|Aspen no. 1, item 7|
|Configurations of the New World|
Change is the one word which most aptly characterizes the world today. The pile-up of changes since the last war has been so rapid and so massive that it becomes literally correct to describe today's world as "new." Hardly a day goes by when we are not reminded that 1984 is here.
The International Design Conference in Aspen this year investigated the contradictions of this new world:
· Our growing inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy during a period when technology is dominating almost every human endeavor.
· The triumph of technique over content despite our increasing sense of "social morality."
· Our intense awareness of all things visual, although at no other time have we produced so much man-made ugliness.
Here are digests of the conference speeches, a week's worth of ideas in a minimum of paragraphs.
George Nelson, program chairman
One of the most memorable aspects of the 1965 Design Conference was the new tent by Herbert Bayer, replacing the original Eero Saarinen tent which housed the conference for 15 years. The Bayer tent utilizes a suspension cable construction, eliminating the poles which clutter the inside of large tents. Outside, it has a rigid, architectural look with a pleated top zigzagging to the ground. Inside, it is much softer, like being inside a flower, as the top droops in soft petal shapes. The top is white, the side panels orange and blue, setting a very festive, fanciful mood. Martha Graham quickly remarked on another aspect of the tent when she accepted the 1965 Aspen Award there: "I love this I suppose you call it a tent. I love it very much. It is always in motion. It's mobile. It has none of the terrible rigidity of some theaters." And the tent seemed to dance with her as she spoke.
Philip M. Hauser
Robert G.W. Theobald
Rev. William F. Lynch
James W. Rouse
Jan C. Rowan
Stewart L. Udall
George Nelson & Co.
DR. PHILIP M. HAUSER,
The impact of man on man
ROBERT G. W. THEOBALD,
New Technologies and
The impact of technology on man,
As architects and designers, you've been preoccupied essentially with the impact of technology on the new world. However, I'd like to focus on the impact of man on man.
And in doing so, may I suggest that many of the problematic aspects of the new world may be considered as frictions in a transition from the old worldof small population size, with sparse and homogeneous populationto the new world in which we live now, characterized by large population size, great densities, and great heterogeneity.
It took all of 2,000,000 years down to 1850 to get one billion persons simultaneously alive. And yet, to get the second billion took only an additional 75 years, for this number was approximated in 1925. To get the third billion took only an additional 37 years between 1925 and 1962. With present trends, we shall get the fourth billion in about 15 years and a fifth billion in less than 10 years thereafter. This is what the demographer man is talking about when he's talking about a population explosion.
At the present time, world population is increasing at a rate of 2% per year. A 2% per annum rate of growth if continued into the future from the present time would produce one person for every square foot of surface on this globe in 6-1/2 centuries.
If you project this 2% per annum rate of increase for 15-1/2 centuries, you would get a human population the aggregate weight of which would match the weight of the planet itself. And if you're nightmare prone, project this 2% increase for 6,200 years and the mass of human flesh which would be generated would have a radius expanding at the speed of light.
The present rate of world population increase cannot possibly continue for very long into the future. In fact, what you exhaust (all the stuff about science, all the stuff about technology, all the stuff about growing more food supplies is sheer eyewash), because what you exhaust and the limit to population growth on this planet is space itself.
The U.S. is now a nation of 194,000,000 people. Even with the decreasing birthrate which we have been experiencing since the late fifties, we shall by 1985, 20 years hence, be a population of 266,000,000. We shall be a nation of 338,000,000 people by the year 2000, and we shall be a nation of 400,000,000 people by the year 2010.
Let me now turn to the picture of density. Let me remind you that although man has been on this earth for some 2,000,000 years, we did not achieve any permanent human settlement until the Neolithic period, a mere 10,000 years ago. We have been living in congregations and aggregations for just a minute fraction of the time since we have been on the face of this map, and aggregated human living was not possible until two things emerged which it took most of that 2,000,000 years to produce. First, technologya technology that would permit aggregated living. And second, social organizationsocial organization instrumentalities, if you please, that would permit aggregated living.
It was the great inventions of the Neolithic periodthe domestication of plants and animals, the emergence of craftsthat made aggregated living possible. You couldn't begin to have a human settlement until technology and agriculture had evolved to a point where surplus was possiblewhere it was no longer necessary for everybody to produce his own food. Only with a surplus in agriculture was any kind of aggregated living possible. And then with the surplus, as you got into aggregated living, some form of social organization, particularly involving the distribution of the surplus, particularly involving power structure, had to emerge.
It is because of this that you didn't get anything called cities until sometime between 5000 B.C. and 3500 B.C.1,500 years during which the first cities emerged in the Indus valley in Mesopotamia.
It is not an accident that mankind did not have enough technology, nor enough social organization to produce cities as large as 100,000 or more until the Greek and Roman civilizations. And it is not an accident that mankind did not have enough technology and enough in the way of social organization to produce cities of a million or more, at least in proliferation, until the beginning of the 19th century.
I think this in itself is a sobering perspective. Man has not lived in any appreciable number in cities of a million or more for more than a century and a half out of the 2,000,000 years he has been on the face of this earth.
I want to emphasize that how large a city can be is entirely a function of its technology and social organization and that it takes a combination of these things to produce the mass population that we have today.
In 1800 we know that approximately 3% of the world's people lived in places of as much as 5,000 or more. By 1950 this had increased tenfoldalmost 30% of the world's population lived in such places. When our first census was taken in 1790,95% of the American people lived in rural placeson farms or places having fewer than 2,500 people. By 1960, 70% of our people were urban.
In 1790 there were only 24 urban places in the country, 24 places having as many as 500 or more people; two of them had populations in excess of 25,000New York and Philadelphia. There are about 6,000 such places now.
There were only five places of a million or more in this country in 1900. They had 17% of our people. By 1960 there were 24 such places and they contained more than a third, 34% of all the American people. This is the new world.
How come this increase in concentration? Because this clumping of people and economic activities represents the most efficient producing and consuming unit that mankind has ever devised. Just as technology has made possible greater aggregated living, so has aggregated living created new impetus and opportunities for technological advance.
Now, let me get to heterogeneity. As population increased, as technology improved, people of diverse cultural backgrounds became more and more in social interaction and in contact with one another. The great historical streams of human migration resulted in the admixtures of people that, of course, have culminated in the contemporary world where you can get around in the course of a day and a half, where communication is virtually instantaneous through Early Bird.
This increased heterogeneity meansand this is the significant thingexposure of people to a much wider array of attitudes, patterns of behavior, institutional practices and so on, in the new world than was ever true of the old world.
As a result of the transition, from a small society to what I now want to call a mass society, I am arguing that the attitudes and behavior of man, his social institutions, his way of life, and the physical structure in the way he lives, have become tremendously modified. That you can best understand this as a function of increased interaction, let me try this on you:
How many people would live in a circle within a radius of 10 miles under conditions of density of one person per square mile? Or how many people would there be in a circle with a 10mile radius314 persons. I take a 10-mile radius because, believe it or not, before the automobile, people used to be able to walk 10 miles from their places of residence in the course of a day and back home again.
Now, let's consider a situation with 50 persons per square mile. This is not an arbitrary figure. It happens to be the figure of density for these United States and also the average density of the whole world50 persons per square mile. How many people would be in that 10-mile circle? From 314 it adds up to 314 times 50; it adds up to 15,700.
The city of Chicago is some 16,000 to 17,000 per square mile. The density of the five boroughs of New York is some 25,000 per square mile. The density of Manhattan, which demonstrates to my satisfaction that it is unfit for human habitation, is 75,000 per square mile. The density of Manhattan would produce over 25,000,000 people in that same 10-mile circle.
Now, what I'm arguing is that as the potential for human interaction increases, we have profoundly altered the nature of human nature, the nature of social control, the nature of social institutions. We have produced bureaucracy; we've produced the nature of social disorganization. We have redefined the concept of freedom. We have broken down the traditional world.
