4.241J | Spring 2013 | Graduate

Theory of City Form


Listed in the table below are recommended readings for the lectures.

Background readings (PDF) for each lecture are also available to provide a broader context, as well as a general bibliography (PDF) with additional references.

1 Introduction

Lynch, Kevin. “The Nature of City Form.” (draft)

Buy at MIT Press ———. “Is a General Normative Theory Possible?” Chapter 5 in Good City Form. MIT Press, 1984, pp. 111–20. ISBN: 9780262620468. [Preview with Google Books]

Section One: The Nature of City Form Theory
2 Normative Theory I: The City as Supernatural

Beinart, Julian. “Image Construction in Premodern Cities.” In Imaging the City: Continuing Struggles and New Directions. Edited by Lawrence J. Vale and Jr., Sam Bass Warner. Center for Urban Policy Research, 2001, pp. 3–32. ISBN: 9780882851709.

Rykwert, Joseph. “The Parallels.” Chapter 5 in The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World. MIT Press, 1988, pp. 163–87. ISBN: 9780262680561. [Preview with Google Books]

———. “Conclusion.” In The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World. MIT Press, 1988, pp. 194–203. ISBN: 9780262680561. [Preview with Google Books]

Wright, A. F. “The Cosmology of the Chinese City.” In The City in Late Imperial China. Edited by G. W. Skinner. Stanford University Press, 1977, pp. 33–74. ISBN: 9780804708920.

3 Normative Theory II: The City as Machine

Sennett, Richard. “The Neutral City.” Chapter 2 in The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities. W. W. Norton & Company, 1992, pp. 41–68. ISBN: 9780393308785.

Collins, George R. “The Linear City.” In Architects Year Book XI: The Pedestrian in the City. Edited by Lewis, D., et al. Elek Books Limited, 1965, pp. 204–17.

4 Normative Theory III: The City as Organism

Alexander, C., H. Neis, et al. Chapters 1–3 in A New Theory of Urban Design. Oxford University Press, 1987, pp. 9–99. ISBN: 9780195037531. [Preview with Google Books]

Geddes, Patrick. “Geddes’ Final Dundee Lecture.” Appendix II in Cities in Evolution: An Introduction to the Town Planning Movement and to the Study of Civics. Edited by The Outlook Tower Association and The Association for Planning and Regional Reconstruction. University of Michigan Library, 1915, pp. 214–30.

Hakim, Besim M. “Julian of Ascalon’s Treatise of Construction and Design Rules from Sixth-Century Palestine.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 60, no. 1 (2001): 4–25.

5 Descriptive and Functional Theory

Richardson, H. W. “Antecedents.” Chapter 2 in The New Urban Economics: and Alternatives. Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1980, pp. 7_–_30. ISBN: 9780850860580.

Buy at MIT Press Krugman, Paul. “Geography Lost and Found.” Chapter 2 in Development, Geography, and Economic Theory. MIT Press, 1997, pp. 31–59. ISBN: 9780262611350. [Preview with Google Books]

6 Dimensions, Patterns, Agreements, Structure, and Syntax

Alexander, C., S. Ishikawa, and M. Silverstein. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. ix–xl. ISBN: 9780195019193. [Preview with Google Books]

Habraken, N. John. “The Control of Complexity.” (PDF - 2.4MB) Places 4, no. 2 (1987): 3–15.

Hillier, W., Julienne Hanson, and John Peponis. “Syntactic Analysis of Settlements.” Architecture et Comportement (Architecture and Behavior) 3, no. 3 (1987): 217–31.

Buy at MIT Press Lynch, Kevin. “Dimensions of Performance.” Chapter 6 in Good City Form. MIT Press, 1984, pp. 111–20. ISBN: 9780262620468. [Preview with Google Books]

Martin, Leslie. “The Grid As Generator.” (PDF - 1.2MB) In Urban Space and Structures. Edited by Lionel March and Leslie Martin. Cambridge University Press, 1975, pp. 6–27. ISBN: 9780521099349.

