Urban Design and People
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  • Wiley

More About This Title Urban Design and People


This introduction to the field of urban design offers a comprehensive survey of the processes necessary to implement urban design work, explaining the vocabulary, the rules, the tools, the structures, and the resources in clear and accessible style. Providing a comprehensive framework for understanding urban design principles and strategies, the author argues that urban design is both a process and a collaboration in which the different forces involved are knit together. Moving from the regional scale down to the scale of places, the book examines the goals and strategies of the urban designer from the viewpoints of the private sector, public sector, and community. The text is illustrated throughout with photographs and drawings that make theory and practice relevant and alive.


MICHAEL DOBBINS, FAIA, AICP, an architect, city planner, and former Atlanta Commissioner of Planning and Development, is a Professor of Practice in the Architecture and City and Regional Planning programs in the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech. Mr. Dobbins also serves as urban design and development advisor to various organizations and agencies.


Preface x

Acknowledgments xiii

Illustration Credits xiv


Setting the Stage

1. People and Place 7

How People Have Shaped Their Worlds

Introduction 8

Antecedents 10

The 1960s 14

The “Movement” and the Civic Environment 16

Organizational Responses to the Rise of Citizen Participation 21

Growing Pains—The Challenges of Citizen Participation 25

Citizen Participation—Where We May Be Heading 28

Summary 31

2. Urban Design Traditions 33

Design and People—Spatial Models in the Built World

Introduction 34

The Organic Tradition 35

The Formalist Tradition 48

The Modernist Tradition 55

Interactions and Overlaps of the Three Traditions 60

Getting to Where We Are Today 63

Environmentalist Responses—From Exploitation to Balance 64

Design Responses—From Old Urbanism to New Urbanism, or Forward to the Past 66

Citizen Participation and Urban Design—From Receiver to Transmitter 67

The Place Design Disciplines—From Divergence to Convergence 69

Summary 71


The Elements of Urban Design

3. The Physical Environment 77

The Places People Occupy

The Natural World 78

The Built World—What People Have Done with It 89

Summary 125

4. Human Activity 127

The Things People Do

What People Have to Do, Want to Do, and Where They Do It 128

Summary 139

5. Connections 141

The Infrastructure That Ties People and Places Together

Introduction 142

Transportation 147

Utilities 152

Communications 158

Summary 160


Principles for Urban Design Theory and Practice

6. Design 169

Design Matters (or There’s No “There” in There)

Introduction 170

Good Design Makes Better Places 172

Design Places to Reflect the People Who Are or Will Be There 173

Design Places Consciously and Holistically 176

Design Is an Essential Skill 178

Beware of “Solutionism” 182

Design in the Context of Time (and Motion) 183

Summary 185

7. Change 187

Change Happens

Introduction 188

Change Dynamics 189

Framework for Understanding and Managing Change 193

Trends in Change Management 196

The Triad of Vision, Information, and Action 197

Provide for Choice 204

Be Ready 206

Summary 206

8. Organization 209

Coordination and Partnership

Introduction 210

Leadership 211

Principles for Guiding Community Organizations 212

Principles for Guiding Private Sector Organizations 221

Principles for Guiding Government Organizations 225

Summary 229


What It Takes to Get It Done

9. Rules 237

That Make Places What They Are

Introduction 238

Zoning 242

Comprehensive Plans 248

Public Improvement Plans 250

Subdivision 251

Public Works Standards 253

Land Development Rules at the State and Federal Levels 254

Special Purpose Rules 260

Building and Life Safety Rules 265

Financing Rules 266

Summary 267

10.Tools 269

Using the Right Tool Makes the Job Easier

Introduction 270

Process Tools and Resources 270

Rules to Tools 286

Summary 306

11. Techniques 307

Putting the Tools to Use

Introduction 308

The Pieces 308

Navigational Techniques 325

Summary 347


12. Strategies 351

Merger of Processes and Resources

Introduction 352

Resources 352

Strategic Considerations for Communities 363

Strategic Considerations for Urban Designers 366

Strategic Approaches for Recurring Development Problems 367

Summary 371

Bibliography 375

Index 379


"This book is a distillation of what Dobbins has learned in the course of his career, aims to help readers - students, teachers, practitioners and everyday citizens - seize urban design's full potential…the content which ranges from historical observations to current advice, public-spirited philosophizing, and nitty-gritty discussions of the physical, economic, social, and organizational aspects of planning - should prove useful to serious students of public-sector urban design." (New Urban News, Oct/Nov 2009)