Since the Charter of the New Urbanism was written, people have argued
about how well development projects fulfill its principles. Homebuyers, investors, and public officials all want to know if a project is real New Urbanism. Various individuals and groups offer checklists, scorecards, and other ways of grading New Urbanism. A number of efforts by CNU members are grappling with creating systems for judging projects.
Each type of emerging certification system embodies a unique perspective and goal.
For years, CNU members have sought ways to customize the organization so that it can serve specific geographical areas. Up to now, CNU has not had a method for supporting chapters. Consequently, members’ mutual education and networking remained informal. Today, chapters are on the way.
At its September meeting, CNU’s board took several steps to open the organization to increased member involvement. It created three voting ex-officio board positions, approved the creation of student chapters, and carefully moved forward with professional chapters.
The Seaside Debates: A Critique of the New Urbanism Edited by Todd W. Bressi Rizzoli, 2002, 160 pp., $45. When someone publishes the contents of a conference nearly four full years after the panelists have shut down their PowerPoint programs and gone home, it’s usually a sign that what was said wasn’t very thrilling. Sure enough, this volume — a lightly illustrated transcript of a predominantly academic symposium conducted at Seaside in 1998 — gets off to a lethargic start. But about a quarter of the way through, the comments begin to turn provocatively sharp.
The organizational meeting of the Seaside Pienza Society for Town Building and Land Stewardship took place in July in Pienza, Italy. The mission of the organization is to explore “how beautiful agricultural lands can be saved from sprawl and how compact cities with edges can make that possible,” according to Phyllis Blyweis, executive director of the Seaside Institute, which will manage the society until a nonprofit corporation can be formed.
The founders of the society were Seaside developer Robert Davis and prominent architects Ray Gindroz and Leon Krier.
The movement needs more developers, more research, and strong standards, according to some.
The biggest challenge to New Urbanism is how to expand it well beyond its current minor share of the US development market.
That’s the conclusion that emerged from a wide-ranging panel and audience discussion of the future of New Urbanism at the conclusion of CNU X June 16 in Miami Beach.
New urban development is growing, but not rapidly enough, most agreed.
Asmall traditional neighborhood development (TND) in Lower Moreland, Pennsylvania, that faced stiff public opposition over a two year period, moved forward when supervisors unanimously approved an amendment to the township’s zoning. The vote allows a TND-type project to be approved with a conditional use permit.
The 101-unit project, Woodmont (see Jan/Feb 2002 issue), now has to gain approvals through this new zoning mechanism.
Infill projects dominate as three design firms take home multiple awards.
Winners of the second annual Charter Awards were selected by a distinguished jury over the weekend of March 16. After spending days perusing more than 200 submissions from 170 firms, the jurors, led by CNU board member Jonathan Barnett, settled on 18 projects to represent best practices in New Urbanism.
The winners are representative of all scales of development and planning, from individual blocks and buildings to regional plans.
One developer likens the process of fighting through the bureaucratic and
institutional gauntlet of building a new urban neighborhood to “being pecked to death by ducks.” Each injury may be minor, but the total effect “is debilitating.”
The image conjures up a foe, or series of foes, that are as unrelenting as they are unreasonable. If you want to build single-use, automobile-oriented sprawl, the skids are greased.
Proposal to build neighborhood faces uphill battle.
For close to two years, developer Joe Duckworth has been seeking approval for Woodmont, a traditional neighborhood development (TND) planned for a 42.6-acre vacant site in the affluent Lower Moreland Township outside Philadelphia. But the resistance from residents and some officials has been strong and deep. Duckworth has invited residents to Kentlands to see New Urbanism in action and he has threatened to develop the site with an uninspired by-right plan — so far, neither strategy has moved the project forward.