Tuesday, December 27, 2005

DO NOT MISS THIS! Chicago Sun-Times Reviewer On "Learning to Sprawl"

Kevin Nance, architecture critic for the Chicago Sun-Times reviews Robert Bruegmann's "Sprawl" and finds much wisdom in it. On the urban planners' oft-repeated and widely accepted myth about energy consumption being driven by suburban sprawl, Nance approvingly quotes Bruegmann:

"Sprawl leads to excessive energy consumption caused by long commutes: 'The problem isn't private transportation,' Bruegmann insists. 'The problem is that we have an old-fashioned 19th-century technology, the internal combustion engine using fossil fuels.
"'Let's solve that problem - maybe by creating small, fuel-efficient vehicles - and stop talking about putting the city back into its 19th-century state to make mass transit work. Instead, let's see what people want to do, then see how the city can be built around them.'"

Nance notes the hot reaction among conventional urban planners to Bruegmann's work and the Sun-Times critic isn't quite an unreserved enthusiast, either, but it is clear "Sprawl" is generating some much-needed discussion in the professional planning and architectural communities.

I bought Bruegmann and Joel Plotkin's "The City: A Global History" late last week and am trying to carve out sufficient time during this in-between holiday week to make progress in both works.