Robert Steuteville is editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal and senior communications adviser for the Congress for the New Urbanism.
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.
As cities and towns figure out how to cope with the coronavirus, among the iconic images to emerge are Italians singing from windows and balconies.
Note: I am traveling today, picking my oldest daughter up from university. I hope that you and yours are safe. Public Square will continue to report on urbanism next week. All the best. How quickly we have gotten used to a world that has seemingly...
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.
The Mueller Airport redevelopment has charted a path to become one of the most livable, walkable places in Austin, Texas, with substantial affordable housing.
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...
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.
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”)...
Large mixed-use apartment complex in the midst of suburbia will be laid out like a European village with architecture appropriate to the southwestern desert.
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.
New Urbanism planning principles have been incorporated into comprehensive plans all across Texas, and this has begun to have real impacts on people and places.
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.
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.
Earlier this year CNU released a report called Building Local Strength that focused on how to revitalize severely disinvested neighborhoods in ways that minimize displacement of, and maximize opportunity for, legacy residents. This is a complex...
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.
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...
Street grids hold special power to solve problems of massive urbanization, according to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Romer.
A Tucson neighborhood with new urban/sustainable design outperforms conventional suburban tract housing environmentally—with lower temperatures—socially, and economically.
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.
Urban designer and architect Tom Low recently drew this side-by-side comparison of how a highway can gut, or work in harmony with, a city or town. The cloverleaf option, at left, is ideal for a highway interchange in the country, but creates an...
Urbanists can do lot to help improve outcomes in particular Opportunity Zones. Here’s a checklist based on lessons from real communities.
We have made cars safer, but we still are reluctant to make streets safer.
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.
Prairie Queen is a re-imagining of a suburban apartment complex in the form of a walkable neighborhood.
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.
The above images represent an analysis of two residential suburban streets, and answer the question of which one is likely to attract and interest more pedestrians. Aside from the fact that the one on the right has more sidewalks, the immediate...
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.
Shopability studies for two Florida cities illustrate the potential and hurdles for many American small-to-midsize downtowns.
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.
A "pop up" park has evolved into a major downtown Detroit square that is anchoring a neighborhood revitalization.
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.
“The most effective way to fight global warming is to plant lots of trees, a study says. A trillion of them, maybe,” according to a July 4 article by the Associated Press. Street trees may be the most effective of all, because of their multiple...
Opportunity Zone finance is helping to kickstart development around an underutilized section of the Beltline in Atlanta.
Four developments in Deanwood, DC, show the transformative potential of multiple projects that include low-income housing in a single Opportunity Zone.
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.
Downtown Westminster, Colorado, is designed as a ‘place’ that grows organically with affordable housing included.
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.
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.
Urbanism and preservation of a historic landscape and medical buildings add up to a unique redevelopment underway in Washington DC.
Carmel, Indiana, builds a high-quality public realm at the heart of its new Midtown district.
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 big increase in exurban growth is a wake-up call for regional planners, urbanists, and a public trying to rein in carbon emissions.
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...
A large new urban project on a former airport near downtown Oklahoma City, the Wheeler District is off to a strong start.
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.
CNU President and CEO Lynn Richards was selected to join a panel to judge a design competition for transforming Buffalo’s Skyway, a segment of freeway that soars over the waterfront. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced the competition to...
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.
That problem we’ve been having with inefficient, spread-out, unsustainable, automobile-dependent development patterns is solved at last.
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?
With a stronger identity and coordinated planning for Woodlawn Avenue, Beechmont may be the next hot neighborhood in Louisville.
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...
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...
CNU neighborhood design workshops this week are led by Urban Design Associates, Street Plans Collaborative, Placemakers, and Gresham Smith.
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...
An interactive map by Zimmerman/Volk Associates offers a detailed view of migration and mobility in counties nationwide.
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.
One key aspect to Missoula's downtown master plan involves making the city center a retail destination once again.
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...
The City of Burlington, Vermont, has initiated an innovative, flexible streetscape improvement program that saves money and time and is more responsive to the community.
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."
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.
Even if you are cynical about about how big money will affect low-income communities, the smart move for municipalities and urbanists is to make the most of this big-impact program.
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.
State Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, designed as part of the City Beautiful movement in the early 20th Century, was refurbished a few years back through a program called City Beautiful 2.0. The building at the end of the street is the...
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.
How urbanism could help to solve problems like the Paradise disaster.
