The Orthodoxy of Urbanism

Planners take a prescriptive approach to urbanism, while people have their own ideas about what makes good places that don't fit the standard orthodoxy. Drew Austin says both extremes need attention, and synthesis.

Austin compares the two approaches to theories of language, Prescriptivism and Descriptivism:

"Prescriptivists are those who believe in objective, fixed rules to guide the usage of language; Descriptivists, on the other hand, seek to define a language by how people actually use it."

Planners have a tendency to develop a prescriptivist set of beliefs and approaches:

"Density, mixed-use development, and transit become components of an urbanist orthodoxy; a freeway through a vibrant neighborhood troubles the urban Prescriptivist in the same way an 'ain't' irks the English teacher."

Full Story: Drew Austin: Brief Interviews with Hideous Cities

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