CNU History

The Congress for the New Urbanism was founded in 1993 by a group of enthusiastic architects looking to codify the thought behind their previous work in creating long-lasting and better-performing neighborhoods. Working against the conventional, predominant sprawl-oriented dogma of the post-WWII period, the group had worked for years to create buildings, neighborhoods, and regions that provide a high quality of life for all residents, while respecting the natural environment. Founders Peter Calthorpe, Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Moule, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Stefanos Polyzoides and Dan Solomon came together to form the organization, and were assisted in the coordination of their effort by Peter Katz, who became the first Executive Director of CNU.

(Click here for more information on our founders.)

Later that year, CNU held its first Congress. A satisfying 100 people showed up, demonstrating that the issues of urbanism were important, if not widely discussed. Nearly 20 years later, CNU regularly draws over 1000 people per year to the Congress it still holds annually. Our annual gatherings bring together members of every field related to development - architects, landscape architects, planners, economists, real estate agents and developers, lawyers, government officials, educators, citizen activists, and students - who discuss issues and craft solutions related to the health and vitality of regions, towns, and neighborhoods.

CNU has emerged as the leading voice for the creation of sustainable, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods that provide for better health and economic outcomes. With members in 20 countries and 49 states, and support stemming from the local, federal and international level, our members work hard to promote policies that make cities and towns more engaging, vibrant and livable than ever.

As outlined in the preamble to our Charter, CNU advocates the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions. Rebuilding neighborhoods, cities, and regions is profoundly interdisciplinary. We believe that community, economics, environment, health and design need to be addressed simultaneously through urban design and planning. We stand for the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy.

Our Mission

CNU's mission is to change the practices and standards of urban design and development to support healthy regions and diverse, complete neighborhoods.