Sexy Sprawl

By Bryan • canada, grad school, surp, urban planning • 21 Jan 2009

albuquerque-sprawl

Planning at its best!

I picked up a copy of Suburban Nation (Andre Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck, 2000) largely to help fill the reading void this semester created by the impossibly difficult to read Municipal and Planning Law, and nap inducing Land Use Planning Made Plain (literally made plain).

The authors (more famously known as DPZ…excluding Mr. Speck) spearheaded anti-sprawl/suburbia movement known as the New Urbanism  which is probably most publically visible in Seaside, Florida (of The Truman Show fame).

It reads a lot like Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, but with a suburban and more current flavour.  It serves up inspiration (god, I didn’t want to use that word – it’s been beaten to death this week) in a similar fashion and offers the alternative of something better than the status quo.  This planning generations Death and Life of Great American Cities?

The are piles of critiques against New Urbanism and neo-traditional architecture (I personally don’t find the architecture to be much different than the ‘cookie-cutter’ variety) but I’m enjoying reading the idealized theory of this vision, especially the scathing assaults on the automobile-centric world of suburban areas.

Some quotes of choice from DPZ’s Suburban Nation.

  • Americans may have the finest private realm in the world, but our public realm is brutal. p. 41
  • The average American, when placed behind the wheel of a car, ceases to be a citizen and becomes instead a motorist. p. 61
  • Streets that once served vehicles and people equitably are now designed for the sole purpose of moving vehicles through them as quickly as possible.  They have become, in effect, traffic sewers. p. 64
  • The building pictured here is not (referring to a barrack-like school) a refugee relocation center or a storage depot, although it could be considered a storage depot of sorts; it’s the place where we store our children while earning money to pay for our cars. p. 121

…and and acronym for fun NORC – Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.

Cornell – Ontario – New Urbanist Community

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2 Responses

  1. Bryan-

    Great book! I actually built the house at Seaside in which the Truman character lived. Many years later I am a developer doing a TND called Hollingsworth Park (Verdae) in Greenville, South Carolina. Check out the website.

    Richard Parvey

  2. Richard,

    First off, thanks for leaving a comment! I never thought I’d make contact with the builder of Truman’s home!

    Great site as well and I really like the site plan. Is the area north of the development an existing subdivision or is it a future phase of the project? What is the projected population for the neighborhood?

    My group members and I are currently developing a land-use plan for a hypothetical city based around a high speed rail station and we are thinking about incorporating TND principles into some of the proposed neighborhoods. Hollingsworth is about the approximate size that we are aiming for and it is interesting to see projects of this size being created.

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