What Would Jane Jacobs Do In Dubai?

Writer Karrie Jacobs (no relation) tours the rapidly-urbanizing cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Dubai. As development forces small neighborhood cultures out, she can't help but wonder what Jane Jacobs would think.
December 21, 2008, 1pm PST | Tim Halbur
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"For years, I'd wanted to visit Dubai and Shanghai, two cities where architects and developers operate unconstrained by anything except (occasionally) gravity. This year, I finally made it to both. In March, when I was in Dubai, one architect said, "It's like I died and I'm already in heaven." No kidding. I spent most of my time in Dubai visiting the big-ticket projects you've already read about. I went on a boat ride to one of the completed portions of Palm Jumeirah, the first in a cluster of manmade islands shaped into a palm tree, and saw a long, skinny spit of an island lined with rather conventional McMansions, villas in the local parlance. I visited the Burj Dubai showroom and took a simulated elevator ride to a stage-set version of the top of the world's tallest building. But after a few days of nonstop development tourism, I found myself pondering Jane Jacobs. What would she make of all this? The question was harder to answer than it might seem. Clearly, she would hate much of the heedless tower mania. But the real answer would hinge on whether she regarded Dubai's increasingly sophisticated approach to mixed-use place-making as an improvement over the sterile environments churned out by the urban planners of the 1960s."

Thanks to ArchNewsNow

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Published on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in Metropolis Magazine
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