Book Review: Designed For The Future by Jared Green


By the fifth word of Designed for the Future, Jared Green had almost lost me. By the end, he hadn’t quite gained me. This slim, visually interesting handbook presents “80 practical ideas for a sustainable world” from the noted author of The Dirt, a weekly blog sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Green’s earnest mission is to find hope for the future, and with this book, he edits a collection of essays that points to some projects that do.  read more »

Historic Districts: The Past or The Future?

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Preservation seems like an easy idea to support. Who would be against it? History, character, and a sense of place are what great communities are all about. They generate tourism and makes us all culturally richer. Landowners in historic districts even enjoy higher land values than nearby landowners in newer, usually blander developments. What’s not to like?

Apparently, a lot. Cities unilaterally impose ordinances from time to time, regulating building size, shape and use, and rarely are there complaints, although the changes affect everyone in the city.  read more »

Special Report: Maximizing Opportunity Urbanism with Robin Hood Planning


This is the first section of a new report authored by Tory Gattis for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism titled Maximizing Opportunity Urbanism with Robin Hood Planning. Download the full report (pdf) here.

Across America and the developed world, we face a well-reported crisis of income stagnation, rising inequality, a declining middle class, and a general lack of broad prosperity. Yet contemporary urban planning seems disconnected from this crisis, focusing instead on pedestrian aesthetics, environmentalism, and appealing to the supposed preferences of the wealthy and the “creative class.”  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Jing-Jin-Ji (Dispersing Beijing)


China's cities continue to add population at a rapid rate, despite a significant slowdown in population growth. Although overall population is expected to peak around 2030, the urban population will continue growing until after 2050. China’s cities will be adding more than 250 million new residents in the next quarter century, according to United Nations projections. China's cities will add nearly as many people as live in Indonesia, the world's fourth largest country, more than live in Brazil and 10 times as many as live in Australia.  read more »

Blaming Foreigners for Unaffordable Housing


In a number of Western world cities, there is rising concern about foreign housing purchases which may be driving up prices for local residents. Much of the attention is aimed at mainland Chinese buyers in metropolitan areas where housing is already pricier than elsewhere. The concern about housing affordability is legitimate. However, blaming foreigners misses the point, which is that the rising prices are to a large degree the result of urban containment policies implemented by governments.  read more »

Special Report: The Laissez Faire New Orleans Rebuilding Strategy Was Exactly That


Urban risk may be understood as a function of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability.1 In metro New Orleans, Katrina-like storm surges constitute the premier hazard (threat); the exposure variable entails human occupancy of hazard-prone spaces; and vulnerability implies the ability to respond resiliently and adaptively—which itself is a function of education, income, age, social capital, and other factors—after having been exposed to the hazard.  read more »

Countering Progressives' Assault on Suburbia


The next culture war will not be about issues like gay marriage or abortion, but about something more fundamental: how Americans choose to live. In the crosshairs now will not be just recalcitrant Christians or crazed billionaire racists, but the vast majority of Americans who either live in suburban-style housing or aspire to do so in the future. Roughly four in five home buyers prefer a single-family home, but much of the political class increasingly wants them to live differently.  read more »

How To Justify Spending $8M On Something Nobody Wants


The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Council is gambling $8.7 million on a project to alleviate pedestrian congestion that might exist in 5 to 10 years if we’re somehow able to build two additional light rail lines and they are operating at full capacity for 10 days a year.

That’s like buying flood insurance on the house you have yet to buy.  read more »

Some Kindly Advice From an Old White Guy


Last month I bought an old fixer-upper for $15,000 in Cincinnati. It was originally offered at $17,000, but I got the sellers down a bit. The place is a complete disaster. All the copper pipes and wires have been stripped out of the building. It hasn’t seen paint for decades. Every window and door needs to be replaced. The roof is shot. There’s no insulation of any kind. The yard is a mess. And there are plenty of similar houses in the neighborhood. So why exactly did I buy it? I’ll get to that in a minute.  read more »

Australia’s Recipe for Urban Decay


Across federal, state, and local levels, Australian urban planning authorities have emphasized the need for policies that seek to limit urban fringe development and create densely-populated urban centers. This process is called ‘urban consolidation’ and has been a goal of Australian authorities for more than three decades. More specifically, urban consolidation is defined by efforts to concentrate housing, jobs, and amenities around “activity centers” such as a traditional downtown, satellite urban centers, and elongated strategic corridors.  read more »