Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education


November 28, 2010, 9am PST
When an Apple Store wanted to move into the Georgetown neighborhood in D.C., the Design Review Board pushed for a more fitting facade. After a backlash from residents eager for an Apple, the trademark building went in. Is Georgetown better off?
Planning Commissioners Journal
August 7, 2010, 11am PDT
Joel Kotkin has said there is a war on suburbia. But as Michael Scott writes on New Geography (Kotkin's home base), where does suburbia start and the city end? Where do inner-ring suburbs fit in this model?
New Geography
August 6, 2010, 2pm PDT
A family elder tells tales of the old ways when the family was "not enticed by the frappucinos at the Starbucks that just opened," and there were park-and-rides as far as the eye could see.
The Onion
July 22, 2010, 11am PDT
Suburbia has brainwashed Americans into being good capitalists, which brought about the economic crisis, according to neo-Marxist economic geographer David Harvey.
Fast Company
July 6, 2010, 8am PDT
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein suggests readers watch this 20-minute TED video featuring Georgia Tech's Ellen Dunham Jones, author of "Retrofitting Suburbia." Jones talks to the importance of making suburbs greener by retrofitting to urbanize them.
Washington Post: Ezra Klein
June 29, 2010, 6am PDT
John Jensen at the Seattle Transit blog makes a persuasive argument that the suburbs themselves aren't the problem - depedency on the automobile is.
Seattle Transit Blog
May 15, 2010, 11am PDT
This commentary from <em>Urban Omnibus</em> looks at how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a problem with roots in unsustainable land use.
Urban Omnibus
Blog post
January 31, 2010, 9am PST

As a young kid, skirting aimlessly throughout my suburban municipality from one car-optimized shopping center to the next on my bicycle in search of stimulation (and perhaps trouble), I vividly recall - though I likely didn't describe it as - the internal conflict between interesting commercial destinations on the inside, and the banal, cruel approach to these places on the outside.  Although the primitive human desires of my psyche subconsciously longed for a central place to congregate with other lost children of the suburbs, I never had a downtown; I never had a community center.  In this vacuum, I compensated with all that was available.

Ian Sacs
January 21, 2010, 2pm PST
Joel Kotkin says that the recent Republican win in Massachusetts shows that suburban voters are in revolt against the Obama administration's urban-centric policies.
The American
August 13, 2009, 7am PDT
When Dwell Magazine asked for submissions to their Re-Burbia contest reimagining the suburbs, they probably didn't count on a 3000 ft. geothermal tower on legs that rips homes out of the ground and files them into its towering heights.
June 4, 2009, 11am PDT
A review of <em>Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs</em> by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson, from Residential Architect Online.
Residential Architect Online
January 10, 2009, 11am PST
Turning the page back to 1965, a woman confesses in Ladys Circle Magazine that she hates the suburbs. 'It isn't just monotony; it's stagnation!', she exclaims.
Lady's Circle (Posted by
September 26, 2008, 12pm PDT
The suburbs of Tewksbury, MA, a quaint New England town, have developed uncomfortably close to one of the largest pig farms in the state.
Boston Globe
August 13, 2008, 2pm PDT
Urban experts weigh in on the future of the suburbs.
Freakonomics (Opinion) on The New York Times
Blog post
July 22, 2008, 2pm PDT

This morning, one of my listservs was aflutter with discussion of a new article by Joel Kotkin, attacking an alleged "war against the suburbs." According to Kotkin, this "war" consisted of Jerry Brown’s efforts to "compel residents to move to city centers." After reading Kotkin’s article, I couldn’t really figure out exactly what Brown was trying to do- and since I don’t live in California, it really isn’t that important to me.

However, it is important to realize that "smart growth" need not be the enemy of suburbs. Here’s why:

Michael Lewyn
July 8, 2008, 12pm PDT
<p>Joel Kotkin's recent LA Times Op-Ed is critiqued by Bill Fulton of the California Planning and Development Report. Fulton argues the suburban areas Kotkin defends are actually urbanizing, whereas true suburbia show signs of becoming the new slums.</p>
California Planning and Development Report
May 12, 2008, 7am PDT
<p>Melbourne, Australia, has its own brand of suburban sprawl: suburbia without the space. A new comprehensive plan aims to address the woes of suburban Melbourne, but some say it doesn't go far enough.</p>
The Age
April 28, 2008, 10am PDT
<p>The sub prime crisis is affecting both the growth of planned suburbs and prompting the decline of new suburbs. Is the US heading for Slumburbia?</p>
The Guardian
Blog post
April 23, 2008, 7pm PDT
Both supporters and opponents of the sprawl status quo often refer to suburbia as “The American Dream.” One sprawl-defending organization even calls itself “The American Dream Coalition”. Sprawl critics use similar language; for example, in 1998, the Sierra Club issued a report titled “Sprawl: The Dark Side of the American Dream.” (
Michael Lewyn
April 10, 2008, 7am PDT
<p>When it came out in 2004, "The End of Suburbia" was required viewing for anti-sprawl activists. Now, four years later, the film is both quaint and frighteningly prophetic, writes Dorothy Woodend.</p>
The Tyee