The 21st Century will be an urban century. This prophetic assertion underlines the moment, sometime at the end of 2009, when the balance of the global human population shifted from rural locations to urban centers. Far from the shrinking cities of the developed world, the stage for this transformative act has been the developing world, where an agglomeration of circumstances — the great migration to Chinese cities, the growing importance of African metropolises, the thriving economies of Latin American nations and India — underscore the veracity of this prediction. The 21st Century will be the century of cities driving the modernization of emerging nations.
City Building: Nine Planning Principles for the Twenty-First Century (Princeton Architectural Press; 2010) seizes this moment of urban transformation to propose a principle-driven prescription for sustainable urbanism. This highly readable, accessible and elegantly illustrated volume offers a collection of urban design best practices, arguing for both the universality and value of sustainable urbanism. With the goal of “creating cities that become mega-tools enabling millions of people to live in harmony with their environment,” the publication aims to capture the zeitgeist of millennial urbanity.
City Building is also a record of the impressive portfolio of multi-national design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The firm’s projects, in their diverse scales and executions, mark an illustrious professional trajectory characterized by global recognition and reach. From Bahrain’s National Plan to London’s Canary Wharf, from DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue to Chicago’s Millennium Plaza, the emphasis on quality, diversity and scalability that has defined SOM’s global footprint over the past 40 years leaves a profound impression in the world and the reader’s imagination.
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