For five years the Joint Center for Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University participated in a unique “alliance for progress” in Venezuela. Late in 1960 the Venezuelan government set up the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana to develop the Guayana region, one of the world's great natural resource areas, and to plan and build within the region what is destined to be one of the world's largest “new cities” – Ciudad Guayana. Soon thereafter the Corporación invited the Joint Center to share the burdens and challenge of this adventure. In addition to technical help, the organizers of this joint venture hoped that their collaboration would produce new insights and knowledge that could contribute to the success of other development efforts.
Planning Urban Growth and Regional Development is the third in a series of books devoted to an evaluation of this experience. Unlike the other studies, which dealt with specific aspects of the program, this one ranges over the whole process of development from inception to details of implementation. It provides an unusually frank appraisal by some twenty specialists involved in the Guayana program. They tell what they did to come to grips with problems, what they might have done differently if they had had the benefit of hindsight. While certain parts of this analysis apply only to Venezuela or to programs involving new cities, most of the lessons and techniques discussed are relevant to urban, regional, and national planning programs throughout the world.
A noteworthy aspect of this study is its examination of the way programs for urban and regional development can be linked to a national growth strategy – and its sifting of the problems such ambitious efforts entail. Another feature of special interest is its evaluation of the planning process, particularly the goals, subject to contemporary urban and regional planning. Some of the topics covered in the course of this evaluation include the handling of economic programming and social development; ways of analyzing population migration, settlement problems, education, and the organization of local government; and the design of housing, land, transportation, and research strategies.