Edward Norton on the Legacy of His Grandfather, James Rouse

Yesterday, Columbia’s own Edward Norton spoke at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design on “Social Entrepreneurship and the Built Environment – James Rouse and His Legacy.”  Norton has been involved with Rouse’s Enterprise Community Partners for over 20 years.  Jonathon Rose, an urban planner from Boston whose firm emphasizes affordable green solutions, also spoke.

The event description includes this great, succinct summary of Jim Rouse’s work in Columbia:

Few individuals have played such an important role in shaping urban America, as James Rouse. In the 1950’s, Rouse was a pioneering developer of indoor shopping malls. In the 1960’s, he created the planned community of Columbia, Maryland as a collection of socially progressive, self-contained villages. Today Columbia is home to more than 100,000 people. Frank Gehry did some of his early work in Columbia, having been commissioned by Rouse to design Columbia’s exhibit center and firehouse, as well as the Rouse Company headquarters.

From the Harvard Crimson this morning:

“He was very ahead of his time in social ethics,” Norton said of his grandfather.

Rose added that Rouse’s greatest strength was that “he had a holistic view of developing…he could see the whole.”

This “holistic view” was presented as the need to consider all aspects of the urban society, including education, infrastructure and the environment when developing a city.

“A city isn’t just a dense bunch of buildings,” Rose said. “[They] will not work unless people have a connection with nature.” …

Norton himself said he still feels the influence of Rouse.

“He remains a very active presence and inspiration,” Norton said.

Edward Norton and Jonathon Rose at Harvard forum

Excerpt from Event Description



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