I Want You … for the New Urbanism
May 26, 2011
Please come hang out with us. You’ll find the New Urbanism is hardly a static system. Debates abound. What we don’t do is constantly rehash our premises. This allows us to move forward instead constantly revolving in circles questioning our first principles. Let others seek a deus ex machina in flying cars or argue about “flux;” we’re busy refining our solutions.
While academia can be content to publish theory, we have to commit to a path in order to implement change. We are racing against suburbia, climate change and obesity. We must implement imperfect systems now while debating more perfect solutions for tomorrow.
We fight for recognition because we need more hands on deck, skilled ones. We face enormous challenges—environmental, economic. It pains us to see young, desperately-needed talent wasted on Corbusian revivals. The savvy among us often have to educate ourselves in traditional urbanism because the academy has denied us. Many architects are left to practice kitschy historicist or postmodern architecture because the public doesn’t want modernist design for the vast majority of the urban fabric. So these architects who were never taught the skills necessary to design high quality traditional, vernacular or classical architecture, are forced to navigate their clients desires making do and playing catch up. Finally, the classicists and the urban designers are blamed for the poor interpretations of traditional architecture resulting modernist educated architects. Are young architects-in-training given a choice? Are they merely allowed an illusion of choice of a dozen different architectural styles so long as it excludes classicism and vernacular (like the false variety of our multi-colored supermarket shelves with thousands of products all made of same 3 industrial ingredients)? Where is their free market?
As far as the landscape urbanists, as schoolyard as it sounds … they started it. Here’s to the new new urbanism. http://www.cnunextgen.org
This is a slightly expanded version of a response to comments on: http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20110414/new-urbanism-the-case-for-looking-beyond-style