Essay: Kevin Lynch
In No Order Whatsoever
Frank Lloyd Wright, with a group of Taliesin Fellows, 1937; Kevin Lynch is second from left, at FLW's right. Photograph by Hedrich-Blessing.
Early in the deliberations that led to the founding [in 1983] of the journal that became Places, Kevin Lynch made a list of possible topics. Soon afterward Lynch died at the end of a day while planting his garden in Martha’s Vineyard. We can think of no more fitting tribute to Kevin Lynch than to publish his list — in the hope that his ideas will give rise to future articles. Here is the list, which he offered "in no order whatsoever."
A review of where (if anywhere) environmental design has been effective in the US today.
What professional “urban designers” do as … what needs to be done.
Some spectacular planning failures.
The progressive specialization and abandonment of the street.
A quantitative analysis of the flow of material through a city.
Planning for area decline: good city decay.
The pleasures of dumps and waste grounds.
Some potential uses of city waste spaces; road margins, beneath the elevated rooftops, side yards, alleys, etc.
Thinning out, greening, city gardens: a response to the progressive abandonment of the center.
A dreary industrial arterial: what can be done?
Designing buses, streets and stops for the pleasure and comfort of the bus rider.
The true possibilities of the commercial strips.
Making parking lots and garages a reassuring experience and useful when empty, and easily reusable.
Is there no hope for airports?
Offices, factories, warehouses and parking lots: the worker’s view of the work environment.
Mobile home parks that people like to live in.
Reuse of doorways as public shelters: bums, lurkers, loafers, and those caught in the rain.
How to design corridors and tunnels.
Review from the wheelchair (or on crutches, or carrying two parcels): a day in the life of…
Sharpening our perception of wind, clouds, sky, sun, moon, stars and weather.
City childhoods: pleasures and fears.
Environmental ugliness: what is it? Where is it found? How is it perceived? What value does it have?
Environmental design in squatter settlements: creating humane places where resources are scarce.
The phenomenon of divided border cities.
Designing for immigration and mobility: the minimization of social and psychological cost.
Sign control: its achievements and failures.
The human experience of current new towns: can’t we do better or will time heal the wounds.
Lying down in public: is it really sinful?
The problem of public toilets, including a toilet access survey by sex and income.
The technique of analyzing visually observable misfits between behavior and environment.
Techniques for analyzing the environmental image of time.
1% for art: who the hell cares about public sculpture.
How to make breathtaking wind tunnels.
How to dump heat, or reflect it, back into public spaces.
Rollerskating in the city.
How to pile up snow in interesting ways, or to decorate it or color it, with an appendix on ice palaces.
Possibilities and pitfalls of sensory programming.
The idea of real time experiments in new environmental prototypes.
Chinese site design.
The residents of … describe their own neighborhood.
The corner of … and … Streets: how it got that way (in detail), and how it works.
Expressing predicted change or proposed plans on the site.
Ways of increasing the exploratory range of children and the aged.
Communicating the time of day, the season, or natural and human cycles.
Scorings for public celebrations.
Organizing and supporting street festivals.
Fun with utility replacement: games of digging up, filing in, taking down, putting up, repair and reconstruction.
Does semiotics have any meaning for environmental design?
What is this nonsense called post-modernism?
Who lives here? Guessing and expressing.
The role of the police in environmental design.
Could street sweeping become a respected trade?
An analysis of the users, makers, and maintainers of the street.
Problems of mass transport by bicycle: experience in Holland, China, England, California, etc.
The possibilities of artificial light in the city environment and the resistance to change.
In what practical ways might a city environment be made educative? What has been done, with what success?
Encouraging the expression of local history and local ecology.
How to make public the analysis of local place quality.
At least, the list indicates what would interest me as a reader, and perhaps a mixed group of professionals and lay enthusiasts, for the improvement of the everyday environment.
This article originally appeared in a print issue of Places
in July 1983. You can download a pdf of the article here
or browse the print archive