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Is New Urbanism dead?

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Or is Rich Carson just, once again, full of hot air?

I would argue that New Urbanism was never "alive" in any meaningful way, but . . .
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Richard Carson contunies to write articles based on what he thinks is happening in the world, while refusing to actually have facts to back up his claims. For example,

"These days even New Yorkers do not want to live in Lower Manhattan. Instead of rent control, such housing is now subsidized to attract New Yorkers back. "

-This may or may not be true, but where are his numbers to illustrate that this is happening or will happen in the future? He simply states something that he has either heard or believes as fact without any supporting evidence. He does this in most of his commentaries.
 
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nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Rich Carson works for Clark County, WA... a sad suburban wannabe of Portland. New Urbanism (or anything even looking like planned growth) was never alive in Clark County anyway... So call it whatever you want... he talks better than his community walks, that's all I've got to say.

New Urbanism has been alive in experimentation form, but people these days aren't giving ideas enough of a chance to even assess its merits or faults before moving on to the next new thing. It just looks like one more chance for someone to get a feather in his cap and "look smart" by using 9/11 as an excuse to be a leader through reactionism.

I think we can still learn things from new urbanism and try to incorporate some smart principles into the North American dream. I'm not ready to jump off that bandwagon quite yet, as I'm idealistic and would like to think some sort of hybrid is still workable. And to tell you the truth, although he references the events of 9/11... I really don't understand how it affects new urbanism. I don't think new urbanism was built solely on skyscrapers on the scale of the WTC. If someone wants to get out the hand-puppets and explain this correlation to me in simple terms that my feeble brain can understand, I would love to gleen a little knowledge about this...
 
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Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
I never thought "new urbanism" was alive in the first place. IMO it was simply a term/concept made up by a bunch of dorks AICP (no offense meant towards any of you dorks :)) that can't fathom the idea that if people want mass transit, mixed uses, pedestrian access, etc. they need to move to a big city. If they move to the suburbs they aren't going to get it, no matter what your planning textbook says.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
There are tenents of New Urbanism that people will embrace, like a walkable downtown shopping/dining/entertainment area. But there are far more aspects that people will never embrace, especially any one that involves shoving mass transit down people's throats and trying to force them out of their cars. Here in Milwaukee, mass transit would be a monumental failure. We are not dense enough and Joe Suburb is not getting out of his car to ride a train downtown where he will have to walk 10 blocks to work, yet some politicians and city movers and shakers keep pushing for it.

Carson is making these generalized predictions and calling it "Urban Realism." It seems like he wants to invent the new planning buzzword, he is hoping his new concept will become the next "Smart Growth" or "New Urbanism."
 
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Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,780
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58
Administrator's note - please remember that if you're criticizing an idea, make sure your comments don't include ad hominem attacks of a Cyburbia user.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Is Rich Carson a Cyburbia user? Sorry. I just assumed he was a "public figure" subject to ridicule (or praise).

I want to BELIEVE in New Urbanism. But, I look at what people want (as expressed in how they spend their own hard-earned money), and, as much as it pains me, gkmo and other more libertarian commentators are right. Cul-de-sacs, big houses, Ford Excursions.

I think New Urbanism can be a decent niche, and it may work better in over-crowded metropolitan areas like the Bay Area where a rancher on a quarter acre is just not sustainable anymore.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Yep. Sorry

Sorry. The Rich Carson article just inspired me. Given how little an impact it has REALLY had, you're right about "boring."
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
No.

It isn't that hard to see its impact all around us. Consider even the amount of discussion and awareness of planning it has caused. Has planning ever been talked about so much by the general public as it has in recent years? New Urbanism has been a key generator of that debate.

You can point out that the vast majority of development going on is not New Urbanist. So what? Not every home that was ever built was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Still, he has influenced every architect to follow him. In the same way, some of the concepts of the New Urban proponents have been incorporated into many of the subdivisions being proposed and built in recent years, and they have certainly influenced the way in which we review them.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
Michael Stumpf said:
It isn't that hard to see its impact all around us. Consider even the amount of discussion and awareness of planning it has caused. Has planning ever been talked about so much by the general public as it has in recent years? New Urbanism has been a key generator of that debate.
I think Michael hit this one squarely on the head. More and more thinking people are looking at our entire living environment holistically. They are seeing the problems with the status quo. Everything from lack of physical exercise (fat kiddos), mammoth SUVs, crazed soccer moms forced to be chuffers for their kids, global warming, dependence on oil (funding al-Qaida), miserable long distance commutes, etc, etc, etc.

The current predominant CSD is not sustainable, and NU offers solutions to these problems. NU is not high-rise living, nor does it require one style of building. It is more about denser urban form that looks for alternatives to auto dependence while paying particular attention to livability for its occupants.

Those that pay homage to CSD need to shift to final respects (and respect is being generous).
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
Runner said:


I think Michael hit this one squarely on the head. More and more thinking people are looking at our entire living environment holistically. They are seeing the problems with the status quo. Everything from lack of physical exercise (fat kiddos), mammoth SUVs, crazed soccer moms forced to be chuffers for their kids, global warming, dependence on oil (funding al-Qaida), miserable long distance commutes, etc, etc, etc.

