Note to Self:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Suburban Sprawl vs. Urbanism

Just came across this short video at cargocycling.org. It's a bit idyllic in hopefulness; it's a short clip and worth the couple minutes to watch.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

I love the New Urbanist vision for the built environment, which as the video indicated, is really Old Urbanism, but I really wonder how one gets from where we (the U.S.) are now in terms of our urban landscape to what we see in these, as you say, idyllic architectural renderings. It would seem to me that it will require city governments to purchase blocks of existing real estate with a strategy and design to remove the existing structures and start over. It simply will never happen on a property-by-property basis. Further, you will not convince suburbanites to leave the suburbs until there are options available as those proposed.

Adrienne Johnson said...

Jeff- you do not have to knock down what is already there. You do have to get creative in seeing how to reinvent it and to plan future building around it that maximizes what is already there. It isn't clapboard structures and oak trees that make the space, it is the flow and the prioritizing of people and comfort over cars and speed.

If you do not believe that is possible, look up the changes in NYC and SF where car space, plain roads, are being taken back to create car free space for people to be in. Nothing has been torn down, just repurposed to create usable space.

Jeff said...

Adrienne,

I agree with what you say here given that certain basic foundational elements exist, which are well spelled-out in new urbanist principles.

However, there are many circumstances in the existing urban landscape that inherently mitigate against a satisfying built environment. Take, for example buildings over the 4 story limit lining both sides of a street. If I move into an urban environment and the bakery, butcher, grocer, hardware store, park, etc are still over 2 miles away, then what's the point?

You simply are not going to draw people from the suburbs, regardless of how much they desire to move into an urban environment, if the aesthetics and advantages are not there. And this is the case in the vast majority of urban centers in this country.