Festival of the Future City

City Thinkers of the Past and Now (2)

City Thinkers of the Past and Now (2): Miriam Fitzpatrick, Gillian Darley, Jonathan Meades and Owen Hatherley: William H Whyte, Jane Jacobs, Ian Nairn

Miriam Fitzpatrick, Gillian Darley, Jonathan Meades and Owen Hatherley: William H Whyte, Jane Jacobs, Ian Nairn

In April 1958 ‘Downtown is for People’ was published in Fortune Magazine. Its author, Jane Jacobs (who went on to write the classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities), along with the critic Ian Nairn (whose photos were used to create illustrations for the article) were brought together at the invitation of William H Whyte, American urbanist, organisational analyst, people-watcher and author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, among others. It was a turning point in all their respective careers. Architect and lecturer Miriam Fitzpatrick examines the life and work of Whyte; author Gillian Darley talks about Jacobs; and Jonathan Meades and Owen Hatherley look at Nairn, his TV work, writings and more. They all debate what these writers mean for cities today.

Speaker biographies:

Miriam Fitzpatrick joined University College Dublin in 2006, where she specialises in architecture and urban design. She previously worked for international design firms, including Fielden Clegg Bradley architects and Grimshaws in London, Diamond Schmitt Architect in Toronto and Sasaki Associates in Boston. She is a committee member of DoCoMoMo (Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement) and a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional. She was a founding member of the Urban Panel, a strategic review panel set up by English Heritage to advise on major urban developments. She is currently a committee member of All Ireland Architecture Research Group, and a member of Architects and Humanities Research Association and the Urban Design Group.

Gillian Darley is a writer, broadcaster and prize-winning architectural journalist. Her first book was the pioneering study Villages of Vision, published in 1975 and in a revised edition in 2007 and 2009. She has written biographies of Octavia Hill, John Soane, John Evelyn and Ian Nairn. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including Building Design, the TLS and the London Review of Books.

Jonathan Meades is a leading critic, writer, journalist, essayist and film-maker. His books include works of fiction – Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Business – and several anthologies. In 2012 Museum Without Walls, which brought together his writings and film scripts, was selected as a book of the year by seven critics. He has written and performed in more than 50 television shows on predominantly topographical subjects such as shacks, garden cities, megastructures, buildings associated with vertigo, beer, pigs, and the architecture of Hitler and Stalin.

Owen Hatherley is the author of Militant Modernism, a defence of the modernist movement, and A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain. He writes regularly on the political aesthetics of architecture, urbanism and popular culture for a variety of publications, including Building Design, Frieze, the Guardian and the New Statesman.