1.) When we think about cities today-- composed of a lack of infrastructure, submerged in violent social conflict, bullied by organized crime and sacrificed in the use of high walls, billboards, wide streets parking garages-- the issues discussed in this book seem very far from modern problems. I was skeptical upon reading the book for the first time. However, I can attain that it is our task to give a new meaning to our cities, a meaning which might transcend the conventional aim of fulfilling our everyday duties. The rituals analyzed by Rykwert seem to have this recurring issue of harmonization between the cosmos and the earth, the sacrificed and the mundane, the city and the environment, citizens and institutions, and most importantly, citizens themselves. Harmonization seems to be the key in reestablishing our cities in unity with civilized human experience, as an essential part of our culture.
2.) If harmonization seems to be the key to reestablishing our cities, then how are we as urban designers supposed to A.) address the issues and B.) propose a solution? If the cause of this transformation from harmony to isolation seems to be the age of reason, the Enlightenment, and scientific progress, then is Rykwert suggesting that harmonization is a thing of the past or we must transcend to a new era of social reform?
The Neutral City
3.) I agree with Sennett in that the modern urbanist is in the grip of a protestant ethic of space. The square that once served as a center is no longer a reference point for generating new space. The grid seems to be ideal because it allows for pre-determined units of space to be the measurements of our environment. No longer do modern urbanist resort to the land to dictate their design. The grid forms a natural environment of endless, mindless geometric division. People living within the grid become oblivious to the environment around them and disoriented in their ability to see and evaluate relationships. The grid that we use today is a prototype for urban development because it is a safe and practical solution to an unrecognized problem. Modern urbanists must be able to recognize this problem in the first place before we can begin to address more appropriate solutions.
The Economy of Cities
4.) I believe agriculture is the most primitive form of land development. Industrialization, in most cases, increases agricultural production and provides technology and machinery to rural communities. However, industrialization can also hurt agriculture. Goods that were once produced in farms can now be produced in factories. New machinery and technology makes the work of two men the work of one. Where Jacobs sees the advantages of cities on rural communities, I see the disadvantages. As a result of industry, unskilled laborers move to the city in search for a job with little or no experience in industry and manufacturing and find themselves jobless and worse than before.
5.) The city, as we have mentioned last week, relies on industry and technology to develop new solutions to address population growth and to improve culture. We have noted examples of underdeveloped, over-populated cities that suffer from the lack of industry and technology to advance the economic and social standing of the city. We have also noted how agriculture in Japan, for example, has greatly benefited from industrialization in the city. Can we rely solely on industry and technology to maintain urbanization and an efficient economy within the city? From what Jacobs points out, it seems as if industry is the primary factor in recognizing urbanization within the city.
Brandon E. Young