ReThinking a Lot
There are an estimated 600,000,000 passenger cars in the world, and that number is increasing every day. So too is Earth’s supply of parking spaces. In some cities, parking lots cover more than one-third of the metropolitan footprint. It’s official: we have paved paradise and put up a parking lot. In ReThinking a Lot, Eran Ben-Joseph shares a different vision for parking’s future. Parking lots, he writes, are ripe for transformation. After all, their design and function has not been rethought since the 1950s. With this book, Ben-Joseph pushes the parking lot into the twenty-first century.
Ben-Joseph shows that parking lots can be aesthetically pleasing, environmentally and architecturally responsible, and used for something other than car storage. He introduces us to some of the many alternative and nonparking purposes that parking lots have served—from RV campgrounds to stages for “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.” He shows us parking lots that are lushly planted with trees and flowers and beautifully integrated with the rest of the built environment. With purposeful design, Ben-Joseph argues, parking lots could be significant public places, contributing as much to their communities as great boulevards, parks, or plazas. For all the acreage they cover, parking lots have received scant attention. It’s time to change that; it’s time to rethink the lot.
About the Author
Eran Ben-Joseph has worked as a city planner and urban designer in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT, he is the author of The Code of the City (MIT Press) and coauthor of Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities and RENEW Town.
“The book is sturdy and handsome with useful notes and bibliography.”—Choice
“...[T]he depth of research into the topic and the presentation of it in a lot of context and history make it a truly useful addition to your library.”—Urban Tick
“Parking spaces clumped in lots shape this rigorous analysis of open space. In ReThinking a Lot, Ben-Joseph explores this potentially powerful, sustainable terrain, anchoring much more than cars.”
—John Stilgoe, Harvard University
“In ReThinking a Lot, Eran Ben-Joseph convincingly urges the need to bring sound design to a ubiquitous, usually negative, environmental feature: the surface parking lot. Ben-Joseph understands design too well to offer a formula for improvement over a vast diversity of conditions. What he does offer is the courage to address a neglected opportunity for design excellence and to provide discussion and examples that facilitate such design.”
—Stanford Anderson, Professor, Department of Architecture, MIT
“Parking—perhaps the most disruptive and nonproductive component of our contemporary landscapes—is in this book finally represented in all its manifestations both analytically and poetically, with a challenge to designers to ‘rethink’ the integration of cars and the critical space they occupy in urban systems.”
—Rahul Mehrotra, Professor and Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
“As residual and mundane spaces of everyday life, parking lots have not captured the attention of urban designers until now. Eran Ben-Joseph sets out to correct this significant oversight. Very well illustrated, concise, and clear, this book provides a rich cultural history of these overlooked urban settings. It also effectively shows that with creative design and policy, cities can indeed turn their ugly lots into ‘modest paradises.'”
—Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Professor, UCLA Department of Urban Planning