Forty-odd years ago a group of faculty colleagues in the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley published “Toward Making Places”, a quiet manifesto consisting of four brief essays written by Charles W. Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, Sim Van Der Ryn and Patrick Quinn.
They were written at the prompting of J. B. Jackson, editor and publisher of Landscape, the magazine which was to become legendary among those concerned with the American landscape and the scope of environmental design.
The essay started with four bullet points and attendant diagrams (drawn by William Turnbull Jr., silent co-author of the views being espoused). They were “ONE EQUALS TWO PLUS: When we make one building we are remaking others and permanently modifying the urban or natural landscape.” “A BUILDING SELECTS: It should admit those portions of the specific environment which contribute to the user’s ordered image of the universe.” “THE SPECIFIC COMES FIRST: a buildings is in a specific place to which it must specifically respond. Generalized forms must grow out of a thorough understanding of the particular place, activities, techniques of building and systems of service. We must start not with the geometry but with the user. Therefore….” “THE END IS NOT IN SIGHT: Until we learn to understand the user’s needs and desires we cannot know what shape our world should take.” The layman’s sensitivity, states Patrick Quinn in conclusion, “must be revived not by inviting him (sic) to join in the jargon of a mystique, but by making for him places that are real to him, of which he feels a part because they have grown from his need.”
The authors subsequently forged separate, albeit frequently intersecting, paths through the profession. In 1981 Allan Jacobs and Donald Appleyard, in response to a challenge from their students in a seminar, produced another provocative writing, “Toward a New Urban Manifesto” which has been referred to often and was later published in the journal of the American Planning Association. It forms a significant background for the Graduate Group for the Design of Urban Places, the interdisciplinary cluster of faculty who have formed in Berkeley to conduct studies of mutual interest and to administer the Master of Urban Design Degree, a second professional degree for professionals who have already completed a degree in Architecture, Planning or Landscape Architecture plus several years of professional experience. The subheadings of the Manifesto, each filled with many specific ideas, were “Problems for modern urban design”, “Goals for urban life”, “An urban fabric for an urban life”, and “All these qualities…and others” “Many participants” and “An essential beginning”. It set out a reasoned and passionate discussion of urbanity and the means to achieve it. Notably, the titles of each of these studies started with the word “ Toward” and ended with the observation that it was essential to learn the interests and concerns of the people who would inhabit the works being invoked and that there was much to learn.
These two streams of thought, and their elaborations are antecedents for the Journal PLACES: A Forum of Environmental Design, which has now been published for twenty years, first with sponsorship from the CED and MIT, now joined by Pratt Institute, the University of Michigan, the University of Miami and Georgia Institute of Technology. The journal, which I edit with help from many others, explores the various ways in which places enter into our lives – varied places and varied lives – and opens lines of argument about how we can best nurture and change the structure of our environments. The most current issue of the journal includes publication of the awards winners in the 2004 EDRA/PLACES Awards program. This program, which brings attention to innovative projects in design, planning and research is co-sponsored by the Environmental Design Research Association, a national organization dedicated to the promotion of disciplined investigation and research in environmental design.