El Paso Officials Spread the Gospel of New Urbanism

Looking to move beyond its history of sprawling development, El Paso turned to New Urbanism. But instead of hiring New Urbanist experts, the city decided to indoctrinate its staff and private sector designers in the movement's principles.

"El Paso officials waht [sic] to reinvent the city by following the tenets of new urbanism, which means a greater emphasis on dense, walkable neighborhoods, mixed-use buildings that are street-oriented and more green spaces," writes Tod Newcombe. "But there was one big problem in making that change: The local development community and the architects were still designing the old-fashioned way."

So instead of hiring the movement's leading consultants, the city decided to develop a nine-week training program to introduce public officials and the private sector to new urbanism. "The city has also started requiring that any design firm that wants to do capital work with the city has to have someone on the team accredited in new urbanism practices," notes Newcombe. "According to [El Paso development director Mathew] McElroy, approximately 100 city staff and 100 private architects and engineers have taken the course and passed the accreditation exam."

"Today, El Paso is fielding multiple requests from other cities to 'come in and teach new urbanism,' says McElroy, who plans to run a three-day intensive session in Austin soon. And in January, McElroy will run a similar session for 40 to 50 government workers in Oklahoma City."

Full Story: El Paso Teaches New Urbanism to Architects, Engineers

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