Mark Lamster

Critic; Writer / United States /

Mark Lamster’s Notable Books of 2013

1 book
Vishaan Chakrabarti

Urban planning is the topic de jour in the design field, the subject of a raft of new titles from authors with diverse agendas. Chakrabarti's is among the most readable and cogent of the recent offerings. Pitched as a manifesto, A Country of Cities is at its best when arguing for the dense city (as against the suburbs and rural areas), as the most sustainable, ecologically responsiblle form of habitation for the coming century. Material that can be dry (the mechanics of tax-increment financing, or the relative ecological impact of various housing densities) are enlivened by excellent infographics and enough aphoristic slogans to please a latenight pitchman on cable TV.

Chakrabarti is both an academic planner and a practitioner (he is a partner at SHoP Architects, in New York), and he makes no secret of his belief in real-estate development as the key to the city's future. New Urbanists may not agree with his prescription of tall buildings as an elixir to urban problems, and there are occasional moments when the book seems a bit self-promotional, but it nevertheless stands as a critically important argument, fully worthy of attention.

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