CNU Atlanta: Blogger Smack Down!

I'll be participating in the CNU Atlanta Blogger Smack Down next Thursday, 5/15, at CNU Atlanta's monthly Thirsty Third Thurdays (T3) networking event.  I'm really looking forward to this and it shoudl be interesting.

Well, it won’t really be that much of a smackdown, but the gloves are off as we will find out who’s behind some of the coolest urbanism and architecture blogs in Atlanta.  I'll be there along with the guys behind ATL Urbanist (Darin Givens), Architecture Tourist (Terry Kearns) and History Atlanta (Conor Lee).

Have some questions? Ask away on the Facebook event page here. We’ll use the Twitter hashtag #CNUATLT3 during the event!

Event Details

 

  • Date: Thursday, May 15th
  • Time: 530pm - 730pm
  • Place: Steel Restaurant & Lounge, 950 West Peachtree St, NW

 

 

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CNU Atlanta Monthly Meet-Up

For anyone interested in the true root cause of SnowJam 2014 and potential solutions, this month's CNU Atlanta monthly meet-up will be quite informarive.  The theme is "The Day We Lost Atlanta and Answers for Tomorrow."  Rebecca Burns will be discussing her widely circulated Politico article, The Day We Lost Atlanta, How 2 lousy inches of snow paralyzed a metro area of 6 million.  We will also have Charlie Harper, exectuive director of PolicyBEST and editor of Peach Pundit to talk about advancing the transportation discussion in a post-TSPLOST world.  

Event Details

 

  • What: CNU Atlanta T3 - Urban Talk Featuring Rebecca Burns & Charlie Harper
  • When: Thursday February 20th, 2014; 530pm - 730pm
  • Where: Steel Restaurant, 950 West Peachtree Street, NW, Atlanta

 

 

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image: CNU Atlanta

CNU Week: 30A

I had planned to attend this years CNU21 in Salt Lake City but unfortunately won't be there.  It is one of those places where people interested in walkability, place making and quality development can go to nurture their inner geek.  This week, I'll be posting  a number of my favorite things about the new urbanist movement.


If you have a 30A sticker on your car, you may be a closet new urbanist.  There are three incredible new urbanist towns along 30A that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.  Those are Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach and the town that started it all, Seaside.  I could write a bunch of words about these spots but it wouldn't do them any more justice than these three videos.  The first two are about Seaside and the last is a pretty slick flyover of what Alys Beach's eventual buildout will look like...

 

 

 

CNU Week: Sustainable Street Network Principles

I had planned to attend this years CNU21 in Salt Lake City but unfortunately won't be there.  It is one of those places where people interested in walkability, place making and quality development can go to nurture their inner geek.  This week, I'll be posting  a number of my favorite things about the new urbanist movement.


Let's call this Transportation Tuesday...  One of the most important aspects of our built environment is our transportation infrastructure.  Sidewalks, Streets, Roads, Highways, Railways, etc.. One of the most frustrating parts of good urban design is the fact that a DOT can crush a good development because the roads are poortly designed or because they won't allow proper widths due to a number of voodoo reasons that we won't get into here.  CNU has been working for a long time with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) through the CNU Project for Transportation Reform to come up with guidelines that will help build more people friendly places.  In 2012, the released their Sustainable Street Network Principles.

Here are the main points.  If you would like to dive into them, download the pdf.

Principles

 

  1. Create a Street Network That Supports Communities and Places
  2. Create a Street Network that Attracts and Sustains Economic Activity
  3. Maximize Transportation Choice
  4. Integrate the Street Network With Natural Systems at All Scales
  5. Respect the Existing Natural and Built Environment
  6. Emphasize Walking as the Fundamental Unit of the Street Network
  7. Create Harmony With Other Transportation Networks

 

Key Characteristics

 

  1. A web of streets and travel modes that maximize connectivity
  2. Desirable places where multiple networks overlap
  3. Inherently complex
  4. Major streets designed and spaced properly
  5. All streets safe and walkable
  6. Wide variety of street types, each with a role in the network

 

CNU Week: The Best Books of the New Urbanism

I had planned to attend this years CNU21 in Salt Lake City but unfortunately won't be there.  It is one of those places where people interested in walkability, place making and quality development can go to nurture their inner geek.  This week, I'll be posting  a number of my favorite things about the new urbanist movement.


