Environment

David Byrne's Perfect City

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorSep 12, 2009 10:01 PM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

It's an amalgam of engineering, architectural, and human qualities that he muses on here in the WSJ's weekend edition. Size is obviously important:

A city can't be too small. Size guarantees anonymity"”if you make an embarrassing mistake in a large city, and it's not on the cover of the Post, you can probably try again.

Density is a must:

If a city doesn't have sufficient density, as in L.A., then strange things happen. It's human nature for us to look at one another"” we're social animals after all. But when the urban situation causes the distance between us to increase and our interactions to be less frequent we have to use novel means to attract attention: big hair, skimpy clothes and plastic surgery.

Why can't urban planners write like this?! Here's Bryne's dead-on observation that counters the nostalgia that too often infects most urbanites:

The perfect city isn't static. It's evolving and ever changing, and its laws and structure allow that to happen. Neighborhoods change, clubs close and others open, yuppies move in and move out"”as long as there is a mix of some sort, then business districts and neighborhoods stay healthy even if they're not what they once were. My perfect city isn't fixed, it doesn't actually exist, and I like it that way.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.