Award-Winning Author Witold Rybczynski talks about makeshift metropolis: Ideas about cities

Wed., Nov. 10, 5:30-7pm.

Free and open to the public.

Philadelphia Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Register at

Recently praised as “ architecture’s voice in the world of letters” (The Weekly Standard), Witold Rybczynski is one of America’ s most renowned architectural critics. A critic at and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Rybczynski’ s work branches the worlds of architecture, sociology and urbanism. In acclaimed books like City Life and Home, Witold has masterfully described—from the geographic regions to which we gravitate, the neighborhoods in which we settle, and the kind of roofs we put over our heads—how Americans think about their homes.

At this book talk, signing and reception, Rybczynski talks about his latest groundbreaking work. With his new book, MAKESHIFT METROPOLIS (Scribner; November 9, 2010) Rybczynski is back to the territory he knows best: writing about the way people live. With erudite but quick-paced prose, MAKESHIFT METROPOLIS describes how current ideas about urban planning evolved from the movements that defined the twentieth century, such as City Beautiful, the Garden City, and the seminal ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and Jane Jacobs.

If the twentieth century was the age of planning, we now find ourselves in the age of the market, Rybczynski argues, where entrepreneurial developers are shaping the twenty-first-century city with mixed-use developments, downtown living, heterogeneity, density and liveliness. He introduces readers to projects like Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Yards in Washington, D.C., and, further afield, to the new city of Modi’ in, Israel—sites that, in this age of resource scarcity, economic turmoil, and changing human demands, challenge our notion of the city.

MAKESHIFT METROPOLIS is an authoritative and immensely engaging history of American urban planning and a look to its future. It affirms Rybczynski’s role as one of our most original thinkers on the way we live today.

EVENT DETAILS Wed., Nov. 10, 5:30-7pm. Free and open to the public. Book signing and reception follow the talk. Philadelphia Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. Register at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Witold Rybczynski, born in Edinburgh, raised in Canada, and currently living in Philadelphia, is the M eyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written on architecture and urbanism for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker and Slate, and is the author of the critically acclaimed Home and the A Clearing in the Distance, a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, for which he was awarded the J. Anthony Lukas Prize. He is the recipient of the National Building Museum’s 2007 Vincent Scully Prize.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.