June 26, 2017
Wright and Urban Planning Today
What is relevant about Wright’s foray into urban planning is the affirmation of Los Angeles—that city life could be salutary.
What is relevant about Wright’s foray into urban planning is the affirmation of Los Angeles—that city life could be salutary. That in well planned cities and suburbs, integrating key elements of economic and community life—housing, commercial, institutional, and industrial centers—with livability and grace and beauty as with gardens and landscapes—that urban development can create a cohesiveness and beauty that can make urban life sustainable, both economically and psychically.
As a former New Yorker and now a 25-year Los Angeles resident, I agree. Los Angeles is struggling to appreciate and harness the beauty and the good sense of its early suburbs and how adaptable and compatible they are with contemporary urban growth. In the face of more recent issues of billboards, blockbusting, mansionization, and a degraded public realm, we need to remember Wright’s strong voice, inspiring and instructing, still resonant at 150 years: “We create our buildings and then they create us. Likewise, we construct our circle of friends and our communities and they construct us.”
Kathryn Welch Howe is a Member of Scenic America Board of Directors and President of KWH Associates Inc., a preservation planning and adaptive use development firm. As a consultant, Kathryn prepared the restoration and usage program for the revitalization of Grand Central Terminal for the Municipal Art Society and Metro-North Railroad. For the Getty Conservation Institute Kathryn led the development of the Los Angeles Historic Resource Survey. She has been a regional director and vice-president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and president of the Los Angeles Conservancy Board of Directors.
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