When I first began running the University of Louisville’s Urban Design Studio (UDS), I had always envisioned it to be a place for idea generation and action. One day a few months into my new position as director, I came across a xeroxed working paper from 1966 by Grady Clay called The Utopian Urban Interchange. Finding this document was particularly impactful to me because I attribute my interest in pursuing an urban planning degree to Grady’s radio commentary series called Crossing the American Grain that I would listen to on the local NPR station, WFPL, while driving to work at the ad agency.

In the pre-internet working paper, Grady predicted our information-connected world and how “such tools will soon be in many people’s hands.” However, he contemplates the importance of a centralized data-bank and research center that is a physical location for human interaction and learning in Louisville. It was this document that I used as a guide for my vision of the UDS.

Through all of our different outreach and engagement programs over the years, like the Sustainable City Series, Society of Urban Perambulators, Open Studios and a variety of other workshops and events, we have worked and continue to grow the UDS as a place for community interaction, ideation and shared learning. 

Yet one facet I’ve always wanted to develop, but which has been elusive, is an urbanist reading room with all the great urban planning and design books that have shaped the profession, cities, and myself. Essentially providing a place that serves as a hub of knowledge for people to explore and become inspired, fostering a deeper understanding of how cities work, and building a common vocabulary to expand our communities' understanding of how to improve our city and why.

Recently we have had the fortune to begin building a solid foundation of a library and realize the urbanist reading room. Through a combination of scouring new and used books and some donated from my own collection, we now have close to 140 titles (see list below) embodying urban design’s interdisciplinary fields of architecture, planning, landscape architecture, ecology, sociology and more. 

There are the essential classics like Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City, Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and Oscar Newman’s Defensible Space to name a few. 

I thought I had tracked down a copy of Grady Clay’s Alleys, a Hidden Resource, a great book that chronicles some alleys in Louisville and even more meaningful to me because it was the source of a walking tour my friend and fellow urbanist Branden Klayko and I perambulated with WFPL reporters Gabe Bullard and Devin Katayama, retracing Grady’s steps. Unfortunately, the book was not available, likely a fake retailer account.

Devin, Branden and Gabe retracing Grady Clay's steps

We have a good selection of essential contemporary titles as well, like Jan Gehl’s Cities for People, Jeff Speck’s Walkable City, Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia's Tactical Urbanism, Charles Marohn’s Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, Douglas Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope, and Janette Sadik-Khan’s Streetfight.

I made sure to incorporate a good mix of technical tomes like Dhiru Thadani’s The Language of Towns & Cities: A Visual DIctionary, Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, Matthew Carmona’s Public Places Urban Spaces, Randolph Hester’s Design for Ecological Democracy, and Daniel Parolek’s Form Based Codes.

As I look through the books we have collected, I’m still trying to figure out how to make the books available beyond reading them at the UDS, but first and foremost, we want to use the library to create a dynamic space that fosters community engagement and builds a vibrant network of urban design professionals and enthusiasts. 

When the new UDS space is built at UofL’s Envirome Institute, it will be situated in a park space connected to the New Vision of Health Campus currently under construction. The vision is a welcoming space where urbanists can gather to read, discuss, and tackle the issues facing our city… as a community, always working towards Grady’s Utopian Urban Interchange.

Below is a list of all the books we have collected so far. What other books are we missing?

