Introduction: The Art of Urbanism

  • City as a work of art (product)

  • Art of making cities (process)

The city is our canvas and we are all urban artists, potentially creating great works of art. Beyond two and three-dimensional art, the places we live are 4-D, including the fourth dimension of human experience in space and time. While great places nourish body and soul, poor urban and environmental quality challenges us physically and emotionally. Just as we are what we eat, we are where we live because we breathe the air, drink the water, and inhabit the natural and built landscapes. We make our places and they, in turn, make us. My work aims to assist places in becoming living masterpieces, to most fully support humanity, through engaging a process for practicing the art of urbanism.

– Nan Ellin

The object of Art is
to give life a shape.
– William Shakespeare (1590)

The city fosters art and is art;
the city creates the theater
and is the theater.
– Lewis Mumford (1937)

Cities have often been likened
to symphonies and poems,
and the comparison seems to me
a perfectly natural one: they are,
in fact, objects of the same kind.
The city may even be rated higher,
since it stands at the point where
Nature and artifice meet. …
It is both natural object and a
thing to be cultivated …
something lived and something dreamed;
it is the human invention, par excellence.
– Claude Levi-Strauss (1955)













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