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Matt Bevilacqua's Posts

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Jungle gym urbanism: Help this guy turn a vacant house into a bouncy-ball pit

Cross-posted from Next American City.

Guerilla urbanism can take many forms, as there are myriad ways to reactivate an abandoned public space or vacant building. Art exhibitions, temporary shops, ad hoc concerts -- different approaches work for different properties, and it really depends on the space, neighborhood, and city in question.

It’s either fitting or frivolous, then, that one New Orleans resident seems to have turned to Chuck E. Cheese’s for inspiration.

Josh Ente, who works at the New Orleans-based filmmaking company Court 13 (you might know them for this Sundance winner or this music video), recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help him turn a crumbling house into giant ball pit. Imagine neighborhood kids, their parents, and young-at-heart adults gathering at an outdoor community pool filled with bouncy balls, and you get a close approximation to what Ente envisions. (See it in the video accompanying Ente’s proposal below.)

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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What does your ideal street look like? A smart growth expert weighs in

Mike Lydon. (Photo by Pattern Cities.)

Cross-posted from Next American City.

Mike Lydon is a board member of Congress for the New Urbanism in New York and founder of the Miami- and New York City-based planning firm, The Street Plans Collaborative. In 2009 he coauthored, with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, The Smart Growth Manual, the quintessential textbook for building sustainable projects. Here Lydon talks zoning codes, cycling infrastructure, and why streets should accommodate all forms of transportation, not pit one against the other.

Q. It’s been over two years since The Smart Growth Manual was published. What are some of the more promising developments in urban planning you’ve seen since then?

A. The passing of a citywide form-based code in Miami, Fla., as well as Denver, Colo., are two very exciting things that happened just after that book came out. Smart Growth talks about different scales of development, from the windowpane all the way up to the region. But really, the nuts and bolts of what’s allowed, and how things get built over time via a zoning code, are very important to codifying smart growth. A lot of the time, you’ll find cities that have policies in the direction of walkability, smart growth, infill, density, and all these good buzzwords in the planning field, but their regulations don’t support it. In fact, in a lot of cases, those regulations make it illegal. So it’s very exciting to see cities changing out their zoning codes wholesale to ones that [are] more appropriate for the 21st century.

Read more: Cities

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Off-ramp: How demolishing freeways is reviving American cities

John Norquist. (Photo by Congress for the New Urbanism.)

Excerpted from a longer interview in Next American City.

One of John Norquist's best-known achievements as mayor of Milwaukee -- an office he held from 1988 to 2004 -- was demolishing the Park East Freeway, a 1960s-era expressway that restricted access to the city's downtown. Today, he is CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism, an organization that promotes urban highway removal and walkable, mixed-use urban development.

Norquist, who is also author of The Wealth of Cities, an argument for using the free market to achieve urbanist goals, will be one of the featured speakers at the Congress’ 20th annual gathering in West Palm Beach, Fla., this May. Here, he discusses urban highway removal -- where it’s been done, where it will happen next, and why we as a nation must overcome our obsession with reducing congestion.

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure

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A mission for the next generation: Fix suburbia

Ellen Dunham-Jones. (Photo by Georgia Institute of Technology.)

Cross-posted from Next American City.

Ellen Dunham-Jones is a professor of architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and coauthor of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs, the quintessential guidebook for making sprawl more sustainable. She will be one of the featured speakers at the 20th Congress for the New Urbanism in West Palm Beach, Fla., this May. Here, she discusses vital demographic shifts, different redevelopment strategies, and some of the more impressive retrofitting projects going on in the U.S.

Q. A recent survey found that for the first time, most Americans prefer a walkable neighborhood to a large house. What do you think accounts for this shift, and what does it mean for how we plan our suburbs in the near future?

Read more: Smart Cities