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Every morning, the architect and writer Michael Sorkin walks downtown from his Greenwich Village apartment through Washington Square to his Tribeca office. Sorkin isn't in a hurry, and he never ignores his surroundings. Instead, he pays careful, close attention. And in Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, he explains what he sees, what he imagines, what he knows—giving us extraordinary access to the layers of history, the feats of engineering and artistry, and the intense social drama that take place along a simple twenty-minute walk.
Robert Hughes once described Michael Sorkin as “unique in America––brave, principled, highly informed and fiercely funny.” All Over the Map confirms all of these superlatives as Sorkin assaults “the national security city, with its architecture of manufactured fear.”
'Exquisite Corpse' was a game played by the surrealists in which someone drew on a piece of paper, folded it and passed it to the next person to draw on until, finally, the sheet was opened to reveal a calculated yet random composition. In this entertaining and provocative book, Michael Sorkin suggests that cities are similarly assembled by many players acting with varying autonomy in a complicit framework. An unfolding terrain of invention, the city is also a means of accommodating disparity, of contextualizing sometimes startling juxtapositions. Sorkin's aim is to widen the debate about the creation of buildings beyond the immediate issues of technology and design. He discusses the politics and culture of architecture with daring, often devastating, observations about the institutions and personalities who have dominated the profession over the past decade. Their preoccupation with the empty style of 'beach houses and Disneyland' has consistently trivialized the full constructive scope of contemporary architecture's possibilities. Sorkin's interventions range from the development scandals of New York where 'skyscrapers stand at the intersection between grid and greed', through the deconstructivist architectural culture of Los Angeles, to the work and ideas of architects, developers and critics such as Alvar Aalto, Norman Foster, Paul Goldberger, Michael Graves, Coop Himmelblau, Philip Johnson, Leon Krier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Rogers, Carlo Scarpa, James Stirling, Donald Trump, Tom Wolfe and Lebbeus Woods. Throughout Sorkin combines stinging polemic with a powerful call for a rebirth of architecture that is visionary and experimental--a recuperated 'dreamy science'
A radical architect examines the changing fortunes of the contemporary city Michael Sorkin is one of the most forthright and engaging architectural writers in the world. In What Goes Up he takes to task the public officials, developers, “civic” organizations, and other heroes of big money, who have made of Sorkin’s beloved New York a city of glittering towers and increasing inequality. He unpacks not simply the forms and practices—from zoning and political deals to the finer points of architectural design—that shape cities today but also offers spirited advocacy for another kind of city, reimagined from the street up on a human scale, a home to sustainable, just, and fulfilling neighborhoods and public spaces. Informing his writing is a lifetime’s experience as an architect and urbanist. Sorkin writes of the joys and techniques of observing and inhabiting cities and buildings in order to both better understand and to more happily be in them. Sorkin has never been shy about naming names. He has been a scourge of design mediocrity and of the supine compliance of “starchitects,” who readily accede to the demands of greed and privilege. What Goes Up casts the net wide, as he directs his arguments to students, professionals, and urban citizens with vigor, expertise, respect, and barbed wit.
This volume seeks to address a number of broad questions, including: what is the role and limit of urban space in the expression of group and individual rights and desires?; do democratic social relations require spatial propinquity?; and what are the characteristics of
The 21st century will be the age of the city. Already over 50% of the world population live in urban centres and over the coming decades this percentage will increase. Blending anecdote, fact and first hand encounters - from exploring the slums of Mumbai, to visiting roof-top farms in Brooklyn and attending secret dinner parties in Paris, to riding the bus in Latin America - Leo Hollis reveals that we have misunderstood how cities work for too long. Upending long-held assumptions and challenging accepted wisdom, he explores: why cities can never be rational, organised places; how we can walk in a crowd without bumping into people, and if we can design places that make people want to kiss; whether we have the right solution to the problem of the slums; how ants, slime mould and traffic jams can make us rethink congestion. And above all, the unexpected reasons why living in the city can make us fitter, richer, smarter, greener, more creative - and, perhaps, even happier. Cities Are Good for You introduces dreamers, planners, revolutionaries, writers, scientists, architects, slum-dwellers and emperors. It is shaped by the idea that cities are the greatest social experiment in human history, built for people, and by the people.
Protests from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park have brought the crisis of public space to the forefront of our attention: Where can the public congregate? How can city planning, design, and policies support First Amendment rights to public assembly and free speech? Forty experts in social science, planning, design, civil liberties, urban affairs, and the arts use the Occupy movement as a springboard for original, multidisciplinary essays that address these exigent questions. This foundational book puts issues of democracy and civic engagement back into the center of dialogue about the built environment.

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