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What is New Urbanism anyway?

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I am a huge fan of the ideas and principles of New Urbanism and think that its development is terrific. Having said that, I would encourage more infill and vacant Brownfield redevelopment site being replaced with New Urbanism instead of many of the Greenfield developments out at the edge of the suburbs. I have noticed several of them where the residents will still commute to a near buy city for employment and the families still rely on their cars as much as if it was a typical suburban sprawl.

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I am a huge fan of the ideas and principles of New Urbanism and think that its development is terrific. Having said that, I would encourage more infill and vacant Brownfield redevelopment site being replaced with New Urbanism instead of many of the Greenfield developments out at the edge of the suburbs. I have noticed several of them where the residents will still commute to a near buy city for employment and the families still rely on their cars as much as if it was a typical suburban sprawl.

Can you say, Celebration, FL?

I completely agree, and I'll add that New Urbanism (for me to like it at least) developments must be dense and must have alternative transportation connections, either good transit or good pedestrian/bicyclist infrastructure or else it's just another suburb in disguise.

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I think New Urbanism is all about density. Anything else is just pretty porches with SUVs outside. Celebration always struck me as something of a New Urbanist beotch child. The principles of New Urbanism are magnificent. The reality sometimes gets lost in the clouds of market forces. I'd love to see more New Urbanist developments make the scene. I think these designers have something to say which needs to be heard. One may easily dismiss New Urbanism as something for the rich, but I don't really think this was the true intenion of the New Urbanists. Of course, the Bauhaus architects may not have envisioned the hijcking of their style by the super-rich either.

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Don't forget the element of time (something which New Urbanism is critisized for, as in 'you can't build a real town all at once!')

Time can bring greater density, more mix of incomes and use, greater connections to transportation, and certainly the patina of 'real' places. Look at photos of Boston's Back Bay or Nantucket, or New York City's Upper West side in the early days.

The reason even New Urbanist greenfield projects are more than just suburbs is that it is possible to walk once you are there (and interesting enough to walk from your house to any transit), and there is usually the opportunity for retail, office, civic and mixed housing, even if it is sparse in the beginning. It can evolve and change - in a good way.

The problem with the suburbs is they are inert - they will stay the way they are forever. And even if you arrived to them by light rail, there is no 'there' there once you arrive.

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There is a neighborhood in suburban Houston that claims to be new urbansim. It is called Parkside. (from the net)

the houses....

parkside_C_21-july-2001_lres.jpg

the streets.....

parkside_L_typical_street_21-july-2001_lres.jpg

the catch, (alleys) V

parkside_M_back_alley_21-july-2001_lres.jpg

This actually looks like other neighborhoods in suburban Houston with the exception of the alleys in the back. Your thoughts?

typical Houston subdivision V

6931790_0.jpg

Edited by Greens!

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Your thoughts?

I wonder how many kids a year get run over there?

It looks so sales catalog-ish. I suppose with age it will grow to take on it's own character, but for now I don't know how that would qualify as New Urbanism. Then again you need to look at more than just one little street.

Still, I would hope that there was a better place for the kids to play than in the middle of the road.

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A weak effort by conventional planners and builders. Kaufman and Meeks is a firm that actually applied for (and got) a patent for alleys! (yea, they did that..) You can see the plan at http://www.toolbase.org/tertiaryT.asp?Docu...CategoryID=1093

One of the greatest dangers for New Urbanism is being done badly by people who don't care.

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There is a neighborhood in suburban Houston that claims to be new urbansim. It is called Parkside. (from the net)

Umm, where the hell are the sidewalks?? That is in NO way New Urbanism, or smart growth or anything. They didn't even do a good job disguising it as New Urbanism. In this case, I bet all the activity will be focused on the alleys instead of the streets. How can you even tell them apart anyway, the alleys are as wide as the streets! Bad, bad development.

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That is one of the ugliest developments I've ever seen. How can that even remotely be considered urban or even neo-urban? :whistling: Maybe in Houston...

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I find it hilarious that the alleys really are the center of activity! In that one shot alone, I see a basketball hoop and a person in the alley, while nobody is anywhere in the street pictures. They basically just took away any backyard and built streets on either side of the houses. What stupid developer did this anyway?

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Why do they call it New Urbanism? This is basically bringing back Old Urbanism and adapting it to the car culture. For this to work it has to sell meaning it must prove to be a better alternative than the curent.

Personally I like the suburban development in Australia and California. There is enough room to get a sense of ownership of the land and house and the development is close enough so that you still see alot of your neighbors.

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Why do they call it New Urbanism? This is basically bringing back Old Urbanism and adapting it to the car culture. For this to work it has to sell meaning it must prove to be a better alternative than the curent.

Personally I like the suburban development in Australia and California. There is enough room to get a sense of ownership of the land and house and the development is close enough so that you still see alot of your neighbors.