With a new urban vision and context-based street design, Olean has taken a bold step to revive its economy and social life.
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.
In Arlington, Virginia, a plan and code for Crystal City entitled the new development capacity that lured Amazon—and also calls for transformation to walkable urban.
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.
A Pink Zone, an idea of the Project for Lean Urbanism, is an area of lightened red tape for small-scale projects. Pink Zones are designed to allow individuals with little capital to take action.
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.
With transit on the way, Amherst, New York, reimagines its future.
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.
CNU recently released the Users' Guide to Zoning Reform, which offers a new path to improving land-use codes.
"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.
You can't make a decent city solely with the kinds of buildings designed by today's big-name architects.
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.
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...
As more retail moves into cities, the suburban boxes fronted by parking lots are giving way to more walkable designs.
Here's a clever Ian Lockwood cartoon that relates to an article that I wrote this week on "Why street grids have more capacity." Traditional street networks also have different capacity. Lockwood, an engineer with Toole Design Group, shows the...
In Curridabat, Costa Rica, new urbanist interventions are combined with park improvements, wetlands, and projects to improve biodiversity.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, 12-acre linear park incorporates stormwater systems into community spaces that allow for new development.
The project inverts the usual relationship between car and human in land development.
Tactical Urbanism transformed one of the most automobile-oriened thouroughfares in Miami—and street life surged.
The three-block Chicago street design creates a plaza-like feel by raising the street and eliminating raised curbs.
Historic street grids can handle greater traffic of all kinds—so why aren’t we building more of them?
A recent UConn relocation from a leafy suburban campus to downtown Hartford, Connecticut, follows wider urban trends.
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...
Crosstown Concourse reused a massive blight in the midst of disinvested Memphis neighborhoods.
Despite long-held beliefs of transportation officials, traffic congestion does not slow down economies, productivity, or job growth; and it may spur positive adaptation.
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...
The survival of live classical music depends on many things, not the least of which is the design and urban planning around concert halls.
CNU resurrects the Athena Medal in Savannah to entice the Danish sage of human-scale cities. Next year: New Bourbonism.
University builds a transformative development in an area that hasn't seen much investment in recent decades.
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.
An entertaining book outlines how ordinary citizens can rebuild cities without the help or hindrance of big developers, big finance, and government bureaucrats.
Donald Shoup's new volume shows how better approaches to parking enable affordable housing, the missing middle, economic development, and better living.
Note: Andres Duany will present core principles of the New Urbanism on May 16 at CNU 26.Savannah. This image from Andres Duany's standard lecture that he gave from the late 1980s to early 2000s illustrates how society is sliced in segments through...
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...
The Side Hustle House has been designed to supplement primary income and evolve as household needs change.
A new urban tool is designed help cities, planners, and developers with scenario planning.
Eastside Savannah, a less affluent area adjacent to Savannah's historic core, was the subject of a CNU Legacy Project.
Bicycling infrastructure is a suburban retrofit strategy in Northwest Arkansas.
CNU Legacy Project shows how Southside Savannah can leverage a growing university campus to improve quality of life.
We need a strategy for taming deadly thoroughfares that go through cities and suburbs.
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....
Suburban Remix, a new book, reports on commercial development of mixed-use, walkable centers as a powerful force in the American landscape.
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.
A four-story-high mural of Vincent Scully, a Yale professor of architectural history over five decades, was unveiled at Seaside, Florida, in late February. The mural, commissioned by Seaside developer Robert Davis and DC-based architect Dhiru...
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.
A dilapidated former municipal building, embodying decades of history in the historic Mexican city of San Cristobal, has been converted into a civic museum complete with an elegant and dignified new plaza. “Making the City Hall a museum was an...
Plan Westside in Atlanta looks at revitalization of a city sector that has declined economically and socially from its civil rights heyday.
The asphalt-industrial complex—otherwise known as Big Asphalt—took control of our cities and towns. Here's how we can take it back.
A pedestrian fatality spurred a transformation of a thoroughfare in Raleigh, linking a college campus to neighborhoods.
New deco mixed-use building in Pasadena broke a community log jam with distinctive and lovable design that responds to its surroundings.
Roundabouts and reductions in lane widths helped to restore civic life along a US highway in a western New York village.
These photos are taken from the same spot in Buffalo, New York (see highlighted church steeple)—in the early 20th Century and recently. The photo at left captures the city in the early stage of demolishing a beautiful street to make way for a...
