- Today's Moment of Idealistic Naivete: Wikileaks: http://wp.me/pCprU-mB 6 years ago
- Ending the War on Drugs: http://wp.me/pCprU-mw 6 years ago
- Twilight Of The Suburbs, Now Home To One-Third Of America's Poor http://huff.to/bGZP7F 6 years ago
- U.S. Subways Harness Kinetic Power To Recycle Train Energy http://huff.to/bVsXvR 6 years ago
- America's Walk Deficit http://yhoo.it/dijIvg 6 years ago
- Today’s Moment of Idealistic Naivete: Wikileaks
- Ending the War on Drugs
- The Most Walkable Cities in the World
- It’s Where We Live
- Can Cities Feed Themselves?
- French Street Artist Wins TED Humanitarian Prize
- Dimanche Sans Voiture
- Are Brussels and Los Angeles Sister Cities?
- Masdar begs the question: What exactly is meant by “a sustainable city?”
- Is Generation Y Passing on Cars?
- Can Cities Make Us Crazy?
- Stranger Studies 101: Cities as Interaction Machines
- Does New Orleans Have an Identity Crisis?
- Three Urban Interventions in Two Hours: NYC
- Cargo Bike Spotted…
Tag Archives: New Urbanism
We humans love to plot our existence on time lines. Make the world linear. Everything has a beginning, a middle, an end. The universe in vectors. But how often does reality comply? It seems to me that no geometric figure can accurately represent the dynamism of civilization. Sometimes a vector may well be appropriate. Other times, a triangle or a step pyramid. The closest model to my mind, however, is a helix, or rather multiple helices. Some are bent, some wrap around others, some are vertical, some aren’t. All, however, are roughly orbital. A new development (such as the automobile) creates a new ring, the course of action spurred on by that development plays out, and eventually things come back around to a new approximation of where they began.
I’ve heard Seaside, Florida, lauded as the first great project of the New Urbanism. I’ve also heard it ridiculed as new-faux urbanism. So what’s the truth, at least as I see it? Well, during the scant few hours I recently spent there I saw a lot to like. Dozens of wonderful pathways for bikes and pedestrians that connect everywhere to everywhere, many of which feel like something to discover instead of simply travel. Residential roads eschewing sidewalks in favor of shared space. Relatively tall buildings on relatively narrow lots. Architecture with integrity. Loads of trees and shady places (critical given the town’s latitude). Seaside feels like it was designed by people who care.
To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of New Urbanism or Seaside until I moved to Florida in 2008. The sunshine state is gaga for New Urbanism, and while any planning discussion walks a tightrope of divisiveness DPZ’s landmark resort was nearly universally praised by those I spoke with. Sure, its utopian urban design made it an easy visual joke as the shooting location of The Truman Show. And, no, it was never intended to be anything more than a wealthy resort town. But I kept hearing how wonderful the experience of actually being there was, and after two years of this finally got to spend a few hours last week exploring it myself.
What, exactly, is a neighborhood? People on all sides of the urban conversation talk about neighborhoods, trotting them out to support everything from transit oriented development to the suburban status quo, from Smart Growth to no growth. Formal definitions vary, but few include criteria beyond a set of distinctive characteristics shared by a contiguous geographic area inhabited by people who behave neighborly. Which, despite its vagueness, sounds sensible enough. Imprecise, but sensible. And yet, when I think about the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, or spent time in, few of them fit even this ambiguous definition.
The retention of vernacular architectural practices maintains a place’s connection to its past. It also informs the direction it charts into the future. I’m currently living in a small town in Florida—Sarasota—that has had its share of troubles during a growth process that has seen disparate vernacular styles such as Florida Cracker and the Sarasota School emerge, prosper, decline, and slowly reemerge. A new crop of craftsmen/builders are reviving traditional design, including Devin P. Rutkowski, founder and president of Bungalow Builders, LLC.