Most of us would probably agree that we really screwed up our cities in the 1950s and 1960s. Between uncontrolled suburbanization, urban renewal, the destruction of public transportation, white flight, etc., the city became almost nightmarish by the 1980s. Maybe longtime residents and writers like D.J. Waldie can find beautiful things in horrible suburbs like Lakewood, California, but a lot of people can’t.
Obviously, many cities have come a long ways since then. But we constructed a lot of cities during those years that had a real short shelf-life. As people’s urban values changed, they were quite literally constructed in ways that would make continued relevance difficult.
This didn’t only happen in the United States. And in Kiryat Gat, Israel, MIT and Tel Aviv University are cooperating on a project to rejuvenate this little-loved city. That’s fine, I’m sure they are doing some cool things. But I do worry about phrases like this:
Next up for the MIT and Tel Aviv students: working on final presentations, and then hopefully publishing their findings. “Some of the studies we’re generating are these typological interventions,” says Wheeler. “They could be implemented in other places in just about any context.”
The totalizing mentality here hasn’t served urban spaces very well in the past. Urban renewal “could be implemented in other places in just about any context” too. I distrust anyone who claims to have a one-size fits all idea about creating cities. I may be overblowing this, but it definitely caught my attention.