Planning

Two Week Charette: 1 of 2

On a steamy Monday morning in July, over a dozen high school and college students took their seats in a Washington DC gallery just half a block from the Anacostia River. They’re here to participate in a two week-urban design charette. Following a brief presentation the students launched into questions about the proposed transformation of an existing freeway bridge into…

Cleaning Up Our Lakes, Reinvesting in our Waterfronts

We have a rare opportunity in redeveloping the shores of our precious lakes to realize our best ideas and policies in building 21st Century communities.

In 1969 Ohio’s Cuyahoga River, a tributary of Lake Erie that meanders through Akron and Cleveland, combusted into flames after years of pollution and waste accumulated along its shorelines. While this was not the first time the river caught on fire, it ignited the nation’s attention and inspired significant environmental action, including the creation of our Clean Water Act, the…

ValHow Valencia Turned A Crisis (And a River) Into a Transformative Park

In 1957, Valencia experienced a devastating flood that forever changed the city. The following year, the city embraced a plan to divert the Turia river.

  Valencia’s Green River, Photography by Brian Phelps. Bold ideas are easy, implementing them is hard. This is particularly true as cities around the world want to use their landscape infrastructure to address the issues they face. How can interventions be woven into the existing urban fabric? Beyond simply mustering the financial resources or political will, one must seek opportunities…

The Prudential Center: A Bright Exception to a Dark Age of Urban Planning

The story of Boston's Prudential Center is one of highway mania and sweetheart corporate preferment. But it’s emerged with a surprising ending.

An overly co-dependent couple, as any dinner party guest knows all too well, can cast an alienating pall over nearly a whole table. In the world of postwar urban planning this noxiously self-absorbed pairing was played, more often than not, by the conjoined duo of the highway engineer and the forward-thinking corporation. Whether their plans involved mass destruction or not,…

Going for Bronze? The London Olympics’ Lackluster Architectural Legacy

When London was named host city for the 2012 Olympics, experts thought it was the urban planning that won the day. What happened to that grand vision?

When London was named host city for the 2012 Olympics seven years ago, experts thought it was the urban planning behind the bid that ultimately won the day. Now, on the eve of the event itself, with several lackluster venues in place, many are wondering: What happened to that grand vision?

Roundtable: Calatrava, Childs, and Libeskind on the World Trade Center

The trio discuss architecture's healing powers, the function of symbolism, and the spiritual need to rebuild.

1 World Trade Center rendering Courtesy SOM/dbox studio Heroic. Contemplative. Grieving. Victorious. The rebirth of the former World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan has engendered significant public reaction and reflection. With implications as complex as they are profound, it is not surprising that it has taken more than a decade to heal the urban scars of September 11, 2001….

NYU’s “Scale Back” Is Just Part of Developer’s Long-Game

NYU's announcement to scale back back its controversial expansion may seem promising, but this is a move straight from the developer’s playbook.

New York University announced yesterday that it was scaling back its controversial plans for expansion by “almost a fifth.” Wow, now that’s a significant number, you might think, if you didn’t already know how these cynical games are played. The school had originally proposed adding 2.5-million-square feet of dorms, classrooms and commercial space to the two superblocks it owns south…

Profile: Richard A. Glaser, Timeless Landshaper

Richard A. Glaser is an urban planner and landscape architect who's worked on everything from backyard swimming pools to entire cities in the Middle East.

Richard A. Glaser is an urban planner and landscape architect. He’s worked on everything from a landscaped backyard swimming pool to entire cities in the Middle East. He worked for large Philadelphia offices like Lou Kahn’s and for Marcel Breuer (planning Sadat City in Egypt). He worked in partnerships and as a sole practitioner.   Swimming pool & landscape: Richard…

The Socialist Car & Its Impact on Soviet Cities

The new book, The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc, examines a culture of automobile use distinct from the western world's.

To get one large point out of the way: In the new book, The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc, several contributors rapidly acknowledge the oxymoron of the title as well as the practice of owning a car in the former Soviet Empire. The private automobile, that avatar of western individualism, is difficult to square with collectivist notions. And…

Andres Duany vs Harvard GSD

Architect Andres Duany is none too pleased that Harvard GSD's Urban Design program has been replaced by Landscape Urbanism. Here's why.

Without a doubt, architect Andres Duany is a pivotal figure in creating a less car-dependent, more walking-oriented American landscape–the kind of human-scale, personally navigable, tight developments that seem to have sturdy green roots and point, generally, toward a more urban lifestyle. Certainly, densely-settled cities have what Duany and his cohorts have been advocating for 30 years. But now as these…

Book Review: The Grid Book

The Grid Book wants to show us that the history of building, composing, computing, mapping, lending, painting, printing, trading, and writing—the history of modern existence, in other words—is really a history of the grid.

The Grid Book wants to show us that the history of building, composing, computing, mapping, lending, painting, printing, trading, and writing—the history of modern existence, in other words—is really a history of the grid. This is ambitious. By a bit too much, as it turns out. The author, Hannah Higgins, isn’t quite able to map out all the facts she…

Book Review: The Battle for Gotham

This book is about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs and their storied clashes, but it’s also about how those conflicts defined the city. And, threaded into that public history, it’s an account of author Roberta Gratz’s own life in New York.

At first glance, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything exemplary in the layout of Willets Point, Queens, with its jumble of auto repair shops, junkyards, and the cars, broken down and not, that litter the spaces between buildings. The city hasn’t built sidewalks there—neither has it installed sewers—so the main drag is both street and sidewalk, and the neighborhood looks…

Q&A: Ken Greenberg on the Future of Urban Planning

One of the great treats in working on our “1-5-10 Issue” was talking to experts and inviting them—urging them, really—to speculate on the future. Toronto-based Ken Greenberg—our urban-planning talking head—is currently working on a book, due out next year, on the future of cities, and he took the opportunity to ruminate on all of the changes he sees on the…

What’s Next: Urban Planning

The 21st-century city faces a host of daunting challenges: projected scarcities of water and energy, rising sea levels, and, ultimately, more people. But the seeds of fairly radical change have already been planted. “I’m convinced we’re in the midst of a transformation that is probably as profound as what happened immediately after the Second World War, when we got all…

Fixing a Broken City

Photos: Cristina Naccarato/Broken City Lab Just across the river from Detroit sits a city forgotten. Battered by the fall of the auto industry and struggling to keep its economy running, Windsor, Ontario, has seen some tough times in recent years, and things aren’t likely to improve any time soon. It has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, a plummeting population,…