Section Two: The Form of the Modern City
7 The Early Cities of Capitalism

Clark, Gregory. “Introduction: The Sixteen-Page Economic History of the World.” Chapter 1 in A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press, 2008, pp. 2–17. ISBN: 9780691141282 .

Engels, Friedrich. “The Great Towns.” Chapter 3 in The Condition of the Working Class in England. Translated and edited by W. H. Henderson and W. O. Chaloner. Stanford University Press, 1958, pp. 30–87. ISBN: 9780804706346.

Williams, Raymond. “Enclosures, Commons, and Communities.” Chapter 10 in The Country and the City. Oxford University Press, 1975, pp. 96–134. ISBN: 9780195198102. [Preview with Google Books]

8 Transformations I: London

Beinart, Julian. “Form and Application in the XIXth Century City.” In Rethinking XIXth Century City. Edited by Attilio Petruccioli. The Aga Khan program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998, pp. 13–28.

Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. Riverhead Trade, 2007, pp. 1–55. ISBN: 9781594482694.

Weinberg, David Selwyn. “The Social Relations of Living: London 1830s–1880s.” Thesis paper. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1974, pp. 45–53, and 82–114.

9 Transformations II: Paris

Harvey, David. “Materializations: Paris 1848–1870.” Part 2 in Paris, Capital of Modernity. Routledge, 2005, pp. 91–105. ISBN: 9780415952200.

Benjamin, Walter. “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century.” In Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Edited by Peter Demetz. Schocken, 1986, pp. 146–62. ISBN: 9780805208023.

Buy at MIT Press Rasmussen, Steen Eiler. Town and Buildings. MIT Press, 1969, pp. 55–64, 103–16, and 160–71. ISBN: 9780262680110. [Preview with Google Books]

10 Transformations III: Vienna and Barcelona

Schorske, Carl. “The Ringstrasse, Its Critics, and the Birth of Urban Modernsim.” Chapter II in Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture. Vintage, 1980, pp. 24–110. ISBN: 9780394744780.

Aibar, Eduardo, and Wiebe E. Bijker. “Constructing a City: The Cerdà Plan for the Extension of Barcelona.” (PDF) Science Technology Human Values 22, no. 1 (1997): 3–30.

11 Transformations IV: Chicago

Hoyt, Homer. “The Land Boom of the First Skyscrapers and the First World’s Fair, 1878–98.” Chapter IV in One Hundred Years of Land Planning in Chicago: the Relationship of the growth of Chicago to the rise of Its land Values, 1830–1933. Beard Books, 2000, pp. 128–40. ISBN: 9781587980169. [Preview with Google Books]

Wrigley Jr., Robert L. “Plan of Chicago: Its Fiftieth Anniversary.” Journal of the American Planning Association 26, no. 1 (1960): 31–8.

12 Transformations V: Panopticism, St. Petersburg and Berlin

Evans, Robins. “Bentham’s Panopticon.” Architectural Association Quarterly, 1971, pp. 21–37.

Friedman, David. “Palaces and the Street in Late-Medieval and Renaissance Italy.” In Urban Landscapes: International Perspectives. Edited by J. W. R. Whitehand and P. J. Larkham. Routledge, 1992, pp. 69–113. ISBN: 9780415070744.

Speer, Albert. “The Greatest Assignment.” Chapter 6 in Inside the Third Reich. Simon & Schuster, 1997, pp. 71–82. ISBN: 9780684829494.

———. “The Greatest Assignment.” Chapter 10 in Inside the Third Reich. Simon & Schuster, 1997, pp. 132–50. ISBN: 9780684829494.

13 Utopianism as Social Reform and Built Form

Buy at MIT Press Benevolo, L. Origins of Modern Town Planning. MIT Press, 1971, pp. 39–84. ISBN: 9780262520188.

Buy at MIT Press Hayden, D. Chapter 4 in Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790–1975. MIT Press, 1979. ISBN: 9780262580373.

Ciucci, G. “The City in Agrarian Ideology and Frank Lloyd Wright; Origins and Development of Broad Acres.” In The American City: From the Civil War to the New Deal. MIT Press, 1983, pp. 352–75. ISBN: 9780262530446.

