Robert Steuteville is editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal and senior communications adviser for the Congress for the New Urbanism.
Hop on the bus, Gus. Make an urban plan, Sam. Read the report, sport, on 50 reasons to love urban places.
Putting observation first, and theory second, helped to move the planning profession toward more beneficial city building techniques in the late 20th Century. It continues to be an important test and correction to theories, even new urbanist ideas.
A development in Edina, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis, hits a lot of metrics of sustainable planning. Nolan Mains was built on a 2.8-acre site that was previously nearly 100 percent impervious surface—mainly surface parking lots—in a commercial...
US Route 20, the longest road in the nation, travels through many interesting and historic places in New York State. One that you have probably never heard of is Cazenovia, a town of 7,000 people, founded in 1793. Cazenovia is a kind of place that...
A centrally located former golf course becomes a new park of regional importance, through strategic development of a portion of the site.
Form-based codes have significant benefits, the question is whether these benefits are distributed equally.
As Baby Boomers enter the market for retirement communities, they are demanding different models from the typical facilities of today, where the most prominent public feature is often a parking lot behind a gated entry. Some continuing care...
The city used a bad assessment on walkability, and a skyscraper development, as the impetus and means to transform downtown’s public realm, boosting tourism, the economy, and quality of life.
Tornagrain in Scotland sets a British example of planning the “15-minute city.” Designed in 2006 and delayed by the 2008 worldwide recession, Tornagrain has been in vertical construction for the last six years near Inverness, the largest city in the...
Orenco Station in Hillsboro, Oregon, is a model for more sustainable suburbs and regions.
Uptown Normal is helping to bring a small downtown back to life, providing an economic boost to a town in Central Illinois.
Groveland, a rapidly developing small city 30 miles west of Orlando, Florida, adopted a plan and code that included the beautiful Transect diagram shown above. The mostly still-rural community, which nearly doubled in population last decade, adopted...
Frisco Square has doubled the size of a historic downtown as the city prepares for regional transit.
Twelve-foot-wide townhouses in Utah? They combine transit-oriented density with homeownership, and buyers can cut costs in multiple ways.
One clear lesson from the pandemic: Experimentation with streets may yield tremendous benefits with less downside than previously thought.
The requirements challenged the architect to design a large 8-story building that is harmonious with much smaller scale neighbors.
The redevelopment of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington DC combines historic preservation with affordable housing and opens a large campus to the public realm.
Bicycling is important to the 15-minute city, because it extends the range of human-powered transportation to about three miles in that time frame. This range is especially helpful in getting to work. A recent report by Bike Advisor shows that the...
American Jobs Act (AJA) provisions that would tear down unnecessary in-city freeways have received significant media attention, but the infrastructure bill could also boost transit-oriented development (TOD). That angle has been less emphasized....
Dhiru Thadani drew the above cartoon image on the impact of in-city highways, which is a timely topic this week. On Tuesday, June 1, CNU is set to release its biennial report Freeways Without Futures, offering a list of 15 highways most in need of...
A recent report by Brookings sums up the challenge for US climate goals: It can’t be done without moving much more decisively to compact, mixed-use, walkable development. To quote from their report: “Simply put, the United States cannot reach its...
The Plant Riverside District in Savannah, Georgia, transformed an abandoned industrial site into the most significant modern expansion of the city’s urban core. Sottile & Sottile and The Kessler Collection won the 2021 CNU Grand Prize Charter Award.
Trilith in Fayetteville, Georgia, is built around the idea that well-designed public space contributes to individual happiness and community well-being. Lew Oliver Inc. won a 2021 CNU Charter Award in the Neighborhood, District, and Corridor category.
Hammetts Wharf in Newport, Rhode Island, is an urban asset that protects and connects the city at the water’s edge. Union Studio Architecture & Community Design won a 2021 CNU Charter Award in the Block, Street, and Building category.
A quarter century ago, the Charter of the New Urbanism laid out timeless principles that are the bedrock of an influential movement.
Kirkpatrick Park in Nashville, Tennessee, is a catalyst for mixed-income, public housing transformation, designed around a “woonerf.” Smith Gee Studio won a 2021 CNU Charter Award in the Block, Street, and Building category.
The Central Waterfront in San Francisco, California, is an opportunity for sustainable development. A UC-Berkeley team won a student merit award in the Neighborhood, District, and Corridor category of the 2021 CNU Charter Awards.
The 75th Street Boardwalk in Chicago, Illinois, was created to activate economic and social activity during Covid. Site design group won a 2021 CNU Charter Award in the Block, Street, and Building category.
Lancaster BLVD in Lancaster, California, changed the way we think about creating “sense of place” in a busy downtown thoroughfare. Moule & Polyzoides won a 2021 CNU Charter Award in the Neighborhood, District, and Corridor category.
Significant programs and legislation may set the stage for local code reform across the US, enabling better places.
Replacing the elevated Central Freeway with a boulevard would reknit the fabric of San Francisco neighborhoods. UC Berkeley student Qingchun Li won a student merit award in the Neighborhood, District, and Corridor category of CNU's 2021 Charter Awards.
Grace Midtown Church in Atlanta, Georgia, shows how underutilized industrial sites can be repurposed into community assets. Kronberg Urbanists + Architects won a merit award in the Block, Street, and Building category of CNU's 2021 Charter Awards.
The urban planning response to Covid in Norfolk, Virginia, was imaginative and comprehensive. Work Program Architects, Yard & Co, and Team Better Block won a merit award in The Region: Metropolis, City, and Town category of CNU's 2021 Charter Awards.
The Montgomery Park Master Plan is transforming warehouse and industrial buildings into a mixed-use district in Portland, Oregon. Lake Flato Architects won a merit award in the Emerging Projects category of CNU's 2021 Charter Awards.
The Project for Code Reform looks at Michigan municipalities to find the key changes to land-use regulations on the local level.
We need more ways to build uncomplicated affordable housing in cities and towns. These 19th Century townhouses in Alexandria, Virginia, offer a great model. Although the townhouses have nice details, they wouldn’t be expensive to build. Each unit...
The replacement for Interstate 81 in the heart of Syracuse should be designed and built on the scale of a city street, giving the city an economic shot in the arm.
In the Shaw neighborhood in DC, a few blocks from downtown, a 71-unit condominium looks like two distinct buildings—a 10-story Classical one facing M Street and a six-story modern one facing 11 Street. In fact, these are the same building “melded...
Syracuse and NYS Department of Transportation face difficult decisions with the replacement of the I-81 elevated highway through downtown, choices that will impact the city for generations to come. The highway, past due for reconstruction, will be...
Philip Langdon’s Common\Edge article, The Precarious State of the Mom-and-Pop Store, highlights the beauty of, and challenges facing, an American tradition. “Mom and pop” stores have been under economic pressure for many decades due to...
It's time to use the idea of reduced demand where it has the potential to improve a city's economy, society, and mobility.
Dangerous by Design 2021 highlights the connection between roadway design and the tragic toll on people walking.
The character of Georgia Avenue, a historic Atlanta main street, was preserved while injecting new life into a neglected neighborhood.
The famous Paris artery Champs-Elysees, terminated by the landmark Arc de Triomphe, is due for a major redesign. The legendary avenue lost much of its splendor in recent decades, many Parisians believe, as eight lanes of traffic carry an average of...
Without improvements in the way we plan and build communities, electric vehicles will never deliver on their sustainability promise.
On Public Square, a recent article that lays out a design theory for the “15-minute city” is gaining a lot of viewers. Let's look at another influential take on this idea, that of Carlos Moreno, a French-Columbian scientist and university professor...
The “15-minute city” may be defined as an ideal geography where most human needs and many desires are located within a travel distance of 15 minutes. Here’s what that means.
The video below, produced by Rob Sanders (Road Guy Rob), a journalist with a degree in civil engineering, provides an overview of transit-oriented development (TOD) that is sophisticated and yet engaging to a mass audience. The video covers projects...
A new book covers an emerging field that provides data on human responses to places, leading to new theories on community design.
