Cities With Denser Cores Do Better

By Richard Florida
Published: November 28, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

Density — the close clustering of people together in communities — is a big factor in the technological and economic progress of cities and nations. Economists, urbanists, and place makers have found density to be associated with everything from greater energy efficiency to higher levels of skilled and talented people, higher rates of innovation, and higher income.

Most studies of the effects of density measure it rather crudely, as I noted recently, and simply average out the number of people per unit of land area. By this standard measure, Los Angeles is denser than New York. But density is far, far more concentrated in the center of Manhattan than anywhere in L.A.

That raises a big question: Do cities with more concentrated density — where people and economic activity are concentrated and spiky near the center — see even better economic performance?

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Between Walking and Wandering, Power in Presence

By Brendan Crain
Published: November 23, 2012
Project for Public Spaces

Walking and wandering are two very different things. Walking is functional; it is merely the act of getting from A to B on our own two legs. But when we wander, it is the journey–not the destination–that matters. Somewhere between these two, there has to be a happy medium. In many of today’s sprawling cities, traveling on foot can be difficult, if not impossible. Even when sidewalks and crosswalks are available, many suburban and urban landscapes are so debased that they provide little inspiration for wandering. To get lost on foot in Paris is a pastime; in Phoenix, it’s a headache.

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Creative Placemaking: From here until now

By Hazel Borys
Published: November 15, 2012
Placemakers

We’ve been talking for the last few weeks about how happiness and health are generated or depleted by the way our neighbourhoods, towns, cities, and rural landscapes are developed – here, here, and here. We’ve been discussing these ideas in national terms, looking at indices and trends. During this study, I couldn’t help but reflect on the elements of place that make me the happiest, personally.

If you’re a frequent reader on PlaceShakers, you probably already know that I’m inspired and delighted by great cycling cities, cycling through nature, gardening, retail streets, travel, living outdoors, cottage living, and art.

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Can cities help you forget your troubles? C’mon, get happy!

By Hazel Borys
Published: November 1, 2012
Better! Cities & Towns

In most physical and policy planning, triple bottom line benchmarks focus on environment and economy, and tend to skim over the subject of society. That’s probably because urban design impacts are much easier to measure with respect to profit and planet than they are with respect to people.

Any good MBA professor preaches, “What gets measured gets done.” For several generations, we’ve been proving that point with our relentless focus on measuring our collective success via a host of global economic indicators. Since An Inconvenient Truth, environmental factors have joined the economic mainstream as well, sparking a whole new breed of Eco Warriors.

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