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Dutton, John A. New American Urbanism: Re-forming the American Metropolis. New York: Abbeville Publishing Group, 2000 (223 pp.). While intended primarily for architecture students and city planners, one would imagine, this highly readable and beautifully illustrated book is appropriate for any reader concerned about the design of the American landscape. Dutton clearly falls into the New Urbanist school of urban design, although he constantly tries to distance himself from the more popular figures or the more controversial recommendations of that movement. For example, he sees New Urbanism as a continuation of modernism, not a repudiation of it, which is the view of most other theorists. However, his introduction and most of the examples that follow are nearly indistinguishable from the New Urbanistsí writings and designs. The real value of Duttonís book is its illustrations, most of them in color, which provide clear examples of the principles he outlines in text. There are literally hundreds of them, and the final third of the book is a detailed examination of six case studies. While the author does analyze some of the purpose-built towns, such as Seaside, his primary focus is on existing communities; that is, he examines how extant downtowns and even suburbs have been (or might be) re-urbanized through the traditional approaches to design advocated by New Urbanists. For the serious student, Dutton provides numerous examples of curb heights, road widths, block sizes, and similar design formulae; for the novice, his observations are clear and interesting, and his illustrations are first-rate. Whatís particularly helpful is that he carries on an architectural, philosophical, and historical conversation throughout the book. That is, Dutton doesnít set up his anti-sprawl treatise first and then proceed to illustrate it through design; he commingles perspectives throughout, and thatís a welcome approach.


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