The Politics of Public Works

As Barack Obama takes the oath of office for his second term, Places editor Nancy Levinson argues for an intensified political agenda for architects and urban designers.

The longstanding tension between the pressing need for public action and the tenacious culture of privatization remains the critical dilemma of U.S. politics.

Nothing underscores the need to resolve this tension — and to commit once again to the ideals of collective purpose and common good — than the accelerating crisis of climate change.

"We seem to have lost the political capacity to grapple with the big picture, the long range, the global scale," Levinson writes. "To a degree we've even lost the vocabulary."

"In design circles it's as if the perceived failures of mid 20th-century planning — exemplified by top-down urban renewal and personified by the power-brokering Robert Moses — have induced a kind of conceptual paralysis, an inability to formulate the public sector, or public works, in terms not beholden to a discredited history."

Full Story: After the Storm: Climate Change and Public Works

Comments

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
AICP CTP Storefont Display

The first online AICP* CTP exam prep class

Are you ready to take the AICP* Certified Transportation Planner exam?
Priced at $245 for May exam!
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95

City Coasters

Hand-drawn engraved maps of your favorite neighborhoods are divided up across 4 coasters making each one unique.
$36.00