A handsome new book from Academy Press in Washington, DC, carries the inflated title Reston Town Center: A Downtown for the 21st Century. A more accurate, less puffed-up title would have been “Reston Town Center: A Downtown for the Suburbs.” The tradition-influenced center in northern Virginia’s 1960s “New Town” pursues a number of new urbanist ideas very skillfully, but falls short of being an ideal for cities, or for the century as a whole.
Every component of urbanism possesses both technical and social dimensions. While there are always good reasons for a traditional component or relationship of components to assume a standard form, there are also times when some widespread alteration of social circumstance licenses, indeed demands, technical reinvention.
The patterns of alley geometry and alley-associated buildings, where they meet the block faces and surrounding streets, may be usefully adjusted in a variety of ways. It is necessary to understand standard configurations, but also how they may be tuned to local situations.
New urbanist “mega-charrette” calls for boulevards, rail transit, mixed uses, and walkable neighborhoods in a devastated 11-city region.
The people of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast have begun taking a series of previously
unfathomable mental leaps, thanks to an extraordinary new urbanist charrette that captured the imagination of the region this fall.
The seven-day Mississippi Renewal Forum in mid-October, which created regional and local plans for redevelopment of 11 cities along 120 miles of coast devastated by Hurricane Katrina, was the most efficient and productive event I have ever witnessed or even heard about in recent times.
The plans are masterful, state-of-the-art visions.
The prevailing concept of a casino — a windowless place closed off from its surroundings — is under assault in Mississippi. The Mississippi Renewal Forum urged that casinos on the Gulf Coast be rebuilt to a new standard as part of the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Instead of being designed to keep visitors indoors from the time they arrive until they head home with empty pockets, casinos would be integrated into their cities or towns.
Until the Aug.
Of all the types of building frontages, the pattern known as dooryard and light court is the one demonstrating the greatest number of sophisticated variations. It was the model used in many neighborhoods, both elegant and modest, built during the flowering of American cities between the Civil War and WW I.