Monday, June 27, 2016

CNU 24: Best Moments, Part 2

Lobby of Detroit's Guardian Building
When I last wrote about the best quotes from CNU 24, the annual conference of the Congress for the New Urbanism recently conducted in Detroit, I thought I had covered the entirety of the first day speech by Andres Duany.  I should have looked on the back of my notes.

Today, I turned over the paper and found several more quotes from Duany worthy of being shared.  As before, the quotes are reconstructed from my notes and are likely imprecise, but capture Duany’s intent.

On the architectural role of public buildings: “Urbanist codes should cover residential, commercial, and office buildings, but not public buildings.  It’s in public buildings where architects should be free to depict the grandeur of civilization and civic life.”

On human nature: “Good urbanism in the form of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods enables human nature to behave in its most noble form.”

On municipal finances: “Talk to the chief financial officer of any U.S. city and ask about the day the city will go bankrupt.  The CFO may hem and haw, but eventually admit that date is written on a scrap of paper in one of his bottom drawers.  Because every U.S. city is going bankrupt from sprawl.”

On measuring urbanism: “The measure of good urbanism isn’t the standard of living, but the quality of life.”

On the obsolescence of use-based zoning: “Use-based zoning succeeded at its primary goal which was separating noxious land uses from other human activities.  But technology has removed the noxiousness from most of those bothersome land uses, so use-based zoning is no longer needed.”

On decision-making: “The current obsession with bottom-up decision-making is wrong.  Every decision has an appropriate level at which it should be made, some at the top, some at the bottom, and some in between.”  (While concurring with Duany’s thought, I’ll also note that input from multiple levels should be integrated before decisions are made.)

Once again, there’s much to mull over in Duany’s words.

When I next return to CNU 24, I will finally leave Duany behind, at least for now, instead turning to Kaid Benfield.  But that won’t be for several posts.  In my next post, I’ll link some brilliant thinking about neighborhoods that I recently came across and then add a couple of thoughts expanding on the writer’s conclusions.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (

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