Nordstrom Tries On a New Look: Stores Without Merchandise

Retail of the future may be more about experience than consumption.  According to Suzanne Kapner of The Wall Street Journal, some stores will not even carry clothing:

How to Build Better Burbs to Ease the Housing Crunch

‘Missing middle’ forms of gentle density refer to the less-common housing types between the single-family house and the high-rise. Image by Opticos Design, Inc.

Christopher Cheung asks, 

“…does choosing the suburbs have to mean saying goodbye to the conveniences and lifestyle of the city?

Urbanists are saying no. “Sprawl repair” and “retrofitting suburbia” have become popular terms in the past two decades. Many municipalities that have embraced suburbia in the past are taking action to transform their sprawls into healthier, more convenient and more diverse communities.”

“The suburbs can change and get better without transforming every square foot of its built form,” said Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s former chief planner, now a global consultant on city building.

At the very least, “you need to make the suburbs walkable,” said Toderian. “At minimum, you need sidewalks and street trees.”

Toderian also recommends mixed-use suburban centres that have higher density and are pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly. This evolution doesn’t mean doing away with cars; it means offering more choices so driving isn’t your only option if you need to get to work or grab a carton of milk.

“The conversation needs to be about true costs and consequences, as well as opportunities to do density well with great design,” he said. “Because if not, politicians could just suggest to their constituency that they’re protecting their city from density and change. That’s a dangerous, false narrative.”

Learn more about the Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva.

Generation Us: Graying of the suburbs presents challenges for the community

David McNair wrote for The Daily Progress and the Jefferson Area Board for Aging:

While the suburbs evolved as places where people could escape to raise their families in peace and privacy, our communities now may need to reach out to those aging homeowners in suburban locations and provide them with the support and services they will need to age in place.

Peter Thompson, executive director of the Senior Center and chair of the newly created Charlottesville Area Alliance, a collective of regional partners whose objective is to lead the advancement of an age-friendly community, says one of the missions of the alliance is to work with area localities, business and nonprofits to study these needs and develop strategies to address the common and divergent needs our urban, suburban and rural areas  — from benches with backs on them to improved pedestrian and public transportation for people who do not or choose not to drive.

Through sprawl repair, it is possible to amenitize the suburbs and support the concept of aging in place. Learn more at Aging in Place on a Cul-de-Sac by Galina Tachieva, which discusses the use of the Supportive Living Module to create opportunities for senior living within a single-family subdivision. 

Busting 4 Common Myths About the Suburbs

Rachel Quednau busts four common myths about suburban sprawl, and makes the case for hard choices that can lead to sensible sprawl repair. 

Myth #1: The suburbs exist because that’s the way people want to live.

Busted: The suburbs exist because that’s the style of development that has been regulated into existence and funded by governments across the nation.

Myth #2: Sprawl is the biggest problem with the suburbs.

Busted: The problem is a development pattern that is financially insolvent.

Myth #3: Suburban residents are paying for the cost of their lifestyle.

Busted: Across the country, we see that urban areas subsidize suburban living to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Myth #4: We can turn the suburbs into financially productive places if we just try our hardest.

Busted: No. There’s too much suburban development for this to ever happen.

 

With the painfully limited amount of resources we all have right now, we must make the hard choices about where to focus our efforts. We can take small steps to help older neighborhoods with a solid foundation to be more successful, or we can take herculean steps to push a few suburban neighborhoods in a slightly better direction, in spite of aggressive cultural opposition.

The Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva offers numerous techniques to determine the most promising locations where targeted, incremental investment is likely to be successful.

Historic Sprawl: A Future for Post-War Suburbia

Solitary drive-through retail site is retrofitted with liner buildings to incrementally begin the transition to walkable, livable communities.
Image Credit: Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva of DPZ CoDesign
Deficiency: Sprawl-type Solitary drive-through retail. Remedial Techniques: Step 1: liner building retrofit. Step 2: Dense redevelopment where viable. Image Credit: Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva of DPZ CoDesign

Jonathan Hopkins of Urbanismo makes a compelling case that the NPS’s evaluation criteria for nominating properties to the National Register of Historic Places should be revised to address concerns that preservation funding will become increasingly available for use by sprawling Post-War suburban subdivisions like Levittown, New York as they reach their 50 year eligibility mark.

“It becomes necessary to make clear criteria-based distinctions between sprawl and other development patterns like neighborhoods and small towns in order to prevent the preservation of obesity, social dysfunction, and environmental degradation.”

