Department of Architecture and Interior Design
Arch 483: Urban Theory and Issues
Professor Wendy McClure
COMPARATIVE BOOK REVIEW EVALUATION SHEET
Please print out and attach this form with a stapler to your comparative book review before handing in and write your name on back of last page.
Title of Books1 and 2 Suburban Nation & Concrete Dragon
Identification of significant points from each book used for comparative discussion
Quality of critical discussion :
Quality and clarity of writing including introduction, conclusion and proper citations
Total Possible Points _____/100
The 20th century has been hailed as the American century. Beginning with a heyday of architectural ingenuity and engineering prowess at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1983, American industrialism allowed a new type of development to enter the world. Much like a forest fire engulfing the land; America’s new found industrial power led to a reckless drive for the next big thing. This melee of ‘progress’ driven by blind ambition, consuming an unsustainable amount of capital, slowly ground to a halt as calmer heads finally began to prevail. America’s incessant system of checks and balances, while far from perfect, prevented the reckless charge of binge building that dominated most of the 20th century from continuing. (S.N. 531) The repercussions of suburban sprawl, vast arteries of asphalt paving the countryside and poorly executed urban planning, reached a point which has, at long last, drawn the concern of the American masses. With public awareness a vast movement towards sustainable and green industry has begun, particularly in the built environment. While this movement is currently akin to a levee of sandbags put in front of a tsunami, it is a start. For now the American ‘green’ movement slows the advent of the problem, and perhaps someday it will begin to reverse the detriment caused. (S.N. 4898) However, the greatest detriment America incurred upon the world has only just begun, and it is too late to reverse this tide. China, watching from across the ocean for a century, has released its flood of capital resources into the world.
The 21st century has been claimed by the People’s Republic as its own. The Chinese model for expansion is directly derived from America. Every aspect that spurred such explosive growth in America is being emulated with a Chinese inflection. (C.D. 3064) Chinese ambition and human capital is propelling their growth at almost ten times the rate America achieved at the height of its sprawling ‘progress’. While the benefits from such development are numerous, the detriments are equally numerous and larger in scale than any ever before seen in this world. America paved the path for explosive growth and China has fired down the road heedless of potholes, speed bumps, and blind corners that America has not yet fully smoothed over. The question now is: Will china, lead by America’s example, prove to be the greatest benefit to mankind the world has ever experienced, or will The People’s Republic become a detrimental state dragging the surrounding world with it?
China has followed America methodically, albeit at a much faster pace as they have an example to lead them from one step to the next. Economic emulation was the first step in this process. Opening up China’s coastal cities to foreign trade and allowing more lax industrial and developmental laws proceeding the Maoist era. This triggered rapid growth as domestic and foreign investors began to poor money into these areas. The investments took the form of factories, causing the local GDP to soar. With the rise in GDP came monstrous buildings to rival western