New Urbanism conference
- I found the paragraph about the critics especially amusing in this
1) Justification for current development is that units sell, therefore
2) Criticism of New Urbanism is that it is too expensive, which would
generally mean supply<demand
Thus the only problem these critics appear to see is that there is not
My rough thoughts on this:
1) development 1: standard subdivision, with 2500 sq. foot 2-level fully
detached houses on 25000 square feet, with 3 car garage
2) development 2: urban townhouse: 2500 sq. foot attached 3-level
townhouse, no garage on 2500 sq. ft. lot
a) land use: 10X greater for 1
b) unit materials: (2) has smaller roof, and no garage, resulting in
some savings. Multiple floors may negate some of the gain.
c) unit labor: work is done in a smaller area and more difficult with
(2), making it more expensive
d) utilities, amenities: pipes, wires, etc. have to travel greater
distances to service each house in (1)
1) spread out; work place and errands are far away. Some vehicle is
often desirable. Big box retailers will probably set up a few miles
away. Very little retail expected nearby. Schools may be close but
possible unsafe for kids to walk or bike. Transportation is primarily
wide asphalt roads and nearby highways. Public transportation consists
of a few buses running mostly empty on infrequent schedules.
2) close together. Small retail shops are in easy walking distance.
Prices are more expensive than big-boxes, but much more convenient.
School is within walking distance. Transportation consists of high
frequency buses or rail. There is some overcrowding during peak times.
The variables appear to be
1) Land cost - since this almost entirely a function of demand, it
implies that people don't want to live in the car-burbs, and are just
doing so because it is cheap.
2) Transportation costs - public transit cost per rider goes down as
riders increase. It is also highly labor intensive, providing many local
jobs. Highway building in the suburb is heavily capital intensive,
providing many jobs for outside contractors. It is also heavily
subsidized by different levels of government. The costs of maintaining
and servicing the roads are often paid out of the general funds rather
than being required to be self-sufficient. (Police, Fire, Road Repairs,
etc.) In most suburbs, regulations are in place, requiring them to pay
subsidies to cars. (required parking lots, road work, etc.). In urban
developments, it is rare to see required transportation subsidies. (I
have seen a few communities require installation of bike racks or
sidewalks in large developments, but these tend to be rare. I could see
a city requiring a developer to build a subway station, but I'm not sure
if that has ever happened.)
Chicago's look, feel inspire planners
By Trine Tsouderos
Tribune staff reporter
June 28, 2004
Nearly 1,400 planners, architects, developers and designers from around
the world descended on Chicago with
one goal in mind: to change radically the way our world looks, feels and
If these New Urbanists have their way, which is happening increasingly
often, say goodbye to strip malls
fronted by seas of parking, office parks with faux waterfalls and
"What is important here is to understand how close we are to victory,"
former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist
told an audience of about 1,000 at the Palmer House Hilton on Thursday,
at the opening of the New Urbanists'
annual conference, which concluded Sunday.
"Don't give up," Norquist implored.
The goal of the movement is to revive the kind of planning and
architecture that shaped cities such as
Chicago, with its scrambled, dense mix of homes, shops, restaurants,
sidewalks, parks and offices.
This kind of planning is basically dead in America, New Urbanists say,
replaced by a shift toward things
simpler and, in their opinion, soul-killing: strip malls, office parks
and subdivisions, all accessible only
In other words, sprawl.
"The antidote is New Urbanism," said Norquist, president of the Congress
for New Urbanism. "We once knew
quite well how to shape cities. Now we are learning once again."
Most Main Streets across the U.S. would be impossible to build today
because zoning codes often prohibit
limited parking as well as building offices and apartments above stores,
"It's like America had a stroke and couldn't conceive of it anymore, of
the complicated city," Norquist said
as he showed his audience an aerial shot of Wicker Park, which he
praised for its "messy" mix of stores,
offices and homes.
Coming from as far as Australia and Sweden, participants sat in seminars
dedicated to reviving this old way
of building communities. They took field trips around Chicago, admiring
its neighborhoods, transit and
Participants debated the merits of arcane zoning code details and
decried the difficulties of getting New
Urbanist projects financed, approved and built.
"I don't think there are many places you can drive this far and not see
sprawl," said Matthew Lambert, a
designer at Miami's seminal New Urbanist firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co.,
while on a field trip from Chicago
to Lake Forest. "It is so refreshing."
Rebelling against sprawl, a group of seven architects formed the
Congress for the New Urbanism in 1993.
With almost religious zeal, the organization has grown in both size and
influence, with about 2,400 members
around the world and affiliated groups sprouting in New England,
Pennsylvania, Florida, Europe and Israel,
Members include former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening and former U.S.
Housing and Urban Development
Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
"This is a group of people who get the complexities of places," said
Ellen Greenberg, director of policy and
research for the group, which recently moved its headquarters from San
Francisco to Chicago.
Over the years, New Urbanists have designed buildings, neighborhoods and
communities throughout the world,
from Juarez, Mexico, where designers are re-creating traditional
neighborhoods, to Seaside, Fla., which was
featured as an idyllic paradise of sorts in the movie "The Truman Show."
