Some people choose to work in planning because they see it as a relatively interesting and stable job. Others have dreams of being the equivalent of an all-powerful SimCity-style mayor. However, many choose planning as a career because they want to make a difference in the world. They want to do good and to help those who are the least advantaged. They are attracted by the potential, if limited, for planning to foster environmental justice and social equity.
Last week, my home city, Los Angeles, lost out to Chicago for the right to represent the United States in the international competition to host the 2016 Olympics. Since an Olympic city selection represents the ultimate inter-urban beauty contest – dare I say, a kind of urban “International Idol” – what did this process tell us about the state of urban planning in two of America’s largest cities?
This post is a few weeks after the fact but the recent APA conference only solidified my resolution to say something. In early April Teddy Cruz gave a lecture here in Philly at the School of Design. For those of you not familiar with his work, he has a unique and thoughtful perspective on the relationships between culture, planning and design.
In my hometown—and yours, too, I'm sure—a small, one-story house was for sale, and then it was gone. The guy who bought it promptly tore it down and then, because the new house he had designed was too big for the site, let the hole sit there for a year, a broken tooth in the 1950s neighborhood. Of course, the house he built was still too big for the lot, but there it stands, three feet from his seething neighbors: a McMansion.
As a note of introduction, I am a Master's student in Community Planning at the University of Maryland. I'm happy to be part of this exciting project.
With a series of new urban libraries opening in U.S. cities recent years, its been said we're living through an 'urban library renaissance.' Whether it is the enthusiastic reception of the new Seattle library, or lending and attendance up in urban Canadian libraries, there seems to be an increased awareness of the critical role libraries play, even in the information age.
However, no such renaissance has happened here in Washington, D.C. -- at least not yet. Here the former mayor's plans to build a new library were stalled by what the Washington Post has termed the 'Mies Mystique.'