Urban Issues

Arlington and Shenzhen: A Tale of Two Cities

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Seven thousand miles separate Arlington, Virginia and Shenzhen, China. Two continents apart, these two cities could not be more different. Yet they are similar, geopolitically and globally. The characteristics of today’s globalization have united and connected cities like Arlington and Shenzhen.  read more »

Why Downtowns Fail and How They Can Come Back

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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 »

Special Report: Census 2011: Urban Dispersion in Canada

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Canada now has fastest-growing population in the G-8 (Note 1), according to the results of the 2011 census, released last week. Canada's growth rate from 2006 to 2011 exceeded that of the United States by nearly one-third and is nearly one half greater than just a decade ago. The population rose from 31.6 million in 2006 to 33.5 million in 2011.  read more »

Sex, Singles And The Presidency

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By all accounts both President Barack Obama and his likely challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are ideal family men, devoted to their spouses and their children. But support for the two men could not be more different in terms of the electorate’s marriage and family status.  read more »

Time to Rethink This Experiment? Delusion Down Under

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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 »

How Lower Income Citizens Commute

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One of the most frequently recurring justifications for densification policies (smart growth, growth management, livability, etc.) lies with the assumption that the automobile-based mobility system (Note 1) disadvantages lower income citizens. Much of the solution, according to advocates of densification is to discourage driving and orient both urbanization and the urban transportation system toward transit as well as walking and cycling.  read more »

New Urbanism vs. Dispersionism

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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 »

Indianapolis: From Naptown to Super City

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I have long touted the sports strategy that Indianapolis used to revitalize its downtown as a model for cities to follow in terms of strategy led economic and community development. I really think it sets the benchmark in terms of how to do it, and it has been very successful.

Indy is hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday, something that is locally seen as a sort of crowning achievement of the 40 year sports journey. As part of that, the Indianapolis Star and public TV station WFYI produced an hour long documentary on the journey called “Naptown to Super City.” I think it’s a must watch for anyone who is trying to figure out to revitalize their own downtown.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Guangzhou-Foshan

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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

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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 »