Monday, July 16, 2018

A new chapter

After serving for 12 years as the Lincoln Institute’s first communications director, I'm taking on a new role as Senior Fellow in the Office of the President. The position allows me to step back to focus on writing, research, and storytelling. Given rapid changes in the media industry, organizations around the world are experimenting with new methods of engagement; for example, the City of Detroit recently hired a journalist as a chief storyteller, to amplify the key elements of the city’s regeneration. In addition to Land Lines, where I've already been producing the special feature Mayor’s Desk, I'll continue to write for The Atlantic’s CityLab and The Boston Globe; I'll be exploring other platforms including video and podcasts; and I'll be available for media for interviews on selected topics. I'm going to continue to manage the annual Journalists Forum, as well as a reinvented Lincoln Lecture series. I'm looking forward to this new chapter, and welcome input and ideas. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy seeks to improve quality of life through the effective use, taxation, and stewardship of land.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Funny that I mentioned the dented Prius in my last post announcing the new and improved author's website. After taking my 2010 vehicle in on a safety recall notice, I finally succumbed at Toyota of Watertown last month, took their offer for a trade-in, and purchased a 2017 V3. As I revealed I was thinking about it when I overhauled the website, it took me a year to do it. But these things require deliberation. I wrote about it for The Boston Globe op-ed page. Previous to that, I had another confessional essay, on the trials and tribulations of being a volunteer soccer coach, also in The Boston Globe. Maybe this is the start of something -- the fifty-something dad-on-the-verge beat. Stay tuned. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

A new look for

Understanding that people and organizations should update their websites every five or six years, I recently went through the experience, on two fronts: my own author's website, a debut on Wordpress, and the much larger and more complicated overhaul of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, where I am a fellow, transitioning from a patched-together custom CMS to Drupal. I must say it was a bit of a wild ride in both cases, and I learned more about File Transfer Protocol (FTP) than I ever cared to know. But the payoff is clear. A new website forces a re-thinking and a fresh start. It's an exercise in stepping back and figuring out what the most important themes are, and how they might best be packaged. So, here is the new and improved anthony.flint: a simple About homepage to start things off; a repository of Published Work, Travel Writing, and Videos; citations in In the News and Reviews; and a page for speaking engagements, called Appearances. I'll keep working on it and remain open to suggestion. I feel like websites have become ubiquitous, necessary as ever, but not necessarily to be overdone -- sort of like owning a Prius, just basic, efficient transportation. Come to think of it, with that dent in the rear passenger, I've been meaning to refresh my ride.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

50 years ago today, the death of Le Corbusier

Fifty years ago today, Le Corbusier, nee Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, waded into the Mediterranean from a pebbly crescent beach in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, intent on going for his daily swim -- despite the fact that his doctor, weeks earlier in Paris, had instructed him to knock it off with the swimming, because he clearly had a heart condition. He had been coming to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a seaside village between Monaco and the Italian border, since the 1930s, when he stayed at Eileen Gray's Villa E-1027 -- a minimalist structure he himself could have designed, that has been recently restored (my article in Architect magazine on this subject is here). In the 1950s he built his famous cabanon, attached to the restaurant L'Etoile de Mer, and steps from the five camping cubes he had designed in coordination with the owner, Thomas Rebutato, a retired plumber from Nice. This fragrant slope, perched above the aqua and blue waters of his beloved Mediterranean Sea, was his getaway. He continued to come to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin after the death of his wife, Yvonne, dining on sea urchins and drinking wine, and telling a friend he loved it so much he was sure he would end his days there. And indeed he did. When he plunged into the waves on August 25, 1965, he would not return alive. Somewhere out there on those rolling waves, he had a heart attack. Two visitors to the area discovered his body as it washed up on shore.
     The funeral, memorial and processions that followed, culminating in Paris, were worthy of a head of state. Streets were named after him, and his visage graced currency in Switzerland, La Chaux-de-Fonds being the place of his birth. He achieved saint status at architecture schools across the land, particularly at places like the Harvard Design School. But just as inexorably, he was vilified as the destroyer of cities, the man who gave us the blank wall, elevated urban freeway, towers in the park, soulless concrete; arguably the original "starchitect," who initiated the obsession with form. Just this year, two books (mercifully, in French) highlighted his time in Vichy and alleged fascist leanings (though I could not detect a single new piece of evidence that had not already been uncovered by Nicholas Fox Weber, much less me). The Pompidou Center was criticized for not pumping up his dark side in its recent exposition. As a leading figure on the stage of the 20th century, he has become the architect a lot of people love to hate.
    So whatever would we do without him?
    I am resisting the temptation to compare him to a certain presidential candidate in the news these days. But when it comes to design and citybuilding, there is value in shaking things up, challenging the status quo, and making propositions that can then be challenged, to forge a better way. He had some really bad ideas. But he also appreciated the need for density and abundant housing, and a sense of regional scale. His Unite d'Habitation in Marseille presaged micro-apartments -- not to mention Crate & Barrel -- by several decades. We're going to need outside-the-box thinking like that to accommodate the many millions of people migrating to ill-equipped cities throughout the developing world.
     I took the same swim off that crescent beach in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. You have to want to get out there -- the waves push you back, the stones underfoot are really annoying. Some suggest Le Corbusier staged a kind of suicide, knowing that if he exerted himself, he would never return. It's certainly possible, in the tradition of the Cathars of Languedoc, with whom he identified. Like Hemingway, maybe he had seen enough. I sometimes wonder how he would react to the way the world views him now. But it's part of history, him walking out the front door of the cabanon barechested in his bathing suit, sashaying down the sloping path to the water, fifty years ago today.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Book Trailer for Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomo...

