Suburbs 2.0

A review of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson, from Residential Architect Online.

"Dunham-Jones and Williamson argue that retrofitting defunct or failing malls, parking lots, commercial strips, office parks, and cul-de-sac subdivisions from single-use, auto-dependent, low-density suburbs into vital and diverse higher-density, mixed-use urban centers is the best and most sustainable solution for accommodating evolving demographics, technological advances, and economic conditions. The projects highlighted were chosen for their real-world application of new trends in planning, development, economics, policy, and design.

Why are suburban retrofits such a good solution? As Dunham-Jones said in a discussion of the book, "There are benefits at several different scales."

At some point, the book contends, we'll have to accept that transportation costs aren't getting any lower. Household budgets would benefit from the reduced transportation costs that urbanized suburban neighborhoods provide through improved walkability and access to mass transit, as well as their ability to reduce the number and length of car trips needed to reach the more-plentiful services and retail allowed by redevelopment. "With good mixed-use development, you can capture between 25 and 45 percent of the trips internally," Dunham-Jones says."

Full Story: redesigning suburbia for a changing world

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