Parsons Alley activates abandoned properties, creates a popular and lively new public place, and attracts businesses that appeal to young professionals.
South Miami, Florida, has completely transformed since 2000—largely following the context-sensitive transformation of its main street.
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 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...
In Boston, a Transportation Department guide lays out a vision for streets as shared public spaces.
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.
Lancaster, California, has lit the local economy and secured a social heart with one transformative street project.
A key goal of the Seven50 plan is to ensure that development along the coastal areas is resilient and sustainable.
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.
A horizontal weave brings disparate threads together and creates a fabric—a metaphor for resilience.
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.
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...
The New Urbanism is a design movement toward complete, compact, connected communities—but it is also a generator of ideas that transform the landscape. Communities are shaped by the movement and flow of ideas, and the New Urbanism has been a...
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?
Market and local government support for new urbanist values is rising and that is changing the planning mindset in many regions.
Urbanists can contribute mightily to solving the climate problem—got any plans for the next few decades?
Restoring the human-scale to the modern built environment is a long-term task, key to human health and welfare, that has barely begun.
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.
Park Van Ness has remarkable details—and opens up a view from a major thoroughfare to a major urban park.
Harvey and Irma point out the need to think deeply about resilience to major storms in the era of climate change.
Plan NoBe in the North Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach sets the stage for higher construction standards to withstand sea-level rise—while strengthening defenses like sea walls, mangrove islands, and barrier beaches.
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.
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.
How urbanism can bring hope and change to a working-class African American neighborhood.
Walkable mixed-use neighborhoods help families build wealth—enough to help fund big-ticket items like college and retirement.
Urban freeways never deliver the congestion relief that transportation planners promise, according to Norm Marshall of Smart Mobility. Marshall created this map that shows examples from around the country where urban freeways have disappointed...
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...
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...
The noose around Rochester's downtown has been partly removed, breathing oxygen into the repopulation of the city center.
The principles of neighborhood structure and buildings that relate positively to public space resonate with traditional Zulu culture and village geography.
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...
The transformation of a New Orleans retail box into a music hall with magnetic street presence is a remarkable urban achievement.
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...
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.
Restoring an original square in Savannah revives a neighborhood.
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.
While vehicles miles traveled (VMT) have risen in 2015 in the last three years after nine years of historic lows, the nation is still in a 20-year downward trend relative to economic growth, according to Chris McCahill of the State Smart...
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.
New urban codes have allowed cities and towns to code for complete neighborhoods and public spaces as shared-use places.
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...
The market is much more receptive to the benefits of mixed-use today, but it is still easier to talk about main street retail than to effectively build it.
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...
A CNU "Legacy Project" explores how to initiate suburban retrofit in the diverse Seattle suburb of Tukwila.
See how pre-Revolutionary War structures compare to Walmart.
Creating holistic neighborhoods from scratch was one of the first and still effective strategies of the New Urbanism.
Increasingly in demand today, missing middle housing forms the backbone of the quintessential American neighborhood.
"The prime ingredient of urbanism is really public space and the public realm. So the urban plan comes first and the building second."
Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas, is a pioneering example of New Urbanism in a sprawling, Sunbelt city.
The cute Katrina Cottage has proven the versatility and usefulness of cottages that are designed to fit into complete neighborhoods.
Charles Marohn of Strong Towns and Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 have been sounding the alarm across America about the financial unsustainability of fragmented development patterns and conventional suburban infrastructure.
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.
Pedestrian sheds are a foundational idea of designing cohesive communities, but the challenge is the gap between what planners know and developers are building.
The trend toward complete communities shapes the debate on sustainability and environmentalism, and vice-versa.
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.
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.
Connecting housing by using a neighborhood pattern improves the lives of moderate-income residents.
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.
The good news: The highway will be improved. The bad news: The boulevard idea is officially dead.
A "new analytic framework" by the Urban Land Institute ignores walkability and sets back our understanding of cities and suburbs.
Strong demand for historic downtowns and neighborhoods brings a surge of population at a level not seen in 70 years.
City planning department, with funds from the Knight Foundation, hires teams to explore reducing red tape in development projects.
Proposed code changes are designed to reduce teardowns and encourage multiple small units in existing neighborhoods.
From California to the New York Islands—more business activity, affordability, and diversity can be found in neighborhoods with a range of old and new buildings.
Affordable housing is built in the suburbs in automobile-dependent places, forcing low-income and working-class residents to spend too much on transportation.
