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.
May 11, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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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."

 

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Published on Thursday, May 10, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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