I was recently asked by Gracen Johnson (check out her site here) to elaborate on the possible future of suburbia. How are the suburbs likely to fare over time? This coincided with a city planner friend of mine who asked a more poignant question about the suburban community he helps manage. “What’s this place for?” If … Continue reading What’s This Place For?
I have a theory about where the next culturally dynamic neighborhoods are likely to emerge and which building types will be the engine of that transformation. It may not be exactly what most people expect. As American industry receded in the later half of the Twentieth Century it left behind an alluvial delta of redundant … Continue reading The New New Thing: Suburban Bunker Buildings
After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 I really wanted to see history unfold for myself. I was young and adventurous so the next summer I wandered around the failing Soviet Union. I had a duffle bag full of Levi’s which I exchanged for accommodations with families from Leningrad to Moscow. A little hard currency … Continue reading Authoritarian Planning Regimes
What would our neighborhoods look like if we voluntarily reduced the amount of infrastructure? This isn’t a purely academic question. As municipal, state, and federal budgets get squeezed there’s going to be a point at which we have no choice but to stop building new roads and even reduce the amount of maintenance on the … Continue reading The Argument for Less Infrastructure
www.veterantributes.org I was researching material for a blog post about the town I grew up in (Toms River, New Jersey) and accidentally stumbled on something completely unrelated that I find deeply disturbing on multiple levels. It was a roadside memorial dedicated to a fallen soldier. I looked up his name and realized that he had … Continue reading Is This Really the Best We Can Do?
I have an on-going correspondence with a particular city planner who recently asked, “What pushes a neighborhood down vs. what lifts it up?” In the end I suspect this is going to be like the old joke. Ask three rabbis a question and you’ll get five answers. Perhaps I should provide a few examples of popular … Continue reading The Urban Planner’s Dilemma
I’m a longtime advocate of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-served neighborhoods. But lately I’ve been having impure thoughts about suburbia. Let me explain. What often passes for a neighborhood in America is a low grade assemblage of chain convenience stores, big box outlets, franchise muffler shops, multi-lane highways, and isolated cul-de-sacs. Even when it’s physically … Continue reading Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Sprawl (Sort of)