In the 50 years since the release of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs‘ work has been celebrated and critiqued in a diversity of ways. Best known for exuding the benefits of walkable, human-scale neighbourhoods, her introduction of the “web way of thinking” to urbanism is an under-appreciated contribution. Planetizen emphasizes this in a list of Jane Jacobs’ 10 most important (and misunderstood) lessons. City-making professions are taking steps towards holistic perspectives and diminished silos, but a half-century on, Jane’s work still has many lessons to offer.
While a resurgence in mixed-use development has contributed to more human-scale districts, Färgfabriken‘s Jan Ryden argues in a recent article for Volume, that it often lacks the diversity Jane Jacobs championed, driving up costs and limiting fine grain development. He proposes the re-application of Christopher Alexander’s design language to urbanism. The article critiques large developers but, ironically, this strategy could create new business opportunities for these very companies.