‘Paradise Planned’

Publications — Aug 01, 2014

The "McMansion-sized manifesto" is Robert A.M. Stern's definitive history of the garden suburb.

Trends show that an increasing number of young Americans are eschewing suburban sprawl for life in the big city. Young people have typically moved to cities in their early to mid-twenties, returning to the suburbs years later with new families and new jobs. However, this metropolitan exodus is leaving suburbia in crisis, as many of the suburban ideals that were once appealing—automobiles, sprawl, and isolation—are proving to be less sustainable in a modern world.

Amid these changes, a new trend of retrofitting suburbs is now gaining popularity in metropolitan planning. The garden suburb, a phenomenon that developed in the late eighteenth century in England and the U.S., is regaining prominence as an ideal setting for life outside of, yet accessible to the city.

In their new book, Paradise Planned: The Garden Suburb and the Modern City (The Monacelii Press), architect Robert A.M. Stern and co-writers David Fishman and Jacob Tilove make a case for the garden suburb as a model for future suburbs. Pentagram's Michael Bierut, Aron Fay, and Yve Ludwig have designed Paradise Planned as a definitive history of the unique, outlying residential area and its relationship to the development of cities. The book was recently awarded the John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize by the Foundation for Landscape Studies.

Paradise Planned comprises chapters on the origins, constructions, and demographics of garden suburbs at their inception. Archival photography shows street and aerial views of early garden suburbs and the architecture of the homes within them, while maps detail the landscapes of proposed and completed neighborhoods and communities. The featured suburbs range from England's earliest garden villages of the eighteenth century to the town of Celebration, Florida, planned by Stern himself in the 1990s. (Bierut designed the identity and signage for Celebration.)

The massive book required its own significant amount of planning during design and production. A "McMansion-sized manifesto" (The New York Times), the finished Paradise Planned is a whopping 1,072 pages and encompasses nearly 3,900 photos, drawings and other images in an oversized format of 12⅓ by 10½ inches. The book was originally longer, but the back matter of notes, credits and the index had to be re-typeset to get the book down to the maximum number of pages that could be bound. The typefaces Minion Pro and Akzidenz Grotesk Pro are used throughout the book, with the body copy set in Minion Pro at 10.5pt. The back matter is densely packed into nearly 111 pages and set in 6.75pt type.

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