Category: Book Reviews

Review: Leinberger’s The Option of Urbanism

BallstonThe newest buzzword among urban scholars just might be Christopher Leinberger’s “walkable urbanism,” which he contrasts with our country’s postwar “drivable sub-urban” pattern of development. In this post I review the University of Michigan professor’s latest book The Option of Urbanism and find a refreshing, if optimistic analysis of our recent urban history. Find out what I think sets this book apart from its competition, and why Leinberger thinks reforming Wall Street’s Real Estate Investment Trusts may be the key to cultivating genuine urbanism in American again.

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Top Urban Planning and Development Websites

Planetizen has asked me for nominations for their annual list of the web’s top planning and development websites. Winners in 2007 included architecture blog BldgBlog, Arlington County’s Commuter Page, and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy’s Visualizing Density tool. The criteria simply request sites that are a service to the planning community. What sites should […]

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Talking Billboards Installed in Chinatown

Chinatown GateDespite a recent growth in new digital signs, the sky is still visible in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood—for now. Find out just how many pedestrians it takes to entice advertisers to install huge talking video billboards, and where a California company hopes to add even billboards, sidewalk signs, and temporary event banners.

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Urban Recycling the Capitalist Way

Fueled by record high prices, thieves from Chevy Chase, Maryland to Mumbai, India are causing headaches for authorities by stealing copper wires, aluminum bleachers, and iron manhole covers. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the problem of metal theft has driven energy company executives to confront directly those who would cut down copper wiring to sell at a profit. The trend could transform our cities, and also perhaps our architecture.

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The Relevance and Irrelevance of Richard Sennett

If a contemporary economist views the city as “an absence of distance between people and firms,” Richard Sennett thinks the contrasts and conflict cities produce inspire innovation and drive their economies. Unfortunately, for too long urban planners have been stifling such conflict through their idealistic plans and heavy-handed regulations. But just what would it look like to create an “architecture of justice” that enriches urban life and convinces urban residents to live with less? And what are planners to do without their beloved regulations?

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Research Help

I am doing some research and hope some readers here can help. I’m looking for: Examples of low to moderate density residential neighborhoods connected by a street grid to moderate density retail or mixed use districts. Neighborhoods near busy roads and with high income levels would be a plus. Example track cross sections and other […]

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So You’re Interested in Becoming a Planner

When I’m asked about graduate programs in the field of urban planning, I generally point inquirers to several key resources. Researching programs can be difficult given the field’s somewhat idiosyncratic character. However, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning publishes a comprehensive directory of programs, including deadlines, requirements, and some basic demographic statistics about the […]

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