Why Duany is wrong: Design and unforeseen consequences.

What Green Bay gave up for the Grand Vision. Source: Neville Public Museum of Brown County.
Gruen’s Grand Idea

One of the news stories that has been circling the twittersphere lately is an interview with Andreas Duany in which he asserts that public participation requirements are too onerous to enable great work to be done.   Early in my career I worked as a public historian and historic preservation specialist, so rather than launch immediately into my opinion, let me tell you a true story.

In the 1950s, business owners in downtowns across the country became agitated over the fact that their central business districts were facing a double challenge: increasing amounts of traffic congestion and increasing competition from new suburban shopping centers.  One of the towns that did this was Green Bay, Wisconsin, which had a very energetic and forward-thinking business leadership circle.  I knew many of those leaders years later, when I had responsibility for dealing with some of the unanticipated impacts of their decisions. 

The good men of Green Bay did what most forward-thinking leaders do when faced with a fearful challenge on the horizon: they hired a consultant.  The consultant they chose was Victor Gruen, an architect who had recently gained fame designing the nation’s first enclosed shopping mall, in Edina, Minnesota.  In the couple of years that had lapsed since the Southland Mall plans hit the streets, Gruen had become a celebrity – the Andreas Duany of his day. 

In a 2006 article for the New Yorker, Malcolm Glad well described Gruen as “short, stout, and unstoppable, with a wild head of hair and eyebrows like unpruned hedgerows.” Glad well summed up Gruen’s impact on that era, and today, pretty succinctly:

Victor Gruen didn’t design a building; he designed an archetype. For a decade, he gave speeches about it and wrote books and met with one developer after another and waved his hands in the air excitedly, and over the past half century that archetype has been reproduced so faithfully on so many thousands of occasions that today virtually every suburban American goes shopping or wanders around or hangs out in a Southdale facsimile at least once or twice a month. Victor Gruen may well have been the most influential architect of the twentieth century. He invented the mall.

 (http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/03/15/040315fa_fact1#ixzz1C4Y7f4qS)

 Gruen asserted in Green Bay, as he did in dozens of other cities in the 1950s and 1960s, that the key to solving downtown’s competition challenge was to completely separate vehicular traffic from pedestrians.  By massively widening Main Street at the north end of the commercial district, and completely enclosing the core of the existing commercial district, all of downtown’s problems would be solved.  All it required was money and a willingness to be unsentimental and practical.

You don’t have to be Duany to understand what happened.  It took 20 years for Gruen’s vision to obtain some form of reality, and during that time the City’s business and political leadership, and its planning staff, stuck to Gruen’s plan as diligently as the real world constraints of financing and private development would enable.  Of course, those real world constraints enabled it a lot less than Gruen assertively but idealistically envisioned.  By the time it opened in 1977, the new Port Plaza Mall and associated parking lots and garages had obliterated acres of downtown buildings, dislocated a hundred residents, and sent dozens of businesses to liquidation or the far edges of the newly-sprawling city, where many of them are today. 

The collateral damage of grand ideas.   If Gruen thought of them at all, I wager he simply thought that was the price of progress. 

All of this might be OK, at least from a strict economic standpoint, if Gruen’s grand plan had worked.  It didn’t.  Port Plaza Mall was a money-loser from virtually Day 1.  By the early 1980s, Port Plaza was doing so poorly that the City took the advice of another consultant and bulldozed another full block of buildings to add the magic third anchor, which they were assured was the way to fix the mall’s ails.  By the early 2000s, that anchor was gone.  Green Bay, like many other cities that drank the downtown mall Kool-Aid, continues to struggle with a downtown that is dominated by a windowless, dispiriting, too-much-vacant hulk where its heart should be.  Meanwhile, the region’s former skid row, right across the Fox River within eyesight of the mall, has become the hottest urban neighborhood in the region, and the winner of a Great American Main Street Award. 

This isn’t a story about the virtues of historic preservation, although the Green Bay story is certainly a good object lesson for the old Kenneth Galbraith line.   Gruen’s idea didn’t fail because Green Bay wanted old buildings, or because the people who lived and worked in those old downtown buildings did something to undermine the plan.  Like most people of that era, the majority of the City’s leadership and residents placed their faith in the expert and in the idea of progress.  What gut misgivings they may have had were pushed aside.  The plan was made by an expert, a national expert, right?