The current predominant CSD is not sustainable, and NU offers solutions to these problems. NU is not high-rise living, nor does it require one style of building. It is more about denser urban form that looks for alternatives to auto dependence while paying particular attention to livability for its occupants.

Those that pay homage to CSD need to shift to final respects (and respect is being generous).
What a bunch of polemical crap.
 

Plan Man

Cyburbian
Messages
125
Points
6
NU is about providing a choice: and that's all it should be. This "saviour of the suburbs" attitude is simply too naive. Many people are always going to want their large homes, massive private spaces and double car garages in the burbs, or worse, their monster homes on several acre lots with triple car garages in the countryside. What NU targets is that segment of the population that does not desire such housing forms - it's not for everyone and should never consider itself as such.
 

Runner

Cyburbian
Messages
566
Points
17
I'll have to hold to my original point:

Runner said:
NU is not high-rise living, nor does it require one style of building. It is more about denser urban form that looks for alternatives to auto dependence while paying particular attention to livability for its occupants.
I am not sure how this could be offensive or a bad thing. However, if a person finds fault w/ NU they might enjoy this little get together: http://www.ti.org/amdream.html

As far as NU goes, a point made elsewhere:
"A wise man once said that great ideas follow three distinct phases:
1. Ridicule
2. Bitter opposition
3. Universal acceptance"

I'll be happy to debate relative pros and cons of various development patterns. However, if I am not adding any intelligent discourse I apologize, and feel free to add me to your ignore list, that's what its there for.


Plan Man, you have some good arguments. My response is that I don't think NU ever intended to "save the suburbs" (Can that be done? :) ) Soon, I think, it will become obvious that these old "wants" are not practical and as more people discover alternatives to CSD, such as NU, they will become even more prevalent.
 
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Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
Runner said:
I'll have to hold to my original point:

I am not sure how this could be offensive or a bad thing. However, if a person finds fault w/ NU they might enjoy this little get together: http://www.ti.org/amdream.html
Hi Runner. In my opinion, the thing that New Urbanism does to some people is make them appear to be a fundamentalist disciple of the movement. In my heart, I feel there is nothing wrong with that. However, what that kind of attitude does is make things seem very black and very white, with no in-between greys. The portion of your post that I quote above makes things seem very black and very white. I visted the "Preserving the American Dream of Mobility and Homeownership" link and found the site interesting. Now, here's the thing that gets me all riled up about the fundamentalism surrounding New Urbansim: the way you structured your post implies that if some one finds fault with New Urbanism, then they must be SUV-loving sprawl-mongers. Obviously you didn't post those exact words, but the structure and meaning of your post suggests a strict dicotomy between those who support New Urbansim and those who do not. Personally, I do find faults with New Urbanism, but that doesn't mean I want to pave the planet and build thousands of 4,000-sf houses on 5 acre parcels located in a private subdivision.

I think most of the ideas and principles behind New Urbanism are sound and have merit. But I have one basic problem with New Urbanism:

Professional Integrity - Andres Duany is not an endearing man. He shoves his ideas down peoples throats. However, I cannot fault his effectiveness at promoting New Urbanism. He is an excellent promoter and has synthesized his ideas into coherent and digestable formats. There is no doubt this man is a genius. But in terms of planning, the ideas that form the foundation of New Urbanism have been with us for a long time. New Urbanism is not new. It's a reformulation of old ideas that led to a highly successful and acclaimed development project on a greenfield on the Gulf coast of Florida. The acclaim and success surrounding Seaside provided the world with evidence that American suburban-style developments could be more attractive and diferent. Because of this success, the New Urbanists are convinced that anything not built in a neo-traditional style must be a place of sub-standard living conditions. How un-American! But let's not forget what mass-produced, suburban-style homes gave this country - affordable housing for a growing middle-class. Obviously I'm being a little facetious here - yeah, our country provided cheap housing during the baby boomer years, but cities and minorities suffered due to federal housing policies and racist banking practices. I understand that. There were good things and bad things about that era. Yet today we're apparently smarter and want to provide more choices for a dynamic and ever-changing population. The solution? Apparently New Urbanism is it. The only one. Nothing else. Nada. And that is the message I get from the New Urbanists. They pile the guilt on home-owners who don't know any better. And to me, that delivery, the guilt-trip, is the wrong way to sell neo-traditional development practices. As a professional planner, I'd like to think that we are competent enough to understand the basic concepts of neo-traditional development and can judisciously and intelligently apply them to our communities. We don't need "New Urbanism" and all its nasty associations with Andres Duany to besmirch the fine practice of urban planning.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
Runner said:
As far as NU goes, a point made elsewhere:
"A wise man once said that great ideas follow three distinct phases:
1. Ridicule
2. Bitter opposition
3. Universal acceptance"
Obviously. But New Urbanism isn't new. The form has been around for many, many years. Just ask the people living in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin, Detroit, Chicago, Savannah...
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I personally appreciate Duany's emphasis on the more "conservative" ideals of increased opportunity for small businesses, infill housing, and scaling back overly restrictive zoning laws. There is a large segment of the general public who will ignore or resent anything proposed by the "environmental" community.

