The Greenberg Revolution: City Building in the 21st Century

Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder

? 2011: Ken Greenberg

Ken Greenberg has worked in an enviable number of cities around the world – Amsterdam, New York, St. Paul, Montreal, Boston, San Juan, Toronto … we could keep going – and in his new book Walking Home he brings this experience and knowledge to a discussion of city building. Eschewing the negative outlook of many urban writings, Greenberg’s book is filled with positive, constructive dialogue about how we can improve the conditions in our cities, from building better public spaces, to increasing density in smart and sensitive ways, to connecting cities back to their waterfronts.

For Greenberg, city building is best done incrementally, inserting density and contemporary buildings into the existing fabric of the city, building upon what is already there as opposed to starting with a blank canvas. In this way we can create more dynamic and organic spaces, allowing our cities to evolve over time. He calls this an open-platform kind of city building; the role of the urban designer is to create flexible spaces that can adapted to different uses over time.

For Toronto, this book is both timely and important. It should be a wake-up call to those at City Hall: a reminder that city building takes work, courage and collaboration, but that the potential for vibrant places to live is worth it.

Walking Home enjoyed its official launch on Wednesday 25 May, and Swipe Design was thrilled to be partnering with 401 Richmond’s Urbanspace Gallery to perform the honours. Oh yes, and Greenberg was wielding his authorly pen on the night. (2011: Random House Canada; ISBN 9780307358141)

$29.95