Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Real urban revitalization lessons

Apparently the Mayor's Institute for City Design had a session in Pittsburgh, for the mayors of midwestern cities. This is a good program, but sadly it is only open to mayors when it should be open to both mayors (executive branch) and councilmembers (legislative branch), because if you don't have both the executive and the legislative branch on the same page when it comes to urban design and urban revitalization, you won't breed success. That is the case even though the executive controls the government agencies (housing, economic development, planning, public works) that actually implement change.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a feature on the program, "The Next Page: Midsize cities, big ideas: The Top 10 take-home messages from the Mayors' Institute on City Design." From the article:

1. There is Hope.
2. Design matters.
3. Connectivity is key.
4. The automobile does not rule.
5. Public/private partnerships work.
6. Wishing will not make it so.
7. You can't do everything at once.
8. Sustainable development pays.
9. Learn from others***
10. The city needs a vision.

Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston is about the best elected official in the U.S., when it comes to speaking about the value of design to cities, revitalization, and quality of life. Check out his stock speech on the topic.

*** I am involved in some "arguments" within Maryland's transportation community about "learning from others" right now. My thing is to focus on systems and examples of better and best practice, while a lot of people have a hard time developing and focusing upon a master framework. They are content with programs here and there.

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