Monday, January 17, 2011

Can Designers Solve the Problem of Urban Wasteland?

Bonnie Richardson reviews Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America, by Alan Berger

Driving the smooth black asphalt from west to east along McDowell Road, I look forward to the expansive view of the east valley at the top of the rise, next to the modest amphitheater carved in the red rocks of the Papago Buttes. A short descent and a quick right turn take me right through the desert—real desert—open space where the mesquite flavors the air after it rains. Nearby the zoo and the botanical garden coexist with the coyotes and the rabbits.
I recall my surprise as I studied the photo in Alan Berger’s Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America, the broad aerial view highlighting the massive amount of acreage devoted to the Arizona National Guard military training grounds adjacent to the Buttes and urban desert. So much land in the middle of the Phoenix metropolis devoted to a use better suited to the city’s periphery. The site has been swallowed up by miles and miles of houses, strip malls, office buildings, and golf courses. Indeed, it is land waste so quietly contained we hardly notice.

suburban sprawl in Bloomington, Illinois, Image by tlindenbaum
more urban planning book reviews:

Book Review: Self Sufficient City Envisioning the habitat of the future

Book Review: Testimonies of the City. Identity, Community and Change in a Contemporary Urban World

Urban Planning Book: Sprawl: A Compact History

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