The Poetics of Cities: Designing Neighborhoods That Work

Mike Greenberg, Author Ohio State University Press $21.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8142-0657-7
Former San Antonio Express-News urban-planning columnist Greenberg uses the term poetics in the Aristotelian sense, to mean anything made or produced. As Aristotle concerned himself with the well-made play, so Greenberg concerns himself with the well-formed city. Looking at how cities evolved, what makes a city livable, and common design practices that encourage accord or discord (blank walls, for example, beg for graffiti, yet most major cities have miles of them), Greenberg uses several cities and towns as examples of what works and what doesn't, and he offers practical solutions to the most pervasive of urban ills. This is fascinating stuff at a time when so many areas have been turned into square-shaped, car-dependent, nowhere-land suburbs and decrepit downtown areas that offer few services or opportunities because business has fled to the strip malls. Unfortunately, so much information is packed into the book that the reader is left overwhelmed and disoriented by the rambling text--and without any sense of what he or she might do to put some excellent suggestions into effect. The illustrations, not seen by PW, might have served to clarify points made. Although it is probably too detailed for the lay reader who has only a passing interest in urban planning, those with a more developed concern for how our communities are emerging may find The Poetics of Cities intriguing. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
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