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Thread: Why 'new urbanism' isn't for everyone

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003

    Why 'new urbanism' isn't for everyone

    Headline from the NY Times, February 20, 2005

    Article Highlights:
    "Although new urban communities are relatively hot sellers in some areas, new urbanism in its purest form remains essentially an idealistic model that does not appeal to the vast majority of buyers.
    This reality falls short of the predictions of some green-minded land planners that new urbanism would transform suburban sprawl into more compact, livable communities. Suburbia, where the internal-combustion engine is king and the garage its castle, is seen by many land planners as a gas-wasting, fume-choked mess where the desolation is broken only by patches of high-maintenance grass and ornamental plants.
    "I don't want a 'sugar house," a home where a neighbor can reach from her own window to theirs to borrow a cup of sugar. "

  2. #2
          abrowne's avatar
    Jan 2005
    "Although new urban communities are relatively hot sellers in some areas, new urbanism in its purest form remains essentially an idealistic model that does not appeal to the vast majority of buyers." (emphasis added)

    That's a pretty huge judgement to make. I'm not sure if the NYTimes is really justified in making such a statement. Idealistic? Yes, okay. Doesn't appeal to the majority of buyers? Says who?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Future Planner's avatar
    Jan 2005
    On the edge
    I don't take articles like this too seriously...they're wrong on several fronts. New Urbanist communities still sell at premiums to sprawl communities.

    Of course NU communities are not for everyone, especially if you have five kids. Only 25% of the American population consists of the "traditional" two parent family with two children. Only 25%!!!!

    Also, who said people had to give up their cars? No one in NU planning... The idea is to cut down on auto trips, not to eliminate autos altogether...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
    Jul 2002
    Where ever you go, there you are
    I am not a "new urbanist" in the dogmatic sense, but I do advoacte it when appropriate, and I spent several years starting in my last year of undergrad through grad school really learing what it was. I thought I new all about new urbanism and was flat against it till I really studied the history and read some higher academic criticism of it (pro and con).

    It does not break down nicely into easy to digest bits, and because of this people graft an understanding of it based on what they think they know about urbanism mixed with summations they make on the social intentions of the movement. I had an hour long debate over lunch with a very astute, intelligent planner who was convinced it was a social engineering concept dreamed up by architects. He want as far to tell me the concept was "unamerican" because it discouraged the freedom of use of space. This amazed me, to be so fimilar with the urban process but so ignorant of not just historical American design form, but also of American history itself.

    The problem is no one really has a real handel on what the public wants, not the New York Times, the realtors or The Home Builders Association (which has been very reluctant to even talk about NU until recently, but does claim to have all the demographic information to prove they are supplying the people with what we want. Want a laugh, ask them if you can see the info)

    Edit- HR, does not really know what the public wants either, but at least he is not making up statistics or making generalizations based on phony super gnostic powers of what the public ethos is. He is though currently finishing up an urban friendly custard stand for a happy client.

    Sorry for the ramble

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