In the small society, we talk about people living in primary contacts; everybody knows everybody else. In the mass society, you have only secondary groups, secondary contacts. We know each other only in secondary aspects of one segment of existence. You find interpersonal relations. Instead of being based on emotion and sentiment, interpersonal relationships are based on, should I say, utilitarianism; we use one another. It is this transition from the primary group to the secondary group which accounts for the fact that a girl can be raped or slaughtered in New York while passers-by ignore the situation.
In the small society, social control is mostly what we call informal. It is the result of the operation of the folkways and the mores, not the result of policemen. In the mass society, social control becomes more formal, and incidentally, much more efficacious. It takes law, it takes policemen, it takes courts, it takes jails.
In the small society, social institutions are never born, they just grow. They are the result of collective experiences of people over generations. In a mass society, social institutions are enacted. We create them. We create them by law; we create them by administrative fiat. We have new institutions to meet the new needs of the mass society.
In the small society, personal behavior is traditional. We marry whom our parents, or whatever other institutions, provided for us. We do not haveas we do in the mass societyalternatives forced upon us, of having to choose our mates, our education, our places to live, choose the extent to which we have religiosity, if any.
The bureaucracy is the inevitable by-product of the transition from the small to the mass society. A bureaucracy is an organization with a mission to be performed, a stated set of officials in a hierarchical form to whom there are duties and obligations attached. A series of procedures out of which the mission is to be performed. If it's in government and you're a businessman, you call it red tape. If you're a bureaucracy in business, you call it good management and effective procedure. But bureaucracy is one of the prices we pay for mass society.
If you want to know why we have big government, and why in the new world we are going to have more government, the answer is to be found in increasing size, density, and heterogeneity of the population. We need more government, we have had more government, because we have created a mass society, interdependent, highly vulnerable, calling for umpires at every conceivable turn of the road. And that is why the history of this government, from 1789 to the present time, is going in only one direction: more interventionism, larger numbers of government employees, greater, shall we say, restrictions.
But let me add this final thought. In a mass society, even freedom has been redefined. You've got this very interesting paradox, freedom and the mass society achieved through interventionism by government. I think a classic understanding of that is given by the French philosopher who one time pointed out, "Your freedom to swing your fist stops at the tip of my nose." And in mass society, we have increased interventionism, increased regulations because this is the only way we can protect our freedoms.
This is the pattern of the new world which by reason of increased size and heterogeneity of population has produced new problems, completely unprecedented, for which our traditional social heritage has no answers whatsoever.
Man is the only culture-building animal on the face of the earth who has transformed the world in which he lives and in turn has transformed man, and is still transforming him. This same process has, on the one hand, produced the deviant behavior that we don't like. The breakdown of the traditional order is what is responsible for the criminal, the delinquint, the alcoholic, the drug addict. The same process has also produced the scientist, the engineer, the professor, the designer. These are all deviates. They are all people who have broken out of the traditional order. It's the same process.
I want to close with this thought: The problems of physical structure, of personal behavior, of international behavior in our new world, all may be observed as frictions in the adjustments of man and society in the transition from a small society to the mass society.
To Build Is Everything or Nothing Is Built
The difference between the good and the bad is quite along the razor's edge. It is the little bit of difference which makes all the difference.
The image of scale. The scale which leads us to believe that we have to think in terms of the greater scale, of the enormous complexities of scales without which we cannot even grasp the image of the object with which we have to deal. But strangely enough, the scale I have in mind is a very minor scale. It is the scale of the small element, of the nucleus, of the detail. We actually are the accumulation of small details, and if we do not control these small details, we are not permitted to think in terms of the large scale. From a small scale to the large scale is no problem at all, but it is a great problem to reduce the large scale into a small scale if the large scale exists before we even know what we mean by the small scale.
It is always this thing I again and again try to point out: the difference between the good and the bad, and the known and the unknown, and the meaningful and the meaningless is quite along the razor's edge. It is this tiny little bit of difference which makes all the difference. I say it here because I want to come back to the point in which I say it is not what excites me, the big scale; it is this tiny little thing which makes all the difference.
To build is everything, which means it includes, it embraces everything. The time is past, actually, even if we don't know it, but I am quite sure of this, the time is past in which, for instance, design criteria have any meaning; and so when somebody designs architecture, for instance, it is everything which makes it, and there is no preference to anybody for anything. There is no preference to any particular genius in making renderings or making designs or superimposing surfaces. The whole common effort, the collective work, this is building. The collection of facts.
Today, it seems to me that architecture is not the mother of the arts, as it used to be expressed. On the right side is painting, on the left is sculpture, in the middle is modern architecture. I don't think this is the case. It follows certain events in shaping this world. It's this new world that counts. It's our obligation to prepare the stage for the next step. This new world in passing which can only come about if it can move from one level into the next. These levels are not created by architects. They are created by science, by technology. I am permitted to think in terms of steel if I have steel. I didn't design the tools, machines, equipment, the plant layout. They are all decisions made which constitute the building.
I cannot think on a large scale. I can only follow step by step to build up, then I look upon it and I see how it is and this evidently is it.
The city is a remarkable phenomenon. It is calculated. It is precisely organized and I would like to see this city built which I haven't seen yet, I would like to see the first city which is built by millions of calculated facts, of which every one is known and absolutely impersonal.
Man has to learn to recognize the complexity of everything. He has to learn to cooperate; he has to learn to accept the collective effort. He has to learn to work in a team. He has to learn to work as part of a whole in which he is an essential member of the whole, in which if the slightest little detail would not workthat if in one big engine one little bolt would be missingthe whole engine wouldn't go.
We used to say that the talent of a man is his greatest shortcoming. He likes to go this easiest way, which comes easiest to him. It is more difficult to work without this particular feeling of talent, and I am quite sure that this world is not made by the genius and the talent. It is made by common understanding and by acting in our society in a very related, interlocked way in which one has to rely on the other. This-gives everyone some kind of responsibility, some pride. This man knows that if I don't go today into my study room or office, then the others will suffer. And this makes every man important.
JAN C. ROWAN,
The Victory of Technique over Content
An analysis of the New York World's Fairand what it reveals about our way of life.
One of the differences between our age and the Victorian age, it seems to me, is that we no longer believe that machines will automatically solve all of mankind's ills. We now know that solving some problems, they also create others, and we are much more skeptical about them.
The miracle of science is no longer a miracle for we now know that man can eventually solve all of nature's riddlesit is only a question of time. We shall live longer we know, but we don't know that this longer life will be a happier life. In other words, we do not equate advances in science and technology with fulfillment and happiness. We look at them as inevitable, but not necessarily beneficial. We are interested by new developments, but we are no longer blindly fascinated by them because we always have that big question mark in our minds: What good is it?
It is perhaps of some interest that this problem was recognized by the 1939 New York World's Fair Corporation. From the 1939 promotional brochure, I quote the following sentiments:
"One question remains unansweredWhere are these products and processes of modern civilization leading us? To that question the New York World's Fair will direct attention.
"We of the Fair Corporation believe that business and industry possess today most of the implements and materials necessary to fabricate a new World of Tomorrow. We believe that what are needed at present are not so much new inventions and new products as new and improved ways of utilizing existing inventions and existing products.
It seems that a quarter of a century ago Grover Whalen, who was the guiding spirit of that fair, had some inkling that people might be interested in where "The New World," or a "a new World of Tomorrow" as he called it, is leading us.
What happened then to Robert Moses, the guiding spirit of the 1964-65 Fair, that 25 years later he should insist that a World's Fair be a chaotic amusement park?
The New York World's Fair of 1964-65 will live in memory as a joke on "on our way of life"a frightening commentary on the conspicuous waste, conspicuous ineptitude, and conspicuous stupidity of our civilization.
