Tax-exempt properties have a significant fiscal footprint. Do we understand the impacts we create through the too-often wasteful way we design and build public facilities such as city halls, schools, libraries, and parks?
We use the phrase “traditional development pattern” in dozens of Strong Towns essays. Here’s your one-stop-shop explainer article as to what that means.
Incrementalism is not an end in itself. It’s not about stubborn insistence on some sort of small-is-beautiful aesthetic for its own sake. Incremental development is a practical means to the end of resilient, financially sound places.
We’ve destroyed so many traditional, human-scale neighborhoods in America that we tend to think of the ones that remain—like New Orleans’ famous French Quarter—as inherently exotic, the kind of place you love to visit but certainly wouldn’t live. Let’s stop treating timeless, great urban design like it’s only for tourists.
What exactly is the “human scale”? And have you ever thought about just how little of the public space in your city is designed at that scale—even in places you think of as walkable?
Human behavior can be influenced in subtle—and often very pro-social—ways through design of place.
A new Arkansas law prohibits cities from regulating the design of single-family homes in almost all instances. This is a bad idea which takes away an important tool in a city’s toolkit to nurture strong, productive places.
Forward-thinking developers are building communities that take into account the hidden long-term costs of suburban development, and offer a more resilient alternative. But what if that alternative results in homes that are too expensive to be within reach of most Americans? And does it have to?
Your Strong Towns Knowledge Base question of the week, answered here.
The answer might not be what you expect.
It matters what size chunks we build our cities in. Making room for many small-scale development projects on small lots is the universal historical model for a reason, and modern cities could stand to get back to it.
It is important when we design a building or a neighborhood to look at how it feels and interacts with the street. Too often, new development feels designed from a helicopter’s-eye-view.
The suburban development pattern is not inherently too costly to maintain: early suburbs sat much lighter on the land, with narrower streets and less public maintenance obligation. Let’s take a look at how the American suburb has evolved over time.
Professional planners are trained to yearn for tighter urban design controls, as if cities without comprehensive, top-down planning would devolve into chaos and disorder. In reality, cities evolve according to mechanisms that allow us to gradually discover optimal urban design across time.
When we aim for perfection, imperfections will disturb us. But, when we aim for imperfection, other imperfections build character.
Most cities’ zoning and development regulations obsess over things that are easy to measure, like building height and density, at the expense of the things that actually determine whether we’re building quality places.
Take a photo tour of some great streets in Syracuse and see what makes the traditional development pattern work so well on the ground.
The New York Times has released an interactive map of (nearly) every building in America. What can we learn from it about America’s suburban experiment, through the marks it has left on the landscape?
Novelty Colonies are unusual, themed settlements that promise the resident an alternative to the vinyl-sided raised ranch houses of suburbia. However, the charm of these settlements is superficial, and the good ideas they do offer would be better incorporated into our existing towns.
Wide, straight, monumental streets have always served the interests of those in power. They allow for the mobilization of military force, subordinate the unplanned chaos of the city to grandiose visions, and have been used to dispossess and displace small businesses, the poor, and racial and political minorities.