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The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream None Edition
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"In the latest of his long list of notable writings and accomplishments, author Christopher B. Leinberger introduces in The Option of Urbanism a new framework within which to tackle the question of sprawl and imagine the future. In [his book], Leinberger deftly shares his wealth of knowledge through the musings of a writer, the patience of an academic, and the technical ability of an active developer. The book is straightforward and manages to be an enjoyable reading experience for just about anyone interested in where the developing landscape goes from here." -- Howard Kozloff "Urban Land magazine" (01/11/2007)
Could it possibly be that [metropolitan] Washington, for years bashed by politicians, its [city] population shrinking and, at one point, almost bankrupt, has become a model of how the entire nation might smartly develop in the 21st century? I never thought I''d see the day. But Christopher Leinberger makes a startling case for it in his book. -- Neal Peirce "Washington Post Writers Group"
"Leinberger, a developer who teaches real estate at the University of Michigan, may be the boldest prophet of walkability anywhere. 'The United States,' he writes, 'is on the verge of a new phase in constructing its built environment.'" -- Alan Ehrenhalt "Governing magazine" (02/01/2008)
"A readable synthesis of history, planning, and real estate, the book is not yet another polemic about How We Should Live, but an informed and realistic argument about future growth and what choices we face along the way. Leinberger's book offers the novice a readable introduction to some of the debate surrounding the American city, and the veteran a lively respite from the house of mirrors. With well-selected references that provide a good jumping-off point for further reading, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the book to my students or friends looking for a fresh take on the form and future of our cities." -- Rob Goodspeed "Goodspeed Update" (02/22/2008)
"The clarity of the descriptions and the grounding in economics and market are the best of our collective efforts. I particularly like the chapter on the costs of sprawl - a powerful summary that should be read by all new urbanists." -- Peter Calthorpe (06/03/2009)
"Could it possibly be that [metropolitan] Washington, for years bashed by politicians, its [city] population shrinking and, at one point, almost bankrupt, has become a model of how the entire nation might smartly develop in the 21st century? I never thought I'd see the day. But Christopher Leinberger. makes a startling case for it. in his book." -- Neal Peirce "Washington Post Writers Group"
"Developer and professor Christopher B. Leinberger...has written the book to give to colleagues, constituents, and public officials who don't quite get what's going on in American cities and suburbs. The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream is free of jargon and, more important, free of ideological resentments." -- Harold Henderson "Planning magazine" (02/01/2008)
About the Author
Christopher B. Leinberger is a developer, professor, consultant, and author whose work has focused on making progressive development profitable. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and is director of the Graduate Real Estate Program at the University of Michigan. He is a founding partner of Arcadia Land Company, a progressive real estate development firm, and has written award-winning articles for publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal.
Top customer reviews
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I particularly liked his framing of the situation in terms of demographics, social policy, and long term effects, and how he posits that perhaps we've gone too far down the suburban path and need to swing back toward walkable urbanism. His arguments describe how Wall Street, large developers, and government policy lead us toward suburban development, and why urban areas are so expensive (longer term building timelines, more expensive land, and most of all, lack of supply.)
I highly recommend this for anyone unfamiliar with walkable urbanism, or who might be interested in why our built environment is the way it is. It's a pretty short book but well written and researched, and certainly more even-handed than Kunstler or Kotkin.
This book from a real estate professional offers a logical and positive view of "walkable urbanism" without bashing drivable suburbanism that has dominated the landscape for the past fifty years. It provides a historical context to how we got to where we are and why the next phase will be a return to "walkable urbanism". The benefits to mitigating climate change and eliminating dependence on foreign oil are obvious. However the additional benefits of personal health and feeling a part of a community are also just as appealing.
The author, a specialist in real estate development and not in urban planning, explains how government policies and standardized real estate products have supported the growth of drivable suburbia over the past decades.
He demonstrates with refreshing arguments that `walkable urbanism' is actually favoured by a large portion of the population and challenges the market and governments to respond accordingly.
This concise, well-written eye-opener is light-years away from the rehashed New Urbanism discourses and should absolutely be read by all concerned with the future of our cities!
By chapter four, he's blaming Social Segregation, Environmental Problems, and Obesity...on this very drive. We use polluting cars for everything, our kids don't ride their bikes to school, poor people can't afford to drive...etc. Can I stretch my mind REALLY far...and kind of follow that logic? Maybe. But I don't feel I should have to strain my brain like this to make such a connection. He goes on to talk about parking and zoning policies, and how the Government has puppet strings on Real Estate...and TV and Media sway us toward or away from everything we do. Do I get that? Yes. I can follow some of these arguments, but it hurts my head.
I'm a girl who loves the city...and I believe in Urban Farming initiatives, car-sharing, and TRUST me...the convenience of city living if nothing else. According to the evidence cited in this book, we are slowly moving away from sub-urbanism, and back into, "walkable urbanism" or, city living. That would be just fine with me, but I don't think it's for everybody. There will definitely be a few generation cycles passing before we get there.
My biggest critique would be: leave the political stuff out. Talk about the positives of Walkable Urbanism, and people will catch on. We're not dummies...everyone I know HATES driving to work, and according to the book, we're already moving in that direction. With as many childless families as there are with children, and the baby boomers retiring...people will migrate back to the convenience of the city on their own. Don't hate on the American Dream just yet, we're always evolving.