Urban Design Committee is Back!

Planning and Design

Is it like bringing two versions of time into the room?  Yes/No?

The answer would be No”, unless implementation is involved, then it would be a simple matter of cash via step#1 plan and #2 design.  In my experience watch out for the times when #2 goes first.

Meanwhile, the Urban Design Committee is back up and running, it will set goals and discuss ideas on

  1. community outreach
  2. sponsorships and,
  3. engage in public policy reviews

All good. Picking new targets could not be more important.  If you can contribute drop a note to: ktheis@hntb.com or look at the new LinkedIn Forum

The Mission:

  • to educate communities and public officials on the nature and purpose of urban design in defining the physical form of the urban landscape through the creation of public places and spaces.
  • lato inform the public on the relevance of zoning recommendations on the shape of the physical environment and the process by which they are affected.
  • to respond to planning and policy initiatives while in the formative stage.

Top ten options for review..

  1. impact of ten years of zoning change on urban design…
  2. waterfronts outside of Manhattan  — the failure of “restrictive declarations” and “MOUs”
  3. review of school playground project –paint? really? seriously?
  4. revisiting Long Island City — too big to fail?
  5. revisiting Brooklyn’s west coast — and then there is “billburg” vs. (would that be the L train?) I don’t think so….
  6. massive increase in density is good, right? something is missing and it is not on the streets.
  7. are the urban designers at the MTA idiots?  an inside story?
  8. getting past HPV lanes, street finger painting, official graffiti and getting to dedicated rights of way.
  9. Jane Jacobs was right — the city is a place made for strangers to be safe and all the rest of it absolutely right
  10. name the best urban place contest…. then prove it… get cash and prizes!


Lincoln Institute

This history of the human settlement is a story of continuous growth and increasing urban densities that reduce per capita resource consumption among the successfully urbanizing countries and decreasing net densities among those who do not have an urban agenda.  The summary omits Africa in this context. It is a glaring omission of the summary, but it is covered well elsewhere.

That said, it should read:

The new Lincoln Institute report Making Room for a Planet of Cities should have, “With informal cities everywhere else,” as the tag line.  (Read Decline of Density Chap.2)

The rapidly urbanizing world needs a better analysis, so four data sets are offered to help:

  1. A global sample of 120 cities with 100,000 people via satellite;
  2. Population density data for 20 U. S. cities, 1910-2000, based on census tracts;
  3. Built-up sample of 30 cities, 1800-2000, from 120 cities using historic city maps;
  4. Urban land cover (3,646 cities of 100,000 or more in 2000, based on satellite


Densities in developing countries are double Europe and Japan.  Densities in Europe and Japan are double those of the United States, Canada, and Australia.  The growth rate of urban land cover was twice that of the urban population 1990 and 2000.

The urban population of the developing countries is expected to double between 2000 and 2030 and the nations of the world are largely ignorant of the impacts, or cannot act on the implications of this knowledge.


The data, images, metrics, and methodology from Making Room for a Planet of Cities are available in an accompanying sub-center, the Atlas of Urban Expansion, in the Databases section of Resources & Tools at the Lincoln Institute Web site.





Go to Chicago

Be in Chicago on Monday, April 27 beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the UIC campus 725 W. Roosevelt Rd. It is open to the public for $25 with tickets via the Forum’s website: www.RJDUrbanForum.uic.edu. Two ways to look at it — cities are crucial to “recovery†from crisis or urbanism itself is a discursive human event that begs the question. x Needed improvements to recovery systems challenge the very foundations of American governance. On this point three useful forums in this year’s Richard J. Daley Urban Forum (UIC) will be enriched by the attention of the Vice-President Joe Biden, but hopefully the Vice President’s attention will be given to Brookings’, Bruce Katz “We are a Metro Nation and it is time to start acting like oneâ€. (See below)

Two of the panels are expected, however, the surprise may be embedded in the deal making third panel.

  1. Economic Recovery and Urban Reinvestment, addressing the impact of national stimulus plans and regional and local initiatives on urban areas as well as key obstacles to these recovery efforts;
  2. Economic Revitalization: Education and Healthcare, exploring how citiesas the center of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurshipcan take the imaginative steps needed to climb out of today’s world recession in a way that reaches far beyond urban areas; and
  3. Global Town Meeting, where mayors from more than 30 cities will describe their programs in response to the global economic crisis.

How crucial to recovery is regionalx urban governance? x  The Urban Forum, holds the UIC Forum atx 725 W. Roosevelt Road.x  It is open to the public.x  Tickets can be purchased for $25 through the Forum Web sitex (above).x  x If you want to talk to someone give Ellie Abrams a call 312/573-5516 or write: ellie_abrams@jtpr.com. You can also get in touch with Bill Burton, UIC 312/996-2269 burton@uic.edu

The big picture was outlined in November 2007 by Bruce Katz in just 32 minutes.
The code does not hold for some reason

For the video presentation click herex  or here


Bruce Katzx x is Vice President and Director, Metropolitan Policy Program
See Brookings:x  Presentationx and more x Recent Blueprint Articles


Ecology Technology (ecotech?)

A long time ago Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan defined sustainability both technologically and ecologically.x  They pointed to the hubris embedded in the technological approachx to the goal of sustainability.x  Technology has proven to be deadly unless it is fully tetheredx in the way David W. Orr recommended in demandingx careful human attention to the absolutx priority of ecological principles.

  • First, people are finite and fallible. The human ability to comprehend and manage scale and complexity has limits. Thinking too big can make our human limitations a liability rather than an asset.
  • Second, a sustainable world can be redesigned and rebuilt only from the bottom up. Locally self-reliant and self-organized communities are the building blocks for change.
  • Third, traditional knowledge that coevolves out of culture and place is a critical asset. It needs to be preserved, restored, and used.
  • Fourth, the true harvest of evolution is encoded in nature’s design. Nature is more than a bank of resources to draw on: it is the best model we have for all the design problems we face.

Technology is zero-sum when placed in a priority higher than these four principles of real change.x  The Urban Design committee is looking for a readings and critiques of Sustainablex America by John Dernbachx (et. al) and theirx position: Sustainable development willx  make the US livable, healthy, secure, and prosperous.

The book runs through 28 areas of human behavior that need to change using 100 actions taken within five to ten years and thematically summarizedx in 10 points as follows:

1.x x  Ecological footprint system integration
2.x x  Greenhouse gas reduction programs
3.x x  Stimulate employment for unskilled persons in environmental protection and restoration
4.x x  Stimulate NGOs to play a major role
5.x x  Organize government initiatives using sustainability principles to prioritize
6.x x  Expand options for sustainable living choices to consumers
7.x x  Advance general public and formal education
8.x x  Strengthen environmental and natural resources law
9.x x  Lead international efforts on behalf of sustainable development
10. Systematically improve access to data for decision making

x It was released January 12, 2009. One can order from Island Press here or Amazon herex  For more information, See the books website site Sustainable Americax  or Dernbach’s website: x x Also see Dernbach’s 2002 book: Stumbling Towards Sustainability.