Next up for CNU Week are my top books that espouse what the new urbanist movement is all about.  Some are very accessible and others are wonky..

 

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream - Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck

You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. - Morpheus, The Matrix

Suburban Nation is THE red pill of the built environment.  It will change your views on a lot of things.  I guarantee that.  It gets a little wonky at time but for the most part is a very accessible read and it is highly entertaining and witty.

 

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time - Jeff Speck

This one is easily the most accessible of all the books listed here.  It came out last year and has done very well for a general audience.  It is packed with stats on why walkability trumps virtually every other measure when considering what is needed to build a great place.  Speck lays out the four requirements of a good walk and the 10 steps to get there.  Most places in the US have a long way to go.

 

The Language of Towns and Cities - Dhiru Thadani

This is really the encyclopedia of the New Urbanism.  I'm not sure how long Dhiru worked on it but it is a master piece.  It is not a book you read but you definitely want to flip through it and go back to it for reference.  It is well written and beautifully illustrated.  I mean, BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED.

 

City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village - David Sucher

City comforts is a more fun version of the Language of Towns and Cities written from the perspecetive of a layperson to help people who love great places but need help illustrating the principles of great places to others.  There are tons of pictures and it's very fun to flip through.

 

Curbside Chat: A Candid Talk about the Future of America's Cities, Towns and Neighborhoods - StrongTowns.org (Chuck Marohn)

The Curbside Chat is where you want to go if you are a fiscal conservative and are wondering if this urban vs. sprawl argument has any substance.  Chuck Marohn of StrongTowns.org lays out some pretty compelling cases that our sprawl development pattern is going to eventually cost much more to maintain than the revenue it will produce.  It's a quick read or you can just watch a Curbside Chat on YouTube from RoswellNEXT's Town Hall Roswell in April 2013.

CNU Week: The Charter of the New Urbanism

I had planned to attend this years CNU21 in Salt Lake City but unfortunately won't be there.  It is one of those places where people interested in walkability, place making and quality development can go to nurture their inner geek.  This week, I'll be posting  a number of my favorite things about the new urbanist movement.

The first thing that comes to mind is the ultra geeky but incredible precient Charter Document.. below is the quick and dirty version.  The actual document is accompanied by essays on each of the 27 points.  If you enjoy this blog, it's worth a read and if you would like to support CNU, you can do so here.

Preamble 

The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy.

We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.

We recognize that physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.

We represent a broad-based citizenry, composed of public and private sector leaders, community activists, and multidisciplinary professionals. We are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design.

We dedicate ourselves to reclaiming our homes, blocks, streets, parks, neighborhoods, districts, towns, cities, regions, and environment.

 

We assert the following principles to guide public policy, development practice, urban planning, and design:

The region: Metropolis, city, and town

1) Metropolitan regions are finite places with geographic boundaries derived from topography, watersheds, coastlines, farmlands, regional parks, and river basins. The metropolis is made of multiple centers that are cities, towns, and villages, each with its own identifiable center and edges.

2) The metropolitan region is a fundamental economic unit of the contemporary world. Governmental cooperation, public policy, physical planning, and economic strategies must reflect this new reality.

3) The metropolis has a necessary and fragile relationship to its agrarian hinterland and natural landscapes. The relationship is environmental, economic, and cultural. Farmland and nature are as important to the metropolis as the garden is to the house.

4) Development patterns should not blur or eradicate the edges of the metropolis. Infill development within existing urban areas conserves environmental resources, economic investment, and social fabric, while reclaiming marginal and abandoned areas. Metropolitan regions should develop strategies to encourage such infill development over peripheral expansion.

5) Where appropriate, new development contigu- ous to urban boundaries should be organized as neighborhoods and districts, and be integrated with the existing urban pattern. Noncontiguous development should be organized as towns and villages with their own urban edges, and planned for a jobs/housing balance, not as bedroom suburbs.

6) The development and redevelopment of towns and cities should respect historical patterns, precedents, and boundaries.

7) Cities and towns should bring into proximity a broad spectrum of public and private uses to support a regional economy that benefits people of all incomes. Affordable housing should be distributed throughout the region to match job opportunities and to avoid concentrations of poverty.

