Clarence Stein

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Clarence Samuel Stein (June 19, 1882 – February 7, 1975) was an American urban planner, architect, and writer, a major proponent of the Garden City movement in the United States.



A Triumph of Spanish Colonial Style (1916)

in The Architecture and the Gardens of the San Diego Exposition: a pictorial survey of the aesthetic features of the Panama California international exposition. Essay by Clarence Samuel Stein, Introduction by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, descriptive titles by Carleton Monroe Winslow, illustrations from photographs by Harold A. Taylor, and edited by Paul Taylor
  • On the one hand, the great focal points and the main arteries of traffic speak of the dignity of government and the easy movement of commerce. But we need also the more intimate side of city planning, the by ways with their little shops, the occasional drinking fountain at a street corner, the glimpse of some secluded garden through a half-open gate.
  • A truly great architecture grew up in Mexico after the time of the Conquest of Cortez. It was probably not on account of any lack desire on the part of the early Fathers that architecture was not transplanted to California in the days of the Missions. It is apparent their simple crude touches of ornament, that Padres were trying to simulate the richness of the churches of Mexico City and Puebla—they were pitifully limited, however, not only in wealth but also in the skill of the workmen had at hand.
  • The Oriental heritage, due to the long sojourn of the Moors in Spain, had a profound influence on the taste of the people. From these Oriental invaders the Spaniards derived the great surfaces of blank wall with occasional spots of luxuriant ornament that characterize nearly all their work. From them also comes the love of bright color shown in the use of polychrome tiles and rich fabrics and in the painting and gilding of sculpture and ornamental motives. While the large constructive forms, particularly vaults and domes, are frankly and simply expressed, the ornament as in the work of the Orient, is rather an incrustation, a mere surface decoration, than a pretense at logical construction.
  • Depraved these styles are called, the one with its ever broken and twisted mouldings, the other with its rich crowded carving, and depraved we may count them, if we are of the school that thinks the purpose of architectural ornament is always to state some fact of construction. The Mexican architects and their workmen were certainly not of this school. They broke their mouldings, turned and curved them and multiplied their ornament for the pure joy it gave them to see the sparkle of the sunlight on their white walls.

Quotes about Stein

  • Laid out in 1928 by the planners Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, Radburn was intended to showcase the concept of a garden city in America. Though only partially completed due to bankruptcy of the development corporation, Radburn has been championed as a model for building communities in green, landscaped settings. The basic components of the Radburn approach are superblocks, community parks and facilities, vehicular networks, and pedestrian paths.
    • Renee Y. Chow, Suburban Space: The Fabric of Dwelling (2002)
  • In the early 1920s, Stein set out on his own as an architect and was drawn into a circle of intellectuals who directed their energies toward regional planning and affordable housing. Among his associates were Benton MacKaye, who fathered the Appalachian Trail, the critic Lewis Mumford, and the architect Henry Wright. These four men studied Ebenezer Howard's English Garden Cities at Letchworth and Welwyn, seeking to adapt the concepts to America. Stein and Wright—along with real estate developer Alexander Bing and others—demonstrated these ideas at Sunnyside Gardens (1924) in Queens, New York.
    • Allen Freeman, "Gold Medalist 1956 Clarence S. Stein, FAIA," Architecture: Celebrating the Past, Designing the Future (2008) ed., Nancy B. Solomon
  • The planning/architecture team of Henry Wright Sr. and Clarence S. Stein did much to influence the development of urbanism in this country. Their example would have been of greater impact if the Depression had not occurred shortly after the birth of Radburn, their foremost work. Influenced by... the Garden City movement... Wright and Stein fought valiantly—generally against municipal and corporate indifference—to make large scale planning an essential ingredient of urban expansion.
    • G. E. Kidder Smith, Source Book of American Architecture: 500 Notable Buildings from the 10th Century to the Present (2000)
  • Books on model suberbs of the 1920s expressed great enthusiasm. The best survey is Clarence S. Stein, Toward New Towns for America (New York, 1973)
    • Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America (1983)
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The Architecture and the Gardens of the San Diego Exposition