February 9, 2013

William H. Whyte - Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

William H. Whyte (1917-1999) was an American urbanist, organizational analyst, journalist and people-watcher.After writing a book about corporate culture, he started to research human behavior in urban settings. He wrote many books on the subject as well as created the following video on the social life of small urban spaces. Released in 1988, this witty and original film documents the research him and his researchers performed on social interactions within the city mainly looking at which spaces work and which ones do not. Starting with New York's Seagram Plaza the film analyzes why the space is so popular and compares them to other open areas in New York and other cities. This film is an engaging tour of the urban landscape and looks at how it can be transformed into a more habitable place for the urban dweller. The following video is a small fragment from his original documentary, Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, a must see for any urban designer or architecture student.

Additional Reading

After completing the documentary of the social life of small urban spaces, Whyte wrote a follow up book by the same name as the video, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. A great resource for urban research.

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