Can the Garden Suburb Save the Suburbs?

“Can Paradise be Planned?” asks Allison Arieff in a recent op-ed. The article discusses new books by architect Robert A.M. Stern and photographer Christoph Gielen to look for reasons for optimism with regard to suburbs and planning.
April 21, 2014, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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John Sternbergh Photography

In Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City, Architect Robert A. M. Stern and co-authors David Fishman and Jacob Tilove “want to bring back the garden suburb, and in so doing hope to restore a ‘tragically interrupted, 150-year-old tradition,’” according to a recent op-ed by Allison Arieff.

The question Arieff, by way of Stern, asks is: “Can suburbia shift its own paradigm to give them something similar?” According to Arieff, “Stern would say yes — that the garden suburb can do just that.”

“Stern sees the garden suburb as an antidote to the current suburban sprawl but also views it as a smart way to think about what he calls in the book ‘the middle city,’ neighborhoods found in cities like Detroit, for example, where, he writes, ‘now, virtually empty of people and buildings, [they] have no discernible assets except the infrastructure of the streets and utility systems buried under them.’”

Arieff also makes brief mention of a new book of aerial photographs of contemporary suburbs by Christoph Gielen called Ciphers. According to Arieff, “The only rational response to these images would seem to be, ‘What the hell were we thinking?’”

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Published on Friday, April 18, 2014 in New York Times
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