By Jeff Speck
I published the book Walkable City in 2012. Since then, many of our leaders have realized that establishing walkability as a central goal can make cities better in a whole host of ways. That book did a decent job of inspiring change, but it didn’t tell people exactly how to create it. My new book, Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places (released on October 15 by Island Press) is an effort to weaponize Walkable City for deployment in the field. An excerpt follows below.
Eliminate legal barriers to mixed use.
Andres Duany used to…
By Jonathan English
One hundred years ago, the United States had a public transportation system that was the envy of the world. Today, outside a few major urban centers, it is barely on life support. Even in New York City, subway ridership is well below its 1946 peak. Annual per capita transit trips in the U.S. plummeted from 115.8 in 1950 to 36.1 in 1970, where they have roughly remained since, even as population has grown.
This has not happened in much of the rest of the world. While a decline in transit use in the face of fierce competition…
By Laura Bliss
Whatever the Poop Patrol will be wearing as they power-wash feces off San Francisco’s sidewalks, let’s hope they get a great embroidered patch.
Armed with steam cleaners, a crew from the city’s Department of Public Works will target downtown alleys and sidewalks for human and animal droppings starting next month, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. They’ll start their vigil in the afternoon, aiming to clear deposits that appear after overnight crews have done their cleaning, but before any residents complain.
In the eyes of conservative media outlets, San Francisco’s ongoing shit saga is the latest expression of…
By Kate Wagner
If someone asked me five years ago whether or not I thought the open floor plan would still be popular, I would have said no. Domestic architecture seemed to be taking a turn toward the rustic. Today, “Farmhouse” and “Craftsman” modern designs, harkening back to the American vernacular tradition (complete with shiplap walls), are a tour-de-force.
But I would have been wrong. Although these houses bring all the exterior trappings of beloved vernacular houses of the past, they do not extend that to the interior plans. …
By Stephen Goldsmith and Chris Bousquet
As today’s cities look for better ways to use the troves of new data at their disposal, augmented reality (AR) offers a new way of bringing this data to life. This technology — which assimilates digital objects and information into the real world via headsets, mobile devices, and other tech tools — has a unique capacity to enliven information and processes via immersive experiences.
AR has captured the public imagination in the form of Pokémon games, Snapchat filters, Minecraft demos, and much more. …
By Allan Richarz
It is a scene that plays out each weekday morning across Tokyo. Suit-clad office workers, gaggles of schoolchildren, and other travelers gamely wend their way through the city’s sprawling rail stations.
To the casual observer, it is chaos; commuters packed shoulder-to-shoulder amid the constant clatter of arriving and departing trains. But a closer look reveals something more beneath the surface: A station may be packed, yet commuters move smoothly along concourses and platforms. Platforms are a whirl of noisy activity, yet trains maintain remarkable on-time performance. …
By Lynn Freehill-Maye
In the early aughts, a former skateboard kid named Daniel Toole was chafing at his slick corporate job in Seattle. To feel more like his rulebreaking teenage self, he cut through back alleys on his way to work. He liked their grittiness and started taking pictures. Sometimes people threatened to kick Toole’s ass, which he handled just fine until three of those people were FBI agents. Turned out he’d photographed the security cameras on their building. They wiped the camera’s memory and warned him never to come back.
It’s a scene that’s just shady enough for its…
By Natalie Y. Moore
Confession: Until I started watching “House Hunters” on HGTV, I had no idea what a “Craftsman-style” house was. I also didn’t know that white kitchens were all the rage, or that “en suite” was a phrase that normal people might use. Indeed, until I picked up my “House Hunters” habit — a mindless routine at night as I get ready for bed — I didn’t truly understand that one must always have an open concept floor plan; any spouse desiring separate spaces is just as stuffy as an old Victorian.
The show, a longtime cable favorite…
By Amanda Kolson Hurley
From the end of the Second World War until a few years ago, when it cooled off, productivity surged across the U.S. economy, giving rise to what’s often called the “productivity miracle.” From manufacturing to agriculture to retail, industry after industry became cheaper, faster, more mechanized, and more efficient.
But the same can’t be said of construction. Productivity in construction has not only not risen, it’s actually lower now than it was in 1968.
The way that most large buildings get built hasn’t changed much from 50 years ago. It goes by a deceptively straightforward name…
By Ariel Aberg-Riger
Editor’s note: A series of racially charged incidents of “loitering” have triggered national outrage recently. This month, CityLab’s visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger dives into the long history of laws against being somewhere you’re not wanted.
All things urban, from @theatlantic.