The layout of the Fair grounds is an exercise in Beaux Arts type of planning popular in the 19th century and continued well into the 20th century. The original design was made for the previous New York Fair, which took place in 1939. The 1964 design follows closely the old layout; the only major difference is that the area is a little smaller because of the impinging new expressways and the inevitable spaghetti coils at intersections.
The reason given by Robert Moses was that for the sake of economy the old utility lines should be used once more. Yet one suspects that the real reason was different. Moses was determined that there should not be a "grand idea" for the Fair as a whole, but instead a laissez-faire must prevail. Moses then made another decision that killed any possibility for at least a semblance of a visual idea. That decision was that the Fair itself would not build anything.
Thus began a great free-for-all. The result was inevitable: a hodge-podge of assorted buildings of every conceivable height, size, shape, and color, scattered along a network of streets designed on the Renaissance town-planning principlea nonsense that equals in magnitude Mr. Moses' famous verbal torrents.
As to the buildings themselves, The Fair was a glaring example of what happens when architects have the problem of designing buildings in isolation, without any reference to a master concept, without any relation to each otherwithout any disciplining influence whatsoever. What can an architect do when the only influence he has is the client who tells him to make the design as eye-catching as possible? If the disciplinary frameworksuch as a strong three-dimensional master plan, clearly articulated circulation routes, a limited choice of materials, and all the other blessedly restraining forcesif such framework does not exist, a visual chaos is bound to result.
This is, of course, the problem that urban America faces today and this problem is merely compounded at the Fair. The typical cityscape of the Fair is really not different in principle from an allAmerican commercial highway development with its hamburger joints, auto showrooms, ice cream stands, and all the other tacky buildings, each one trying to outcry the other.
Within the established concept of the Fairor rather nonconceptthe architecture of individual buildings is of little importance. Even if all the buildings were great masterpieces, the Fair would have been an aesthetic failure.
It so happens that some buildings were good, some not so good, and some pretty awful. Which is what always happens when buildings are built. Some designers are talented, and some have no talent at all. Some clients are enlightened, some less concerned, and some don't care at all. This always has been true and always will be true. The great problem, therefore, is how to create a powerful enough framework within which work of lesser quality could happily fit. This is the crying need of architecture today.
Unlike the 19th-century fairs, the 1964-65 World's fair was not pioneering any new structural systems. There was much ingenuity, however, in the use of materials and methods already well known. From the engineering point of view, what the Fair teaches us is that much can be done with the existing knowledge, but it does not show us any new paths.
In the area of transportation, Moses followed his favorite recipe: Americans love automobiles and parkway travel is great fun. It was fun some thirty years ago when cars were few and the countryside unspoiled.
Still, times change, but Moses doesn't. Somehow he refuses to believe that in a densely populated metropolitan area such as New York, the automobile is not the best means of transportation. And so, instead of trying at least some experimentation with different modes of transportation, he merely widened existing approach roads to the Fair and surrounded it with massive parking lotshardly a novel idea.
Among the many major decisions that Moses made, he chose to ignore the Bureau of International Expositions, and to charge high fees for renting space at the Fair. The results of these two decisions were significant: (1) Since many governments would not participate in the Fair, most of the national pavilions were organized by commercial interests rather than the governments; and (2) exhibiting at the Fair meant a considerable investment of money, which tended to make the exhibitors think more forcefully about a return for their investment.
So the esprit of selling predominated at the Fairthe selling not of ideas but of merchandise. Much money was spent to say, in a most complicated way, either nothing at all, or "buy my products Actually, what most major industrial exhibitors did was to put up super, television-like, commercials. Many of the exhibits were really nothing more than entertainments for selling goods. Even the technique is similar to that of television: the spectator is sitting down and the advertiser manipulates the images.
Within the next generation we shall build as many buildings as exist today, and we shall flood ourselves with more and more goods. There will be more of us, living closer together, with more possessions. How shall we live? What kind of a world will it be? These are the difficult but important questions.
The preservation of natural beauty, significant as it is (which was the subject of a recent White House conference) is a relatively easy problem compared to the problem of creating man-made beauty. What man does will dominate the world more and more. And there is more to man-made environment than the elimination of a few billboards and the creation of little strips of grass. We are moving fast towards a dense, three-dimensional city where most of us will have to live. How to live in such a city a pleasant and meaningful life is the paramount environmental problem of today, a problem that involves not only planning and architecture, but also transportation, communication, and so many other areas of human endeavor.
The New York World's Fair, in its planning, and its buildings, and its exhibits, shows us only what we already know: That we are creating very fast an ugly, inconvenient, depressing environmentfull of gadgetrythat can occasionally hypnotize us through its razzle-dazzle and glitter, but, lacking any significant content, leaves us, in the long run, nervous, uneasy, and empty.
What happened at the Fair is only a magnified example of what is happening all over the country. The Fair's philosophy, politics, economics, administrationthey are all typical of the way things are usually done. Thus the Fair does show very well what "our way of life" is all aboutphysical, emotional, and ideological. And if one believes the Fair, the future will bring only more of the same. This is the Fair's content.
Throughout history, there were always three parties involved in the creation of a significant building, or a significant style: the man who had the idea, the man who had the desire and the means to promote the idea, and, finally, the man who had the skill to carry it outthe architect.
In spite of what we like to think of ourselves, we as-designers whether architects, industrial designers, graphic designers, or whateverare basically technicians. Artistic technicians perhaps, but still technicians. Our job is to interpret ideasto make them workable and aesthetically satisfactory.
And, of course, we usually have no means to promote ideas. In other words, we are not governments or commercial enterprises we are not clients.
Because of the dearth of philosophersof idea originators designers have tended in recent years to assume their role. This is unfortunate, I think, partly because much of the creative energy is drained off from the important area of execution into the area of conceptual thinking and programming, and partly because designers are not necessarily best qualified by either knowledge or temperament to do this.
In a democracy such as ours, the triumvirate of the conceiver, the promoter, and the designer becomes somewhat complex because the masses, via the elective government and the laws of the capitalist economy, are acting to a large extent both as conceivers and promoters in the sense that nothing is ever done without a mass demand for it, or at least an assumption that a mass demand exists.
In the case of the World's Fair there was an assumption that there exists a mass demand for an amusement park and that this amusement park will bring immediate profit to the Fair itself and to the concessionaires, and that it will stimulate future sales of the exhibitors. This was the idea of the Fair, the only ideathis was the content of the Fair.
In the Fair, the designers were merely carrying out their traditional rolesusing techniques at their disposal they carried out, the best they could, the assignments given them. They designed the buildings and they designed the exhibits. They were involved with the technique only.
So if this Fair represents a victory of technique over content, it represents a victory of designers. And a sad victory it is. For we are not the ones who have the power to change the content. That power, in the long run, rests with the people.
The New Scale
The end is to make the earth a garden, a paradise; to make the mountains speak; to manage the earth. Dreams are the true end of man, the true end of which we are actually capable. It may be that we have nothing better to do with this life than to externalize the dream.
Lausanne 1964 Exposition An Experiment in Planning
The need to treat a city as a single, gigantic building.
What I want to talk about briefly is the fact that almost all the techniques to build a workable, urban society are actually in existence and in operation todayonly hardly anyone in authority seems to recognize this simple fact, and certainly none of those with the power to employ and to correlate these techniques understands what is happening, and has been happening for years.
During last year's Aspen Conference there was a brief moment during which Joe Passeneau and I started comparing the city to a single piece of architecture, as if the city were really a single, gigantic building.
