Victor Gruen - transforming the American urban and suburban landscape

Intention: Victor Gruen's arguments for the city, the importance of public space, and the role of the architect-planner, evolved in the post-war era of the automobile, the build-out of suburbia and emergence of a consumer society. The success and failure of his projects are a unique frame of reference for architects and planners continuing to work with these significant questions.

1 The Heart of Our Cities (1964): Gruen's most influential book; in the decades when most American's abandoned their cities-and even the idea of the city-Gruen set out to convince his public that the center city must remain the heart and brain of its region. The city as an organism; the cliché of the diseased cell standing for th e decaying inner city.

2 Fort Worth Plan (1956): Gruen's best known image of a fully pedestrianized downtown, served by a beltway as gatherer of regional traffic, and parking garages positioned to activate the representational public space for specific urban districts.

3 Progressive communal order (1956): The diagrams show the build-up of Gruen's "compact-decentralized" Cellular Metropolis, with a sequence beginning with a family, and following with , village, town, city, and finally metropolitan core.


ACTAR, Barcelona, (2005) | Alex Wall | Seed grant from the Graham Foundation, Chicago