The suburban development in Australia and California is really no different from the suburban development in Georgia or the South of France. The problem is not that land is bad or that houses are bad, or even that ownership of either is bad. The problem is that these places are built on the scale of machines, not people, and function best for machines, not people.

Where once a pair of feet and some pants sufficed for participation in public life, now an internal combustion engine and half a ton of steel is required. Where once basic social skills and a familiarity with real places and faces enabled one to negotiate the business of living, now thousands of diposable dollars for automobile ownership/maintenance/fueling/insurance and a driver's license are the prerequisites for American/Australian/Global Suburban Life. Where once poultry and vegetables kept a family functioning, now imported and refined petroleum is as necessary as clean water.

Suburban land development patterns, while they certainly provide gobs of oodles of space, have transformed expensive and energy-starving machines into prothestic limbs many people simply cannot live without. This is excess and futile dependency at its most terrifying and most dangerous.

New Urbanism offers an alternative way of living, but you are correct in suggesting that it is not truly new--it is, however, much older than "Old Suburbanism." Its guiding principles are founded on realities which are as old as the human foot, eye, brain, and heart. People have longed for sustainable homes, worthy of both respect and affection, for much longer than automobile suburbs have made broken promises of machine-powered community and progress, and for much longer than the New Urbanists have fought to reclaim common architectural and urban sense from the garbage can. The very strength of the New Urbanism lies in its cry for a return to the human scale, which is neither new, nor negotiable.

Edited by NewTowner

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While certainly the automobile has influenced our social lifes, it is not necessarilly true that they singularly took away social interaction, nor is it really true that there is no community. It is often times hidden from outsiders more, but in many cases it is there. While people love to hate the supermarkets, you obviously don't have a retired parent or are unemployeed and bored. My father can take over an hour to get a gallon of milk - he simply runs into everyone at the store. The markets and malls are just our old urban centers but run by a corporation now.

In some cases, though, the suburbs grew up because people so hated living on top of one another, no privacy, constant struggles. We tend to paint the past in pretty colors - we forget crime and fights and health dangers and xenophobia that resulted from closed neighborhoods.

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True, nobody forced people to move to the suburbs. They chose to do so because it is an appropriate place to raise a family. The schools are good, yards are roomy and children can play with their friends and neighbors without worrying about being hit by cars or worse. People are still active in the community through local organizations, churches, and schools. Many of these help improve the quality of life overall. I live in the suburbs and can walk to a church, a community pool, an elementary school, a high school, a park, and a wildlife preserve within 20 minutes. I dont consider that being trapped.

Also, why would anyone want to walk to a grocery store? Why carry all of those bags home when you can just put them in a car and go? I agree that cars dont help the environment but rather than change the way we build cities, why not change the way we build cars so that they are eco friendly?

I like New Urbanism (Old Urbanism) and think it has a place in urban cores that need to be improved. Outside of that, I think the suburbs are just fine.

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True, nobody forced people to move to the suburbs. They chose to do so because it is an appropriate place to raise a family. The schools are good, yards are roomy and children can play with their friends and neighbors without worrying about being hit by cars or worse. People are still active in the community through local organizations, churches, and schools. Many of these help improve the quality of life overall. I live in the suburbs and can walk to a church, a community pool, an elementary school, a high school, a park, and a wildlife preserve within 20 minutes. I dont consider that being trapped.

Also, why would anyone want to walk to a grocery store? Why carry all of those bags home when you can just put them in a car and go? I agree that cars dont help the environment but rather than change the way we build cities, why not change the way we build cars so that they are eco friendly?

I like New Urbanism (Old Urbanism) and think it has a place in urban cores that need to be improved. Outside of that, I think the suburbs are just fine.

The suburb you are living in is such an exception to the rule, it probably couldn't qualify as an automobile suburb in the most traditional sense. In the suburb I grew up in, the one kid who rode his bike to the store was eventually killed by a car (the poor fellow was rolling the dice with every journey), and everybody blamed the kid. It was a no-brainer: that arterial road is for cars, not people. Pedestrians routinely enjoyed the blessings of bottles and other trash, thrown at them from passing vehicles. My experience of the American automobile suburb is more typical than yours.

The grocery shopping argument is weird. People who live in walkable communities don't stock up on months' worth of provisions at one time--they buy fresh bread and veggies and meat and eat it, and then they buy more on the way home from work in a couple of days. There are not tons of bags to carry. Old folks might have a little trouble, true--but people usually deliver, and in any case one can take a cart home most of the time. At least these older people aren't forced to live in a storage facility once they no longer qualify as motorists. Heavy bags are a small price to pay for continued civic existence.

New Urbanists are not arguing that the automobile suburbs should be destroyed--there are no fascists or communists or other militant utopists among them, that I know of--but the implications of automobile-dependent life should be honestly confessed and considered. An alternative can, and should, exist in the centers of cities, and this is all that is really being asked for.

