Duany on the Imperatives of Urban Design Codes

Andres Duany takes to the CNU's Public Square to argue for the critical need for codes in a built environment awash in mediocrity.

1 minute read

January 26, 2017, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Downtown Los Angeles

MILA Zed / Shutterstock

Within the last half-century, some 30 million buildings have degraded cities and reduced landscapes. Must we tolerate this comprehensive disaster in exchange for the, perhaps, three thousand great buildings that great architects have produced? Such a win-loss ratio is as unacceptable in architecture as it would be in any other field. We are compelled to intervene and have found that codes are the most effective instruments of reform.

So begins a recent opinion by Andres Duany, one of the founders of the Congress for New Urbanism and, as the article makes clear, a persistent provocateur of urbanism's status quo.

Duany's polemic acknowledges one of the arguments against what he calls urban design codes (he never calls them design guidelines, nor does he call them form-based codes): that they quell creativity and constrain the possibility of an architectural masterpiece. But consistently and at some length, Duany presents his case as a series of imperatives. It's a loud and clear policy manifesto from a figure famous for them.

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