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Sunday, January 9, 2011


            Richard, you and David are confusing what city planning is attempting to do with its current capability. There is no question that its tactics are inadequate and its strategy is confused. Its two-dimensional goal to separate building hazard and incompatible land use activity is also changing. It is recognizing that cities are three-dimensional artificial environments that are sprawling without restraint across the face of the planet. Satellite photography has made it very apparent that they consume the land of their dominant partner and have not learned to live within limits. As a result, they have not struck a sustainable balance with the natural environment and ecology of the Earth, nor have they resolved their physical, social and economic deficiencies.

            City planning must become city design in order to establish a sustainable relationship between the competing worlds of the natural and built environments. A strategy will be derived from an evaluation of development capacity options and implications, since the goal is to shelter and serve populations within sustainable geographic limits that protect all life on Earth. The tactics of architectural design will produce a response one project at a time, but tactics without a goal and strategy produce random battles across the landscape. The result is many casualties and little progress.

In the end this is about people and the shelter, movement, open space and life support they build; since these divisions of the built environment consume the resources of their natural partner and pollute what remains. Our success in constructing a sustainable presence will be expressed by the nature of this evolving urban form, since it will illustrate our success in learning to live within limits. Architects are among those qualified to consider this question, but they must think outside the box they design while improving its efficiency.

City design will depend on our ability to quickly and accurately forecast development capacity options, since life within limits requires an ability to wisely use every acre we consume to shelter and serve the activities of growing populations. I can think of no greater challenge to the family of man, even though others may be equal. Architects and many other professions must be willing to step into the public arena using a common language of development capacity evaluation -- if they wish to contribute to the strategy required. Independent tactics will not bring us to the next level of awareness -- that a new goal for survival is needed.

I have already exceeded the limits of a brief comment. If you wish to read more, please visit my blog at where the following articles can be found.

1)             "Replacing Density" discusses its leadership weakness and intensity alternative,
2)             "The Limits of Shelter Capacity" provides expanded detail regarding intensity,
3)             “The City is a Farm” discusses the relationship of intensity to economic development,
4)             "The Disorganized Zoning Ordinance" outlines the legislative confusion that impedes leadership progress,
5)             “Examining Architecture” takes a closer look at a piece of the city design puzzle,
6)             “The Variance Trap” illustrates development regulation weakness with a residential forecast model from the Development Capacity Evaluation (DCE) software collection,
7)             “City Design with Space” discusses the overlooked role of project open space with a non-residential forecast model from the DCE collection,
8)             “The Core of Our Built Environment” identifies the nucleus of development capacity
9)             “Ponzi Schemes and Land Use Plans” offers an alternative to annexation and sprawl.
10)         “Where Does Sustainability Begin?” discusses the importance of land in a competition between our natural and built environments.
11)         “Economic Development Is Missing a Strategy” discusses the intelligence and strategic planning required to identify economic development objectives on the road to a sustainable future.

These articles have been deleted from my blog but are available upon request:

1)             The Concept of City Design” includes an overview and suggested research agenda,
2)             “Politics and Planning” is an argument in support of the effort, and
3)             “Context Measurement” outlines a suggested research yardstick.

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