The Embrace of Buildings A Second Look at Walkable City Neighborhoods

An illustrated companion to The Embrace of Buildings by Lee Hardy. Preface and Chapters 1-5


Page ix: "...got on the 405 Northbound. It then took me one hour to go eight miles."
Page x: "A carpet of housing subdivisions, shopping malls, parking lots, freeways, and gas stations was being rolled out from LA."
Page xi: "Following up on that lead, I soon discovered the existence of The Congress for the New Urbanism"
Eastown: a streetcar suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Page xv: The author's house in Eastown, Grand Rapids.
Page xvi: "Once a year we close the street for a block party."
Page xvi: "Then not only the food but the musical instruments come out."

Chapter 1

Page 2: "So many of our inner cities have been abandoned, converted into deadzones..."
Page 2: "... often driving where I needed to go along gritty commercial thoroughfares and featureless arterials."
Page 2: "...fast food joints and cartoon signage..."
Page 2: "... parking lots large enough to accommodate an entire European village."
Page 2: "Must we choose between deteriorating urban cores and degraded suburb landscapes?"
Page 3: "FHA guidelines clearly favored single-family homes...and the home industry built accordingly—especially after the Second War World." This is Levittown, built between 1947 and 1951.

Residential Security Map of Baltimore, 1937.

Residential Security Map of Detroit
Residential Security Map of Chicago
Residential Security Map of Grand Rapids

Example of a restrictive covenant, written into a property deed.

Page 5: The Detroit Wall in 1941
Page 5: the Detroit Wall today, appropriated.

Chapter 2

Page 10: the Futurama exhibit at the World's Fair of 1939, NYC.

General Motors' idea of the city of the future.
Page 10: "...designed to sell America on the glorious vision of a nation crisscrossed by fourteen-lane, limited-access superhighways.
And we bought it. Los Angeles interchange of highways 105 & 110.
Pages 12-13: The Street Hierarchy, a system of major arterials flowing between discrete land use pods. The pods themselves serviced by cul-de-sacs that empty into collector roads that in turn empty into the major arterials.

Chapter 3

Page 13: "Shared public space—built, formed, used, and valued—has virtually disappeared."
The Villa Rotunda, by Andrea Palladio (c. 1590), an aristocratic country estate that served as a model for the magnates of the industrial era of the 1800s.
Page 16: "Behold, the suburban formula was struck."
John Nash's Park Village East development in London, circa 1820. Note curvilinear street, and, by contrast, the regimented row housing on the upper right, and the duplexes to the immediate right.

Page 16: The story of the growth of suburbia... [was] made possible by increasingly affordable homes and transportation.

Page 16: "The entire middle class, and a good deal of the working class, could now live in downsized versions of the country villa on the edge of town in a naturalistic setting provided by a private yard."
Page 15-16: "Thus was home-life and work-life divided between the private domestic sphere of the family the country, managed by the female, and the public sphere of work in the city, run by the male."
Page 16: "Every man a duke over his own domain."

Chapter 5

Page 27: "We are cheered by the image. But we lack the reality.
Page 27: "Welcome to the Neighborhood."
Where is the neighborhood?
Page 27: This is Main Street?

Chapter 5: Seven Features of a Walkable Neighborhood

Center and Edge

Page 28: "Walkable neighborhoods have an identifiable center and a distinct edge. You know when you're entering one. . . They have gateways, but no gates."

Walkable Scale

The circle represents a 5-minute walking radius; the neighborhood contains residential, civic, retail, transit, parks and schools within the 5-minute radius.
Retail in walkable reach of residential, Midtown, Detroit.

Mixed Use

Residential, civic, and retail together in Hamilton, Ontario.

Connected Streets

State Street, Santa Barbara
City street in Amsterdam

Building Hierarchy

City Hall of Savannah, Georgia, at the top of Bull Street. A terminated vista.
A place of worship, in Copenhagen. A terminated vista.
Pasadena City Hall

Public Transit

A tram line in Antwerp, Belgium.
Commuter Rail in Seattle.
Streetcar in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.

Mixed Housing Types

Mixed residential types on the same block. Multi-family building anchors the corner in Wicker Park, Chicago.
Row housing next to single-family detached houses—it's OK.
Single-family detached house next to a multi-unit apartment building—it's OK.


Lee Hardy

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