The Curitiba Experiment

Grafite em Curitiba - Fernando Rosa - 1-18-2013 - www.flickr.com-photos-fernandojs-8393595010

Grafite em Curitiba (Photo: Fernando Rosa, January 18, 2013)
http://alturl.com/8dzyq

How would cities look if urban planners, not politicians, were in charge?

Recycle City: The Road to Curitiba (New York Times, May 20, 2007)

Planning from the Outside

The long history of the city of Curitiba, in southern Brazil, demonstrates that it is perhaps the most heavily planned city in the western hemisphere. The layout of the original town, like many such colonial developments in the Americas, had been heavily influenced by the Laws of the Indies — a set of precepts from the 16th Century that dictated much of the governance of Spanish and Portuguese land holdings; which included rules for town planning. And, though Brazil gained independence from Portugal in the 1820’s it’s various cities were still governed by many of the land use laws inherited from its former European ruler. Continue reading

In the garden of EPCOT.

Walt Disney - Wikimedia Commons, 02/18/2014

Walt Disney – Wikimedia Commons, 02/18/2014

The Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow (EPCOT) was Walt Disney’s unrealized dream. Sure, there’s a place called EPCOT down there in Orlando located within the vast city-unto-itself of Walt Disney World, but it isn’t Walt’s EPCOT. It aims in the same direction, but misses the mark by several yards. How so? Because Walt’s idea wasn’t a theme-park that resembled a City of Tomorrow, it was a City of Tomorrow that just happened to be planned near his theme parks. It was an actual plan for a technologically forward and green society that could be the model for the rest of the United States. The vision was huge – Walt didn’t do small. Interestingly enough, the idea wasn’t altogether new (then or now). In fact, Disney owes a great deal of his imagined City of Tomorrow to Ebenezer Howard and folks like Le’Corbusier’s Radiant City. We can’t talk about the future without talking about the past, it seems, and these imagineers seem to make that point clear. Lets take a look at some really nifty links, videos and articles that draw a line from the Garden Cities of Howard to the imagined implementations of the Disney age (and beyond), and other designs that have seen a similar influence.

Oh, and, please keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times – for your safety, of course! Continue reading

How the Market Was Won

Residents and visitors perusing Pike's Place, accessed 2/18/2014, dazzlingplaces.com

Residents and visitors perusing Pike’s Place, accessed 2/18/2014, dazzlingplaces.com

As the first proposed project slated for Urban Renewal in Seattle, the Pike Plaza Redevelopment Project had big plans for what is now one of the most recognizable landmarks in Seattle.

So, how exactly did this once “blighted” area escape its slated doom and transform into the beloved neighborhood commodity enjoyed by residents and visitors alike today? Continue reading

Planning Utah: from Zion to Smart Growth

Brigham Young

Brigham Young, accessed 2/18/2014, wikimedia.org

The Envision Utah coalition has gained some visibility within the planning discussion in regards to their plan, and its influence in shaping the future of Utah. The coalition is well received in a state that is historical conservative, but it is not the first planning entity that has impacted Utah.  Led by early church leader Brigham Young, the Mormons brought with them plans for developing towns throughout the West. The founding father of the Latter -Day Saints religion (LDS) , Joseph Smith, took a lead role in crafting The Plat of Zion which was a religiously influenced document used as the basis for community planning of Mormon settlements. Early planning efforts led by the church served as a foundation for more than 500 western communities.  Today, recognizing the state’s planning past, the Envision Utah process,  has been able to guide the growth of the state into 21st century. Continue reading

The Wright Way of Planning

Image

Henry Wright – sunnysidegardens.us/history
Accessed 2/3/2014

 

Henry Wright, world renowned landscape architect and urban planning pioneer, implemented aspects of Ebenezer Howard’s “garden city” into his communities. All great planners have some characteristic which sets them apart and gives them an edge – the ability to conceptualize cities, towns, urban planning, in a way that others cannot. In Wright’s case, this was his experience being raised as a Quaker in Kansas. The communities and neighborhoods which Henry Wright helped develop all contain elements that reflect the core principles of the Quaker religion. I don’t think that Wright would have been as successful of a planner as he became if he did not draw the parallels between community and religion, the Quaker religion, person, and place. Continue reading

Rex the Red

Official Portrait

Rexford Guy Tugwell (1891 – 1979)
(Official Portrait, Library of Congress)
http://1.usa.gov/1n7v75l

I 
am 
big
 and 
well
 made,

I
 bend 
the
 forces
 untamable;

I
 harness 
the 
powers 
irresistible,

I 
am 
sick
 of 
a 
nation’s 
stenches,

I
 am
 sick
 of propertied 
czars,

I
 have 
dreamed
 my 
great
 dream 
of
 their 
passing,

I
 have
 gathered
 my 
tools
 and 
my 
charts;

My
 plans
 are 
fashioned
 and 
practical;

I
 shall
 roll
 up 
my 
sleeves — make
 America 
over!

 “The Dreamer” (Rexford Guy Tugwell, 1915)

By all accounts, Rexford Tugwell was one of the first preeminent modern planners in America — the very type of intellectual superman he wrote about in his poem for his school paper in 1915. An academic star, prolific author, and professor of Economics at Columbia, in 1933 Tugwell was recruited by President Roosevelt to serve in his newly created “Brains Trust”. This group was composed of a number of highly respected intellectuals whom the president would come to rely upon for advice as he worked to steer the country out of the Great Depression. When Roosevelt asked Tugwell if he wanted a job in his administration he asked for only one position — undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture in order to work on agricultural economic reforms. Continue reading

Chicago Commercial Club: Early planning’s philosopher kings.

Burnham's Civic Center Plaza - Wikipedia, 2/2/2014

Burnham’s Civic Center Plaza – Wikipedia, 2/2/2014

An intentionally pretentious, while moderately accurate title. While they may not have been exactly what Plato had in mind, it would appear they were empowered in the way he might have imagined. In many ways, the organization ‘built’ Chicago, steering it and planning for its future – a course that led it to today’s Windy City. Their names adorn neighborhoods, streets, museums, and public infrastructure. These individual’s contributions to the city, perhaps, kept it from stuttering incrementalism or economically stalling at times. Without their power, influence, and money, Chicago would look altogether different, and other places that emulated designs and plans would clearly not look as they do. Organizations such as the club have helped to bring change to stymied growth and development, revitalize city areas, and capture culture.

Continue reading