Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

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Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability.
The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that's easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at.
Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In this essential new book, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities.
Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.
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About the author

Jeff Speck, coauthor of the landmark bestseller Suburban Nation, is a city planner who advocates for smart growth and sustainable design. As the former director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, he oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design, where he worked with dozens of American mayors on their most pressing city planning challenges. He leads a design practice based in Washington, D.C.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Nov 13, 2012
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781429945967
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Language
English
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Genres
Architecture / Urban & Land Use Planning
Political Science / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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 These twelve previously unpublished essays present innovative and practical ideas for addressing the harmful effects of sprawl. Sprawl is not only an ongoing focus of specialized magazines like Dwell; indeed, Time magazine has cited "recycling the suburbs" as the second of "Ten Ideas Changing the World Right Now." While most conversations on sprawl tend to focus on its restriction, this book presents an overview of current thinking on ways to fix, repair, and retrofit existing sprawl.
Chapters by planners, geographers, designers, and architects present research grounded in diverse locales including Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle, Washington; Dublin, Ohio; and the Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. metro areas. The authors address head-on the most controversial aspects of sprawl--issues of power and control, justice and equity, and American attitudes about regulating private development. But they also put these issues in practical contexts, bringing in examples of redesign that are already occurring around the country, including the retrofitting of corridors and the repurposing of cul-de-sacs. Whether fixing sprawl requires a "cultural shift" in thinking or a "coordinated effort" by local government, these essays testify that a combination of forethought and creative thinking will be needed.

Contributors: Dave Amos, Aviva Hopkins Brown, Wesley Brown, David Dixon, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Aaron Golub, Nabil Kamel, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Julia Koschinsky, Nico Larco, Rebecca Lewis, Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, Hector Navarro, Matthew Salenger, Brenda Case Scheer, Marc Schlossberg, Christian Solori, Benjamin W. Stanley, Galina Tachieva, Emily Talen, Whitney Warman, June Williamson, Milagros Zingoni.
Large or small, America's cities have had a difficult time generating admiration, respect, or understanding. They have served the nation as sources of commerce, finance, and the arts. They have taken millions of new Americans from their point of entry and helped newcomers elevate themselves economically into the American mainstream. In recent years, the greatest of cities have become command centers of a new global economy. However, the headlines from urban America proclaim riot, decline, and despair.

This book is different, it is about solutions: the breakthroughs—the indicators that can serve as models for neighborhoods, communities, and cities in the twenty-first century. In vivid, colorful, and provocative prose, authors Neal R. Peirce and Robert Guskind describe six innovative experiments in urban revitalization: the winners of the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment. The Bruner Award recognizes and rewards innovative projects that blend empowerment, diversity, and equity with effective design, social responsibility, and economic viability.

Peirce and Guskind describe the premises underlying each project, the barriers that were overcome, and the results that were achieved. They also provide the vital lessons of what made these efforts work, and lessons that stand as requirements for successful projects elsewhere: openness to innovation; decentralized decision-making; broad-based participation; empowerment of locally driven solutions. This is essential reading for students, policy-makers, planners, and all those seeking a glimpse of a future in which we can take pride in being Americans.

Like a modern-day Jane Jacobs, Janette Sadik-Khan transformed New York City's streets to make room for pedestrians, bikers, buses, and green spaces. Describing the battles she fought to enact change, Streetfight imparts wisdom and practical advice that other cities can follow to make their own streets safer and more vibrant. 