The opening of registration for CNU 29.Design for Change got me thinking about past Congresses, especially in the light of the $150 fee available for members through March 7. While tracking exact Congress fees from the early years is elusive, the...
Living in a walkable community correlates to a significantly stronger reported quality of life—and that metric rose during the COVID 19 pandemic, according to a biennial poll on housing and transportation by the National Association of Realtors (NAR...
A toolkit highlights the power of land-use and transportation policy in recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID.
The subject of walkability is getting political attention, thanks to a catchy phrase.
A large new development area in Missoula, Montana, will be built out according to new urban principles.
The New Urbanism grew out of an open-minded educational environment, where students were encouraged to read and think for themselves rather than follow a particular design approach.
Ten changes are recommended to improve Main Street streetscapes.
Note: This list of steps comes from Enabling Better Places: Commercial Corridors and Shopping Malls, a report by CNU and the Michigan Municipal League. Reforming places in your community that have a suburban, auto-oriented, single-use development...
The nation’s more than 7,600 Main Streets are hurting. Nobody knows exactly how much. At some point in 2021, when the vaccine has become available to everybody and the numbers of Covid cases plummet, we will collectively look around American...
Parking is a necessity in cities, whether it involves residents storing cars for days, shoppers and restaurant patrons occupying spaces for hours, or Uber drivers stopping at the curb for minutes. The same holds true whether the car, or other...
COVID-19 has exposed problems with the US long-term care model of nursing homes. About 40 percent of total COVID deaths in the US have occurred in nursing homes. Residents have been subject to severe isolation in 2020—visiting such facilities has...
The British Columbia town of Southlands combines New Urbanism with a connection to farming.
As an urbanist, I ask Santa to bring America a renewed interest and understanding of the importance of street grids (more precisely, connected networks of streets with relatively small blocks). That may be a tall order for Santa, but I have been...
CNU is now seeking applications for the 2021 Charter Awards. Going back to 2001, the Charter Awards have highlighted best practices and spread New Urbanism ideas worldwide. More than 300 Charter Awards have been awarded by CNU juries over the last...
The State of Oregon adopted significant zoning changes in 2019 that allow two-unit structures across most of the state, and three-unit housing on lots in larger communities. “This doesn’t ‘abolish the suburbs,’ but it does ensure that a wider...
CNU releases report on evolving Michigan suburban landscapes, especially commercial corridors and shopping malls. The ideas and techniques can apply to communities nationwide.
Today I am driving to the Windy City, shown above in a regional Transect—looking east from leafy suburban areas across city neighborhoods to the downtown Loop. I just finished reading and reviewing Transect Urbanism: Readings in Human Ecology, and...
The City of Buffalo, Stantec, and CNU have created a roadmap for how mobility can power an equitable future in 21st century cities.
The image above, by architect Steve Mouzon, shows the entirety of renaissance Florence, Italy, fitting on a site comparable in size to a highway interchange in Atlanta. Renaissance Florence produced Michelangelo and da Vinci. The interchange...
Market and demographic trends could lead to revival of smaller American communities, according to a report.
An analysis of US street networks since 1940 shows plunging connectivity in the last half of the 20th Century, followed by a sharp reversal of that trend in the new millennium.
This holiday is about places and people and memory, and that has an impact on how we build and experience cities and towns.
One of the few form-based codes to be applied citywide in a regional major city, Buffalo’s ordinance is having a positive impact on neighborhoods and downtown.
Tommy Pacello, passionate placemaker and a star of the New Urbanism at the peak of his abilities, died from complications due to pancreatic cancer on Monday. Pacello, 42, was president of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) and an...
Cities and towns are facing a new reality, according to one of the founders of CNU. This calls for new designs that violate some of the long-held design doctrines of New Urbanism—but have the same social intention.
The Biden plan mentions code reform, transit, smart growth, underserved communities, and generally big investments in affordable housing.
Dallas is implementing a trail system that could make a big difference in the quality of life and health in this major city. The Loop Trail is a 50-mile trail system that is nearly half built, and the rest is funded or planned, creating a loop...
The US needs public works investments to help main streets.
A $500 million transit-oriented development will connect to the well-known new urban development as DART moves forward with a rail corridor.
Streets for Voting is a useful tool for communities across the US struggling with new requirements for polling sites in a crucial election.
Memphis, Tennessee, shows the benefits of having community investment and social infrastructure, supported by philanthropy and institutions, in place during a pandemic.
The Atlanta neighborhood of Pittsburgh was the subject of foundation investment to develop in an equitable way.
Although zoning was adopted locally, state legislation is helping to revise community land-use codes for the 21st Century.
Better Cities Film Festival, formerly New Urbanism Film Festival, will screen 81 films on urbanism from 25 countries.
I recently read The Devil in the White City, about the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair. One place that I would like to go back in time to see, just for a day, would be this event. They say that some visitors would break down weeping upon entering the...
Cities are encouraging small manufacturing to promote inclusive economic development and livable wages in downtowns and main streets.
To meet the challenges of the 21st Century, traffic engineers and transportation planners need to think of streets as places and the foundation for community.
In DIY City, the late Hank Dittmar makes the case for why small is beautiful when it comes to urban regeneration.
Following a recent code reform partnership with the State of Vermont culminating in a report and legislative initiatives, CNU has embarked on a similar project in New Hampshire, working with the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. The first...
The city's Residential Infill Project is designed to promote missing middle and workforce housing.
House-scale buildings with more than one living space can affordably shelter a broad range of families, revitalize communities, and profit builders throughout the 2020s and 2030s.
A second-grade bike education program in DC also informs children about street networks and helps them to understand their community.
The state DOT has a novel model to fix its automobile-oriented, dangerous thoroughfare network and design complete streets.
Memphis 3.0 establishes neighborhood centers where mixed-use development may occur incrementally, at different speeds, according to the context.
A new report makes the case that walkable suburbs are the are the next big development trend.
The Minnesota capital has major redevelopments underway, using principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism.
A CNU Athena Medal winner in 2007, David Lewis died last week at the age of 98. Lewis founded Urban Design Associates (UDA) in Pittsburgh with former student Ray Gindroz in 1964, a firm that pioneered concepts that later became known as New Urbanism...
Learning from Bryant Park: Revitalizing Cities, Towns, and Public Spaces, is an entertaining and important book for urbanists across America.
The Mississippi River is an armature for economic development and public space in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The future of both cities, and the goal of equitable development, are tied to the riverfront.
A grassroots organization, Reconnecting Pasadena, helped to defeat an in-city freeway by proposing a mixed-use, urban alternative.
The cutting edge design for Clematis Street in West Palm Beach contributes to outdoor seating and programming for the tricky re-opening and post-pandemic recovery.
CNU celebrated 20 years of Charter Awards at CNU 28 last week—and the awards have promoted the cause of connected, sustainable, lovable communities.
Urban planning has important contributions to a wide range of climate change responses, from mitigation to adaptation, notes CNU cofounder Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.
Transforming streets and vertical infrastructure through art is an important tool for enlivening cities this summer.
Durham, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, are part of a nationwide trend of reforming single-family-only zones to allow for a diversity of housing options.
Connecting Crossroad explores how to preserve affordable housing while improving the public realm in Langley Park, an immigrant neighborhood in Maryland. The plan won a 2020 CNU Student Charter Award for Sara Ghafer-Samar at the University of Maryland.
After being hit by a Category 5 storm in the fall of 2018, Panama City, Florida, is following a vision to rebuild better than before. The plan won a 2020 CNU Charter Award in the Neighborhood, District, and Corridor category for Dover, Kohl & Partners.
Beatrice Row brings the classical row house to Coral Gables, Florida, along with zoning guidelines for this type. The project won a 2020 CNU Charter Award in the Block, Street, and Building category for de la Guardia Victoria Architects & Urbanists.
The Center of Territorial Intelligence in Biodiversity in Curridabat, Costa Rica, is a model for studying climate change on an urban environment. The project won a 2020 CNU Charter Award in the Emerging Projects category for Tandem Arquitectura.
