Planning

Australia: Housing Soars Down Under

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Finally, an important turning point has been reached for Australians in the housing market: on 22 April 2010 the Council of Australian Governments endorsed a new housing supply and affordability agenda.

The shift in attitude is long overdue. The population of Australia has passed the 22 million mark and is growing at 2.1 per cent per annum. Until now, planning policies based on higher densities have been seen as the solution for this population increase. Such policies are variously euphemistically termed “smart growth”, “urban consolidation” or, more recently, “urban renewal”.

The deleterious results of high-density policies on both people and the environment are becoming more and more apparent. Australian cities, especially Sydney, are starting to exhibit the downside effects of what might be the most aggressive high-density policies in the world.  read more »

The New E.D. -- Environmental Density

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Developers often have an E.D. problem and are not even aware of it. No, not the type of E.D. temporarily cured with Viagra. Environmental Density — E.D. — is the measurement of the impact of man made construction on a site. In simple terms, E.D. is the average per acre volume of impervious surface due to land development construction. It has two very important impacts, one environmental, and one financial. One acre of land is 43,560 square feet. The lower the E.D. — square foot of impervious surface area divided by 43,560 — the lower the surface area of manmade structures that divert rain run-off, and the less environmental damage.  read more »

Growing America: Demographics and Destiny

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Over the next four decades, American governments will oversee a much larger and far more diverse population. As we gain upward of 100 million people, America will inevitably become a more complex, crowded and competitive place, but it will continue to remain highly dependent on its people's innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.  read more »

How Tough Times May Lead to Better Architecture

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By Richard Reep

While Ben Bernanke fantasizes about the Recovery, most people in the building industry – especially in overbuilt Florida – will correct this gross error immediately and emphatically. The recession may be over for the Fed Chairman, but unemployment in the design and construction professions is probably in the 25-30% range, matching that of the Great Depression.

Even so, tiny glimmers of light shine in what many design professionals call the “microeconomy” of building – small commercial renovations, house additions, tenant improvements, and other projects normally too small to even be counted.  read more »

The Best Cities For Jobs

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This year's "best places for jobs" list is easily the most depressing since we began compiling our annual rankings almost a decade ago. In the past--even in bad years--there were always stalwart areas creating lots of new jobs. In 2007's survey 283 out of 393 metros areas showed job growth, and those at the top were often growing employment by at least 5% to 6%. Last year the number dropped to 63. This year's survey, measuring growth from January 2009 to January 2010, found only 13 metros with any growth.  read more »

The Millennial Metropolis

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Back in the 1950s and 60s when Baby Boomers were young, places like Los Angeles led the nation’s explosive growth in suburban living that has defined the American Dream ever since. As Kevin Roderick observed, the San Fernando Valley became, by extension, “America’s suburb” – a model which would be repeated in virtually every community across the country.  read more »

New Urbanism, Smart Growth, & Andres Duany: A Critique From Suburbia

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In 1998 Hollywood introduced us to a new star when it released The Truman Show, shot on location at Seaside in Florida. No I’m not talking about Jim Carrey, Laura Linney or Ed Harris. I'm talking about none other than Andres Duany.

A few months ago, I stayed at the magnificent WaterColor Inn, which is in the neighborhood adjacent to Seaside.  read more »

Queensland, We’ve Got a Problem

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Queensland Premier Anna Bligh MP has a problem. Reacting to sensationalized media reports of runaway population growth as well as an infrastructure lag revealing itself in everything from mounting congestion to a lack of hospital beds, Queensland residents are starting to say ‘enough.’ The prospects of continuing population growth at around 2.5% or 100,000 people per annum, despite the economic benefits this brings, are increasingly unpopular, something that gets the attention of most politicians.  read more »

EPA Joins the Green Building Party

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By Richard Reep

Well into the last decade, green design and smart growth operated as two separate and distinct reform movements. Both were widely celebrated in media, academic and planning circles, seeing themselves as noble causes albeit underdogs in the struggle against the mighty capitalistic enterprise of real estate development. Starting in 2009, the frozen credit market has kept private development moribund, and these two movements are somewhat moot as development takes a cease-fire.  read more »

Don't Mess With Texas

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One of the most ironic aspects of our putative "Age of Obama" is how little impact it has had on the nation's urban geography. Although the administration remains dominated by boosters from traditional blue state cities--particularly the president's political base of Chicago--the nation's metropolitan growth continues to shift mostly toward a handful of Sunbelt red state metropolitan areas.  read more »