• In dark ages, hope lies in the city

    On the centenary of Jane Jacobs’s birth, architects and planners lauded her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities . Both loved and reviled upon its release, it has come to be seen as one of the essential books about the city, the importance of lively, diverse neighbourhoods and housing...Read more
  • China chokes on high-density sprawl

    Superblocks with high-rise towers surrounded by giant arterial roads are a threat to economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The Asian superpower has a new plan, but can change come in time?
    Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Island Press and Public Square on a series of articles based on recently published books on subjects related to urbanism. Cities affect our lives in profound, self-reinforcing ways: they can be a source of economic innovation, a pathway for...Read more
  • The real cost of six million people in a suburban swamp

    The recent deluge that inundated Houston and left it looking like Bangladesh reveals the myopia that distorts Joel Kotkin’s latest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us . A stalwart defender of drivable suburbanism, Houston is Kotkin’s poster child, “America’s Opportunity City.” What he...Read more
  • The McMansion is not a town

    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 get anywhere? Take one of the cars in the multiple...Read more