Review: The Art of Shaping the Metropolis

6 Star Top 10%, Atlases & State of the World, Best Practices in Management, Budget Process & Politics, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Country/Regional, Future, Leadership, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Pedro B. Ortiz

6-Star Guide to Saving Every City in Every Country — a World-Changing Book

This is an extraordinary book, easily five stars but I am elevating it to 6 stars (my top ten percent across over 2000 reviews, all but a handful non-fiction) because the author is not just a genius, but he explains his deep multi-level knowledge brilliantly. I have never seen a collection of complicated nuanced topics presented in such a compelling, easy to understand, well-illustrated manner. The case studies abound. The publisher is to be complemented for the purity of the presentation — a stunning book with perfectly laid out pages, glossy color on every page, and a superb index, which is where most publishers fail their authors.

To my surprise — I know the authors from totally different domains — this book is a perfect complement to another 6-Star book, by Parag Khanna, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization that addresses many of the same issues but at the continental level.

I have gone through the book twice, the first time to read it, the second time to extract core points for what I wish to be a world-class review. As with Parag Khanna, this author Pedro Ortiz merits a personal meeting with Prime Ministers and Presidents and Ministers who wish to avoid poverty and instability that inevitably accompanies poor city planning. This author is so very talented I would love to see entire schools built around him to create a whole new generation of metropolis architects and strategists, so he moves from school to school, continent to continent, city to city, nurturing others doing the hard work each day that thousands must do. He is, without question, a “seer.”

The book opens by making it clear that the metropolis — not the village, not the city and not the nation-state — is the center of gravity for stability or instability — for peace and prosperity or not — and by demonstrating that the two non-negotiable factors that must be recognized and managed are the environmental including especially water and steep slopes; and the transportational, which is far more nuanced than most understand.

One must get all the way through the book to completely appreciate the brilliance of the author (obviously a master architect and strategist without peer that I know of) in distinguishing between six levels of strategic thinking:

NATIONAL: Trains (high-speed preferred)
REGIONAL: Trains (commuter)
METROPOLITAN: Trains (metro)
MICRO-URBAN: Bicycle-Pedestrian

As a former military intelligence officer who led the charge in 1992 for the Marine Corps to demand proper 1:50,000 combat charts with contour lines (we still do not have them for most of the world), I absolutely loved the author's table showing the following map scales that architects must use as they consider the “multi-level chess game” that the author is teaching with this book:

1:50,000,000 Geopolitics (UN, NATO, EU, IMF, OECD)
1:5,000,000 Regional and continental
1:500,000 National development
1:50,000 Regional and metropolitan planning
1:5,000 Urban design
1:50 Architecture

The book's status in the 6-Star range was assured when I came to the author's concluding discussion of ethics and the conflicts that emerge between politicians and professionals and the various stake-holders that lobby for their own interests without regard to the facts or the context.

Every single page of this book was for me, riveting. Easy to read, brilliantly illustrated, showing with many case studies both the mistakes and the possibilities for major cities around the world, with particular respect paid to the very large metropolitan areas outside the West.

If I were a national or metropolitan leader — or an African billionaire thinking about who to insist be in charge of thinking about how to spend billions toward the future — the author would most certainly be a constant in the circle of advisors I would create. Others would focus on free energy, unlimited desalinated water, urban aquaponics, pressed-brick and other low-cost housing, and of course very robust, free broadband access for every citizen at every level of income.

Another book I have in hand and will review later, the third in this collection (along with my own recent books on intelligence for earth and open source everything), is also recommended along with this book and Connectography: the new book by Daniel Christian Wahl, Designing Regenerative Cultures.

With best wishes to all,
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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