Urban Design and the New Environmentalists
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Urban Design and the New Environmentalists

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Following the 2008 "Re-imaging Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil symposium, Penn IUR solicited manuscripts on environmental and energy challenges and their effect on the redesign of urban ...

Following the 2008 "Re-imaging Cities: Urban Design After the Age of Oil symposium, Penn IUR solicited manuscripts on environmental and energy challenges and their effect on the redesign of urban environments.

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Urban Design and the New Environmentalists Urban Design and the New Environmentalists Document Transcript

  • Working  paper       Urban  Design  and  the  New  Environmentalists:  The  Legacy  of  the  Rockefeller   Foundation’s  Urban  Design  Research  Initiatives   Peter  L.  Laurence      Abstract:  History  of  Urban  Design  and  role  of  the  Rockefeller  Foundation.        I   the  late  1950s,  three  pioneering  scientists  undertook  controversial  projects  that   n  would  prove  essential  to  understanding  our  world  today,  shaping  our   Tenvironmental  consciousness:  Charles  Keeling  began  measuring  atmospheric  CO2  concentrations;  Rachel  Carson  started  writing  Silent  Spring;  and  M.  King  Hubbert   AFpublished  his  prediction  of  the  depletion  of  U.S.  oil  reserves.  In  the  same  years,  architects,  city  planners,  and  landscape  architects  were  re-­‐imagining  their  approach  to  the  environment:  Kevin  Lynch  pursued  basic  research  into  human  perception  of   Rthe  built  environment;  Jane  Jacobs  began  writing  The  Death  and  Life  of  Great  American  Cities;  and  Ian  McHarg  reinvented  the  field  of  landscape  architecture,   Dstarting  a  decade-­‐long  effort  to  define  a  new  approach  to  designing  with  nature.  Although  the  scientists  would  independently  contribute  to  a  new  consciousness,  these  figures  were  part  of  a  shared  effort:  all  opposed  the  prevailing  “urban  renewal”  approach  to  the  redevelopment  of  cities  in  favor  of  a  more  “environmental”  approach;  all  were  part  of  a  remarkable  Rockefeller  Foundation  research  initiative  that  helped  to  define  the  new  field  of  urban  design;  and  all  met  in  October  1958  at  a  Foundation-­‐sponsored  Urban  Design  conference  hosted  by  the  University  of  Pennsylvania.  Although  from  different  fields  and  backgrounds,  at  that  
  • Working  paper  conference  they  discussed  urban  design  in  the  context  of  environment,  and,  to  indicate  their  shared  concerns,  collectively  described  themselves  as  “environmentalists.”  This  publication,  the  2008  Penn-­‐Rockefeller  anniversary  conference,  and,  more  significantly,  the  urban-­‐environmental  consciousness  of  its  participants,  all  owe  something  to  the  legacy  of  that  time  and  those  events.        The  Origins  of  Urban  Design  and  the  Impact  of  the  Rockefeller  Foundation’s  Urban  Design  Research  Initiative     T“Urban,”  in  the  early  1950s,  was  an  idea  not  unlike  what  “sustainable”  is  today.  It   AFreflected  a  new  consciousness  about  the  environment,  and  one  that  was  similarly  borne  of  crisis.  After  World  War  II  there  was  a  great  shortage  of  housing,  and  cities,  neglected  since  the  Great  Depression  due  to  financial  hardships  and  wartime   Rmaterial  rationing,  were  in  need  of  rebuilding.  With  a  population  boom  and  a  suburban  building  boom  on  the  horizon,  the  U.S.  Housing  Act  of  1949  provided  for   Dthe  demolition  of  slums  and  new  construction  in  the  form  of  “urban  redevelopment,”  and  it  was  around  this  time  that  the  term  “urban  design”  came  into  use.  With  the  passage  of  the  Housing  Act  of  1954,  which  broadened  the  parameters  for  demolition  beyond  slums,  “urban  redevelopment”  became  “urban  renewal,”  and  the  newly  coined  term  “urban  design”  gained  increasing  currency.  The  neologism  modernized  the  existing  city  design  practice  known  as  “civic  design,”  which  in  turn  had  updated  the  practice  known  as  “civic  art”  around  the  turn  of  the  century,  and  indicated  renewed  purpose.  Like  “sustainable”  design,  “urban”  design  sought  to  
  • Working  paper  align  the  design  fields  with  larger  trends  and  new  concerns.  A  new  era  was  in  the  making.  As  Lewis  Mumford  wrote  in  opening  his  introduction  to  Clarence  Stein’s  notable  postwar  memoir-­‐manifesto  Toward  New  Towns  for  America  (1951),  “Except  for  colonial  times,  hardly  a  beginning  has  been  made,  up  to  now,  on  the  history  of  American  city  development  and  urban  design.”1     Apart  from  Lewis  Mumford’s  prescient  use  of  the  term,  some  of  the  earliest  references  to  “urban  design”  are  found  in  the  archives  of  the  Rockefeller  Foundation.  In  1952,  Foundation  directors  became  interested  in  the  future  of  the  American  city,  and  soon  inaugurated  a  research  initiative  that  would  contribute   Tsignificantly  to  defining  and  shaping  the  new  field  of  urban  design.2     AF   The  instigator  was  Wallace  K.  Harrison.  Architect  of  Rockefeller  Center  and  long-­‐time  friend  of  Nelson  Rockefeller,  Harrison  was  a  newly  appointed  executive  of  the  Rockefeller  Foundation.  At  the  height  of  his  career,  his  portrait,  surrounded  by   Rimages  of  his  masterworks  in  the  background,  adorned  the  cover  of  Time  in  November  1952.  From  Rockefeller  Center  to  his  latest  undertaking,  the  not-­‐yet-­‐ Dpublic  Lincoln  Center  redevelopment  project,  he  was  intimate  with  city  redevelopment  practices  from  the  era  of  Civic  Design  to  the  new  era  of  Urban  Renewal.  Perhaps  with  a  sense  of  the  disparity  between  postwar  redevelopment  ambitions  and  the  knowledge  needed  to  undertake  it,  he  suggested  that  the  Foundation  support  research  in  city  design  and  redevelopment.  He  recommended  MIT  as  a  good  place  for  this,  being  newly  acquainted  with  Portland  architect-­‐engineer  Pietro  Belluschi,  a  Lincoln  Center  master-­‐plan  team  member  and  new  Dean  of  the  MIT  School  of  Architecture  and  City  Planning.  With  the  added  support  of  
  • Working  paper  former  MIT  president  and  Foundation  Trustee  Karl  Compton,  a  grant  initiative  that  would  help  define  a  new  field  was  launched.       The  Rockefeller  Foundation’s  support  of  city  planning  and  design  research  was  not  unprecedented.  In  1929,  the  Foundation  had  made  a  large  grant  that  established  the  first  City  Planning  degree  program  at  Harvard  Graduate  School  of  Design.3  However,  after  World  War  II,  city  planning  was  still  regarded  as  a  relatively  new  and  inexperienced  field,  and  one  that  was  necessary  but  insufficient  to  the  complex  task  of  renovating  cities.  As  Foundation  Humanities  Division  directors  established  early  in  their  conversations  with  MIT  faculty,  by  1953,  most  city   Tplanning  programs  were  still  in  their  infancy,  having  been  founded  since  the  War’s   AFend,  and,  in  general,  did  not  adequately  address  aesthetic  and  humanistic  concerns.  As  amateur  urbanist  and  MIT  Dean  of  Humanities  and  Social  Sciences  John  Burchard  Ely  observed,  postwar  city  planning  had  neglected  “aesthetic  elements  to   Rconcentrate  largely  on  technical  ones  of  communication,  hygiene,  and  economics.”4  For  this  reason,  he  had  supported  the  creation  of  a  new  MIT  Center  for  Urban  and   DRegional  Studies  in  1952,  as  “a  means  of  bringing  together  architecture  and  city  planning,”  as  well  as  the  phenomenologically-­‐oriented  research  of  MIT  professors  and  Center  for  Urban  and  Regional  Studies  affiliates  Kevin  Lynch  and  Gyorgy  Kepes,  who  were  studying  “the  visual  aspects  of  the  physical  environment.”5  Since  little  systematic  research  had  been  done  on  “the  three-­‐dimensional  urban  environment,”  all  agreed  that  their  work  was  a  good  starting  point  toward  understanding  the  implications  of  urban  redevelopment  and  renewal  practices.    
