post

A Break with the Past

by Jane S. Shaw


The Boston Globe
reports that New Urbanism is being challenged by “landscape urbanism,” an approach to planning that is comfortable with people living in “spacious suburbs.”  The conflict pits Andres Duany,  designer of  nostalgic “cityscapes”–towns with a “compact grid of narrow, tree-lined streets laid out around a walkable downtown with stores and civic spaces,” according to the Globe–against Charles Waldheim, upstart landscape architect now at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

This is a great development, in my view, because it could usher in an era of common sense in urban (and suburban) planning.  We may, at last, get away from the nostalgic effort to recreate cities of the past, exemplified by Duany’s vision (often incorrectly touted as the legacy of Jane Jacobs’ vision). In fact, the Globe writer, Leon Neyfakh, says that one of the major themes of the new landscape urbanists is that:

American cities in the 21st century are not like American cities from the 19th century, and should not be expected to function the same way.

A valuable insight!