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The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History
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The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Spanning the ages and the globe, Spiro Kostof explores the city as a "repository of cultural meaning" and an embodiment of the community it shelters. Widely used by both architects and students of architecture, The City Shaped won the AIA's prestigious book award in Architecture and Urbanism. With hundreds of photographs and drawings that illustrate Professor Kostof's inno ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 4th 1993 by Bulfinch (first published October 1st 1991)
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 ·  300 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
A Classic, I suppose, textbook for the history of Urban Design, I finally got around to dusting my 14 year old copy off to actually read (and now haltingly going through its sister edition, The City Assembled). This was definitely worth the effort. I constantly found myself scribbling urban diagrams, referencing particular city districts, page numbers, and jotting down solid quotes (the flâneur as the “Parisian compromise between laziness and activity”) that I’ll probably never look at again (indeed, the a ...more
Frank Stein
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Its pretty damned impressive.

Instead of a typical comprehensive "history of the city," Kostof finds simple urban forms, such as "the grid" or "the boulevard," and traces their evolution and interpretation across hundreds of years. Not in any simple and easy to read chronological order, mind-you, but in a sort of inspired free association. In a few heavily illustrated pages he'll jump from the 8th century grid of Chinese capital Chang'an, and its monarchical and imperialistic tendenci
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full of information, interpretation, and analysis. Extremely clear, very thought-provoking.
Prajakta Ravi Vemula
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best book
Aaron Arnold
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, read-in-2012
As a history of urban forms, The City Shaped is full of a lot of interesting insights into how and why various planners (both public and private) have chosen certain layouts for cities, and how human patterns of usage both are and aren't shaped by the forms those planners have tried to choose for them. As an example, the grid pattern has been both praised and criticized for seemingly contradictory things - it supposedly either constrains human behavior and forces them into lifeless, regimented o ...more
Jul 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the built environment who hasn't read it
Shelves: alltimefavorites
-Cities can grow organically or have organizational frameworks, usually a little of both.
-Social ideals are reflected in city planning.
-The grid contains as many deviations as regularities.
-If you understand changes to your environment, your surroundings make more sense.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. If you are into the philosophy of urban space and/or planning, this is your shit. Wow. Kostof's appreciation for the allocation of space and the cultural repercussions therein are well worth wading through the reference-like presentation. A great take on urban anthropology.
Apr 27, 2012 marked it as to-read
borrowed for GDP. used briefly in Robson Square Studio.
worth more attention.
reading for school. is nice base in city form.

read chapters 1-4(or 5)

i would be interested in checking out his "sequel," The City Assembled.
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Shelves: urban-design
Better illustrations than Mumford's book but not nearly as interesting to read
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Spiro Konstantine Kostof was a leading architectural historian, and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His books continue to be widely read and some are routinely used in collegiate courses on architectural history.

In 1993, following his death, the Society of Architectural Historians established the "Spiro Kostof Award," to recognize books "in the spirit of Kostof's w