Nothing showcases recent advancements of the human race quite like the city. Buildings soar to heights never previously imagined creating distinct and iconic skylines, technological innovations line every street corner, and new inventions are often introduced to these highly-populated areas to test their relevancy. Cities have not only become the home for the majority of the world’s population, but their distinct landscapes, cultural influence, and recent revitalizations of themselves have sparked new identities and further opportunities to introduce the newest innovations in art, architecture, music, and science.
The American city takes this model and pushes it to a very distinct direction. Rather than being composed of dense centers, 20th-century development and abundant land has pushed many cities outward and left the centers as commuting sites with a fabric that has to be artificially maintained by giving people a reason to come back for pleasure. Thus,
the fabric of the American city lies in the conglomeration of neighborhoods with their own historical contexts and demographics. Some of these neighborhoods gain recognition equal to that of the city they support, and many become breeding grounds for movements of social and political shifts that can have a major impact across the nation. Still, American cities are incredibly young and experimental; many neighborhoods have seen their
identities greatly, if not completely, altered and their relationship to the fabric of the metropolitan area changed for better or worse. What does this rapid change in social and political philosophy mean for the future of architecture within the neighborhood?
The architecture of the American neighborhood, as a means of connecting the object-oriented city and the people whose social trends give it a distinct urban fabric, often becomes a backdrop or a response to the development of said trends over time. By exploring neighborhoods from a variety of American cities with particular attention to historical, geographic, and social context, a common generalization can be developed regarding the connection between design and how the typology of the American city
has developed over a relatively short time span. Taking this generalization and applying it to present-day social trends will allow a new architecture to emerge alongside it rather than after the fact and those instigating the changes in society will recognize that a critique of their surroundings is just as important as the critique of the ideologies that they are challenging.
Jacksonville, Florida, finding itself at a crossroads of developing a true urban fabric while combating the effects of suburban sprawl over the second half of the 20th century, will become a testing ground for a network of neighborhoods that pushes the typology of the American city to new yet attainable heights as one which is physically, intellectually, and
philosophically intertwined with social change. The ultimate goal is to create a new typology that shifts the philosophy of the person or group who desires to bring about social change to consider the architecture of the particular neighborhood as equal to the society. With this in mind, architects become just as crucial to the creation of a social trend as
the traditional players, bringing about a shift in the relationship between designer and society.
For the rest of my findings, please read content from my final thesis document, Thus Spoke Jacksonville.