Has New Urbanism Reached a Midlife Crisis?

On the occasion of the 20th Congress for the New Urbanism, running through the weekend in West Palm Beach, Anthony Flint looks at what happens when a revolutionary movement becomes part of the establishment.

With corporate homebuilders such as Toll Brothers and Lennar preaching the gospel of urban infill and the CNU's once radical principles of compact, walkable, mixed-use development, Flint looks at the movement's new foils. 

"If the first phase of CNU has culminated in a broader culture acceptance of urbanism as a force for good, the second phase will be defined by successfully pushing for policy and design reform that actually allows urbanism to get built," says CNU president John Norquist, a former mayor of Milwaukee.

"Still, as unglamorous as it is, re-writing the owner's manual for urbanism makes sense. It's what another architectural movement – the Congress International Architecture Moderne (CIAM), after which CNU is modeled – did. Leaders like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius wasted little time embedding modernism in codes and academic curricula."

"CNU is trying to undo the damage of expressways, separated-use zoning, and the destruction of the building craft fostered by CIAM, says Norquist. That means changing the rules put in place over a half-century: fighting fire with fire."

 

Full Story: At the 20th Congress for the New Urbanism, a Movement Feels its Age

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