in urban information mapping, modeling, and 3D simulation. Based on two decades of practicing and teaching architecture, author Brian McGrath’s Digital Modelling for Urban Design explores the new theories and technologies of digital modelling, focusing on how to create moving and interactive 3D drawing, skills useful in the context of urban theory, and design and representation. Fully illustrated with original maps, 3D models, and drawings and photographs, this innovative work introduces digital modelling to students, architects, designers, and planners interested in the processes key to shaping the urban environment.

The Interventionists

Art made to attach to buildings or to be given away? Wearable art for street demonstrations or art that sets up a booth at a trade show? This is the art of the interventionists, who trespass into the everyday world to raise our awareness of injustice and other social problems. These artists don’t preach or proselytize; they give us the tools to form our own opinions and create our own political actions. The Interventionists, which accompanies an exhibit at MASS MoCA, serves as a handbook to this new and varied work. It’s a user’s guide to art that is exciting, provocative, unexpected, inspiring (artistically and politically), and fun. From Michael Rakowitz’s inflatable homeless shelter and William Pope.L’s “Black Factory” truck with pulverizer, gift shop, and giant inflatable igloo to the Biotic Baking Brigade’s political pie-throwing, the art of The Interventionists surveys a growing genre and offers a guide for radical social action.  The book classifies the artists according to their choice of tactics: the Nomads, who create mobile projects; Reclaim the Streets, artists who act in public places; Tools for Resistance: Ready to Wear, artists who produce fashion for political action; and the Experimental University, artists whose work engages pedagogy and theory. The accompanying text includes essays by noted scholars putting the work in a broader cultural and social context as well as texts by the artists themselves.

Urban Interventions: Personal Projects In Public Spaces

Evolving from graffiti and street art, urban interventions are the next generation of artwork to hit public space. Using any and all of the components that make up urban and rural landscapes, these mostly spatial interventions bring art to the masses. They turn the street into a studio, laboratory, club, and gallery. Modified traffic signs, swings at bus stops, and images created out of sand or snow challenge us to rediscover our environment and interact with it in new ways. The work is an intelligent and critical commentary on the planning, use, and commercialization of public space. With a rich visual selection of projects and methods, Urban Interventions documents this new artistic approach to urban art that is currently making a profound mark on our contemporary visual language. The book shows the growing connections and interplay of this scene with art, architecture, performance, and installation.  Propagators of urban intervention surprise and provoke with work in cities including New York and London, but also in countries such as China, Columbia, and Turkey. Everywhere the work appears it turns public spaces into individual experiences. Urban Interventions is the first book to document these very current, personal art projects in a comprehensive way.

Public Places Urban Spaces

Public Places – Urban Spaces is a holistic guide to the many complex and interacting dimensions of urban design.  The discussion moves systematically through ideas, theories, research and the practice of urban design from an unrivalled range of sources. It aids the reader by gradually building the concepts one upon the other towards a total view of the subject.  The author team explain the catalysts of change and renewal, and explore the global and local contexts and processes within which urban design operates. The book presents six key dimensions of urban design theory and practice – the social, visual, functional, temporal, morphological and perceptual – allowing it to be dipped into for specific information, or read from cover to cover. This is a clear and accessible text that provides a comprehensive discussion of this complex subject.

Alternative Urbanisms Seminar Reader – assembled by Nina Rappaport (Fall 2009)

Split into themes, this reader captures all important texts on urbanism and architecture.

-Toward the modern utopia and garden cities

-Responses to Modernism: flexible, participatory, and incremental

-Responses to Modernism: cities as systems and frameworks

-What is a city? towards urban theories

-Recombinant urbanism / heterotopias and hybrid

-Soft and hard infrastructure, networks, and virtual public space

-Landscape Urbanism sustainable and inhabitable infrastructure

-Bigness, temporal urbanism and the instant city

-The Global City

-The dense and shrinking city, deindustrialization and new industrialization

-Uncoding the city: informal, activist, acupuncture, guerilla

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