Humanism and Cities

Check out The Open University’s podcast series on “Understanding Cities” (also available through itunes / itunesU): This episode on “Humanism and Cities” features interviews with such thinkers as Nigel Thrift, Saskia Sassen, Ash Amin and focuses on whether a city can be reduced to economics alone… (7 min.)

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Urban Voices: Jane Jacobs

Interest in Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) is hardly on the wane… a new scholarly edited volume on her legacy is due out this year (2012) titled The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs edited by Diane Zahm and Sonia Hirt and featuring an essay by Saskia Sassen. There’s also an instructive/educational video with a similar title Jane Jacobs’ Urban Wisdom (It is fairly basic, but includes interviews with Jacobs).

Although the notion of the city as an organism had been used by 19th-century planners (Haussmann, Cerdà), Jacobs recuperated it while arguing that the city was too complex of an organism to be reduced to a static plan. See her classic work The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

A Brief Building History: Madrid’s Torres KIO / Torres de Europa

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This photo shows the building(s) while still under construction–an essay by Malcolm Compitello notes “the original plan for the building dates from the mid-1980s. The architectural design was entrusted to the architectural firm of Burgee, Johnson and Associates known for their design of large buildings. Perhaps their most famous and controversial work is the firm’s initial entry into the realm of the grand postmodern, the AT&T Tower in New York. The elaboration of the plan for the work, the first inclined high-rise towers ever designed, was entrusted to Leslie E. Robertson and Associates. LERA is the New York-based structural engineering firm that has engineered the majority of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Torres Picasso in Madrid.”

See the original article here, and the building also plays a central role in the film El día de la bestia/The Day of the Beast (1995) by Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia. (a great cult classic)