An against-the-odds comeback, launched in the Great Recession, has brought life to a waning Main Street while enhancing the historic character of Senoia, Georgia. The project won a 2020 CNU Charter Award for Historical Concepts.
A new report looks at autonomous vehicles and other advancing mobility technologies with recommendations on how they can be used to create more livable communities.
The River District Implementation Plan is building a new walkable neighborhood across from downtown Elkhart, Indiana. Speck & Associates and Stantec’s Urban Places won a merit award in CNU's 2020 Charter Awards.
Underutilzed streets with little traffic are being transformed with temporary pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfares, shared streets, bikeways, expanded sidewalks, and outdoor eating to give citizens more room in a time of social distancing.
The Cleveland Park Library serves as an inviting beacon of culture for a neighborhood in Washington, DC. The building won a merit award for Perkins Eastman DC in the Block, Street, and Building category of the 2020 CNU Charter Awards.
Cases are down in the face of a big increase in testing. Mortality is also declining. These trends hold in the states that reopened early—as well as in the nation as a whole.
Jaquelin Robertson, described by The New York Times as a “passionate urbanist,” an influential academic, and one of the designers of Celebration, Florida, died on last Saturday at the age of 87. Together with Alexander Cooper, Robertson formed...
The Bastrop, Texas, Building Block Code uses a street grid with the goal of environmental and fiscal sustainability. The plan won a merit award for Simplecity Design in the Emerging Projects category of the 2020 CNU Charter Awards.
The Midtown Pattern Zone in Bryan, Texas, is designed to raise the level of design for economical infill. The zone won a merit award for the Infill Group and Miller Boskus Lack Architects in the Emerging Projects category of the 2020 CNU Charter Awards.
New urbanist developers employ many strategies to survive the current and future economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis. While survival is paramount, downturns also offer opportunities.
Traditional neighborhood development (TND) has offered an alternative model for suburban growth starting in the late 20th Century and continuing today. Kentlands in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is one of the oldest of these developments. Like most TNDs,...
In the fifth State of Coronavirus in America report, the most encouraging trends are a dramatic rise in testing and declining mortality. But as cases rise in many states, the nation is far from out of the woods.
An analysis indicates that cases of COVID-19 are more related to what metro area you live in, rather than whether you live in the central city or a suburb. Transit also doesn’t correlate as a significant factor.
At least half of the US population lives in states that are currently reopening, or making near-term plans to reopen, their economies in phases. The risks vary, because different states have higher or lower levels of confirmed cases and mortalities.
The post-COVID-19 economy will mean hardship for communities and urbanists, but also will create opportunities and innovation.
A new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy examines the highways-to-boulevards trend and how this will impact cities in coming years.
In this third State of Coronavirus in America report, Public Square examines the widely divergent health impacts across the US to look at how soon individual states may reopen their economies according to the new federal guidelines.
A shocking number of American small businesses, employing tens of millions of people, are at imminent risk of permanent closure if the crisis continues much longer, according to a survey of Main Street America.
Using online tools, urban designers conduct virtual charrettes during the coronavirus crisis. Envisioning the future of a city is a great way for all involved to stay productive and connected to the community.
The way the virus has hit states and regions of the country differs greatly. The State of Coronavirus in America looks at divergent health impacts, including varying acceleration and hotspots.
This is Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, a downtown street known for its entertainment and dining. As part of a streetscape improvement project, the pavement was painted in an argyle pattern. Whoever had this idea should get a prize, and it...
Here’s what you need to know about a wide range of building types that make up mixed-use cities and towns, how they work, and why they matter.
Ultimately, this crisis will highlight how much we need to come together in the real world, and cities are a big part of that.
How quickly we have gotten used to a world that has seemingly stopped. I was out running yesterday morning, and came across construction workers who were moving and positioning heavy equipment for a development project near the waterfront of my city...
In a new book, Jonathan Barnett calls for using design thinking to achieve sustainable, functional, and equitable “megaregions.”
The pedestrian-friendly redesign of Cleveland’s Public Square spurred $1.2 billion in investment, according to a study. The 10-acre site at the heart of downtown used to be divided into four smaller squares with wide streets of through-traffic. The...
The city is testing new mobility technologies to promote economic development and placemaking for the 21st Century.
A massive skyscraper is being renovated as a mixed-use, walkable urban center in a city that was pronounced dead not too long ago.
Widening of roads usually reduces congestion only for a short period of time, after which the congestion returns—as bad or worse than ever. The above graph shows why the forecast benefits of more roads are almost always a disappointment. “Induced...
A New Pattern Language for Growing Regions provides 80 new patterns, in the format of Alexander’s classic architecture book, and is a worthwhile read for urbanists, planners, and designers of the built environment.
What do we need to know about the success, failure, and future prospects of creating walkable, diverse urbanism?
As cities and towns plan for rapidly changing transportation technology, flexible urban design and policy solutions are needed. Here are six considerations based on a workshop in Walton County, Florida.
In partnership with CNU and Stantec Urban Places, the city will host an intensive, four-and-a-half-day workshop on micromobility (e.g. scooters and e-bikes), automated vehicles, and new parking technologies, and how these trends will affect city living.
Banning of cars is the first step in a streetscape reconstruction of the city’s major thoroughfare.
Back in September I wrote about DPZ CoDESIGN’s innovative new architecture for tiny houses and trailers—affordable housing that can be manufactured and assembled into villages with some of the informal community advantages of “trailer parks,” yet...
Milwaukee's Park East Corridor, on the national stage this summer, ultimately changed how the city views itself.
Note: Hammond, Indiana, is seeking proposals from developers to build in a downtown that has recently adopted a new urban plan, is creating a new rail connection to Chicago, and has committed to a transformation of the downtown main street. When...
A national team of experts will work with local and other participants to examine automated vehicle implementation on the 30A beach highway, which goes through Seaside and many other towns.
The control tower for the old Stapleton Airport in Denver is a machine for enhanced vision. The tower now has a view of one of the largest new urban developments in the world. Stapleton, Denver, contains nine neighborhoods, nine schools, 50 parks,...
This wonderful gingerbread village was made in the holiday spirit recently by David M. Schwarz Architects (DMSAS). The village is based on principles of good urban planning, reports Lauren Landau for the blog DCist. “Gregory Hoss, president of DMSAS...
Only two miles apart, the Baltimore neighborhoods of Park Heights and Guilford have radically different health outcomes. These two neighborhoods are divided by an Interstate highway (I-83), and were designated differently by financial (“redlining”)...
Good urbanism allows us to look forward and back simultaneously, and the top Public Square articles do that. The most-read pieces cover many aspects of life: architecture, religion, transportation, philosophy, housing, nature, shopping, and even golf (!).
As the City of New York is talking about spending $4-8 billion on rebuilding the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), a pair of new urbanists are proposing that a section of this Interstate be torn down and replaced by city streets. In a guest column...
Retail success is tricky in new urban places—so pay attention to fundamental principles because buying and selling are essential activities in a walkable urban center.
For many years, retailers resisted the architecture of street-facing storefronts, but necessity is the mother of flexibility.
Review of City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present, by Alex Krieger, Harvard University Press, 2019.
The year’s awards will celebrate design that takes New Urbanism to the next level and inspires a new generation of urbanists.
The decision of a city in Texas to plan for new growth using a grid of streets has inspired readers and makes a lot of sense.
New, lean code deals with flooding issues and fiscal sustainability for fast-growing historic city in the Austin area.
An unprecedented public process created a long-term recovery plan for the California municipality leveled by fire—and sets a model for responding to a changing world.
The Florida Panhandle city survived Category 5 Michael with most of the downtown intact—the plan looks to a more resilient future in the face of potential sea level rise.
From transit-oriented development to Tactical Urbanism, transportation themes have resounded through the first two decades of the CNU Charter Awards.
The city made progress with code reform and is moving forward with street improvements and new public spaces, including the possible transformation of a dead mall.
Charles Marohn's new book presents a way out for American cities that are trapped in a vicious cycle: Build neighborhoods one small step at a time rather than going straight to utopia.
