The Boulevard Book
History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards
- Winner, Silver Award for Architecture in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards
268 pp., 9 x 11 in, 200 illus.
- Published: August 29, 2003
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A celebration of the multiway boulevard and an argument for its revival, with design guidelines and historic examples.
First built in Europe and grandly imported to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, the classic multiway boulevard has been in decline for many years, victim of a narrowly focused approach to street design that views unencumbered vehicular traffic flow as the highest priority. The American preoccupation with destination and speed has made multiway boulevards increasingly rare as artifacts of the urban landscape. This book reintroduces the boulevard, tree-lined and with separate realms for through traffic and for slow-paced vehicular-pedestrian movement, as an important and often crucial feature of both historic and contemporary cities. It presents more than fifty boulevards—as varied as Avenue Montaigne, in Paris; C. G. Road, in Ahmedabad, India; and The Esplanade, in Chico, California—celebrating their usefulness and beauty. It discusses their history and evolution, the misconceptions that led to their near-demise in the United States, and their potential as a modern street type.
Based on wide research, The Boulevard Book examines the safety of these streets and offers design guidelines for professionals, scholars, and community decision makers. Extensive plans, cross sections, and perspective drawings permit visual comparisons. The book shows how multiway boulevards respond to many issues that are central to urban life, including livability, mobility, safety, interest, economic opportunity, mass transit, and open space.
The immense amount of research, together with the authors' enthusiasm...makes The Boulevard Book an authoritative text.
The Boulevard Book is an excellent follow-up to Alan Jacobs' Great Streets—it has the same precision in its measured sectional drawings and plans, but adds much more history to situate the type in time and place. Multi-way boulevards are an important tool for cities having to accomodate both pedestrian activity and high levels of traffic. This will be the classic text on this complex and capacious street typology.
David Grahame Shane, Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning, Columbia University
The authors tackle America's most disfunctional roadways—the commercial strips that slash their way through our cities and suburbs. They show how the boulevards of the past successfully reconciled traffic flows, parking, deliveries, pedestrians, and commercial frontages, and can serve as a model for reconstructing urban arteries. The Boulevard Book is a volume that all planners, urban designers, and lovers of cities should have at their fingertips.
Gary Hack, Dean, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania
This is an important book that even people who are not directly connected with street design should read carefully. It teaches an important lesson about the fallacy of superficial assumptions by traffic engineers about the nature and quality of a good street. The Boulevard Book also offers an important discussion of the effort to reintroduce in current civic urban design an element of beauty in the form of a boulevard. In their different forms, boulevards provide solutions for greening cities, create pleasant and livable spaces, and contribute to the creation of sustainable cities. We badly need the kinds of suggestions found in this book.
Paolo Ceccarelli, Professor of Urban Analysis and Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, University of Ferrara