“By taking a proactive approach sooner rather than later, the prevention of preserving sprawl in its current state can be realized. The preservation movement – in coordination with environmentalists, developers, medical physicians, and others – can encourage law-makers to pass legislation to amend the Secretary of the Interior’s standards to include suburban retrofitting guidelines that outline appropriate initiatives to be funded by tax credits and planning grants at both the State and Federal level. In coordination with land-use, zoning, tax, and development policy reforms that discourage new suburban sprawl developments, historic preservation funding sources can encourage the retrofitting of sprawl into a more sustainable, accessible, affordable, and attractive living arrangement.

 

 

Millennials prefer revitalized historic areas not malls

Mission Brewery operates a 2,500 sq. ft. tasting room inside a 25,000 square foot brewing facility in downtown San Diego, breathing new life into the Historic Wonder Bread Building in the East Village. Image Credit: Mission Brewery.

Are millennials the key to preservation? 

A new survey by  American Express, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Edge Research – Millennials and Historic Preservation: A Deep Dive Into Attitudes and Values – finds that millennials prefer to live, work and play in neighborhoods with historic buildings.

The survey finds millennials tend to value a mix of old and new buildings where they live, dine, shop and travel.

Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation states, “The revitalization of many urban communities is being driven in large part by the influx of young people seeking authentic experiences and places with character that are found in historic neighborhoods.”

By revitalizing cities and increasing the density of inner ring neighborhoods utilizing sprawl repair techniques, a great deal of detrimental sprawl can be averted. Learn more about Sprawl Repair on Galina Tachieva’s website.

Why the Death of Malls Is About More Than Shopping

Josh Sanburn offers an historic perspective on American malls, and a glimpse into the future for malls and communities willing to invest in sprawl repair and place-making. Learn more about Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva.

Local jobs are a major casualty of what analysts are calling, with only a hint of hyperbole, the retail apocalypse. By 2022, analysts estimate that 1 out of every 4 malls in the U.S. could be out of business, victims of changing tastes, a widening wealth gap and the embrace of online shopping for everything from socks to swing sets.

Local jobs are a major casualty of what analysts are calling, with only a hint of hyperbole, the retail apocalypse.

In the 61 years since the first enclosed one opened in suburban Minneapolis, the shopping mall has been where a huge swath of middle-class America went for far more than shopping. But for better or worse, the mall has been America’s public square for the last 60 years.

Some of the great mall die-off is what economists refer to as a market correction. “We are over-retailed,” says Ronald Friedman, a partner at Marcum LLP, which researches consumer trends. There is an estimated 26 sq. ft. of retail for every person in the U.S., compared with about 2.5 sq. ft. per capita in Europe. Roughly 60% of Macy’s stores slated to close are within 10 miles of another Macy’s.

Some ailing malls have already moved on to a second life. Austin Community College in Texas purchased Highland Mall in 2012 and converted part of it into a tech-driven learning lab and library. In Nashville, Vanderbilt University Medical Center moved into the second floor of the 100 Oaks Mall a few miles from downtown. The Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., bought their nearby mall and transformed part of it into an auditorium.

It also turns out that not everyone wants to spend their leisure time inside. Many of the new, millennial-focused malls are indoor/outdoor complexes designed as one cog of a suburban town center that includes apartments and office space … a magnet for millennials who are leaving downtowns for the suburbs but still want to live in a dense, walkable community.

There are still about 1,100 malls in the U.S. today, but a quarter of them are at risk of closing over the next five years, according to estimates from Credit Suisse.

 

 

One Thing Silicon Valley Can’t Seem to Fix

The new Apple headquarters under construction in Cupertino, Calif.
JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES

Alison Arieff spent the last year researching the future of the corporate campus through the lens of urbanism.

“The project has explored how the Bay Area’s workplaces might become more socially, economically and sustainably efficient, but also how applying new ways of thinking about the design, form and location of these buildings could help create a sense of place.

Solving this isn’t rocket science; it’s common sense. Don’t design buildings that function only as pristine objects with no relationship to their surroundings. Don’t put workplaces in locations inaccessible to transit. Do consider the broader context.

Learn more about Sprawl and Sprawl Repair from Galina Tachieva, and check out the Sprawl Repair Manual.

