Now that school is back in swing, Agora is inspired to compile a Fall 2014 Reading List. Because the firm’s work touches a variety of urban issues, the list covers topics ranging from urban policy, economy, design and development. Some selections offer monolithic discussions on a specific topic, like Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, while others, like Ed Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, touch upon a variety of urban elements. Some offer textbook practicality, like Land in Conflict, while others, like Factory Man, read like a novel.
Beyond staying current on solutions for longstanding challenges facing cities, there is also inspiration to be found – what are this year’s big ideas? What new forces are at play in city building? How far can (and should) we stray from staid urban theories and assumptions to discover new ways to address pressing problems?
Agora’s Top Ten is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it begins a dialogue on great city reads. Please share your suggestions!
INNOVATION & THE CITY
Edited by Roel Rutten, Paul Benneworth, Dessy Irawati, Frans Boekema
Innovation Districts have generated a variety of discussion this year, drawing praise and criticism, hope and concern. This text takes the reader through a theoretical discussion of the interrelated social and spatial dimensions of innovation.
Stefan Heck, Matt Rogers, Paul Carroll (Contributor)
McKinsey leadership are the authors of this text, which inverts the global consumption narrative into a motivational discussion of innovative business strategies designed to address rapid demand for essential resources.
TECHNOLOGY & THE CITY
Technology has been an integral part of city growth and development for centuries. At best, technology contributes to a seamless urban experience; at worst, technology has the capacity to degrade city life in powerful ways. Townsend takes the reader through the highs and lows of today’s Smart City.
The rise of tech, policy, media and academic elites is overrunning the middle class, with potentially profound consequences on American society, politics and economy. Kotkin covers interconnected issues that impact urban, suburban and rural environments.
An intimidating 696 pages, Piketty goes both broad and deep in a vast discussion of economic inequality and the power (and necessity of) political action.
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier
First published in 2011, Triumph of the City is certainly still relevant and important when contemplating urbanism. International case studies and an overwhelmingly optimistic title combine to provide the reader with a positive outlook on city challenges.
Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town
The title says enough, especially in light of recent political dialogue regarding corporate inversion deals.
Growing attention to Baby Boomer and Millennial demographics makes this a top priority read, with evaluations of the entrenched battle between the city and the suburbs – who is living where, and why does it matter.
Despite its watered-down buzzword status, there remain many lessons to glean from placemaking’s diverse derivations and implementation strategies.
Sean Nolon, Mona Ferguson, Pat Field
Agora’s mutual gains approach to public-private entrepreneurialism shares a common question with Land in Conflict – how can municipalities facilitate the development process with constructive stakeholder participation?
“The space between” increasingly gains attention in development circles as a fundamental element of value creation, drawing from the details of great urban environments.