Why Do You Hate New Urbanism?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Tanya Olson 9 years, 8 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 50 total)
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  • #171645

    Steve Mouzon
    Participant

    Trace One, you’ve GOTTA be kidding!!! Go to Portland, which has the most famous urban growth boundaries, and look at the new development within those boundaries. I’ve driven there for many miles, and never found a single place amongst the new (post-UGB) developments that wasn’t built according to the same crappy standards as sprawl. NU, OTOH, completely changes the pattern of sprawl to something that can be sustainable, so that you can have your choice of ways of getting around, especially including walking and biking, and so that you can make a living where you’re living. You can’t do either of these in sprawl.

    As for your concern with a zero-growth economy, I believe you’re really onto something there… here’s my take on the issue: http://bit.ly/4AR2S

    #171644

    nca
    Participant

    Thanks for getting in on the discussion Steve. I t would appear I have much to learn regarding urbanism, but I’m an eager student.

    I don’t want to backtrack on what I stated, but I made a few comments, such as Duany ‘hating LA’s’ in order to attempt to ruffle some feathers so to speak, though I did read a statement by someone else ( I think on Archinect) about Duany giving a lecture and criticising landscape archs.

    Regardless, I made the discussion titles, Why Do You Hate..’ because its so evident that so many designers, whether in LA or Arch, have a distaste for NU.

    I read Duany’s ‘5 B’s somewhere and agree with a lot of the NU principles, but I think like anything else, too much of one thing is not good. If we all latched onto NU patterns and character we’d have a denser, more traditional sprawl I guess. I’ll go back to my original statement that variety and texture in the (sub)urban fabric is key.

    Frankly, I think a big part of the problem with sprawl, and I’m probably starting to sound like keunstler, is that typical sprawl doesnt know what the hell it is- country or city, it’s little more than ‘typical’ and so consistently. Though infill is generally regarded as good I dont think we’ve figured out how to make it attractive for most people. It seems like what we really need is a balance or trnsition-enter duany’s ‘transect..’

    #171643

    nca
    Participant

    I couldnt agree more and I sypathize with your point regarding the contrast in typical suburban development and NU communities. I think it’s gotta be more evident in the west where there is a lack of trees and the rolling greenfields are replaced with rolling rooftops.

    As an aside- I really like what David Kahn is doing here in Colorado with his net zero community in Arvada I believe- ‘geos’ might be the name. The project is featured on the asla home page. Too bad it doesnt look like this type of development is in high demand. It seems to me like it takes a special client.

    #171642

    Steve Mouzon
    Participant

    Nick,

    I’m a huge fan of ruffling feathers, as you might have noticed. Without that, the default setting is complacency. But trust me… Duany’s complaint isn’t the LA discipline, but rather the confusion of the urban and the rural. As for the “too much of one thing is not good” idea, I completely agree. NU circa 1995 was all about one setting: T4, in Transect lingo. But we’ve moved far beyond that. The Transect has been a great vehicle, because it requires a full range of urbanity, not just one setting. NU learns as it moves forward.

    #171641

    nca
    Participant

    I think the planning priciples of NU are generally good ideas as ONE answer to suburban sprawl”

    What other answers are there that have moved beyond theory to having been proven in practice? Not saying there aren’t any; I’m just not aware of them.

    I think NU is probably just good design like we all were supposed to have learned in school and through experience and critical thinking. All I’m saying is that I dont think there should be A formula-that in my mind is what sprawl is.

    #171640

    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    Don’t hate it, but aren’t thrilled by it either. We have several “New Urbanist” communities here in the mid-atlantic (New Urbanist is in quotes because it is really old (traditional) urbanist). One DPZ guided development is The Kentlands, just north of DC. From a sense of scale to the architectural treaments, it just feels uncomfortable. It’s also very confusing from a way-finding point of view. Frankly, its kind of hideous in places. It’s really just a traditional suburb with a small main street attached. Yea, the streets are smaller, you can and you can walk to the store, but I can do that where I live, too. And the buildings are much nicer. The real disadvantage in Kentlands is you STILL NEED A CAR. It was also a greenfield development. Layout-6, Execution-4. We also have the “original” NU development, Greenbelt. Built in the 30’s, it is still a very desireable place to live. It is all co-ops of old small townhomes and former military housing. It has a concentric semi-circle development centered around a small retail area and a park with a lake. I considered buying here, because the costs were low, until I realized how much renovation some of these places needed. Also, the co-op was renovating units on their own, and this was driving the prices up. You can walk everywhere, as there are pedestrian trails weaving througout the complex that are more direct than the roads. The only disadvantage is the Metro is a bit far to walk to. You can take the bus, but then you are taking the bus. Like most developments of this type around DC, the metro was kept away on purpose. Layout-9, Execution-8*(Its showing its age, but is lovingly being restored).

