Oculus Book Talk: Alexandros Washburn, The Nature of Urban Design

Alexandros Washburn will present his new book The Nature of Urban Design: A New York City Perspective on Resilience, published by Island Press.

The global shift to an urban population comes with an uncomfortable corollary. People who live in cities as they are currently designed produce more greenhouse gasses than their non-urban counterparts—as a global average about three times more. But people in cities, particularly in coastal cities, are waking up to their vulnerability as well as to their responsibility. This newly acknowledged responsibility is reflected in current trends in urban design, in newly conceived projects, plans and standards that try to make cities more resilient in the way they are designed, built and inhabited. To truly prosper, cities need to accommodate a growing number of citizens in dignity, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and still be worth living in.

In this visually rich book Alexandros Washburn redefines urban design by looking at the process and products within the context of rapid urbanization and climate change. The Nature of Urban Design uses real-life examples, drawing heavily from the New York experience, to show how to design beautiful urban spaces that achieve multiple goals and objectives—such as greater resilience, livability and equity—while addressing the political and financial challenges that can accelerate or slow implementation. With examples ranging from the High Line to the post-Sandy recovery of Red Hook, Brooklyn, The Nature of Urban Design shows how a well-designed, well-built city can be the most efficient, equitable, safest, and enriching place on earth.

The Nature of Urban Design will inspire and inform anyone who cares about cities. It provides a framework for participating in the process of change. This includes people who want to become urban designers, particularly students and practitioners in the field of politics, finance and design who help to decide how a city will change.

Alexandros E. Washburn, AIA is the Chief Urban Designer of the City of New York, Department of City Planning. An architect who has worked both in the private and public sector, he served as Environment and Public Works Advisor to US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then as President of the Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation, and then partner of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture LLC. From individual buildings to the most complex infrastructure projects, he judges success in urban design from the point of view of the pedestrian. In his daily work, he tries to achieve the “quantity of Robert Moses with the quality of Jane Jacobs.” And for this missing link between the human-scale and the mega-project, he turns to another great New Yorker, Fredrick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, for inspiration. He sees the integration of urbanity and ecology as the next great wave in city-building.

Price: Free for AIA members and students with valid student ID
$10 for non-members – PURCHASE A TICKET


Event Details:

  • When: 

    Monday, January 13, 2014
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

  • Where: 

    The Center for Architecture
    536 LaGuardia Place
    New York, NY

  • More information: 

    Event website.

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