Gruen’s mall failed because he envisioned and sold an ideal solution without giving any attention to economic realities, and without consideration of the myriad of unforeseen factors and unintended consequences that could, and did, develop.  It’s possible to say that Gruen could have tried to understand development economics, but even if he did, fully anticipating those unforeseen factors would have been impossible.   Gruen stood at the beginning of an era, and there was no way anyone could anticipate how the world would change in a few short decades.

The greatest failure of Gruen’s plan was that he did not recognize or acknowledge that his Grand Vision could very well turn out all wrong.     

____

We should have learned by now that our Grand Visionary Designers are not infallible. Our landscapes are littered with Grand Visionary Architecture that was supposed to fix something, or create Something Big. And so few of those grand visions ever came out the way they were promised, or managed not to create a new set of problems.  Never heard of Port Plaza?  That’s because there are Port Plazas of one flavor or another in virtually every city in the country.  Some are malls, some are stadiums, some are brutalistic, forsaken parks.  You can pick them out easily by their Grand Design ambitions and their total lack of life. 

The fact that we haven’t learned this lesson is a blot on architecture and planning.

And this history is exactly why Duany is wrong about the importance of public participation.  Public participation is important not just to try to get people to go along with our vision, or to give us a chance to yell loud enough to drown them out, or to allow us to demonstrate the superiority of our Grand Vision over their piddling little concerns.  When residents resist a new development, even when they supposedly “don’t like change,” it doesn’t take many questions, or much effort, to develop a real understanding of their concerns and their point of view.   We fail consistently to realize that they are there every day, we are not, and they have a level of detail and a critical perspective that can make the difference between whether a proposed project supports the health of the community, or creates a new burden.   Much of the time, the real concerns of the residents of an area have to do with nuts and bolts issues that can be fixed with relatively little effort or accommodation.  And if there is a resistance to change, it’s possible that they might have good reasons why the proposed change is a bad idea.  If we don’t enable and empower them to speak, we have made the same mistake as Gruen, and we are likely to create a similar legacy.

Understanding the real reasons why people oppose a project requires the willingness to do so, the humility to listen, and the internal fortitude and self-assurance to admit that possibly, oh just possibly, we _don’t_ know everything that there is to know.   That is the real mark of wisdom.

Duany and other marquee designer types have the privilege of maintaining a distance from the dirty work of making a project functional in real life. I have worked with many of the nameless landscape architects and architects who are hired by the developers after the Duany types are paid, have gathered their glory and big checks and left.  And it is those highly competent, highly talented professionals who deal with the fact that the Grand Architect ignored the steep slope under that proposed building, or the face that the charming landscaped driveway empties out onto a major intersection and those planting beds will block other drivers’ ability to see cars pulling out.   How much of that could they have learned, and anticipated, and fixed, by simply listening with honestly and humility to the people who are experts in that specific location?  How much would Gruen have learned about how the community’s small businesses would or would not fit into his Grand Design?

Ah, little stuff. Who cares?

If the people who live around a proposed development oppose that development, chances are they know something that is important to the health of their neighborhood, and the larger community as well. If we think that we are too much hot stuff to have to listen to them, then we are no better than little Napoleons in big capes, creating monuments to our hubris that our children and grandchildren will have to clean up. And in fact, we will be worse than that, because the object lessons of the damage we can do in our ignorance are all around us.

______

Gladwell describes the end of Gruen’s life in terms that remind me of a Greek myth:

The lesson of America was that the grandest of visions could be derailed by the most banal of details, like the size of the retail footprint, or whether Congress set the depreciation allowance at forty years or twenty years.

When, late in life, Gruen came to realize this, it was a powerfully disillusioning experience. He revisited one of his old shopping centers… and pronounced himself in “severe emotional shock.” Developers were interested only in profit. “I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments,” he said in a speech in London, in 1978. He turned away from his adopted country. He had fixed up a country house outside of Vienna, and soon he moved back home for good. But what did he find when he got there? Just south of old Vienna, a mall had been built—in his anguished words, a “gigantic shopping machine.” It was putting the beloved independent shopkeepers of Vienna out of business. It was crushing the life of his city. He was devastated. Victor Gruen invented the shopping mall in order to make America more like Vienna. He ended up making Vienna more like America.
http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/03/15/040315fa_fact1#ixzz1C4dVSHgY

29 thoughts on “Why Duany is wrong: Design and unforeseen consequences.”

  1. Well said … unfortunately so few of those engaged in public engagement bring with them the tools for rational discourse which reduces the conversation to an emotionally based argrument. How do we create a basis for a discussion based on civility and respect when there is little trust in the process?