Check out Galina’s Blog on Apple’s new campus: Not This Time – Why the new Apple campus doesn’t work

Malls are doomed: 25% will be gone in 5 years

Single purpose mall surrounded by a sea of asphalt

Chris Isidore of CNN Money writes, “Store closings and even dead malls are nothing new, but things might be about to get a whole lot worse.

Between 20% and 25% of American malls will close within five years, according to a new report out this week from Credit Suisse. That kind of plunge would be unprecedented in the nation’s history.

In 1970 there were only 300 enclosed malls in the U.S., and now there are 1,211 of them. In fact, despite the recent turbulence in the retail industry, the number of malls open has actually edged

Repaired mall with vibrant 24/7 mixed-uses, increased density to support retail and entertainment, and beautiful, functional stormwater and local agricultural systems

higher every year.

If the analysts at Credit Suisse are right, that trend line about to turn — sharply — in the other direction.

According to Galina Tachieva, “Each store closing, and every mall mall that dies,  increases the urgency to return jobs and halt declining real estate values. Sprawl Repair through repurposing of dying malls offers a logical solution to create vibrant live-work communities where infrastructure is already in place.”

Learn more here:  http://www.dpz.com/Initiatives/SprawlRepair

Happy 70th to True American Suburbia – Levittown was once finishing a new house every 16 minutes.

Levittown, N.Y. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Jerry Cianciolo of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

“At one point in the 1940s, a house was completed every 16 minutes in Levittown, N.Y., the first mass-produced suburb in America.

Until William Levitt broke ground on what was formerly a potato patch on Long Island, inefficient small operators dominated the housing sector. Levitt—who had been introduced to the efficiencies of mass production during World War II—knew his competitors couldn’t meet the increasing demand for new housing as more soldiers came home. He wanted to be the one who did.

The entrepreneur analyzed the home-construction process and segmented it into 27 steps. He then adopted an inverse of the assembly-line method popularized by Henry Ford —his workers moved as the objects remained stationary.”

According to Galina Tachieva, “Levittown changed the pattern of building communities in the United States because William Levitt created a normative product, the auto-dependent suburban enclave, which he could repeat easily. So we have to come up with normative step-by-step tools to retrofit suburbia in the way it was built. With the Sprawl Repair Manual, we are developing methods that can duplicate the speed and energy that Levitt used, wth the intent to repair sprawling suburbs and form complete living communities.”

 

Shipping containers, oval swings and food trucks? How old Eastland Mall site could be reimagined

Jenna Martin of the Charlotte Business Journal wrote, “Think small to drive big, lasting results. That’s the current thought behind early efforts to breathe new life into the abandoned Eastland Mall property. That could range from small market-like businesses operating out of shipping containers and open, outdoor dining to a spot for food trucks or a place to hang out.”

As a sub-consultant to Jacobs Engineering’s Atlanta office, DPZ CoDesign is collaborating on the redesign of site of the former Eastland Mall, a 69-acre parcel owned by the City of Charlotte. They met with many of the key stakeholder groups in the East Charlotte area where this mall was once a major regional retail and social hub. This was also a week of re-assessing several prior design exercises.

On May 18th, 2017, the community celebrated the site’s past and explored the future during the exciting Eastland “days gone by” and Eastland “days to come” event. Neighbors gathered amid food trucks, a pop up park, cycle track, interactive murals and activities, to reminiscence and imagine new possibilities for the site as part of the evolving Eastland story.

DPZ provided a popular exhibit based on the successional evolution of an existing flea/farmer’s market. A typical public open space can be surrounded and defined by food trucks and temporary market stalls, initially, transitioning to fun and funky shipping container groupings, and ultimately to vibrant shops and restaurants in the potential climax condition for a revitalized town center.

Read more here: https://www-bizjournals-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2017/05/19/old-eastland-mall-site-draws-crowd-thursday-as.amp.html

2015 November 18

Sprawl Repair for Florida’s Communities

DPZ Partners’ Galina Tachieva and Codina Partners’ Ana-Marie Codina Barlick will discuss how form-based codes and other planning and design tools can help Florida communities repurpose and revitalize their most auto-dependent zones into walkable and vibrant mixed-use nodes.

2015 October 15

ROWE ROME 2015: The Best of Both Worlds, Regenerating the Light City

House of Representatives, Rome, Italy

An International Conference on Urban Design

The ideal thing would be to have a good American
suburb adjacent to a very concentrated Italian
town, then you’d have the best of both worlds.
Colin Rowe

For the last half century, urban design has been devoted to the reappraisal and the regeneration of the existing city, considered in its traditional form as a dense, compact fabric. Research, design methodology and implementation in this vein have been significant from both a qualitative and a quantitative point of view.

