Books

Bookshelves for the urbanistWhile many of us may instinctively know what we like about a city, articulating that is a different matter.  The hundred or so books listed below represent a wide variety of voices and thinkers on what it take to build a great city.

All of the links below go to Amazon.com (as many of the books are not available on the Canadian site) and have the OurYXE affiliate tag embedded inside it.  Not only are you buying an excellent book but you are also supporting OurYXE in a small way.  We appreciate it!

Sustainable Communities | Sim Van der Ryn and Peter Calthorpe
Presents four case studies that serve as illustrations for discussions of land use, building design, and service systems, all shaped to promote limited dependence on fossil fuels.
Design with Nature | Ian McHarg
In the twenty-five years since it first took the academic world by storm, Design With Nature has done much to redefine the fields of landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and ecological design. It has also left a permanent mark on the ongoing discussion of mankind’s place in nature and nature’s place in mankind within the physical sciences and humanities. Described by one enthusiastic reviewer as a “user’s manual for our world,” Design With Nature offers a practical blueprint for a new, healthier relationship between the built environment and nature. In so doing, it provides nothing less than the scientific, technical, and philosophical foundations for a mature civilization that will, as Lewis Mumford ecstatically put it in his Introduction to the 1969 edition, “replace the polluted, bulldozed, machine-dominated, dehumanized, explosion-threatened world that is even now disintegrating and disappearing before our eyes.
Ecocities | Richard Register
In the twenty-five years since it first took the academic world by storm, Design With Nature has done much to redefine the fields of landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and ecological design. It has also left a permanent mark on the ongoing discussion of mankind’s place in nature and nature’s place in mankind within the physical sciences and humanities. Described by one enthusiastic reviewer as a “user’s manual for our world,” Design With Nature offers a practical blueprint for a new, healthier relationship between the built environment and nature. In so doing, it provides nothing less than the scientific, technical, and philosophical foundations for a mature civilization that will, as Lewis Mumford ecstatically put it in his Introduction to the 1969 edition, “replace the polluted, bulldozed, machine-dominated, dehumanized, explosion-threatened world that is even now disintegrating and disappearing before our eyes.”
Highline: the Inside Story of New York City’s Park In The Sky | David and Hammond
The High Line, a new park atop an elevated rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side, is among the most innovative urban reclamation projects in memory. The story of how it came to be is a remarkable one: two young citizens with no prior experience in planning and development collaborated with their neighbors, elected officials, artists, local business owners, and leaders of burgeoning movements in horticulture and landscape architecture to create a park celebrated worldwide as a model for creatively designed, socially vibrant, ecologically sound public space
The Geography of Nowhere | James Howard Kunstler

The Geography of Nowhere traces America’s evolution from a nation of Main Streets and coherent communities to a land where every place is like no place in particular, where the cities are dead zones and the countryside is a wasteland of cartoon architecture and parking lots.

In elegant and often hilarious prose, Kunstler depicts our nation’s evolution from the Pilgrim settlements to the modern auto suburb in all its ghastliness. The Geography of Nowhere tallies up the huge economic, social, and spiritual costs that America is paying for its car-crazed lifestyle. It is also a wake-up call for citizens to reinvent the places where we live and work, to build communities that are once again worthy of our affection. Kunstler proposes that by reviving civic art and civic life, we will rediscover public virtue and a new vision of the common good. “The future will require us to build better places,” Kunstler says, “or the future will belong to other people in other societies.”

Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination | Lance Berelowitz

A well-illustrated overview of Vancouver’s emerging urban form: the fascinating story behind its buildings, public spaces and extraordinary landscapes, and the cultural values that are rapidly merging these into a unique city.

Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future | Matt Hern
If we want to preserve what’s still left of the natural world, we need to stop using so much of it. And, says veteran environmental activist Matt Hern, cities are the best chance we have left for a truly ecological future . . . but what does it take to make a truly sustainable city?
Building Barcelona | Peter Rowe
The Spanish city of Barcelona is home to some of the most challenging architecture on the planet. Featuring many examples of Gaud”s best work alongside masterworks by international architects including Mies van der Rohe, Josep Lluis Sert, Rafael Moneo,Luis Barragn, Arata Isozaki, Arup & Partners, Richard Meier and Jean Nouvel, the city is now one of the primary destinations for architecture tourists everywhere. In this page-turner of an architecture and urban-planning book, renowned architect and critic Peter G. Rowe, whose work focuses on the evolving cultural conditions of modernity in the built environment, singles out key buildings and historical milestones that have helped to mold the city.
Cities Back from the Edge: New Life For Downtown | Roberta Brandes Gratz and Norman Mintz
“A love song for the city . . . [this] volume, attractively packaged and richly illustrated, is really a cookbook for downtown revitalization.” –Wall Street Journal In this pioneering book on successful urban recovery, two urban experts draw on their firsthand observations of downtown change across the country to identify a flexible, effective approach to urban rejuvenation. From transportation planning and sprawl containment to the threat of superstore retailers, they address a host of key issues facing our cities today.
Urban Design and the Bottom Line: Optimizing the Return on Perception | Dennis Jerke, Douglas Porter, Terry Lassar
Using verifiable figures and drawing on professional experience, this argument for the “dividend” generated from high-quality, preinvestment design investigates the benefits and impact of good design upon all facets of an urban area—the community, businesses, employees, the general public, city officials, and the developer.
Delirious New York | Rem Koolhaas
Since its original publication in 1978, Delirious New York has attained mythic status. Back in print in a newly designed edition, this influential cultural, architectural, and social history of New York is even more popular, selling out its first printing on publication. Rem Koolhaas’s celebration and analysis of New York depicts the city as a metaphor for the incredible variety of human behavior. At the end of the nineteenth century, population, information, and technology explosions made Manhattan a laboratory for the invention and testing of a metropolitan lifestyle — “the culture of congestion” — and its architecture.
Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg | Bartley Kives and Bryon Scott
Desired and reviled, adulated and condemned, Winnipeg inspires intense and contradictory emotions from residents, visitors and people who have never even ventured within wading distance of the Manitoba capital. The city at the centre of North America inspires a profound sense of ambivalence, stuck as it is between a colourful and triumphant early history, a long period of 20th-Century decline and an uncertain if optimistic future. Stuck in the Middle finds photographer Bryan Scott and journalist Bartley Kives exploring the geography, design and reputation of the only city they have ever truly known, loved and hated. With vicious honesty and intense affection, Scott and Kives expose Winnipeg”s beautiful and conflicted soul for the rest of the world to admire and detest and ultimately ignore.
The Shape of the City: Toronto Struggles with Modern Planning | John Sewell
Sprawl Repair Manual | Galina Tachieva
Public Sydney: Drawing the City | Thalis and Cantrill
Agricultural Urbanism | Janine de la Salle and Mark Holland
Learning from Las Vegas | Robert Venturi et al
Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities | Southworth and Ben-Joseph
Cities and Natural Process | Michael Hough
Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture | Witold Rybczynski
The Principles of Green Urbanism: Transforming the City for Sustainability | Steffen Lehmann
Smart Cities | Anthony Townsend
Civilizing American Cities | Frederick Law Olmsted
City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age | P.D. Smith
The New City | John Lorinc
Designing Community: Charrettes,Master Plans and Form-Based Codes | David Walters
The Option of Urbanism | Christopher Leinberger
City Making in Paradise: Nine Decisions that Saved Vancouver | Mike Harcourt and Ken Cameron
The Wealth of Cities | John Norquist
The Geography of Hope | Chris Turner
The Great Good Place | Ray Oldenburg
Urban Code: 100 Lessons for Understanding the City | Mikoleit & Purckhauer
The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space | Don Mitchell
The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development | Hank Dittmar and Gloria Ohland
The Fractured Metropolis | Jonathan Barnett
Walking Home: the Life and Lessons of a City Builder | Ken Greenberg
Wrestling with Moses | Anthony Flint
E-Topia: “Urban Life, Jim – But Not As We Know It” | William Mitchell (& City of Bits)
The Next American Metropolis | Peter Calthorpe
Grand Urban Rules | Alex Lehnerer
The Language of Towns and Cities: A Visual Dictionary | Dhiru Thadani
Public Places Urban Spaces: The Dimensions of Urban Design | Matthew Carmona, Tim Heath, Taner Oc, Steve Tiesdell
Cities are Good for You: the Genius of the Metropolis | Leo Hollis
Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change | Peter Calthorpe
A Country of Cities: a Manifesto for an Urban America | Vishaan Chakrabarti
Urban Design Downtown: Poetics and Politics of Form | Loukaitou-Sideris & Banerjee
The Pedestrian Pocketbook: a New Suburban Design Strategy | Doug Kelbaugh
The Old Way of Seeing | Jonathan Hale
Green Metropolis | David Owen
City Comforts: How to Build and Urban Village | David Sucher
Global City Blues | Daniel Solomon
People Places: Design Guidelines for Urban Open Space | Cooper Marcus & Francis
Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs | Dunham-Jones and Williamson
Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities | Patrick Condon
The New Civic Art | Duany, Plater-Zyberk & Alminana
Sustainable Transportation Planning | Jeffrey Tumlin
Triumph of the City | Edward Glaeser
Who’s Your City | Richard Florida
Perverse Cities | Pamela Blais
The Public Face of Architecture: Civic Culture and Public Spaces | Nathan Glazer and Mark Lilla
Cities of Tomorrow | Peter Hall
Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature | Douglas Farr
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things | McDonough and Braungart
Visualizing Density | Julie Campoli and Alex MacLean
Suburban Nation | Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck
Eco-Urbanity: Towards Well Mannered Built Environments | Darko Radovic
Le Pieton Dans la Ville/Walking in the City: Sharing Public Space | Jean-Jacques Terrin
Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being and Sustainability | Dannenberg et al
Good City Form | Kevin Lynch
The Vancouver Achievement | John Punter
Livable Streets | Donald Appleyard
The City in History | Lewis Mumford (and The Culture of Cities, The Highway and the City, The Urban Prospect, etc)
Town Spaces | Rob Krier
Urban Space by Rob Krier
Rise of the Creative Class | Richard Florida
New Design Cities | Commerce Design Montreal
Design for Ecological Democracy | Randolph Hester
The American Vitruvius: An Architects Handbook of Civic Art | Hegemann and Peets
Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change | Reid Ewing, Keith Bartholomew, Steve Winkelman, Jerry Walters, and Don Chen
The Great Reset | Richard Florida
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design | Charles Montgomery
The Power Broker – Robert Moses and the Fall of New York | Robert A. Caro
The High Cost of Free Parking | Donald Shoup
Straphanger: Saving our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile | Taras Grescoe
Human Transit | Jarrett Walker
City Cycling | Pucher & Buehler
Walkable City | Jeff Speck
Cerdà and the Barcelona of the Future: Reality versus Project | Ajuntament de Barcelona
Modern Civic Art, or The City Made Beautiful | Charles Mulford Robinson
Cities and the Wealth of Nations | Jane Jacobs
The City Shaped Spiro Kostof
The Creative City | Charles Landry
Town Planning in Practice | Raymond Unwin
Life Between Buildings | Jan Gehl
The Image of the City | Kevin Lynch
Townscape | Gordon Cullen
The Art of Building Cities | Camillo Sitte
A Pattern Language | Christopher Alexander et al (& his whole series, including A New Theory of Urban Design; The Timeless Way of Building, etc.)
City: Rediscovering The Center | William H. Whyte (includes its smaller predecessor, “the Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”)
Great Streets | Allan Jacobs
The Death and Life of Great American Cities | Jane Jacobs
The Art of City Making | Charles Landry
City-making is an art, not a formula. The skills required to re-enchant the city are far wider than the conventional ones like architecture, engineering and land-use planning. There is no simplistic, ten-point plan, but strong principles can help send good city-making on its way. The vision for 21st century cities must be to be the most imaginative cities for the world rather than in the world. This one change of word – from ‘in’ to ‘for’ – gives city-making an ethical foundation and value base. It helps cities become places of solidarity where the relations between the individual, the group, outsiders to the city and the planet are in better alignment. Following the widespread success of The Creative City, this new book, aided by international case studies, explains how to reassess urban potential so that cities can strengthen their identity and adapt to the changing global terms of trade and mass migration. It explores the deeper fault-lines, paradoxes and strategic dilemmas that make creating the ‘good city’ so difficult.
Cities for People | Jan Gehl

For more than forty years Jan Gehl has helped to transform urban environments around the world based on his research into the ways people actually use—or could use—the spaces where they live and work. In this revolutionary book, Gehl presents his latest work creating (or recreating) cityscapes on a human scale. He clearly explains the methods and tools he uses to reconfigure unworkable cityscapes into the landscapes he believes they should be: cities for people.

Taking into account changing demographics and changing lifestyles, Gehl emphasizes four human issues that he sees as essential to successful city planning. He explains how to develop cities that are Lively, Safe, Sustainable, and Healthy. Focusing on these issues leads Gehl to think of even the largest city on a very small scale. For Gehl, the urban landscape must be considered through the five human senses and experienced at the speed of walking rather than at the speed of riding in a car or bus or train. This small-scale view, he argues, is too frequently neglected in contemporary projects.