This analogy has been haunting me ever sinceit seems to make a fair amount of sense: Whenever an effort is made to treat the city as a single, gigantic building (or a collection of half a dozen gigantic buildings) then certain things seem to become obvious. To start with, it becomes obvious that the reason our cities are disintegrating is that we are building them out of totally unrelated, unassimilated, disconnected pieces of building blocks. The cities we are building today are not the organic single-building cities prophesied by Le Corbusier 35 years ago; but instead, they are just such collections of individual buildings, each meant to be a piece of decoration.
The "pedestrian corridors" of our cities are planned with total -disregard of the high-speed "elevators" or "escalators" of our cities, and vice versa. The "rooms" of our cities are being planned with total disregard for the "utilities" that are meant to serve these rooms and vice versa. And the "walls" of our cities are planned and built with total disregard for the "windows" from which the inhabitants of our cities might look out at a river, or a sunset, or possibly a steamship.
Yet, all over the world, there are prototypes being developed by architects and planners that demonstrate what an organic, integrated, single-building city might be like. Take, for example, the new city near Toulouse. In this city, the essential element is a carefully designed system of pedestrian roads, highways for cars only, other service roads for trucks and so onand all these services are clearly and carefully separated from one another on different levels. Moreover, some of the pedestrian roads and plazas are actually parts of buildingscontained within the tall buildings, at a level about five stories above the ground. There are bridges connecting these pedestrian walks, and some of these will double as shopping arcades. Meanwhile, no one type of service artery ever intersects any other in a level crossing. Finally, because this kind of city is planned around an efficient and workable network of services, buildings can be "plugged into" the service network almost at will, added at will, and replaced when no longer needed.
Kenzo Tange's scheme for Tokyo is similar in principle: a coherent organism, in which elements of different usage and of different character are woven into a single, urban fabric. These new, urban organisms are capable of growth and changeindeed, they are designed to encourage growth and change, rather than inhibit it. And that, of course, must be the prime characteristic of tomorrow's cities.
My first point, then, is that our cities are falling apart at their seams and in their centers because they are being assembled by speculators, by dozens of specialized planners not on speaking terms with one another, and by politicians on different levels of authority who jealously guard their own little prerogatives. In addition, we are operating within systems of geographic gerrymandering that makes coherent action totally impossible.
My second, and final, point is this: Although we seem incapable of mastering the political techniques to create organic cities, we have mastered the technical means all over the place, and without really knowing what we were doing.
For example, Professor Colin Buchanan, in his report for the British Government on "Traffic in Towns," pointed out that the city of Venice was a most modern prototype, of considerable significance to our time. For here was a full-scale demonstration of two entirely separate, but closely integrated traffic systems, operating at different speeds and on different levels: one a pedestrian system, the other a system of canals.
An example of how a certain degree of creative and unconventional thinking might change the shapes of things in our cities:
It would be quite easy, obviously, to build a bridge or a superhighway which would contain within the depth of its structural deck, enough space to accommodate thousands of cars, so that you would have a ring of parking garages around the center city. But the people in charge of highways don't talk to the people in charge of building garages, and so that is that.
Let us look at the Lausanne Exposition of last summera marvelous demonstration of the potentials that exist today for the revitalization of our cities. In it, the Swiss National Exposition made an important contribution to urban design. There was a monorail train operating therea charming, sort of San Francisco-type contraption.
This monorail was not merely a little train running around in circles; it was an exceedingly convenient vehicle that took you under, and over, and right through the buildings of the Exposition. It was a dramatic demonstration of how different kinds of transportation systemsin cities, for examplecould be separated from one another on different levels, and how those systems could operate quite independently of existing streets, waterways, buildings, and all the rest.
The New Motivations of Leaders of Industry
The businessman's dilemma of why he is in business.
This material is based on a book by the author soon to be published by Simon & Schuster.
Of all the people who have possessed wealth in the history of man, the contemporary businessman is supposed to have the greatest stake in the theory that money can buy a measurable degree of happiness. It is assumed that his personal goals are to make as much money as he can and to spend his money well and wisely, thereby achieving a pleasant and satisfying life.
This grand expectation, however, is less than fully shared by the successful executive who reaches the exalted heights of wealth and discovers there is more than a grain of truth in the teachings of those wise men who have always insisted that the pleasures of money fall short of their promise.
Sheer enjoyment of wealth for the privileges it brings was once the fondest dream of ambitious men. But as early as the middle of the 19th century, some businessmen were already expressing reservations about the license exhibited by the rich, and wondering whether they should put a brake on their own ambitions.
Businessmen went on through the 19th and 20th centuries getting richer and richer. This increase, in itself, brought about profound changes in the rich man's attitude towards lavish spending. Wealth was no longer the property of the privileged few; any businessman who became moderately successful could become a millionaire. And any man who had a lot of money was self-conscious about spending it too flamboyantly because he knew there were so many others in his class and plenty more who were still richer.
The size of fortunes which during this period grew to such giant proportions became a matter of pride with businessmen and there was an increasing tendency to keep their capital intact and only spend its interest for their pleasures.
Other changes contributed to the businessman's growing reluctance to spend money with total abandon the writings of Karl Marx and other critics of capitalism, trade unions, the muckraking press, the two world wars, and a series of depressions.
The result was not a reduction in the amount of money spent by successful businessmen for personal pleasure, but circumspection in the way they spent it. So, although at times they may have spent even more money than their predecessors on luxuries, they tried to choose extravagances which would not seem grotesque to people with less money.
As the enjoyment of wealth decreased over the last half century, dedication to hard work in business increased. The first examination of this rejection of the easy life was made by Max Weber in his "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." Weber suggested that this reverence for work and frugality had its origins in the Protestant ethic and that it made inevitable a senseless drive for wealth that no one could use. He felt that Luther, Calvin, and other Protestant leaders created the ultimate bridge between the unlikely companions of religion and wealth. He quoted Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who made one of the most remarkable statements in capitalist literature: "Religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches." He was disturbed by this, but concluded: "We ought not to prevent people from being diligent and frugal; we must exhort all Christians to gain all they can, and to save all they can; that is, in effect, to grow rich."
With the declining enjoyment of wealth, businessmen found their salvation as never before in the virtues of work. It was the job that counted, not the fortune. As Henry Ford put it, money was just what the businessman used to keep tally. "Work is the salvation of the race, morally, physically, socially. Work does more than get us our living, it gets us our life."
In 191 1, a banker named Frederick Townsend Martin gave the first hint of how the businessman might escape from his iron cage not by learning to enjoy leisure but by finding a worthier purpose for his work. He insisted that businessmen should reject the "palsying touch of gold" and take their stand in the front ranks as champions of justice, equality, and honor.
In all fairness, it should be pointed out that Andrew Carnegie had groped for this solution 30 years earlier in his book, "Gospel of Wealth." The thesis Carnegie developed in the latter part of his life was that the businessman should try to make a fortune in order to be a trustee for the poor; rather than have the wealth of the community wasted in pleasures of the moment, it should be gathered together by wise men who would administer it for the community far better than it could or would do for itself.
If the businessman is a sensitive person, the idea of being more interested in human values than in money touches a deep chord within him and he is drawn more and more into thinking seriously about that aspect of his work.
Undoubtedly, profit is the best test of whether the business is being run skillfully and unless it meets this test it cannot exist at all. But it has nothing to do with the deeper purposes which should exist if the business is to be of any value to civilization. It has nothing to do with the profound motivations which stir the inner being of a man who wants to give his company a sense of purpose in the world, or a man who is personally serious about the business of living and who does not want to waste his life in an enterprise that has little meaning in the larger scheme of things.
Careful investigators have no doubt that values higher than profit are of concern to businessmen. A survey by Elmo Roper on the values most highly rated by executives in their own lives found that recognition and dignity were at the top of the list.
Implicit in the report is an awareness on the part of businessmen that there is an aspect of greatness in what they are doing, and the degree of satisfaction they get from their work depends on how effectively that quality makes itself felt both by themselves and by the community.
