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Does Your Town's Architecture Need A Tune Up?


It’s possible that the architecture in your town needs a tune up.

That’s what Leon Krier talked about recently in the Evening Lecture Series at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. Krier is a leading proponent of what’s being called “New Urbanism” in architecture and community design. He sat down with IHMC Communications Manager Carl Wernicke.

  • There are tremendous differences in the size and scale of building activity in cities and towns and even whole countries, and there is the perception somehow all this activity is miraculously ordered to make sense. But that's a delusion! Most building that happens is done without an idea of what all this activity will end up looking like. A lot of the building activity all over the world kin the last century has been simply chaotic.
  • Some communities are getting back "in tune". Krier says when he was in Pensacola 30 years ago he never would have dreamed that it could become an attractive place; and now, by just having three dozen or so buildings restored and some new building that are "behaving decently" Pensacola now has the promise of a great place developing.
  • The automobile has had a lot to do with moving us away from in-tine, walkable communities, but Krierg calls the automobile a symptom of the problem. He said humans were not used to the incredible amounts of energy that could be created using fossil fuels. "It has increased our power of production, but has not improved our...judgement".
  • Much has been written about urban sprawl which Krier calls "horizontal sprawl", but there is also "vertical sprawl" when cities build up too much and become too dense. A city "needs a specific size, a specific density and specific shape in order to be efficient".
  • Humans haven't changed much in shape, so there is a constant. that means the shape of everything from a living room to a village square should also be a constant. The concept of the "metropolis" didn't exist in pre-fossil fuel times, but Krier says you can't keep expanding the same city over and over, you have to multiply rather than over expand.
  • The easy way to tell if a community is moving in the right place is simple: people start wanting to live there.
Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.