If a mark of a healthy organization is its capacity for allowing internal debate and dissent, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is quite healthy, at least judged by the recent 20th annual conference held in West Palm Beach, Fla. New Urbanism has been, in the words of founder Andrés Duany, “the least unsuccessful” recent movement in community building, and therefore has some confidence and capacity to entertain dissent. Nevertheless, even the greatest of skeptics would have been impressed by the range of topics featured in different sessions, and the range of speakers within given sessions. One session was particularly notable for its central importance to the evolving nature of New Urbanist project and its interdisciplinary and intergenerational panel. Great skeptics might point out some glaring absences from that panel, but the lively discussion was evidence that New Urbanist leaders are deeply committed to a future of intelligent, collaborative city building.
The 20th annual Congress for the New Urbanism was held this week in West Palm Beach, Fla. Such anniversaries are an occasion for reflection on past accomplishments, and also for looking ahead. One of the most exciting topics on the docket was “tactical urbanism,” the movement of incremental, small-scale – usually temporary, sometimes unsanctioned – improvements to the built landscape. One session featured Ralph Rosado, of C3TS, who presented on a project that turned a parking lot along Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard into a park for a week. Russ Preston, Design Director of the Principle Group, described how informal outdoor movie projections activated a neighborhood (and eventually became sanctioned by Paramount Pictures). Ellen Dunham-Jones, of Georgia Tech, described how her students installed temporary bike signage, historical markers, and storytelling benches to downtown Lithonia, Ga., to help catalyze long-term change there. The session was emceed by Mike Lydon, principle of Street Plans Collaborative, and lead editor of the Tactical Urbanism manual, volume 2 of which was just released. Following the session, Lydon stepped aside with EngagiesCities to discuss the past and future of tactical urbanism.