8) The physical organization of the region should be supported by a framework of transportation alternatives. Transit, pedestrian, and bicycle systems should maximize access and mobility throughout the region while reducing dependence upon the automobile.

9) Revenues and resources can be shared more cooperatively among the municipalities and centers within regions to avoid destructive competition for tax base and to promote rational coordination of transportation, recreation, public services, housing, and community institutions.

The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor

10) The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor are the essential elements of development and redevelopment in the metropolis. They form identifiable areas that encourage citizens to take responsibility for their maintenance and evolution.

11) Neighborhoods should be compact, pedestrian friendly, and mixed-use. Districts generally emphasize a special single use, and should follow the principles of neighborhood design when possible. Corridors are regional connectors of neighborhoods and districts; they range from boulevards and rail lines to rivers and parkways.

12) Many activities of daily living should occur within walking distance, allowing independence to those who do not drive, especially the elderly and the young. Interconnected networks of streets should be designed to encourage walking, reduce the number and length of automobile trips, and conserve energy.

13) Within neighborhoods, a broad range of housing types and price levels can bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction, strengthening the personal and civic bonds essential to an authentic community.

14 ) Transit corridors, when properly planned and coordinated, can help organize metropolitan structure and revitalize urban centers. In contrast, highway corridors should not displace investment from existing centers.

15) Appropriate building densities and land uses should be within walking distance of transit stops, permitting public transit to become a viable alternative to the automobile.

16) Concentrations of civic, institutional, and commercial activity should be embedded in neighborhoods and districts, not isolated in remote, single-use complexes. Schools should be sized and located to enable children to walk or bicycle to them.

17) The economic health and harmonious evolution of neighborhoods, districts, and corridors can be improved through graphic urban design codes that serve as predictable guides for change.

18) A range of parks, from tot-lots and village greens to ballfields and community gardens, should be distributed within neighborhoods. Conservation areas and open lands should be used to define and connect different neighbor- hoods and districts.

The block, the street, and the building

19) A primary task of all urban architecture and landscape design is the physical definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use.

20) Individual architectural projects should be seamlessly linked to their surroundings. This issue transcends style.

21) The revitalization of urban places depends on safety and security. The design of streets and buildings should reinforce safe environments, but not at the expense of accessibility and openness.

22) In the contemporary metropolis, development must adequately accommodate automobiles. It should do so in ways that respect the pedestrian and the form of public space.

23) Streets and squares should be safe, comfort- able, and interesting to the pedestrian. Properly configured, they encourage walking and enable neighbors to know each other and protect their communities.

24) Architecture and landscape design should grow from local climate, topography, history, and building practice.

25) Civic buildings and public gathering places require important sites to reinforce community identity and the culture of democracy. They deserve distinctive form, because their role is different from that of other buildings and places that constitute the fabric of the city.

26) All buildings should provide their inhabitants with a clear sense of location, weather and time. Natural methods of heating and cooling can be more resource-efficient than mechanical systems.

27) Preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes affirm the continuity and evolution of urban society.

 

 

 

 

A Congress You Can Appreciate - CNU19

Wisconsin Capitol Building at NightI spent much of last week in Madison, Wisconsin at the 19th annual Congress for the New Urbanism, CNU19.  It was an incredible experience with 1,143 people convening in picturesque Madison to discuss and debate how well designed neighborhoods can have a meaningful impact on the lives of those who live in them and those in their surrounding areas.  CNU, as the organization is referred to, is the nations leading organization advocating for walkable, neighborhood based development as an alternative to the separated, sprawling subdivisions, office parks and shopping centers that make up much of today's suburban landscape.  I'm obviously a member.

This year's theme was Growing Local.  Madison could not have been a more appropriate setting with a rich history of farming and a good number of local family owned farms which is not the norm in the midwest.  They also have the nation's largest producer only farmer's market.  Fried cheese samples at the farmers' marketIt was HUGE!  This time of year, there were lots of flowers and LOTS of Cheese.  You an see some samples of fried cheese here.