    1. Wayne, you identified one of the key issues very well. I don’t mean to sound like a curmudgeon, but I know enough history to know that rational, calm discourse has had a tendency to evaporate in the face of conflict.

      I think one of the issues gets back to what I said in a previous blog post — we are often out of practice as communities, so we have to start practicing good public partcipation in order to get good at it. But the other issue falls squarely on the professionals leading the process, whether public or private sector. We have to consciously and overtly create the environment where constructive debate and active listening is enabled, and manage the process so that people who don’t want to participate constructively, wherever they are coming from, don’t have the opportunity to derail the process.

      I said this in a presentation at a conference a few months ago: if you want to get an idea of how to effectively manage a group of people and keep them on track, visit a middle school classroom taught by a very good teacher. There are techniques for managing a group process while still letting the participants grapple with challenging information. If we transfer those techniques to our public meetings, if we could change from a review and protest model of participation to one that engages the public constructively as part of the solution, the whole experience completely changes.

  2. The moral of the story is that there needs to be a balance between market needs and wants, grand intentions, and financial realities. While many of the members or the public envision developers as “money grubbing rapists of our communities”, they typically have a strong handle on the marketplace and financial realities. Only by working closely together can the development community, designers and regulators (including the public at large) create successful environments.

    1. Nicely said, Jim! One of the most amazing things about the years I spent in multi-disciplinary firms was discovering the perspectives of people who came from different professional backgrounds than I did. I learned to see and appreciate aspects of the environment (in my case, things like parking lot circulation and overhead wires) that I would have never noticed if I had just stuck with people who think just like me. The more complex our developments and redevelopments get, the more I think we have to admit that the full range of issues that we have to deal with is bigger than any one professional stance can manage. From my perspective, the public is one of the types of “experts” we need at the table — we all know that we have a level of knowledge about the place where we live that the planner or developer will never learn by reading studies. But accepting the participation of other professionals in shaping your vision, let alone letting the unwashed public do that, takes a level of humility that can sometimes be hard to swallow.

  3. I once – many years ago -heard Duany say that he would only work in private development (such as putting a new urbanist project on a single parcel of land a la Seaside) and not in public planning (with multiple properties, multiple landowners and multiple constituents) due to the lack of control over outcomes in the latter. Although he is now more active in public planning, it seems he still is seeking that same control.

    1. When you have sooo much ownership in the vision you are trying to create, it’s got to be really hard to let go of that level of control. You know what you want it to be, and what has to happen to make it be so. My friends and colleagues probably know what is coming here: my favorite old saw, courtesy of my grad school economics professor: “Scratch a planner, find a dictator underneath.” When you know what you want, and you are convinced that you’re right, it’s hard to be egalitarian about it. But I think that is what the real complexities of the world around us require.

      Perhaps the model of development I am espousing is closer to parenting than to designing a building: when we are dealing with your kids, you are dealing (for most of us) with something that we have literally created, or at least played a pretty heavy hand in shaping. But at some point (at many points), you have to give up absolute control. You have to let them make their own discoveries, make their own sense out of the world. You can’t always spoon-feed them your interpretations — at best, they will ewventually rebel against you, tune you out and refuse to listen even to the legitimately beneficial things you tell them. I think sometimes we approach design issues with a “Father Knows Best” mentality, and then it’s no wonder sometimes that the people we are talking at refuse to listen.

  4. In the early 1980’s my small hometown closed Main Street and converted it into a pedestrian mall to compete first with the new local mall, then later with the big urban mall in Charleston, WV. The anchor never materialized and the pedestrian mall failed. The street has since been reopened to traffic. And still it’s a struggle.

    Streetscapes, restored theaters, summer Main Street festivals all help, but economics and market forces are difficult to predict, much less manipulate.

    1. Well said, Joseph. You’re right — we can’t predict these things. Interestingly, the planning studies leading up to the Green Bay mall in the blog post included a study from an economist — but the study primarily consisted of straight-line interpolations of how many parking spaces would be needed to support the shoppers that were assumed to materialize. Of course, that was a long time ago, and that consultant, like Gruen, was on the cusp of an entirely new world that he could never have fully envisioned then.

      One of the things that I have been grappling with intellectually is the question of how we account for the uncertainty of the future in pretty much any kind of planning. Most of the time, we don’t really account for the fact that our predictions could turn out to be wrong, and that blind sport generates a lot of the unanticipated, long-term negative consequences of big planning and development efforts. The business world has been using scenario-based planning tools for a long time, but I am concerned that trying to apply those in exactly the same manner might be more likely to create total paralysis in communities than actually help the situation.

