Design library: Planning picks

Doggerel is always on the lookout for good books. Here, experts in the planning field offer titles on topics from California economics to China’s urban future.


From Glenn Larson, AICP, president of the AICP Commission, the professional institute of the American Planning Association:

The Image of the City
By Kevin Lynch

Still a seminal favorite among planners, Lynch influenced the way people think and talk abut urban space.

Design with Nature
By Ian McHarg

In this inspirational work on environmental planning, McHarg showed how to achieve the ideal fit between built environments and natural surroundings.

Rural by Design
By Randall Arendt

Rooted in an appreciation for design of small communities, Arendt’s work reinforced efforts to achieve growth management, address sprawl, and conserve natural and cultural landscapes.


From Anne Patrone, Greyson Clark, and Vincent Riscica, planners in Arup’s New York office:

Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities
By Ryan Gravel

Where We Want to Live situates the Atlanta BeltLine in the city’s railroad history and the contemporary lifestyle of its residents. The core premise is that infrastructure organizes our lives, and that we must be intentional in its design and reuse in order to create places where we truly want to live. It’s a good read that traces a big idea from initial development through the political support-building and implementation processes: Gravel developed the concept for the BeltLine in his graduate thesis and helped it become one of the largest (ongoing) infrastructure projects in Atlanta’s history.

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
By Edward Glaeser

Economist Edward Glaeser wrote this extremely accessible book about the importance of cities, examining public policies dealing with the environment, welfare, and land-use planning to make the case that cities are humankind’s greatest invention. Using case studies and data analysis, Glaeser explains how cities have played a major role in human development throughout the globe and how they improve our lives today.

The Concrete Dragon: China’s Urban Revolution and What it Means for the World
By Thomas J. Campanella

This book provides a fascinating look at China’s rapidly urbanizing landscape and the form that its cities take. Campanella explores skyscrapers, shopping malls, theme parks, and suburban subdivisions to understand the motivation behind their construction and measure their impact on China’s urban future.

New York 2140
By Kim Stanley Robinson

A science fiction novel based in the eerily possible and surprisingly utopian future New York, in which sea levels have risen 50 feet. The book imagines what urban life might be like when our streets and building entrances are regularly flooded, and how urban policy, economy, and behaviors might adapt to a seemingly bleak reality.


From Tony Bruzzone, a planner in Arup’s San Francisco office:

The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles
By Michael Storper, Thomas Kemeny, Naji Makarem, and Taner Osman

Today, the Bay Area is home to the most successful knowledge economy in America, while Los Angeles has fallen progressively further behind its neighbor to the north, as well as a number of other American metropolises. Yet, in 1970, experts would have predicted that LA would outpace San Francisco in population, income, economic power, and influence. The usual factors used to explain urban growth do not account for the contrast between the two cities and their fates. So what does?

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