Now Reading: Utne Reader’s Building Better Cities

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As Lexington’s identity continues to experience growing pains (is it a small city, or a big town?), community engagement has been mainstage in citywide discussion for the last year — including (but not limited to) the Tates Creek Sidewalk debate that packed city hall for four and a half hours this time last summer; the ongoing UK Campus housing issues; the fight to bury the power lines for the Newtown Pike Extension; streetscape design, funding, and cost ; and most recently, the design for the new downtown CVS, which launched another round of grassroots involvement, culminating in what will likely be a better, more appropriate structure.

But, as architect Graham Pohl pointed out on the ProgressLex blog yesterday:

“while a little bit of celebration is in order, the underlying problems that led to this battle have not changed. We still have no process by which the city can communicate design expectations to developers (except in limited areas). There is nothing on the books addressing the special character of Lexington places and insisting that they be respected. Furthermore, we have yet to see the final drawings of the building, so don’t shoot off any fireworks yet.”

Tim Halibur is the managing editor for Planetizen, a news source for the urban planning, design, and development community. The Utne Reader invited him to contribute a post for their Alt-Wire, where they ask editors, bloggers, journalists, writers, and artists to post links to five things that inspire them. Halibur’s post today is Building Better Cities: Five Links From an Urban Planning Expert.

He includes links to The Smart Growth Manual, and to Citiwire.net , whose mission is “to reflect a new narrative for 21st century cities and regions. Leaving behind the 20th century pattern of cheap energy, endless automobility, burgeoning suburbs, threatened inner cities. To a challenge-packed 21st century: energy prices headed north, perilous carbon emissions, deepening have-have not divisions, excruciating social problems and deep challenges in education. But a time of exciting promise, too.”

Planetizen also includes an annual Top Ten List of the ten best books in urban planning, design and development.They include David Byrne (of the Talking Heads) Bicycle Diaries, The Architecture of Community by Léon Krier; and Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability.

Now is a time of exciting promise for Lexington. Fulfilling that promise is the ongoing challenge.



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