During virtually the same period, however, the urban fringe – the light city or “ville légère” – was instead notoriously neglected as a subject unworthy of serious urban debate. This situation has arisen despite the fact that the lower-density zone, between the urban core or the dense periphery and the proper agricultural land has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in the landscape, affecting people around the globe. Different national and geographical contexts have resulted in a variety of configurations and organizations: from the formal suburbia, typical of the Anglo-Saxon metropolises, to the favelas and other illegal settlements in developing countries, to the semi-spontaneous, semi-illegal perimeter, mostly of onefamily houses of the Italian “città diffusa”. Until fairly recently, all have shared a common fate of being deliberately ignored or simply overlooked as having insufficient value or only marginal impact on the discipline or profession.

Main stream studies and criticism have supported a negative attitude towards low density settlements, considered costly, environmentally unfriendly and generally non-sustainable. Recent studies, however, have successfully critiqued this conventional wisdom and in so doing have propelled the debate between city vs. suburbs to new and promising levels of discourse.

Whatever the specific parameters of this argument may be, however, two circumstances cannot be overlooked. First, there is widespread pressure for urban sprawl due to powerful cultural, economic, social, anthropological factors. Second, official policies have tended to deny the underlying causes, which have generated this phenomenon rather than proactively addressing them. The urgent challenge will be, it seems obvious, is to offer solutions that are able to positively guide the making of low-density landscapes while addressing the same set of needs and desires, which made them attractive in the first place.

Most importantly, the conference organizers believe, the ville légère, suburbia, middle landscape, città diffusa, campagna abitata, arcadia, along with all the varieties that exist already have a relevant role in the morphology and in the functioning of metropolitan areas as well as in the ordinary lives of millions of people. In most cases, however, their performance is unsatisfactory both in concept and application. The complexity of the problem on the one hand and the unexpected opportunities on the other has typically been underestimated. Rather than adopting mere prohibitionist policies, it is proposed that contemporary urbanistics should study and implement regenerating actions through critical design efforts.

Today, several important contributions converging from different research and practice areas are beginning to emerge: descriptive and evaluation studies on sprawl; transect and other typo-morphological research and projects; sprawl repair and retrofit classification and case studies; densification and morphological and functional redevelopment; studies on lowdensity and garden city design; studies on lean urbanism. This is an ambitious and wide range of potential contributions, not too wide or ambitious, however, if one considers their profound relevance to urbanistics.

Ideally a more inclusive and comprehensive idea of urban design could offer to the “suburb” something comparable to the disciplinary production it has been providing to the “concentrated town”. Then you would actually have the best of both worlds.

Retrofitting Sprawl: Addressing Seventy Years of Failed Urban Form

Chapter 12: Occupy sprawl, One Cul-de-Sac at a Time

Sprawl should be repaired but it will happen incrementally, slowly, at a micro scale, one element at a time. There is a need to challenge outdated regulations, bringing more flexibility, adaptability, and enterprise to subdivisions and cul-de-sacs. Galina Tachieva p. 241

2015 June 11

CNU Utah Sprawl Repair Webinar

Sprawl Repair can be defined as transforming fragmented, isolated, and car-dependent development into “complete communities.

Sprawl remains the prevailing growth pattern across the United States even though experts in planning, economics and environmental issues have long denounced it as wasteful, inefficient, and unsustainable.  Sprawl is a principal cause of lost open space and natural habitat as well as increases in air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure costs, and even obesity. It also plays a primary role in the housing meltdown plaguing the nation. This begs the question: is it possible to repair our sprawling suburbs and create more livable, robust, and eco-sensitive communities where they do not exist?

Galina Tachieva is an expert on sustainable planning, urban redevelopment, sprawl repair, and form-based codes. As a partner and Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, Architects and Town Planners (DPZ), Tachieva directs and manages the design and implementation of projects in the US and around the world.  Galina is also the author of the Sprawl Repair Manual, an award-winning publication and the first of its kind to focus on the retrofit of auto-centric suburban places into complete, walkable communities.  Hailing from Bulgaria, where she received her degree in architecture, Galina later completed her master’s in urban design at the University of Miami, Florida.  She is certified AICP, LEED-AP, and is a CNU Fellow.