    There are plenty of “new urbanist” types of developments all over the place, but few hold true to the original principles. Most just seem to be townhomes slapped on the side of a shopping plaza. There comes a point when the market dictates what can be built while still being saleable and where people WANT to live. Not everyone wants to live in a high rise, or in a townhome slapped together for blocks at a time. Plus, these places tend to be far from where people work (95 corridor). This is where “smart growth” comes in. The Univerisy of MD houses the National Center for Smart Growth. The goal is to help communities guide development and reign in uncontrolled development of suburbs. Noble concept, but even they admit, hard to execute. Again, market forces and property rights (let alone the massive amounts of cash involved) make enforcement nearly impossible, even in forward thinking communities. I’ll leave you to form your own opinion of this.

    Where I will leave MY opinion is in OLD Urbanism. That is, if you work somewhere, LIVE there. Infill or, yes, gentrify areas that may be less desireable. Create and ENFORCE community standards. Limit investment/rental properties in these areas the way a condo community does (absentee landlords?) Enforce minimal maintenance standards (why are places allowed to be boarded up for YEARS at a time?) AND, try to ELIMINATE tax-exempt properties as much as possible.

    #171639

    Steve Mouzon
    Participant

    I completely agree with this, Nick. Many solutions for many places. It’s just that if we can develop a framework upon which to hang most or all of the ideas, it’s more efficient for sustainability and urbanism newcomers if they don’t have to look all over the place for useful ideas.

    With that having been said, those of us in the first generation DID have to look all over for a useful set of ideas. I was on a charrette at Mashpee Commons on Cape Cod nearly a decade ago with Duany, and it was amusing to watch videos from the early 1990’s where Duany and other NU pioneers were pacing off the widths of streets because nobody knew at the time the street widths that were conducive to walkability. So will the assembly of principles within a single set of ideas (the NU) eventually cause intellectual laziness because newcomers don’t have to discover these things for themselves? That’s possible. But it’s a risk we need to take, IMO, because so few capable people emerge when a discipline requires everyone to learn everything on their own.

    #171638

    Paul Best
    Participant

    I completely agree with this: “allowing for a little more kookiness in the designs, a little more roughness around the edges.” I think balance and symmetry are vital to any design, but it is a framework not a maxim to be applied to every element of a place. One of the best things about large and historic urban cores is the clearly organic way in which they developed. What might seem piecemeal gives value because there is history and a sense of place developed through repeated use. Personally, I would never want to live on a street where every house is the same, whether they’re mega-mansions or a new urbanist PUD

    Maybe from a residential perspective there will be less landscaping but from a community perspective, LAs and Urban Designers have the opportunity in NU communities to have an impact through placemaking and developing third space through design of community open space. Don’t you think there’s a lot more value to creating a well designed place were the community can come together as opposed to designing someone’s expansive yard?

    #171637

    Boilerplater
    Participant

    As to value in creating a well-deigned place where the community can come together, yes, certainly that’s a value for the greater good, even if its debatable whether or not it is a reflection of community values. Is it as much value for the designer’s net worth, maybe not so much! ; )

    #171636

    Boilerplater
    Participant

    You guys should feel quite privileged – attracting a noted New Urbanist like Mr. Mouzon to this discussion. He does some pretty cool work and you might want to look up his photo streams if you want to see some pretty pics of old world urbanism and architecture.

    #171635

    Rico Flor
    Participant

    Hi Steve.

    That’s good to hear. Hopefully the abovementioned notion is just an unfortunate viral campaign. You just restored my faith on Andres Duany. I kinda fancy his approach and truly wonder why this has not caught on with UAE based planners. I believe it is just a matter of understanding the indigenous urban fabric and transposing this to the same process (stress on process) locally. Case in point, Duany’s Transect-Dissect-Quadrat method is most adaptable here. In fact, it should be richer as the local urban fabric has unique characteristics of its own that can add to the process and product.

    Cheers!

