1. Fernando Centeno says

    Thanks for some thoughtful work, but, for every “built environment” planning article I’d like to see 10 planning articles built around greater human connections, complementary to the idea of greater quality of life and standards of living. Brainpower needs to be channeled for the good of humanity in comparison to what’s visibly appealing or econmically beneficial to land speculators or land developers. Thanks.

  2. Fernando, the built environment is the stageset for human connection! If you don’t set the stage properly, people don’t connect. Designers and planners can’t control what they do when they connect, but they can make those connections much more or less likely.

  3. Mario Marquez says

    I believe humans are hard wired for social connection. A survival strategy, regardless of the setting. I agree with Steve, the design of our everyday urban lives is made easier or more difficicult by what has been built. We perceive it as a no choice (I live here, but work there), but the choice is ours. We live in a world of denial, we tell ourselves that this is just how it is. We get stuck in a daily routine and forget about our connection to the things around us. We believe that to take a break we need to hit the Vegas strip, when our own residing neighborhoods could be great places to enjoy, experience, and entertain us – all within walkable distances.

  4. lee sobel says

    Sigh. Howard, I enjoyed much of your post but…that is not a “textbook American square.” That’s a European village center. I have two of those Krier illustrations next to my office phone but you remind me their use is limited in America to education and theory but contrary to American character. I like your strategy for civic space and terminated vistas but follow the American models if you want American character. Let’s get Leo to create a series of res publica illustrations translating his message for American places. Otherwise, I fear your post is another one of those planner memes that cry about how America character will only achieve greatness when we implement European character. And that’s not necessary here.

  5. Hooray! I got you out in the open, Lee… and you’re WRONG! Thankfully you walked right into my trap: Please Google Earth Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. You’ll see nothing but a series of plazas defined as Squares. See, the traditional Texas courthouse square isn’t the same as Harvard Square, which isn’t even close to Seattle’s Pioneer Square! There is no ‘traditional’ American Square! It is the name we use to denote an urban civic center typology! Your definition is exactly that… yours. In America, we make ’em in all shapes and sizes. Gotcha!

  6. LOL! New Urbanist dust-up on a Friday afternoon! Happy weekend, everyone!


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  2. […] interesting convergence. Now allow me to add my ‘Community Character Corner‘ synopsis, which heroically attempts to bridge the brilliant points of both these […]

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