Articles

from the IMCL Council
The IMCL Council makes available the following articles that present the ideas of the IMCL Conferences.

Caring for Our Common Home: the Challenge

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.)
Director

To achieve green, healthy cities, the urban environment must ensure the 3 principles of sustainability:

1.        Human sustainability:
That means good social and physical health for ALL – old and young, poor and well-to-do. In other words, health equity, and a special emphasis on the well-being of children

2.        Economical sustainability:
That means a city economy that grows at a pace that ensures a living wage for all, and that does not enrich the few at the expense of the majority.

3.        Ecological sustainability:
That means, an urban form that does not deplete the earth, that does not require vast energy resources to build and maintain, and does not cause massive pollution and climate change in the construction process.

Livable Communities through Urban Forestry: Part 2

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard

STRATEGIES FOR INCREASING THE URBAN FOREST

Parks are not the only way to increase the number of trees in the city, and the access to green areas. And indeed, the concept of the park – where it is, how large, what shape, and whether wild or cultivated - needs a little rethinking. Urban waterways, green streets, green buildings, community gardens also provide strategies for increasing the urban forest and access to nature.

Livable Communities through Urban Forestry: Part 1

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director, IMCL

WHY WE NEED TREES IN THE CITY

We know intuitively that we need trees in our cities. They enhance the public realm, provide shade, cool the air in summer, frame our experience of the city, and make the city more beautiful.

Final Workshop: Principles for Achieving Green, Healthy Cities

On the final morning of the 52nd IMCL Conference, participants and speakers were invited to participate in a Workshop to draw up a concise list of the most important Principles for each of the following elements of Achieving Green, Healthy Cities. Here are their findings:

Cities are killing us

But we CAN make them green, healthy and inclusive, emphasized world renowned experts and civic leaders at the 52nd International Making Cities Livable Conference on Achieving Green, Healthy Cities. This conference was invited to Bristol, UK as one of the key events celebrating Bristol’s title as 2015 European Green Capital.

Pope Francis: On Care for Our Common Home

Pope Francis’ Encyclical is a profound, wise and visionary letter to us all. It is SO relevant for all of us who are concerned with making our cities healthy, just, green, and livable.

Reinventing Community Planning: Sandtown, Baltimore

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director, IMCL
& KJ Kresin

Across the United States thousands of once thriving working class neighborhoods are boarded up, but few are in such dire straits, or in such an extreme need for a reinvented Community Planning approach as Sandtown, Baltimore.

Modern sprawl: The “crack cocaine” of economic development

By Michael Mehaffy
January 2, 2015

Here is a website that offers a remarkably revealing demonstration of how cities (in this case in the USA) have changed over 60 years.  You can drag the "wipe line" back and forth to make detailed comparisons:

The Amazing Possibilities of Streetcars

By Kai Bates – IMCL Urban Design Consultant

A couple years ago while visiting Europe, I was fortunate enough to make my way to Freiburg, Germany*. Since I arrived by high-speed train, I didn’t have a car or bicycle to get around. So, I relied heavily on the city’s outstanding streetcar system to explore the entire city, including visiting such urban design Meccas as Vauban and Rieselfeld, as well as the city’s phenomenal car-free historic downtown.

A Celebration of Beer Gardens Around the World

By Kai Bates – IMCL Urban Design Consultant

A recent report on the Landscape Architects Network about a beautiful pop-up beer garden in Philadelphia and a healthy dose of spring weather got us thinking about all of the wonderful beer gardens we have seen around the world. So, we thought it would be fun to put together a little celebration of beer gardens, including their history, some of the best examples, and what their key design elements and benefits are.

Earth Day 2014 - The Time for Livable Cities is NOW!

By Kai Bates – IMCL Urban Design Consultant

In April 1990, there was a global resurgence of environmentalism around the events of Earth Day 1990. There was a great deal of positive energy, youthful enthusiasm and passion about the environment at that time, which transformed many (including myself) into environmentalists. Many of us became strong advocates for recycling; water, energy, and natural conservation; and trying to figure out ways to reduce the harm that we as a species have been causing to the Earth.

The Public Realm and the Good City

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director, IMCL

For decades, the significance of public urban places and their role in facilitating public life was ignored by those responsible for shaping the modern city. It was only when cities all over the world were inundated by cars and threatened by the loss of the public realm, that the subject was rediscovered by scholars, political leaders and professionals in Europe and North America.[1]

Do You Want More Bicyclists in Your City? Then, It’s Time to Install a Network of Cycle Tracks

By Kai Bates IMCL Urban Design Consultant

As more and more cities throughout North America come to terms with growing threats such as obesity and climate change, many are looking for ways to address these problems. While the issues can be confronted in various ways, one of the quickest and cheapest approaches is to encourage bicycling.

