Skip to main content

European Medicine for American Urbanism

  • 70 Accesses

Abstract

In this chapter I examine the work of Victor Gruen and Eliel Saarinen, two architects who left Europe in the early part of their careers and led successful careers in the United States. Both men wrote works towards the end of their careers in which they drew on their understandings of European urban history to argue for a drastic change in the course of American urbanisation. I point out how naturalism structured and lent force to their ideas. In particular, Gruen’s idea of a vibrant city centre as its heart and Saarinen’s idea of informal and unplanned development as an urban cancer.

Keywords

  • Victor Gruen
  • Eliel Saarinen
  • medical metaphors
  • United States
  • urban redevelopment

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-16-3977-7_9
  • Chapter length: 16 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-16-3977-7
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Notes

  1. 1.

    Ward (2002, 119).

  2. 2.

    Marchi (2017, 74).

  3. 3.

    For a more comprehensive analysis of Gruen’s work see Marchi et al. (2017) and for an analysis of the impact of the concept of the Heart as a key trope of 1950s modernism (Marchi 2017).

  4. 4.

    Chudoba (2011, 73).

  5. 5.

    For example by serving as Vice-President for the International Federation for Town & Country Planning & Garden Cities, chaired by Ebenezer Howard in the 1920s (Chudoba 2011, 88).

  6. 6.

    Chudoba (2011, 173).

  7. 7.

    Saarinen (1943, 8).

  8. 8.

    Marchi (1964, 28).

  9. 9.

    ‘The dissecting of an organism is never a pleasurable activity. Yet we have to engage in a most thorough examination of the patient if we want to diagnose the disease and attempt to find a cure’ (Gruen 1964, 52).

  10. 10.

    Gruen (1964, 45).

  11. 11.

    Marchi (2017, 37).

  12. 12.

    Gruen (1964, 49).

  13. 13.

    Gruen (1964, 52).

  14. 14.

    Bennett (2010, 63).

  15. 15.

    ‘I was completely unable to secure figures that would reflect the vitality of the core. For this purpose, I would have had to ascertain [...] the number of those people who [are] residing in the core or by visiting the it at any and all times of the day or night in order to work there or to engage in other urban activities, create the heartbeat of the city’ (Gruen 1964, 48).

  16. 16.

    Gruen et al. (1973, 159).

  17. 17.

    The meaning of which people find impossible to agree on but that all can agree exists nonetheless.

  18. 18.

    See Chapter “Evolving the City”.

  19. 19.

    Gruen (1964, 58).

  20. 20.

    Gruen (1964, 58).

  21. 21.

    e.g. Chapter 7 is titled “The Tired Heart of Our Cities”

  22. 22.

    Gruen (1964, 271–2).

  23. 23.

    Taylor (1998, 10).

  24. 24.

    see Chapter “Planning Natural Communities with Open Space”.

  25. 25.

    Gruen (1964, 296).

  26. 26.

    Bruegmann (2006, 36).

  27. 27.

    Saarinen (1943, 8).

  28. 28.

    Saarinen (1943, 87).

  29. 29.

    Saarinen (1943, 17).

  30. 30.

    ‘The paramount issue must be the city’s inner organization so as to create homes for the population. In these homes the seeds of satisfactory living and healthy environment must be planted, and must grow to transform the whole city’s physical organization into a like spirit of satisfactory living and healthy environment’ (Saarinen 1943, 2–3).

  31. 31.

    Saarinen (1943, 146) ‘In fact, by a closer study of natural processes [...] “Expression” and “Correlation”’. Also Saarinen (1943, 9).

  32. 32.

    Hnilica (2014, 58).

  33. 33.

    Saarinen (1943, 16).

  34. 34.

    Saarinen (1943, 144).

  35. 35.

    ‘When the head aches the stomach might be out of order’ (Saarinen 1943, 144).

  36. 36.

    Saarinen (1943, 144).

  37. 37.

    Saarinen (1943, 147).

  38. 38.

    Chudoba (2011, 173).

  39. 39.

    Saarinen (1943, 205).

  40. 40.

    Although this does not appear to be a reference to Darwinism.

  41. 41.

    Saarinen (1943, 289).

  42. 42.

    In his memorable terms: ‘double-scheming’ (Saarinen 1943, 291).

  43. 43.

    Saarinen (1943, 322).

  44. 44.

    Hnilica (2014, 66).

  45. 45.

    Chudoba (2011, 102).

  46. 46.

    Saarinen (1943, 212).

  47. 47.

    Chudoba (2011, 102).

  48. 48.

    Saarinen’s The City was long awaited and in reviews for US press was even compared to Raymond Unwin’s seminal Town Planning in Practice (1909). However the book’s more radical messages were missed and reviewers selectively reacted instead to one aspect of the book or another, e.g. medieval history or Saarinen’s advocacy for decentralisation (Chudoba 2011, 101–2)

  49. 49.

    Batty and Marshall (2017).

  50. 50.

    As a three-dimensional approach with organicism as a common denominator. ‘This comprehensive design toward organic and three-dimensional town-building, and the usual and superficial two-dimensional planning’ (Saarinen 1943, 8).

  51. 51.

    ‘[...] we find ourselves in much the same position as a doctor who, to be able to maintain organic functioning in the human body, must be familiar with organic processes in general’ (Saarinen 1943, 9).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marco Amati .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Amati, M. (2021). European Medicine for American Urbanism. In: The City and the Super-Organism. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-3977-7_9

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-3977-7_9

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-3976-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-3977-7

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)