Housing and the City: Love versus Hope—A Review

By Anne Vernez Moudon

Gordon Walker, Daniel Solomon, and Anne Vernez Moudon. Photograph by Rosalie Daggett.

On a cold late autumn evening in November 2018, Seattle’s Peter Miller Books and Mithun Seattle generously hosted San Francisco architect Daniel Solomon to discuss his new book Housing and the City: Love versus HopeAfter an unexpectedly arduous journey from the Bay Area to the Emerald City, Dan engaged in warm conversation with Seattle architect Gordon Walker and University of Washington Professor Emerita Anne Vernez Moudon. What follows is a rumination by Vernez Moudon about the evening, the book, life, love…

—Kelly Rodriguez, Editor, ARCADE

Peter Miller’s event for Daniel Solomon’s new book, Housing and the City: Love versus Hope, was attended by a large group of what I’ll call “lovers of special architecture.” There is no doubt that Dan’s gracious architecture stands out as “special,” in great part because it both respects and transcends the city that surrounds it. However, the book itself goes well beyond architecture as project. It exposes and dissects the many thoughts and energies that are behind the making of special architecture. It is partly autobiographical, partly historical, and partly philosophical, an assemblage of priceless reflections on city building, urban development, politics, housing, music, ballet, and the like, all presented with wonderful erudition. The book is fine reading. As evidence of the author’s life well-lived in a challenging, international world, it will gratify a broad audience—already, as I casually talked about the book this weekend, two of my nonarchitect friends decided to buy it as a holiday present for loved ones.

As the evening at Peter Miller Books unfolded, Dan elaborated on his distaste for architects’ obsession with theories or dogma that limit rather than enable life. His passion for excellence in the design of everyday places resonated well with the attendees and served as a testimony to Mithun’s long history of being a firm that champions architecture for everyone. For this launch, the Peter Miller Books setting in Pioneer Square—not to mention Peter’s generous offerings of rather exotic foods and wines—projected the appropriate mix of warmth, simplicity, and elegance that is embodied in Housing and the City. A telling last word of this inspiring evening came from Gordon Walker, who declared that he was so energized by the discussion as to be ready to produce more of the special architecture that people enjoy living in. Go Love versus Hope!

Housing and the City: Love versus Hope
By Daniel Solomon
Schiffer, 2018

A portrait of Peter Miller
Peter Miller. Photograph by Kristen Bakken.

Anne Vernez Moudon is a professor emerita in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington. Her work focuses on urban form analysis, land monitoring, neighborhood and street design, and non-motorized transportation Both in the United States and internationally.

Daniel Solomon, FAIA, is an architect and urban designer with Mithun/Solomon. His 50-plus-year career combines achievements in professional practice with the academic pursuits of teaching and writing. For more information about Dan Solomon and his life’s work, explore his virtual monograph (http://danielsolomon.us/).

Gordon Walker is an architect with Mithun/Seattle, and has played a significant role in the development and evolution of Pacific Northwest regional architecture and modernism. A trusted and admired architect, his work is permeated with attention to place and detail. A book about Gordon’s life and work is forthcoming in June 2019: Gordon Walker: A Poetic Architecture, by Grant Hildebrand.

Peter Miller Books, a bookstore and design shop, has been a Seattle institution for over thirty years. For more information, visit petermiller.com, or stop in and say hello to Peter!