California Urbanists Grappling with Infrastructure Post-Redevelopment

An overview of how urbanists in California have shifted their thinking about repairing urban cores. The article is by Howard Blackson III, an urban designer.
August 2, 2014, 11am PDT | melaniecj
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With crumbling streets and bridges and empty buildings lacking funding for renovation, cities are finally learning a tough lesson about the economic risks of letting infrastructure deteriorate.

Howard M. Blackson III, an urban designer, opines that too much emphasis has been put on suburban sprawl, but attitudes are changing.

“Our most recent generation is rejecting their parent’s suburban lifestyle and the well-known social and health issues these placeless-places churn out. The 21st century is witness to the theoretical end to the historically devastating Urban Renewal policies and programs formulated during the mid-century modernist era.”

Instead of calling on deteriorating structures to be razed, urban planners and developers in the post-redevelopment era are pushing to repurpose them, according to Blackson. The talk around urbanism is focused more on designing with a community’s unique character in mind, he added.

“After 30 years of New Urbanists making the argument for nurturing and cultivating our historical building fabric, this more pragmatic role of stewardship is now being directed towards our city’s infrastructure. This shift from relying on singular 'level of service' measurements towards a more localized expectation for holistic 'place making' is deeply resonating with Americans.”

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Published on Thursday, July 31, 2014 in UrbDeZine
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