I wish I could remember the name of the book where I first read about Curitiba, Brazil, and the work of architect/planner/mayor Jamie Lerner.
I would tell you to go read it. And get inspired. Because this guy is a genius.
He completely transformed this Brazilian city in a way that would put most large American cities to shame.
The best part is that you, future architect/planner(/mayor?) can copy him, and work miracles in your city.
But I forgot the name of the book.
HOWEVER, I just came across this interview about the King of Smart himself in Metropolis magazine.
Next year marks the 35th anniversary of a simple but transformative idea in urban planning and transportation: Curitiba, Brazil launched a surface bus system that behaves like a subway. Better than, in some ways. Double-articulated vehicles carry large volumes of commuters, passengers prepay their fare in glazed boarding tubes, designated lanes keep traffic flowing smoothly, and one bus trails the next by one minutes’ distance. Curitiba’s transit system was established with little municipal investment and at a fraction of the cost of subterranean excavation, and today it carries some 2 million people per day.
Jaime Lerner was serving his first term as mayor of Curitiba when the city’s bus system began service, and the innovation catapulted the then-37-year-old architect and urban planner not only to two more terms as mayor and another two as governor of Parana State, but also to the forefront of contemporary urban planning and of the nascent sustainability movement. (Indeed, besides public transportation, Lerner implemented a recycling program in Curitiba that still enjoys an impressive participation rate.) Lerner has deftly juggled his design and political careers, and since 2003 he has run an eponymous architecture firm from Curitiba.
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The good thing about Curitiba is that the people are used to innovation and demand it from every mayor.
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I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.
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