Urban Planning: Urgent Necessity or Dangerous Distraction?
Today's Guardian has a story that describes the urban mega-city as "the greatest design challenge" of our time. Given the numbers that ...
Today's Guardian has a story that describes the urban mega-city as "the greatest design challenge" of our time. Given the numbers that author Justin McGuirk cites, notably the UN's recent prediction that three-quarters of the world's population will live in cities by 2050 -- slum cities like Kinshasa or Karachi, where most of these accommodations will be built from scratch -- it's hard to disagree with some of his larger points. (Although New Urbanists certainly won't accept that their creations are "escapist fantasies designed by people who hated cities.")
Yet at the same time McGuirk is summoning designers to think about how "we [can] create cities that are not just containers for tightly-packed populations, but pleasant and equitable places to live," architectural historian Witold Rybcyznski sounds a different note on the online publication Slate. Breaking with the conventional wisdom (and with Obama administration urban "czar" Adolfo Carrión Jr.), Rybczynski warns against the cult of the "smart plan." Instead, he praises the accomplishments of what he sees as the forces that have turned around so many American cities "private organizations such as park conservancies, downtown associations, historic-preservation societies, arts councils, advocacy groups, and urban universities," as well as, who could forget them?, private developers.
"The simple truth," writes Rybcyznski, "is that successful city-building is less about big moves and more about perseverance and day-to-day management.
In the present economic downturn--as tax revenues diminish and cities face fewer jobs, no new construction, fewer tourists, fewer conventions, and less state funding--older cities will struggle to repair and replace aging infrastructure, and new cities will be challenged to maintain their growth. Talk of economic stimulus packages raises the temptation to undertake large publicly planned projects again. This temptation should be resisted. The lessons of the last 50 years should not be forgotten. To rephrase that great city planner, Daniel H. Burnham, make no big plans, only many small ones.
We invite you to discuss and comment on this article using social media.
What's the Best Way to Enroll People in Medicaid?3 days ago
Monuments Get Legal Protection From Removal in Alabama3 days ago
When For-Profit Colleges Close, Nebraska Now Has a Plan B for Students3 days ago
Mayor Joins Race to Replace Chaffetz in Congress3 days ago
The Only Major U.S. City to Lose Population in 20163 days ago
Uber, Lyft Are (Probably) Returning to Austin3 days ago