The fractured metropolis

Cover book by Jonathan Barnett

Jack P. Kruf

Improving the new city, restoring the old city, reshaping the region.

Book by Jonathan Barnett

Designing cities is not that easy, especially when it is the goal to keep it working as a cohesive whole. The city as an ecosystem with one functioning society, happy citizens and a perfect governmental stewardship, it would be great. But it is a dream scenario, and actually a not existing one. Jonathan Barnett – emeritus Professor of Practice in City and Regional Planning, and former director of the Urban Design Program, at the University of Pennsylvania – describes how political fragmentation has lead to the emerging of the image of the city as a fractured organism.

This book is an in-depth look into the fibres of the city, leading to a thorough understanding of the city as living organism. Rich, sometimes painful. The best thing about Barnett is, that he above all is honest, that he gives us a crystal clear analysis of historical paths and above all enriches our hopes with guidelines how to restore and work from here. It is must read for every public leader and city manager.

Targeted at architects, students, urban designers and planners, landscape architects, and city and regional officials, The Fractured Metropolis provides a thorough analysis of not only cities but also the entire metropolitan region, considering how both are intrinsically linked and influence one other.  Jonathan Barnett, an urban designer and architect who has worked for cities throughout the United States, teaches architecture and urban design at City College.

American cities are splitting apart. Traditional downtowns still have their ring of old urban neighborhoods, but nearby suburban villages and rural counties have been transformed into a new kind of city, where residential subdivisions extend for miles and shopping malls and office parks are strung out in long corridors of commercial development…. The old city is fighting for its life: its tax base is in danger; its schools are in trouble; its streets are unsafe. Although the development boom of the 1980s has subsided, the new city is still prosperous and peaceful, except where its sprawling growth has enveloped older communities with problems of their own.

Jonathan Barnett

“I think this book is an outstanding original interpretation of urban political and social fragmentation. The argument is elegantly expressed and tailored to its place in existing theory with exceptional clarity and skill. The field of urban politics has frequently been characterized as lacking coherent political and social theory, except perhaps, for that contributed by economists. This book runs squarely in the other direction giving considerable form to an explicit information processing theory of mass behavior in which fundamental political institutional arrangements, such as political boundaries, play not just a role, but are decisive in explaining commonly observed patterns in racial distributions. Seldom have undeniably political factors been assigned such a central role in explaining widespread social phenomena.”

Carol W. Kohfeld, University of Missouri, St. Louis

“In his latest book Jonathan Barnett explores the new realities and opportunities for the design of the metropolitan region. Architect, teacher, and urban designer, Barnett cites specific examples from around the country demonstrating how bypassed areas in the old city can become real estate opportunities, how new types of zoning can facilitate development at metropolitan edges without destroying the landscape, and how metropolitan planning can repair our environment and communities. The book describes ways to write effective urban and suburban planning guidelines; methods for making highways and transportation systems further overall planning goals; designs that make conservation areas and public places create more value for development; techniques for promoting successful historic districts; and much more, including the basic elements of city design and a national agenda for action. There are 152 plans, diagrams, and photographs integrated with the text.”


“The accomplished urban designer Jonathan Barnett devotes his latest book to exploring ways of ameliorating the split between the ‘old city’, which used to be the center of things, and the ‘new city’ on the metropolitan periphery. Barnett discusses an impressively broad variety of recent plans and designs for controlling sprawl, improving urban centers and edge cities, and fitting new buildings in with old. One of the best available overviews of how urban and metropolitan design issues are currently being dealt with.”

Progressive Architecture

“Because Jonathan Barnett is a gifted practitioner, an experienced and knowing urban designer, as well a distinguished teacher and author his books on urban design and history, theory and practice are extraordinarily useful for both lay persons and professional readers.” 

Journal of the American Planning Association


Barnett, Jonathan (1995) Fractured metropolis. 1st ed. New York: IconEds., HarperCollins.

