Thursday, June 3, 2010

Architect Cites Automotive Grip

As written by Glenn Fowler for The New York Times 24 June 1959, p. 48:

New Orleans, June 23 -- Automobile makers and the motor oil producers were challenged today to help the nation's cities fight their way out of an automotive stranglehold.

Edward D. Stone, a New York architect whose designs in recent years have earned him a world reputation, depicted the plight of major urban centers in the United States as the result of failure to realize that "the automobile and the pedestrian cannot be mixed."

"Since the horseless carriage is largely responsible for our troubles, and we are a country that eulogizes free enterprise," he said, "why hasn't it occurred to the great oil and automotive industries to try to resolve some of the problems they have created? Why can't they be shamed into financing studies on the planning of our towns and cities?"

Mr. Stone made his plea at the convention of the American Institute of Architects at the Roosevelt Hotel.

The designer of the United States pavilion at last year's Brussels World Fair and of many other well known buildings in this country and abroad also came out strongly for establishment of a Cabinet post in the Federal Government to deal with urban problems.

In his endorsement of his proposal, which has been made by several groups of planners, city officials and private citizens in the last few years, Mr. Stone stressed what he referred to as the imbalance in our present governmental arrangement between rural and urban interests.

"We need a Cabinet official corresponding to the Secretary of Agriculture," he said, "with outposts in every state, and with architects and planners whose task it would be to guide communities, just as the Agriculture Department's state and county agents have educated the farmer."

Mr. Stone urged architects to take the lead in promoting greater official use of planning tools. He chided them for wasting energy on intramural matters while they might better, in his view, be doing missionary work among the public at large and the country's officialdom.

If architects followed the course, he said, "we would not be wasting our effort on creating precious prototypes for our own personal satisfaction, in the midst of chaos, but rather adding individual and brilliant buildings in a well-ordered plan for our country as a whole."

He said architects themselves were to blame for what he termed a loss of status of their profession.

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