A Better Place to Live: Reshaping the American Suburb

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, Sep 1, 1997 - Architecture - 270 pages
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What is it about modern American suburbs that has led to so much dissatisfaction? How has the typical suburban design of the past fifty years exacerbated the stress of daily life, and what better alternatives can be found? With these questions in mind, Philip Langdon crisscrossed the country to see how suburbs are being built and to interview designers, developers, planners, and residents. The first results of his research were published in a 1988 cover story in the Atlantic. Since then, he has broadened his analysis to create this well-illustrated and highly readable book. Training his eye on houses, streets, parks, gathering places, stores, employment and transportation, Langdon shows how these elements can generate frustration and isolation or, under better circumstances, contribute to a more congenial way of life. He points out the underappreciated virtues of older suburbs and takes a close look at the neotraditionalist movement in community design, whose advocates seek to emulate the most pleasing aspects of older suburbs. Without ignoring the obstacles to change, Langdon shows how suburbs could be designed much differently than they are today - with networks of walkable streets, neighborhood stores and gathering places, compact town centers, and more varied and affordable housing. His book provides both an incisive critique of existing practices and an intriguing glimpse of some of the best work being done by a new generation of community designers.
  

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A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb

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A student of American middle-class life, Langdon has written some impressive books, including Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants (LJ 6/1/86). Here, he trains ... Read full review

Contents

Americas Failing Suburbs
1
Streets and Where They Lead Us
27
The Rise of Marketing and the Decline of Planning
62
Controlling the Neighborhood
86
The Rediscovery of the Town
107
Turning Around the American House
148
Work Shopping and Transportation
172
What Government Can Do
200
Repairing the Existing Suburbs
219
Prospects for a New Vision
236
Notes
245
Suggested Further Reading
253
Illustration Credits
259
Index
261
Copyright

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Page 252 - Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 36-40. On Lubin, see Kevin Starr, Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 231-32. On Burke, see articles in "J. Frank Burke" envelope, Los Angeles Examiner Files, HC.

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About the author (1997)

Philip Langdon has written on houses and design for many national magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, Landscape Architecture, Home, and Planning. A former senior editor of Progressive Architecture, he is the author of several books, including American Houses and A Better Place to Live: Reshaping the American Suburb. With Steve Thomas, he co-authored This Old House Kitchens and This Old House Bathrooms. Langdon lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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