Book Author (first listed)
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction Alexander, Christopher
The Works: Anatomy of a City Ascher, Kate
The Tourist-Historic City Ashworth, G. J.
The Practice of Social Research Babbie, Earl
Design of Cities Bacon, Edmund
Our Shawnee Barnett, Precious
Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities Beatley, Timothy
The History of the City Benevolo, Leonardo
Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing the American Landscape Beveridge, Charles E.
Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl Blais, Pamela
Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown Brandes Gratz, Roberta
The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream Calthorpe, Peter
Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change Calthorpe, Peter
Invisible Cities Calvino, Italo
Visualizing Density Campoli, Julie
Public Places Urban Spaces: The Dimensions of Urban Design Carmona, Matthew
Silent Spring Carson, Rachel
A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America Chakrabarti, Vishaan
Architectural Graphics Ching, Francis D.K.
Close-Up: How to Read the American City Clay, Grady
Crossing the American Grain Clay, Grady
Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Cronon, William
The Concise Townscape Cullen, Gordon
The Environmental Planning Handbook for Sustainable Communities and Regions Daniels, Tom
Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability Dannenberg, Andrew
Agricultural Urbanism: Handbook for Building Sustainable Food & Agric Systems in 21st Century Cities de la Salle, Janine
Understanding Amsterdam: Essays on economic vitality, city life and urban form Deben, Léon
Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time Diaz, Manny
Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream Duany, Andres
The New Civic Art : Elements of Town Planning Duany, Andres
The Smart Growth Manual Duany, Andres
Retrofitting Suburbia, Updated Edition: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs Dunham-Jones, Ellen
A Reader in Planning Theory Faludi, Andreas
Market Analysis for Real Estate: Concepts and Applications in Valuation and Highest and Best Use Fanning, Stephen F.
Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature Farr, Douglas
Cities and the Creative Class Florida, Richard
The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It Florida, Richard
Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950 Fogelson, Robert M.
The Spaces between Buildings Ford, Larry R.
Health and Community Design: the Impact of the Built Environment on Physical Activity Frank, Lawrence D.
Retracking America Friedmann, John
Images of the Street Planning, Identity and Control in Public Space Fyfe, Nicholas R.
People And Plans Gans, Herbert J.
Cities for People Gehl, Jan
How to Study Public Life Gehl, Jan
Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space Gehl, Jan
Promise And Betrayal: Universities And The Battle For Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods Gilderbloom, John I.
Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Glaeser, Edward L.
Modern Public Land Law, 3rd Ed Glicksman, Robert L.
Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World Graham, Wade
Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It Gray, Nolan
Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder Greenberg, Ken
Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile Grescoe, Taras
Neighbourhoods for the Future: A Plea for a Social and Ecological Urbanism Hajer, Maarten
Cities in Civilization Hall, Peter
Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century Hall, Peter
The Geography of Urban Transportation Hanson, Susan
Sustainable Communities: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns Calthorpe, Peter
Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life Hayden, Dolores
The Permaculture City: Regenerative Design for Urban, Suburban, and Town Resilience Hemenway, Toby
Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future Hern, Matt
Design for Ecological Democracy Hester Jr, Randolph T.
The Nearly Forgotten History of Portland, Kentucky Higdon, James
What Planners Do: Power, Politics & Persuasion Hoch, Charles
The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape Holten, Katie
Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States Jackson, Kenneth T.
Great Streets Jacobs, Allan B.
The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards Jacobs, Allan B.
Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life Jacobs, Jane
The Death and Life of Great American Cities: 50th Anniversary Edition Jacobs, Jane
Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape Jonnes, Jill
The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community Katz, Peter
Knowing the Trees: Discover the Forest from Seed to Snag Keffer, Ken
The Pedestrian Pocket Book: A New Suburban Design Strategy Kelbaugh, Doug
Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life Kellert, Stephen R.
Nature by Design: The Practice of Biophilic Design Kellert, Stephen R.
Community Planning: An Introduction to the Comprehensive Plan Kelly, Eric Damian
Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life Klienenberg, Eric
The City Assembled: The Elements of Urban Form Through History Kostof, Spiro
The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History Kostof, Spiro
Geography and Trade Krugman, Paul
Visionaries: The 20th Century's 100 Most Inspirational Leaders Kumar, Satish
The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape Kustler, James Howard
The Urban Cliff Revolution: New Findings on the Origins and Evolution of Human Habitats Larson, Douglas W.
The City Reader LeGates, Richard T.
The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream Leinberger, Christopher B.
Urban Design Downtown: Poetics and Politics of Form Loukaitou-Sideris, Anastasia
Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder Louv Richard
Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change Lydon, Mike
Good City Form Lynch, Kevin
The Image of the City Lynch, Kevin
House as a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaing of Home Marcus, Clare Cooper
Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town Marohn Jr. Charles L.
Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity Marohn Jr. Charles L.
The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design Mars, Roman
Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns Massengale, John
Design with Nature McHarg, Ian L.
Applied Statistics for Public Administration Meier, Kenneth J.
Urban Code: 100 Lessons for Understanding the City Mikoleit, Anne
Real Estate Development: Priciples and Process Miles, Mike E.
The Monocle Guide to Building Better Cities Monocle
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design Montgomery, Charles
How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood Moskowitz, P.E.
Defensible Space-Crime and Prevention Through Urban Design Newman, Oscar
Laws of the Landscape: How Politics Shape Cities in Europe and America Nivola, Pietro S.
The Wealth Of Cities: Revitalizing The Centers Of American Life Norquist, John O.
The Rooftop Growing Guide: How to Transform Your Roof into a Vegetable Garden or Farm Novak, Annie
Civilizing American Cities: Writings On City Landscapes Olmsted, Frederick Law
Trees: an Illusrated Celebration Oseid, Kelsey
Urban Economics O'Sullivan, Arthur
Transit Maps of the World Ovenden, Mark
Form Based Codes: A Guide for Planners, Urban Designers, Municipalities, and Developers Parolek, Daniel G.
Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis Parolek, Daniel G.
Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning Patton, Carl V.
The University as Urban Develioper: Case Studies and Analysis Perry, David C.
The Affordable City: Strategies for Putting Housing Within Reach (and Keeping it There) Phillips, Shane
Universal Design Handbook Preiser, Wolfgang F.E.
City Cycling Pucher, John
The New Rules of Real Estate Rascoff, Spencer
EcoCities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature Register, Richard
Planning with Neighborhoods Rohe, William M.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Rothstein, Richard
Building Barcelona: A Second Renaissance Rowe, Peter G.
Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities Rybczynski, Witold
Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution Sadik-Khan, Janette
Nimby Wars: The Politics of Land Use Saint, P. Michael
Land Use Regulation: Case and Materials Selmi, Daniel P.
The Reflective Practitioner Shon, Donald A.
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City Shorto, Russell
Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life Sim, David
The Art of Building Cities: City Building According to Its Artistic Fundamentals Sitte, Camillo
City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age Smith, P.D.
Walkable City (Tenth Anniversary Edition) Speck, Jeff
Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places Speck, Jeff
Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places Stilgoe, John R.
Biophilic Urbanism: Designing Resilient Communities for the Future Tabb, Phillip James
Nature's Best Hope Tallamy, Douglas W.
The Language of Towns & Cities: A Visual Dictionary Thadani, Dhiru A.
I Said Bang!: A History of the Dirt Bowl Thomson, Darcy
Architecture: From PreHistory to Post-Modernism Trachtenberg, Marvin
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) Vanderbilt, Tom
Pecha Kucha Night: 20 Images x 20 Seconds Various Authors
Human Transit Walker, Jarrett
Designing Community Walters, David
The Sustainable Urban Development Reader Wheeler, Stephen M.
City: Rediscovering the Center Whyte, William H.
The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces Whyte, William H.
Land Use in a Nutshell Wright, Robert R.