While hundreds of malls are declining, they are also being reused for all kinds of purposes—including walkable urban places in communities lacking in this kind of environment.
Clear, jargon-free messages that promote urbanism are to be commended—whether they come from CNU or an aligned organization. Today I highlight a video from The Incremental Development Alliance (IncDev), in which they explain their organization's...
The city of Oak Park has the density—it needs placemaking, and that is why an automobile-oriented corridor is being transformed with a linear greenway and complete street.
US Downtowns have been recovering in population and jobs for two decades, and research from the International Downtown Association provides further evidence that that this is a nationwide phenomenon. The study looks at 24 cities of a range of sizes...
Suburbs may be defined in many ways, and a focus on walkability yields robust data aimed toward making better communities and sustainable regions.
Street grids hold special power to solve problems of massive urbanization, according to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Romer.
Three heartland cities are investing to strengthen the downtown core and build a framework for regional multimodal transportation.
Even as e-commerce takes market share and national chain stores close, demographic shifts have created a growth market for downtown retail and mixed-use.
For about a quarter of typical road diet costs, semi-permanent street transformations have been successfully demonstrated in two cities.
Urbanists can do lot to help improve outcomes in particular Opportunity Zones. Here’s a checklist based on lessons from real communities.
This missing middle housing type is a highly adaptable tool for developers and builders in many locations.
From the decimation of downtowns to the “retail apocalypse,” massively changing retail has been the norm for the last seven decades. Urban retail may benefit from the current transformation.
William H. Whyte was a pioneer on studying the endlessly fascinating ways that people use public spaces. The SWA Group recently conducted an update on Whyte's work in New York City, and the results were published in a Guardian article called From...
Memphis Medical District demonstrates the power of anchor institutions to improve sense of place and the economy in surrounding neighborhoods, while avoiding displacement.
A vision for a brownfield in Hong Kong could be one answer to its housing shortage.
The American housing industry is changing course—and this will transform neighborhoods and communities over time by providing more and different choices in housing.
The conventional suburban site plan above left was drawn for a hilltop site in a large development project. Charlotte architect and urban planner Tom Low, director of Civic By Design, created the alternative New Urbanism plan of a hamlet. The idea...
Score one for historic preservation when a canal in use for two millennia was saved from being filled in to create a road and instead planned as a unique public space.
There are now 738 codes that meet the criteria for form-based codes, according to Emily Talen, Hazel Borys, and Matt Lambert, the team that keeps tracks of these codes on a website called The Codes Study. Of those codes, 439 are adopted. It's been a...
Plan Viva Laredo is making an immediate impact on Laredo, as streets are retrofitted for multimodal transportation and developers are encouraged to use new urban principles.
Two-way streets prove safer, more walkable, and more supportive of business than one-way streets for Midwestern cities.
Opportunity Zone finance is helping to kickstart development around an underutilized section of the Beltline in Atlanta.
It doesn't take much digging to find that generational blame for sprawl doesn’t add up and gets us no closer to a solution—for that, we need a more targeted approach.
Elkhart, Indiana, is implementing plans to attract young, talented, workers to start businesses and boost the economy.
A national study shows strong demand for walkable urban development—cities with high rents perform surprisingly well on social equity measures.
New York State transportation officials are gathering crucial input to ensure the successful transformation of Route 81 in Syracuse into a Community Grid.
The cities represent the versatility of recent codes that replace conventional zoning.
Daybreak Mews is a prime example of how “missing middle” housing types can expand choices while adding to the urban fabric of a larger neighborhood.
Transforming suburban places is a growing and necessary trend across America. What are the tactics to make it happen?
A new vision for Chicago's grandest boulevard connects two neighborhoods and provides a setting for 4,200 new housing units.
Seaside’s influence on urban redevelopment is profound—it initiated a re-evaluation of the the civic realm in planning and city building. Lessons learned at Seaside have been applied in the revival, redevelopment, and restoration of existing communities.
A Charter Award-winning development in Louisville has challenged conventional models of retail and civic space and provided a model for how the city can grow in the pattern of its historic neighborhoods.
A master plan for Shanghai's oldest district prioritizes preservation while allowing for strategic development.
A high-rise development, home to the Essex Street Market, is now providing homes to people who were displaced a half century ago.
Urbanism and preservation of a historic landscape and medical buildings add up to a unique redevelopment underway in Washington DC.
A large-scale development raises the bar for new design in Charleston, while re-connecting neighborhoods and anchoring a 1.6-mile-long linear park.
The importance of downtown and walkable urbanism is paramount to Syracuse, New York, and other cities, made visible through this graphic.
Doña Ana County, a culturally rich but economically challenged part of New Mexico, is staking its future on walkable communities.
Cities offer breakthrough potential for immediate and effective action on the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and a hotter world, according to a new book, The Urban Fix.
Here are ten of the best public spaces at the heart of cities in America, plus honorable mentions.
A new book on walking makes me think of another book, what America has lost, and what it could regain.
This image is from an illustrative article called This Is How Borrowing Things From Our Neighbors Strengthens Society, by Sarah Lazarovic in Yes! journal. Here’s the tagline: Research shows that small talk and casual connections create happy...
Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a British architect and “shared space” advocate, died of cancer last month at the age of 63. He was a plenary speaker at CNU 22 in Buffalo in 2014, where he urged the audience of a thousand people to “take out all of the...
Since 2008, CNU has highlighted the advantages of transforming the elevated I-81 through the heart of the city.
A costly freeway, feeding a shopping mall, is a poor foundation for a mid-sized city—a better choice is to invest in infrastructure that supports downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
CNU releases is biennial report, Freeways Without Futures 2019, telling the tale of ten freeways in cities where the movement has spawned active campaigns for transformation.
A CNU Legacy Project explores the potential of an underutilized creek corridor that runs through more than dozen neighborhoods in Louisville, Kentucky.
In the era of "winner take all urbanism," why are many small towns coming back to life—and why might they be good places to invest?
CNU Legacy project in Russell neighborhood in West Louisville listens to residents, drawing their dreams.
The new neighborhood by the Atlanta Beltline offers a well-designed, robust mix of housing, uses, and public spaces.
A $500 million widening project for Interstate 5 in Portland, Oregon, would lead to 10 to 17 million additional vehicle miles per year, according to a report in City Observatory. The website posted a series of articles opposed to the I-5 expansion...
The submission deadline is April 5 for this year’s Driehaus Award, to be announced at CNU 27 in Louisville.
CNU created a map (see below for interactive version) of all of the past and upcoming Congresses. The map offers an overview at the history of CNU, the geographic range of the Congresses, and the issues that concerned the Congress attendees in years...
More cities are adopting a simple code change that goes a long way to improve the urban environment.
Urban designer Victor Dover asked an audience of adults at a public event three questions about walking to school that reflect how our built environment has changed over the course of three generations in the US. Above are the results. Children...
Walkable urban plans in small and mid-sized cities and suburbs are more likely to be financed if the city is prepared.
We have so much excess asphalt in America, and we mostly don't even see it. Like an ugly building or a cluttered room—over time, our minds tune it out and take it for granted. But the excess asphalt, like the street on the left, is less safe and ...
A coalition in Flint, Michigan, works with many hands toward rebuilding a neighborhood from the ground up.
On this gloomy February day, I think back to 2008, the start of the Great Recession, which seems like a lifetime ago. There were many large-scale projects, planned well in advance of the crash, that died. Some of these projects were new urban...
When transportation engineers make problematic city highway proposals, CNU members sometimes offer alternative design solutions that broaden the conversation—and that's the case with the BQE in Brooklyn.
Atlanta is growing at an "unprecedented rate" and is trying to become more multimodal and less car-centric.
Architect and urban designer Tom Low says that Charlotte, North Carolina, is experiencing a "tidal wave" of infill projects, bringing in more pedestrians, cyclists, and scooter riders that conflict with the city's automobile-oriented street network...
Our model for traffic congestion is flawed. We need to make the crucial distinction between good and bad congestion and plan our transportation systems accordingly.
