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Monthly Design Review - September 2022

Accompanying our Forum on large exterior builds, his month we concentrate on the idea of streets - their architectural history and social significance as a stage for daily existence.


THE 99% INVISIBLE CITY: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design

(Roman Mars, 2020)

99% Invisible is a podcast about everyday architecture, revealing stories baked into the buildings, streets and sidewalks. The show celebrates design and architecture in all of its functional glory and accidental absurdity, with intriguing tales of both designers and the people impacted by their designs.

In the follow-up book, host Roman Mars and coauthor Kurt Kohlstedt zoom in on the various elements that make our cities work, exploring the origins and other fascinating stories behind everything from power grids and fire escapes to drinking fountains and street signs. With deeply researched entries and beautiful line drawings throughout, the book celebrates and the unsung marvels of the world around us.

Buy the book here.


GREAT STREETS (Allan Jacobs, MIT Press 1995)

City planner and professor analyzes the qualities of great streets around the world: buildings of similar height, interesting facades, trees, windows that invite viewing, intersections, beginnings and endings, stopping places and space for leisurely walking.

With more than 200 illustrations, all prepared by the author, along with analysis and statistics, the book offers a wealth of information on street dimensions, plans, sections, and patterns of use, all systematically compared. It also reveals Jacobs's eye for the telling human and social details that bring streets and communities to life.

Another remarkable feature of this book is a set of 50 one square-mile maps, each reproduced at the same scale, of the street plans of representative cities around the world. These reveal much about the texture of the cities' street patterns and hence of their urban life. Jacobs's analysis of the maps adds much original data derived from them, including changes of street patterns over time.

Buy the book here.


STREET FURNITURE (Chris van Uffelen, 2010)

Street furniture is the secret star of urban outdoor design. Though rarely noticed at first glance, it significantly contributes to the urban experience. Benches, fountains, street lamps, rubbish bins as well as public toilets are items that recur in various urban spaces. Just like outstanding monuments and landmarks, they determine the identity of a square, street or town.

This volume introduces 100 exceptional examples of contemporary street furniture, presenting both items that are one-of-a-kind as well as objects that are part of a product series.

Buy the book here.


MAGNUM STREETWISE (Magnum Photos, 2019)

Magnum photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson pioneered modern concepts of street photography. A rich seam of street photography runs through the heart of Magnum to this day in the work of recognized masters of the genre including Elliott Erwitt, Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden, and Richard Kalvar.

The book is a true visual feast, interleaving insightful text and anecdotes within an intuitive blend of photographer and theme-focused sections. An essential addition to the street photography canon, this volume showcases hidden gems alongside many of street photography's most famous images.


Buy the book here.


LA STRADA: Italian Street Photography (Vicki Goldberg, 2007)

The book captures the life and drama of Italy's streets from World War II through the 1970s. Its exquisite photographs, made by some of the most skilled artists of the mid-twentieth century, are imbued with the essence of Neo-Realism, the aesthetic that produced some of the most influential Italian film of the era.

This selection of more than 200 pictures, some previously unpublished, by more than 60 masters - including Mario Giacomelli, Nino Migliori, and Mario De Biasi - reveals the touching, the humorous, and the tragic in the day-to-day lives of the Italian people, recently liberated from the grips of Fascism.

Browse this out-of-print book at libraries here.


UNFAMILIAR STREETS: The Photographs of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler,

and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia (Katherine A. Bussard 2014)

Revolutionizing the history of street photography, the book explores the work of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, four American photographers whose careers in fashion, photojournalism, conceptual art, and contemporary art are not usually associated with the genre.

The book challenges the traditional understanding of street photography and makes original and important connections among urban culture, social history, and the visual arts, constructing a new historical model for understanding street photography. Illustrated with more than one hundred images, this book provides an interpretation of a compelling genre that is as fresh as its consideration of the city streets themselves, sites of commerce, dispossession, desire, demonstration, power, and spectacle.

Buy the book here.



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