Tracks

There were well over 100 sessions, tours and discussions that attendees could participate in over the course of the four days.  Tracks included:

 

  • Implementing the New Urbanism: Design and Economics
  • Agriculture and Urbanism
  • Sustainability: Water and Energy
  • International
  • Architecture and Placemaking
  • Bikeability and Transportation

 

I tended to focus on the Bikeability and Transportation as well as the Architecture and Placemaking tracks although all of them were very interesting with a myriad of knowledgeable speakers.  Here's a recap of my journey for you (and me lest I forget):

Wednesday, June 1

Bike the Transect Tour - We ventured out on rented Trek 7200 bikes for a ride out of Madison through Verona and out to Paoli for brunch at the Creamery.  Our return trip took us through Fitchburg and the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.  There were about 20 of us including guides and 19 of us made it the entire ~35 miles back.  An elderly gentleman had to drop out at our brunch stop.  The landscape went from Urban Center to General Urban through Suburban and into Rural.  It was amazing watching it unfold.  The more amazing part was that a good portion of our trip was made on dedicated bike paths.  They even had their own road signs.  Our brunch in Paoli at the Creamery was insanely good.  This tour started the conference right.

New Urbanism 202 - The Smart Growth Manual - I was a little late to this session because the bike tour was a little long and a shower was necessary.  Unfortunately, I missed most of Andres Duany's part of the session (don't worry, his speech on Saturday more than made up for my lost time with the grand poobah).  Mike Lydon and Jeff Speck took about 2 hours and 15 min to go through the Smart Growth Manual and touch on some of the finer points that the book doesn't hit.  If you are a nerd like me or just someone who wants to know about how to develop our places in a more effective manner, check out the book.  It's a quick read and is a very good resource.

Opening Plenary with William Cronan - This lecture was absolutely incredible.  Cronan is a professor at the University of Wisconsin, an author (Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West) as well as an excellent speaker.  He delivered a lecture titled "What time is this place?' that was thought provoking and educational.  He looked at aerial imagery of Madison from the late 40's through present day and discussed how different transportation systems impacted the pattern of development.   He went from horse and buggy to the electric street car and finally to the automobile.  The pictures examined the transect from the state capitol west out to agricultural land.  He went west on Regent St to Speedway Rd to Mineral Point Rd out past the W Beltline Hwy. I can't give it justice in just a blurb so I'm going to stop trying.

Thursday, June 2

Open Source Plenary - This was an interesting addition to the Congress.  Essentially, it was a crowd sourcing event where audience members could propose topics.  Those topics were put on a board and assigned a breakout location.  Anyone who was interested in discussing that topic could go to the designated location and work with that group.  I chose Chuck Mahron's topic of Complete Streets and New Urbanism.  Chuck works with an organization called Strong Towns in Minnesota that works with small town governments to ensure they are aware of the financial implications of their development decisions.  I regularly read his blog and was glad I got a chance to meet him in person.  The group was about 15 strong for this session and we had a good discussion of the impacts of road design on safety as well as what makes sense in certain areas.  One of Chuck's main points is that there is a difference between a road and a street and that municipalities need to understand that.  To generalize, a road is meant to get you from one city/town to another city/town and a street is meant to get you from place to place within a city/town.  This was a good session even though I was the note taker.

The City of Continuity: New Urbanism and Historic Preservation - My interest in this session has to do with the fact that I live in Roswell.  We have a great history of historic preservation here and I was curious to learn more about the relationship between new urbanism and historic preservation.  If you are knowledgeable about the new urbanism, then you probably know that a common critique is that new urbanist communities tend to be nostalgic and have traditional architecture.  The real reason for this tends to lie in the fact that it is what the buyers want time and time again.  But, there are rifts between historic preservationists and new urbanists that I wasn't aware of.  It was interesting to see the dialogue.  There were speakers from New Orleans, the University of Notre Dame and South Florida.

Charter Awards Lunch - CNU has been giving out awards for excellence in the design and implementation of projects annually for the past 11 years.  This year's awards were separated into academic and professional.  As it turns out the most impressive of them all was a plan for Skaneateles, NY that was done by the Notre Dame Graduate Urban Design Studio.  Skaneatles PlanThe jury said that this was the best presented of all the projects academic or professional.  The other one that I enjoyed was the final plan for the Seaside Town Square and Beachfront.  It boldly proposes a 75 foot tower where the much loved post office sits currently.  Seaside Town Square PlanI'll love to see that someday.

