Obama on the Record Against Sprawl, Inequality by Design

Former President Barack Obama was at the AIA’s national conference in Chicago earlier this month. His presentation included some strong words about the effects of sprawl.

June 30, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


“Former US president Barack Obama has called on architects and policymakers to tackle urban sprawl and to "create livable density" in American cities,” reports Ben Dreith for Dezeen.

"Sprawl in America is not good for our climate. And so we have to think about creating livable density that allows us to take mass transit and take bicycles,” Obama is quoted as saying in the article.

Obama also cited Chicago as an example of a city where architecture had been used to reinforce inequality, such as with public housing projects like Cabrini Green.

“The former president believes that some of the problems found in Chicago and other major cities in the US are the result of government policy and zoning decisions,” reports Dreith. “[I]t's not just a lack of funding for affordable housing,” said the former president.

Obama also called out ostensibly liberal cities for opposing affordable housing.

"Frankly, some very well-intentioned laws and regulations at the local level, often generated from the left and from my own party, sometimes are inhibiting the creation of affordable housing and powering NIMBY attitudes and make it very difficult to integrate communities and allow people to live close to where they work."

Obama’s track record while in office on issues of urbanism and equity shows some incremental progress, stopping well short of comprehensive innovation. While the Obama administration succeeded in implementing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule to advance the causes of the Fair Housing Act, the Trump administration worked to undermine those rules and critics questioned how effective the AFFH will be in achieving its intended goals. The Obama administration also supported pro-development reforms well before it was a broad trend at the local level.

Monday, June 27, 2022 in Dezeen

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