  • Working  paper     Following  an  initial  research  proposal  in  1953,  which  matter-­‐of-­‐factly  used  the  term  ‘urban  design’  without  explanation,  the  Rockefeller  Foundation  awarded  its  first  urban  design  research  grant  to  Lynch  and  Kepes  in  1954.  On  this  occasion,  Foundation  directors  described  the  significance  of  the  new  field,  recognizing  its  potential  for  synthesizing  architectural  design  with  city  planning  objectives.  They  wrote,           “The  Division  of  Humanities  has  no  intention  of  entering  the  general  field  of  city  planning.  Urban  design,  however,  is  one  of  the  fields  in  which  the  arts  have  most  direct  impact  on  the  quality  of  human  life.  In  view  of  the  relative  neglect  of  aesthetic   Taspects  in  connection  with  city  planning  during  the  last  few  decades,  an  effort  to   AFrestore  the  balance  in  thinking  in  connection  with  city  design  seems  well  justified  under  the  Foundation’s  program  in  the  arts.”6     This  conception  of  urban  design,  as  articulated  by  Rockefeller  Foundation   Rdirectors,  was  not  only  timely,  but  prescient.  As  a  synthesizing  practice,  urban  design  responded  to  the  new  “urban”  national  legislative  agenda  and  echoed  the   Dcontemporaneous  interest  in  integrating  architecture  and  the  arts.  From  the  standpoint  of  the  design  professions,  this  formulation  also  anticipated  the  interpretation  of  urban  design  as  a  synthesis  of  architecture,  city  planning,  and  landscape  architecture,  as  articulated  by  GSD  Dean  José  Luis  Sert  a  few  years  later  at  the  1956  “Harvard  Urban  Design  Conference.”       Over  the  next  ten  or  so  years,  the  Foundation’s  urban  design  research  program,  which  developed  between  1952  and  1965,  remained  an  inclusive  and  groundbreaking  endeavor,  supporting  research  that  produced  some  of  the  seminal  
  • Working  paper  works  of  the  new  field.  Lynch  and  Kepes’  research  was  published  in  part  as  The  Image  of  the  City  (1960).  A  grant  to  Christopher  Tunnard  at  Yale  resulted  in  a  1958  conference  “Civilizing  the  American  Roadscape”  and  the  National  Book  Award-­‐winning  Man-­Made  America:  Chaos  or  Control  (1963),  a  multi-­‐scaled  analysis  of  the  built  environment  that  critiqued  urban  sprawl.  A  series  of  grants  to  the  University  of  Pennsylvania  starting  in  1956  resulted  in  the  historic  1958  “Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism,”  discussed  below;  E.  A.  Gutkind’s  eight-­‐volume  International  History  of  City  Development  (1964-­‐72);  Ian  Nairn’s  The  American  Landscape:  A  Critical  View  (1965);  Ed  Bacon’s  The  Design  of  Cities  (1967);  and  support  of  Ian   TMcHarg’s  rebuilding  of  the  Landscape  Architecture  department  at  Penn,  leading  to   AFhis  field-­‐changing  book  Design  with  Nature  (1969).  Although  not  typically  associated  with  the  field  of  urban  design,  in  part  because  she  did  not  like  or  use  the  term,  was  Jane  Jacobs’  The  Death  and  Life  of  Great  American  Cities  (1961),  which  was  in  many   Rways  the  urban  counterpart  to  McHarg’s  environmental  design,  and  one  of  the  most  significant  outcomes  of  the  Foundation’s  urban  design  grant  initiative.7   D    The  1958  Penn-­Rockefeller  Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism    The  1958  University  of  Pennsylvania  “Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism”  unfolded  from  a  conversation  between  Jane  Jacobs  and  Rockefeller  Foundation  Humanities  director  Chadbourne  Gilpatric  in  the  summer  of  1958.    
