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Thread: What is the difference between "Smart Growth" and "New Urbanism"?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    What is the difference between "Smart Growth" and "New Urbanism"?

    Or are they the same thing?

    I've been confused by this as they seem to have the same goals, yet I haven't seen anything that makes the connection between them. In a way, it seems that New Urbanism is concerned more with urban design and the actual neighborhoods, while Smart Growth seems to be more about sprawl-management and regional planning. I really have no idea if this is correct, though. Could anyone clear this up for me?
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    My understanding of the two leads to these remarks:

    Smart Growth is based on an economic/ecological perspective of maximizing investment in existing services (hard and soft) and minimizing the impact on the environment. Smartgrowth is supposed to lead to a more compact built form.

    New Urbanism is more about an aesthetic and design philosophy that happens to promote a compact built form. New Urbanism does not necessarily concern itself with regional growth plans or land economics.

    ie Montgomery Woods in Orangeville, ON was built quite a way from the town at the time of construction, not really smart growth, but new urbanist. Smart Grwoth is best exemplified by Maryland's brownfield redevelopment grants and growth boundaries similar to Oregon's.

    As always, if I've missed the mark completely, please tell me and help me understand better too.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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    Suspended Bad Email Address teshadoh's avatar
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    That does seem to make sense - at least from lay people such as myself. I usually do hear people from relatively rural counties warning about suburban sprawl & the need to adopt smart growth. I usually don't hear them being specific - just a general 'politician' type of rhetoric.

    New Urbanism would seem to be more specific - as an answer from a developer about how he is building a subdivision that is new urbanist b/c the houses are built up to the street & he is adding a mixed component (a shopping center) to his plan

  4. #4
    I think that smart growth is the idea that we should invest in urban centers and urban nodes while building outward slowly, preserving the environment and preexisting infrastructure. Oregon's "urban growth boundaries" were an attempt at smart growth.

    New urbanism is a philosophy that neighborhoods should go back to traditional design models-- walkable communities and mixed uses. We talk of specific sites being "new urbanist," but smart growth is more a regional goal. New urbanism is premised on the fact that there is pent up demand for "urban" living that isn't satisfied by typical suburban construction. By simply building more of it, people will be attracted to these types of communities.

    I would say that new urbanism is the private sector solution while smart growth is the public sector solution. New urbanism is more concerned with design and specific sites, while smart growth is more an overarching policy goal. New urbanism can exist in a vacuum; although infill projects can be new urbanist, you can build a new urbanist community at the frontier of suburban development but many would question if it were smart growth in the regional sense.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Smart Growth is based on an economic/ecological perspective of maximizing investment in existing services (hard and soft) and minimizing the impact on the environment. Smartgrowth is supposed to lead to a more compact built form.

    New Urbanism is more about an aesthetic and design philosophy that happens to promote a compact built form. New Urbanism does not necessarily concern itself with regional growth plans or land economics.
    I think you hit it exactly correct. One of the best simple answers I have come across. I may actually use it in my presentations. Good job.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    Is transportation treated the same in terms of planning?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by safege
    Is transportation treated the same in terms of planning?
    What do you mean?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by safege
    Is transportation treated the same in terms of planning?
    No.

    With NU once again the design aesthetic impacts the transportation network and conectivity. (ie vistas and views, alley, traffic calming)

    With SG transportation planning is one rationale for deciding if a project is a good idea. Existing capacity and connecticity are weighed heavily in favour of under utilized sites or sites not reaching their potential.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  9. #9
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mallen
    What do you mean?
    I'm not a planner, but in the neighborhood where I work, there is a plaque on a cafe stating that it is a smart growth award winner. I looked it up and bus service was a criteria for the award.

    If smart growth is more urban (if it is), then it seems to me that smart growth would be more linked with bus and light rail. New urbanism may be linked with express bus routes, BRT, commuter rail, and maybe someday, monorail.

    I guess it was more a route distinction, than an actual difference.

  10. #10
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    Excerpt
    "environmental roots for smart growth versus architectural roots for new urbanism; a public policy focus for smart growth versus a design orientation for new urbanism; people with environmental, planning, social equity or public policy backgrounds in smart growth versus architects, designers and academics in new urbanism; established organizations with their own funding, members, and supporters--chiefly Smart Growth America and the Congress for New Urbanism"
    Link
    http://www.sprawlkills.com/files/why...vice_versa.htm

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by arv
    Excerpt
    "environmental roots for smart growth versus architectural roots for new urbanism; a public policy focus for smart growth versus a design orientation for new urbanism; people with environmental, planning, social equity or public policy backgrounds in smart growth versus architects, designers and academics in new urbanism; established organizations with their own funding, members, and supporters--chiefly Smart Growth America and the Congress for New Urbanism"
    Link
    http://www.sprawlkills.com/files/why...vice_versa.htm
    Thanks for the link
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

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