School of Architecture and Planning
The Urban Design Challenge
Homer Russell: Director of Urban Design, Boston Redevelopment Authority
First of all, thank you very much.
It’s a real pleasure and an honor to be here today to talk to you about how you help make Buffalo an exciting, attractive, vibrant city. I want to talk to you a little bit about Boston, but before I do that I want to say how wonderful a city Buffalo is. I think you have some of the most extraordinary pieces of architecture in the country and I have been extremely impressed with your downtown and with your open space system, and most of all, how friendly, warm and gracious all of you are and how much fun I have had at this gathering.
“The city is an endless negotiation and endless construction of the new out of the old.”
This is a quote I found from a cosmologist because I could not find an appropriate one from an urban planner. What it says, in effect, is that no one person makes a city. There is not a city-maker as there is a clock-maker. In other words, generations and generations of people, one after the other, make and remake and remake the city. It’s wonderful that you all are engaged in this process, where you are now, and it should be a fun although sometimes frustrating one.
Thirty-five years ago the city of Boston was a place with only two or three tall buildings — government buildings built in the 1930’s. The rest of the city was as flat as a pancake and very dense with narrow winding streets going through it and looking from the air in a black and white photograph like a giant piece of fudge with knife marks cut through it for the streets.        
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