Alain's First Class: Economists vs. Urban Planners

+ Jonathan Stewart

Fifty years ago Sunday, Alain and Marie-Agnes Bertaud were married. Today, in celebration of their momentous anniversary (or, perhaps, by pure coincidence) Alain and I are having the first class session for “Markets, Design and the City,” a graduate course modeled on Alain’s forthcoming book, Order Without Design.

The session is titled “Understanding and Managing Cities (1): Economists vs. Urban Planners.” We are reading from classic texts on urban planning, including those by Le Corbusier and Hayek, to provide an overview of the main issue to be discussed throughout the course – the wide gap between urban planning and urban economics. In order to better manage cities, economists need to understand the critical implications of urban design, and urban planners need to recognize and respect the immutable nature of the market. Without this mutual understanding it will be difficult to develop sound policy choices that generate urban success, and the choices made may in fact amplify the problems faced by urban residents, which include congestion and high rents.

We’ll keep blogging about the course throughout the semester. Join the conversation on twitter with #managingcities

Class 1 (9/29): Understanding and Managing Cities (1): Economists Vs. Urban Planners

  1. Le Corbusier, City of tomorrow and its planning, 1929 (dover edition 1987) Part III: A concrete case, The Centre of Paris
  2. The Athens Charter, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens_Charter
  3. Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chapter 22 Housing and Town Planning
  4. Edward Glaeser, Economic Growth and Urban Density: A Review Essay, Working papers in Economics E-94-7, Hoover Institution, 1994

Tile image courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives.

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