Urban Form, Public Space, and Civil Liberties

James Howard Kunstler and Nikos A. Salingaros blame the skyscraper itself for its own destruction on September 11. If nothing else Kunstler and Salingaros's The End of Tall Buildings should lead to good discussion about a) the value of skyscrapers; b) the value of this sort of architectural criticism - a kind of architectural criticism that mistakes built form for social relations and then makes the former determinant of the latter.

Writing in the early years of the Cold War and thinking about atomic bombs, the stylist and New Yorker E.B. White wrote of the destructibility of New York in "Here is New York" (1948).

The mainstream media has long anthropomorphized cities. Here is a recent example from CBS New Sunday Morning http://www.cb snews.com/now/story/0,1597,311458-412,00.shtml

The Twin Towers were not just symbols of global capitalism (though they were that). They are also places that people worked. While we have heard a great deal about the traders and bankers, we have heard far too little about the janitors, maintenance workers, and others who make buildings - and cities - work. Many were killed. This New York Times Article "Those at the Towers' Margin Elude List of Missing" begins to rectify that.

John Logan the Director of the Lewis Mumford Center writes:

The Lewis Mumford Center has opened a web exhibit titled "Lower Manhattan: Looking Back and Moving Forward" (http://www.albany.edu/mumford/wtc). The exhibit is motivated by the attacks on the World Trade Center, and it includes images and information about the events of September.  Its broader purpose is to place these events in a historical perspective, looking a century back into the development of Lower Manhattan and thinking ahead about its future.  We have drawn freely from the ideas of many urbanists who posted their reactions on listservs, and we have sought to organize these in a way that will promote further discussion.  We have also included links to other excellent materials available on the web.  We hope that some people will find the exhibit useful as a teaching tool, since surely the World Trade Center will be on the minds of students in urban courses. We encourage reactions, criticisms, and suggestions, and these can be sent to us through a message box on the website ("Comments")