The Evolving Field of Urban Design

<em>Metropolis</em> talks with William Saunders, editor of Harvard Design Magazine, about his new book covering the evolving field of urban design.
May 3, 2009, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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Metropolis: Your book starts out by looking back to the first conferences on urban design, in 1956 at Harvard, which attempted to establish the new field as a collaboration between architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. But now urban design is mostly the domain of architects. Why do you think that is?

William Saunders: I think Krieger is right when he talks about urban design as more a state of mind than a profession. You could be an urban designer and be a physician if you simply thought in terms of how parts of cities should relate, how parts of cities can enliven cities, and things like that. But there is this sort of cultural "number one" spot that architecture has usually had, this cultural status. And it's kind of bullied its way to the top.

Metropolis: What's a good example of urban design?

William Saunders: The one in the last decade everyone refers to-and it's on the cover of this book-is Millennium Park in Chicago. It is an outstanding project. It's used by the citizens of the city as well as tourists, it's beautiful, it's high artistic quality, it serves public needs with its concert spaces. Then you could think of things like what Foster did with Trafalgar square, to take cars and trucks out of it and turn it into a pedestrian zone.

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Published on Friday, May 1, 2009 in Metropolis
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