Solving Urban Expansion: Design That Includes Families

Because we’re social animals, we like to live together. Increasingly, this means living in cities. In his TED talk, Alejandro Aravena notes that by 2030, we will have 5 billion people on Earth living in cities.That’s a lot of togetherness.

Redesigning unequal cities

“If we want our cities to do more than simply expand haphazardly to accept their new residents, it’s time to start planning.”

Democratic Transportation: Buses in Bogota

Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, sees transportation as a matter of equity. “An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars,” says Penalosa, “but rather one where even the rich use public transportation.” (Or bicycles.)

Value-added transit: Helsinki transit

Marketers strive to add value to people’s lives, either by improving an existing product or service, or by inventing a new one. Shouldn’t government do the same?

Public design: Phoenix reconsiders sprawl

My personal vision of Hell is working as a roofer in Phoenix. It’s not just the manual labor in the desert heat, for which I’m wholly unsuited. Phoenix is a sprawling metro area, 16,500 square miles of concrete and car culture smeared across the Sonora desert. No thank you.

Designing Away Traffic Fatalities

Each year in the United States, more than 34,000 people die from traffic accidents. That’s more than three times the number of gun homicides per year. How can design help? New York City is designing away traffic fatalities.

Redesign city services to tackle urban blight

In 2011, the city of Memphis, Tennessee faced a backlog of 25,000 code enforcement cases and 40,000 complaints about overgrown lots. Like many cities recently, Memphis has a budget stretched thin by shrinking tax revenues due to the Great Recession and declining property tax revenues. How could the city ever catch up? Two words: process...

City services: treating the homeless like abandoned cars

The other day, as I was walking to BART at the end of a workweek, I saw a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk. He looked abandoned, as if someone simply left him there and walked away. Seeing that abandoned man made me think about William Donald Schaefer, mayor of Baltimore for most of the...Continue reading

Design, public space, and reclaiming suburbia

This 2007 talk by James Howard Kunstler on the awfulness of our public spaces, especially suburbia, confirmed the darker notions I’d thought or felt about U.S. public spaces. He graphically illustrates what happens when public entities like cities and counties design things and not systems.

Park Avenue: A documentary of two cities

As┬áPark Avenue stretches through Manhattan in New York City, it represents the wealthiest neighborhood in the U.S. Then, Park Avenue goes north across the Harlem River in the South Bronx, and enters the poorest Congressional district in the country. It’s hard to find a more convincing graphical, and geographically, depiction regarding the fairness debate in...Continue reading

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