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The Death and Life of Urban Design: Jane Jacobs, The Rockefeller Foundation and the New Research in Urbanism, 1955–1965

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Between 1955 and 1965, the Rockefeller Foundation responded to the urban crises created by the pre- and post-war housing shortage and heavy-handed urban renewal strategies by sponsoring urban design research projects by Kevin Lynch, Jane Jacobs, E. A. Gutkind, Ian McHarg, Christopher Tunnard, Ian Nairn, Edmund Bacon, Christopher Alexander and others. Drawing on documents from the Rockefeller Foundation Archives, this paper considers the state of urban design theory after World War II and outlines the major sponsored research projects. The work of Jane Jacobs, who was closely involved with the Foundation's urban design research programme, is examined in greater detail, while the early research of Gyorgy Kepes and Kevin Lynch, which became The Image of the City (1960), will be considered in a subsequent paper.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Pennsylvania, PhD Program in Architectural History and Theory, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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