Preventing a Global Condo Bubble Collapse - and Slowing Inequity

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director, IMCL

The rapid profusion of high-rise investment condos around the world is widening the gap between rich and poor and leading to a worldwide housing bubble, according to economists.

Global billionaires are demanding sky-high properties as safe real estate investments to store their surplus dollars. As of March, 2014, New York still looks attractive to investors. As Jonathan J. Miller of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel explained in the New York Times on November 4th, 2013, “We’re building the equivalent of bank safe deposit boxes in the sky that buyers can put all their valuables in and rarely visit.”

Can Micro-Units Be Livable?

By Kai Bates – IMCL Urban Design Consultant

A new trend in urban real estate development has been sweeping through the nation’s biggest cities in recent years. This trend, if left unchecked and not properly managed, could significantly hurt quality of life in our cities, potentially causing a disastrous return to the suburbs. The trend I’m referring to is micro-unit housing, also known as micro-housing, microapartments, microflats, micro dwelling units, single-room occupancy units, or even apodments.

Book Review: Charles Montgomery's "Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design"

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director IMCL

“… cities must be regarded as more than engines of wealth; they must be viewed as systems that should be shaped to improve human well-being.”

I read Happy City with surprise and delight. Finally, a book that reveals to a broad audience the essence of what it takes to make a city that promotes health and happiness. It is not simply a planning, architecture, urban design, or engineering issue; the issue is how to shape an urban environment that facilitates social interaction and the development of community and social capital using these tools. This book tells this story most admirably!

The Monster-Builder

The Monster-Builder is a new comedy by Amy Freed that is having its world premier in Portland, OR, January 28 – March 2, 2014, amid rave reviews, (herehere, and here) interviews, and serious discussions about the impact of architects on our lives. The play begins as a farce, and happily transports the audience into the realm of hilarious fantasy. But as you leave, still laughing at the ludicrous lines and slapstick situations, you shudder at the truth that lies just below the comic surface.

Using Low-Emission Zones to Improve Health in Cities

By Kai Bates IMCL Urban Design Consultant

In May 2007, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, announced that the city would be implementing a city-wide low-emission zone (LEZ) that would take effect in February of 2008. The initial plan was to use cameras to photograph license plates of trucks and buses to check whether or not they met European emission standards. Any vehicles found to be in violation would receive a £200 (~$331) fine.

Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns.

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.), Director, IMCL

This book is exactly what we need at this time – a guide for how to design streets that are human scale, hospitable to people, and designed to enhance the public realm. It is sure to become an instant classic.

Painting the Town: Part 2 - Buildings

“When colors came out everywhere, a mood of change started transforming the spirit of the people … People started to drop less litter in the streets. They started to pay taxes. They started to feel something they’d forgotten … Beauty was giving people a feeling of being protected. This was not a misplaced feeling — crime did fall.”

Painting the Town: Part 1 - Enhancing the Public Realm

Streets and squares have always been the most important places in our cities. We have always wanted, nay, needed to come together, meet and socialize, buy and sell, gossip, celebrate and work together, and this all began in public places. Meeting and spending time with other people in a beautiful place is pleasure, it makes us more alive, and creates a sense of gaiety. And we have an innate desire to beautify places where we gather, particularly for special occasions, to increase the geniality of the event.

Architect/Mayor's goal: a healthier Bristol for all

In November 2012, architect George Ferguson CBE PPRIBA RWA became the first independent mayor to lead a major city in Britain. He has a bold and innovative vision for his city, and a passion to make Bristol healthy and livable for all.

UNESCO says NO to Paris skyscrapers

 

Unesco has a negative opinion of the proposed skyscrapers such as Triangle Tower in Paris, as the French capital is "one of the few horizontal cities that have been preserved," said the Deputy Director-General of Unesco for Culture, Francesco Bandarin. 

Destruction by Scale

Finally, talks are beginning on moving the 15-story cruise ships away from Venice’s Piazza San Marco and out of the shallow waters of the lagoon. These floating behemoths loom over Basilica San Marco, giving passengers a sense that Venice, “La Serenissima” is a Lilliputian city spread out for their pleasure. Meanwhile, the draft below water of these 40,000 tonnage cruise ships has forced the Venetian Port Authority to dredge a 10 meter (33’) deep canal across the lagoon to accommodate them.