As New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan managed the seemingly impossible and transformed the streets of one of the world’s greatest, toughest cities into dynamic spaces safe for pedestrians and bikers. Her approach was dramatic and effective: Simply painting a part of the street to make it into a plaza or bus lane not only made the street safer, but it also lessened congestion and increased foot traffic, which improved the bottom line of businesses. Real-life experience confirmed that if you know how to read the street, you can make it function better by not totally reconstructing it but by reallocating the space that’s already there.
     Breaking the street into its component parts, Streetfight demonstrates, with step-by-step visuals, how to rewrite the underlying “source code” of a street, with pointers on how to add protected bike paths, improve crosswalk space, and provide visual cues to reduce speeding. Achieving such a radical overhaul wasn’t easy, and Streetfight pulls back the curtain on the battles Sadik-Khan won to make her approach work. She includes examples of how this new way to read the streets has already made its way around the world, from pocket parks in Mexico City and Los Angeles to more pedestrian-friendly streets in Auckland and Buenos Aires, and innovative bike-lane designs and plazas in Austin, Indianapolis, and San Francisco. Many are inspired by the changes taking place in New York City and are based on the same techniques. Streetfight deconstructs, reassembles, and reinvents the street, inviting readers to see it in ways they never imagined.
"The best streets in the world's villages, towns, and cities—whether modest or grand—continually remind one that simplicity is part of the recipe for success in this art. The advice of Victor Dover and John Massengale, their historic examples and their own designs, reflect that simplicity."
—From the Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales

“Street Design is a lucid, practical and altogether indispensable guide for envisioning and creating vibrant 21st century towns and cities. It should be required reading for every local political leader, planner, architect, real estate developer and engaged urban citizen in America."
—Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 and author of True Believers

"We are going to start walking around the places we live again, and as that occurs and becomes normal, we will rapidly redevelop a demand for higher quality in building at the human scale."
—From the Afterword by James Howard Kunstler

“Your charrette traveling library must include the important Street Design book by Victor Dover and John Massengale.”—Bill Lennertz, Executive Director, National Charrette Institute

“What an amazing resource! For those who wish that my book, Walkable City, had pictures, this is the book for you. If either your work or your play includes the making of places, you will find Street Design to be an invaluable tool.” —Jeff Speck, AICP, CNU-A, LEED-AP, Hon. ASLA

Written by two accomplished architects and urban designers, this user-friendly street design manual shows both how to design new streets and enhance existing ones. It offers step-by-step instruction and shares examples of excellent streets, examining the elements that make them successful as well as how they were designed and created. Topics also include strategies for shaping space in the public right-of-way through correct building height to street width ratios, terminated vistas, landscaping, and street geometry. This book is a valuable resource for urban designers, planners, architects, and engineers.

With guest essays from: Kaid Benfield, David Brussat, Javier Cenicacelaya, Hank Dittmar, Andres Duany, Douglas Duany, Emily Glavey, Chip Kaufman, Ethan Kent, Marieanne Khoury-Vogt, Léon Krier, Gianni Longo, Thomas Low, Laura Lyon, Chuck Marohn, Paul Murrain, John Norquist, Stefanos Polyzoides, Gabriele Tagliaventi and Erik Vogt.

A globe-trotting, eye-opening exploration of how cities can—and do—make us happier people

Charles Montgomery's Happy City will revolutionize the way we think about urban life.

After decades of unchecked sprawl, more people than ever are moving back to the city. Dense urban living has been prescribed as a panacea for the environmental and resource crises of our time. But is it better or worse for our happiness? Are subways, sidewalks, and tower dwelling an improvement on the car-dependence of sprawl?

The award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery finds answers to such questions at the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, and during an exhilarating journey through some of the world's most dynamic

cities. He meets the visionary mayor who introduced a "sexy" lipstick-red bus to ease status anxiety in Bogotá; the architect who brought the lessons of medieval Tuscan hill towns to modern-day New York City; the activist who turned Paris's urban freeways into beaches; and an army of American suburbanites who have transformed their lives by hacking the design of their streets and neighborhoods.

Full of rich historical detail and new insights from psychologists and Montgomery's own urban experiments, Happy City is an essential tool for understanding and improving our own communities. The message is as surprising as it is hopeful: by retrofitting our cities for happiness, we can tackle the urgent challenges of our age. The happy city, the green city, and the low-carbon city are the same place, and we can all help build it.

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