Kevin A. Lynch

American urban planner and author (1918-1984)

Kevin A. Lynch (January 7, 1918 - April 25, 1984) was an American urban planner, author and professor. He is known for his contributions to site planning and urban design, having introduced new ways of thinking about how people perceive and navigate urban environments.



What Time Is This Place? (1972)

  • "Choosing a past helps us to construct a future."
  • "If we examine the feelings that accompany daily life, we find that historic monuments occupy a small place."
  • "There must also be some random accumulations to enable us to discover unexpected relationships. But serendipity is possible only when recollection is essentially a holding fast to what is meaningful and a release of what is not."
  • "To attempt to preserve all of the past would be life-denying."
  • "An environment that cannot be changed invites its own destruction."
  • "We prefer a world that can be modified progressively, against a background of valued remains, a world in which one can leave a personal mark alongside the marks of history."
  • "Like law and custom, environment tells us how to act without requiring of us a conscious choice. In a church we are reverent and on a beach we are relaxed."
  • "The remote past is different, since it does not threaten the present."
  • "Accumulated literary associations add depth to the experience; place names become pegs for layers of commentaries, as in the Chinese culture. But at base the emotional pleasure is a heightened sense of the flow of time."
  • “An environment that facilitates recalling and learning is a way of linking the living moment to a wide span of time. Being alive is being awake in the present, secure in our ability to continue but alert to the new things that come streaming by. We feel our own rhythm, and feel also that it is part of the rhythm of the world. It is when local time, local place, and our own selves are secure that we are ready to face challenge, complexity, vast space, and the enormous future.”
  • "Leisure is now possible for many , and customs of timing are more obvious and less absolute. Time has become both more valuable and also more subject to reallocation."

The Image of the City (1960)

  • " in seeing will be quite important as the reshaping of what is seen. Indeed, they together form a circular, or hopefully a spiral, process: visual education impelling the citizen to act upon his visual world, and this action causing him to see even more acutely. A highly developed art of urban design is linked to the creation of a critical and attentive audience. If art and audience grow together, then our cities will be a source of daily enjoyment to millions of their inhabitants."
  • "...a distinctive and legible environment not only offers security but also heightens the potential depth and intensity of human experience."
  • "Any existing, functioning urban area has structure and identity, even if only in weak measure...A frequent problem is the sensitive reshaping of an already existing environment: discovering and preserving its strong images, solving its perceptual difficulties, and, above all, drawing out the structure and identity latent in the confusion."
  • "...different observers will all find perceptual material which is congenial to their own particular way of looking at the world. While one man may recognize a street by its brick pavement, another will remember its sweeping curve, and a third will have located the minor landmarks along its length."
  • "The contemporary urban area has man-made characteristics and problems that often override the specificity of site. Or rather, it would be more accurate to say that the specific character of a site is now perhaps as much the result of human action and desires as of the original geological structure." 
  • "...the function of a good visual environment may not be simply to facilitate routine trips, nor to support meanings and feelings already possessed. Quite as important may be its role as a guide and a stimulus for new exploration."
  • "In a complex society, there are may interrelations to be mastered...If an environment has strong visible framework and highly characteristic parts, then exploration of new sectors is both easier and more inviting."
  • "Concepts of size may depend in part on how well a structure can be grasped."
  • "It is taken for granted that in actual design form should be used to reinforce meaning, and not to negative it."
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