Why we fall back on parks

Rendering of proposed park on I-195 land west of Providence River. (gcpvd.org)

Rendering of proposed park on I-195 land west of Providence River. (gcpvd.org)

My post yesterday after the debate in Providence between proponents of a park or a ballpark along the Providence River, even though the waterfront is “festooned” with parks, elicited this eye-opening response from James Howard Kunstler, the celebrated critic of suburbia, theorist of “peak oil,” author of many excellent books and coiner of the word “crudscape”:

The reason that parks are the default remedy for mutilated urbanism is because the public has no faith in buildings. The architects have been delivering horrifying objects for 70 years. And dishonoring the street in the process. So the public cannot imagine public hardscape worth being in. So “nature” is the default remedy. It’s really hard to overcome this.

This explains everything, and it also argues why state government in Rhode Island should advocate for architecture that strengthens rather than weakens the R.I. brand.

By the way, the debate, sponsored by Leadership RI, was a hoot. The audience was heavily opposed to the stadium but the stadium proponents, Patti Doyle and Cyd McKenna, did a great job and got the better, I think, of opponents Sharon Steele and Ethan Kent. Still, only releasing the details of the negotiated deal is likely to change any minds. See my post from last night, “River ‘festooned with parks.'”

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture History, Art and design, Development, Landscape Architecture, Providence, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Why we fall back on parks

  1. Kenneth J. Filarski says:

    Very interesting perspective. But to be fair, parks and open space are not always effective nor do they work all the time. The key is to understand the patterns of place and people and to create a holistic ecology for that place in time, whether it be for buildings or open space and parks.


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