Reducing redundant roadway in cities can be good for people both outside and inside of vehicles.
A hierarchical system of subdivisions branching off of arterial roads is a "perfect recipe for congestion."
Urban planner Emily Talen tells the history of the neighborhood, why it became a controversial topic, and how the “everyday neighborhood” could help a diverse America come together.
A new report called Dangerous By Design 2019 once again reminds us that thousands of people on foot are cut down each year in violent, preventable deaths.
When real estate switched from building mixed-use cities, towns, and neighborhoods, the industry adopted less sustainable selling points—like golf.
In the last half of the 20th Century, we added massive quantities of parking to American downtowns, usually by tearing down buildings. This image by urban designer Victor Dover shows parking infrastructure, in pink, in downtown Atlanta. Many cities...
Walking is vital to the economy, livability, and environment. Why can't we measure how many people are walking, versus driving, using data from smart phones?
As the retail market becomes less certain, mixed-use developers look to other ways to boost foot traffic and create a destination.
Background buildings don't need to be ugly or use pointless variety in the “break-up-the-box” style.
Street design topics, innovative housing types and policies, and large-scale urban planning patterns made for most-read articles on Public Square this year. Bad architecture and the impact of automated vehicles also were fodder for popular pieces....
This graph, from Jeff Speck's book Walkable City Rules, tells at a glance why investing in walkable and bike-friendly streets disproportionately helps lower-income workers. Bike lanes are sometimes criticized for benefiting young professionals...
Opportunity Zones offer significant smart growth potential if investors can find the opportunities, but a new report is of limited use, especially when it comes to smaller cities and incremental development.
Trees are miracles of nature—and one of the least expensive, most effective investments that can be made in a neighborhood. According to The Nature Conservancy, urban—particularly street—trees have environment, health, and economic value. Not...
How urbanism could help to solve problems like the Paradise disaster.
This is an Internet image that I recently came across, appearing on various websites, describing a common urban architectural style of our time. The point of this meme is that developers are driving this style, and it's boring. What's sad is that...
Amazon chose urbanism for HQ2, but with urbanism comes responsibility.
Galena, Illinois, is often pictured when urbanists want to show the ideal American main street. It was also listed as number 35 in a recent Architectural Digest report on 50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America. While this list is subjective, it...
A multidisciplinary group with potential influence on and understanding of the built environment, new urbanists were uniquely positioned to push back effectively against the status quo.
Opportunity Zones, a massive new nationwide community development program, will benefit from the work of urban planning thought leaders.
Our built environment separates everything to reduce conflict and make us safe—it may instead do the opposite.
A worker October 17 puts the finishing touches on the 33-year-old Seaside, Florida, post office, which was moved to a new location on the town's Central Square. Someone uses the facility later that day. Hurricane Michael landed on the Florida...
Providence in Huntsville introduces a new development pattern that converts an arterial to a main street, provides nightlife and civic spaces, and adds a diverse school.
"Normalizing for population, VMT per capita has seen zero net growth since 2002," notes a recent post from the State Smart Transportation Initiative. This reality is at odds with transportation modeling, which consistently overestimates traffic...
Rockville Town Square combines transit and placemaking in a mixed-use retrofit.
Andres Duany of DPZ CoDESIGN thinks that houses on wheels could be a good answer to America's affordable housing problem, and to housing adapted for climate change.
Parking lots are among the ugliest and most common features of the American landscape. They cost a lot of money, use tremendous land, and make much of our cities less walkable. Yet as long as we drive, we do need parking. Parking doesn't have to...
The City of South Bend focuses on complete streets to spur investment in neglected neighborhoods.
A recent The New York Times article The Bipartisan Cry of 'Not in My Backyard' reporting on opposition from across the political spectrum to higher-density housing, failed to mention a crucial point, says Nathan Norris, founding principal of the...
Accessory dwellings can triple the density on a single-family lot while preserving the character of neighborhoods.
As cities boom, rental rates are easing due to supply.
CNU co-founder Stefanos Polyzoides said of Bill Dennis: "We lost a brother."
A focus on one dimension ignores more important geographical aspects to public safety in a walkable city.
The demand for multifamily and small-lot single-family housing, especially in walkable locations, will continue to rise over the next two decades, according to Arthur C. "Chris" Nelson, of the University of Arizona. This supply and demand mismatch...
A mathematical equation helps to explain the endless variety of cities and the cookie-cutter sameness of conventional suburbs.
As more retail moves into cities, the suburban boxes fronted by parking lots are giving way to more walkable designs.
The greater choice offered by well-connected street networks leads to more capacity and efficiency, according to pioneering smart growth engineer Walter Kulash.
Preserving open space in a time of rising development pressure, while fostering equitable development, requires out-of-the-box thinking.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, 12-acre linear park incorporates stormwater systems into community spaces that allow for new development.
Here are some ideas on telling the story of why walkable urbanism matters—from your perspective to a particular audience.
Tactical Urbanism transformed one of the most automobile-oriened thouroughfares in Miami—and street life surged.
Here’s a graphic from a terrific article in a terrific issue of D Magazine, the regional publication for Dallas-Fort Worth. The authors of the article, Christopher Leinberger and Tracy Loh of George Washington University, are among the few...
Historic street grids can handle greater traffic of all kinds—so why aren’t we building more of them?
Many cities are growing faster than they have since the 1940s as Americans rediscover the joys of human-scale neighborhoods, but their expansion is constrained by sprawl.
A transit-accessible infill development includes a variety of housing types geared to improving the economics of urban living.
When drivers slow down to 20 mph or below, they are less likely to hit people and much less likely to seriously injure or kill people if they do hit them—that's one insight that Dutch designers and engineers learned when they began to implement...
Tregunnel Hill in Cornwall, England, proves that the principles used in Prince Charles's Poundbury are replicable.
Crosstown Concourse reused a massive blight in the midst of disinvested Memphis neighborhoods.
Two journalists travel America in a Cirrus plane, reporting on public-private partnerships, "walkable manufacturing," and what makes second-tier cities succeed.
These two revealing photos show "walkable urban" and "drivable suburban" development near downtown Cincinnati, from a recent report called Catalytic Development: (Re)creating walkable urban places. Amazingly, these photos are taken from a similar...
CNU had its biggest Congress ever in Savannah, and the above graphic by Jay Shepley shows how the attendees broke down into various demographic segments. The attendees were highly diverse in terms of professions and ages, spanning a wide range of...
CNU resurrects the Athena Medal in Savannah to entice the Danish sage of human-scale cities. Next year: New Bourbonism.
Crosstown Concourse, the redevelopment of a 1.3 million square foot former Sears distribution center that sat empty for decades among run-down Memphis neighborhoods, won the Grand Prize in CNU’s 17th annual Charter Awards, announced in Savannah,...
Catalytic development takes place where strategic, integrated investments are made in a concentrated, walkable urban area.
Note: I hope to see you all at CNU 26.Savannah next week. The mid-20s to mid-30s are peak driving years in a person's life. Eyesight and reactions are undiminished, and you have places to go, things to do, and careers and families to pursue....
Donald Shoup's new volume shows how better approaches to parking enable affordable housing, the missing middle, economic development, and better living.
After two decades of development, Orenco Station offers urban living at a transit station west of Portland.
As Sound Transit expands light rail far into the suburbs around Seattle, a policy allows the disposition of excess land for affordable transit-oriented development—consistent with the goals of a CNU report.
While gentrification is sometimes villainized, the "Jacob's Curve" suggests that there is an optimum level of reinvestment in neighborhoods that creates more diversity of place. The drawing, by planner and researcher Michael Mehaffy, is named after...
Mews homes are an affordable and flexible model for mid-block family housing.
The Side Hustle House has been designed to supplement primary income and evolve as household needs change.
Let’s Move Nashville is a transformative transit initiative that is now in front of the electorate—alternative futures for the city are at stake.
Eastside Savannah, a less affluent area adjacent to Savannah's historic core, was the subject of a CNU Legacy Project.
