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.'”