Oculus Book Review: “Happy City” by Charles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery’s book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), is essentially a mind mapping of the current issues, policies, and conundrums of the North American urban design landscape. Montgomery deftly balances the likes of Socrates, Aristotle, a variety of sociologists, politicians, psychologists, and a hand full of architects and urban designers to gauge and assess the city via various forms of happiness data. He uses a dizzying array of personal anecdotes, and takes the reader through city after exurb after cul-de-sac to illustrate the dire straits that Americans, in particular, are in. While I admire the stylistic attempt to weave together these many disciplines, the result feels confusing and a bit too polite. Continue reading “Oculus Book Review: “Happy City” by Charles Montgomery”

Oculus Book Review: “Architecture in Uniform” by Jean-Louis Cohen

Mid-way through Jean-Louis Cohen’s lecture at the Center for Architecture regarding his most recent book Architecture in Uniform, he dropped his notes. With a gallant flourish of the hand he pronounced, “It’s okay, I know the story.” And that he does. Cohen’s text is an impressive account of the missing entry of architectural history – the Second World War. Cohen adeptly fills this gap with account after account of not so much the impressive architecture or engineering that went on during the mobilization on all fronts, but the architectural thinking that was manifested during this time. Architects were in all facets of the conflict, at the top, bottom, and in-between. After a number of dormant years for building during the Depression, the act of war seemed to unleash architects’ imagination. Continue reading “Oculus Book Review: “Architecture in Uniform” by Jean-Louis Cohen”

Oculus Quick Take: “How to Study Public Life”

On 02.05.14, Miguel Angel Baltierra, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, interviewed Jan Gehl, founder of Gehl Architects, and Birgitte Svarre, project manager at Gehl Architects, authors of How to Study Public Life, published by Island Press and reviewed by Annie Coggan in this issue of e-Oculus. Listen to the interview here.