Robert Davis leads a forum on city design in Redwood City, California

By November 2, 2008 No Comments

ROBERT S. DAVIS kicks off the sixth season of “The Forum at Redwood City: A Continuing Conversation on City Design” with a presentation on THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2 from 6 to 7:45 p.m. His presentation was titled “THE CITY OF IDEAS.” Since the early renaissance, as humanists began writing about the Citta’ Ideale (or “City of Ideas”), city building has looked to models like Pienza, Rome, Paris, Bath, Georgian London, Washington, the Chicago World’s Fair, Mariemont, and even Seaside for ideas about how to (re)make our towns and improve our lives. Each of these historical examples, as well as the words written by Alberti, Serlio, Burnham, Howard, Krier, Duany and others have much to teach those engaged in town building. Robert Davis explored the meaning and import of “cittá ideale” — Renaissance Humanism’s concept of the city. Heeding the humanist theories of Leon Battista Alberti and Sebastiano Serlio, Mr. Davis advised the audience to consider the “art of the possible”. Unlike “utopia,” the “cittá ideale” does not have to be perfect; in fact, the best examples (Pienza and Rome) maintained the existing medieval eccentricities that announced “character of place” while benefiting from periodic design interventions that aimed to make the city more legible, more livable and more elegant. The pre-existing town is still there, in all its ad hoc imperfection, and the beautiful street, square, obelisk, cathedral, and palazzo pubblico is made more interesting by its close proximity to the messy vitality of the pre-existing city.

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