When Louis Sullivan, purveyor of modern American high-rise architecture, said more than 100 years ago that ‘Form Follows Function’, he perhaps didn’t realize the extent to which building form would not be determined only by building type and the laws of physics, but by zoning laws, building safety codes, real estate developer balance sheets and even vocal neighborhood groups. read more »
In the mid-1950s, the McGuire Sisters’ version of Johnny Mercer’s song about what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object made it to number five on the record charts. Their prediction, that “Something’s Gotta Give,” provides an apt description of the outcome of today’s battle between the parents of Millennials who want more say in their children’s education and the teacher unions and school district administrators who refuse to give up a smidgeon of control over the public schools they run. read more »
This year’s presidential election is fast becoming an ode to diminished expectations. Neither candidate is advancing a reasonable refutation of the conventional wisdom that America is in the grips of a “new normal” — an era of low growth, persistently high unemployment and less upward mobility, particularly for the working class. read more »
Possibly the most earnest folks in the real estate development industry assembled for the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Congress of the New Urbanism in West Palm Beach, Florida this month. Among the excellent accomplishments of CNU20 attendees: a credible car/pedestrian strategy, some fine looking new communities, and perhaps best of all, a body of hard-won knowledge about town-making for citizen education. read more »
Part III of the Recovery Blueprint for homebuilding. Defining good zoning and good planning, and a look at how social engineering plays in.
What exactly is ‘planning’?
It can be government creation of an Interstate Highway, or a city council vote on a new park. For the purposes of this blueprint, planning refers to the design of a new land development or a design for redevelopment. In both cases, the land plan is the developer's business plan. The design will either be positive or negative for the sustainability — long-term health — of the city. read more »
The conventional wisdom is that the world’s largest cities are going to be the primary drivers of economic growth and innovation. Even slums, according to a fawning article in National Geographic, represent “examples of urban vitality, not blight.” In America, it is commonly maintained by pundits that “megaregions” anchored by dense urban cores will dominate the future.
Such conceits are, not surprisingly, popular among big city developers and the media in places like New York, which command the national debate by blaring the biggest horn. However, a less fevered analysis of recent trends suggests a very different reality: When it comes to growth, economic and demographic, opportunity increasingly is to be found in smaller, and often remote, places. read more »
Population change has short run and long run effects. Short run effects include changes in fertility rates that can result from economic fluctuations. For example, during a recession, couples may delay having children until economic conditions improve. Once job growth has begun and expectations rise, birthrates can increase The correlation is not perfect and other demographic factors could come into play. read more »
Throughout the brutal recession, one metropolitan area floated serenely above the carnage: Washington, D.C. Buoyed by government spending, the local economy expanded 17% from 2007 to 2012. But for the first time in four years, the capital region has fallen out of the top 15 big cities in our annual survey of the best places for jobs, dropping to 16th place from fifth last year. read more »
The Recovery Blueprint is a multipart series of articles that offers suggestions on how to recover from the homebuilding recession.
Since the recession began, there haven't been any significant changes in how regulations could be improved to energize the housing market and foster innovation. Three areas where big regulation changes are needed? Environmental subsidies, density requirements, and zoning laws. read more »
The urban population of the United States is now 249 million, according to the 2010 Census, 81 percent of the total. This is impressive, and not all surprising for a large developed economy. Yet the urban population --- meaning cities, suburbs and exurbs --- is not everything. And in many ways for everything from food, resources and recreation, the urban areas still depend on the nearly sixty million who live in rural America read more »