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Urban Design

The Problem with Drive-By Urbanism

The Problem with Drive-By Urbanism

Fast-growing Austin is at a crossroads. Officials there are weighing the adoption of a new land development code. Will the city settle for the status quo—drive-by urbanism and a code that doesn’t adequately address the need for more housing? Or can something better emerge?

Heat Islands and Our Health

Heat Islands and Our Health

The poorest neighborhoods also tend to be the warmest. That’s according to a fascinating study of the 97 largest American cities. Here’s why extreme heat is more likely to affect the poor and what communities can start to do about it.

7 Rules for Creating "15-Minute Neighborhoods"

7 Rules for Creating "15-Minute Neighborhoods"

We hear it everywhere we go: people want, and cherish, the kind of complete neighborhood where you can meet most of your daily needs within a 15-minute walk. What will it take to create more such places in North American cities and towns?

Five Years after Michael Brown's Death, What Has Changed in Ferguson?

Five Years after Michael Brown's Death, What Has Changed in Ferguson?

The killing of Michael Brown’ in August 2014 brought global attention to police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S. While there have been some reforms in Ferguson over the last five years, other structural issues — including a city infrastructure largely not built to benefit the people who actually live there — remain the same or have gotten worse.

Plan for Spontaneity

Plan for Spontaneity

It’s a paradox, but cities can set the stage for the unscripted. These playful surprises cater both to young and the young-at-heart, and they endear the community to visitors and residents alike.

The Streets of Paris

The Streets of Paris

The United States isn’t France, but there are still plenty of lessons to be learned—and myths to be busted—by looking at the way their streets are designed to build wealth.

How Better Design Can Help Solve Parking Problems

How Better Design Can Help Solve Parking Problems

Giving valuable space in cities over to cars isn’t great for building walkable or productive places. But for now at least, our urban neighborhoods need some parking. This an area where thoughtful design can help us solve multiple problems at once.

Why We Should Build Cities for Our Unconscious Brains

Why We Should Build Cities for Our Unconscious Brains

Traditional architecture has evolved through millennia of trial and error to harmonize with our unconscious impulses, make us feel comfortable and encourage positive social behavior. Modernism too often throws those lessons out the window—and one architect thinks the trauma of World War I had something to do with why.

De-Suburbanizing Suburbia: Is It Possible?

De-Suburbanizing Suburbia: Is It Possible?

What’s the most suburban kind of place you can think of? If you said an outlet mall, you’re probably not alone. Is there a path to incrementally retrofit these malls to a more human-scaled environment… and even if there is, is it worth the trouble?

The Tax Burden Footprint of Tax-Exempt Properties

The Tax Burden Footprint of Tax-Exempt Properties

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?

What is Traditional Development?

What is Traditional Development?

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.

A City Shaped by Many Hands

A City Shaped by Many Hands

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 Used to Do This Everywhere

We Used to Do This Everywhere

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.

How Did We Get Used to Out-of-Scale Cities?

How Did We Get Used to Out-of-Scale Cities?

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?