“Architizer: 
This Is Fascinating: Historic Diagrams That Shaped The Modern City
Lamar Anderson. Nov 9, 2012
As we sit here in the perpetual LCD-screen glow of the 21st century, fantasizing about the floating cities and moon-bounce bridges that will populate the urban amusement park we all are apparently yearning to live in, we have much in common with our urban predecessors, all of whom wanted to remake their inherited spaces and carve out a new logic for living. The ancient Greeks used their colonies to roll out the rationalist grid system. The Renaissance Italians, frustrated by their narrow, crowded medieval streets, sketched ideal Vitruvian cities full of proportion and symmetry and devoid of people. In the U.S., 18th-century agrarian idealists organized Westward Expansion in an ever-unfolding grid of six-mile-square townships. Le Corbusier, grossed out by the dirt and disarray of the modern industrial city, compartmentalized every bit of urban space into its own safe little OCD box.
In the new exhibition “Grand Reductions: 10 Diagrams That Changed Planning,” the nonprofit urban think tank SPUR tracks the history of urban desire in its most distilled form: the diagram. On view at SPUR’s San Francisco storefront through February 15, “Grand Reductions” unravels the ideals and anxieties lurking behind seemingly unassuming maps. The orthogonal is political! Click through for some of our favorite diagrams from the show.”
Image: A 1902 diagram illustrating Ebenezer Howard’s concept for the Garden City, which sought to do away with the crowding and pollution of early-20th-century industrial life. Photo courtesy of SPUR

Architizer: 

This Is Fascinating: Historic Diagrams That Shaped The Modern City

Lamar Anderson. Nov 9, 2012

As we sit here in the perpetual LCD-screen glow of the 21st century, fantasizing about the floating cities and moon-bounce bridges that will populate the urban amusement park we all are apparently yearning to live in, we have much in common with our urban predecessors, all of whom wanted to remake their inherited spaces and carve out a new logic for living. The ancient Greeks used their colonies to roll out the rationalist grid system. The Renaissance Italians, frustrated by their narrow, crowded medieval streets, sketched ideal Vitruvian cities full of proportion and symmetry and devoid of people. In the U.S., 18th-century agrarian idealists organized Westward Expansion in an ever-unfolding grid of six-mile-square townships. Le Corbusier, grossed out by the dirt and disarray of the modern industrial city, compartmentalized every bit of urban space into its own safe little OCD box.

In the new exhibition “Grand Reductions: 10 Diagrams That Changed Planning,” the nonprofit urban think tank SPUR tracks the history of urban desire in its most distilled form: the diagram. On view at SPUR’s San Francisco storefront through February 15, “Grand Reductions” unravels the ideals and anxieties lurking behind seemingly unassuming maps. The orthogonal is political! Click through for some of our favorite diagrams from the show.”

Image: A 1902 diagram illustrating Ebenezer Howard’s concept for the Garden City, which sought to do away with the crowding and pollution of early-20th-century industrial life. Photo courtesy of SPUR

Architectural + Urban Research

Mass Urban is a multidisciplinary design-research initiative concerned with contemporary cities and urbanism. Mass Urban was co-founded in April 2011 by David Lee and Cliff Lau.

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