The New Urbanism and the Bicycle: A Dialogue - I attended this session to learn a little more about implementing good bicycle facilities since I'm participating in the public input process for the Roswell Historic Gateway project.  There were major differences in opinion on the need for separate bike lanes, painted bike lanes and overwhelming signage.  I tended to agree with the side of less signage but I think it's all about context.  In situations where speed limits are 25mph or lower, lanes probably aren't necessary.  The Q&A in this session was great.

Public Space Design in Europe, the Middle East, China and South America - This one started off a little slow with looks at public spaces in the middle east and asia.  A very interesting tidbit about China though.  Chinese regulations demand that every room in the house have at least two hours of sunlight on the winter solstice.  This creates an interesting design dilemma as all buildings must face the same way and high rises cannot be too close to each other.  The next presenter showed some AMAZING projects that have been completed in Europe.  i was shocked and jealous of some of the things going on in Europe.  Of course, I'm not jealous of their fiscal issues.

Salons - There were a number of salons on Thursday night.  I chose the Federal Sustainable Communities Initiative salon.  It was run by former CNU Executive Director, Shelly Poticha. She is currently the Director for Sustainable Housing and Communities at HUD.  She worked closely with the HUD EPA DOT partnership in reviewing grant applications for the most recent round of funding.  There were many people representing organizations that received grants.  To me, the most memorable was Jerry Tinianow with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission who discussed the initiative to revitalize a blighted area, Weinland Park, by incorporating urban agriculture.  Here's a great presentation on the initiative.  I wish them luck.  

Friday, June 3

Friday Morning Plenary - Harvard economist and author of bestseller Triumph of the City Ed Glaeser talked for about 45 minutes and then took questions.  He was a furious talker comparable to the MicroMachines man from teh 80's commercials.  His talk was relavent .  I asked him after the lecture what he thought about crime and density.  He wrote a paper in the late 90's on the topic and he feels there is a weak correlation but was uncertain whether it still existed and whether the research was robust enough to prove.  He did say that interestingly people who live in high rises in high density areas are statistically more likely to be victims of crime than those who live in shorter buildings in high density areas.

Stefanos Polyzoides, one of the CNU founders, followed Prof. Glaeser and did a great job examining how the New Urbanists need to take a page out of the Landscape Urbanists' playbook and focus much more on design for a region or climate rather than just building things that people will like.  He focused on ten principles for designing proper buildings in a hot dry climate and a hot damp climate.  The lessons were memorable but were directed at the architect segment of the audience.   

Preparing Communities for an Aging Society: Discussion with Henry Cisneros -   Mr. Cisneros is a strong advocate for creating places where elderly can live without assistance until much later in life.  There will be a major need for this in the coming years as the baby boomers begin to enter their golden years.  This year is when the first boomers begin to hit 65.  I thought the part of the discussion that focused on old folks who absolutely refuse to leave their homes was sad.  I recall when my grandmother hit an age when she couldn't care for herself anymore and we had to move her out of her condo.  She was as feisty as they come but it was necessary.  What are we going to do when we have millions of elderly refusing to leave their big houses with big yards?  It was an interesting and important discussion.

Transportation Initiative Meeting - The transportation initiative meeting had good attendance.  The Project for Transportation Reform was the topic.  It opened with Carl Wren of the Austin Fire department talking about successes and challenges in working with emergency response units throughout the country to advance the Networks and Emergency Response Initiative.  It is apparent that many municipalities across the country are seeing the benefits of a networked street grid when it comes to efficient and timely emergency response.  After Chris finished the group discussed transportation initiatives and many of the points came back to safe bicycling.  I brought up the challenge of placemaking when our streets are littered with unnecessary road signs.

Sprawl Retrofit at the Micro Scale: Repairing All Dimensions - This one was interesting.  We first took a look at the a project that focused on repairing missing teeth throughout Long Island.  The project identified thousands of acres of parking lots in town centers that could be redeveloped creating a more inviting environment in those town centers.  Other speakers talked about the challenge of repairing sprawling environments with small scale solutions.  The sheer size of our suburban landscape makes the addition of a small park or some benches almost irrelevant.  

