NU myths

Jeff Speck, “in an interview”: ostensibly about his (then-new) role in NEA’s urban design program, reverts back to the role of _Suburban Nation_ co-author (and incidentally, initial pencil pusher for many of CNU’s original incorporation papers) as he politely (as he always is) debunks several myths that Julie Taraska of _Metropolis_ had back in 2003:

bq. The New Urbanists have a bad reputation among Modernists because many NU projects use traditional architecture, which is considered reactionary. In fact, it’s subversive: Traditional architecture is used to mask progressive social ideals that Modernism, by manifesting them, can sabotage. But there is nothing in the Charter of the New Urbanism that privileges any architectural style, and I would be very discouraged if my appointment were seen as anti-Modernist, or if the most progressive Modernists stopped applying for grants…

_Q. The NU principles of walkability, denser layout, and mixed-income housing apply less to urban cores than to edge cities and suburbs…_

bq. Forgive me for disagreeing, but the principles you describe are the very essence of good city design, particularly at the urban core. The New Urbanists are perhaps best known for applying these principles, leaned from urban cores, to other parts of the metropolis. But half of the work of DPZ and of the New Urbanists is in cities, and much of that is downtown. I personally worked on a good half-dozen downtown revitalization master plans while at DPZ… The U.S. Conference of Mayors could benefit from an Urbanism 101 class, in which as many mayors as will listen are taught the basics of good design–the items you mention, plus mixed-use, the “24-hour city” concept, improving transit, form-based building codes, Main Street preservation, etc…

And a closing word on social justice:

bq. We must acknowledge and fight the ways that planning has actually created or exacerbated inequality. In the new suburbs, where kids can’t walk to activities, it’s usually the mom who becomes the soccer mom. And when jobs flee the city for cheaper land in the office park, the non-driving poor can’t get to work. Myron Orfield has demonstrated how the inner-city poor subsidize Minneapolis’ ex-urban expansion. These are inequalities caused by planning, and they pose a larger target for our efforts.