By Philip Langdon
Mentioning interviews with builders, planners, and citizens, the coauthor of This outdated residence explains the relationship among commonplace smooth suburban designs and the sentiments of group delight, whereas mentioning the virtues of older designs.
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Extra resources for A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb
A great many suburbanites are in the same situation as Jim. The lack of neighborhood connection is unmistakable in a subdivision I visited in Crofton, Maryland, south of Baltimore and east of the nation's capital. A couple I spent time with in Crofton, Frank and Beverly, have a comfortable house with three bed- A community center under construction, barely connected to the subdivision it serves in Lincoln, Nebraska. Page 18 rooms,two cars, one dog, no children, and a dearth of neighborhood life.
At Christmas as many as six young guests gather around the dining room table. The academy's visitor program improves the social life not only of students (which is its goal) but also of the host families. But no matter how rewarding, a program with young people who live a dozen or more miles away cannot compensate entirely for the lack of vigorous community life in one's own neighborhood. "We both feel there's something missing," Frank said of life in Crofton. When they retirewhich is several years in the futurethey are thinking of moving back to the small town in Ohio where Frank grew up.
But this antitraditional way of thinking has also led to the abandonment of much that is valu- Page xiv able, much that we cannot healthily do without. The fact is, humanity's basic needs change extremely slowly, if at all. Technology may leap forward and as it does the economy may undergo spasms of change, but we are foolhardy if we base the nature of our communities on the latest technological and economic innovations while blinding ourselves to innate human needs. When I started writing about architecture nearly twenty years ago, the architectural profession was, on the whole, antagonistic toward all popular suggestions that new buildings should look and behave much like old buildings.
A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb by Philip Langdon