  • Working  paper     Gilpatric,  who  by  then  had  become  the  champion  of  the  Foundation’s  urban  design  research  initiative,  was  impressed  by  Jacobs  recent  articles  on  cities  and  urban  redevelopment,  and  sought  her  opinion  on  Penn  grant  proposals  that  he  was  reviewing  at  the  time.  She  expressed  enthusiastic  approval  of  Ian  McHarg’s  idea  for  a  book  about  “civic  design  and  related  landscape  architecture,”  and  general  support  for  the  Penn  faculty  and  the  emerging  Philadelphia  School,  which  she  knew  quite  well,  since  the  city  was  part  of  her  beat  as  associate  editor  for  Architectural  Forum.  Penn,  she  believed,  was  perhaps  the  “most  productive  and  influential  center  at  present  in  the  United  States,”  due  not  only  to  the  individual  strengths  of  faculty  like   TWilliam  L.C.  Wheaton  and  Louis  Kahn,  but  because  of  a  shared  “concern  with  the   AFimportance  of  the  community  as  well  as  the  usual  physical  and  economic  considerations.”8           When  the  opportunity  presented  itself,  Jacobs  recommended  that  the   RRockefeller  Foundation  “find  and  give  opportunities  for  observation  and  writing  to  some  first-­‐rate  architectural  critics  who  could  develop  helpful  new  ideas  for  the   Dplanning  of  cities.”9  Like  her  colleague  and  boss,  Architectural  Forum  editor  Douglas  Haskell,  Jacobs  was  concerned  by  the  lack  of  critical  writing  on  architecture  and  urban  design  in  the  American  professional  and  public  press.  The  idea  struck  a  chord  with  Gilpatric,  who  had  a  personal  interest  not  only  in  cities,  but  in  literary  criticism.  In  the  following  weeks,  he  proposed  to  William  Wheaton,  Director  of  Penn’s  new  Institute  for  Urban  Studies,  that  the  School  of  Fine  Arts  host  a  conference  on  the  subject,  and  discussed  with  Jacobs  her  grant  proposal  for  a  book  on  cities.  In  October  1958,  Foundation  grants  underwrote  the  related  Penn  “Conference  on  
  • Working  paper  Urban  Design  Criticism”  and  Jane  Jacobs’  leave  from  Architectural  Forum  to  write  the  manuscript  that  became  The  Death  and  Life  of  Great  American  Cities.       By  1958,  the  transformations  underway  in  U.S.  cities  had  outpaced  the  professional  capacity  to  adequately  follow  or  understand  them.  The  Supreme  Court  case  Berman  v.  Parker,  which  upheld  the  power  of  eminent  domain  for  urban  renewal,  and  the  Highway  Act  of  1956  contributed  to  exponential  annual  increases  in  numbers  of  renewal  projects.  As  Penn  conference  co-­‐organizer  David  Crane  put  it,  “Urban  design  has  become  everybody’s  business  and  yet  it  is  nobody’s  business.”10     The  purpose  of  the  Penn  conference,  which  was  preliminarily  titled  the   T“Conference  on  Criticism  in  Urban  Design,”  was  therefore  to  stimulate  reflection  and   AFcriticism  of  the  redevelopment  process  and  projects.  As  Crane  recalled  in  the  conference  working  paper,  “The  idea  of  this  conference  came  out  when  a  Rockefeller  Foundation  official  noted  that  a  certain  well-­‐known  urban  renewal  scheme  had  been   Rpublished  widely  without  critical  commentary  of  any  kind.”  Alluding  to  Gilpatric’s  broader  interests  in  cultural  criticism,  he  continued,  “Further  reflection  on  this   Dcircumstance  showed  that  there  is  even  more  to  be  done  in  the  arts  of  urban  redevelopment  than  the  Foundation  had  previously  observed  in  its  efforts  to  stimulate  better  criticism  and  review  in  music  and  literature.”11  As  William  Wheaton  wrote  in  the  initial  grant  proposal,  “the  low  state  of  urban  design  in  America  today”  was  a  reflection  of  the  lack  of  value  for  design  by  the  public  and  elected  officials,  as  well  as  “inadequate  standards  and  knowledge  on  the  part  of  the  professions  directly  concerned  with  city  building,  particularly  architects,  landscape  architects,  and  city  planners.”12  A  greater  “quality  and  quantity”  of  writing  about  urban  design  and  
