Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Unplanning - Livable Cities and Political Choices

cover image

Preview the book

Buy the book

Read the book in HTML format

Print or read the book in PDF format

Unplanning is a wonderful read! It is beautifully written, it takes up extremely important and timely topics, and it offers a new and concrete approach to democracy and sustainability. I enjoy going back almost at random to read and re-read pages and passages from it. It’s very engaging and stimulating - and it should be read by every environmentalist.”
- Prof. Charles Derber, author of Greed to Green

"A wonderful little book.... I recommend this book to every planner and every person interested in the future of American cities."
- Prof.Nikos Salingaros, author of A Theory of Architecture

Planning or Political Choice?

The conventional wisdom says that we need strict planning to build walkable neighborhoods around transit stations – even though these neighborhoods are like the streetcar suburbs that were common in America before anyone heard of city planning. 

Yet many of our greatest successes in urban design occurred when we treated the issues as political questions – not as technical problems that the planners should solve for us. The anti-freeway movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the anti-sprawl movement of recent decades were both political movements, and citizen-activists often had to work against projects that planners proposed and approved. 

This book uses an intriguing thought experiment to show that, in order to build livable cities, we should go further than the anti-freeway and anti-sprawl movements by putting direct political limits on urban growth.
Political choices about how we want to live can transform our cities more effectively than planning.
Chapter 1: Planning or Politics
      The Failures of Planning
      Reducing the Need for Planning

Chapter 2: The Technocratic Ideal
      Functionalism and Technocracy
      International Style Planning
      Garden City and Regional Planning
      Project and Accommodate

Chapter 3: Postwar American Planning
      Planning for Congestion
      Planning for Sprawl
      Planning for Blight
      Planning Functionally
      Comprehensive Regional Planning

Chapter 4: Neo-Traditional Planning
      Resistance Against Modernism
      The New Urbanism
      Smart Growth

Chapter 5: Limits on Urban Growth
      Limiting Scale
      Limiting Speed
      Political Limits or Planning

Chapter 6: The Next Steps
      Stopping Freeways
      Controlling Sprawl
      Zoning Choice
      Controlling Speed
      Transforming our Cities

Chapter 7: The End of Modernism
      Modernism in Its Dotage
      Technical Questions and Human Questions
      The Failure of Growth
      Citizens or Clients