While certainly the automobile has influenced our social lifes, it is not necessarilly true that they singularly took away social interaction, nor is it really true that there is no community. It is often times hidden from outsiders more, but in many cases it is there. While people love to hate the supermarkets, you obviously don't have a retired parent or are unemployeed and bored. My father can take over an hour to get a gallon of milk - he simply runs into everyone at the store. The markets and malls are just our old urban centers but run by a corporation now.

The argument that malls and shopping centers are now our corporate-owned town centers is totally spot on. But the implications of this are terrifying, and only a fool would be happy to live in such a state (I wish I could say "no offense," but this would be dishonest). Citizenship and consumership are two very different things, and very different sets of rights and obligations are bestowed upon each social system's respective participants. Satisfaction with the erosion of the public realm and its replacement with Wal-Mart is tantamount to a happy surrender of the Republic for something a great deal less noble and humane. I would rather vote than spend, if I must choose between the two. Your religion and political beliefs are subject to both judgment and eviction on private property like malls and shopping centers. They are not in the American public square and on public sidewalks full of other people, where rights must be respected and no man or manager is King.

You choose your Forum. In the suburbs, the public realm is mostly an ethereal medium for motoring through. In the City, it is real space--the common property of all, where men and women can gather and speak on their own terms provided they obey the common laws and respect one another. In many shopping malls, four or more men gathered together (more than a single car-load) are considered a gang-threat and are broken up or evicted. I prefer citizenship to consumership, and the New Urbanism provides for both.

Edited by NewTowner

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Here's a website devoted to urbanism.

http://www.newcolonist.com

The articles kinda support many of the stereotypes of the urbanist movement (left leaning, suburb hating, eco-topian, peak oil, etc.) but there's a lot to browse.

I've never quite decided if I'm supportive of "urbanism" as a creed. I'm more of a minimalist. I just see a lot of waste, in the way we do things.

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Here's a website devoted to urbanism.

http://www.newcolonist.com

The articles kinda support many of the stereotypes of the urbanist movement (left leaning, suburb hating, eco-topian, peak oil, etc.) but there's a lot to browse.

I've never quite decided if I'm supportive of "urbanism" as a creed. I'm more of a minimalist. I just see a lot of waste, in the way we do things.

There are also a lot of religious, politically conservative, family values-oriented New Urbanists.

Bad ideas produced by the European Left are largely to blame for the suburbs in their current hyper-motorized and experimental forms. The suburban sprawl phenomenon is not the natural extrapolation of capitalism and freedom and abundance. It is a heavily-subsidized pseudo-socialist mass-machinist diversion from what common sense and the free market would have produced on their own. A culture in search of truth and beauty, which is by definition a culture with a tendency towards the religious, is not a culture which would naturally give itself over to the provisional, selfish, and obese living that so many automobile suburbs not only accomodate but rigidly enforce.

The waste you speak of is real. It was intentional--Le Corbusier himself argued that the incredible amount of consumption spurred by suburban living would produce infinite jobs and help usher in his futuristic techo-fabulous vision of a Designed Utopia. What about resource depletion, you ask? What about the desolation of nature? Not to worry! These are neglible problems that technological progress will automatically solve as soon as the pressure picks up...obviously--according to this arrogant man and many of his Modernist colleagues, not to mention current proponents of business-as-usual via the Hypothetical Hydrogen Economy.

"Urbanism" is not a creed. "The City of Tomorrow" was a creed, and it failed. We need to repair our places and make them worthy of affection and respect again.

Edited by NewTowner

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Also, how would an urban planner go about deciding what types of businesses and retail stores should go in a neighborhood and how large should the stores be?

The concern here should be, not controlling the types of business and how large they should be, but rather the form of the buildings and their relationship to the street. This will take care of the size issue. The only concern then would be restricting the types of businesses that would not be condusive to the fabric of family life.

The buildings and streets will survive long after we all pass from this earth. We should then concentrate on creating beautiful, useful places to live and leave the uses to the needs of the community surrounding.

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The concern here should be, not controlling the types of business and how large they should be, but rather the form of the buildings and their relationship to the street. This will take care of the size issue. The only concern then would be restricting the types of businesses that would not be condusive to the fabric of family life.

The buildings and streets will survive long after we all pass from this earth. We should then concentrate on creating beautiful, useful places to live and leave the uses to the needs of the community surrounding.

Here, here!

But in your list of crucial requirements for successful architecture, do not neglect to include "strength" as well as beauty and usefulness. Venustas, Utilitas, Firmitas...perhaps the only remaining requirement is Decorum, as we ask our buildings to speak in context, and to respect the public realm they are intended to serve.

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Here, here!

But in your list of crucial requirements for successful architecture, do not neglect to include "strength" as well as beauty and usefulness. Venustas, Utilitas, Firmitas...perhaps the only remaining requirement is Decorum, as we ask our buildings to speak in context, and to respect the public realm they are intended to serve.

Very true - good points.

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