    #171634

    Trace One
    Participant

    @Mr. Mouzon, you disparage growth limits, but I maintain the problem is the law and it’s implementation, not with the concept….Writing a zoning ordinance to get what you want is an art, seldom perfected.. I always liked Vancouvers zoning ordinance..
    I have absolutely no patience with zoning ordinances, and Planning Boards I find are staffed with wives of the powerful – I mean, if you can find the freaking dumbest and most vocal female out there, – oh, I forgot – Sarah Palin actually ran for vice president of the country..

    I have to say I love the thought you introduced, make city city, and country country..I am just fighting the state DOT’s conception of how to landscape the highway – I feel like I am dealing with a bunch of cosmeticians..actually let me amend that – cosmetician-engineers..Very bad combination..

    I lived in a 600 sq. ft. house in the Hamptons – four rooms, divided evenly, a great wood stove..what a spot..Plenty for me..We had a complete understory of teeny Japanes maples, seeded from the one very old planted 25 foot Jap maple – very shady environment..gorgeous..

    #171633

    Steve Mouzon
    Participant

    Thanks, Boilerplate! Since you mentioned it, I’m starting to build an online photo database at http://samouzon.zenfolio.com/

    Trace One, I’m not disparaging growth limits… what I’m saying is that growth limits alone don’t do the job, because what gets built within the limits is the same old crap (see Portland.) The ideal situation is one where the fabric of the city is great, and at the edge of the city, you can see the surrounding agriculture, like you can do in Pienza, in Bath, or in thousands of other European towns and villages that haven’t been eaten by sprawl. We’re only just now beginning to learn how to do that in our time. Until now, we’ve failed miserably, as sprawl will attest.

    As for landscaping the highway, please be careful to have the highway behave properly for its context. One of the biggest mistakes we make is ramming a highway through a city. When it gets to a city, it should change from the geometries and landscape of a highway to the geometries and landscape of a boulevard, an avenue, or a main street. A highway in the city is as ridiculous as an avenue in the country.

    As for home, I’ve moved from a 3,000 square foot house to a 1,500 square foot house to my current 747 square foot condo on South Beach, where I probably crank the car twice a week because I can walk everywhere. There’s a wonderful tropical side garden just outside my living room window; I’m about to convert part of it to an edible garden, but hopefully in beautiful fashion. Matter of fact, as I might have said earlier here (but it bears repeating) one of the most important things that the discipline of landscape architecture can do now is to reinvent the edible garden as being every bit as beautiful as an ornamental garden. The previous green revolution in the 1960s and 1970s failed because its artifacts (like rooftop solar collectors) were conceived only as engineering, with not a shred of beauty. Agriculture is quickly becoming the cool new thing, which is gratifying to me because I’ve been saying for years that sustainable places must first of all be nourishable places. But this, too, could fail if a vegetable garden continues to be conceived as something on par with a laundry room in terms of beauty. Architects and planners could possibly solve this problem, but landscape architects are a natural!

    #171632

    Trace One
    Participant

    @ Mr. Mouzon, I think we also need to look to invasives and weeds for their nutrients – one of my pet projects is to make a pictionary phamplet of edible weeds, to be distributed to bums (of which we have a lot in california..)

    Yeah, the highway through the city is old old old hideosity..Ian McHarg always fought for the one in P hilly (95? I forget..) that separates the city from the Schuykill River to be undergrounded..I geuss that is what some of the Big Dig is about, in Boston…I just dont want it decorated with little landscape plants that need constant irrigation and are seen by no-one, because the ambient human is doing 80 mph, and we certainly don’t want any animals in those spaces..

    hee hee..thanks for you contributions..

    #171631

    Trace One
    Participant

    Mr. Flor, I am happy to hear Dubai pays some lip service to going green..But I am fairly left of center – where does ANY of the water come from? What sort of habitats are being displaced for these hideous shore-line high-rises? I have never heard anyone complain about the inapropriateness of developing Dubai beyond it’s capacity..I have only heard tiny murmurs about the slave-labor, city of displaced male laborer-thing..
    Ian McHarg taught us that there are appropriate places to build for humans and not appropriate places..Just as the Central Valley of California is having to re-asess it agriculture-king status, in favor of places where there IS water (one Broccoli company just relocated half it’s production to upstate new york), so we need to come to grips with a appropriate places to locate humans, cities..I cannot see how Dubai fits any category for ‘fitness.’ Perhaps for ‘fun-ness’, for the tourists..Sorry to be so cynical..Feel free to put me in my place!
    ๐Ÿ™‚

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