Poundbury today

By Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D.(Arch.)

In 1993 The Prince laid the founding stones for the 400-acre Poundbury development at Dorchester. This new “urban village” eschews modernist planning principles and auto-dependent suburban housing in favor of a diverse, walkable mixed-use traditional model. Now half complete, it is possible to evaluate how well the original goals are being achieved.

Modeling Better Cities for People: Interview with Shannon McElvaney

Shannon McElvaney is the Global Industry Manager of Community Development at Esri, a sponsor of the recent 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference. Shannon is also the author of GeoDesign: Case Studies in Urban and Regional Planning.

Citizen Engagement via Civic Ecology: Interview with Tim Smith

Tim Smith is a Principal of Urban Design and Planning at Sera Architects in Portland, Oregon. For the past twenty years he has developed the framework of Civic Ecology and has been a proponent of sustainable cities everywhere.

On the Verge in Portland

Originally published on PlannersWeb by Editor Wayne Senville

Wikipedia Definition:

A road verge, (also verge, boulevard, city grass, devil’s strip, nature strip, parking strip, sidewalk buffer, tree belt, tree lawn, utility strip, parkway, etc.) is a narrow strip of grass or plants and sometimes also trees located between the carriageway (roadway) curb (or road surface edge or shoulder) and the boundary (right-of-way line) of a road.

The land is often public property with maintenance usually being a municipal responsibility; however some municipal authorities require that abutting property owners maintain these areas and also sidewalks.

Live Like You're on Vacation: Interview with Craig Boretz

Craig Boretz is Vice President of Development of Con-way, a sponsor of the recent 50th International Making Cities Livable Conference. The Con-way development in Portland, Oregon is currently being planned as an entirely new 17-acre section of the Northwest Neighborhood. GBD Architects and Con-way created a master plan development framework that was approved by the City of Portland in September 2012.

The Normalization of Livable Cities

By Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman

The suburban history of the last century in the United States can actually be said to be relatively short. It wasn’t until after the second World War that automobiles were more widely available and the suburbs became the standard for the “American Dream”. Since then, several developments have appeared which have worked to shape this dominant paradigm on how we live and work.

Distance, Destinations, Density

This article was originaly written by Wayne Senville, editor of PlannersWeb.

As you might recall from my last post, I first heard about Portland’s “20-minute neighborhoods” concept during the First Stop Portland walking tour. You can summarize the idea with three D’s:

Better Ways to Better Places: Interview with Constance Beaumont

Constance Beaumont is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at The Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM), a partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Department for Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). In this interview she speaks for TGM but also provides her own valuable insight into the many ways we can make cities healthier and more livable for everyone.

The Most Influential Architect You've (Probably) Never Heard Of

By Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman

A documentary has been making the rounds recently in urban circles featuring perhaps the most influential architect you’ve (probably) never heard of: Jan Gehl. Aptly called The Human Scale, the documentary features numerous of Gehl Architects’ projects around the world, many of which are included in Gehl’s recent book, Cities for People. I recently had the opportunity to view said documentary and it did not disappoint (see trailer below).

Public Spaces for People: Rethinking Streets

Many urban spaces exist in a sort of public/private grey area. They may be technically public, such as an intersection or a parking space on the street used temporarily by a private car, or technically private, such as that stretch of lawn between the sidewalk and street that an adjacent homeowner is tasked with maintaining. A variety of innovative ideas have popped up to challenge these technicalities.

The Case for Age-Friendly Suburbs

By Eric C. Y. Fang

Several trends are conspiring to challenge America's ability to house and care for its senior citizens. Utilizing successful examples, architect and planner Eric C.Y. Fang examines how the suburbs can be adapted to support an aging population.

Why It is Important to Have Children Living Downtown

We have become so accustomed to the 20th century mantra that children need to grow up in suburbia that many would never consider raising a child downtown. Now we know inherent flaws in suburban planning – distances, dangerous streets, monotonous single function zoning, etc – make suburbia unhealthy for children. It is time to reconsider raising children downtown.

Homeless Possessions in Public Places

In recent years, poverty and homelessness have increased exponentially in the US. The homeless leave their possessions unattended in shopping carts or piled on the sidewalk while making necessary trips. This can be unsightly, bad for business, and definitely not good for tourism, but do those of us with homes have the right to seize and destroy their possessions?

The High Density Livability Question

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D. (Arch.)