2015 June 5

Stranded Real Estate Assets: Changing Economy, Changing Land Use

The War Memorial, Trenton, New Jersey

Once New Jersey’s model of economic development, large office and retail suburban centers are increasingly underutilized and causing a drain on the local economies. Local leaders find it difficult to create consensus and a shared vision for development, in part due to antiquated land use practices. PlanSmart NJ’s 4th Annual Regional Planning Summit, Stranded Real Estate Assets: Changing Economy, Changing Land Use will bring together experts in planning, redevelopment, and infrastructure to reveal the magnitude of the problem and explore methods to break through common barriers to transform New Jersey’s suburbs into resilient and livable communities where people can live, work, and play.

11:50 – 12:50 pm: Keynote Speaker: Galina Tachieva, AICP – PRESENTATION
Galina Tachieva, author of Sprawl Repair Manual will describe how suburban corporate office parks and retail centers can be repurposed and redesigned to function better in the regional context. She will demonstrate how bold actions can lead to more resilient and equitable communities.

Lean Sprawl Repair – Mall Retrofit

As a comprehensive method for transforming car-dependent environments into walkable, diverse communities, Sprawl Repair includes small-scale and inexpensive interventions. Sprawl Repair works at multiple scales, from the region to the neighborhood and the building, and utilizes a variety of tools that are cost-effective, incremental, and can be quickly implemented. This paper will demonstrate how a mall, the most promising contender for Sprawl Repair, can be retrofitted in small, efficient steps, creating much-needed, cheap space for incubating new businesses and artisan uses, as well as providing affordable student housing.

2014 May 1

Tri-County Regional Planning Commission Annual Dinner Keynote Speech

Harrisburg, PA

Galina Tachieva, AICP, is delivering the keynote speech at the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s 2014 Annual Dinner. In her speech, she will detail her work in planning, urban design and new urbanism, and she will reference information contained in her book, “The Sprawl Repair Manual.” The book is a veritable toolkit for planners explaining practices for creating more livable communities. This event offers planners a chance to hear about strategies for tackling sprawl with examples that are proven to work. Galina Tachieva brings more than two decades of planning knowhow and practical experience to the event. The presentation offers information that will enhance a planner’s ability to do his or her job by relaying best practices and professional advice. Attendees will learn what works and what doesn’t when they’re facing projects in areas with dispersed development. They’ll hear how to turn these sprawl-filled areas into livable, vibrant communities that contain residential, commercial and recreation areas accessible for transit, bicycling and walking. The keynote speech is scheduled to be an hour in duration.

Christoph Gielen: Ciphers

Imported, Exported and Perhaps Repaired – American Sprawl Around The Globe

When encountering American-style sprawl around the World, I’m often compelled to ask the question, “Why are you repeating our mistakes?”. The explanation I most frequently hear is, “If it worked for America, it will work for us”. As the photographs in this book suggest, it is questionable for anyone, whether in the US or any other country, to choose a form of development that ignores local climate, local culture, and local building traditions to create places that have no identifiable character and don’t even present real places in the US, much less other countries. Galina Tachieva p. 104

2012 December 13

Ivory Press Roundtable Discussion

Madrid, Spain

Galina Tachieva wrote an essay for Robert Harding Pittman’s book Anonymization, just published in Europe and in the US. With a forward by Bill McKibben, the book is a photographic critique of the globalization of sprawl. Galina’s essay presents some optimistic ideas on how to deal with this phenomenon by reusing and repairing the already built.

Anonymization: The Global Proliferation of Urban Sprawl

Solving Sprawl

What meaning are we to take from Christoph Gielen’s photographs of sprawl? Tract homes and supporting infrastructure are visually enticing from his 10,000-foot view, appearing as intricate, maze like patters. But on the ground, the relentless schemata of wide streets and lawns produce a host of problems. Galina Tachieva p. 49

2012 August 29

A Short History of the Future

Stockholm, Sweden

James Howard Kunstler, writer and expert, and Galina Tachieva, partner and Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, discussed “A short history of the future” in Stockholm.

Transect for Sprawl Repair

Human settlements are resilient and successional in nature. They change, going through cycles of regression, deterioration and advancement. Even the most cosmopolitan cities started as meager hamlets on crossroads, but then grew and matured, while regenerating their physical environment multiple times throughout their histories. Today’s image of American urbanism is inseparable from the image of sprawl: endless, soulless, wasteful, but most importantly, malfunctioning. This predicament may signal a pivotal point, as has happened in previous civilizations, when quantitative and qualitative changes converge and the paradigm shifts towards better human habitats.

