Makeshift Metropolis by Witold Rybczynski
Ideas About Cities

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In this new work, prizewinning author, professor, and Slate architecture critic Witold Rybczynski returns to the territory he knows best: writing about the way people live, just as he did in the acclaimed bestsellers Home and A Clearing in the Distance. In Makeshift Metropolis, Rybczynski has drawn upon a lifetime of observing cities to craft a concise and insightful book that is at once an intellectual history and a masterful critique.

Makeshift Metropolis describes how current ideas about urban planning evolved from the movements that defined the twentieth century, such as City Beautiful, the Garden City, and the seminal ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jane Jacobs. If the twentieth century was the age of planning, we now find ourselves in the age of the market, Rybczynski argues, where entrepreneurial developers are shaping the twenty-first-century city with mixed-use developments, downtown living, heterogeneity, density, and liveliness. He introduces readers to projects like Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Yards in Washington, D.C., and, further afield, to the new city of Modi’in, Israel—sites that, in this age of resource scarcity, economic turmoil, and changing human demands, challenge our notion of the city.

Erudite and immensely engaging, Makeshift Metropolis is an affirmation of Rybczynski’s role as one of our most original thinkers on the way we live today.


About Witold Rybczynski

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Witold Rybczynski is the author of ten books, including Home, City Life, and the national bestseller A Clearing in the Distance, for which he won a Christopher Award and J. Anthony Lukas Prize. He is a regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Review of Books. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
Published November 9, 2010 by Scribner. 256 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for Makeshift Metropolis

Publishers Weekly

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A brisk look back takes us from colonial town planning through the Garden City and City Beautiful initiatives of the early 20th century that defined and delivered the distinctive aesthetic character to such cities as New York and Chicago to the big box era.

Jul 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas A...

The Wall Street Journal

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While noting that we associate the City Beautiful movement with the 1893 Columbian Exposition and Washington, D.C.'s McMillan Plan, Mr. Rybczynski points out that Robinson advocated a far more hetero geneous urbanism than the caricature popularized by Jane Jacobs, the social critic who has most d...

Nov 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas A...

London School of Economics

While the extensive discussion of how to build new cities, and to build them well, is a an important one, crime and social inequality are recurrent problems for almost every city.

Aug 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas A...

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Kevin Schoen 25 Dec 2013

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