Sorkin, M. “Eutopia Now!Harvard Design Magazine, Fall/Winter 2009/2010, 6–21.

Tod, I., and M. Wheeler. “The Architect as Visionary.” In Utopia. Orbis Publishing, 1978, pp. 127–47.

14 20th Century Realizations: Russian and Great Britain

Kopp, A. Town and Revolution: Soviet Architecture and City Planning, 1917–1935. Translated by Thomas E. Burton. George Braziller, 1970, pp. 163–86. ISBN: 9780807605547.

Hall, P. “The Planned Communities.” Chapter 10 in The Containment of Urban England. Allen & Unwin, 1977, pp. 329–59. ISBN: 9780043520666.

March, L. “Why have New Towns?” New Society, June 8, 1972.

Section Three: Current Theory and Practice
15 City Form and Process

Buy at MIT Press Lynch, K. “What is the Form of a City, and How Is It Made?” Chapter 2 in A Theory of Good City Form. MIT Press, 1984. ISBN: 9780262620468. [Preview with Google Books]

McCarthy, T., Temko, A., et al. “Buildings Are Judgment II.” Ramparts, May 1975, 53–5.

Lyndon, D., and M. Buchanan, and Architects Associated. “At the Edge of Public Housing.” Space and Society 22.

16 Spatial & Social Structure I: Theory

Buy at MIT Press Lynch, K. “Environmental Change and Social Change.” Chapter 9 in What Time is this Place? MIT Press, 1976, pp. 215–23. ISBN: 9780262620321.

Saunders, P. “The Urban as Ideology.” Chapter 5 in Social Theory and the Urban Question. Routledge, 1986, pp. 152–239. ISBN: 9780415091169.

Beinart, J. “Resurrecting Jerusalem.” In The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster. Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 181–210. ISBN: 9780195175837.

17 Spatial & Social Structure II: Bipolarity

Beinart, J. “Government-built Cities and People-made Places.” In The Growth of Cities. Edited by David Lewis. Wiley-Interscience, 1971, pp. 185–207. ISBN: 9780471531982.

Lynch, K., and Appleyard. D. Temporary Paradise? A Look at the Special Landscape of the San Diego Region. Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1974.

18 Spatial & Social Structure III: Colony and Post-colony

Frontado, G. “La Leyes de Indias: Observations of its Influence on the Structure of Physical Space in the Latin American Cities.” MIT Thesis, January 1980, pp. 14–59.

King, A. “The Language of Colonial Urbanisation.” Chapter 4 in Colonial Urban Development: Culture, Social Power, and Environment. Routledge, 2010, pp. 68–96. ISBN: 9780415611664.

19 Form Models I: Modern and Post-modern Urbanism

Buy at MIT Press Mumford, E. “The Functional City.” In The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928–1960. MIT Press, 2000, pp. 59–130. ISBN: 9780262133647.

Sert, J. L. “Man and the City.” Part 15 and Appendix in Can Our Cities Survive? An ABC of Urban Problems, Their Analysis, Their Solutions. Harvard University Press, 1942, pp. 227–49.

Buy at MIT Press Rowe, C., and F. Koetter. Collage City. MIT Press, 1984. ISBN: 9780262680424. [Preview with Google Books]

Koolhaas, R. “What Ever Happened to Urbanism?” In S, M, L, XL. Monacelli Press, 1998, pp. 959–71. ISBN: 9781885254863.

20 Form Models II: Open-endedness and Prophecy

Beinart, J. “From Olympia to Barcelona: Themes of Permanence and Transience.” Spacio e Società 50 (1990): 34–54.

Cowan, P. “Studies in the Growth, Change and Ageing of Buildings.” Transactions of the Bartlett Society 1 (1963): 55–84.

Smithson, A., ed. Team 10 Primer. MIT Press, 1974, pp. 48–95. ISBN: 9780262690478.

21 Form Models III and IV: Rationality and Memory

Krier, L., and J. Robertson. Houses, Palaces, Cities. Edited by D. Porphyrios. St. Martin’s Press, 1985, pp. 30–49. ISBN: 9780312479909.