The Sprawl Repair Method – How to Transform Sprawl into Complete, Balanced Communities

In 1963 Constantinos Doxiadis published the book Architecture in Transition. No mere contemplation on architecture, the book boldly called for a transition from traditional urbanism to new settlement patterns that would accommodate the car, its movement, and its speed. Doxiadis recognized the contrast between human-scaled and automobile-scaled development.

2012 May 10

The Importance of The Sprawl Repair Initiative

West Palm Beach, Florida

Can we heal our sprawling communities through retrofit, repair and redevelopment? This working group will review new ideas in sprawl retrofit design, regulation, and implementation to achieve healthier communities. Attendees will discuss approaches to incremental sprawl repair, corridor retrofits, regional strategies and financial approaches building on work completed during the March Retreat in Miami. The session will start with four speed presentations selected through a competition process. Following the speed presentations, initiative members will report on a series of practical Toolkits, newly formed partnerships and an overall strategic plan and next steps for the upcoming year.

2012 July 20

Sprawl Repair in Florida: From Auto Scale to Human Scale

West Palm Beach, Florida

No Other Choice But Repair

The reconstruction of sprawl is inevitable. To continue building greenfield sprawl will be disastrous. To abandon existing sprawl will not be possible either, as the expanse of sprawl represents a vast investment of money, infrastructure, time, human energy, and dreams. The only valid option is to repair sprawl by finding ways to reuse and reorganize as much of it as possible into complete, livable, robust communities. However, sprawl repair will not be the instant and total overhaul of communities as promoted so destructively in American cities half a century ago. Sprawl repair will be the incremental and opportunistic improvement of our suburban landscapes and will happen first in places where economic potential, political will, and community vision converge.

2012 January 20

Keynote Lecture

Orange County Planning Division, Orlando, FL

Why do we need sprawl repair? Exurban is too expensive to build and not sustainable environmentally.
Must rethink the model for health and well-being. We’ve been deprived of the simple and natural activity of walking due to the way we have built our communities. We’ve built in a grand scale since the introduction of the car, but we need to build on a human scale.
More urban environments are being sought by younger generations. (a recurring theme)
Think of long-term – how will the next generation benefit?
Higher density desired by younger actually performs better – more in municipal taxes, environmentally, well-being
Most foreclosures in the exurbs. Affordability is wiped out by the long commute.
Wall Street is using walkscore.com as an underwriting tool.
Streets and thoroughfares have a social function, and we have forgotten this.
Arterials to be adapted when go they through certain areas. Fast traffic kills real estate. (Harping on it, but think CR 535 through Lakeside Village). Repair slowly. Start with landscaping and expand sidewalk.

The Unbearable Cost of Sprawl – How planners can correct some of the worst excesses of the exurbs

It’s no secret that America’s sprawling, car-dependent exurbs were Ground Zero for the economic meltdown. These “drive ’til you qualify” communities were built on risky decisions and over-leveraged debt—buyers betting that the price of gasoline for commuting wouldn’t go up too much, or that they’d be able to sell their pricey McMansions before their artificially low mortgages reset. Millions of homeowners lost that bet, and the entire world paid the economic price.
But we haven’t gotten rid of the danger. In fact, the worst might be yet to come. Energy costs continue to skyrocket, making travel and heating exorbitant. New research suggests sprawl is hurting our health. For example, rates of obesity in unwalkable suburbs are near epidemic levels. And local municipalities that tried to grow their tax base through sprawl may soon be overwhelmed by the extra costs of maintenance.

2011 October 8

Sprawl: Past, Present, Future

BMW Guggenheim Lab, New York, New York

Sprawl: the uncontrolled spread of urban development into neighboring regions. Explore this multifaceted concept with June Williamson, author of Retrofitting Suburbia, as she moderates a discussion on the history, development, and future of sprawl with panelists Rachel Heiman, an urban anthropologist at the New School specializing in the comforts and anxieties of the American middle class; Galina Tachieva, an urban planner and author of The Sprawl Repair Manual; and Christoph Gielen, a photographer exploring sprawl and the intersection of art and environmental politics through photographic aerial studies of infrastructure.