Don’t Bet Against The (Single-Family) House


Nothing more characterizes the current conventional wisdom than the demise of the single-family house. From pundits like Richard Florida to Wall Street investors, the thinking is that the future of America will be characterized increasingly by renters huddling together in small apartments, living the lifestyle of the hip and cool — just like they do in New York, San Francisco and other enlightened places.  read more »

Housing Affordability: St. Louis’ Competitive Advantage


Things are looking better in St. Louis. For decades, St. Louis has been one of the slowest-growing metropolitan areas of the United States. Its historical core city has lost more than 60 percent of its population since 1950, a greater loss than any other major core municipality in the modern era.  Nonetheless, the metropolitan area, including the city, added nearly 50 percent to its population from 1950. The fate of St. Louis has been similar to that of Rust Belt metropolitan areas in the Midwest and East, as the nation has moved steadily West and South since World War II (Note).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Moscow's Auto-Oriented Expansion


Moscow is bursting at the seams. The core city covers more than 420 square miles (1,090 kilometers), and has a population of approximately 11.5 million people. With 27,300 residents per square mile (10,500 per square kilometer), Moscow is one percent more dense than the city of New York, though Moscow covers 30 percent more land. The 23 ward area of Tokyo (see Note) is at least a third more dense, though Moscow's land area is at least half again as large as Tokyo.  read more »

Unintended Consequences of the Neo-Traditional City Planning Model


Since the early 20th century, the almost universal adoption of the automobile by US residents has had a profound impact on how we plan and design communities. The widespread use of the auto not only spurred development outside of traditional urban centers, it minimized the need to blend multiple land uses into compact areas.  read more »

Why Downtowns Fail and How They Can Come Back


To many Florida developers in the last decade, downtown condo towers seemed to make a lot of sense. They were sold as the logical locale for active seniors and millennials, great affordable starter homes, and best of all, investments.  Reinvigorating downtowns became fashionable currency in many of Florida’s second and third tier cities.   read more »

Time to Rethink This Experiment? Delusion Down Under


The famous physicist, Albert Einstein, was noted for his powers of observation and rigorous observance of the scientific method. It was insanity, he once wrote, to repeat the same experiment over and over again, and to expect a different outcome. With that in mind, I wonder what Einstein would make of the last decade and a bit of experimentation in Queensland’s urban planning and development assessment?   read more »

New Urbanism vs. Dispersionism


The Florida real estate developer, unburdened of state regulatory agencies, may now focus his efforts on pleasing the investment community and the local market.  I recently played the role of real estate developer interviewing two consultant teams vying to help me create a new fictional community.  Fortified with readings in both the New Urbanist camp and the Dispersionist camp, each team of students pitched their method of community building to me.   read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Guangzhou-Foshan


The Pearl River Delta of China is home to the largest extent of continuous urbanization in the world. The Pearl River Delta has 55 million people in the jurisdictions of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhuhai and Macau. Moreover, the urban population is confined to barely 10 percent of the land area. These urban areas are the largest export engine of China and reflect the successful legacy of Deng Xiaoping's reforms which had their start with the special economic zone in Shenzhen and spread to the rest of the Delta and then much of the nation.

Adjacent Metropolitan Areas: However, the Pearl River Delta today is not a metropolitan area, as is often asserted. Instead it is rather a collection of adjacent metropolitan areas or labor markets (Figure 1). Metropolitan areas are not created by a large number of people living close to one another. Metropolitan areas are labor markets, crudely delineating the geography of the jobs-housing balance.  read more »

How Libraries and Bookstores Became the New Community Centers


Bookstores and libraries have long played a central role in fostering a deeper appreciation of knowledge, and in lifelong learning. Increasingly, these places are also filling another critical need in our communities, by providing a haven for those seeking a communal connection in an ever-more isolated world.

Ray Oldenburg, author of The Great Good Place, coined the term “third place” to describe any environment outside of the home and the workplace (first and second places, respectively) where people gather for deeper interpersonal connection. Third places include, for example, places of worship, community centers, and even diners or pubs frequented by the “locals.”  read more »

Florida’s Quick Rebound


Adding nearly 119,000 people in 2011, Florida has capped a decade of steady population increase  to see the state grow 19% since 2000.  Despite 2009, an historic year where more people left than arrived, the overall net growth of Florida has yielded two additional congressional seats, moving the state well on its way towards the becoming third most populous state in the nation.  This ascendancy brings new responsibility to the shoulders of the state’s leaders, and the direction this st  read more »