Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award 2017

Publish Date: Apr 19, 2017

Deadline: Jul 15, 2017

The Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award

The annual Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award recognizes an outstanding book, published in English, which exhibits excellence in addressing issues of urban communication. It is named in honor of the late social activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. All entries must be published between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017. The book award brings with it a $500 prize.

To nominate a book, please send a short letter of nomination or self-nomination (in the form of an email attachment) to Timothy Gibson, co-chair of the Jane Jacobs Book Award review committee, at the email address below by July 15, 2017. The letter of nomination should describe the book and explain how it addresses issues central to the field of urban communication. Finalists (or their publishers) will be asked to send four copies of the book to the award committee. For more information on the field of urban communication, and to determine if your nomination fits the award call, please review our mission statement.

2016 Winner of The Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award

This book offers readers a fascinating intellectual history of Jane Jacobs’ development as a critic and scholar of urban design. Of particular interest is how this deeply researched book delves into the early stages of Jacobs’ career, focusing with particular detail on her formative years as a working journalist in New York. Laurence shows how, as a writer and associate editor at Architectural Forum and other publications during the 1950s, Jacobs drew on her observations of modern architecture and urban renewal planning—as well as her professional connections to leading urbanists of the day—to develop and sharpen her now-legendary critique of top-down modernist planning. In doing so, Laurence convincingly dispels the mythology that has formed around Jacobs as an “amateur” urbanist who burst unexpectedly onto the scene in 1961. Far from it, Jacobs was a working writer and reporter, whose successive professional encounters with the failures of modernist planning and urban renewal compelled her to offer, as Laurence writes, “a wholly new vision of cities” in The Death and Life of Great American Cities—a vision that attempted to nurture, rather than poison, the fragile “ballet” of the street.

This is a book about urban communication in two major senses. First, as noted above, it documents how Jacobs’ early career as a professional journalist formed the crucial foundation for her development as a leading critic of modernist planning and perhaps the most influential urbanist of the late 20th century. Second, Laurence’s book also shows how Jacobs developed a particular understanding of the built environment as a medium of human communication, as a crucial means for shaping and enabling particular forms of social interaction. Not only did she help develop this view of the communicative city in her early writings and intellectual work (e.g., presenting at conferences on “urban design criticism”), but she was instrumental in bringing this view to wider audiences, both before and after the publication of her seminal 1961 book.

Dr. Timothy Gibson (George Mason University)
Co-Chair, Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award Committee.
Email nominations to: janejacobsaward2017@gmail.com

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