Hip, Urban, Middle-Aged

By Nancy Keates
Published: August 13, 2013
Wall Street Journal

Jennifer Williams says she often feels like the oldest person on her block. When the 52-year-old corporate communications executive sets off for work in a suit, carrying a briefcase, with her hair in a bun, she is usually surrounded by young people with tattoos and rainbow crocheted skull caps. “It’s like mom is coming in for a visit,” she says.

That doesn’t bother Ms. Williams. In fact, such diversity is exactly what she was looking for when she bought a condo in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn two years ago, after living in what she calls the “dead zone” of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “I find it endlessly fascinating and interesting. I wanted to be somewhere with energy and life.”

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Urban shift has Americans bidding farewell to suburbs

Published August 1, 2013
The Today Show

The proverbial American dream of white picket fences in suburbia seems to have lost its luster as a radical new housing trend shows families staying put in the city. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

Watch the video here


The Case for Shared Green Spaces

By Kaid Benfield
Published: January 14, 2013
theatlanticcities.com

A group of civic and architectural partners in Little Rock has developed a great concept for improving a declining neighborhood, incrementally increasing density, and applying advanced measures for storm water control at the same time. All this in a single-family, affordable infill development with first-rate design. No wonder it has won a slew of awards, including a 2013 national honor award from the American Institute of Architects for regional and urban design.

The project employs the “pocket neighborhood” concept championed by architect Ross Chapin – reducing the footprint of a group of smaller, single-family homes by sharing gardens and amenities that would occupy more land if duplicated for each individual house.  Chapin, who has worked mainly in the Pacific Northwest, gives his projects high-quality building materials and beautiful design features that respect their neighborhood settings. I’ve been a fan since before I knew the concept had a name, when I ran across his pioneering and lovely Third Street Cottages in Langley, Washington. I love incremental approaches to increasing density, in part because they seldom require major lifestyle changes and in part because their relatively harmonious design improvements can be somewhat easier to sell to suspicious neighbors inclined to distrust change.

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Families WILL Choose to Live Downtown, If We Design for Kids!

By Brent Toderian
Published: September 24, 2012
Planetizen

A few months back, Toronto’s Deputy Mayor started a political flap, stating on the floor of City Council that downtown was no place to raise kids! “Where’s little Ginny? Well, she’s downstairs playing in the traffic on her way to the park,” he exclaimed.

Flap, indeed. Urbanists and parents alike were quick to denounce the comment, including me. In a way though, we might thank the Deputy Mayor for saying candidly what unfortunately many politicians, and many parents, might still think.

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How the Recession Made Me a Gentrifier in My Home Town

By Nona Willis Aronowitz
Published: June 15, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

In a recent episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah, the character played by show creator Lena Dunham, has a late night phone chat with her sorta-boyfriend during a pilgrimage to her hometown of East Lansing, Michigan. The most notable thing about her trip isn’t that she’d just had sex with another dude, but that said dude had a giant apartment. “Why doesn’t everyone who’s struggling in New York move back here and start the revolution?” she muses. “It’s like we’re slaves to this place that doesn’t even really want us.”

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