Housing and Community Development

Mariposa 1038 (Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects)

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The AIA Housing and Community Development Knowledge Community (HCD) tracks housing issues and develops relationships with industry stakeholders to encourage and promote safe, attractive, accessible, and affordable housing for all Americans.

Smart Growth as Foundation of Wealth, Equity and Justice

  • 1.  Smart Growth as Foundation of Wealth, Equity and Justice

    Posted 12-28-2017 15:05

    "An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." PLUTARCH
    There is no better time than the holidays and the cold season to reflect on what counts as smart these days and to search for a merge of cold material economic arguments (Pottersville) and the much fuzzier ethical and moral arguments of social capital, community and equity (Bedford Falls). This article is not going to pursue whatever parallels there may be between these two visions of a city articulated in "Its a Wonderful Life" and current presidential policies, but is taking a look at what smart growth could and should mean in 2018.

    Smart growth became a popular term in the 1990's as a desirable way of planned growth versus the implied "dumb growth" that happens from unplanned development. The emphasis then was on the environment and the massive land consumption that unfettered growth had brought to the United States. People would travel to Holland or Germany and marvel about how it was possible to have such densely populated countries and still have so much unspoiled nature. Smart Growth initially aimed to protect farms and forests and operated with rather simple tools such as Oregon's urban growth boundaryaround Portland which made the city famous as a place of innovative planning. Baltimore County in Maryland implemented a similar urban, rural demarcation line, a policy which has been quite effective in protecting rural lands for 50 years.

    Eventually smart growth proponents pivoted the argument from being strictly environmental to being good for established communities which had bled out to such an extent that their survival was in jeopardy. Incentives to develop near transit or on the brownfields left behind by deceased industries  became as popular as tax credits for historic preservation, Main Street programs, and community...READ FULL ARTICLE


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    Nikolaus Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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