  • Working  paper  redevelopment  was  therefore  needed,  and  this  aimed  across  the  spectrum  of  authorship  and  readership,  from  theory  to  practice,  professional  to  layman,  scholarly  journal  to  public  press.  A  “contemporary  theory  of  urban  design”  needed  development,  even  as  critical  writing  concerning  urban  design  needed  to  engage  the  public,  practicing  professions,  and  the  civic  and  business  leaders  who  made  “daily  decisions  regarding  the  man-­‐made  environment.”13     Recognizing  the  problems  of  urban  redevelopment  was  not  the  same  as  solving  them,  however.  Developing  urban  design  theory  and  criticism  was  a  challenge  when  the  very  term  “urban  design”  remained  a  matter  for  discussion.  As   TCrane  observed  in  the  conference  working  paper,  “Urban  design  is  a  new  phrase,  at   AFleast  too  new  or  too  ambiguous  for  any  metropolitan  classified  directories  to  list  any  practitioners  of  the  art.  The  phrase  has  been  used  in  a  rather  timid  reawakening  of  professional  interests  in  the  conscious  esthetic  choices  in  city  development.”14   RAlthough  Crane  had  been  thinking  about  the  term  for  some  years—he  had  studied  city  planning  with  Wheaton  at  Harvard,  worked  as  an  assistant  on  Lynch  and  Kepes’   Dearly  Foundation-­‐sponsored  research  at  MIT,  and  had  returned  to  Harvard  to  lecture  on  urban  design  in  early  1956—at  Penn,  as  elsewhere,  the  terms  “civic  design”  and  “townscape”  were  still  used.15  Despite  Wheaton  and  Crane’s  objections,  Penn’s  new  Civic  Design  program,  founded  in  1956,  was  given  the  more  familiar  term  by  Dean  G.  Holmes  Perkins,  likely  because  of  the  influence  of  Clarence  Stein  and  Gordon  Stephenson  (director  of  the  oldest  Civic  Design  program,  established  at  University  of  Liverpool  in  1909),  years  earlier,  before  the  emergence  of  a  more  “American  urban  design.”  Crane,  who  later  directed  the  Penn  program,  was  keen  to  
  • Working  paper  establish  it  as  “the  progenitor  of  graduate  programs  in  ‘urban  design’”  because  of  these  internal  terminological  debates.16  For  Wheaton  and  Crane,  however,  urban  design  was  the  appropriate  shorthand  for  “design  of  the  urban  environment.”17  The  term  reflected  a  new  consciousness  among  the  “environmental  professions,”  with  their  horizons  raised  above  the  civic  center  to  the  larger  man-­‐made  environment,  “the  whole  of  the  human  settlement…  as  a  connected  fabric.”18       From  an  understanding  of  the  “environmentalism”  of  urban  design  it  followed  that  the  Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism  required  the  participation  not  only  of  the  “environmental  professions”—architects,  city  planners,  and   Tlandscape  architects—but  the  architectural  and  cultural  critics  who  would  engage   AFthe  public  in  the  critical  process.  Representing  practice  and  the  academy  were  Louis  Kahn,  I.  M.  Pei,  Gordon  Stephenson,  G.  Holmes  Perkins,  Arthur  C.  Holden,  Kevin  Lynch,  Catherine  Bauer  Wurster,  William  Wheaton,  David  Crane,  and  Ian  McHarg.   RAmong  the  critics  were  Lewis  Mumford,  Jane  Jacobs,  Grady  Clay,  J.  B.  Jackson,  Leslie  Cheek,  Eric  Larrabee,  Fritz  Gutheim,  Edward  Weeks,  and  Chadbourne  Gilpatric.   DOther  participants  with  interest  or  experience  in  civic  and  urban  design  who  were  invited  and  considered  for  the  conference,  but  who  did  not  attend,  included  Walter  Gropius,  Joseph  Hudnut,  John  Burchard,  Victor  Gruen,  and  Holly  Whyte.       In  an  effort  to  keep  the  participants  focused  (Jane  Jacobs,  a  veteran  of  the  Harvard  Urban  Design  conference,  was  skeptical  about  how  much  a  conference  could  accomplish),  the  three-­‐day  affair  was  held  at  the  Westchester  Country  Club,  conveniently  located  near  New  York  City,  where  meals,  tea,  and  cocktails  were  provided,  and  the  program  ran  from  morning  to  evening.     The  talks  were  
  • Working  paper  organized  into  three  primary  groups—Philosophical  Views;  Efforts,  Inhibitions,  and  Failings  in  the  Urban  Design  Press;  and  Idea  and  Form  in  Urban  Design  Criticism.  Talks  on  criticism  and  the  press  included  Chadbourne  Gilpatric’s  “The  Meaning  of  Depth  in  Criticism,”  Gordon  Stephenson’s  “Design  and  City  Planning  as  Seen  in  the  Press,”  Frederick  Gutheim’s  “Efforts  of  the  Working  Press,”  Grady  Clay’s  “Form  and  Method  in  Design  Criticism,”  Catherine  Bauer’s  “Professional  Introspection  and  Extroversion,”  and  Jane  Jacobs’  “Inhibiting  Factors  in  Criticism.”  