Monday, May 21, 2007

A Field Guide to Sprawl

Went to the Strand, my perhaps favorite bookstore In The World, over the weekend. Picked up some interesting looking fiction for myself and M. bought a book called A Field Guide to Sprawl by Dolores Hayden. At first I thought it was really stupid, but then I couldn't put it down. It describes architectural terms for urban sprawl (some terms we all know, like "big box" or "gridlock", then there's "duck: a building that replicates and serves as an advertisement for the product sold within it.") Each term is accompanied by a horrifying picture of, say, a trashland of cars or tires, or, just miles and miles of concrete earth ("Impervious Surface".) We read it together as we flew home, and had perhaps the most enlightened landing I've ever experienced ("Oh, look at all the pods! There's a pork chop lot! That looks like a streetcar buildout!"

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