For immediate release
September 8, 2000
Tracey Terry, NPR

NPR News Examines the Impact of Architecture on American Communities, and Vice Versa

Washington, DC- On Saturday, September 9th, 2000, NPR News will continue to examine the impact of architecture and design on American communities, and the effect that our society has on American design. Public Architecture and Design: Creating Community is airing on NPR®'s newsmagazines through December 2000.

Buildings, community parks and other designed spaces have the power to draw communities together or pull them apart, inspire individuals or deflate residents' hopes. Additionally, the attitudes of the people who conceive, create, and inhabit spaces affect how those spaces look.

On September 9th, 2000, during Weekend All Things Considered®, NPR's Laura Sydell reports from Los Angeles with an exploration of the politics of open space design. Los Angeles has less public-park space per person than any other major American city. Today, planners are attempting to reclaim some of the city's natural landscape bordering the Los Angeles River. In this special report, Sydell examines the complexities involved in bringing diverse cultural visions about green space into reality.

Later this month, reporter Alex Van Oss explains how a building's design can affect people's moods and behavior. Specific elements of a building's interior and exterior architecture-shape, placement, texture and space-can relay different signals. Van Oss describes the philosophy of the late William Whyte, an innovative architect who studied the relationships between buildings and behavior. Whyte's theories about creating safe and friendly spaces are still practiced today.

In October, Lynn Neary will examine the architecture of sacred spaces. While cathedrals, mosques and temples are lasting expressions of the sacred, a sacred space can also take the form of a peaceful garden or a welcoming home. Neary will tour public buildings and private homes with Tony Lawlor, an architect who has spent his career identifying the spiritual elements of secular structures. He illustrates how architects incorporate elements of design that invoke transcendent moments in everyday life.

In November, Susan Stamberg chronicles the buildings of architect Mary Colter, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright. Colter created the Fred Harvey hotels for the Santa Fe Railway route and the Grand Canyon, which helped put the American Southwest on the map. She also designed train stations in Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles. Much of Colter's architecture is currently undergoing preservation and restoration.

The final segment of the series will air in December, 2000. The series opened with a report that aired on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday® in June, 2000. The story, produced by reporter Alex Van Oss, examined the relationship between architecture and the car. It can be heard on NPR's Web site at

For local station information and broadcast times, please visit NPR's Web site.

Public Architecture and Design: Creating Community is made possible with support from The American Architectural Foundation.

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