The Evolution of Urban Form: Typology for Planners and Architects

An illustrated guide to how physical environments are created, changed, and transformed over time.

The Evolution of Urban Form: Typology  for Planners and ArchitectsWhy are so many of our urban environments so resistant to change? Brenda Case Scheer tackles this question in her comprehensive guide for planners, designers, and students concerned with how cities take shape.

This book provides a fundamental understanding of how physical environments are created, changed, and transformed through ordinary processes over time. Most of the built environment adheres to a few physical patterns, or types, that occur over and over. Planners and architects, consciously and unconsciously, refer to building types as they work through urban design problems and regulations.

Suitable for professional planners, architects, urban designers, and students, The Evolution of Urban Form includes practical examples of how typology is critical to analytical, design, and regulatory situations.

Purchase book

About the Author

Brenda Case Scheer, AICPBrenda Case Scheer, AICP, is the dean of the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah. Previously she was an associate professor of urban planning at the University of Cincinnati. Scheer received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Rice University. She was a Research Fellow for the Rice Center for Community Design and Research and a Loeb Fellow in Environmental Studies for the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a registered architect in Utah and Ohio and is a certified planner by APA's professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners.


"One of the most thoughtful and penetrating critiques of form-based regulations and new urbanism. Scheer provides a fresh perspective on the relation between ideal forms and actual places. Essential reading for all thinking planners and architects."
—Christopher J. Duerksen, Managing Director/Principal, Clarion Associates

"Scheer's investigation of building types in the context of urbanism offers a rigorous introduction for students as well as a strong review for academics and practitioners. She brings the study of typo-morphology up to date by connecting it to the discourse on emergent systems — explaining how building types not only originate but also evolve. The book is especially valuable in that it avoids traditionalist nostalgia and tries to understand the most ‘disordered' parts of our American urban fabric in a way that is honest and optimistic about possibilities for change in the contemporary metropolis."
—Marshall Brown, Illinois Institute of Technology

"Building types represent a society's common understanding of what and how to build, and as such are the building blocks of people's everyday experience of cities. This book helps link academic studies of building types with contemporary practice, by providing a clear introduction to the history, theory, and present-day attitudes toward building types. The modern American urban environment is composed of dozens of types houses, apartment complexes, shopping malls, gas stations, schools, office buildings, multiplex cinemas, fast food restaurants, and many others. Helping to give coherence to this in wide variety of buildings in the urban landscape is the goal of this book, and it succeeds very well. The language is clear, the illustrations well-chosen, and the relationship between history and contemporary ideas is strongly made. The book will be of interest not only to architects and planners but also to students, for whom there are presently few books that provide such a concise introduction to the subject. This book fills an important gap and will become a standard introduction to the subject."
—Howard Davis, University of Oregon