Over the course of more than fifteen years, architect and critic Michael Sorkin has taken an almost daily twenty-minute walk from his apartment near Washington Square in New York's Greenwich Village to his architecture studio further downtown in Tribeca. This walk has afforded abundant opportunities for Sorkin to reflect on the ongoing transformation of the neighbourhoods through which he passes. Inspired by events both mundane and monumental, "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan" unearths a network of relationships between the physical and the social city. Sorkin takes the reader past local characters, neighbourhood stores, buildings, streets and blocks, providing an informative, witty and sometimes humorous travelogue of a part of Manhattan. Yet his perambulations fuel more than a general reflection on what he sees every day: they also offer a technique for engaging a wide range of issues that preoccupy him as an architect, urbanist and citizen.
Whether Sorkin is despairing at street garbage, or admiring elevator etiquette, "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan" offers a testing ground for speculation about the way in which the city can be newly imagined and designed, to deal with pressing issues such as the crisis of the environment, free expression and public space, security and surveillance, the place of history, and the future of the neighbourhood. "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan", growing out of an intimate relationship with a much-loved locality, ultimately offers a grounded set of ideas relevant not only to the preservation and amelioration of New York, but also to cities everywhere.
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 358 g
Dimensions: 198 x 138 x 23 mm
This book captures architect Sorkin wandering through lower Manhattan, where even the most banal-seeming sights send the author into casually fascinating digressions about urban planning, the history behind New York's grid, stoops and parks. After looking at the city through this ambler's eyes, you'll never look at a tenement building-or a stairwell-the same way again. Time Out, New York In his delightful book, Michael Sorkin writes about New York from a flaneur's perspective. Focusing on a 20-minute walk from his apartment to his studio, the author - one of architecture's most consistent and consistently interesting critical voices - meanders through architecture, urbanism, sociology, politics and history ... Quirky, erudite and occasionally frustrating in its movement between the personal, the political and the physical, every city should have its Michael Sorkin. Financial Times The trove of thumbnail sketches and obscure facts is augmented with fascinating ruminations about the socio-political ins and outs of the business of construction and urban renewal in New York City, the intricate socioeconomic consequences that result, and the ethical ramifications of these undertakings. -- James Sclavunos The Times He bemoans gentrification and mobile phone use in enclosed spaces. He resents pedestrians who stroll three abreast. He thinks up plans to rid the streets of garbage and "green" the top of buildings. Michael Sorkin is a New Yorker. Time Out a wry and illuminating provocation: New York seen from the perspective of the author's daily stroll from his Greenwich Village apartment through Washington Square to his office in Tribeca. Along the way enjoy reflections on the privatization of public space, the uses and abuses of preservation, the ambiguous legacy of modernism - ultimately, all the strands of urban life. San Francisco Chronicle His observations about buildings, parks, urban design, and city planning should inspire anyone who cares about the future of cities. -- Inga Saffron Philadelphia Inquirer Sorkin's tone is conversational and intimate, which makes for an easy read and personalizes the book's big-picture issues ... lively and thought-provoking Metropolis if you want an introduction to what has been said and thought about the city around the world, and also what has been built and unbuilt as a result of all this theorising, this is probably as good a guide as can be had. Follow Sorkin on his walk, and you will certainly be better informed and perhaps a bit wiser as well -- Joseph Rykwert Architects' Journal Cinematic like Robert Altman and learned like Jane Jacobs, the book's experiential account takes on architectural significance. RIBA Journal no one writes better about architecture and urbanism in the United States than Sorkin. He is a tireless campaigner against cliche ... perhaps his most personal book to date. Blueprint Delightful and informative, this romp will please anyone with affection for the big city. Publishers Weekly an engrossing and thoughtful read Stride Magazine I am glad Sorkin doesn't take the subway: this is the most brilliant epitome of Manhattan ever written. -- Mike Davis Not since the great Jane Jacobs has there been a book this good about the day-to-day life of New York. Sorkin writes like an American Montaigne, riffing freely off his personal experience (sometimes happy, sometimes frustrating) to arrive at general insights about New York and about cities everywhere. -- Robert Campbell, Michael Sorkin comes from a neighborhood of great urbanists - Lewis Mumford, Jane Jacobs, Grace Paley - and he belongs in their company. A short walk with him through the West Village turns into an adventure. He is one of the smartest and most original people writing about New York and about city life today. -- Marshall Berman This walk through the city shows Michael Sorkin at his witty and knowledgeable best. From the stairs of his small apartment house to the pyramids of Chichen Itza, from Local Law 45 to the motto of the Hanseatic League, Sorkin takes us on a journey through eras and worlds in the space of just 15 blocks. Better to spend 20 minutes with him than 24 hours with a standard tourist guide! -- Sharon Zukin