  5. By improbable coincidence, I am simultaneously the grandson of an architect who worked for Gruen in LA in the 50s and 60s and had a hand in the plan for Green Bay; and also a resident of Green Bay—I’ve heard this story since I was a kid. I’ve often told it myself. Now I own a business on the former skid row that you alluded to and pay very close attention to the redevelopment of downtown. So, I feel very well qualified to say, right on!

    1. WOW! I had heard somewhere that this mythical creature exists!!

      Would you mind posting here what the name of your business in the On Broadway district is? I will probably have to blog about OBI in the future because I am still so dang proud of that program, even after having been gone for more than 10 years!

  6. This article brings to the front something that I have espoused for the 35 years I have been in the practice of Landscape Architecture and Planning. In order to have a functioning, long term, successful plan for a public client it is imperative to have the buy in and the support of the people who will live, work and play in the area that is the subject of the plan. I have always found it best to discover what the people in the area know and what they want to see happen. Then, and only then, do you bring your professional skill to refine, design and make possible thier dreams.

    1. Jon, I am really glad you joined this conversation — you are one of the best examples I know of the collaborative, humble approach to design and development. Even when the goal is to change an area — particularly important as we find it necessary to increase the density and mix of uses in locations — I really think that we are shooting ourselves in the foot it we don’t bring the comunity to the table, as I know you do.

      The ironic thing is, I know that you and I and Jim Obert and Wayne and Todd and many of the rest of the commenters here know of great examples where the public, in all its constituencies, came to the table and was part of the conversation and helped create a project that was better for the whole community. But they’re usually pretty boring stories, aren’t they? It’s too bad the controversial is always what gets the press.

  7. Thank you for taking the time to say so well what so many, accurately, believe. As an economic development consultant in a small Ohio community, I am watching the steady march of business out of the downtown. This is being spurred not by a new shopping center, or greed or an expert but by the absence of understanding of how the mechanics of development work (or don’t).

    1. Well said. Who is it that doesn’t understand the mechanics, if you don’t mind saying? Is it the local government? Property owners? Businesspeople? I’ve seen some of each of these, myself.

      Do you think there is a way to educate laypeople about these questions? My husband volunteers teaching basic financial skills to people who were never taught that and get themselves in trouble. It often seems to me that we need to teach more community -level economics somewhere in the process.

  8. I’m not sure of the context of Duany’s comments, but to me there is a clear distinction between public input on large, civic projects and the entitlement process that accompanies a zone change, PUD, etc.
    Actually, I believe that we have become very good at getting public input on civic projects (schools, parks, stadiums, etc.) Heck, here in Cincinnati, without being asked by the developer, we held charrettes to help design the site (and its surroundings) of a new casino in our downtown. Many architects have gotten very good at engaging the public and letting them influence design decisions.
    The entitlements process, however, is an altogether different story. Unfortunately, only those that have an ax to grind show up for a zone change and in fact, only the abutting properties are usually notified. In a sense, we have codified the invitation of enemies rather than creating a true public dialogue about the project; no wonder the process is difficult. Indeed, if this is what Duany is referring to, he is dead-on. The PUD process is long and onerous although it often results in a better project. I think the introduction of form based codes could help….but not many folks have the money for such work these days.

    1. Todd is the director of an urban county’s planning agency, so his perspective on this carries a lot of weight with me.

      Todd, I totally agree that the entitlements process, not just in your county but in a lot of places, doesn’t help make it a constructive process. But I think it’s critical to keep in mind that the law generally lays down the minimumrequirements relating to public engagement, not the maximum. I think that it is incumbent upon anyone who wants to extensively change the landscape to invest the very tiny bit of money and time that it entails to expand the public participation process. There is nothing in the zoning code that says that the developer or architect can’t proactively engage the neighbors. All it takes, (to put it in a very summary, oversimplified form), is to find a way to let the community know generally what you want to do, create an opportunity to learn what the community’s various concerns are, and design the project to incorporate their needs and address their concerns. And be transparent about it — if it’s not possible to do it exactly the way some segment of the community wanted, help them understand why and go as far as possible toward meeting their concerns.