Buy at MIT Press Rossi, A. The Architecture of the City. MIT Press, 1984, pp. 21–61, 126–131. ISBN: 9780262680431. [Preview with Google Books]

Filler, M. “Back to Babel.” The New Republic, February 2003, 23–7.

Butterfield, A. “Monuments and Memories.” The New Republic, February 2003, 27–32.

Lowenthal, D. “Knowing the Past.” Chapter 5 in The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 238–59. ISBN: 9780521294805. [Preview with Google Books]

Wieseltier, L. “After Memory.” The New Republic, May 1993, 16–26.

22 Cases I: Public and Private Domains

Gehl, J., and L. Gemzøe. Public Spaces Public Life. Danish Architectural Press, 1996, pp. 78–83. ISBN: 9788774071877.

Sennett, R. “The Public Domain.” Chapter 1 in The Fall of Public Man. W. W. Norton & Company, 1992, pp. 3–27. ISBN: 9780393308792.

Sorkin, M. Introduction in Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space. Hill and Wang, 1992, pp. xi–xv. ISBN: 9780374523145.

23 Cases II: Suburbs and Periphery

Conzen, M. “The Morphology of Nineteenth Century Cities in the United States.” In Urbanization in the Americas: The Background in Comparative Perspective. Edited by W. Borah, J. E. Hardoy, and G. E. Stelter. National Museum of Man, History Division, 1980, pp. 119–41. ISBN: 9780660103495.

Duany, A., E. Plater-Zyberk, and J. Speck. Suburban Nation: the Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. North Point Press, pp. 3–20. ISBN: 9780865477506.

Gordon, P., and H. Richardson. “Prove It: the Costs and Benefits or Sprawl.” (PDF) The Brookings Review 16, no. 4 (1998): 23–5.

24 Cases III: Post-urbanism and Resource Conservation

Fishman, R. “America’s New City: Megalopolis Unbound.” Wilson Quarterly 14 (1990): 24–45.

Graham, S., and S. Marvin. Splintering Urbanism. Routledge, 2001, pp. 217–303.

Webber, M. “Order in Diversity: Community without Propinquity.” Cities and Space: the Future Use of Urban Land. Edited by L. Wingo, Jr. RFF Press, 1963, pp. 23–54. ISBN: 9780801806773.

Meier, R. L., and A. S. M. Abdul Quium. “Planning and Designing New Urban Settlements in Estuaries: Bangladesh.” Landscape and Urban Planning 21, no. 3 (1991): 211–26.

Newman, P., and J. Kenworthy. “The Concept of Sustainability and Its Relationship to Cities.” Chapter 1 in Sustainability in Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence. Island Press, 1999, pp. 1–26. ISBN: 9781559636605.

Pacala, S., and R. Socolow. “Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies.” Science 305, no. 5686 (2004): 968–72.

Van der Ryn, S., and P. Calthorpe. “The New Suburban Fabric.” In Sustainable Communities: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns. Sierra Club Books, 1986, pp. 54–83. ISBN: 9780871568007.

25 Cases IV: Hyper and Mega-urbanism

Devas, N., and C. Rakodi. “The Urban Challenge.” Chapter 1 in Managing Fast Growing Cities: New Approaches to Urban Planning and Management in the Developing World. Longman Group, 1993, pp. 1–40. ISBN: 9780582093041.

———. “Conclusions: Assessing the New Approaches.” Chapter 10 in Managing Fast Growing Cities: New Approaches to Urban Planning and Management in the Developing World. Longman Group United Kingdom, 1993, pp. 265–96. ISBN: 9780582093041.

Pierce, N., and C. Johnson. “New Frontiers for a Global Urban Commons.” Chapter 10 in Century of the City: No Time to Lose. The Rockefeller Foundation, 2008. ISBN: 9780891840725.

Beinart, J. “After the Diagram.” In Le Corbusier: Chandigarh and the Modern City : Insights into the Iconic City Sixty Years Later. Mapin Publishing, 2009, pp. 184–95.

Shoumatoff, A. “The Capital of Hope,” The New Yorker, November 3, 1980.

26 Conclusion: Towards a Theory of City Form No required readings

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