The tremendous interest in publicity which has become apparent in recent years is a product of this desire on the part of executives to be something more than money earners.
The ubiquity of the phrase "public image" in its heyday will be difficult for future historians to visualize. Contrary to popular belief, the phrase does not owe its popularity to public relations men or to industrial designers. The phrase endures not because there is a clever promotion to perpetuate it, but because it reaches deep into the hearts of men who are dissatisfied with themselves.
The personal inclinations of the top executive can directly influence the way he runs his business. This is evident, for instance, with corporate executives who have a keen interest in the fine arts. Successful businessmen who have an appreciation for cultural values have a natural desire to surround themselves with creative works. This has resulted not only in inspiring surroundings for places of work, but in corporate-sponsored cultural programs of all sorts. This may have had little constructive effect on product, pricing, and personnel policies but it has helped to transform corporations into instruments of human betterment and corporate managers into leaders of an aspiring civilization.
In time we can hope that business itself may become an art, and the businessman's purpose will be like the artist's to seek immortality through his works. When executives are called upon to make a speech, write an article, name a product, choose a trademark, or approve a design for a building, they are encountering new experiences. By accepting the conclusion that his ultimate purpose is not to sell merchandise but to ennoble his life, his activities can become as exciting and rewarding as those of any artist whose whole life is devoted to such a goal. If the rewards of such experiences can ever be accepted by management dogma as legitimate ends of executive activity, the businessman's dilemma of why he is in business may be resolved.
The revolutionary change in our new world is that man has now achieved the power he has sought for so long, the power to control his environment, to control his physiology, and to control his psychology. Thus, we have unlimited power. Now, what does this express itself in?
First, we have unlimited destructive power.
Second, we have unlimited productive power.
Third, we have unlimited information movementthe combination of the number of academics with the informationproducing power of the computer insures that there is infinitely more information available than any of us can possibly absorb or even read.
Fourth, we soon will have unlimited knowledge of psychology and physiologythis challenges the birth, as we already know, and the Roman Catholic issue on birth control, but it challenges perhaps even more curiously the definition of death. Death was in the past a rather simple phenomenon. The heart stopped beating, and except in rare or exceptional cases, the person was dead. Today, you can start the heart beating again and you can start the heart beating after the patient has suffered irrevocable brain damage. Is such a person alive?
Fifth and finally, we have the creation of the technological order, the technological order which is replacing the natural order, an order based on nature. And a technological order which cannot possibly be turned back. I think there is a very real danger that we may try to turn it back, and I perceive in this country the beginnings of something I call the Neo-Luddite movementa movement to smash the machines, a movement to get rid of the things which are taking our jobs and taking our personalities. If we do, we will lose, and at the same time we will lose all the energy that we could use to control them and use them for our advantage.
Obviously, our technology can be used to produce a better world in which we can achieve the aims which we have striven for so longa world in which the individual can do what he wants to do because the machines will do the toiling, and a world in which there will be enough resources for everyone to have a decent standard of living.
Is this achievable? I think one thing you have to be willing to accept, if you think it's achievable, is that the human being, while not perfectable, is not fundamentally irresponsible and can move toward responsibility.
I try quite often to think of a world order with unlimited power where man can be irresponsible and I am not being successful in achieving that. I do not mean by this a naive idealism, a belief that man will be perfect, but only that we can set up a social order that is based on the assumption that man does accept responsibility in general, that man is not fundamentally lazy in general, that most people wish to do something worthwhile with their lives. Now this does not mean that everybody does. I was talking to a financier recently about my ideas, and he said: "You know, we get so confused. We talk about the element of bums among the poor. Well, the only problem about this, it doesn't really matter what the income class is. Three per cent of all income classes are bums."
Now, the suggestions I am going to make will be acceptable to you if you believe that man is fundamentally responsible. They will be totally unacceptable to you if you do not believe this, or if, alternatively, you believe that it is very good to be able to coerce other human beings, because our present system is a very good method of coercing human beings, and the suggestions I will make will be methods of setting the individual free to do what he believes to be important rather than what somebody else believes to be important.
My first suggestion is that everybody is entitled to a guaranteed income, sufficient to live with dignity as an absolute rightan absolute constitutional right. That at a time when the machines can turn out enough production for everybody, it is no longer necessary to force people into factories, or into offices, or into jobs unless they want a beer. That if they have something they believe to be important, they should be allowed to carry it through. This does not mean they get as much as somebody who is willing to do a job, but it does mean that they will have enough to be able to live with dignity.
Secondly, I believe we have to introduce something which I call permitted spending. An income maintenance scheme which will take care of the very substantial number of middle-income people who are going to lose their jobs to the computer.
We have just begun to worry about the issue of the poor who are going to lose their jobs, the unskilled who are going to lose their jobs. We haven't even begun to comprehend the fact that a very wide range of middle-income jobs are going to be computerized out of existence in the next ten years. There are so many areas I'll cite only a couple:
First, the ability of Detroit to design on a computer basis from the clay mock-up of the automobile. Secondly, the ability of the computer to take over the. process of odd-lot trading on Wall Streeta job which currently pays those fortunate enough to be involved $50,000 a year.
I would suggest to you that it is neither socially wise nor politically feasible to allow these people to drop from a middle-income level to the poverty level because they lose their jobs on the basis of computer developments, and that we have, therefore, to develop methods of maintaining their income. Those of you who are interested in the details will have to look up my book, "Free Men and Free Markets," where I went into the practical methods, costs, low levels of income maintenance, etc.
Now what would be the consequences? First, as soon as a guaranteed income and permitted spending are available, the individual who wants to, can break out of the consumption race. He says, I want to live on a lower income, but I want to do what is important to mehe will be able to say, "I opt out," because he will be entitled to an income.
Second, it will allow the individual to do what he believes to be important. The guaranteed income allows the individual to take risks, to do what he thinks is important without dropping out of society. Thirdly, the guaranteed income would have a major decentralizing effect on society. As soon as individuals could live without having to attract some form of incomeproducing job, whether it be firms or educational establishments, they can decide that they want a totally different form of town, city, village. They can opt for a garden city, an educational city, whatever seems to them to be important, because the sources will not come from a firm, they will come from the government.
Fourth, there will be the development of new kinds of work organizations, particularly which I have called the consentive type, the type of organization where people will work together if they find they want to do so. In the consentive, there will be no element of coercion, because nobody is paying the wages, and if somebody wants to leave, they just leave, they don't like it. The possibility of voluntary work, of course, is also greatly increased.
What happens with the computer, the new technology, is the abolition of toilthings which people have to do because they have to gain an incomenot the abolition of work, things which people find useful, important and challenging, in themselves.
REV. WILLIAM F. LYNCH, S.J.,
The Human Imagination
Our American culture is committed to the large scale, but it is the small human scale that must be preserved.
My theme today is the new massive lines and shapes that are rapidly emerging in our new great age must not commit the error of ignoring or wiping out the smaller lines or measurements of our human world.
Let me say first that we have to learn to use the large line in such a way as not to destroy the smaller human line and that we obviously have not always succeeded in the past.
Illustration No. 1: I start with the idea of the American melting pot. The melting pot, as you all know, is meant to melt things down and produce a common Americanism. We have all had to live with the results of that decision. And on the whole we have accepted it without much questioning of the destructive aspects of this decision. We accepted the wiping out of the inward lines of the organism by the great lines of the melting pot. Whole peoples when they came here were persuaded to give up their music and their dances, their rhythms, and their gestures.
It was the same way with languages. Here was a nation that for obvious reasons could have become the greatest linguistic race ever invented by historical development and chance. But I think it turned out we are linguistically one of the poorest nations. We literally do not know languages, or it is only at the cost of much labor that we come to some grip on them.
Many people had decided that to belong to the large and common line of Americanism it was necessary, necessary indeed out of shame, to give up their own languages.