Talks  on  urbanism,  the  city,  and  environment  included  Louis  Kahn’s  “Ideas  of  the  City,”  Clay’s  “Ruminations  on  European  Townscapes,”  Bauer’s  “Asian  Vernaculars  in  Urban   TDesign,”  Arthur  Holden’s  “Sonnets  for  My  City,”  Kevin  Lynch’s  “Idea-­‐Building  and  the   AFInstruments  of  Communication,”  J.  B.  Jackson’s  “  Ecology  and  Values  in  Environment,”  and  Ian  McHarg’s  “New  and  Old  Attitudes  in  Urban  Environment.”19       Foundation  director  Gilpatric,  a  Rhodes  scholar  and  former  professor  of   Rphilosophy,  among  other  career  accomplishments,  later  described  the  conference  as  “the  most  febrile  and  intellectual  conference  I  have  ever  attended.”20  Conversation   Dranged  from  the  development  of  “the  creation  of  a  philosophy  of  urban  design”  to  specific  projects  meant  “to  build  public  awareness  and  appreciation  of  the  urban  environment.”21  As  later  reported  by  Grady  Clay  in  the  Journal  of  the  AIA,  when  conversation  bogged  down  in  details,  “Gilpatric  reminded  the  group  of  ‘our  common  concern:  the  future  of  great  cities’.”22       The  scope  and  complexity  of  issues  made  it  clear  to  all  participants  that  “the  problem  of  urban  design  criticism”  would  not  be  solved  by  “any  one-­‐purpose  solution.”23  The  list  of  “possible  measures”  discussed  in  the  concluding  session  was  
  • Working  paper  long  and  prescient.  It  included  items  like  scholarly  and  popular  books  on  topics  like  the  “History  of  the  Suburb,”  complimented  by  criticism  not  only  of  the  end-­‐product,  but  the  enabling  processes  and  fundamental  forces  that,  for  example,  created  suburban  sprawl.  “Don’t  be  content  with  the  usual  Ain’t-­‐It-­‐Awful  outburst  against  suburban  sprawl,”  reported  Clay.  “If  the  basic  reason  for  suburban  leapfrogging  of  subdivisions  is  speculative  holding  of  land,  then  go  to  work  on  speculation;  find  out  all  the  alternatives.”24  Other  proposals  included  an  institute  or  “center  of  ‘environmentalism,’  drawing  on  and  acting  upon  all  the  learned  fields  presently  or  potentially  related  to  the  design  of  environment,”  a  new  “journal  directed  to   T‘environmentalists’,”  and  other  projects  meant  to  celebrate  the  potential  of  vibrant   AFurban  life.25       Gilpatric  had  hoped  that  the  conference  would  point  the  way  toward  “a  more  philosophical  approach  to  what  our  cities  should  provide  for  civilized  life,  before   Rgoing  all  out  to  stimulate  critical  writing.”26  The  participants’  latent  “environmentalism,”  their  understandings  of  the  complexity  and  interconnectivity   Dof  natural  and  social  urban  ecologies,  would  congeal  into  such  a  philosophy  in  the  years  ahead.  Describing,  for  example,  of  J.  B.  Jackson’s  journal  Landscape,  Crane  observed  that  writing  there  “establishes  a  bridge  between  architecture,  landscape  architecture,  town  planning,  anthropology,  sociology,  conservation,  and  geography,  all  through  a  single  principle  of  rural  settlements  ecology.  We  can  only  regret  that  it  is  not  an  urban  ecology  which  draws  all  these  interests  together.”27  This  synthesis,  however,  would  soon  take  place  in  McHarg’s  and  Jacobs’  work.      
  • Working  paper     At  the  moment,  however,  it  was  criticism  that  was  the  common  theme  of  the  conference.  Despite  any  present-­‐day  stereotypes  about  the  passivity  of  the  1950s,  Grady  Clay  reported  that  “running  through  many  of  the  discussions  was  the  theme  of  controversy—local  fights  deliberately  provoked  to  promote  public  understanding  of  design  issues.  Not  precious,  involved  bickering  over  abstruse  details  the  public  cannot  or  will  not  understand,”  he  continued,  “but  controversy  over  matters  of  widest  interest.”28  Discussion  included  “protest  walks”  against  urban  renewal  projects;  “an  American  ‘Counter  Attack  Bureau’”  modeled  on  the  British  Architectural  Review;  “more  controversy”  (Bauer);  “subsidies  for  massive   Tcontroversy”  and  more  “vigorous  ‘destructive  criticism’”  (Clay);  and  “more  tough-­‐ AFmindedness”  (Jacobs).29       In  the  end,  although  the  Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism  produced  no  publication,  Foundation  director  Gilpatric  predicted  that  the  conference  would  have   R“a  wide-­‐spread  effect…  through  what  the  individuals  took  away  with  them.”30  Years  later,  Grady  Clay  confirmed  that  “The  conference  incited  all  of  us  into  publications  of   Devery  sort;  and  was  a  career  turning-­‐point  for  many.”31  This  was  true  for  Clay,  McHarg,  and  especially  Jane  Jacobs,  who  began  writing  The  Death  and  Life  of  Great  American  Cities  (1961)  in  the  weeks  following  the  Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism.  