A while back, I read A. Alfred Taubman’s Threshold Resistance: The Extraordinary Career of a Luxury Retailing Pioneer. As I noted on my LinkedIn Reading List Update,
An unusual book by an unusual individual: A. Alfred Taubman is a real estate developer (who has been accused of “malling” America); an art collector; former part-owner of Sotheby’s; a family guy; philanthropist; major booster of Detroit (Detroit!); …the list goes on. At times I wondered whether I’d like Taubman if I met him; other times I was sure I would. He writes like an Everyman – he is, however, anything but an Everyman. It makes for an interesting tension in reading the book: Taubman makes you understand his world (sort of), even if its self-made-man tycoon-ishness remains outside your grasp. There’s a lot to learn here, about how developers think, what makes them tick, and why-and-how urban and suburban development issues are definitely two-edged swords.
What that means – in a nutshell – is that I learned a lot from reading Threshold Resistance and recommend it.
Today I had to look up the book online and thus came across Alfred Taubman’s site and blog. Tremendous energy – he doesn’t stop. For example, this fall he’s teaching a course at Lawrence Technological University on architecture and real estate (ARC 5732, “Land Economics/The Architecture of Development”). His post lists the guest talent he lined up: Rafael Vinoly, Eugene Kohn, Michael Graves and Kenneth Walker.
Agree or disagree, it’s hard not to be awed by Taubman’s energy and drive. And whatever position you take regarding development – urban, suburban – you need to understand how key individuals who are unique and visionary (even if you don’t agree with their vision) approach the matter.
If ARC 5732 were available online, I’d audit it.
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