Beauty

March 4, 2015, 6am PST
Alain de Botton has an idea that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, when it comes to cities anyways. He also proposes a system for evaluating the beauty of the world's cities (spoiler: most cities don't qualify).
CityLab
July 22, 2014, 9am PDT
An app that plots the most beautiful route across cities made news earlier this month, but one commenter worries about how taking the more scenic route could make it harder to improve quality of life in the "less-than-scenic" sections of cities.
TheCityFix
July 15, 2014, 6am PDT
New in flaneur-enabling technology: a team of intrepid aesthetes in Barcelona is working on a new app that would advance GPS mapping tools by providing the most beautiful route to a destination, rather than the shortest or least congested route.
MIT Technology Review
February 20, 2013, 7am PST
Researchers are beginning to understand how the human brain is hard-wired to respond to certain patterns, colors, and proportions. The result is "a revolution in the science of design," says Lance Hosey, and "most people...aren’t even aware of it."
The New York Times
January 14, 2013, 12pm PST
Edwin Heathcote looks at "fumbling attempts at creating new forms of urbanity" and "new ideals of beauty" in cities like Milton Keynes, Rotterdam, and Dubai, and asks if we can still create urban beauty, or if it's even desirable in the first place.
The Financial Times
October 17, 2012, 12pm PDT
As cities strive to improve the "design" and "beauty" of their buildings, how can such attributes be mandated by planning documents if their mere mention is verboten, asks Karrie Jacobs.
Metropolis
June 2, 2011, 5am PDT
Toronto's lack of focus on transportation planning and the absence of a national strategy for mobility is turning the city into a messy gridlock, according to this column.
Globe and Mail
May 27, 2011, 5am PDT
The city of Vancouver is beautiful, but according to this op-ed, it hasn't yet been able to create a truly vibrant city life.
The Vancouver Sun
May 19, 2011, 10am PDT
Seattle is growing more dense, which is underlining the importance of the city's public spaces. But as this piece from <em>Crosscut</em> argues, the city's public spaces are mostly bleak and underused.
Crosscut
April 22, 2011, 2pm PDT
Architects and urbanists gathered in the city Jane Jacobs made her home to ask, "What makes a beautiful city?"
Azure
September 15, 2010, 2pm PDT
Is it okay yet to talk about cities and beauty in the same breath? Teacher Karrie Jacobs finds an astonishing lack of reading material for her class on aesthetic beauty and the built environment.
Metropolis Magazine
December 24, 2009, 1pm PST
Roger Scruton compares American and European ways of regulating aesthetics in buildings.
The American Enterprise Institute
May 28, 2009, 7am PDT
<em>Building Happiness,</em> a new collection of writings on architecture, concludes that the connect between beauty and happiness is unfounded.
Metropolis Magazine
Blog post
February 22, 2009, 11am PST
There's no shortage of writing and conjecture on New York City when it comes to urban and city issues. But one subject that has been neglected in the urban academic discourse is the city's incredible concentration of beautiful women.

It's amazing. It's like you can't avoid them, not that you'd want to. Walking down the street in New York City is like walking down a fashion runway. With cross traffic. And no security guards trying to tackle you.
Nate Berg
October 22, 2008, 12pm PDT
Travel writers, photographers, and an urban designer selected by Forbes have named the 20 prettiest towns in America; their varied definitions of "prettiness" are reflected in their choices.
Forbes Traveler
Blog post
April 25, 2007, 10am PDT

These days, there are many important city-building issues we’re promoting here in Vancouver. The first of which is always sustainability, and particularly ecological sustainability (its difficult to consider an economic or socially sustainable future, if the powerful changes necessary to truly address climate change and other ecological implications do not happen).

But beneath (or within) sustainability, there are countless issues and debates about the nature of city-building that need to have powerful voices, particularly within the broader public (as opposed to us converted). One that I’m pleased to see gaining more and more traction and attention, in the popular media and in dinner party chats around cities, is the critical importance of beauty in the work that we do. The tide is turning on this issue, when publications like Canadian Business are trumpeting the value added nature of design, and the power of “pretty cities” to economic success.

In planning circles though, we still seem too loathe to use the word beauty. Too subjective, perhaps? For whatever reason, you’d be hard-pressed to find the word in most planning visions and documents, and that’s a shame.

Brent Toderian