Suburbs

The Evolving Urban Form: Los Angeles

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Los Angeles has grown more than any major metropolitan region in the high income world except for Tokyo since the beginning of the twentieth century, and also since 1950.  In 1900, the city (municipality, see Note) of Los Angeles had little over 100,000 people and ranked 36th in population in the nation behind Allegheny, Pennsylvania (which has since merged with Pittsburgh) and St. Joseph Missouri (which has since lost more than one quarter of its population).  read more »

Banana-nomics

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The price of bananas is again making headlines as it pushes up inflation and threatens rising interest rates. But what’s the price of the humble ‘nana got to do with property markets? Plenty.

Banana prices have risen almost 500% since Cyclone Yasi wiped out much of north Queensland’s banana crop earlier this year. The immutable laws of supply and demand dictate that when supply falls relative to demand, prices will rise.  read more »

Sustaining the Suburbs

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The proposition is simple, if not overwhelming.  If we want sustainable cities – however you define “sustainable” – we had better put some effort into the quality of suburban life.  We need to get over denigrating suburbs and sprawl.  That simply ducks the issue of where and how most people spend most of their time.  We need to moderate a preoccupation with promoting CBD and big centre lifestyles.  Those are places that people want visit, but not necessarily where they want to live.  read more »

How Los Angeles Lost Its Mojo

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Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined to turn the sprawling capitalist dynamo into a faux New York. But they are more likely to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional, Athens by the Pacific.

The greatness of Los Angeles stemmed from its willingness to be different. Unlike Chicago or Denver or New York, the Los Angeles metro area was designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways. The result was a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods.  read more »

Permeable Pavement: Looking Below The Surface

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How can we prevent situations where environmental 'solutions’ end up in failure? The tale of problems encountered with the misuse of pervious pavers (also known as porous or permeable pavers), used as an eco- friendly option, provides some answers.  read more »

Why America’s Young And Restless Will Abandon Cities For Suburbs

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For well over a decade urban boosters have heralded the shift among young Americans from suburban living and toward dense cities. As one Wall Street Journal report suggests, young people will abandon their parents’ McMansions for urban settings, bringing about the high-density city revival so fervently prayed for by urban developers, architects and planners.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Chicago

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Looks can be deceiving. No downtown area in the western world outside Manhattan is more visually impressive than Chicago. Both the historic Loop and the newer development north of the Chicago River, especially along North Michigan Avenue have some of the most iconic structures outside of emerging Asia. Yet these vertical monuments mask a less celebrated reality: that of dispersing, low density urban area.  read more »

Are Millennials the Solution to the Nation’s Housing Crisis?

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During his Twitter-fed Town Hall, President Obama admitted that the housing market has proven one of the “most stubborn” pieces of the economic recovery puzzle to try and fix.  The President --- as well the Congress and the building industry --- should  consider a new path to a solution for housing by tapping the potential of the very generation whose votes brought Barack Obama into the White House in the first place.     read more »

The Evolving Urban Area: Seattle

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Lunching at Seattle's Space Needle, the casual observer might imagine that one of the nation's most dense urban areas is spread out below. To the immediate south of the Space Needle is one of the nation's premier downtown areas. In 2000 downtown Seattle had the seventh largest employment base in the country and was one of the most dense. Its impressive, closely packed buildings witness a storied past.  read more »

Can Florida Escape the Horse Latitudes?

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When it comes to the winds of change, Florida remains in the horse latitudes.  This zone of the Atlantic around 30 degrees latitude was so named by ship captains because their ships, becalmed in the water, seemed to move faster when they lightened their load by throwing off a few horses.  Florida’s governor Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 jobs in this state, appears to have adopted the same tactic by throwing overboard the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that regulated real estate development.  Other bureaucracies may be next in line  read more »