Little Boxes on a Hillside: A Review of New Urbanism

As a design and development practice, New Urbanism (NU) emerged in response to widespread suburban sprawl across the United States. The movement seeks to create vibrant, healthy, and sustainable communities through human-scale urban design. NU’s fundamental tenants include walkability, connectivity, mixed uses, architectural diversity, green infrastructure, and increased density. But it’s rise in popularity since the 1980’s has not been without controversy. Critics of NU … Continue reading Little Boxes on a Hillside: A Review of New Urbanism

Street Seats: a student-designed parklet in NYC

On the corner of New York City’s 13th Street and 5th Avenue, hundreds of people use the sidewalk adjacent to The New School University Center every day. For a university in Manhattan, “campus” is a loose term that defines the parts of the city traversed by its students. Union Square Park—a magnet of public life—is a proximate and popular space for students and faculty to relax outside, … Continue reading Street Seats: a student-designed parklet in NYC

Free Speech, Signs, and the City

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been dissected for its potential impact on litigious issues from campaign finance to abortion.  Yet one surely settled issue is the court’s June 2015 ruling on the limits of control a government may use to regulate signs.  In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court found that the small town of Gilbert, Arizona exceeded its authority when … Continue reading Free Speech, Signs, and the City

Ravelejar: The Art of Neighborhood Branding (3/4)

Part 3: Balancing Neighborhood Character and Tourism Part 1 of this series (“The Barcelona Model”) was published on this site on September 30, 2015. Part 2  (“Constructing the Mythology of Barrio Chino”) was published  on October 17, 2015. In 2002, several public and private entities in Barcelona came together to form a new community organization called Tot Raval (“all of El Raval”). The formation of Tot Ravel … Continue reading Ravelejar: The Art of Neighborhood Branding (3/4)

Public Space and Conscious Design: A Case Study

Think of your favorite public space. It could be the park near your childhood home. It might be the waterfront promenade where you run, or walk, or ride your bike at sunset. Perhaps it’s a busy downtown street. Now consider: what is it about this particular space that makes you happy? That makes you feel safe, comfortable, welcome, at home? It is likely that your … Continue reading Public Space and Conscious Design: A Case Study

Ravelejar: The Art of Neighborhood Branding (1/4)

Part 1: The Barcelona Model Barcelona. To many, the name of this cultural capital conjures up images of beaches, ornate architecture, tapas, and wine. It is a city whose reputation precedes it. While its reputation can be, in part, attributed to the city’s world famous soccer team and representations in popular media1, Barcelona’s ascent to global city status is also the result of innovative urban … Continue reading Ravelejar: The Art of Neighborhood Branding (1/4)

Sustainability Lessons from a German Neighborhood

Rather than working in opposition to natural forces, new American developments could follow Vauban’s example and plan with them. Vauban is an ecologically-and socially-minded neighborhood of 5,000 in Freiburg, Germany. In many ways, Vauban is a successful case study in sustainable urbanism. There is academic agreement that the design at Vauban is outstanding. Nevertheless, as long as this style of living and outstanding design is … Continue reading Sustainability Lessons from a German Neighborhood