Good Urbanism: 6 steps to creating properous places

March 7th, 2013 by Island Press

(Please click on book cover to go to publisher's website)

(Please click on book cover to go to publisher’s website)

Many places are surviving but not thriving, and improving the places we live depends upon our ability to envision and carry out better alternatives, argues Nan Ellin in her new book Good Urbanism: Six Steps to Creating Prosperous Places.

Instead of focusing on what is wrong with these places, she advocates for identifying the strengths of the place and how to build upon those strengths.

Ellin describes the consensus reached in recent years by planners and urban designers about what constitutes good urbanism.

In this book, she explains the yawning gap between this theory and reality, providing six steps for bridging it:

  1. 1. Prospect: What do I see, hear, smell, taste, and feel about this place? What do others love and value about this place? What are the relevant historical, geological, sociocultural aspects of this place?
  2. Polish: What are the strengths of this place and how can I co-create with others to build on them?
  3. Propose: What do we want to do here and how are we going to make it happen?
  4. Prototype: How can we demonstrate this proposal to share the concept more fully, and to test and refine it?
  5. Promote: What is the best way to communicate the proposal to a larger public and obtain feedback and support?
  6. Present: Who is the most able entity to steward this project onward? How can we successfully pass the baton to this entity?

Good Urbanism includes ten detailed case studies that demonstrate how these six steps can turn a good idea into a good place.

Highline in New York City (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The High Line walkway in New York City on 29 August 2012 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

With examples ranging from the High Line in New York City to the CEDAR (Cultural, Ecological, Development, Agricultural, and Recreational) Approach in Hooper City, Utah, she shows how this method can work in a variety of situations, turning an uninspiring place into somewhere we love.

‘Good Urbanism’ serves as both an inspiration and a guidebook to those who wish to transform their cities into places that are both livable and lovable.

Nan Ellin is Professor and Chair of the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. She is the author of Integral Urbanism (2006) and Postmodern Urbanism (1996) and was the driving force behind Canalscape, an initiative to create vital urban hubs where canals meet streets throughout metropolitan Phoenix.


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