News & Opinion

All news and opinion articles in chronological order with the most recent first.
Better! Cities & Towns
This is my last post for Better Cities & Towns. Never fear—I am the editor at CNU’s new online journal, Public Square: A CNU Journal.I will be writing and editing about the same topics that we have been covering in Better Cities, and before that, New Urban News.The first issue of New Urban News, the print periodical, came out in May of 1996. The website launched in 1999. The last print issue was February of 2015. Now the website comes to an end, and the end is a new beginning. I have always reported on placemaking—planning and development that creates places that are more than the sum of their parts. To placemakers, houses are more than residential units and retail is more than square footage. Streets are not just conduits for vehicle miles traveled. Houses, stores, and streets are parts of communities, which are about people and making them happy and healthy.Technical concepts like vehicle miles traveled, energy use, green space, water runoff, transportation modal split may be important, but less so to me than quality of life, love, pleasure, personal satisfaction, and fulfillment. Placemaking is a great work of humanity, in every culture, generation upon generation. Where would we be without towns and cities? Even hunters and gatherers created campsites and temporary villages. Without settlement, we would probably have little or no art, music, religion, stories, technology, culture, laws, and wealth. Even Adam and Eve had the Garden of Eden. When I started New Urban News, development and building had been severed from placemaking for a half century. Housing units, square footage, and vehicular capacity were commoditized. Many people found this unsatisfying. A group of more than 200 of them, myself included, signed the Charter of the New Urbanism in May of 1996—the same month that I published the first issue. Many people thought the New Urbanism folly. Were we trying to turn back the clock by building “grandmother’s house” where people can walk to the store and meet at the village square? How dare we criticize traffic engineers, builders, developers, planners, architects, financiers, and all of the other cogs in the suburban machine? N ow here I am, twenty years later, helping to launch a new publication on the same topic. The New Urbanism has persisted and triumphed in many ways. All of the professional groups that I mentioned have been changing their practices. Meanwhile, market trends are moving toward walkable urban places. Communities that seek to attract talented young workers and businesses need New Urbanism. Thank you for reading Better Cities & Towns. I hope that that your read and enjoy Public Square: A CNU Journal. Please come to the new website and sign up for the email newsletter. Be part of the conversation on the building of community.Robert Steuteville is editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal and senior communications adviser of the Congress for the New Urbanism. 
Wed, Feb 3rd 2016 12:09pm
John Anderson, Better! Cities & Towns
I think we can do a better job of connecting the housing unit to the consequential stuff people consider in their decisions to rent if we can deliver flexible unit configurations, competitive rent + transportation math, and locations close services, food and drink. 
Tue, Jan 26th 2016 12:13pm
Hazel Borys, Better! Cities & Towns
Or a wide range of ways to build social capital or how charitable institutions backstop community with philanthropy. But for those of you who are working in the city planning trenches every day, using collaborative design workshops to engage the people, you’re really running a form of social innovation lab. 
Tue, Jan 26th 2016 10:46am
Scott Doyon, Better! Cities & Towns
New Urbanism, by definition, is style neutral. Its focus is getting the form — the urbanism — right but then letting the architecture be what it may.
Wed, Jan 20th 2016 12:19pm
Jay Walljasper, Better! Cities & Towns
A compelling reason to keep your New Year’s resolution to be more active. 
Tue, Jan 19th 2016 10:58am
Ben Brown, Better! Cities & Towns
The similarities between the Alchemy efforts and those of Tolar, Steve Mouzon and others who’ve explored systems-built construction systems are obvious.
Fri, Jan 15th 2016 1:24pm
John Anderson, Better! Cities & Towns
I think incremental development, modest projects by Small Developers focused on a specific neighborhood, present an genuine opportunity to get well past the usual arguments about gentrification. 
Mon, Jan 11th 2016 8:46am
Hazel Borys, Better! Cities & Towns
Coming in from my slow run on this morning’s packed snow, I am grateful again for my old, walkable neighbourhood that tempts me out of doors, even in the cold weather.
Tue, Jan 5th 2016 3:39pm
John Anderson, Better! Cities & Towns
Don’t assume that common sense will prevail. Parking can be such a hot button issue that it clouds the minds of otherwise reasonable people. 
Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 2:32pm
John Massengale, Better! Cities & Towns
To stop the killing of pedestrians on New York City Streets, we have to change the way we build our streets.
Tue, Dec 22nd 2015 9:27am

Recent books + reviews

The Last Great Walk

The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why It Matters Today—A review of a book by Wayne Curtis.

Urban Acupuncture: A concise, entertaining jumble of ideas

Review of Urban Acupuncture, a book by Jaime Lerner. Island Press, hardcover 160 pp., 2014, $19.99

Better parking lot design: Is it enough?

Rethinking A Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, by Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT Press, 2012, 157 pages, $24.95

Human Transit

How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives

Walkable City

How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time.

Advice from a pioneering source, in print again

Toward Sustainable Communities calls for ecological advances and permanently affordable housing in new urbanist developments.

Too Much Magic

Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation

Sustainable Urbanism and Beyond

Rethinking Cities for the Future

Design After Decline

How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities

The Economics of Place

The Value of Building Communities Around People