We're really happy to accept this guest post from one of my good friends, Russell Preston, who is a member of the board of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a CNU NextGen leader, a gifted architect and a brilliant urban designer. Russ is working with a group of NextGen leaders to bring AuthentiCITY back to CNU20. There is still time to enter this contest, the winner of which we will work with to promote to the world, in this space and others. Details below.


Strong Towns has made the excellent connection between the long term value of urbanism and good design. Since our meeting in New Orleans in 2010, Chuck has offered his thoughtful support of the AuthentiCITY competition. The competition was created to further explore the implementation of the design principles illustrated within the Charter of the New Urbanism and to encourage the competition’s host city to rethink their public spaces and street networks in order to add long term value to the community. At the core of the competition we are helping places start to answer this question: what does creating an authentic place have to do with making a strong town? Submission to this years competition are due next week, and I want to make sure the Strong Town’s network has the opportunity to participate. 

What is AuthentiCITY?

I would like to invite those who are interested in the conclusions outlined in the Curb Side Chat to participate in the competition. AuthentiCITY [ http://competition.creatingauthenticplaces.com/ ] is an open design competition that has been organized in partnership with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the City of West Palm Beach. Our goal is to provide the City with a collection of high quality redevelopment ideas for two key sites. 

Why West Palm Beach?

The 20th anniversary of the Congress for the New Urbanism is being held in West Palm Beach from May 9 -12. We selected the two site because they are key to the health and future of downtown West Palm Beach and it’s adjacent neighborhoods. The Banyan Boulevard site [ http://competition.creatingauthenticplaces.com/?page_id=17 ] is a classic Stroad redevelopment opportunity. The goal of this project is to create a stronger pedestrian connection to Downtown and help make a transition from the business core into this historic residential district. The second site, Belvedere [ http://competition.creatingauthenticplaces.com/?page_id=20 ], is anchored by a suburban style shopping center and several local collector roads that have the capacity to create an neighborhood center for these historic southern neighborhoods. What is most exciting about both of these sites is these projects have the opportunity to illustrate how these areas can take advantage of the great proximity to existing and future transit stations that is planning to start running passage rail on the line again.

Many of the themes that AuthentiCITY is exploring have emerged out of several years of conversation (New Orleans meeting, South Beach meeting, etc.) Chuck and I have had the pleasure of participating in with some of CNU’s emerging leaders: 

1.) It has emerged that an authentic place is cost effective. 

2.) That successional growth is essential to the long term stability of a place. 

3.) The form and function of an authentic place supports the cultural growth of a place.

4.) An authentic place is grown through an iterative and integrated process. 

5.) These places provide spaces, both large and small, for passionate people to be productive and entrepreneurial. 

6.) There should be a compelling reason for people to be there which leads to an authentic place’s support of jobs and the local economy. 

All of these characteristics should come as no surprise to readers of Strong Towns. At the core of this effort we hope this competition can help illustrate how quality investments in our built environment can be made that lead to the growth of a resilient and authentic place.

For more information on registering for AuthentiCITY please visit the website at competition.creatingauthenticplaces.com

Join us at CNU20 for the judging of the competition on May 11. While your at the Congress be sure to make it to Chuck Marohn’s panel. I will also be talking on May 9 about new models of infill development and on May 12 will be part of a panel discussing emerging treads in Tactical Urbanism.

I must thank the Strong Town team for their continued efforts and their ongoing support of CNU. Please do what you can to build Strong Towns and help us illustrate to West Palm Beach how that might be possible. 


Russell Preston is founder of Principle Group, a design and real estate development firm focused on creating living places. He currently serves as Secretary of the board of directors of the Congress for the New Urbanism and is President of the CNU New England chapter. You can find his thoughts on Life & Urbanism at www.russellpreston.com/blog.