Witold Rybczynski’s latest book is Charleston Fancy: Little Houses and Big Dreams in the Holy City, which the New Criterion called “an enjoyable series of mini-lessons in history, urbanism, and aesthetics.” This talk describes a contemporary example in Charleston of what Christopher Alexander calls organic urban growth, which is the way that cities traditionally grew, often by accident, frequently without a predetermined plan, reflecting human hopes and dreams. In describing this 15-year project, Rybczynski emphasizes the importance of architecture and urban design on a local level, how an old city remakes itself by invention as well as replication, and the role that individuals still play in transforming the urban landscapes around them.
About Witold Rybczynski, Hon FAIA, Hon ASLA
Witold Rybczynski, of Polish parentage, was born in Edinburgh, raised in England and Canada. He is currently emeritus professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007, he received the Vincent Scully Prize. He served on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 2004 to 2012, and is currently a jury member of the Driehaus Prize in Classical Architecture. Rybczynski, who has written more than 20 books, has been described as “one of our most original, accessible, and stimulating writers on architecture” by Library Journal. His book Home has been translated into ten languages, and was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Prize, A Clearing in the Distance, a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, received the J. Anthony Lukas Prize, and How Architecture Works was named one of the best architecture books of 2013 by Amazon.