Richard Alan

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Are 'Innovation Districts' Right for Every City?

“Labeling something innovative does not make it so.”<p>City planners are rightly on guard for fads. Think the festival marketplaces of the 1970s, or naming neighborhoods to sound like New York’s fabled SoHo. This year’s model—the Innovation District—may be next in line for a dose of healthy skepticism.<p>…

What makes a city a city - and does it really matter anyway?

Whatever the perceived strengths and weaknesses of your city's brand, one thing appears unarguable, and that's the value of being identified as a city in the first place.<p>In the US midwest, admittedly, the word "city" has been appended with abandon to any one-brothel main street that once offered …

How Much Cleaning Up Brownfields Is Really Worth

A new study shows the enormous effect that the EPA's brownfield remediation program has on real estate values in cities.<p>There are more than 450,000 brownfield sites in the U.S., properties once used for industrial purposes that are now contaminated by hazardous substances at low levels. In 1995, …

Should coastal Britain surrender to the tides?

Before the coast became our national park and playground, we once feared the sea. It was where "beauty, horror and immensity united", as the Romantics might put it. This phrase sprang to mind watching the church tower of Porthleven cowering behind terrifying blasts of spray this week, and seeing a …

The Decline of the Family-Friendly City

In our rush to promote high-density urbanism, we may have inadvertently created zones that are inhospitable to people with kids.<p>As much as anyone, I have touted changing demographics in the U.S. that show the growth of childless households as a portion of overall population. Given that families …

Design: A Long Term Preventative Medicine

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and MIT’s <i>Center for Advanced Urbanism</i> has produced a new report examining urban health in eight of the …

Castles Made of Sand

The legal and ethical quandaries of rebuilding<p>by Jerold S. Kayden / Winter 2013: Coast (Volume 16 n4)<p><b>The story is at once heartrending</b> and …

The Terrazzo Jungle

Fifty years ago, the mall was born. America would never be the same.<p>Victor Gruen was short, stout, and unstoppable, with a wild head of hair and eyebrows like unpruned hedgerows. According to a profile in <i>Fortune</i> (and people loved to profile Victor Gruen), he was a “torrential talker with eyes as …

How To Design A Better Office For Both Introverts And Extroverts

Could a “palette of place” give workers control and choice over where and how they work? One company goes deep into work space.<p>Ask workers what bugs them most about the office, and chances are they’ll tell you they can’t concentrate or focus on their work.<p>At Steelcase, we regularly survey workers …

The Suburban Canvas

For much of its existence, American suburbia has been considered an architectural wasteland. From shopping malls to McMansions to residential …

Urban Design

Millennials Want Companies That Work On Innovative Ways To Fix The World

The majority of millennials think they’re innovative people. They want to work at–and give their money to–innovative companies that are good for society.<p>In spite of all the economic, societal, and environmental obstacles thrown their way, millennials the world over still believe that things can …

In Defense of Open Source Design

The unspoken truth about housing today? Most of it is ugly - more accurately described as "developed" than "designed."<p>What's the difference? A …

The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities

“I always said you should never trust a bank with property, or a property developer with money,” says Peter Rees. The former chief planner of the City of London should know about such things, having presided over the results of both. Over the last 30 years, he has ushered in a menagerie of their …

A Complete Guide to the Future of U.S. Freight Movement

The future holds more and more stuff to be transported—and infrastructure will have to change drastically to accommodate our appetites.<p>SAVANNAH, Ga.—Breakfast in Atlanta, as in many other U.S. cities, is a global affair. While the eggs may be from a farm 100 miles away, the pan and spatula used to …

Why Green Architecture Hardly Ever Deserves the Name

<i>The following article, by Michael Mehaffy & Nikos Salingaros, originally appeared in Metropolis Mag as "Why Green Often Isn't"</i><p>Something surprising …

Sustainability

Can We Do Full-Scale Farming Inside City Centers?

An urban farm in Montreal is scaling the industry "with more software than farmers."<p>MONTREAL, Canada — In 1999, Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University, popularized the idea of large-scale urban agriculture by releasing a conceptual …

5 Crucial Principles for 21st Century Transportation Systems

Handling tomorrow's mega-trends means rethinking today's infrastructure.<p>Over the rest of the 21st century, cities will face many forces far beyond their control: mega-trends such as dramatic shifts in population, the financial vulnerability of a globally connected economy, resource scarcity, rising …

Micro Housing Makes a Comeback

In the early 20th century rooming houses and residential hotels with small bedrooms and shared bathrooms were the norm of city life: they provided …

Algorithmic 'Printed' Fields Could Make Farms More Productive and Resilient

On the surface, farming and digital fabrication don't appear to have a whole lot in common, but UK-based designer Benedikt Groß aims to challenge …

Reclaiming Rivers: The Latest Trend in Urban Design

For years, rivers were a source of transport and power, upon whose banks our cities were born. But as cities industrialized, many of them clogged …

How to Design a City for Women

A fascinating experiment in "gender mainstreaming."<p>In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city …

'The Accidental Playground': Why What We Need in Our Parks Is More Freedom

It was paved in broken concrete, overgrown with weeds, and strewn with broken glass. In other words, it was the perfect urban recreation space.<p>It was paved in broken concrete, overgrown with weeds, and strewn with broken glass and rusty nails. Located at the edge of a treacherous tidal strait with …

Toward Cycle Cities: How Architects Must Make Bikes Their Guiding Inspiration

If Henry Ford were reincarnated as a bike maker, Le Corbusier as an architect of buildings and cities for bikes, and Robert Moses as their …

8 More Brilliant Pieces of Bike Infrastructure

Lofted bike lanes, automated parking, and more.<p>When we wrote our original post about brilliant bike infrastructure from around the world, we asked you to contribute your own ideas. You came through, big time. Here are some more examples of innovative cycling design from all corners of the globe …

On The Modern Farm, Drones And Tractors Work Side By Side

As unmanned aerial vehicles enter the U.S. commercial airspace in coming years, the industry that stands to benefit most is agriculture. By knowing more about their fields, farmers may be able to produce more food with fewer chemicals.<p>Diseased crops or livestock can cost a farmer his livelihood for …

Unmanned Aircraft

Innovation Districts

As part of the Bass Initiative, Brookings continues its work on innovation districts, dense enclaves that merge the innovation and employment …

Innovation

Moving Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Cities

A popular new study claims to lump cities into four types. But the real science of cities is heading toward a more complex understanding of how urban spaces evolve.<p>Before Darwin, science tried to make sense of the natural world through a slew of systems of classification. Linnaeus' taxonomy, for …

Like It or Not, Most Urban Freeways Are Here to Stay

What Ideas Have You Copied or Borrowed From Other Cities?