This diagram, suggesting that Singapore is one of the densest and one of the most livable cities in the world, has put the cat among the pigeons and stirred up a frenzied debate. But what does it really show? Firstly, what are they measuring along the “liveability” scale? Is it standard of living, or quality of life? How are the comparable city densities measured, and over what area? Density and high-rise are not the same. Are we supposed to deduce that Singapore, with its tight clusters of inter-connected 50+story high-rise residential towers, should be the model for all future cities desirous of livability? Should Singapore be awarded the crown as the most livable dense city in the world?

We’re All Connected: Too Bad More is Not Necessarily the Same as Better

By Scott Doyon

Roughly two hundred years ago, working in a little Bavarian workshop, Samuel Soemmering created a crude device that, refined by others, would revolutionize communications for the emerging industrial age: the telegraph.

A hundred years thereafter, post-Victorians began to ponder its evolution — wireless telegraphy — in which individuals would receive telegraph messages, printed out on ticker tape, via personal antenna.

And what was their take on such innovation? Did they savor the prospect of a new age of enlightenment, empowered by ever-improving access to information and to each other?

Nope. Instead, they lamented what such a device would do to interpersonal intimacy — with such accuracy that it will boggle your 21st century mind.

Proposal for Urban Regeneration of the Suburb ZEN, Palermo, Italy

The Social Housing district Z.E.N. in Palermo, today re-named “San Filippo Neri”, despite the great name of its architect – Vittorio Gregotti – is sadly famous as one of the most dangerous and “criminogenic” neighbourhoods in Italy.

In early 2011, inspired by the debate about a project I had developed for the Urban Regeneration Quarter Corviale in Rome, a group of people in Palermo asked me to hold a conference on that project in their city. Their goal was to raise awareness about what appears to be a topic of great interest in the world today: namely the replacement of degraded suburbia with "biophilic" neighbourhoods, respectful of people and the environment, thus avoiding the reiteration of the previous forty years’ mistakes.

Strasbourg: the Crossroads of Europe

Not for nothing is Strasbourg called “The Crossroads of Europe”.[i] In the Middle Ages, trade routes met here; goods from the Baltic, Britain, the Mediterranean and the Far East were exchanged for local wines, grain and fabrics; and traders speaking a dozen different languages met and conducted business. The places where they met became the market places and squares that enliven the city today and provide settings for continued multilingual dialogue.

Freiburg: City of Vision

The City of Freiburg is often called Germany's "ecological capital" and has been recognized internationally as one of the world’s most livable, sustainable and child-friendly cities. In 1993, IMCL awarded the City of Freiburg the IMCL City of Vision Award. Since then, Freiburg has received numerous awards for its leadership in sustainable transportation planning, promotion of walking and biking, traffic calming mechanisms, human scale mixed-use development, renewable energy, protection of nature, and sustainability.

Squares, Parks & Squarks

Until the nineteenth century, a square or plaza was a hard surfaced open space between buildings, a place for contact with our fellow human beings in exchange, dialogue, debate, play and democratic decision making. Parks belonged to the nobility and were for recreation and contact with nature. The confusion began in the 19th century when market squares resounding to the hullaballoo of trade were transformed into genteel gardens where newly middle class ladies with parasols strolled and listened to brass bands. In North and South America, plazas founded by the Spanish were refashioned overnight from busy market places and parade grounds into geometric gardens with paths, benches, flowers and bandstands. In America, the words “square” and “plaza” no longer convey their original meaning. They have become associated with park-like features and recreational uses.

No wonder that today, when a square or a plaza is created in America, it turns out to be a squark!

Main Street Square, Rapid City: A Catalyst for Downtown Revitalization

The IMCL Healthy Communities Urban Plazas Award was presented to landscape architect, Deane Rundell[i] at a ceremony on Main Street Square, Rapid City, SD on Saturday, August 25, in the midst of a festive program of events. The day started with a market in the alley, guitar concert, children’s dance group, and after lunch came a Western music band, a Celebrity Cook-out Competition, beer and wine stalls, and another band that played into the evening.

The Indomitable Human Spirit

Public art can play such an important role in our lives, raising our spirits, making us laugh, bringing out the best in us, reminding us of who we are and the values we share, and sometimes art has this effect on us even when we don’t know the entire story. Here are a few stories of artworks in Slovakia and Poland that attest to the indomitable human spirit and make us laugh.

Planning for Healthy Living: the Next Challenge

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard, Ph.D. (Arch.)