As  a  project  that  developed,  along  with  the  conference,  from  her  suggestion  that  the  Rockefeller  Foundation  support  architectural  and  urban  criticism,  Jacobs’  book  fulfilled  many  of  the  recommendations  of  the  conference  participants—a  highly  critical  examination  of  urban  redevelopment  practices,  written  for  the  widest  readership,  which  proposed  a  comprehensive  philosophy  
  • Working  paper  about  the  nature  of  the  urban  environment—and  was  perhaps  the  most  significant  outcome  of  the  Penn-­‐Rockefeller  Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism  and  the  Foundation’s  urban  design  research  initiative.        Urban  Design  and  the  New  Environmentalists  Today    The  2008  Penn-­‐Rockefeller  conference  Re-­Imagining  Cities:  Urban  Design  After  the  Age  of  Oil  commemorated  the  1958  Conference  on  Urban  Design  Criticism  by   Tconceiving  an  inclusive  and  ambitious  event  that  would  bring  together  participants   AFfrom  around  the  world  to  consider  the  great  challenges  facing  the  built  environment,  and  indeed  urban  civilization  as  we  know  it,  in  the  decades  ahead.         Although  the  2008  conference  did  not  dwell  on  urban  design  history  of   Rpreceding  five  decades,  there  were  echoes  of  the  past.  Robert  Socolow  spoke  of  the  damning  environmental  legacy  of  the  Interstate  Highway  System,  recalling  Jacobs’   Dand  others’  criticism  of  the  1956  Highway  Act  and  its  attendant  urban  renewal  projects.  Jason  Bregman  and  Lance  Hosey  reiterated  the  everlasting  importance  of  the  design  of  the  built  environment,  which  was  so  important  to  David  Crane  and  others  of  the  first  generation  of  “urban  designers.”  Taner  Oc,  discussing  the  importance  of  considering  the  special  needs  of  urban  populations,  particularly  the  aged,  recalled  another  theme  of  particular  interest  to  Jane  Jacobs.  Neal  Peirce,  Alex  Steffen,  and  Richard  Saul  Wurman  echoed  a  central  theme  of  the  1958  conference  in  discussing  the  importance  of  communicating  critical  and  complex  urban  design  
  • Working  paper  issues  to  a  wider  audience.  And,  at  the  conclusion  of  the  conference,  Roy  Strickland  repeated  Grady  Clay’s  call  of  fifty  years  earlier  for  more  vigorous  and  revolutionary  criticism.       Despite  the  many,  perhaps  too  many,  echoes  of  1958,  the  2008  Penn-­‐Rockefeller  conference  may  have  marked  a  turning  point.  Although  the  participants  walked  in  the  deep  footsteps  of  an  earlier  generation  of  urban  designers—who  had  a  prescient  sense  of  the  limits  of  natural  resources,  the  intricacies  of  natural  and  urban  ecologies,  and  who,  as  described  in  the  preceding  pages,  considered  themselves  “environmentalists”—that  earlier  generation  could  not  have  imagined   Tthe  extent  of  present  challenges  and  those  on  the  horizon.  Although  Ian  McHarg  and   AFJane  Jacobs  discussed  threats  to  urban  civilization  from  their  various  perspectives,  they  did  not  then  imagine  the  threats  to  global  civilization  that  have  been  described  by  Peter  Head,  William  Rees,  and  Elizabeth  Colbert.  Although  an  earlier  generation   Rof  architects  and  urban  designers  was  concerned  with  reinventing  architectural  functionalism  at  the  urban  scale,  and  re-­‐imagining  functional  cities,  they  could  not   Dhave  imagined  the  significance  of  the  work  of  Bill  Dunster,  James  van  Hemert,  Behnisch,  or  Arup  in  re-­‐imagining  sustainable  urban  environments.         Finally,  although  urban  design  education  was  only  in  its  infancy  in  1958,  participants  of  the  Conference  of  Urban  Design  Criticism  could  not  have  imagined  how  much  work  was  yet  to  be  done  not  only  in  teaching  urban  design  fundamentals,  but  in  preparing  a  new  generation  of  urban  designers  for  post-­‐carbon  cities  after  the  age  of  oil.  As  when  the  term  “urban  design”  was  coined,  hardly  a  beginning  has  been  made,  but  a  new  era  is  in  the  making.    