      I am currently working on a rezoning project in one of the suburbs where the property owner has volunteered to extend the routine notices far beyond the arbitrary boundary in the regs, to include the whole area, as a first step in trying to have this kind of proactive, constructive conversation. And you probably know about the Marburg Square development in Hyde Park — they included the neighborhood in their planning, and even though they were increasing the density, it became a non-issue because the neighborhood felt that their voices were valued and their needs were being addressed. The costs they accrued by doing that were a tiny fraction of the cost of the project, and probably saved them a lot of money in the end by avoiding a drawn-out, contentious situation like many others we have seen.

      So, yes, changing the requirements of the entitlement process could certainly help. But I maintain that the responsibility for doing it right, for being aware that we don’t know everything and can benefit from the constructive advice of others if we create an opportunity for them to give that constructive advice, falls primarily on the shoulders of those who are trying to make the development happen.

  9. If we spent more time coming to grips with the ecconomic forces that shape our communities, we’d be less likely to advocate wholesale change. Communities developed incrementally, in response to the changes in transportation options available (among other things – although I think this is the most important). In addition to basic engineering, planning curricula need to incorporate psychology as well.

    1. Absolutely! I really like your reference to the fact that communities evolve incrementally. I think one of the risks that designers and planners have to grapple with is a gut impatience to see change — that “scratch a planner, find a dictator underneath” issue again (dang, I think that’s 3 times this week — probably a record of some sort!)

      I would really like to see planning curricula incorporate planning and sociology more extensively – I think that’s a fantastic recommendation. My undergraduate degree is not in planning and included sizeable doses of psychology, sociology and organizational studies, so that probably explains a lot about me (for good or for ill!) But I think that the framework you can gain from those disciplines for understanding how people think and how they work together would go a long way toward strengthening the profession.

  10. Did you read the same interview I did? Duany isn’t making a blanket argument in favor of top-down planning. From the interview:

    “Conventional public participation makes the mistake of privileging the neighbors, the people who live within a half-mile of the given proposal. So it becomes extremely difficult to, say, locate a school or an infill project. While democracy doesn’t need a great number of voters to function well, it does require a full cross-section to participate. That is the source of its collective intelligence. You can’t confuse neighbors with the community as a whole.

    “We propose using the jury pool or the phone book to invite a random group, which is then understood to be apart from the self-interested neighbors, just as the developer or the school board are acknowledged as vested interests. The neighbors must be seen as vested interests as well.”

    He isn’t saying public participation is unnecessary, he’s saying we need to explore ways to make charrettes cheaper and faster in light of a struggling economy and a cumbersome decision making process. At the end of the interview, Duany refers to completely top-down planning in China as “poison pill planning” that will turn Chinese cities into undesirable places to live.

    1. Natalia, I absolutely agree. His intent was pretty clearly not to discard public participation entirely, and, based on what little I know about Chinese cities, his statements are right on the money. I fear that the scale of abandonment in places like Shenzen could completely dwarf anything we have seen in the U.S. one day. And I think that his random citizenry idea is a very good one — it’s the standard process used to develop focus groups, which can be great tools for eliciting deep insights into what a group of people cares about and are worried about.

      My concern is that he seems to be trying to replace one “public” (the ones who have the most immediate stake in the process and are the experts on how exactly that vicinity works), with another “public” that is broader, more concerned with overall issues and less impacted by the specifics of how a development fits into a particular context. Certainly the residents who live right near a proposed site will be the most vocal — they will have the most riding on the outcome. That’s to be expected. But devaluing their stake in the process in favor of some less invested population that isn’t going to be so uptight about it isn’t the right answer.

      My counter would be that an effective development needs the participation of both publics. But the process has to be designed to support a respectful and collaborative process, not just the-law-says-we-gotta-do-this-here-is-our-lovely-plan-you-should-applaud-now.

      I am beating a dead horse by this point after responding to the other comments, but here goes again: we need to consciously design the public participation process around listening to and collaborating with the public, especially the nearby residents, to draw out their expertise about the specific location, deeply hear and understand their concerns, and manage the design process to support the health and vitality of the neighborhood and the larger community to the greatest extent we can possibly do. If the point of our public participation is to talk at them, rather than with them, and be ready to recognize and respect their point of view, then we might as well not bother with public participation at all.

      Perhaps more importantly, as I talked about in one of the other comments, if we insist on doing it the usual confrontational way, doing only the minimum that the law requires and then being surprised when they don’t all just fall in line with our grand designs, then most of the time doing the project will cost much more to do the project due to delays and litigation resulting from those residents’ anger at being ignored. You don’t always catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, but it’s a heck of a lot more likely to work.

