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Island Press Staff Picks - The Nature of Urban Design

DC DC's street grid in fine form. Photo by bankbryan, used under Creative Commons licensing.

Today's pick, The Nature of Urban Design, comes from our Executive Assistant, Shaina Lange.

9781610913805Particularly as someone who was new to city life, new to Island Press, and new to the intellectual sphere of environmental issues up until two months ago, Alexandros Washburn’s The Nature of Urban Design gave me a new perspective on urban living. I recently moved from a tiny suburb in Ohio to now living in northern Virginia and working in Washington, D.C. Feeling lost amongst the high-rises, metro maps, and street alphabet, I thought of myself as just one in a city of millions. The Nature of Urban Design, however, made me realize how important each “one” of us are in creating communities and making our cities prosperous. At first glance, I was immediately engaged by the bright orange cloth cover and the stimulating illustrations that he incorporates into the content. With incredibly accessible content for residents, students, professionals, and inquiring minds of urban architecture, design, and planning, Washburn’s exploration of the importance of urban design is fascinating. He emphasizes the small differences that both residents and professionals can make that can enable their cities to prosper. The book analyzes how cities and their individuals have the ability to shape community life and social equity. Especially in the face of natural disaster, the resilience of a city so heavily depends on the cohesiveness of the community. Washburn uses his experience in city planning to demonstrate the concept of community. Referencing the revival of his own neighborhood in Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, as well as smaller inspiring projects such as the development of the Harlem Children’s Zone, he gives the reader insight into real urban design processes and the enormous impact each decision can have on the people. The Nature of Urban Design and all our other hardcover and paperback books are on sale for 50-70% off through September 30.