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#ChaoticButSmart

Unconventional Wisdom on Activating a Downtown

Unconventional Wisdom on Activating a Downtown

What does it take to bring life back to a faded downtown? Contrary to conventional wisdom, big employers may underperform as revitalization engines, and small-bet approaches—improvisational, innovative, and low-risk—can deliver outsize rewards.

Why we Need Messy Cities

Why we Need Messy Cities

In order to get back to building the kinds of places we love the most, we have to embrace the messy, unpredictable and always-changing nature of life.

Mixed Up Priorities for Mixed-Use Buildings

Mixed Up Priorities for Mixed-Use Buildings

Strong, financially resilient neighborhoods emerge organically. Requiring one particular style of construction because we've see it work in other neighborhoods will not achieve this goal.

Towards A Liberal Approach To Urban Form

Towards A Liberal Approach To Urban Form

What we need is not a new and improved vision of urban form but a robust liberal understanding of urban form. This transition involves shifting from thinking of cities as simple machines toward thinking of cities as complex, emergent systems.

Lessons from the Delta Implosion

Lessons from the Delta Implosion

Government – particularly local government – needs to be about redundancy, not efficiency. We need spare parts. We need slack in the system.

The Emerging Democratized Economy

The Emerging Democratized Economy

The key to building a sustainable local economy is to nurture a diverse set of employers that operate in multiple industries. With the emergence of the Democratized Economy, localized production for regional markets is returning to the fore. 

An interview with Janette Sadik-Khan

An interview with Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik-Khan discusses her experience as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, focusing on bottom-up action through smaller projects like plazas and bike access, instead of megaprojects that cost millions. 

Jane Jacobs, an urban ecologist

Jane Jacobs, an urban ecologist

Cities are complex ecosystems. For areas in need of redevelopment, the only way to return to a healthy urban fabric is incrementally, a few small projects a year until the neighborhood has buildings of every age and condition, suitable for adaptation to the particular needs of some future time.

Import Replacement

Import Replacement

Many people associate Jacobs with a love of walkable neighborhoods, urban parks and historic buildings. What they fail to grasp is that these are means to an end, not the end itself.