RG27.4 Mark Gillem’s brilliant book

Associate professor of landscape architecture and urban design Mark Gillem has written a brilliant book about how America designs communities. If you’ve been in this conversation about urban design and sprawl in particular, you know the arguments. Developers are giving customers what they want. Bankers determine what will qualify for a mortgage. Roads are built to accommodate drivers, which then attract more drivers, exacerbating the problem. We’d love to do things differently, but we’re powerless against the invisible market forces. “Bunk,” says Gillem. Many others have said it, but nobody’s been able to prove it. Until now. Gillem’s “America Town” examines USA military bases around the world. These are built without regard for finances or market forces. There’s only one customer: the United States military. Lo and behold if the same sprawl patterns don’t persist there, regardless and in spite of the cultural surroundings. So it really IS just a bunch of power brokers doing what they think is best or easiest or whatever. With a control group to test the thesis, Gillem has taken the argument to a new and surer level.