Development of thesis topic….needing input on “New Urbanism”

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums RESEARCH Development of thesis topic….needing input on “New Urbanism”

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    Odie Avery

    So, Im beginning my research for a thesis topic at Mississippi State University and having trouble organizing my interests to develop an acceptable dissertation.


    My research and interest thus far have led me to the topic of New Urbanism and understanding what questions on the topic need to be addressed and better understood.  One area I’m looking into on the topic is the Role of the Charette Process in New Urbanist design.  Primarily considering the impact of public participation as well as the impact of the facilitator or the design team on the final product of the Charette. Kind of in the dark on how to approach this topic and what direction to take.  Any comments, questions, recommended readings or journal article suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.


    Also, any other ideas of “hot topics” on the subject of New Urbanism would be welcome as I try to narrow all of this down.


    Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions…… 

    mark foster

    I think one of the most interesting phenomena surrounding (literally) new urbanist communities is their unintended consequences–the interaction/effect on the areas just beyond their borders.

    I participated in charettes for a fairly large NU (now well under construction) development nearby. Many years later it appears to be a success and very popular, but because the planning and zoning was not carefully considered in the areas surrounding it, a sea of post–WWII commercial/residential/office developement many times it’s size has risen.

    This has had the affect of discouraging a vibrant commercial/service component within the community, causing it to function largely as a very interesting subdivision. People live and walk within, but drive, shop, work elsewhere. I don’t see this as the fault of the concept or the people who have developed it–it was just an unintended consequence beyond their control.

    Good luck with the thesis.

    Noah Billig

    Two articles to check out, if you haven’t, are:

    Ellis, C. “The New Urbanism: Critiques and Rebuttals.” Journal of Urban Design 7, no. 3 (2002): 261-291.

    Krieger, A. “Whose Urbanism?” Architecture 87, no. 11 (1998): 73-76.Krieger, A. “Whose Urbanism?” Architecture 87, no. 11 (1998): 73-76.

    Ellis’s article might be a good starting point for narrowing down your topic. I’m not sure about research on the charrette process in New Urbanism. Good luck and enjoy the project (as much as you can).

    Nick Mitchell

    I did some research on the subject a while ago, here is one of my sources
    I modeled my argument around Seaside Florida

    Trace One

    Good topic..Somewhat historical (getting dated?)..Do the ‘ecological urbanists’ also want to use charettes?

    Why don’t you run a charette yourself? It can be fake, but still interesting..

    And I think there are recent articles on the role of the professional vs. the role of the public in decision making – I have been frustrated for years by the role of the public, and the lack of respect for the professional..

    Have suffered through what seems like hundreds of charettes, facilitated by professional facilitators in later years..I loathe them….What a waste of time…

    Tosh K

    Always had trouble in central VA with the city/town governments being fascinated by NU “town center” look for development, the public process in general (most public meetings are dominated by people with strong opinions and loud voices, quite often negative), the environmental needs -therefore approvals- (often neglected in NU).

    Topics to look at might be intent vs outcome, especially in its relationship to more contemporary discourse in LArch and urbanism (ecology and aesthetics). Also, one area I’ve personally found interesting is the notion of authenticity in the discourse on placeness in relation to NU developments.

    Related to this, the idea of pattern books for developments is pretty enlightening as guidance on development.

    Jason T. Radice

    You might focus on exectution. Most are simply glorified suburbs, separate from their surroundings. Plus, how do these things grow over time? They don’t you have to build another one right next to it, unlike real urbanism which is more “quilt” like, which can be stiched together. New Urbanism or now ‘transit oriented’ developments remind me of the utopian ideals of the turn-of-the-century, but with less of the ‘social’ theory.


    That’s a problem in my experience as well. When the charette is set up in a way that puts the opinion of the layperson on par with the professional, you end up with a lot of venting, a lot of public soap-box grandstanding, and a lot of time wasted to local attention-seekers who love to hear the sound of their own voice. The NIMBYS tend to be the loudest.

    When you go to a doctor, you expect a professional opinion, and most people will defer to them and follow their advice. Design professionalls have allowed their opinions to be eroded with these attempts at design by committee.

    Steve Roberts

    I am an MSU grad, and I did my thesis on New Urbanism as well. I wrote about Dan Kemp, the developer of the Cotton District, who I believe is now the Mayor of Starkville. He loves to talk about New Urbanism, he is a nice and approachable guy. I suggest that you meet him, bring up the subject and see where it leads. He is a strong supporter of the Department. The Cotton District is a wonderful example of New Urbanism, and is right in your backyard. NU developments tend to lead themselves to the younger crowd due to the nightlife that generally comes with them. Hope this helps.

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