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Freed Man in Paris

It's official -- the publication date of Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow was yesterday, November 4, 2014, and I appeared in my debut author's talk at Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner in the evening. The event was well attended and I happily signed books. The launch continues Thursday November 6 at the Boston Society of Architects, in the BSASpace overlooking Fort Point Channel in downtown Boston. Next up is Providence, Rhode Island, at Books on the Square Saturday November 22, and then off to New York City for The Skyscraper Museum in Lower Manhattan December 2. In the New Year I'm set for The National Building Museum on January 11, The Boston Athenaeum January 21, and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach February 19.
     The buzz about Modern Man began in earnest over the weekend. On Sunday, my story In the Footsteps of Le Corbusier appeared in The Boston Sunday Globe Travel section. I was delighted to recall the destinations in France and Switzerland that were dutifully required to research the book, from the Swiss Riveria and Lake Geneva to the South of France, Marseille, Lyon, Ronchamp, and of course Paris. Also on Sunday, my interview with Rachel Martin aired on NPR's Weekend Edition. The headline was "Like it or Not, Architect Le Corbusier's Urban Designs are Everywhere" -- giving me a taste of how this controversial figure is likely to be greeted, that is, with some considerable skepticism. Rachel Martin did tell me at the beginning that she had no idea who Le Corbusier was, and was not particularly interested in the subject -- but really enjoyed reading the book. She asked some challenging questions. I'll be very happy if readers find this story compelling, and relate it to our present built environment and the landscape all around, and the future of cities in the 21st century.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The tumult and the joy of writing Modern Man, my forthcoming biography of Le Corbusier

Creation is a patient search, said Le Corbusier, the subject of my new book, Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow. Over the last two years, I've begun to appreciate what he meant. Researching and writing Modern Man has been an invigorating and slightly exhausting experience. But it's all paying off in the coming months. The official publication date is November 4, and we're beginning to figure out how to tell the world about the book. Editor Ed Park and everyone at Amazon Publishing has been superbe from start to finish. One of the greatest pleasures of being immersed in a subject like this is watching how Le Corbusier and 20th-century modernism keeps cropping up in the contemporary conversation. At my author's Facebook page, I've been curating related content, from the latest Chanel fashion line -- Coco Chanel and Le Corbusier both had summer houses in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, though the architect's place was a bit smaller -- to the need for efficient housing in the explosive worldwide urban expansion that is well under way, to the embrace of Le Corbusier by Kanye West. I am already grateful for the esteemed group that has provided advance praise, otherwise known as blurbs, for Modern Man, and it appears that there has already been a pre-publication review. In a First Things post headlined Medieval Modernist, author Peter J. Leithart appreciates the passages related to Le Corbusier's travels as a young man, specifically the inspiring visit to the monastery at Val d'Ema in Italy. "He admired the grandeur of Gothic, and drew pictures of Notre Dame among other cathedrals," Leithart writes. "But he relished the simplicity and poverty of monastic architecture." All quite true, and just one of many sometimes slightly contradictory influences pulsing through the great architect's mind over time. My goal was to write a biography of genius, and in the end suggest how Le Corbusier's approach to innovation and (sorry for the cliche) thinking outside the box might inform urban planning, urban design, and particularly housing construction today. If Le Corbusier was the Steve Jobs of his day, projects like the Villa Savoye outside Paris were the architectural equivalent of the IPhone. Many scholars have written about Le Corbusier, in very specialized ways; I hope that Modern Man will be an enjoyable read for a much broader audience.