Citizen and City in perspective

104 Tokyo, ©Floriane de Lassée (2008). From her book ‘Inside Views‘.

Jack P. Kruf

This book Inside Views is noteworthy. It is an art impression and expression at the same time. A superb serie of photographs – (with light written) night-scapes – by Floriane de Lassée. What this serie makes so special is that she shows us how the personal living world of people seems to be connected and disconnected at the same time with the system world of the larger city. In fact every photo catches two separate worlds in one single shot. Quite an achievement. Not only that: it is art.

From public governance and city management perspective it is obvious that knowledge of habitats in the city and their layering is crucial in taking the right decisions in city architecture and planning. To connect the individual and personal habitat from the bottom of the ecosystem city with the top, being the larger habitat of the city, is the true challenge for every public leader. It is about the true understanding what city resilience actually is and how it ‘works’. The lockdown related to Coronavirus shows us how relevant this knowledge is, more than ever. It is the constraint to build trust of citizens in city leadership. And is not solitude what actually has to be managed? De Lassée guides us.

In the high insomnia megalopolis, splashed by stunning lights like so many islands of solitude, a heart beats, fragile, human… I do not photograph cities, but an imaginary City that inhabits each megalopolis. It is the product of the Man’s excesses, his genius, his madness. The City exceeds the overflow. She is about to devour us.”

Floriane de Lassée

During her time in New York, while studying at the International Center of Photography, New York, Floriane de Lassée began to explore the built environment and to document the cityscape at night. Post graduation, as her career took off, de Lassée built on this early work, photographing night scenes in New York, Tokyo and Shanghai.

A selection of these photographs was brought together for the artist’s exhibition Night Views; featured at the Arles Photography Festival in 2006. Inside Views, de Lassee’s first monograph, comprises 42 of the artist’s most powerful night cityscapes to date, and serves not only as a broader introduction of the work for which she is already known in Europe, but also as a bridge between her earliest work in the series, and the transformations it is currently undergoing.

Floriane de Lassée is an original force in contemporary photography. Inside Views is a stunning monograph.


Lassée, Florianne de (2008) Inside Views. Paso Robles: Nazraeli Press.

Wikipedia, ‘Floriane de Lassée’.ée

Rise of the DEO: Leadership by design

Cover picture Rise of the DEO

By Jack P. Kruf

This book puts leadership in the context, recognized within public governance challenges. The DEO – Design Executive Officer – as described by Giudice and Ireland has many connections with that of mayors, aldermen and city managers who constantly act on the edge of design and dynamics. Design can be considered as a core competence. This book is in this context a complete breath of fresh air and brings recognisable new perspectives on leadership. Public leaders could be inspired by this book.

“This book identifies and explores the qualities of a new breed of leaders. The book lays out–graphically and through example–how DEO’s run their companies and why this approach makes sense today. We help readers identify skills in themselves and their colleagues, and we guide them in using these skills to build, revive, or reinvent the next generation of great companies and organizations. Leaders who understand the transformative power of design and embrace its traits and tenets can command in times of change. We call these leaders DEO’s and they are our new heroes.”

Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland.

Giudice and Ireland bring forward six characteristics of a DEO, which are brought forward many times in books of leadership but in this book placed in a new surprising context. DEO’s are:

  • Change agents: not troubled by change.
  • Socially Intelligent: high social intelligence.
  • System thinkers: systems thinkers who understand the interconnectedness of their world.
  • Intuitive: highly intuitive, either by nature or through experience.
  • Risk takers: embrace risk as an inherent part of life and a key ingredient of creativity.
  • GSD: “gets shit done.” (i.e. they make things happen).

“Businesses and governments have discovered the power of a creative mind to effect change and produce value. Experts note that CEO’s who possess a design sensibility—or trust others who do—are best suited to thrive in a changing world. Yet not until Rise of the DEO has anyone captured the true potential of a design-oriented thinker at the highest level of an organization. Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland have written a seminal work that will transform the role of the designer and the pace of innovation. This book is a must read.”

Richard Grefé, Executive Director of AIGA.

Listen to an interview with Maria Giudice by Debbie Millman. For more information, please visit


Giudice, M. and C. Ireland (2013) Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design (Voices That Matter).