by Peter S. Kaufman
This book about capitalism and architecture by Italian anthropologist and architect La Cecla (Pasta and Pizza) was first published in 2008 as Contro l’architettura. A founder of the Architecture Social Impact Assessment, which evaluates architectural and planning projects around the world, La Cecla here critiques modern urban planning and the culture of “casino capitalism” that produces large-scale, unsuccessful urban projects, e.g., the expansion of Columbia University in New York City. Instead, he argues, it is the job of architectural designers to plan on a human scale and help foster the possibilities of local life. Too often, he observes, star architects engage in global branding initiatives, forcing the individuals who use their buildings and spaces into the constraints of their vision, rather than shaping designs according to the needs of those individuals.
VERDICT This book, with its moving and persuasive argument, is recommended especially for design libraries. Instead of occupying Wall Street, La Cecla occupies architecture with an eye for truth and humanity.