May 01 2013

Writing on Buildings and Cities: A Review of Michael Sorkin’s “All Over the Map”

 

All Over the Map-Personal Shot Michael SorkinMichael Sorkin is opinionated to the point, and passionate about protecting architecture from the politics that too often smother innovation. A well-known architectural critic, author of several hundred articles, professor, and principal of the Michael Sorkin Studio, Sorkin lives, eats — “architectural flesh has always proved tasty to me”, and breathes architecture and urban design.

In his most recent book All Over the Map, Sorkin picks up where his last book left off, in late 2000. The chapters are organized chronologically, and predominately take the form of medium-sized essays. The majority of essays are shaped by human disasters, which Sorkin comments “have caused a special crisis for spatial liberation.”

The main human disaster All Over the Map covers is 9/11. Throughout the book Sorkin discusses the politics and controversies surrounding Ground Zero’s design process. He challenges the limitations of the design proposals, and how little room is allowed for community and survivor participation in the decision making process.

Sorkin Ground Zero

Perhaps Sorkin’s most inspirational quality is that he is not afraid to speak his mind, and continually fights for individuals’ right to speak theirs and choose what is best for their country. While attending the “Listening to the City” meeting at the Javits Center in New York City, concerning the proposed memorial and development of Ground Zero, Sorkin challenged the proctor’s sentiment that the meeting was democratic because, “in democracy, the people have the chance to speak!” He corrected her, shouting: “Buuulllllsshhiiiit! Democracy means the people have the power to choose!”

This justifiable outburst, and others, are found throughout the pages of All Over the Map as Sorkin fights for everyone’s right to architecture. Other chapters throughout the book include: an essay on people who live in urban glass houses, how urbanism is politics, a sixty-two point instruction on how to enter a building, a letter to President Obama, and a twelve-point recommendation or manifesto for better cities.

All Over the Map is definitely a creative and worthwhile read on buildings and cities.

If you were to write a twelve-point manifesto for better cities, what would be some of your main points?

All Over the Map is available from Verso Publishing in paperback, hardback, and ebook for between $26.95 and $34.95.To order your copy, visit the publisher’s website. The Grid is giving away four free copies of All Over the Map. Enter before May 8, 2013. Best of luck!: Rafflecopter giveaway.

Credits: Photos by Alex Riemondy and Michael Sorkin. Data linked to sources.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 at 6:03 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Writing on Buildings and Cities: A Review of Michael Sorkin’s “All Over the Map””

  1. Ryan H. Says:

    Sorkin is great. Read Variations on a Theme Park for a class at Berkeley and really enjoyed it. I’ll have to pick up a copy of this.

  2. Alex Riemondy Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the reply. Sorkin definitely makes for a great read. I will have to check out Variations on a Theme Park too!

    Happy Reading
    -Alex

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