Urban Issues

How Tough Times May Lead to Better Architecture

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By Richard Reep

While Ben Bernanke fantasizes about the Recovery, most people in the building industry – especially in overbuilt Florida – will correct this gross error immediately and emphatically. The recession may be over for the Fed Chairman, but unemployment in the design and construction professions is probably in the 25-30% range, matching that of the Great Depression.

Even so, tiny glimmers of light shine in what many design professionals call the “microeconomy” of building – small commercial renovations, house additions, tenant improvements, and other projects normally too small to even be counted.  read more »

Finding the Good in This Bad Time

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This year's best places rankings held few great surprises. In a nation that shed nearly 6.7 million jobs since 2007, the winners were places that maintained or had limited employment declines. These places typically had high levels of government spending (including major military installation or large blocs of federal jobs) or major educational institutions. Nor was the continued importance of the energy economy surprising in a nation where a gallon of gas is still about $3 a gallon.  read more »

The Worst Cities For Jobs

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In this least good year in decades, someone has to sit at the bottom. For the most part, the denizens are made up of "usual suspects" from the long-devastated rust belt region around the Great Lakes. But as in last year's survey, there's also a fair-sized contingent of former hot spots that now seem to resemble something closer to black holes.
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Las Vegas: The World’s Convening City?

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Conventional wisdom, and in many cases wishful thinking, among many urbanists holds that America’s sunbelt cities are done. Yet in reality, as they rise from the current deep recession, their re-ascendance will shock some, but will testify to the remarkable resiliency of this emerging urban form.

Origins: Bright Light City  read more »

The New Look of the American Suburb

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If you want an easy demonstration of the unsustainability of the classic American suburb, just take a drive around the inner ring suburbs of almost any city, starting with the ones that have a classic branching, winding streets, not traditional grids or those that grew up along transit lines. It is easy to find untold miles of decay, of “dead malls”, “grayboxes”, and subdivisions that have seen better days. If most of today’s new suburbs think they’ll fare any better, they are going to be in for a rude shock in 30 years or so.  read more »

The Muddled CNT Housing and Transportation Index

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The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) has produced a housing and transportation index (the "H&T Index"), something that has been advocated by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The concept is certainly worth support. Affordable housing and mobility are crucial to the well-being of everyone, which translates into a better quality of life, more jobs and economic growth.  read more »

Leading a Los Angeles Renaissance

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Surprisingly, despite the real challenges Los Angeles faces today, the city is out in front of many of its urban competitors in transforming its capacity to provide a safe place to raise and properly educate children, exactly the criteria Millennials use in deciding where to settle down and start a family. It is the kind of challenge that cities around the country must meet if they wish to thrive in the coming decade.  read more »

The Best Cities For Jobs

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This year's "best places for jobs" list is easily the most depressing since we began compiling our annual rankings almost a decade ago. In the past--even in bad years--there were always stalwart areas creating lots of new jobs. In 2007's survey 283 out of 393 metros areas showed job growth, and those at the top were often growing employment by at least 5% to 6%. Last year the number dropped to 63. This year's survey, measuring growth from January 2009 to January 2010, found only 13 metros with any growth.  read more »

The Millennial Metropolis

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Back in the 1950s and 60s when Baby Boomers were young, places like Los Angeles led the nation’s explosive growth in suburban living that has defined the American Dream ever since. As Kevin Roderick observed, the San Fernando Valley became, by extension, “America’s suburb” – a model which would be repeated in virtually every community across the country.  read more »