Reading Room

Useful Articles

Recommended Books
Great places are comprised of great buildings organized to form a coherent urban fabric, a fabric that enables communities. Below is a list of books that most should find rather accessible and helpful in understanding the philosophical foundations as well as the practical tasks of creating wonderful walkable places. Check back often as this list will no doubt expand.

  • A Timeless Way of Building
    Christopher Alexander
    Alexander says it best “”There is one timeless way of building. It is thousands of years old, and the same today as it has always been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home.” This book begins to distinguish the patterns that guided building for centuries and distills them for practical application.
  • Til We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbanism, & the Sacred
    Philip Bess

    A delightful collection of short essays designed to provide a thoughtful foundation for urban design. Bess expertly lays out for the reader the connection between urbanism, the sacred realm, and temporal community.
  • Bicycle Diaries
    David Byrne
    I confess, I have a signed copy of this book from when he spoke at the Congress of New Urbanism in 2010. Byrne provides a cycle’s-eye view of places around the world.
  • Ordering the City: Land Use, Policing, and the Restoration of Urban America
    Nicole Stele Garnett
    This book turns many assumptions about how to bring order to a city on their heads and shows that many of the strategies, such as use-based zoning, which were intended to bring about order, have in fact, destroyed the order that had existed previously.
  • The Smart Growth Manual 
    Andres Duany, Jeff Speck, Mike Lydon
    Learn or refresh your memory on the basics of smart growth.
  • Life and Death of Great American Cities
    Jane Jacobs
    This is the seminal book on urban planning. Penned in the 1960’s in reaction to the over-planned, car-centric, big is beautiful mindset that had overtaken the planning professionals of her day.  “Jacobs emphasizes that a healthy city neighborhood is created not by one “big box” destination like a convention center or a stadium, but by hundreds of little walkable destinations.”
  • Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith
    Eric Jacobsen

    Written for a general audience, this book takes up the relationship between the built environment and the Christian faith.
  • Space Between, The: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment
  • Eric Jacobsen
    In his second book on urbanism and Christianity, Jacobsen delves into the quality of the space that is created by the built environment. This space, is not merely the space between buildings, but it is our civic realm.
  • The Architecture of Community,
    Leon Krier
    Everyone interested in good urbanism should have at least one book by Leon Krier on their shelf. Famous for his sketches depicting prescriptions for how to bring about sustainable, humane, and attractive villages, towns, and cities
  • The Geography of Nowhere, The Rise and Decline of America’s Man Made Landscape,
    James Howard Kunsler

    Ever wonder how we went from traditional urban design and a “Main Street” mentality to suburban sprawl? Kunsler can tell you how in very readable and colorful language.
  • Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century,
    James Howard Kunsle
    In his sequel to The Geography of Nowhere, Kunsler charts a way out of the sprawlscape and back to places that feel like . . . well places again.
  • Main Street to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture 
    Chester Liebs
    A wonderfully informative history tracing the evolution of commercial development and roadside building types from the heyday of quintessential Main Street through to strip malls and shopping malls.
  • The Buildings of Main Street: A Guide to American Commercial Architecture
    Richard Longstreth
    This respected author in the field of historic preservation, presents a useful survey of commercial architecture in urban America. He has developed a typology of architectural classification for commercial application in American towns across the United States.
  • The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism, and Historic Preservation
    Steven Semes

    Have you ever been puzzled by visiting a historic building plagued by a strange modern glass and steel addition? Professor Semes explains where preservationist may have taken a wrong turn, and offers an approach to historic preservation that will not make you feel schizophrenic.
  • Walkable City: How Downtown Can Help Save America One Step at a Time
    Jeff Speck
    In this thoughtful book Jeff Speck lays out a ten-step plan for changing the way we design and build our cities. He makes the economic case for walkable places and a range of employable tactics.
  • The Language of Towns & Cities: A Visual Dictionary
     Dhiru A. Thadani
    A fabulous thick encyclopedia of illustrations that make clear the components that add up to a solid urban fabric.


Films that highlight beautiful places.


One thought on “Reading Room

  1. Pingback: Great Urbanism Scholar to Give Lecture at University of Saint Thomas, Thursday April 23rd | Quarter Mile Smile

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