So we grew up to fear the smaller human lines that diversified or would have diversified us.
It was as though we had decided that if there were smaller human diversifying lines, there could not be larger unifying lines. As though we could not have both. An either/or mentality. I use this as an example of how surely we must learn to think in other fields as we move further and further into the great lines of nuclear power, special distance, speed, and new massive architecture. A giant world of image, production, transmission, and how many other things of massive scale.
This new world must learn how to build the smaller lines into it.
My own interest, if I may identify myself a little, is in the imagination in many of its forms. I am interested in the literary imagination and I'm interested in the relationship of the imagination to reality, in its capacity to imagine the real. I think this is the great est vocation of the imagination, to imagine the real. In this way I distinguish imagination from phantasy. And I think we need imagination to see facts. T. S. Eliot said that one of the greatest tests of a civilization and a culture is its ability to see a fact.
And I've been especially interested lately in the relationship of the imagination to hope and of hope to the imagination. Hope is like the imagination and the scientific method of hypothesis in one respect. Like both, like the imagination and like the method of scientific hypothesis, it is always proposing that the last word has not yet been said. That there may be an exit or a way out... the kind of hope that infiltrates the action of the imagination or the process of scientific hypothesis whenever either goes into action.
In our American culture, we are I think from the beginning committed to the large scale, and it does no good to say that we shouldn't, because we always will. Our job is to handle it better and more humanly, insisting that it keep restoring the smaller lines into its massive context.
Take the world of film. We tried big things from the beginning: "The Birth of a Nation," "The Tale of Two Cities," "Oliver Twist," "The Ten Commandments," "Ben Hur," "The King of Kings," "War and Peace," "Cleopatra," "The End of the World," "Dr. Strangelove." Finally we tackled even that, the end of the world. We not only had to do the big thing but big satires of the big thing.
I call this the magnificent imagination, and it can be good. But also its alleged powerful feelings can mask the presence of no feelings at all. So much can it wipe out the smaller actual reality, and be a kind of a camouflage, counterfeit of the smaller thing that is not present any more, the smaller actual feeling.
So it's the alleged powerful feelings of the magnificent imagination that can mask the presence of no feelings at all. Here again the larger line wipes out the smaller, or it is a pitiful imitation of the smaller.
A picture can seem to be full of powerful feeling and shock, and the fact is that there's no feeling at all because after all, an actual slight moment of embarrassment is the difficult thing to handle and the real actuality, as an example of what human feelings are.
We are tempted to say that this is simply a problem of our popular culture. It is not, because I think the problem seeps down from the problem of the intellectual in this direction. We all have this problem. So in my description of the magnificent imagination, I use the word "magnificent" in a critical sense. By it I mean that kind of imagination preeminently working in the popular media, in this case, which leaps too quickly to the splendid, the spectacular, the extreme, the magnificent, skipping in the process all those intermediate realities of man and nature which might give some support to our leaping.
There is a threat from the new popular mediafilm, television, .etc., to the regional imagination. This other phase of the question involves a different and wider perspective than the working of the magnificant imagination in a particular film or program. What I am here concerned with is the threat imposed upon all forms of the regional imagination in the United States by the massive inclination of the image industry to create a single, national imagination for the people throughout the whole country, to wipe out lines.
I'd like to come back, again, to a few more remarks about hope. I imagine two things about hope. I imagine hope as the hope that there is a larger line, whether in physics or in human life. Hope hopes that we have not come to a closed world and that the last word has not been said or known to us about the world. And the other reverse of that is there is a hope that the smaller thing, by living within it, can be productive of this larger line. So that we move through the human to get anywhere. We do not have to move through some world that does not belong to us or that is not ourselves. And I think this is one of the things that the religious imagination is trying to work out in our day. And we can define faith in these terms as the scientific method at its last step, putting on, if I may say so, putting on the mind of God.
JAMES W. ROUSE,
ColumbiaA Garden To Grow People
How one developer set about building a rational city instead of just another monotonous suburb.
In the new worldas in the oldour American cities grow by chance, by accident, by the whim of private developers and public agencies. A farm is sold, houses mushroom, nearby another farm gives way to the bulldozer. Down come the forests, up fill the valleys, the streams surrender to storm sewers. Kids overflow the schools, here a new school is built, there a church, then more churches. Traffic grows, roads are widened, expressways cut through. Shopping centers, office buildings, apartments, service stations, Tasty-Freeze, MacDonald's hamburgers pockmark the old highways. Relentlessly, the pieces of a city are splattered across the landscape.
By this process, a non-community is borna formless place without order, beauty, or reason, with no visible respect for the landscape or the people who replace it. Thousands of small, separate decisions made with little or no relationship to one another nor to their composite impact produce a major decision about the future of our cities and our civilizationa decision we have labeled "suburban sprawl"
Why is this so? Why in a nation with such enormous capacity to produce is there such bewilderment in the production of the environment in which we grow our people? How can we be so deeply committed to the elimination of slum, blight, and oppressiveness at the heart of our cities, and, at the same time, abandon our countryside to reckless, explosive, disordered growth?
The answer is easy and frightening. We simply have no machinery, no process, no organized capacity in the United States to do otherwise. There is no industry of city buildingonly an industry of building the bits and pieces of the city. We have a tradition of fractured growth, piecemeal planning, small developers and small developments.
The biggest single industry in Americathe end product production of the American cityhas no large corporations engaged in it, no general Motors, no General Electric, no Xerox, except for the occasional accident of a large landholding remaining in single ownership. There is almost no private vehicle by which planning and development occurs on a scale sufficiently large to provide sensitively for nature or for man. And local government has been unable and largely uninterested in filling the vacuum.
We will add 70,000,000 people in the next twenty years, all in our many metropolitan areas. Yet there is not one single urban area in the United States with a comprehensive plan for future development that can match the growth it knows it must face.
Local government lack the plans. And even if they had the plans, they lack the powers and processes to execute them.
We were drawn to the idea of building a city by our intensive involvement in suburban sprawl. As mortgage bankers and developers, we have financed for others or built for our own account most of the components of a citybut they have been the unrelated bits and pieces that mark the accidental, fractured growth of our cities.
We have seen, as has each of you, the desperate need for comprehensive planning for metropolitan growth. We have made speeches about the loneliness and sterility of stratified, incomplete suburban sprawl and pleaded for communities in scale with people and responsive to the need for beauty, space, nature, culture, education, entertainment and involvement. We have mourned the annihilation of streams and forests, cursed the bulldozer, fretted over the lack of mass transit and wrung our hands in despair as our cities surge toward the infinite Los Angeles that we have come to call Megalopolis.
From this awareness, we began asking ourselves questions: Why not build a rational city? Why not bring together in orderly relationship to one another the pieces of urban growth? Why not arrange them with respect for nature and for man? Would not the interaction of these purposes strengthen each? Would not such a city be such an appealing place to live and work or run a business that it would be profitable indeed to produce it?
Prodded by the answers to our questions, we are now building Columbia, a city of 110,000, scheduled for completion by 1980, located midway between Washington and Baltimore.
Our experience in Columbia has meaning for you and this conference, primarily in the process by which it is being born. Columbia is not a spectacular innovation but careful craftsmanship. It puts to work the knowledge that is all around us in an attempt to provide intelligently for the people who will live there.
The process begins with a determination to build a whole city not just a better suburb. There is no dialogue between people engaged in urban design and development and the behavioral sciences. Why not? Why not bring together a group of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to view the prospect of a new city and shed light on how it might work best for people?
We commenced a work group of 14 men and women for that purpose: a psychiatrist in the school of public health at Johns Hopkins; a psychology professor from the University of Michigan; a sociologist from the University of Pennsylvania who lived for two years in Levittown studying its people; an educator; the city manager of Oakland, California; the commissioner of recreation of Philadelphia; a sociologist from the General Electric Company; a social scientist; a political scientist; an economist; and others. We metthis work group and our architects and plannersevery two weeks for two days and a night for six months.
