, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 731-732
Date: 26 Oct 2012

Ryan, Brent D.: Design after decline: how America rebuilds shrinking cities

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Brent D. Ryan first visited Detroit in 1993. Describing this experience, he says: “The sense of emptiness was overpowering. … I felt as if I was walking into the ruin of America.” In his book “Design after decline—how America rebuilds shrinking cities,” Ryan tries to understand why so many American cities have been losing population, what was and is done to change the fortune of these cities and why many projects or plans have not worked out as intended. He also gives some guidance about how planning and design can help cope with shrinking.

The first chapter describes the role of urban design at the time of large scale urban renewal. Many poor neighbourhoods were demolished, with new often high rise estates being built in their place, after modernist design principles. As existing neighbourhoods and the people living there were often treated with brutality, the end of urban renewal in the mid-1970s brought a sense of relief. However, with urban renewal and modernist design, also a visio ...