Frank Gruber rationally discusses the many urbanisms

Journalist Frank Gruber has a great series of articles up on the Huffington Post entitled "In Search of a Fourth Urbanism." In it he explores Douglas Kelbaugh's divisions of urbanisms, including New Urbanism, Everyday Urbanism, and the Post-Urbanism or Spectacle Urbanism of architects like Richard Rogers.

Considering the complexity and nuance of urban form and the difficulty of plainly characterizing what makes urban space great, it's unsurprising that the critique of urbanist fields, particularly New Urbanism, has become something of a small literary genre within itself. While this is often a useful process that encourages reflection and consideration of new directions, it does sometime devolve into unhelpful straw-man arguments against outdated stereotypes. There is a disconcerting tendency to grossly mischaracterize a movement as broad as New Urbanism as "small town nostalgia," and denigrate it in order to set up a new and narrow "one-true-path" urbanism. Such short-sighted arguments grossly ignore big city infill developments such as 2009 Charter Award winner Columbia Heights, but these polemical tracts exist nonetheless.

What's great about Gruber's pieces is that his new concept, "Cityism," explores and expands upon New Urbanism and other conventions without seeking to replace them. As Gruber acknowledges, all the tenets of Cityism fit perfectly with the Charter of the New Urbanism, and can be seen as appropriate to a narrower range within the transect. They're interesting articles with some good insights into familiar patterns of urban design.

Photo: Frank Gruber.
Credit: Huffington Post.


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