An Architect-Designed Mega Plan in Istanbul

<p>One of the world's largest urban renewal projects is about to break ground in the Kartal area of Istanbul, and every aspect of the new neighborhood is designed by a star architect. The Wall St. Journal reports on the new "city-building industry".</p>
July 26, 2008, 1pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"As mapped out by Zaha Hadid, the London-based, Iraqi-born Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Kartal will be redeveloped according to a 555-hectare master plan that includes soaring skyscrapers, swerving thoroughfares and newly designed public spaces where 100,000 people will live and work and many more will come for shopping and entertainment.

The all-encompassing plan is the latest example in a new trend in urban development that has taken hold in the past decade, in which a visionary designer creates a detailed concept for an entire neighborhood. While individual buildings aren't designed, the overall shape and style of the structures are guided by the master planner.

Urban planning as a discipline developed only in the 20th century, but ideas about organizing communities are as old as civilization. See some important points in the development of cities: Page One | Page Two.

In the past, with a few notable exceptions, urban planners have been concerned with organizing space and infrastructure, while architects, separately, have created buildings. For the most part, cities and neighborhoods developed organically over time. Today, governments and private developers are turning to name-brand architects to create plans for both space and structures, elaborate designs that can be marketed as the creative expression of an artist.

"We are seeing an emergence of a new industry," says Dennis Frenchman, director of the city design and development program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's urban-studies department. "It's not real-estate development; it's not architecture; it's not city planning. All I can do is name it 'the city-building industry.'"

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Published on Friday, July 25, 2008 in Wall St. Journal
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