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spenser1058

"Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning"

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I think the article is a little pessimistic towards urban planning. "Even today it's rare for a social science department to hire a planning PhD, while planning programs routinely hire academics with doctorates in economics and political science." Yeah, that's because they're all working "in the field," making just as much money without all the hassles of academia. I think the whole Jane Jacobs / community involvement revolution was needed, but as the public makes more hit or miss decisions (according to the article), I think urban planners will be valued more in the next boom. Especially in Florida urban planners will be valued. We're not concerned as much with urban renewal, rather creating new urban environments.

And I don't think it "diminished the disciplinary identity of planning." Yes, it's become more interdisciplinary, but if anyone could do the job they wouldn't offer urban planning programs around the world. It seems there's enough demand there for urban planners, considering UCF and Rollins just added new master's programs this past year. In the last paragraph it talks about everything an urban planner should know. If you look at these new programs, there's at least one class for every topic he cited. I know one class doesn't make you an expert, but overall the programs appear very well rounded.

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Two books I recommend on the topic are:

Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

(actually a book about language, but has some great chapters about our obsession with shopping malls, transportation planning, etc.)

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We're not concerned as much with urban renewal, rather creating new urban environments.

Herein lies a fundamental truth and problem with urban planning in Florida. Florida is widely considered the epicenter of the new urbanism movement since Seaside was built in the 1980s. Not only did Seaside revolutionize Fort Walton County (that stretch of beach from Rosemary Beach through Seaside and out to Watercolor is some of the most architecturally rich in Florida save South Beach), it spawned an entire movement that led to infill like Baldwin Park and towns like Celebration in our own backyard. The issue that arises with these developments (unlike Fort Walton, which is planned and protected) is that they live in isolation to their surroundings. While they strive to create and promote pedestrian friendly, walkable environments, the city planning that exists outside the auspices of these communities is still suburban in nature and the boundaries are abrupt, harsh. The language of Celebration is foreign to that of 192, Baldwin Park to Fashion Square Mall (talk about a redevelopment opportunity).

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One of the things that bothers me about new urbanism is that it almost always seeks to recreate "small town America." Don't get me wrong, I really like the look and feel of these communities, but like you said: they're isolated. They rely on single-family homes and even though they have dense town centers, still largely resemble sprawl imo.

I do think they take an important step in showing that you don't need guarded gates and a fence around a neighborhood to make it a nice area. In that regard, they do integrate well with surrounding areas. Unfortunately, they're still far from existing urban cores (they create new ones instead of adding to existing ones) and prices can be exclusionary. There are some average priced houses in Avalon Park - compared Baldwin Park or Celebration - that are on non-restricted (non-gated) roads. Of course, Avalon Park is also about as far outside of Orlando as you can be and still have an Orlando address.

Nonetheless, I think Florida can lead (or already is leading) the way in new urbanist developments. Maybe it'll be a while before we get truly urban areas, but I think we have the small town thing down pat. But imagine if we could take all the two- and three-story buildings from around Orlando and rearrange them around downtown. A New Broad Street (Baldwin Park) here, a Water Street (Celebration) there, steal some streets from Winter Park. We'd probably have one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the country.

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They are trying to create the look of small town America.

I find it kind of amusing in a way. There is this philosophical premise that always seems to be trying to identify what is going wrong with our urban and suburban environment, and it always eems to be one step ahead of the developers. If you look at some of the most recent developments, they are reflecting exactly the kind of layouts and designs that designers talk about. And before that, New Urbanism sought to implement the design ideas that urbanists were talking about, and criticizing the lack of, at the time. Yet they always seem to miss the mark somehow. The new developments tend to do well for a while, but seem to have no long term success. Likewise, these ideas that the urban designers promote usually turn out to cause the very social environments they seek to overcome.

I think the real issue - that which at some point or other needs to be addresses, is that it is not the look or the layout or the traffic flow or the way people get around. What is important is the social constructs. This means that urban planning is much more an issue of social science, but even more so business development. It's not planning but rather seeding - putting in place key elements and business and residential stimulation projects and creating proper social environments. Successful environments, urban, suburban, and rural, all grow organically. Proper planning means not controlling growth but rather providing the roots for organic growth

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