THE WELL-TEMPERED CITY, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work by a Trade Publisher.
“Rose’s non-stop tour of the city—an in depth account of its history, theory, and practice—is exhilarating and complete, wherein compassion, Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, and contemporary scientific thinking finally come to rest together. This is a hugely satisfying poem—rich in history, thought and deeply felt throughout.”
Philip Glass, Composer
In the vein of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—a visionary in urban development and renewal—champions the role of cities in addressing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the 21st century.
Cities are birthplaces of civilization; centers of culture, trade, and progress; cauldrons of opportunity—and the home of 80 percent of the world’s population by 2080. As the 21st century progresses, metropolitan areas will bear the brunt of global megatrends such as climate change, natural resource depletion, population growth, income inequality, mass migrations, education and health disparities, among many others.
In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose—the man who “repairs the fabric of cities”—distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity. Drawing from the musical concept of “temperament” as a way to achieve harmony, Rose argues that well-tempered cities can be infused with systems that bend the arc of their development toward equality, resilience, adaptability, well-being, and the ever-unfolding harmony between civilization and nature. These goals may never be fully achieved, but our cities will be richer and happier if we aspire to them, and if we infuse our every plan and constructive step of city development with this intention.
A celebration of urban life and an impassioned argument for its role in addressing the important issues in these volatile times, The Well-Tempered City is a reasoned, hopeful blueprint for a thriving metropolis—and the future.
“This provocative, important, and majestically composed book about the future of cities should be essential reading for our times. An urban planner, environmentalist, and musician, Rose takes us on a rollicking, centuries-long journey through the history of cities, never forgetting to marvel at their resilience and human core. What does Bach tell us about the complexity and organization of our urban environments? What is the ‘metabolism of the city’? By the time I had finished Rose’s book, I began to see the city and the world around me in an entirely new light. I could not put this book down.”
Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene
“Huge in ambition, grand in scope, dazzling in accomplishment. You will never look at your city, yourself or your neighbors the same way again.”
Jonathan F. P. Rose works with cities and not-for-profits to plan and build green affordable and mixed income housing and cultural, health, and educational centers. Recognized for creating communities that literally heal both residents and neighborhoods, Rose is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the integration of environmental, social, and economic solutions to the urban issues facing us today.