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.