Friday, June 4, 2010

Dan Solomon on Sprawl - which he calls the "Second-Era Town"

In his book Rebuilding, Daniel Solomon sketches out the dilemmas of sprawl, which he refers to as the ''second-era town,'' in his essay ''Two Eras.''
There are five major ways in which the second era town is different from the first era town – five ways in which the second era town is deficient
FIRST The second-era town wrecks the landscape, both natural and man-made. The blurred distinction between countryside and town only demeans both. In many parts of California there is no longer countryside or town.
SECOND The second-era town devours resources – gasoline, land, air, infrastructure.
THIRD As the second-era town becomes more and more congested and as universal mobility chokes itself, people's time is consumed in terrible ways.
FOURTH Because it is built in such large chunks, the second-era town discriminates against everyone who is not in a ''market sector.'' The big world of Planned Unit Developments does not make odd little corners for people who find them congenial. It is by nature homogenizing and intolerant.
FIFTH Perhaps worst of all, the sanitized anti-urban world of the second era is a place of diminished experience and diminished insight for its inhabitants. …To experience the immediacy of the particular, one must walk without locks or security guards. The predictable and edited human encounters of the shopping mall, the office park and the condo rec-room are to daily life what Club Med is to travel.
Source Rebuilding by Daniel Solomon (1992 Princeton Architectural Press).
(Daniel Solomon, FAIA, is an author and architect with WRT|Solomon E.T.C. based in San Francisco. He is a co-founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism)