on February 25, 2010
It is a simple and easy approach to New Urbanism. Everything is illustrated, leaving a small amount of space for text. If you have studied New Urbanism before, this book is not all that informative. I like the approach, it's well organized, however it barely skims the surface of most aspects.
It's format reminds me of Alexander's Pattern Language.
It is printed on low-quality newsprint, but I appreciate the environmental effort.
This book's laudable objective is to present, very specifically, how smart growth can actually be implemented. A considerable number of elements are presented, some very detailed, in fact similar to building standards, others very general that would be difficult to apply as such. The book is structured in four sections: regions, neighbourhoods, streets and buildings. Strangely for a work with a pro-urban standpoint, downtowns are not treated as such, although passing references are made here and there.
Odd editorial choices were made with respect to the book's production. First, doubtlessly to project a green image, the fibre-packed paper used is very obviously recycled _ as was current when recycling first was introduced decades ago. This leads to a very poor printing quality of the colour photographs _ which are perhaps not all that artistic and telling in the first place. Second, the book is pocket-size, presumably so that it can be easily carried to meetings. This of course restricts importantly the space available for text. As each item is covered on a single page and each is illustrated with a photograph, needless to say that content is not very elaborate. Third, pages are not numbered, most likely to avoid confusion with the hierarchy of the items presented (1.1, 1.2, etc.). This actually makes consulting the book a bit confusing as these section numbers are not written on the right-hand page corners.
At the end of the book, several pages are devoted to listing the addresses of various local groups devoted to the promotion of smart growth in the United States. This list, of course, is liable to being quickly outdated. So, why not refer to a single Web site?
Actually, why not replace the whole book with a Web site where references to other sources could be liberally provided? With BlackBerries and iPhones, its portability would not be reduced and it could constantly be improved and updated.