I agree that there are some people who act like New Urbanism is a cult and would gladly sacrifice their first born children for some period streetlights.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
You're right, Seabiscuit

Just like there are those "creative" people who worship at the altar of the "avante garde." There was a great little article I read somewhere that made a very convincing case that much of the early modernist movement (i.e., the Bauhaus) took place in studios that had many of the attributes of cult compounds! :) Just an amusing thought!

"If it looks like a stack of tumbling sock drawers, it must be great architecture."
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I think I read that too from that Prince Charles sponsored New Urbanist group. The way professors erased students’ perceptions of what was valid architecture was very cult-like. (Please, no jokes about the mass suicides of Modern Architecture Professors)

Although there are New Urbanist wackos out there, I do think it’s a much more common-sense approach than modernsim. Its basic premise is just that large-scale Modernism has failed and that we should revisit traditional methods of city-building. Its not really presenting any new-fangled solution.

I always think the big question with New Urbanism is what to do with all the existing low-density suburbs. Significant infill often can't be supported and would continue to be a drain on the central city. This new awareness in the planning profession is happening many decades too late.

Modernism was a very liberating movement in other areas like music and literature but really seemed to get out of hand when it came to architecture and city planning. People’s neighorhoods weren’t razed to accommodate Ornette Coleman’s new album.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Good points.

The reality is, I like modernist architecture when done on a relatively small scale by a "master." I really like my Barcelona Chair, and my Corbu lounge, etc :) And, I like the clean lines, the openness, the "white" of high modernism.

I just don't think it made a very good vernacular-and the town planning concepts are awful . Its easy to make a decent Victorian cottage or small town storefront. Very hard to make a good modernist house or commercial building. Still, I am not sure I would want to live in a too cutesy Duaney town like Celebration.

Not sure what to do about the older suburbs either. Some will see "urbanization," but except for really well-located towns, what will happen to the old strips and rancher neighborhoods but further decay? I think THAT is one of the biggest issues facing (sub)urban America.
 

Richard Carson

Cyburbian
Messages
32
Points
2
Yes... Rich Carson (that's me) is a member of this club. I am glad my article sparked such a great discussion. I keep getting people to ask me for facts to back my argument. Why? It is simply what I believe. Does anyone want to factually prove to me that God exists?

However, to ask me to articulate my vision is fair. And I am doing it in the next commentary to be run on Planetizen. It is more breath taking than the cute New Urbanist day dreams. It is a paradigm shift from the past and the present. It isn't "neo" anything.

This is a message for those of you who really disagree with me. To say that is a fellow planner is "full of hot air," a "sad suburban wannabe," and a "public figure subject to ridicule" reduces the debate to the gutter lever. I suggest you can do better.
 
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TradArch12

Cyburbian
Messages
373
Points
12
While I'm not really a fan of New Urbanism, I'm a fan of Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch and Old Urbanism. I'm strongly against sprawl, personal automobiles, etc...
I don't think it is dead, and I hope it isn't because right now, it and smart growth are the closest we have gotten to the RIGHT way to build cities since the thousands of mistakes were repeatedly made between the 50s and the 80s.

Lastly, WHY did you resurrect a thread that is 4 years old? Especially when it's sort of anti-urban...
 

paytonc

Member
Messages
14
Points
1
not new. not urban. discuss.
Cute, but you've got to try harder than that. Start with a look at what New Urbanists think is the best in the field: the winners of the annual CNU Charter Awards:
http://www.cnu.org/awards/winners

Plenty there that's new and innovative (i.e., wouldn't have been done 10, 20, 100, 300 years ago), and most of it is solidly urban.

Keep in mind that Seaside is as old as I am. New Urbanism, like any quarter-century-old discourse, has matured, and its impact has also changed. Here's what noted critic Witold Rybczynski says in Slate today*:

"The streets at Seaside were intentionally kept narrow, the lots small, the houses close to the street. The aim was to create a place in which walking around would be as pleasant as driving around—which, in a nutshell, is a definition of new urbanism... Twenty-five years on, it is evident that the influence of Seaside has been both profound and trivial: higher density, more walkability, more porches and towers—and many more cute picket fences."

What is there to argue with here? Or, for that matter, in the ten-year-old Charter of the New Urbanism?
http://www.cnu.org/charter

(I opine for myself)
* http://www.slate.com/id/2160718/
 
Messages
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Points
0
I found New Urbanism to be a refreshing movement, a contrast to the many horrible and nasty car-oriented built environments all around us.

That is not to say that I believe all neighborhoods & communities should be built with strict New Urbanist principles.

I am kind of a sucker for traditional things, but I like to mix in some contemporary stuff as well.

I'm not a professional planner or architect, and it's interesting for me to watch you guys debate what's "right" and what's "wrong" in terms of planning & design. It's funny how one guy can like something, believe in it, and get excited about it, and consequently be ridiculed and called a cultist simply for expressing his/her opinion on arbitrary ideas like this.
 
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