If our cities must be dense to be competitive and sustainable, we must also look with care to the potential displacement of uses, institutions or traditions -- not to mention the artifacts we will leave behind.
Can Detroit be saved? What are the myths of green energy? What can we learn from the boggled reconstruction of Iraq? Are we going to share a future of biometric surveillance? Just how did white middle-class Americans start identifying themselves as outsiders?
What if American cities legislated brighter color amid windows, balconies planted green and encouraged flags and hanging laundry? What if homeowner associations and rental contracts required vegetation and decoration?
Once a big idea is vetted -- whether in an authoritarian or democratic way -- what assures its success? Most particularly, what if, from Day One, the vision pushes comfort zones of the achievable; politically, legally or monetarily?
Today's efforts to recreate elements of the city, of whatever prescription of urbanism (e.g., "new," "landscape" or "ecological"), often turn on issues once considered in design competitions long forgotten.
Edward Glaeser's recent piece on Seattle is great press -- the stuff of boosterism and for use as evidence in corner of higher education, in the face of looming budget cuts in Olympia, our state capital.
Less than one percent of stimulus spending went directly to cities because cities are "lowest" in the federal hierarchy. Yet cities contain the majority of the nation's jobs, population, and economic output.
If one looks at the history of some of our cities' most desirable neighborhoods today and recognizes what a staggering number of them were once miserable slums, then a truly "creative" path reveals itself.
Carrion's departure leaves the Office of Urban Affairs at a crossroads. Without a formal leader, the Office is at risk of being lost in a White House filled with powerful figures and, as will always be the case, competing priorities.