Sprawl Retrofit Action: From Design to Reality; Seeping vs. Sweeping

CNU Atlanta Meetup @ Brocach Irish Pub - This was a good event following a long day of Cities, Elderly and Sprawl Retrofit.  The Atlanta CNU chapter was well represented in Madison and we also had local entrepreneur Farmer D in the house.  The food was good but the conversation was better.  Lots of good ideas came up and hopefully we can take some of them home with us.

Saturday, June 4

Bike to the University of Wisconsin - I took a ride over to the University of Wisconsin with fellow new urbanist from Orlando, Todd Bonnett.  Todd wanted to try out his free B Cycle bike sharing card.  It turned out to be a pretty sweet system.  Easy to use, easy to ride and very convenient.

Madison B Cycle DockThe university was pretty nice and it was a quick ride up State Street.  I was impressed even more with the bike paths.  One of the more ironic things that I saw along the way as we rode on a bike path that was a converted railroad was an old train sitting next to the old train station that has been converted into a bike shop.  Train Station to Bike Store in Madison

Dane County Farmers' Market - What can I say about this other than wow.  Here's a link.

Saturday Morning Plenary - The last morning plenary of the Congress did not disappoint.  We heard a motivational story of success from Will Allen of Growing Power.  Will runs a non-profit urban agriculture organization in Milwaukee.  They teach inner city youth the virtues of growing food.  They work with fish, bees and livestock in an urban environment.  Here's a quick blurb from Johanna Bye on the CNU blog:

Since it’s founding, Growing Power has maintained close ties with the working-class neighborhood it calls home. Through outreach and education programs, the farm introduces agriculture and business skills to youth from low-income backgrounds. One such program is the Milwaukee Youth Corps (also operating in Chicago), which invites kids and teens from the inner city to work on the farm and learn all aspects of the trade, from growing produce to eating healthy, being more active, marketing, and learning entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

Will Allen is a big man but his heart and story are even bigger.  This was truly worth hearing.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) followed Mr. Allen and did a great job positioning the issues of the day and framing the challenges that we face as a society with energy, finances, and climate change.  The great thing is that new urbanism and smart growth can help with all three.  

Typology of Transit-Oriented Development - This was a comparison of older transportation locations versus newer transportation locations in two metro areas.  It was interesting to see how certain types of implementation and densities can impact driving habits, CO2 emissions.  The most interesting part of the entire presentation was around the actual data.

Academic Paper Session 2: Investigations on Transportation Networks - If you think widening roads is an effective way to increase the level of service at a given intersection, think again.  The absolute silver bullet in increasing level of service is increasing the network.  Widening roads decreases pedestrian safety and does very little to actually improve level of service.  Several other academic papers with interesting research were presented but I'll spare you.

New Mobility Meets New Urbanism

Final Plenary - This was the hyped event of the week.  Ever since Andres Duany fired a direct shot at the Landscape Urbanism establishment in his Point of View piece in Metropolis Magazine, New Urbanists have been waiting for a response from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.  This was that response.  The original format was expected to be a debate between Duany and GSD head Charles Waldheim.  It then turned into a Q&A.  Finally it turned into a lecture by Prof. Waldheim followed by a short Q&A from Duany.  But, in typical Duany fashion, he surprised us all.

Prof. Waldheim presented a well laid out overview of Landscape Urbanism over the course of 50 minutes.  The biggest success of the movement has been the High Line in New York.  They haven't really built any neighborhoods or cities or anything.  However, they do enjoy influence over many of the premier architecture schools in the nations.  So, the New Urbanists view the movement as a threat especially since the movement is based on an idea rather than practical and empirical observation over time.  

Following Prof. Waldheim's lecture, Duany came out and issued a challenge to the crowd.  It was to essentially learn what can be learned from the LU's and incorporate the good into the practice of building better New Urbanist communities.  It was amazing how he almost completely dismissed the most powerful man in academic architecture and took a message directly to his following.  I was impressed.  If you want to see the entire Closing Plenary, you can view it here.

Closing Party - The closing party was held on top of the Monona Terrace Conference Center.  It was a beautiful setting for the end of the Congress.  I met and talked to some more people before finally calling it a night and ending my conference. 

If you'd like to inquire on any of the sessions, I'd be more than happy to discuss.

Next year's congress will be in West Palm Beach.  I'm planning on going.  If you're interested in joining the cause, let me know or go to www.cnu.org.  

 

images: CNU, Opticos Design