It is common today to talk about health only in terms of physical health. The “Active Living” program is often considered the solution to all health problems. In fact, even as cities enact “Active Living” programs to solve obesity, they discover the programs are ineffectual if the society is fragmented or the individual is marginalized. Social health is the foundation for physical health. This has serious implications for planning and urban design. A healthy city must have a healthy "social immune system".

Mixed Use and Quality of Life in the City Center

I think that communities in old European city centers exemplify the idea of a viable community, and when we restore these old cities our first problem must be to maintain this existing community, and not to destroy it by over-planning. By our own actions as planners we can too easily destroy a community.

Balanced Planning for a Healthy City

I base my vision of cities on a theory, and this theory proposes that a city is like a human being. The health of a human being is based on balances, and that is true of the city as well. If those balances are distorted then the city will not be healthy. Most of us saw that happening in the United States.

Reshaping Suburbia

One of the greatest challenges for the 21st Century, as stated in the IMCL Mission Statement, is to replace sprawl with compact human scale urban fabric. The solutions must rebuild community, be ecologically and socially sustainable, and healthy for all, especially the most vulnerable among us, children, elders, and the poor. Planners and government entities are beginning to see the benefits of retrofitting existing suburban communities, increasing density, and accommodating healthier transportation modes.

The DNA of a City

Every livable city has its own unique character that is expressed in its architecture and arrangement of streets and open places. It is not inappropriate to propose the metaphor that the livable city, like every living thing, has a genetic code, or a DNA structure.

Regenerate suburban districts – proposal for the “ground-scraper” Corviale in Rome

During the Twentieth Century our cities suffered from the widespread use of Lecorbusierian theories on urbanism. From the Ville Radieuse to l’Unité d’Habitation, up to the Modulor, the whole world’s cities switched their scale from “human dimension” to “car dimension”. Click "read more" to read the full article by Ettore Maria Mazzola.

The Plaza: A Place of Encounter

Ecuador is launching a visionary project to revitalize social life and economic vitality by restoring 35 historic plazas. At a recent three-day workshop in Ibarra, over 100 representatives from municipalities throughout Ecuador gathered to hear from Ecuadorian and international experts about the history and significance of the plaza, the social, cultural and economic functions it serves, physical aspects of successful plazas, and how artistic interventions through community participation can catalyze social networks and community identity.

Tahrir Square and the birth of Democracy?

Did the world just witness the birth of democracy in Tahrir Square? The demonstrations inspired the world. They were a dramatic and moving outpouring of the people’s desire for an end to Mubarak’s oppressive regime, and the corruption, infringement of people’s rights, and brutality associated with the 40-year enforcement of the ‘state of emergency’. The desire for self-government was passionately voiced. Did Tahrir Square play the same role in supporting democratization that the Agora played? And will it continue to support democratic engagement in Egypt?

Principles of True Urbanism

Suzanne H. Crowhurst Lennard
Henry L. Lennard

Child-Friendly Communities

Neighborhoods, Towns, & Cities

The Essence of the City

Henry L Lennard

"Love... is the feeling that impels us to seek the companionship of our fellows, and the actions of love are all the things we do in the attempt to share our joys and griefs with others." (De Crescenzo)

Want a liveable city? Make it child-friendly first!

Suzanne Lennard, Director of Making Cities Livable, was interviewed by Tan Hui Yee of the Straits Times on July 21, 2010 while she was in Singapore to speak at the World Cities Summit.

Channel News Asia Interviews IMCL Founder

Suzanne Lennard, Director of Making Cities Livable, was interviewed on Channel News Asia while she was in Singapore to speak at the World Cities Summit.

Community Festivals: Streets Paved with Flowers

The festival of Corpus Domini, as celebrated in Cannara, Italy, with a continuous carpet of flowers all around the town, is one of Europe's most genuine community festivals.

Livable Cities is Gaining Momentum

We have reached a major turning point in city-making! 

Henry L. Lennard, Ph.D. (7/2/1923 - 6/23/2005)

Henry L. Lennard, social psychologist, medical sociologist and urban scholar died in Venice, Italy, Thursday June 23rd, shortly after being admitted to hospital. He was 81.

"The European Square" Conference Report

On September 18 – 20, 2002 the first Conference on “The European Square” was held at Schloss Mirabell in Salzburg, Austria with the participation of mayors, councilors, planning directors, professors of architecture, planning and social sciences from twenty-two countries.

Genius of the European Square

One of the greatest inventions of the European city, indeed one could not conceive of most European cities without it, is the central town square or market place. This was a uniquely European invention, intimately connected to the development of democratic and representational self-government.