Has Planning Become Too Rational?

A recent study describes the evolution of planning has become far too sensitive to government thinking (i.e., fiscal conservatism and economic logic) instead of the emotional processes of citizens.

February 23, 2016, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Urban Planning Model

Kichigin / Shutterstock

Henry Grabar poses a big question for the practice of planning in a recent article for Next City: "Why does the planning world seem determined to resist approaches that give primacy — or even credence — to the way people feel?"

To ponder the question, Grabar cites a recent study by Howell Baum, a professor emeritus of urban studies at the University of Maryland, titled "Planning with half a mind: Why planners resist emotion" [pdf]. According to Baum, as explained by Grabar, "rationalism has become a harmful bias in planning" as a result of the formalization of the planning profession.

Throughout the article, Grabar responds to the ideas put forward by Baum's study, even calling some of Baum's examples of "emotionally sensitive planning" as outlandish, but allows Baum plenty of space on the page to posit a new, more emotionally aware practice of planning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 in Next City

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