  11. In the center of the historic photo portraying the long demolished downtown Green Bay, sits Kaap’s Restaurant and Bakery, which served some of the best German food on the planet. The hard rolls were to die for. The dark wood booths and old world interior were great spots for friends to meet or for people watching. Where was the National Historic Preservation Act when we needed it? – Former Kaap’s customer and planner in remission.

    1. It is absolutely astonishing what a deep connection Green Bay people have with Kaaps — and what strong emotions you stir up when you put that picture in front of people who knew that restaurant. Almost 20 years ago I worked on an exhibit at the Neville Museum that focused on their massive collection of photos of Washington Street, and that photo (which I believe was taken by Tom Martin in 1963) generated and incredible amount of reaction. I didn’t move to Green Bay until 10 years after that building was demolished, and I can tell you what color the booths were, what their most famous drink was, how people would share booths with strangers… all because people told me those stories, and it was still so vivid for them. People involved in placemaking and urban revitalization like to talk about the importance of places that people care about… and Kaap’s is one of the best examples I have ever heard of. I wrote an article for Voyageur magazine last year about the pivotal role the Port Plaza mall development played in the City’s recent history, and I really think now that the demolition of Kaaps was one of the most pivotal watershed moments. I think it led directly to a lot of the positive things that have happened in Green Bay ever since.

      Thanks!!

  12. Guys, I don’t know, sometimes these gigantic malls do bring economic uplift (jobs/increase in property value etc) to some areas, BUT a one size fit all approach can’t be taken. I believe in some cases they work depending on situation and sometimes type of generations living there and still to come, and in some instances the developments just don’t work cause of ethnicity/ theme of the place, I think it boils down to proper analysis of the place and where its headed in the next 10 -20 years…

    1. In the Green Bay case, and the case of a lot of the 1950s- 1970s urban malls, one of the key reasons they failed to thrive is that they assumed that offering the same thing as the suburbs would mean that they would win in the competition for dollars. They didn’t account for a host of factors, including the explosion in the sheer amount of shopping options, people moving farther out from the cities, real or perceived fears about going downtown, etc. What I think successful downtowns (and successful malls) have found since is that one of the keys to success, in a world where the amount of physical space dedicated to retail in most markets exceeds the purchasing power of the trade area two or three time over, is differentiation. You have got to offer a product, a collection of products, an experience, something, that is different from what they can get elsewhere, and that will appeal to enough people to make it cash flow. That’s what Gruen and his associates didn’t know and maybe could not have anticipated.

  13. I’m thoroughly enjoying this discussion. I just returned from an interview where one question was do you throw out the comprehensive plans in favor of accommodating the market and the wishes of the developers. It is a difficult balance, and unfortunately, too often the decision making is either political or slanted to the few opponents who live within the statutory notice area as Todd mentioned. The reality is what is good for the entire community, including developer, neighbors and the city / township / county / state. There is some place between Houston and their no-zoning and the burdensome restrictions of Portland where things work in a given community. The bottom line is that to be successful, the financials need to work, and the infrastructure and community fabric must also work.

    Administratively is is easier to “just say no”, but to rebound this economy, we need to consider all options. About 30% of our economy has historically been tied to the housing market alone, (ignoring all commercial construction) and until we get the tradesmen (plumbers, electricians, etc.) and professionals (architects, planners, engineers, bankers, etc.) re-engaged in construction, this economy will still flounder.

  14. This may sound closed minded…I have read a number of things by Duarny, though not for a few years. His commentaries about public input were enough for me to stop reading his drivel. Planning is public activity. It is the planners job to educate and facilitate, but not shove it down a community’s throat.

    1. Short and… well, not so sweet!

      That in a nutshell appears to define the difference in fundamental perspective between the planning-as-design tradition and the planning-as-public-policy tradition. Any thoughts, anyone, on how we can better bridge this divide?

  15. It seems that as designers both Gruen and Duany have forgotten the first rule of design, which is; “understand your client”. You can’t take one solution and stamp it out like an assembly line and consider it successful. It is unfortunate that the basic rules of design are being forgotten which is to understand the needs of your problem to develop objectives that help solve the problem. Standardized application of development is the downfall of our communities. I would like to take the time to reference Jane Jacobs and her work on studying the dynamic and ecclectic community. She identified that routine development does not identify and celebrate each community’s unique characteristics. Taking the time to understand and enhance the positive character and not completely restructuring it will only continue to nurture a community.
    Nice article and discussion!

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