Urban Design

illustration by Paul HoffmanThese articles and postings look at different ways in which design and our visual environment can shape the character of our cities and towns.

Available to Order & Download — Our Reprint Collection: Design & Aesthetics (19 articles)

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Brick pavers line sidewalks in West Hartford Center

We Don’t Let Planning Get in the Way: Pt. I

Rob Rowlson, the Town of West Hartford’s Director of Community Services, makes no bones about it: too often planning can be an obstacle to private investment and development. In Part I of this post, Rowlson talks about efforts to strengthen the core of the town’s downtown: West Hartford Center.

3-D rendering of small house with for sale tag

A Question of Scale

Demographic changes raise questions about what scale of development best fits neighborhoods and commercial districts. Planner and contributing writer Beth Humstone on how to respond to these questions.

Billboard directly over a house

Billboards: The Case for Control

Why cities and towns benefit when they just say “no” to the continued proliferation of billboards. A report from PCJ contributing writer & ULI Senior Resident Fellow Ed McMahon.

from front of Apple store in New York City

The Place Making Dividend

Why fostering a sense of place is key to having a strong, economically vibrant city or town. Observations from PCJ contributing writer & ULI Senior Resident Ed McMahon.

Sitting on movable chairs

Please Be Seated!

We do it dozens of times a day. During nice weather, we often do it in the park. And we’re careful where we do it, often scouting out a location that seems just right for us to …. sit. But how much do planners and urban designers know about our backsides?

exercise for PPS project about Petrosino Square in New York City

Circling a Square

At the Project for Public Spaces our first assignment: spend an hour carefully observing activities in Petrosino Square and noting what we saw.

cover of Streets as Places handbook by Project for Public Spaces

Can a Street Be a Place?

This post’s title is the question that was at the heart of a fascinating two-day workshop organized by the Project for Public Spaces.

Doing a Walking Audit

Doing a Walking Audit

“Walkability is the single most important issue facing cities today,” says planner Troy Russ in this effective short video about doing a “walking audit” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Libraries at the Heart of Our Communities

Libraries at the Heart of Our Communities

There’s been a dramatic change in the mission of a growing number of libraries across the country. No longer just static repositories of books and reference materials, libraries are increasingly serving as the hub of their communities, providing a broad range of services and activities.

building icon

Density Without High-Rises?

High-rise buildings are not necessarily the best answer to promoting denser, more walkable communities, argues Urban Land Institute Senior Resident Fellow & PCJ contributing writer Ed McMahon.