New urbanists lost a respected and capable leader early this week. Hank Dittmar made a difference in urban planning and transportation on both sides of the Atlantic.
CNU Legacy Project shows how Southside Savannah can leverage a growing university campus to improve quality of life.
CNU partnered with a small city and citizens to create a toolbox with immediate practical usefulness for a segment of the old Dixie Highway in Georgia.
I found this satirical floor plan on the 21st Century City Twitter feed—illustrating the absurdity of automobile-oriented community design. Just like the heart of many cities and towns built since 1950, there is more space for vehicles than people....
A Midwest city considers an affordable option to house more families in walkable neighborhoods.
A new report by Todd Litman offers a vision for optimal urban growth for affordability and livability—laying down a challenge to Wendell Cox, smart growth critic and author of a widely cited report.
Downtown has come back to life while the city is building a transit framework for walkable, mixed-use growth along corridors.
I don't often write about skyscrapers, but this proposal includes smart urban design moves.
A citywide comprehensive plan joins progressive vision with detailed implementation.
In a half century, a neighborhood was cleared for public housing towers. Then the failing towers gave way to a new neighborhood.
Transit-oriented project provides housing for public employees next to public housing in buildings inspired by the District's successful vernacular patterns.
Architecture that is scaled to and reflects the human body is endlessly fascinating.
Plan Westside in Atlanta looks at revitalization of a city sector that has declined economically and socially from its civil rights heyday.
Nashville uses Tactical Urbanism to test out ideas on public space and street improvements downtown.
A pedestrian fatality spurred a transformation of a thoroughfare in Raleigh, linking a college campus to neighborhoods.
In an area that once suffered in-city freeway blight, this mixed-use housing project creates a beautiful urban streetwall with modern sensibility.
Roundabouts and reductions in lane widths helped to restore civic life along a US highway in a western New York village.
The timeless and artful Plaza La Reina, a new hotel in a transit-oriented Los Angeles neighborhood, shows the impact of a building on a city.
Parsons Alley activates abandoned properties, creates a popular and lively new public place, and attracts businesses that appeal to young professionals.
This is a list of the most dangerous intersections in each state. It is also a list of heavily engineered, "big asphalt" intersections in road networks that are built to modern transportation engineering standards. For many of these intersections,...
Why street design has not kept pace with automotive safety improvements, and what you can do about it.
The great Yale lecturer had an impact on movements that are changing the face of communities in the US and beyond.
A breakthrough design on La Jolla Boulevard in San Diego cuts crashes by 90 percent and gives local business a shot in the arm.
A recent snow captures the beauty of a 1.7-acre cottage development, a new extension of the Village of Cheshire in Black Mountain, North Carolina—near Asheville. Architect and urban designer Tom Low designed the Pocket Court Project around two oval...
Streetscape improvements have helped bring back an 18-hour-a-day character to the corridor. Crime has dropped and property values have risen.
An esplanade park at the center of a Cincinnati neighborhood had been whittled away. Returned to its former glory, the square has revitalized business and boosted safety.
The issue has changed from whether the city will grow to how and for whom the development is taking place.
A tunnel would cost nearly three times as much as converting the aging I-81 in Syracuse to a boulevard—as suggested by CNU's Freeways Without Futures report.
Lancaster, California, has lit the local economy and secured a social heart with one transformative street project.
Here are streets that are more than just conduits for cars—they are places that support social and economic life, walking, bicycling, and transit.
A sprawling land that’s crossed by freeways—put a few thousand down and rent a room. Be a part of the next technology boom.
Reducing state and federal infrastructure costs while boosting local economies by strengthening urban places is a win-win from in-city freeway transformation.
The rapid change in the District has fueled concerns that investment will leave existing residents high and dry, so the city is working with the community toward a better result.
Review of Cities Alive: Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander, and the Roots of the New Urban Renaissance, a book by Michael Mehaffy.
One gaggle of girls, 270-plus trick-or-treaters, 20 pies, and one streetwise cat are vital statistics for this urban thoroughfare.
The domination of the streetscape by garages is common in drive-only suburbs. There are no "eyes on the street" from inside the houses—so the connection with neighbors is tenuous. What you don't see in this photo—because it is out of the scope of...
These photos of Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati were taken and assembled by architect Tom Low. These 4- and 5-story masonry buildings were built circa 1900 on 25-wide lots—a standard American system of platting. They all have interesting detail on the...
The first step to good design is avoiding the bad, says Kate Wagner. Why not start with shutter crimes, poor proportions, and clashing architectural references?
When you have a chicken and egg problem, have a chicken omelette.
Urbanists can contribute mightily to solving the climate problem—got any plans for the next few decades?
Chris McCahill of the State Smart Transportation Initiative explains how vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has become decoupled with Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While Americans’ driving habits have long been linked to economic activity, this...
Walkable places are vital to health and welfare—and contrary to perceptions, they also reduce household costs.
A well-known new urban project has begun to reshape the relentless sprawl around it, but communities shouldn't wait for that to happen.
Harvey and Irma point out the need to think deeply about resilience to major storms in the era of climate change.
Citizens have a chance to go beyond business-as-usual to achieve a higher potential through recovery from the historic 2017 hurricane season.
As low-income people migrate further out to the suburban fringe, they become more isolated from services and transportation, according to a report by CNU focused on Seattle.
An Oakland redevelopment shows how urban design and historic preservation can support a social agenda.
Building thoroughfares as places of beauty and social interaction requires a context-based approach to design.
Two mixed-use buildings face a new square with fountains and activities like ice skating and concerts, forming the core of Long Island's first major transit-oriented development.
Blue Water workforce housing on Tavernier Key, Florida, created a system that of density that fits into the surrounding one- and two-story fabric.
Walkable mixed-use neighborhoods help families build wealth—enough to help fund big-ticket items like college and retirement.
Public housing in the form of complete or partial neighborhoods started with HOPE VI and became standard practice, impacting the lives of people in cities and towns across America.
Hands-on process is changing the planning and development culture of San Marcos, a suburban Texas municipality.
This diagram [FOOTNOTE:1] explains a key difference between conventional suburban (top) and sustainable urban (bottom) development patterns. The conventional suburban area, governed by conventional zoning codes, separates uses into distinct areas...
More and more people are appreciating that architecture and urban design of streets and public spaces have the power to connect, engage, and inspire all of us.
The Choice Neighborhoods development brings order to a city sector laid out in squiggly postwar cul-de-sacs. Newly redesigned streets lead directly to shops, transit, and other services.
At the turn of the millennium, the 26-acre Pearl Brewery in San Antonio was abandoned and desolate—a collection of empty buildings and pavement with only five trees. Now the ambitious Pearl Brewery Redevelopment is an economic and social powerhouse...
A recently released nationwide study strongly correlates greater transportation "modal diversity" with better health for the population as a whole.
The noose around Rochester's downtown has been partly removed, breathing oxygen into the repopulation of the city center.
The redo of the Boston Public Library 1970s wing shows how a building can be reform and adapted to today's needs.
For those who are not land-use planning and development geeks, it may seem like communities are built by market forces or just happen randomly. But most development in America is shaped by zoning codes, other land-development regulations, and...
One of Buffalo's brightest spots of resurgence, Larkin Square combines adaptive reuse, restoration, and new buildings and public spaces that complement the old.
The Storefront Theater is a unique and creative use of a vacant space in a small-town Main Street.
The nation has a large supply of mid-century neighborhoods that are ripe for changes that will make them more walkable and appealing to new generations of residents.
Prices for real estate in many cities have recently stalled, The New York Times reports, yet the development boom continues.
Stunning historic rehabilitation provides affordable housing in New Orleans.
Once a railway coal siding and more recently a full city block of asphalt surface parking, North Philadelphia’s Paseo Verde now provides affordable, high quality, sustainable housing for a range of income levels. The former 1.9 acre brownfield site...
From coast to coast and in middle America, more sensible parking policies are taking hold and may be the quickest path to urban revitalization.
Lean Urbanism seeks to bring common sense back into the planning and development process—because great neighborhoods are built with many hands, often in small increments.
