Congress Focus: Restorative Urbanism

  • Jazz Market New Orleans Audience Seating
    Jazz Market New Orleans Audience Seating
    Trumpeting a cultural revival
    <strong>Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market</strong>&nbsp; <em>New Orleans, Louisiana</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • A mixed-use center for town and gown
    <strong>Storrs Center</strong> <em>Mansfield, CT</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Expanding options for a car-oriented suburban area
    <strong>Village of Providence</strong> <em>Huntsville, AL</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Southside
    Ten acres that transformed a city #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Historic arcade houses young professionals
    <strong>Microlofts at The Arcade Providence</strong>&nbsp;<em>Providence, Rhode Island</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • From parking lot to urban tour-de-force
    <strong>UCLA Weyburn</strong>&nbsp;<em>Los Angeles, California</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Mercado District | Tucson, Arizona
    A timeless place from the ground up. #thisiscnu

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • A unique building becomes a hub for historic neighborhoods
    <strong>Ponce City Market</strong> <em>Atlanta, GA</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

  • Crosstown_Concourse_2018_Charter_LooneyRicksKiss
    From former warehouse to "vertical village"
    <strong>Crosstown Concourse</strong>&nbsp; <em>Memphis, Tennessee</em>

    Build Great Places / #thisiscnu

Restorative Urbanism.

The Charter calls for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within a coherent regional structure. Recognizing the complexity of this challenge, a practice of restorative urbanism heals the past harms inflicted on the built environment, natural landscape, social condition, and economic opportunity. After thirty years of New Urbanism, we have moved the needle on the practice of urban development, yet our cities, towns, suburbs, single-use districts, and public realms are clearly still in need of restoration. As the host city for CNU 32, Cincinnati and its broader region offers an exciting opportunity to discover new and innovative solutions to this need.

Restorative urbanism is context-sensitive, focusing design and policy interventions on the continued threat of sprawling development, turning our built environment towards a more sustainable, prosperous future. A practice of restorative urbanism centers on evolution, recognizing that cities and towns are never “complete,” and that we must constantly work to improve our built legacy - with what we know and as we continue to learn - in service of foundational principles of New Urbanism. In particular, the Charter points to three key ideas:

  • 4. Development patterns should not blur or eradicate the edges of the metropolis. Infill development within existing urban areas conserves environmental resources, economic investment, and social fabric, while reclaiming marginal and abandoned areas. Metropolitan regions should develop strategies to encourage such infill development over peripheral expansion.
  • 10. The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor are the essential elements of development and redevelopment in the metropolis. They form identifiable areas that encourage citizens to take responsibility for their maintenance and evolution.
  • 27. Preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes affirm the continuity and evolution of urban society.

As we seek an urbanism that is restorative, we must be mindful not to base that restoration on an idealized past without properly recognizing that the past performance of urbanism was reliant on the burdens borne by entire groups of people. So many of these groups continue to bear lasting economic, social, and environmental legacy of these discriminatory burdens, including those inflicted through red lining, malinvestment, urban renewal, de facto segregation, and other harms. Restorative urbanism is the opposite of consumptive urbanism. Before urbanism can be sustainable, it must be stable and supportive. In many communities and especially communities of color, foundational work is necessary before capacity for growth can be increased. As we investigate the ways that the New Urbanism can improve our practice of restoring existing urban centers and towns within a coherent regional structure, we must recognize the legacies that we do so within.

Restorative Urbanism In Context

Restorative Urbanism as the Focus for CNU 32 provides everyone in our community of practice with the opportunity to engage in this year’s Congress programming:

  • Designers will explore implications of the evolutionary nature of the urban realm, and collaborate in determining best practices for designing restorative buildings, blocks, streets, and neighborhoods. 

  • Small-scale developers will discuss the ways that incremental development can gently increase community-supportive density, while larger-scale developers can share best practices for stitching development projects into the human and natural systems surrounding them.

  • Those who work in policy and research can expect generative discussions on the regulations that might underpin restorative built outcomes, from exclusionary zoning to economic reparations. 

  • Architects, engineers, and others working on implementation will be able to compare practical strategies for projects that prove cohesive to their surrounding context and restorative of the urban fabric.

We are asking that sessions at CNU 32 address the Focus of Restorative Urbanism by digging into the following questions:

  • In what ways has the practice of New Urbanism addressed - or failed to address - the Charter’s call to restore existing urban centers and towns within a coherent regional structure?

  • How do we empower quality urbanism that also has mechanisms for maintaining accessibility to future diversity of people, places, uses, incomes, activities, and mobilities?

  • What design, development, policy, and community-based tools and approaches exist for building and maintaining more diverse neighborhoods accessible to a wider range of people?

  • What steps can we take in the design and implementation of new development, to inhibit the triggers that lead to future exclusion and/or displacement within a community?

  • What techniques can empower development and redevelopment to support the recovery of surrounding ecosystems, promoting the stewardship of the environment across all scales of human settlement?

  • How can individuals, the general public, neighborhoods, cities, and regions support Restorative Urbanism?

If you do not see yourself or your work in Restorative Urbanism, we encourage you to reach out to to engage in a discussion.