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

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Why Is ‘Authenticity’ So Central to Urban Culture?

By Richard Greenwald
Published: January 31, 2013
theatlanticcities.com

One of the worst things you can publicly call someone today is a fake. The controversy surrounding Beyonce’s “singing” of the National Anthem at Obama’s inauguration demonstrates the point and shows, according to the Washington Post, “how confused our culture has become over its wobbly standards of authenticity.” We are, in a word, obsessed.

It is little wonder, then, that we seek out spaces, food, and clothes that affirm a sense of realness and rootedness. The more alike we become, the thirstier we are for perceived individuality. And in crowded cities, being an individual means being rooted in modern notions of authenticity.

Cases in point can be seen in almost every moderately hip or gentrifying city neighborhood. It is clearly evident in certain parts of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Flea is in many ways an archetype for the consumption of modern, urban authenticity. The Flea features hundreds of vendors of antique furniture, vintage clothing, and crafts by local artisans. Part of its charm is its curation of things from the past (antiques and vintage clothing) and a hand-crafted and local present.

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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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Survival Lessons From an Ancient Failed City

By Edward J. Blakely
Published: August 2, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

The city of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, was a vibrant, growing metropolis in the late 17th century. Angkor was the New York, Paris or Rome of its time. At its peak from the 9th to 17th centuries AD, no one could have imagined any threat to this Khmer city-state. Yet, Angkor collapsed almost totally in the 17th century, and the reasons behind its demise offer an important lesson for today’s cities.

Angkor was built on a vast transportation network: canals acted substantially like freeways. The metropolis grew by expanding its network of canals from the central city to form a vast complex of suburban satellites. As depicted below, this was a gigantic enterprise. Ankgor grew exponentially as internal wealth and power increased. The waterways allowed goods and people to move well beyond the central core of the city.

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Rush to rent, and build apartments

By Jim Weiker
Published: June 30, 2012
The Columbia Dispatch

The 5,000 apartments under development in central Ohio were of no help to Lindsay Earle and Courtney Georg.

The roommates recently discovered that in popular parts of town, renters far outnumber apartments.

With solid jobs, good credit and references, they figured they could easily find an apartment or house in German Village, the Short North or Grandview Heights for less than $1,400 a month.

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New Cities Summit: the Highlight Reel [Video]

By Corin Faife
Published: June 7, 2012
Urban Times

Three weeks ago, Urban Times was invited to attend the New Cities Summit in Paris, a conference on the future of urban development in the 21st century. [See our coverage of the event: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3]

Today, the New Cities Foundation have released a video showing highlights from the 3 day event. The video gives a brief glimpse of the speakers on show, including Chairman of the New Cities Foundation John Rossant, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg,  Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed, globally renowned sociologist Saskia Sassen, and many others besides.

Most of the seminars from the event are now available in their entirety on the New Cities Foundation Youtube channel, with photos also uploaded to the Flickr account.

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The Case for Congestion

By John Norquist
Published December 15, 2011
theatlanticcities.com

Yogi Berra once said, “nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

It’s certainly true that people complain about congestion. Yet it’s just as true that popular destinations tend to be crowded. Fifth Avenue in New York, Market Street in San Francisco, Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills are all congested, but people keep coming back to shop or hang out.

Congestion, in the urban context, is often a symptom of success.

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