The 710 Freeway in Pasadena CA has no future, only an ugly past—one of scores of in-city highway struggles that began when many officials thought that traditional cities had no future.
A new book offers an in-depth report on how public officials, citizens, and developers are working together to create walkable and inclusive communities.
Streets support commerce, social interaction, physical activity, recreation, and multimodal transportation—yet DOT funding criteria are stuck in the past.
A leaner, lighter approach to infrastucture is more cost-effective, sustainable, and livable—an idea worth considering for America in National Infrastructure Week.
Many winners this year show how history and old buildings lead to richer neighborhoods and communities.
Speed of automobiles is a critical factor in determining whether a street feels safe and comfortable for people outside of motor vehicles. This graphic illustrates why, in symbols that bring home the point very clearly. People on the street, in the...
Architect Laurence Qamar recently created a series of step-back proposals for the Woodstock Corridor In Portland, Oregon, illustrated above. "Instead of the boxy, ungainly 'space invaders' that have bedeviled other parts of the city, Qamar’s step-...
A set of principles that are clear and generative provide a solid foundation for the New Urbanism. Those principles have withstood the test of time and empirical research, and they can be implemented in countless ways.
This series of drawings was inspired by the idea that physical communities have enabled nearly every human advancement since the dawn of history. Communities are hubs where people protect themselves, trade, specialize, and share collective memory...
The New Urbanism brought the environmental transect methodology into planning and development of human-scale, complete communities. Now the human habitat can be analyzed as a continuum with the natural world.
A CNU "Legacy Project" explores how to initiate suburban retrofit in the diverse Seattle suburb of Tukwila.
Great places are built in small increments, and urbanists are restoring America's know-how and capacity for small-scale development by many individuals in their own communities. Do you want to be a small developer?
Creating holistic neighborhoods from scratch was one of the first and still effective strategies of the New Urbanism.
Transit-oriented development links transportation and land use—providing people with maximum choice in how to get around by intensifying activities near transit nodes with high quality public space.
"The prime ingredient of urbanism is really public space and the public realm. So the urban plan comes first and the building second."
In order to get good streets, you have to think beyond any single street—an idea that is at the core of New Urbanism. Dendritic networks lead to fragmented and dispersed land uses.
The cute Katrina Cottage has proven the versatility and usefulness of cottages that are designed to fit into complete neighborhoods.
A time-compressed design process that gathers all of the stakeholders and practitioners together has great potential for creating more holistic communities, experts say.
The latest trend in urban design and planning gets them off of the paper and out of a big room, testing ideas in the real world. It is fun and hands-on, and making many converts.
Suburbs are becoming more diverse and connected to meet the needs of Americans of all ages in the 21st Century.
America's most automobile-oriented cities are changing their growth patterns, making room for new urban planning and development.
Pedestrian sheds are a foundational idea of designing cohesive communities, but the challenge is the gap between what planners know and developers are building.
From Pasadena, California, to Buffalo, New York, cities in this report have the chance to remove a blight and improve prosperity, health, and sustainability.
New rail and bus rapid transit routes are being built in virtually every large metropolitan area in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Almost 800 route-miles of new transit infrastructure–most of it with dedicated lanes–is now under construction, at a...
There are two models for development of cities and towns. One, the neighborhood model, founded on thousands of years of trial and error, brings people together.
The carnage continues. We need to go beyond policies and transform streets themselves, according to a new report.
To bring citizens together is the very purpose of a city. Nashville’s sidewalk deficit emerged for many reasons, but it boils down to this: Planning and development during the Age of Sprawl was designed to keep people apart.
Cities that blend old and new are helping to define urbanism in the 21st Century.
The Great Lakes city needs clear direction in building and revitalization, and the new Unified Development Ordinance can provide it.
The transportation engineering toolbox is missing key tools when it comes to traditional cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
There is no compelling reason to build a five-mile freeway through the east side of the city, according to engineer Ian Lockwood. A boulevard would do the job better.
The good news: The highway will be improved. The bad news: The boulevard idea is officially dead.
The Mercado District takes its urban design and architecture cues from Tucson's historic adobe neighborhoods.
Strong demand for historic downtowns and neighborhoods brings a surge of population at a level not seen in 70 years.
Here's how Orlando replaced a hole in the city with connective tissue.
Proposed code changes are designed to reduce teardowns and encourage multiple small units in existing neighborhoods.
The often quoted cliche that millennials are moving downtown is not quite accurate. The greatest share of young adults is choosing urban neighborhoods outside of downtown. Just over a third of millennials identified in this 2014 nationwide survey...
Affordable housing is built in the suburbs in automobile-dependent places, forcing low-income and working-class residents to spend too much on transportation.
“Sense of place” is not some nebulous, mystical idea. Sense of place is the emotional or psychological reaction to "place," as shown in the graphic above, created by Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). Communities and...
After a year of work, the Build a Better Burb website has been upgraded, offering an improved platform for suburbs that are rethinking their planning and development.
Urbanists face considerable uncertainty and concerns in a Trump presidency, but there may be silver linings.
In small to mid-sized cities, the impact of New Urbanism can be dramatic.
Justin Fox of Montgomery, Alabama, has watched downtown return from the dead in the last quarter century. Montgomery has benefited from a form-based code and new urban planning, and, most of all, the nationwide resurgence in urban living. Fox, a...
The State of New York is nearing a decision on whether to demolish or rebuild the aging elevated I-81 expressway through downtown Syracuse, and the city’s daily newspaper, the Post-Standard, thinks the highway will be replaced by a surface boulevard...
Compact development is the best for protecting watersheds because it reduces per capita runoff, according to this graph from the Crabtree Group. Most stormwater narratives state that density is bad because the increased runoff is only considered on...
Older and smaller buildings and a wide range in building age offer real economic and social benefits for neighborhoods and urban centers.
Historic buildings create the kind of character and vitality that makes older communities perform well economically, socially, and environmentally—and that is the central thesis of a new book.
A walkable community is the most common term to describe the alternative to drive-only suburbia. Yet walking is so basic to human life that we often take it for granted. Perhaps a more inspiring term is livability.
The movement of millennials toward major city centers has been well reported—but many are locating in smaller, second- and third-tier cities, as noted by Gizmodo. The reason is economics. As the graph shows, some major cities have an affordability...
“Thanks to skilled designers, a clear, implementable code, and a truly capable client, this plan is getting built, and well.”
Grids are easy and inexpensive—they are a natural way to design streets. But the convention for much of the last century is to model streets on sewer systems.
Some suburbs are building an entire urban downtown from scratch to provide a unique identity and appeal.
An iconic new urban diagram from the 1990s shows a walkable neighborhood, top, compared to conventional suburban development, below. The uses are the same but the organization of the uses are different. This drawing by Thomas Low for DPZ was widely...
When the research favors compact, mixed-use neighborhoods, why do our policies often favor sprawl?
Administration calls for local laws to allow accessory dwelling units and denser development and eliminate off-street parking requirements, among other changes.
As usual, Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles was ahead of his time when he drew this in June of 1998. Toles condensed the history of race and urban demographics in the last half of the 20th Çentury into six panels. Despite a massive recession 10...
"Porches become stages, yards become venues, and radical generosity and good will rule the day."
A study by Redfin, the owner of Walk Score, shows that true walkability has tremendous economic value—but Walk Score itself has problems.
This is what urban economic analyst Joe Minicozzi calls "The Money Shot," comparing a Walmart in Asheville, NC, to a downtown mixed-use building in the same city. He puts all of these economic indicators side by side that show the relative poor...
Commuters cut crash risk by more than 90 percent when taking public transit instead of driving, and investment in transit may reduce a community’s automobile crash risk in half, according to research.
A diverse group is promoting "cost effective," place-creating alternatives to rebuilding an ugly freeway in Providence, Rhode Island. The current 6-10 plan "feels like they are screwing poor people, like it's urban renewal 201," says a Coalition member.
Do you love to hate the over-the-top residential architecture of outer-ring suburbs?
