This book is devoted to planning Londonderry in Northern Ireland, written by a redoubtable person, formerly a vice-president and dean at Arizona State University, a dean at Illinois Institute of Technology, director of Architecture at Kansas University, and for years a practising architect/planner in Northern Ireland.
This book has relevance far beyond Ireland. There, it is a conflict between Protestant and Catholic; in the United States, the parallel is with race, black and white. There is no innocence here. The motivating theme has been retribution. Ireland shares the sorry distinction of contentiousness with Bosnia and Israel. The significance of the book lies in the use of the plan for Derry as an instrument for reconciliation and resolution. It became an important vehicle for remedying injustices. McSheffrey brings a balanced view to this beleaguered place. Born a Protestant, his paternal great-grandfather, a Catholic, married a Protestant but chose to be buried in a Catholic cemetery.
The plan was a landmark for advocating the preservation of the surrounding hills, a salmon river, and establishing the urban perimeter, but its distinction lies in the very strong public participation in its implementation. The act of planning became an important instrument for correcting injustices and developing co-operation.
The plan owes much to that Scottish patriarch, Sir Patrick Geddes, his commitment to surveys and informed participation. Happily, with the advent of Tony Blair as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, there arrived a strong advocate for reconciliation. May he find a modus vivendi to which the plan for Derry aspired and contributed.
IAN L. McHARG
Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
University of Pennsylvania
January 1998 (p.viii)