The movement has its critics, who say the public actually likes the
status quo. As proof, they point to the
fact that homes in subdivisions sell, office parks fill up and shoppers
crowd strip malls. Critics also
accuse New Urbanists of making a fetish of traditional city design and
architecture and building communities
that are too expensive for the average person.
During the conference, designers traded ideas and picked up new ones as
they soaked up Chicago.
"I love the density in the city," said Wendy Morris, director of
Ecologically Sustainable Design in Victoria,
Rob Bacigalupi, deputy director of the Downtown Development Authority in
Traverse City, Mich., snapped plenty
of photos with his digital camera to show officials back home the value
of allowing shops, restaurants, homes
and offices to grow around transit stops.
"It was a real battle to convince the community that it is a good
thing," Bacigalupi said of a plan to build
a New Urbanist transit station in Traverse City.
Riding Metra to Lake Forest, Lambert drooled over the network of rail
lines covering Chicago and its suburbs.
"To have this wonderful subway system, light rail lines, and to see it
actually work . . . " he trailed off,
staring out the window of the train car as Chicago passed in a blur.
Copyright (c) 2004, Chicago Tribune
- Jeremy Hubble posted on New Urbanism.
I've always had problems with NU because it always
seemed more about revisiting the suburbs, not about
real cities. It is refreshing, however, to see some
serious talk about Chicago and its fine rail systems.
Maybe what's really needed, though, it to found a new
movement called, say, Real Urbanism, as distinct from
the "New Suburbanism."
Just a thought.
-- ### --
J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- =v= It's true that new urbanism is less "urban" than its name
implies, though I would say that its focus isn't on "suburbia"
so much as applying lessons from towns, villages, and at worst,
=v= These lessons can of course be horribly misapplied, but when
they're good, they're very good. I am especially impressed with
the work Peter Calthorpe.
- Jym Dyer said:
>=v= It's true that new urbanism is less "urban" than its nameStreetcar suburbs are New Urbanism "classic". They're pretty
>implies, though I would say that its focus isn't on "suburbia"
>so much as applying lessons from towns, villages, and at worst,
good places to live--my father grew up in one, and I remember
it from the early 50s. It was pretty and pleasant, and most
people who lived there commuted on the streetcar to their
jobs downtown. It's just that these places are NOT cities;
they're suburbs, just better than modern ones.
>=v= These lessons can of course be horribly misapplied, but whenI have, in the past, specifically exempted Peter Calthorpe from
>they're good, they're very good. I am especially impressed with
>the work Peter Calthorpe.
my complaint about NU not being urban. Calthorpe understands
this stuff, even though he is not carfree in his approach.
Patrick J McDonough said:
>I am also on the New Urbanist PRO-URB list, and while I have my issuesI haven't done a lot of coordination with the NU folks. My buddy
>with New Urbanism, I believe the Car Free movement should embrace NU and
>advocate replacement of the suburban development model with NU,
>particularly in the United States.
Jim Kunstler is the unofficial spokesman for the group (and wrote
the preface for Carfree Cities). We ought to try to work more
closely with them and to try to get them to adopt carfree district
centers at a minimum; they'll certainly understand the benefits,
although they may regard carfreedom as not practical in reality.
>A lot of compelling work has come outThis is a useful tool, but most of the illustrations are predominately
>of this group, particularly in the way of their SmartCode document and
>their notion of the urban Transect.
>Perhaps the role of the Car Free movement should be to push NU towards
>including a Car Free district at the core of its transect.
suburban. We should, however, use it for the development of
illustrations of carfree areas, in which case it contains only three
zones: rural; medium-density, predominately residential; and
high-density, mixed-use areas. I have altered my thinking a little
since drawing the Reference District and now believe that there
should be some graduation in density from the center of the district
to the edge; still, the least-dense areas should be at least
>I believe Leon Krier's illustration of the transect at the second linkKrier is a true urbanist and a very interesting fellow.
>makes a lot of sense.
I haven't read as many of his books as I'd like, but what
I've seen is very good indeed.
-- ### --
J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
- I am also on the New Urbanist PRO-URB list, and while I have my issues
with New Urbanism, I believe the Car Free movement should embrace NU and
advocate replacement of the suburban development model with NU,
particularly in the United States. A lot of compelling work has come out
of this group, particularly in the way of their SmartCode document and
their notion of the urban Transect.
Perhaps the role of the Car Free movement should be to push NU towards
including a Car Free district at the core of its transect.
Some transect resources:
I believe Leon Krier's illustration of the transect at the second link
makes a lot of sense.
- On Wed, 30 Jun 2004, Jym Dyer wrote:
> =v= These lessons can of course be horribly misapplied, but whenWhich (actually constructed) project of Calthorpe's would you cite as
> they're good, they're very good. I am especially impressed with
> the work Peter Calthorpe.
an example of "very good" New Urbanism?
Post Office Box 307
Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA
I've been scouring the Car Busters website and the 22september.org
website, but I have been unable to find print-quality graphics of the
"evolution" logo without it being wrapped up in the flower logo.
Does anybody have this logo in a high-quality format capable of being
printed at poster sizes etc using professional printing techniques?