Alexander Has His Moment

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Friday, September 18, 2009
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Christopher Alexander

Christopher Alexander

Last week, we wrote about Christopher Alexander winning the prestigious Scully Prize. Now, he’s been named the third most important urban thinker by venerable planning site Planetizen, after Jane Jacobs and Andrés Duany and ahead of F.L. Olmsted and Kevin A. Lynch. Even Daniel Burnham, who’s celebrating the centennial of his eponymous plan was lower on the list. If we sound surprised, it’s because many of us here in the office had either never heard of Alexander or long forgotten about him, his heyday having been so long ago. But clearly he is on people’s minds, considering Planetizen‘s list of the 100 most influential urban thinkers comes from a survey of its readers.

Perhaps Ned Cramer put it best, when we discussed Alexander’s selection by the Scully jury, of which the Architecture editor was a part: “I think it’s a lot like Venturi in the 90s, people are really starting to recognize a very influential designer, someone they’d been drawing on for years without even realizing it.”

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One Response to “Alexander Has His Moment”

  1. Ray Sawhill says:

    Good lord, you’ve been following and covering architecture and you didn’t know about Christopher Alexander? He’s great, and he’s amazingly influential, maybe especially among those who love architecture and urbanism but don’t follow the usual academic-media line.

    Start with “The Timeless Way of Building,” leaf through “A Pattern Language,” and maybe dip a bit into his huge recent trilogy. Google him — there are some good q&a’s with him online. And Google “Nikos Salingaros” too. Salingaros is a mathematician who has worked with Alexander and is a fascinating architectural theorist in his own right. 2Blowhards did a long interview with Salingaros. Great stuff, all of it.

    I’ve talked to architects who said they didn’t really know what they were doing, or what architecture’s really about, until they encountered the work of Alexander.

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