Many suburbs would like to revitalize infrastructure and assets, but they don’t know what problems to tackle first. Not knowing can lead to paralysis.
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.
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.
Little in this world is more powerful and satisfying to humans than a well-designed human habitat juxtaposed against nature.
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.
Big box retailer evolves; chases customers to walkable urban locations.
“Thanks to skilled designers, a clear, implementable code, and a truly capable client, this plan is getting built, and well.”
It's easy to divide the country into those who have sidewalks, and vote one way, and those who do not, and vote another way. Yet sidewalks, and all they symbolize, are gaining political recognition.
Some suburbs are building an entire urban downtown from scratch to provide a unique identity and appeal.
Urban design and architecture on a leftover parcel bring a campus and a Los Angeles neighborhood closer together.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Saving historic facades and modernizing buildings were key to revitalizing an important downtown square.
The Portland Streetcar is one of the most successful and cost-effective economic development drivers anywhere in America in the new millennium.
In Lancaster, California, a simple change in street design was a catalyst for economic and social activity.
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.
Ponce City Market in Atlanta unites four neighborhoods and brings high-tech businesses back to the city.
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.
Outside Buena Vista, Colorado, on the site of a former garbage dump, 40 acres of riverfront land sat vacant for years. It took two nature-loving developers—risktakers with a background as competitive kayakers—to see what it could become.
“The hospital can be a catalyst to create healthy communities in which walking, social engagement, and positive economic transformation are facilitated.”
The "community listening chart" from Nashville, Tennessee, outlines the discussion that is taking place around the I-40 corridor through the city. The discussion is part of US Department of Transportation's Every Place Counts workshop this week—one...
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...
Walkability leads to higher social equity, even in cities that have higher housing costs, according to research in the new report Foot Traffic Ahead. The graph above shows that cities with more office, retail, and multifamily development in walkable...
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.
Detroit wrote the history of the motor vehicle age in America, and Detroit is one of the most automobile-oriented cities in America. Yet less than 50 percent of the adults in Detroit own a car. That fact says a lot about how Detroit has failed, and...
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.
Daniel Hertz at City Observatory introduced what he called the “Sprawl Tax” last week—defined as the cost associated with excess commuting distance for the top 50 metro areas. This distance adds real costs for gas, depreciation, and wear and tear on...
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–...
For those who are concerned that too many big developers dominate urban revitalization, the Naked Philly blog is an antidote.
"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...
An infographic from City Observatory makes the case for why concentrated poverty impacts more people in US cities.
A comprehensive implementation guide was written to retool the machinery behind Florida's deadly streets.
The inspiration for this iconic drawing was a walk from the beach over the dunes and into the scrub woodlands in the early days of Seaside, Florida. Douglas Duany, landscape architect, explained the natural transect to architect Andres Duany, who...
As growing legions of Americans look for urban places, many will be drawn to more affordable mid-sized cities like Rochester, NY.
CNU recently completed four Legacy Charrettes in advance of CNU 24 in Detroit. On Monday through Thursday we published articles on the fascinating plans by top new urbanists. Two of the charrettes focused on city neighborhoods and other two focused...
CNU Legacy Charrette team boosts confidence in a neighborhood with a languishing commercial corridor.
The Legacy Charrette plan includes both incremental steps to kick-start economic and cultural activity and long-term visions.
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?
I've been a dedicated user of Apple products for 20 years—but Tim Cook's assertion that Apple's new headquarters will be the "greenest building on the planet" is absurd. To get a sense of scale of Apple's new Cupertino campus, Josh Arcurio...
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...
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...
The redevelopment of a suburban commercial strip area across from UConn has made Mansfield, Connecticut, a better place.
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.
As revitalization of cities moves forward, urbanists are partway through a multiphase process that is changing America.
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...
CNU is reviving a tradition of intimate discussions with top experts next month in Miami with the Build a Better Burb Sprawl Retrofit Council.
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.
A beloved amusement park closed in Denver, CO—luckily, Highlands Garden Village was built in its place.
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
For one warm fall Sunday afternoon, “the most diverse musical lineup of any festival in Georgia” transformed a neighborhood in Decatur, an inner-ring suburb of Atlanta.
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....
A small developer and builders group associated with CNU is gathering momentum and has the potential to fill a gap in the industry. Resources are available for big urban developers and sprawl builders, but few educational materials and support...
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 ...