Fixing a Broken City

November 24, 2009
Just across the river from Detroit sits a city forgotten. Battered by the fall of the auto industry and struggling to keep its economy running, Windsor, Ontario, has seen some tough times in recent years, and things aren’t likely to improve any time soon. It has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, a plummeting population, and the empty storefronts and foreclosed homes that have come to define this generation’s Great Recession.

Though geographically south, Windsor’s been called the Detroit of the North. For some locals, it’s simply a broken city. But there’s a growing movement that believes Windsor is a city that can be fixed.

A group of artists, activists, and urbanists has come together in Windsor with the straightforward-yet-complex goal of repairing the city.

Working in the Age of Geodesign

February 6, 2013
Data is becoming the designer’s new best friend. Urban designers, architects, and landscape architects – whether they’ve realized it yet, or not – will soon be integrating massive sets of data into every design they do.

These fields are entering the age of geodesign, an emerging concept that melds the geospatial data of geographic information systems, or GIS, with simulation and design evaluation techniques. Through geographic analysis of the various streams of data relating to a project and its site, geodesign creates the potential for real-time vetting of design ideas within the grander context of the site. From hydrology and habitat to traffic patterns and energy regimes, multitudes of data are now easily available and nearly as easily integrated into the designs of the built environment.

The New New Urbanists

November 17, 2010
Los Angeles’s high school of urban planning welcomes its freshman class.

Kids can be planners too. That’s the philosophy of a group of Los Angeles teachers who just started their own pilot school organized around the unlikely theme of urban planning. The East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy of Urban Planning and Design held its first classes in September on the crisp new campus of Esteban Torres High School, in the heavily Latino East L.A. It’s a neighborhood where, the teachers think, students can particularly benefit from the skills and values of the planning profession.