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.
Researchers identified May 23, 2007, as the first time in history that city dwellers outnumbered the world's rural population. Because cities are growing, companies locate in urban areas as an efficient way to reach talent and customers.
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?
What the New Urbanists take from Jane Jacobs is what nearly every other planner or urbanist working today takes from Jacobs regardless in what context they work: a set of pro-urban values. Love of the city.
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.
What if a zoning code is no longer cohesive, or impedes rather than accomplishes societal goals? Let's remember to reassess -- with simplicity in mind -- and recall the first principles of shelter and the wheel.