Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lewis Mumford’s Green Urbanism

Aaron Sachs, Professor of History and American Studies, Cornell University


Lewis Mumford’s critique of modern cities was accompanied by a positive, constructive vision for how people might design and occupy urban spaces more sustainably. Influenced by Frederick Law Olmsted’s environmentally and socially responsible approach to urban design, Mumford sought to imagine how cities could continue to embody these values as a hedge against the increasingly de-humanizing and unhealthy environment of the industrial city. Sachs examines how Mumford, as one of the most important public intellectuals of the early twentieth century, foresaw the ecological problems of cities and proposed solutions that are essential tools of the landscape architecture profession today.

Aaron-Sachs-past-lectureAn environmental historian, Aaron Sachs investigates nature and culture from multi-disciplinary perspectives, looking at how ideas about nature have changed over time and how those changes have mattered in the western world. He is the author of The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism (2006) and Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition (2013). Sachs supports innovative history writing with co-editor Jonathan Demos through Yale University Press’s New Directions in Narrative History series, and serves as the faculty sponsor of Historians Are Writers (HAW), bringing together Cornell graduate students who believe that academic writing can be moving on a deeply human level.

We thank our co-sponsors for the 2016-2017 Lecture Series:
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
Boston Society of Landscape Architects
Charles River Conservancy
Emerald Necklace Conservancy
The Fenway Alliance
Friends of Mount Auburn
Friends of the Muddy River
Friends of the Public Garden
Klopfer Martin Design Group
Library of American Landscape History
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Massachusetts Historical Society
National Association for Olmsted Parks
New England Landscape Design & History Association
New England Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians
Pressley Associates
Pat Surhcke
Tom Woodward and David LePere

December 2018: Saving Central Park: A History and A Memoir
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

April 2018:
What Is a Park For? Olmsted, Obama, and the Meanings of Urban Landscape

Carlo Rotella
December 2017:
Beyond Drawings: The Olmsted Archives as Muse and Vision

Lucinda Brockway

March 2017:
Lewis Mumford’s Green Urbanism

Aaron Sachs
December 2016:
From the Granite Garden to West Philadelphia (with a nod to the Fens): Restoring Nature & Communities

Anne Whiston Spirn

April 2016:
Parks: Cornerstone of Civic Revitalization

Rolf Diamant
December 2015:
The “Fairsted School”: An Enduring Legacy

Ethan Carr

March 2015:

Gary Hilderbrand

December 2014:
Dwelling in Landscape

Daniel Bluestone

March 2014:
The Shaping of Regions: The New York Regional Plan and the Origins of Planning in America

Robert Yaro

November 2013:
From Buffalo to Boston: Olmsted’s Evolving Vision of Urban Park Systems

Francis R. Kowsky