We weren't seeking a blueprint for a Utopian society. We didn't want a report, a recommendation or even agreement. We wanted conversation in depth, about man, his family, and his institutions. We wanted to allow these overlays, these insights about people, to influence the physical plan and institutions we should seek to stimulate in the community, just as we allowed the plan to be influenced by the land itself.
What would be the best possible school system in a city of 110,000, the best health system? What about recreation and communications? In what size neighborhood do people feel most comfortable? In what kind of community the most effectively challenged? The most creative? What about homogeneity vs. heterogeneity? How might religion be made most effective in the growth of people? What would all these questions and these answers say about the plan for a new city?
Our final goal was profit. This was no residual goal, not something just to be hoped for. It was our prime objective. The profit purpose was alive and creative throughout the planning process. It was casting the votes for what people want and care enough about to pay for.
It was continually moderating the temptation towards sentimentality and sophistication. It hauled dreams into focus with reality, produced bone and muscle solutions; brought deep integrity into the ultimate plan.
Thus, you see the comprehensiveness of the opportunity if one would build a city. The design of a city is not the design of buildings, or even blocks or neighborhoods or a downtown district. It embraces all the institutions and processes by which man lives. It draws upon each to condition, influence and strengthen the other in order that the physical place where man and his family reside, the processes by which they live, and the institutions which support them, may together produce the most effective possible environment for their growth as free, productive and inspired people.
Here are some of Columbia's goals:
Columbia's plan will respect the land, "not just because the land is beautiful, but because it is fundamental to a good environment." Major areas of permanent open space, wildlife sanctuaries, parks, recreational facilities, and scenery will be provided for example there will be three golf courses and 600 acres of lakes. Trees, stream valleys, and other natural amenities will be preserved.
Columbia will consist of ten small villages clustered around a town center. Each village will be of different size and character and be built around a parklike square bordered by shops, churches, a medical center, library, school, etc. Each village will consist of five or six neighborhoods, each neighborhood comprising 500 to 600 families, and each built around a neighborhood center designed for the whole family. Here will be an elementary school, child care center, swimming pool, tennis courts, small general store, meeting place for clubs, teenagers, etc.
The town center will be built along a lake which will be incorporated into the town life instead of being sealed off by autoways as has happened in many U.S. waterfront cities. Docks for small pleasure boats, a concert hall, theaters, restaurants, hotels, etc. will be built along the water's edge. Further landward will be offices and commercial buildings surrounded by gardens and fountains. Behind them will be a glass-enclosed, air-conditioned shopping mall with more than 100 stores. A 40-acre stand of trees will be preserved as a town park.
Columbia's homes will range from elevator apartments to ten-acre estates. The average overall density will be two families per acre with a guarantee of preservation of more than one acre out of four as permanent open space.
Unsightly commercial development will be restricted, including the barring of roadside signs and unattractive lighting of all kinds. Power and utility lines will be underground, eliminating disfiguring poles and wires.
There will be three separated transportation systems. The villages and neighborhoods will be linked together by a transit system of small buses operating on their own roadways. A second, or pathway, system for walking, bicycle and horseback riding will go over or underbut never intersecta third system of auto roads and highways.
High standards of landscaping will be established throughout the community. Highways and streets, parks, squares, etc. will be carefully planted and permanently maintained at no expense to the county.
Major utilities and services, including roads, sewers, and water, will be provided at no additional cost to the county.
STEWART L. UDALL,
In a world as complex, as hectic, as ugly in many ways as our world is, we need all of the beauty and balance and order and privacy we can get.
There has been too much tendency in the past, it seems to me, for the architects, the designers in the main, to feel they're concerned solely with the works of man and unconcerned about nature. And on the other hand, my conservationist friends have been deeply and religiously and devoutly involved in all kinds of conservation problems involving the natural world and altogether too many of them haven't been concerned about the things that man has done. We've got to break down these walls... it's all part of one problem.
If we have reached the point where good design means efficiency, where investing in a good design or in a scheme of beauty is the best investment a businessman can make, we may have reached the point that Walter Gropius speculated on a few years ago when he said we wouldn't really begin to build with greatness in this country until we had the right combination of politicians, artists, scientists, and enlightened businessmen. Maybe this is coming about. Certainly, if we have reached the point, where in terms of building and rebuilding our cities, that doing it with distinction and doing it with a sense of beauty is going to be the best way and the most profitable way to do it, if we can get the profit motive working in our favor, if we can also change our tax laws and do other things, why the great day may be at hand.
Let me look for a moment at some of the grounds for optimism. I think of President Johnson's special message to Congress on the new conservation, on natural beauty, on design. If you haven't read it, get hold of it and read it. It's the first message of its kind that's ever been sent to the Congress, to the American people. It really, as I read it, for the first time makes beauty and good design a part of our national purpose. It perhaps isn't part of our natural purpose yet, but the fact the President says it ought to be is certainly a piece of good news.
I think the fact that for the first time, instead of engineers building highways in a straight line between two points and wrecking everything in the way, that we have a new dimension in highway design. The fact that the people in the billboard industry are showing some restraint and are beginning to realize what you people realized all along: That there's a time and a place for advertising and for all these things, and that things can be done with taste in the right place. I'm encouraged by the fact that in a small community like Aspen itself, they are having success in developing a consensus that they should regulate the size of advertising signs and carry on other projects which preserve and conserve the beauty of this region.
It seems to me that if these new currents are at work in the country, that if the enlightened businessman, and if the politicians eventhe Dick Lees of the country and may their tribe increaseare increasingly sensitive to these values; in fact, once our politicians discover that the people are ready for and will support beauty, and I think the people are ready in this country, I think then this thing is really going to begin to roll. I think you people may have a better audience than you know.
I suggested at a convention of the American Institute of Architects recently that I thought the time had come for more of Frank Lloyd Wright's honest arrogance. I invited them to be arrogant, to speak up, and to point out the good and the bad, and to not sit in the back row and merely fire words of criticism now and then, but to state what's wrong and tell the American people how it can be righted.
The new conservation will succeed. We can succeed in rebuilding our cities and urban areas with distinction, and in creating new towns of distinction if we have a reverence for the land, a reverence for life. If we develop a new sense of the importance of design. Certainly, in a world as complex, as hectic, as ugly in many ways as our world is, we need all of the beauty and balance and order and privacy we can get, and let's go get it.
An excerpt from a film
What is the crowning glory of your civilization... the symbol as clear a statement as the pyramids, the Parthenon, the cathedrals? What is this symbol? What is its name? Its name is Junk. Junk is the rusty, lovely, brilliant symbol of the dying years of your time. Junk is your ultimate landscape.
The Interrelations between Ethics and Power in Design
It is necessary to develop a new type of snobbery where the president of the largest industrial combine is considered a second-rater unless he has furthered the fitness and beauty of our age.
Like everybody, I've hashed out my own principles, or let's call them modestly guiding notes, about design. They are based on the recovery of unityunity such as the Greeks had. That unity is the basis of any valid style is in thought banal, but not in the striving for.
I try to fight three forms of atomization in design. One is the separating and over-stressing the practical function of a designed article as against the total function of that object. The second form of atomization which I'm trying to fight against is the creation and the critical appraisal of objects by themselves instead of in their total frame. Thirdly, and to my mind the most historically wrong and immensely harmful, is the division between pure and applied art.
