First Year Reading
The summer reading assignment for all incoming students is Jeff Speck’s Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. This book will be used in the First Year Experience courses this fall 2015.
Speck, a graduate of Williams College, will make an MCLA campus presentation on Thursday, October 1, 2015, at 7 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who advocates internationally for more walkable cities. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he presided over the Mayors' Institute on City Design and created the Governors' Institute on Community Design.
Prior to his federal appointment, Mr. Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at DPZ & Co., the principal firm behind the New Urbanism movement. Since 2007, he has led Speck & Associates, a boutique planning firm that specializes in making American downtowns thrive.
His latest book, Walkable City, was the best-selling city-planning book of 2013-14.
Per information released by the author, Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that’s easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at.
“Walkable City is timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work—a book designed to knock us out of complacency and make us aware of the simple but real possibilities. It should be required reading for any city planner, architectural designer, traffic engineer, and, need I say, hapless burgher, like yours truly, who pines for a more ingratiating downtown through which to walk.”—Richard Horan, The Christian Science Monitor
“It will change the way you see cities.”—Kaid Benfield, Atlantic Cities
“Walkable City isn’t a harangue, it’s a fun, readable and persuasive call to Arms.”—Steven Litt, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“...full of insight, humor, and common sense.”—Martin Pedersen, Metropolis Magazine
“Among the perennial flood of books on urban design in all its forms, this one stands out.”—John King, San Francisco Chronicle
“Jeff Speck’s brilliant and entertaining book reminds us that, in America, the exception could easily become the rule. Mayors, planners, and citizens need look no further for a powerful and achievable vision of how to make our ordinary cities great again.” —Joseph P. Riley, mayor of Charleston, S.C.
"City planning" and "urban development" are phrases almost guaranteed to bore and confuse regular people. Which is weird, given that cities are the least boring places on earth. Fortunately, Jeff Speck is a deeply knowledgeable, charming and jargon-free visionary, a profoundly pragmatic person brimming with common sense that everybody can use to improve their own lives as well as their towns and cities. If Jane Jacobs invented a new urbanism, Walkable Cities is its perfect complement, a common-sense 21st century users’ manual.”—Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360.
Schedule of Events:
Thursday, October 1, 3:30-4:30pm
Q&A with Jeff Specks for students other interested parties
Murdock Hall, Room 218
Thursday, October 1, 7pm
Lecture: Jeff Specks on Walkable Cities
Church Street Center
Follow Jeff on Twitter:
Jeff Speck’s Website:
Below is a list of past books and their authors:
- 2014 - Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide"
- 2013 - Rebecca Skloot, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"
- 2012 - Sonia Nazario, "Enrique's Journey"
- 2011 - Soledad O'Brien, "The Next Big Story"
- 2010 - Laura Ling and Lisa Ling, "Somewhere Inside:One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home."
- 2009 - Paul Rusesabagina, "An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography"
- 2008 - James McBride, "The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother"
- 2007 - Karen Shepard, "Don't I Know You"
- 2006 - Elizabeth Royte, "Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash"
- 2005 - Tracy Kidder, "Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul "
- 2004 - Sarah Erdman, "Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village"