Perceptions of reality in the land of Oz

In Toronto high rise development is popping up throughout the urban core., accessed November 29, 2013.

In Toronto, high-rise development is popping up throughout the urban core., accessed November 29, 2013.

As explained by Toronto based planner, Toronto is best understood through the lens of neighborhoods. Each neighborhood bears a distinct character. Knit together, these neighborhoods create the tapestry of this international city. One such neighborhood, the area of Ossington, known for its characteristic low-rise retail development and residential areas, is being confronted with pressures of growth. Many of the buildings in this district were built in the nineteenth century, giving it a specific look and feel. Many have been converted into hip shops and restaurants. Neighborhoods like this starkly contrast the high-rise development rapidly occurring in the urban core. Continue reading


Global sprawl

Urban Sprawl Wraps the Globe


Melbourne, accessed 11/13/2013,

In a conversation about planning, urban sprawl is bound to come up. Opinions on urban sprawl range from it playing a large part in causing global warming to providing a healthy, happy place to live. Whatever an individuals opinion may be, the fact is that urban sprawl is a popular topic. Most conversations involving sprawl center around the U.S., born from the post WWII housing boom. Although the United States may be the focal point of modern sprawl, it is not an issue that stays within the confines of The United States. Below, I compiled a list of links below showing different places outside of the U.S. that are experiencing sprawl and the issues involved with it. Continue reading

A plaque with removable screws


Accessed from Sheenenergy

It’s not such a big secret anymore that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is having a tough time living up to the hype. For quite awhile now LEED certification gives property owners bragging rights, tax credits, and they can charge premium rents to their tenants. According to the USGBC, a quarter of the new buildings that have been certified do not save as much energy as their designs predicted and that most do not track energy consumption once in use. Without backing up that your building is energy efficient by getting “check-ups” at least once a year, these buildings are getting benefits that they do not deserve. Does the LEED certification really set out to achieve a more sustainable community?  “The plaque should be installed with removable screws,” said Henry Gifford, an energy consultant in New York City. “Once the plaque is glued on, there’s no incentive to do better.”  Continue reading

Is nuclear energy the solution to climate change?

Accessed from on 11/12/13

Accessed from on 11/12/13

CNN recently released a two hour special titled Pandora’s Promise. The goal of the show was as clear as it was controversial; convince the world to invest in nuclear energy. The show was made by self proclaimed environmentalists and argued that nuclear energy is the best way for us to combat global climate change. Continue reading

I’m a “yawn” Planner


“Duller than the dinner party bore” (Gareth Dunlop, 2010)

I hate to say it but, planning is so… well… boring.

This isn’t to say planners themselves are boring people — though I’ve known a few who could put a meth-fueled gorilla to sleep with their talk of tax-increment financing and the proper meaning of the word “may”. Continue reading

Talking water: green grass and high tides

Niagara Falls - Creative Commons, 11/12/13

Niagara Falls – Creative Commons, 11/12/13

Saying that water is important is quite an understatement. We need it. Without it we wouldn’t exist. Sometimes we can make it serve us, and other times we are at its unapologetic will. Obviously, planners must be aware of both the dangers and the uses. A look back through our planning blog posts shows that there is no shortage of discussions about water. So, without further ado, here’s a round-up of recent posts from some of our very own “Planning Required” bloggers that discuss very different aspects of our beloved H20.
Continue reading

Public Art: a focus on projects, or a process?

A scene from April's "Remnants of Boise" exhibit, an art show exploring issues of historic preservation and community character.  Courtesy City of Boise.

A scene from April’s “Remnants of Boise” exhibit, an art show exploring issues of historic preservation and community character.
Courtesy City of Boise.

The City of Boise’s “Sesqui-Shop,” located at 1008 W. Main St., evokes all the charm of a living room, furnished with trendy wood-paneled benches, cozy easy chairs and walls festooned with bright artwork. Perhaps by accident or design, it’s an environment conducive to conversations about planning–far removed from the bureaucratic confines of administrative hearings and Planning and Zoning department cubicles. Originally billed as an art gallery and events space, the Sesqui-Shop has become a de facto place for fostering a community discussion about arts, culture and civic engagement in the city’s downtown core.
Continue reading