Not Quite the Urban Utopia

When Andres Duany planned the village of Cornell, he built in walkability, density, and mixed-use. The outcome, however, falls short of the New Urbanist vision; driving is the norm and retail is scarce. What happened?
March 25, 2009, 7am PDT | Judy Chang
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"It was with higher density in mind that the provincial government - which in the early '90s owned the land - approached Mr. Duany and his firm, Duany Plater-Zyberk, to develop Cornell on what was then greenfield.

Mr. Duany and his team got to work, preparing what he said was 'one of the best models' he had created. But a change of provincial government and a hand-off to a private firm called Law Development Group meant a change of plans and, while the blueprint had been completed, it was just shy of being coded into law. That form-based code would have ensured that everything from the segregation of land use to architectural aesthetics to the gridding of the streets would be carried out as planned.

'The tragic historical circumstance of the development changing hands is what has led Cornell to become what it has,' Mr. Duany said, adding that he did not have access to Law Development and, since being in a sense nudged off the project, has not been back to Cornell in more than five years. 'Most New Urbanism is done as a matter of law. In this instance, it's been a matter of persuasion.'"

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Published on Friday, March 13, 2009 in Posted Toronto
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