The architect would have influenced Chinese cities for the better -- if he'd had the chance.
In critiquing Chinese urbanization (“Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction,” September/October 2012), Peter Calthorpe singled out famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier for inspiring China to misguidedly prioritize cars over people in its cities. But that argument didn’t sit well with Le Corbusier biographer Nicholas Fox Weber.
Had Le Corbusier visited China to “consult on urban design there,” Weber observed in a letter to FP, “he presumably would have done what he did in Rio de Janeiro and Algiers: study the natural landscape before proposing a scheme for locating skyscrapers and transportation systems. If China’s urbanists had Le Corbusier’s sensitivity to people’s views of their work and living spaces, as well as his passionate concern for access to sunlight and the chance to rest one’s eyes on a horizon line, then modern Beijing and Guangzhou would have very different looks and feels. In fact, I wish Le Corbusier did have the influence with which Calthorpe erroneously credits him in China.”
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |