The New Urban Crisis is the latest book by professor and urbanist, Richard Florida. I think it is safe to say that this was one of the clearest representations of the current situation when it comes to contemporary urban issues in the United States and the world. It redefines what gentrification really means according to the data, better ways to understand the wealth gap, deepening suburban poverty, and many more contemporary issues that make up the New Urban Crisis.
As much as anything, for us and this blog, it really makes clear that architecture and design as a potential solution is no where within these conversations about urban issues. I do not think architecture is ignored in the book, but it seems to be overlooked as a solution because of its contradictory effects when it comes to New Urban Crisis. Urban revitalization and Florida’s ideas of “winner take all urbanism” show that the success of the creative class leads to great success for the city, but also goes a long way in deepening the crisis within the city.
It does not get more ambiguous than contemplating architecture’s true role with the city of the future. Its current state of commodification has made it become a forgotten tool for change. It is not just Florida’s book, but other research is much more social and economic policy based when trying to offer solutions. it is time to speculate about architecture and urban design's ability to be a greater tool for change within cities compared to bureaucratic and ideal based solutions.
Architects and planners can no longer just rely on “mix use” as a catch all for design that pretends to bring people together and develop denser neighborhoods. We have to ask questions about how to break down the notion of permanence in architecture and begin to understand types that are more responsive to its surroundings. Thinking about architecture and urban design as a problem solver for local neighborhoods instead of relying on broad sweeping policy, as well as making design that responds better to the city are the ambiguous questions that I intend to pursue and hopefully begin to reconcile.
Florida, Richard. The New Urban Crisis. New York: Basic Books, 2017.