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Cheaper by the Dozen
Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream - Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck This is a good introduction to the concept of sustainable community design. It's not in-depth or detailed, so wouldn't be a good choice for trained designers or architects who are already familiar with the community design literature.

My favorite parts of this book were the ones that explained how Americans stopped building towns and started building "developments" in the 1970s and 1980s. These authors demonstrate, with historical examples, that this method of growth and expansion wasn't inevitable, but rather the result of a constellation of events that all conspired to change the look and feel of towns.

It's a sort of depressing book, in a way. It contains example after example of towns that could have chosen to develop and grow in sustainable communities, but instead chose to contribute to the "pod" oriented suburban sprawl by building "McMansions" on tiny plots of land.

I learned a lot about why and how the standard new housing developments are designed and built (which is why I chose to read this in the first place), as well as something I'd never considered before: how road/traffic planning contributes to neighborhood design and vice versa. I also learned a lot about the kinds of people who live in different kinds of neighborhoods.

The photographic examples in the sidebar are nice, and help to illustrate the points in the text.

I found myself skimming parts of the book, since it does tend to repeat itself. I agree with one goodreads reviewer, who said that the book can be condensed into a few key points: learn from others' mistakes, think of the future, and work hard for change.

Note that this book was published ten years ago. I'll have to look into some of the more recent literature, possibly published by one of these authors, in the New Urbanism movement to see if their viewpoint has changed. The landscape where I live sure hasn't.