From cars to tables and glasses, it is the artistic quality that counts, and whether this artistic quality expresses itself once in a canvas or a thousand times in a chair, is far less important than the noli me tangere type of artist and critic would have us believe. Think back far enough to the great agesthe Egyptians, the Greeks, the Gothic and the Baroquewhere art was total, in most cases applied, and in some cases in all but name, mass-produced. As for instance, the Attic vases which stand in museums as great art and which even the noli me tangere boys (art is pure and let us not get soiled with commercial design) rave about. This leads me into my subject because already we have to deal with a power, that is to say the power of conbention, the convention that putting colors on canvas is somehow a higher form of aesthetic activity than composing a room, a house, or a town. We're also dealing with a power of dealers, of critics, and of experts who are interested, commercially interested, in maintaining that convention.
Let me make clear what I mean by power. By power, I mean all powerfrom position, money, reputation, down to impressing the girl friend. This battle runs through all human spheres. And by ethics, design ethics, I mean all the unselfish motives of striving for beauty and self-satisfaction through it.
Power in itself is not really immoral and therefore in design as in other fields, not the true opposite of the good (the fitting, the satisfying, the beautiful). It is usually only the effect of power on the individual that is bad. Power, in itself, like another human quality, enthusiasm, is neutral. They are motors, and it depends whether they are harnessed to an iron lung or a gas chamber.
It is important for many of the pure and ineffective apostles of good design to recognize that they must come to terms with power It is the job of the design apostle to achieve a hearing and an influence with the wielder of power (the maker and the seller, the politician in state and town) who decides in the all-important field of public design. The really serious apostle of good design should always be aware that when he washes his hands of these "bad" wielders of power and prefers discussion with the congenial, that is to say the already convinced, he is falling down on his job
In order to make an impact on the wielders of power, the apostle of good design must tackle the extremely difficult task of speaking the language of power without beginning himself to accept the motivation of power. What I mean is this: For the wielder of power, moral incentives are not enough. Humanity just is not moral enough to achieve even morality without other incentives
What are these other incentives for the powerful? I repeat: Money, position, reputation, and honors (not to be underestimated, the desire to impress the female of the species).
It is therefore necessary to develop and play on a new type of snobbery, where the powerful (and it is high time, because technical progress and modern marketing have made so many of us powerful) where the president of the largest industrial combine is considered a second-rater unless he has furthered the fitness and beauty of our age.
This sort of positive snobbery can of course be influenced. An easy way is for government to begin to hand out prizes, honors, decorations, and titles for achievement in this field. The time is ripe, because the wielders of power are beginning to suspect the horrid truth that power without ethical achievement is not much more than an empty belch across the stage of history. I'm sure that Pericles or the Medici were not more moral than the politicians and bosses of our time. They just had a more intelligent snobbery.
I also suggest that government must support good design by monetary rewards. Why are there grants and measures of tax relief for the development of backward areas or backward countries, for scientific research, but none or almost none for development in design? Credits and tax relief should go to people who have done good work in design from pots to palaces.
Is there really an ethical factor in design or is beauty somehow outside the field of morals? I think not, because all human activities have but one final purpose: human satisfaction and human development in the fullest sense. Yes, this even applies to design. Fitness and beauty are made for human contentment in the deepest sense and for refining the experience of the senses.
If we always realized this, always came back to this standard, we, the people concerned with fitness and beauty, would be a little less inclined to fight among each other about what direction beauty should takeabstract or expressionist, severe or decorated and concentrate our not-too-strong forces on the first essentials, which are quite simply awareness of fitness and beauty and the love of things.
The first, and probably the most important field where the balance of power and of design ethics is amiss, is the field of education. The education of the young of all ages ishere's another banality for youthe very root of design consciousness and of design ability. It is necessary to change the syllabus, to teach the young what they will have to deal with in life, to teach them the business of living.
We must not teach the young so much what treasons Alcibiades committed, but what house he lived in and what cup he drank out of. We must teach board and bedding before borders and battles. To get across to the young the beauty of our surroundings, the first essential is not the teaching of knowledge, but the awakening of the capacity to love things.
What has power to do with this? Very simply almost everything. No preaching and no changing of syllabus will do much to remedy the state of things where the young are largely brought up in human inexperience and visual illiteracy until we change the power status of the teaching profession. The first nation that upgrades the teacher will have the future, simply because the effect of the teacher is multiplied and multiplied in everything and therefore also in design. Pay the teachers more than the manager and the politician and the quality of teaching will rise almost of itself.
And now more about the relationship between the actual designer and the wielder of power. The worst thing that happened is the pretense that "good design sells better." Having once tried to catch the power wielder in industry and trade with this claptrap of "good design sells better," the designerbusinessmen were caught in their own noose. Of course, the modern, functional clean design sold better while it was new, but once the newness had gone off, they had, in order to prove "that good design sells better," to come up with something new all the time. And that led to rotten compromises.
Let me make clear: Good design does not sell better. Given a tremendous and thorough advertising and selling effort behind it, it can sell as well, it can establish a reputation and eventually sell longer, and at a better price.
All of us are in reality such a small minority against the vast mass of people unconcerned in design that to fight one another seems to me the height of stupidity. If only we can make aware every European or American tourist dutifully staring in rapid and indigestible succession at the Acropolis, Chartres Cathedral, or the Burgerhouses of Rothenburg that when he goes home to build a factory, a store, or only to furnish a flat, he so often defiles the world as much as those Greeks, French, and Germans beautified it. It's unawareness of our own ghastly responsibility that is the root of the trouble. We feel bad about the temporary litter of throwing a newspaper or a half-eaten hot dog away in the park, but not about the concrete and other indestructible litter we leave over town and country.
The greatest wielder of power of them all is the state and town corporation. Good design can never be produced by a bureaucracy and good design cannot come through democratic. i.e.. the committee decision.
What is to be done? The same as with the large private corporations, the same as a democracy has to do in war, when it delegates authority to the military or to the war cabinet. The fight against the ugliness of our surroundings is a running war with all the risks involved.
A state, a town corporation, must appoint some sort of visual culture coordinator for a sufficiently long term, under whom the town planner and the traffic planner are only departmental heads; not a specialist, not an artist, not an architect, not a designer, but an all-round man with understanding and taste and diplomacy and strength, who can listen to the best, decide, and then carry the program through.
I also suggest that this solution would interfere less with private architectural and design initiative than the horrible watering down they get when they have to be pushed through a committee.
What we need to achieve equilibrium between ethical and power motives in design, is neither the pure paragon unwilling to dirty his hands, nor the pillar of power who is a design anarchist. We need whole men. According to their mental makeup, either the idealist who knows that his very idealism demands that he goes down into the arena to fight with diplomacy and elbows, or the realist who is sufficiently intelligent to realize that power without ethics is very unreal indeed.
The rubber wheel rather than the metal wheel still provides the most answers to U.S. transportation needs.
Future transportation systems for most Americans will continue to revolve around the rubber wheel rather than the metal wheel. No "fixed-track" transportation system, however ambitious and creative, can compete with the automobile for service and economynot only are they too expensive and elaborate, they are too permanent, too inflexible for our rapidly changing society.
Little comfort can be taken from the widely reported "highspeed" rail transit systems. While the average speeds on the rail line itself may be almost double those of present day systems, the analysts, the press, and the public remain in ignorance of the fact that time savings from increased speed on the line will be more than forfeited by the time losses experienced by having the stations farther apart. In short, extra time spent in extra walking and in local bus, subway, and car transportation will more than balance out the line savings.
Future transportation in America may include such advances as these, all based on the rubber wheel:
Highly efficient express bus operations in which the busy company buys "rights-of-way" just as the railroad companies did, with the buses traveling not only on their own private roadways but also entering residential areas.
A computerized, multi-passenger taxi system with a systemized "car-pooling" arrangement in which the cab is automatically dispatched to selected homes because the residents wish to go to roughly the same location.
Original format: Twenty-four page booklet, 9 by 12 inches; covers unfold to 36 inches. Photos by Milmoe.