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Kith and New Balance collaborate on new Frank Lloyd Wright trainer

In 1932, Frank Lloyd Wright — the architect who hated tall people — published a book called The Disappearing City. And in this book, he proposed a city planning concept known as the Broadacre City. Wright would go on to spend the rest of his career trying to both promote and perfect this concept, but the salient point is that it was fundamentally anti-urban:

Imagine spacious landscaped highways …giant roads, themselves great architecture, pass public service stations, no longer eyesores, expanded to include all kinds of service and comfort. They unite and separate — separate and unite the series of diversified units, the farm units, the factory units, the roadside markets, the garden schools, the dwelling places (each on its acre of individually adorned and cultivated ground), the places for pleasure and leisure. All of these units so arranged and so integrated that each citizen of the future will have all forms of production, distribution, self improvement, enjoyment, within a radius of a hundred and fifty miles of his home now easily and speedily available by means of his car or plane. This integral whole composes the great city that I see embracing all of this country—the Broadacre City of tomorrow.

It’s important to remember that this was first proposed before the arrival of today’s suburbs. So this was Wright’s response to the squalors of urban life at that time. Many have called the Broadacre City a precursor to the modern suburb and, in many ways, that makes sense. Integral to his plan was, “the man seated in his automobile driving on highways.”

But others see the plan as something totally different. It was about low-density and self-sufficient communities that could sprout up along highways, and not necessarily rely on some sort of decaying urban core. It was thought of as a place for Americans to return to the land.

Whatever your opinion, you’ll be happy to know that Kith has just collaborated with New Balance and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on a trainer that commemorates this utopian vision. It is called the New Balance Made in USA 998 – Broadacre City, and naturally it comes in a variety of colorful earthy tones.

So if you’re looking to celebrate the ethos of Wright and eschew the modern and walkable city, these are, I would think, the shoes for you. Apparently they’re available online, or at Kith Tokyo, which is maybe intended to be ironic? Let’s sell this Broadacre shoe from the largest urban center in the world.

Or maybe I’m overthinking this.

Photo: Kith

1 Comment so far

  1. Paul Ching Lee, PEng

    As a transportation engineer and an urbanist I have little patience for Frank Lloyd Wright – he’s overrated.


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