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Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch (1918-1984) studied with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin and later obtained a Bachelor of City Planning degree from MIT. After a long and distinguished career on the faculty of the MIT School of Architecture and Urban Planning, he was named Professor Emeritus of City Planning.

Titles by This Author

Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch's books are the classic underpinnings of modern urban planning and design, yet they are only a part of his rich legacy of ideas about human purposes and values in built form. City Sense and City Design brings together Lynch's remaining work, including professional design and planning projects that show how he translated many of his ideas and theories into practice. An invaluable sourcebook of design knowledge, City Sense and City Design completes the record of one of the foremost environmental design theorists of our time and leads to a deeper understanding of his distinctively humanistic philosophy.

The editors, both former students of Lynch, provide a cogent summary of his career and of the role he played in shaping and transforming the American urban design profession during the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s. Each of the seven thematic groupings of writings and projects that follow begins with a short introduction explaining their content and their background.

The essays in part I focus on the premises of Lynch's work: his novel reading of large-scale built environments and the notion that the design of an urban landscape should be as meaningful and intimate as the natural landscape. In part II, excerpts from Lynch's travel journals reveal his early ideas on how people perceive and interpret their surroundings—ideas that culminated in his seminal work, The Image of the City. This part of the book also presents Lynch's experiments with children and his assessment of environmental-perception research. The examples of both small-scale and large-scale analysis of visual form in part III are followed by three parts on city design. These include Lynch's more theoretical works on complex planning decisions involving both functional (spatial and structural organization) and normative (how the city works in human terms) approaches, articles discussing the principles that guided Lynch's teaching and practice of city design, and descriptions of Lynch's own projects in the Boston area and elsewhere.

The book concludes with essays written late in Lynch's career, fantasy pieces describing utopias and offering new design freedoms and scenarios warning of horrifying "cacotopias."

This new edition of Kevin Lynch's widely used introductory textbook has been completely revised; and is also enriched by the experience of Lynch's coauthor, Gary Hack. For over two decades, Site Planning has remained the only comprehensive source of information on all the principal - activities and concerns of arranging the outdoor physical environment. Now, new illustrations double the visual material and one hundred pages of new appendixes cover special techniques, provide references to more detailed technical sources, and put numerical standards in a concise form.An introduction summarizes the site planning process. This is followed by a case study of a typical professional project and ten chapters which provide new materials on user analysis, programming, site planning for built places, housing tenures and their planning implications, cost estimating, mapping, the reading of air photographs, site design for housing in developing countries, design strategies, environmental impact analyses, and many others - all illustrated with in-text photographs and line drawings and with Lynch's characteristic marginal sketches.Kevin Lynch is Professor Emeritus of City Planning at MIT and à partner in Carr, Lynch Associates. Gary Hack is Head of the Department of Urban Studies and planning at MIT

With the publication of The Image of the City in 1959, Kevin Lynch embarked upon the process of exploring city form. Good City Form, first published in hardcover under the title A Theory of Good City Form, is both a summation and an extension of his vision, a high point from which he views cities past and possible. 

In one's own image of a city or of a larger environment, the sense of place is inextricably meshed with the sense of time—a financial district that bustles on Friday is transformed into a lifeless concrete desert by Sunday, or the deposits of slow historic change can be spotted around a neighborhood, or renewal bulldozers can suddenly revive a long-suppressed memory of time past. Time and Place—Timeplace—is a continuum of the mind, as fundamental as the spacetime that may be the ultimate reality of the material world.

Kevin Lynch's book deals with this human sense of time, a biological rhythm that may follow a different beat from that dictated by external, "official," "objective" timepieces. The center of his interest is on how this innate sense affects the ways we view and change—or conserve, or destroy—our physical environment, especially in the cities.

The author states, "We have elsewhere [in The Image of the City, The MIT Press, 1960] discussed the image of the spatial environment—the mental representation of the character and structure of the geographic world—as a scaffold to which we attach many meanings and a guide by which we can order our movements. This image has an immediate practical role in our lives, and also a deeper psychological one.... Many parallel statements can be made about the environmental image of time.... Both have intimate connections with the aesthetics of landscape and more general implications for social structure and social change. It is evident that we should think of an environmental image that is both spatial and temporal, just as we must design settings in which the distribution of qualities in both time and space are considered."

The book is illustrated with numerous photographs and marginal drawings that lend further specificity to its analysis. It opens with several case histories of cities transformed by time: London after the Great Fire of 1666; Bath, the preserved city, embedded in the amber of the eighteenth century; Stoke-on-Trent, an industrial wasteland, a disaster area not because it was destroyed but because it was built; Ciudad Guyana, a new but not an instant city; and Havana, container for social revolution.

The next chapters take up place as an emblem and embodiment of past, present, and future time. "The Time Inside" deals with the biology and psychology of time and with its social aspects. An interlude follows, illustrating the symbols of time in a particular place (Boston) and quoting the residents on how they respond to their timeplace. The analysis resumes, taking up the aesthetics of environmental time, the proper management of change, and the relation (or lack of one) between environmental and social change. A final chapter looks at all these themes from a general perspective.

What does the city's form actually mean to the people who live there? What can the city planner do to make the city's image more vivid and memorable to the city dweller? To answer these questions, Mr. Lynch, supported by studies of Los Angeles, Boston, and Jersey City, formulates a new criterion—imageability—and shows its potential value as a guide for the building and rebuilding of cities.

The wide scope of this study leads to an original and vital method for the evaluation of city form. The architect, the planner, and certainly the city dweller will all want to read this book.