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Thread: The ongoing CNU 17 Denver thread

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The ongoing CNU 17 Denver thread

    Well, I'm here in Denver for the Congress for the New Urbanism conference ... really, it's not a conference, but it's the "congress" itself.

    I took a long walk from the conference hotel (Sheraton, formerly the Adams Mark) down to LoDo and back, stopping to eat at an Asian restaurant on the 16th Street Mall. It's nice to talk a long walk without breaking out in a sweat; temperatures here are in the 60s, while back in Austin highs will be in the low 100s all this week.

    I miss Denver, and wouldn't mind retiring here. The cost of housing is outrageous, but the dry air is great for my skin, the climate is moderate and winters are mild, and there's neighborhoods where all of life's day-to-day needs can be met without depending on a car. Downtown is vibrant (although there's a lot of homeless people; I saw more in five minutes than I saw during my entire time at the APA conference in Minneapolis), and there's a diversity of age groups. Austin is dominated by the Generation Y and Millennial crowd, and I often find myself the oldest person (I'm 43) at the dog park or a restaurant. In Cleveland, I was often the youngest in a crowd. I remember Denver as being on the pretentious side, and I wonder if the dot-com bust of the late 1990s/early 2000s and the Great Recession took the edge off of that.

    CNU check-in starts tomorrow morning. I'll post here about my experiences, and how it compares with an APA conference. If other Cyburbians are at CNU 17, I encourage them to contribute to this thread If not, ask questions. However, I'm here on behalf of my employer, as part of my continuing education and training, so I won't always be documenting everything for Cyburbia.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Impressions so far:

    * I really came in expecting attendees to be on the smug side. They really aren't; at least, not the ones I've met so far . People on my mobile tour of the Stapleton development were more "critiquey" than I've encountered at an APA mobile workshop, but then again, so was I; the environment fosters it.

    * There's a large ratio of international attendees to Americans, at least compared to an APA national conference. So far, I've met planners from Canada, Australia, Belgium, Germany, the UK, and Israel. At an APA national conference, you're lucky to meet a Canadian or two.

    * The "conference bag" was a large metal paper clasp.

    * Exhibitors: schwaghounds would be very disappointed. I had a fascinating conversation with the Princes Foundation for the Built Environment representative.

    * Session timing: an APA conference seems to be rather organized; sessions are mostly the same duration, and they all begin and end at the same time. So far, CNU session timing is like a British television schedule; all over the map, with overlapping session start and end times. On Thursday and Friday, session times are more regular; four concurrent sessions in a day, compared to six for an APA conference, but there's also plenary sessions during lunchtime and at night.

    * Bookstore: outstanding; a far wider selection than at an APA national conference. Titles are expensive, though; any book under $50 would be a bargain.

    * Because there's far fewer attendees than at an APA national conference, I see the same faces over and over again.

    * People refer to NU celebrities by their first name, for example, "I heard Andreas speak earlier today, and ..."

    * Coffee is much better than at an APA national conference. The cash bar during nightly cocktail hours is quite expensive, though. $7 for a bottle of 90 Shilling?

    * Tomorrow and Saturday, I'll be in a lot of sessions about form-based codes. I'm looking forward to them.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I lived in Denver for two years before moving to Dubai. I miss Denver and wouldn't mind returning someday. The city has a healthy balance between postively encouraging economic growth without being too aggressive or sacrificing the quality of life (by comparison east coast cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia are very weak in promoting economic growth, whereas southern and Texas cities are gung-ho about growth, damned the consequence. Dan, you may find this article interesting: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124485634480511841.html).

    The reason you see many homeless people in Denver is because of the climate. Mild winters and minimal humidity. Being homeless in Minneapolis is far tougher than in Denver. But it annoyed me how the homeless are allowed to dominate the parks in downtown Denver by the capitol building. It's a grand space and deserves to be better treated.

    Dan, what did you think of Stapleton? I almost bought a house there but decided against it when I realized the construction quality wasn't the best.

    I went to the CNU in Philadelphia two years ago. Great city for a conference and Duaney was the speaker, of course. Entertaining speaker but many of the attendees followed him as the messiah. Duaney and PZ were certainly visionaries for their time, but I was left with the impression that they only had part of the vision correct. Someone else is needed to bridge the DPZ vision with the next generation of planning.

    Dan, if you get the opportunity to visit Prospect in Longmont, you must go. It's a fantastic modernist New Urbanist community, but it also illustrates all the pros and cons of new urbanism.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Dan - I'm always trying to determine whether I should go to CNU or APA each year. What was your impression about session content? Were the session more of the powerpoint, 3 speaker set up like APA or was it different? Were the sessions all design oriented? Do you think the average practicing municipal planner would get more out of CNU than out of APA?

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