September 7, 2010


A frustration with suburban sprawl is that there just doesn't seem to be anything that can be done about it: origins and destinations are spread out, cars are obligatory, there are no public spaces. And it all seems so permanent, so ... built. The experience of walking in such an environment makes me feel like an afterthought--the lonely consequence of a planner who hedged his bets: "Well, no one will want to walk in a place like this ... but I better put in some sidewalks, just in case."

You have to throw pedestrians more than a bone to get walkability, and that's exactly what this really sweet entry in the Re-urbia Suburban Design Competition does. Take a look:

Infill development has the potential to gradually transform suburban sprawl into spaces that can support additional uses. I extra extra love these ideas because no raze n rebuild is needed; the new blends in with the old. The big developments that result from clearing large swaths of land always feel less than real, a bit ... sterile. Like plots of mixed use simulacra. Better to go incremental, though incremental, by definition, is slow.

Here are the rest of the finalists. Definitely worth a peek.

Update: the person who submitted this portfolio to the competition did not disclose her affiliation with New Urbanist titans Duany, Plater and Zyberk et al., but apparently she is one of the principals. Still great work, just not quite the diamond in the rough it once seemed!

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