  • Working  paper      AcknowledgementsSpecial thanks to Grady Clay and Judith McCandless; Mathew Crane; Marguerite Gilpatric; Daniel Lerch; DarwinStapleton and Michele Hiltzik of the Rockefeller Archive Center; and Joan Shigekawa and Darren Walker of theRockefeller Foundation.Notes1 Lewis Mumford, “Introduction,” Toward New Towns for America (1951) (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989), 11.2 Peter L. Laurence, “The Death and Life of Urban Design: Jane Jacobs, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the NewResearch in Urbanism,” Journal of Urban Design 11 (Jun. 2006), 145-72.3 Rockefeller Foundation, Annual Report, 1929 (NY: Rockefeller Foundation), 259-60.4 Charles B. Fahs, Interview with John B. Ely, Jul. 24, 1953 (RF RG 1.2, MIT City Planning, Series 200R, Box 375,Folder 3330.30) Rockefeller Foundation Archives, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, NY (hereafter RAC).5 Charles B. Fahs, Interview with MIT Architecture and Planning Faculty, Sept. 18, 1953, ibid. DArms, E. F. and L. C.Devinney, Interview with MIT Architecture and Planning Faculty, Feb. 17, 1954, ibid. T6 Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Division, Grant Report for MIT Lynch-Kepes City Planning Study (RF 54034),Apr. 7, 1954, ibid.7 Peter L. Laurence, “Urban Design Criticism: Jane Jacobs and the Development of American Architectural Criticismand Urban Design Theory, 1935-1965” (PhD Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania), unpublished.8 AF Chadbourne Gilpatric, Interview with Jane Jacobs, Jun. 4, 1958 (RF RG 1.2 Series 200R, Box 390, Folder 3380)Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.9 Chadbourne Gilpatric, Interview with Jane Jacobs, May 9, 1958, ibid.10 David Crane, “A Working Paper for The University of Pennsylvania Conference on Urban Design Criticism” (RFRG 1.2, University of Pennsylvania-Community Planning Conference, October 1958-61, Ser 200, Box 457, File 3904)Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC, 7.11 Ibid, 1.12 [William L.C. Wheaton], University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Studies, “A Proposal to the RockefellerFoundation for a Conference on Criticism in Urban Design,” Jun. 12, 1958, ibid, 2. R13 Crane, “Working Paper,” 2.14 Ibid, 6.15 Jill Pearlman discusses the shift from civic design to urban design at Harvard GSD in “Breaking Common Ground:Joseph Hudnut and the Prehistory of Urban Design,” Josep Lluís Sert, The Architect of Urban Design, 1953-1969, EricMumford and Hashim Sarkis, eds. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 118. See also, David Gosling, The DEvolution of American Urban Design (Chichester, England: Wiley-Academy, 2003) and Eric Mumford, DefiningUrban Design: CIAM Architects and the Formation of a Discipline, 1937-69 (New Haven: Yale University Press,2009).16 Ann Strong and George Thomas, The Book of the School: 100 Years of the Graduate School of Fine Arts of theUniversity of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Graduate School of Fine Arts), 141.17 Wheaton, “Proposal,” 1.18 Crane, “Working Paper,” 7-8.19 [D. A. Crane, G. H. Perkins, W. L. C. Wheaton], Program for University of Pennsylvania Conference on UrbanDesign Criticism (RF RG 1.2, University of Pennsylvania-Community Planning Conference, October 1958-61, Ser200, Box 457, File 3905) Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.20 Chadbourne Gilpatric, Report to Rockefeller Foundation Directors on Conference on Urban Design Criticism, July23, 1959 (RF RG 1.2, University of Pennsylvania-Community Planning Conference, October 1958-61, Ser 200, Box457, File 3904) Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC.21 [David Crane], “Possible Measures,” Oct. 4, 1958 (RF RG 1.2, University of Pennsylvania-Community PlanningConference, October 1958-61, Ser 200, Box 457, File 3905) Rockefeller Foundation Archives, RAC, 1.22 Grady Clay, “The University of Pennsylvania Conference on Urban Design Criticism,” Journal of the AmericanInstitute of Architects 31 (Jan. 1959), 27. Gilpatric’s use of the phrase “great cities” likely had an influence of the titleof Jane Jacobs’ forthcoming book.23 Crane, “Working Paper,” 6.24 Clay, “Conference,” 27.25 Crane, “Possible Measures,” 1-2.
  • Working  paper  26 Crane, “Working Paper,” [Gilpatric letter to Wheaton, Jun. 17, 1958], 2.27 Ibid, 13.28 Clay, “Conference,” 27.29 Crane, “Working Paper,” 11, 21; Clay, “Conference,” 26, 27. The sentiments expressed at the Conference on UrbanDesign Criticism likely helped incited Jane Jacobs to public activism after the Conference on Urban Design Criticismand the publication of Death and Life. Her professional criticism and public activism were more subdued prior to theconference.30 Gilpatric, “Report,” 1.31 Grady Clay, Letter to Helen Horowitz, Jan. 25, 1996 (Personal papers of Grady Clay, courtesy of Grady Clay). T AF R D