Every time an in-city highway has been replaced by more human-scale infrastructure, the city and region has benefitted, according to transportation experts who led workshops for USDOT.
The ‘elephant in the living room' of rising and preventable US traffic deaths and injuries is government-funded roads in drive-only places.
The Portland Streetcar is one of the most successful and cost-effective economic development drivers anywhere in America in the new millennium.
Developer Bob Turner talks about Habersham, the future of traditional neighborhood developments, and current development trends.
The announcement creates holes in enclosed shopping malls—meanwhile the department store chain is looking to open downtown locations.
For most of the 20th Century, US vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rose relentlessly. At the turn of the new millennium, the pattern changed substantially, but the view of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), did not. Above is a graph that shows...
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of the Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge, a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation with design assistance from CNU. Learn more at cnu.org/everyplacecounts.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of the Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge, a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) with design assistance from CNU. Learn more at cnu.org/everyplacecounts.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of the Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge, a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) with design assistance from CNU. Learn more at cnu.org/everyplacecounts.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of the Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge, a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) with design assistance from CNU. Learn more at cnu.org/everyplacecounts.
There is still time for public comment on an ill-considered rule tying lower speeds on urban streets to "excessive delay." Please read the article and tell FHWA to drop or change this proposal.
People with moderate incomes end up spending less of their hard-earned income in walkable places for two reasons.
A holistic neighborhood plan created with the help of citizens is designed to improve health.
In Detroit, the neighborhood of Brush Park stands between three of the city’s fastest revitalizing areas: Midtown, Eastern Market, and the Central Business District.
“The hospital can be a catalyst to create healthy communities in which walking, social engagement, and positive economic transformation are facilitated.”
US traffic deaths are way beyond peer nations and the gap is widening, according to a report released this week from the Centers for Disease Control. Traffic deaths in the US have dropped since 2000, due to safer vehicles and declining miles driven...
Although Lakewood, Colorado, is the fifth largest city in the state, until the last decade the city had no true downtown. Instead, the Denver suburb boasted one of the country’s largest indoor shopping malls, built in the 1960s—but by 2000, that...
Mixed-use, walkable commercial development is outpacing large-scale conventional suburban construction in every major metro area, according to the new report Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, 2016. For...
Sadik-Khan's approach is both radical and practical. Instead of relying on traffic "models" that are rarely tested against reality, she made changes with temporary materials that could be reversed if the benefits failed to materialize.
The most successful new urbanist politician ever gave CNU attendees a role model for how to transform cities, how to care about character and beauty, and why urbanism is most important for those with the least money and privilege. Joe Riley was the...
After two decades, Mashpee Commons is moving forward with 300-plus residential units, more shops, and civic spaces with support from the regional planning authority.
How many gables does this house have? I lost count at 11. The fake dormers and complicated roof line are meant to make up for the lack of variety in this Maryland exurb. Every house nearby has a similarly expansive lawn that is rarely used. Need to...
The Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council met in Miami to explore opportunities for promoting land-use diversity and transportation choice in the suburbs—with particular focus on the needs of smaller suburbs with less robust markets. A follow–...
Joel Kotkin charges urbanists with being anti-family—but he couldn't be more wrong.
"The public policy environment in Pennsylvania, and in most places in the United States, is absolutely, positively hostile to cities," said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf said, for example, that the costs of water, sewer, and electric networks...
The Transforming City is the theme of this year’s Congress—and it’s the most inspiring CNU storyline that I can remember.
A comprehensive implementation guide was written to retool the machinery behind Florida's deadly streets.
Housing authority begins construction on phase one of 1,200 residences and 400,000 square feet of retail and replacement of two schools in North Philadelphia.
As growing legions of Americans look for urban places, many will be drawn to more affordable mid-sized cities like Rochester, NY.
Heinrich Kley was a German illustrator active in the early 20th Century who was noted for darkly humorous pen-and-ink drawings. He sometimes focused on the conflicts of new technologies—such as motor vehicles competing for space on city streets with...
CNU Legacy Charrette team boosts confidence in a neighborhood with a languishing commercial corridor.
Southwest Detroit is the kind of neighborhood that few people talk about outside of the Motor City. The community is not one of those that are vacant and dilapidated—the subject of "ruin porn" photos on the web. It's also not booming with...
A CNU charrette led by Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists, focused on how to transform a two-mile stretch of the John R Road that traverses Hazel Park, Michigan. The goal is to promote development of a walkable downtown where none...
PBS explores urban planning and the New Urbanism.
All of a sudden, New York State is the nation’s leader in urban freeway removal, as reported by Streetsblog. Andrew Cuomo is on a bit of a roll when it comes to urban planning and city-based economic development. Cuomo and his administration have...
High vacancy rates and little reason to visit outside of 9 to 5 contrasts with the current success of central business districts. How can office parks be transformed?
When I posted a list of ten songs for urbanists in February, many people posted alternative suggestions—so many that I nearly had enough for another list. I curated those suggestions and added a few more. Enjoy! Where Do the Children Play? Cat...
Building density that supports walkable urban centers is a key strategy of new urbanists—but this goal is challenging in already built-out suburbs. Existing conditions, space constraints, zoning restrictions, and long approval processes often...
Oak Cliff, Dallas, went through the typical waves of gentrification. The creative types began to move in during the 1990s, followed by middle class families and young professionals, followed by the current wave of developers. Attached is a photo...
In The Humanists Versus the Reactionary Avant Garde, Charles Siegel illuminates the question of what progressive, contemporary architecture truly means.
First built over 200 years ago as a toll road connecting Washington, D.C. to greater Virginia, the Columbia Pike now serves as a direct route to the Pentagon and other capital landmarks. Until recently, this Arlington, Virginia thoroughfare was an...
A recent study in the Journal of the American Planning Association estimates there are 18.6 million parking spots in Los Angeles County, which would cover an area 16 miles in diameter if combined in a single 200-square-mile parking lot. Even spread...
A older American Dream, that of town, neighborhood, and city living, was submerged by the suburban American Dream—which controlled the regulations, finance, and investment after World War II.
Detroit has captivated the nation in its decline, bankruptcy, and booming downtown rebirth, but there is more to urbanism in Southeastern Michigan than the Motor City.
This graph, from the 2016 Bicycling & Walking Benchmarking Report, released two days ago, tells you most of what you need to know about walking in US cities. The best 10 cities identified in this graph, where walking is frequent and safe, all...
These two suburban houses near Orlando, Florida, are about 60 feet apart, but to borrow a cup of sugar without trespassing requires a 7.1-mile trip by car—or a two-and-a-half-hour trek on foot (five hours round trip). A similar image was originally...
One of the nation's most beautiful historic shopping arcades was restored into affordable micro-lofts and small shops in Providence.
If transportation officials embrace a new approach backed by science, safe and effective mobility no longer need conflict with the multidimensional role of streets as public spaces and with people’s varied modes of travel.
The impact of the neighborhood on many sources of climate emissions is clearly visible in this University of California research.
I offer a personal selection of music on topics that urbanists care about—I hope you enjoy it.
Mingling of people and cars at slow speeds is efficient and pedestrian-friendly, according to a University of Connecticut study.
The social village has withered in the US, according to The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community, by Marc Dunkelman. How do we restore it?
Today marks the launch of CNU’s latest effort, an online journal to illuminate and cultivate best practices in urbanism in the US and beyond.
Influential words from the most influential writer on urban planning in modern times
When Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, aid for the region arrived in all shapes and sizes from across the US.
How many times have you heard someone say, dismissively, "Oh, that's just aesthetics," or, defensively, "It's not just aesthetics" to signal that a "real" issue is involved, usually economics. Hogwash, says Urban Land Institute scholar Ed McMahon....
Traffic engineers as a group have been much slower to recognize their erroneous techniques and replace them with less damaging practices.
US traffic deaths are rising again—fatalities jumped 8.1 percent in the first half of 2015
The evidence keeps piling up to support reform in street design and traffic engineering. Recent research adds to volumes of studies that say walkable streets will make us safer, healthier, and improve the economy and communities. As BCT reported ...