Monday, September 21, 2009

Andres Duany and the New Urbanism Movement

Imagine that you got tired of suburban sprawl and tried to design an idyllic small town neighborhood like many people grew up in and found that it is against the law.

That's what Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk found when they tried to recreate the old neighborhoods where kids could play ball in the street, people walked and met their neighbors when they went to the corner store to get some milk for tomorrow's breakfast, and you didn't have to get in your car to take the kids out for ice cream.

Andrés Duany (left) is a founding principal at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ), a town planning firm. DPZ is widely recognized as a leader of the New Urbanism, an international movement that seeks to end suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment. In the years since the firm first received recognition for the design of Seaside, Florida, in 1980, DPZ has completed designs for close to 300 new towns, regional plans, and community revitalization projects. This work has exerted a significant influence on the practice and direction of urban planning and development in the United States and abroad.

Zoning laws accumulated in such a way that corner grocery stores, garages off the alley in the back of the house, and small, safe streets became illegal in America. No longer could you have an apartment over the garage for a son coming back from college or a grandparent to live near the family or live above your law office or bakery.

Laws are designed to keep a college professor from building a modest house next to the business executive's McMansion. You must get in your car to drive to work, get kids to school, or pick up a dozen eggs. Suburban Nation (right) is a good introduction to the problems and the promise of New Urbanism.

Click on the heading above to see an interview by Charlie Rose with with Duany and his partner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

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