Context - Fall 2015 - (Page 30)

Reflections on City Building BY ALAN GREENBERGER Some people are short, others are tall. Some people are dark and some are light. Some are religious, others not. Some people are exquisitely talented in one area while others have talents elsewhere. And to these differences, cities afford common opportunities and challenges that compel many of us to seek our lives as a community, together, in a shared place. Why? Americans have struggled with this question more than other nations because we were created with the ethos of individual pursuits - life, liberty and happiness - and a wealth of land to inhabit so that we could choose to be together or choose to be far apart. The choice to be together created American cities. Early on, this choice was really one of necessity and survival. But it quickly evolved into a real choice, one now typified by extended families living all across the country or the world. 'Place' plays a powerful role in the choices we make. And though 'place' manifests itself as the built and natural worlds we inhabit, it more powerfully shows itself through civic culture, a way of living, a unique DNA. Some of us are born, raised and remain in the place of our birth, absorbing and living its DNA intuitively without further instruction. But many of us choose to find our pursuits in a different place from our upbringing. And when we do, we more consciously adopt the DNA of another locale, reinforce it, refine it and give it continued life. I'm a born and bred New Yorker, a Brooklynite. But ultimately, I chose Philadelphia. At first, it was a matter of a job. I graduated from architecture school in upstate New York, moved back to New York and couldn't find a job during a recession. I decided to seek my professional life elsewhere. Philadelphia was a place I had visited only once as a child, but it was a place that was presented to me in college as where the architectural world was happening. And so, on a hot day in September 1974, I moved here, armed with a few contacts of interesting people who were known to my friends in New York. Forty-one years later, and eight years after becoming a public official, I leave office with a deeper admiration and respect for this extraordinary city - a DNA consisting of utopian ideals of how we can live together, commercial opportunism and an historic city plan. Within a month of being here, I felt at home, in no small measure because of the amazing hospitality extended to me by people like Ruth and Rick Snyderman, pioneers of the South Street Renaissance. But I also 30 FALL 2015 | context | AIA Philadelphia

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Fall 2015

Editor’s Letter
Community
Up Close
Re-Envisioning Philadelphia’s Industrial Spaces With Transatlantic Expertise
Fairmount Park: Philadelphia’s Past, Present and Future
The Philadelphia Region as America’s Next Big Energy Hub?
The Public Benefits of Private Planning: Eds, Meds, and the University City Renaissance
Opinion
Design Profiles
Index to Advertisers

Context - Fall 2015

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