Valentina Acierno
Vicens Vidal
Victor Rahola
Xabier Eizaguirre
Xabier Unzurrunzaga
Xavier Fàbregas
Xavier Monteys
Xavier Rubert de Ventós
Zaida Muxí
Àlex Giménez
Amador Ferrer
Angel Martín
Anton Pàmies
Antoni Llena
Antoni Marí
Antonio Font
Aquiles González
Ariella Masboungi
Axel Fohl
Beth Galí
 
It was many years ago when we first met; probably in 1983
in Leuven where I was teaching. We shared a passion for cities as well as the mutual friendship of Marcel Smets who was on the faculty at the Katholieke Universiteit. Our meetings were infrequent - only every so often. The connection was empathetic and perhaps best summarized by Manuel himself with this inscription to A Matter of Things: “to Richard Plunz old friend and partisan for better city things… with affection. Mar 08.”
In the 1970’s I had surmised an affinity between Manuel’s research interests and my own. I still see something of myself in his research and vice versa. I remember the Barcelona issue of Lotus International 23 published in 1979, and especially the description of the Laboratori d’Urbanisme and

Manuel’s work on the representation of the Catalan region. I found Manuel to be an important advocate for a new view of the European City. It was post-Team 10 and it centered Barcelona within a new urban debate. The “Barcelona Model” was far-reaching in its impact. In 1985 came publication of UR Urbanismo Revista, very much with Manuel’s leadership. Its emphasis seemed terribly important as an alternative to the historicist “post-modern” and anti-typological “phenomenological” moment which was unfolding in New York
We shared an interest in grids. As a Manhattanite I remember well my first impressions of Barceloneta and our discussion of his research on its evolution. He published an excerpt from my work on housing in New York City in the September 1985 Urbanismo Revista number, which helped me personally to validate my interests. He tried very hard to find a
Spanish-language publisher for my book on the history of New York housing - unfortunately without success. Manuel was more important to my work than he probably realized and to this day I have remained enormously grateful for his extraordinary generosity.
Manuel has described architecture as “material urbanity” - as an “urban matter.” And such is how he practiced architecture. His Stationsplein project in Leuven fits this sensibility well. Over many years I had became quite familiar with that place. To my thinking, Manuel’s recent transformation of the Stationsplein is an exercise in urban condensation that answers unique challenges and is masterfully executed. It offers architecture as strong affirmation for “better city things.”
We last met in Leuven in late October 2011. I had fully expected to see him again. / New York