100 Essential Books of Planning: Decade Seven


Planners discovered the value of the unplanned and contemplated the post-boom world. Authors presented more nuanced assessments of planning while others offered increasingly sophisticated techniques and tools for making planning work. The authors present a field that is both self-analytical and confident about the place of planning in the public realm.

The Uses of Disorder

Personal Identity and City Life
Richard Sennett

Influential urban sociologist Sennett examines how excessive order produced dull urban life, but was socially destructive and led to the cultivation of violent, narrow, repressed societies. His appreciation of the complexity and essential unregulated nature of good urban life challenged planners to do more than impose solutions.

Learning from Las Vegas

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott-Brown, Steven Izenour

A landmark work filled with wit and insight into how people actually use and enjoy landscapes of pleasure. The book challenged architects and planners to consider the overlooked vernacular and understand how it created an order and form of its own, and responded creatively to the people who inhabited commercial landscape. It was the first book to examine the phenomenon of the strip in the American city.

Site Planning

Kevin Lynch, Gary Hack

This thorough work on all the technical aspects of site planning is infused with a deep understanding on how humans inhabit their environment, the need to avoid ugliness, and the importance of understanding the consequences of design. The book remains a standard in the field of planning.

A Reader in Planning Theory

Andreas Faludi

These essays covered the full complement of 20th century planning theory, including rational planning, advocacy planning, and incrementalism. Each one challenged the utility and methods of planning in determining the public interests and the role of the planner. Of particular note are Paul Davidoff's "Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning" and Martin Meyerson's "Building the Middle-Range Bridge for Comprehensive Planning."

Urban Design as Public Policy

Practical Methods for Improving Cities
Jonathan Barnett

Barnett discussed how to bridge the gap between the design and planning professions. An architect, planner, and teacher, Barnett focused on how to actually bring about the qualities of urban life that Jane Jacobs and others espoused.

Close Up

How to Read the American City
Grady Clay

Clay is one of the great proponents of close observation of landscapes and built environments, and in his first book he introduced a new taxonomy and vocabulary for describing where we live, what we see, and how we feel about places. Importantly for planners, he stressed the subjective and perceptual nature of places rather than grand, abstract plans for them.

Small Is Beautiful

Economics as If People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

Schumacher was an early proponent for the concept of sustainability. He examined how it applied to economics and planning for human organizations and communities. His essays on "Buddhist Economics," the limits of natural resources, and scale are essential to modern planning thought. The book had a large popular audience.

The Power Broker

Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
Robert Caro

Journalist Caro grapples with the motivation, methods, and impacts of Moses, a builder of New York public works who abjured planning as a discipline but understood how to "get things done." This book was especially influential in how it crystallized the change in values that had taken place over the 20th century, with large-scale patriarchal Modernist planning falling out of favor.

Urban Planning Analysis

Methods and Models
Donald A. Kruekeberg, Arthur A. Silvers

This clearly written introduction to basic quantitative techniques of urban planning and policy analysis includes solid chapters on survey research and analysis, population forecasting, transportation modeling, and program analysis and management, including time-sequence scheduling.

A Pattern Language

Towns, Buildings, Construction
Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein

This timeless and detailed accounting of the patterns of urban architecture illuminates the populist turn in urban design in the wake of Jane Jacobs's work. These patterns are the composition of a distinct language invented and used by everyday people. Planners can learn about place and its people by interpreting the details of its form.

The Fiscal Impact Handbook

Robert Burchell, David Listokin, et al.

A planning classic on the important topic of assessing development impact on the fiscal condition of the local government. This is a comprehensive treatment of cost-revenue analysis and the limitations of different approaches.

Making City Planning Work

Allan Jacobs

As San Francisco's planning director, Allan Jacobs faced a memorable fight with developers and commissioners who proposed to build three high rise towers on the waterfront Embarcadero Center property. One of the first planning books of its kind, Jacobs's memoir is both practical and political; he offers case studies illustrative of typical planning issues and intersperses these with more personal "behind the scenes" stories of what city planning was really like in San Francisco.

The Practice of Local Government Planning

Frank So, et al.

The "green book" has served as core text of planning since its inception. Produced in partnership with ICMA the book comprehensively covers American city planning history, planning functions, and, most important, the public administrative aspects of planning, including agency management and budgeting. The book has been updated in several new editions and is still in use.

All Decades             Previous             Next