This blog will look at urban conditions and form today, as well as historical precedents that have relevance on today’s cities and urban design.  In particular, the blog will look at alternatives to the tenets of urbanism as developed by the early Modern movement, that often infiltrate our ideas about cities today in simplistic, often limiting and destructive, ways. By writing about these notions of Modernism in planning and urban design, whether in contemporary surveys of urbanism and the history of cities, or many of the rich pre-Modern explorations of urban form, this blog intends to highlight these areas worthy of exploration and discussion.

As an architect and urban designer, I believe in the intersection of buildings and urban form, and that this space between buildings should be a vibrant area of study and practice.  How people move through cities, how architecture defines urban conditions, how layers of urban infrastructure affect the lives of a city’s inhabitants- these are all essential issues today. Decades of suburban sprawl development created new patterns and forms that fundamentally altered how we live, and the role of our cities.  After decades of cities and suburbs being built on autopilot through the thoughtless application of zoning codes and the single-minded emphasis on traffic engineering at the expense of all else, new concepts of city-building are emerging, and some traditional ones rediscovered. The importance of sustainability, the (re)emergence of the value of infrastructure, the need for housing, the renewed public desire for public spaces, and the effects of globalization, all affect the way we think about, and produce, our cities today.

John Dutton

Dutton Architects, USC School of Architecture