The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream [ Peter Calthorpe] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream. Peter Calthorpe, Guidelines with Shelley Poticha. The environmental economic. The Next American Metropolis has 99 ratings and 7 reviews. By now, having read several books of urban theory, I do not find Calthorpe’s ideas all that.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Ecology, Community, and the American Dream. Pia von Barby Dec. Calthorpe puts forth new patterns and types of growth through the lens of ecology, community, and the American Dream.

Central to his image of the American Metropolis is transit, more specifically Transit-Oriented Developments, and with that the pedestrian. Calthorpe sees transit-oriented planning and design as the vehicle for achieving his vision of the American metropolis. The text is divided into three parts: In the first section, Calthorpe identifies the American metropolis as the reflection of the American Dream, as the two exist in an interactive cycle.

Both the American Dream and the American metropolis must evolve to appropriately fit with contemporary cultures. Aerican terms of design changes, Calthorpe broadly points to reinforcing the public domain, human scale, diversity in use and population, and the integration of historic context, unique ecologies, and a comprehensive regional structure. Calthorpe is writing about the transitional period in the s, particularly honing in the changes of post-World War II suburbs.

As described in class, Calthorpe traces the pattern of suburban flight, as more americna more families moved further away from the city to find affordable housing.

The decentralization of employment also added to suburban traffic congestion, as people no longer worked in the city. Suburban flight and decentralization of employment have left the city drained and unappealing. Calthorpe points to two strategies: This regional anti-sprawl strategy echoes John A.

Powell also looks to a regional approach to solve this problem, as he feels that opportunities need to be resorted equally across all income groups. He commends the traditional town on its walkability, street pattern, and diversity in uses and users. He further notes that the Commons of the traditional town, which acted as a gathering and meeting place, has been lost in contemporary suburbs.

Instead, private domain increasingly replaces the Commons and the public space that is left is overwhelmingly anonymous.

The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream by Peter Calthorpe

Green Fields and Urban Growth, in which she notes how big box stores and corporate chains replaced local stores and personal service, resulting in placeless shopping strips. Both Calthorpe and Hayden partially contribute the explosion of chain stores to flaws in federal subsidies and investments. Resonating with environmental sustainability, Mumford suggested that human activities, beyond simply not harming the environment, might even be able to restore it, which Calthorpe also underscores.

However, rather than being formed and guided by nature, contemporary growth is dictated by the car. In comparing the demand of cars and transit on the built environment, differences appear. Primarily, the car needs an environment in which it can go fast and far, which stresses the environment but frees architecture. Transit, on the other hand, requires a more integrated, dense, and urban environment. The pedestrian, as another form of travel, wants architecture to more human-scaled, walkable, and diverse.

Calthorpe calls for a synthesis of the structural demands of the car, transit, and pedestrian, resulting in a layered circulation system. Naturally, a continuum of growth strategies exists and regions will have to find what is appropriate for them.

Regional involvement in growth is essential; otherwise local decisions may exacerbate or avoid the problem. Limiting growth locally without regional controls pushes development into more remote areas, possibly resulting in leapfrog developments. Furthermore, localities may try to evade developing affordable housing or transit.


On the other hand, allowing unlimited growth results in familiar problems such as sprawl, congestion, and loss of identity. Beyond the local level, fragmented planning at the state and federal level further complicates land use planning and growth.

Affordable housing, highways, air quality, open spaces, and infrastructure costs are all handled independently. Without long-term, collaborative regional policies, developmental patterns that ineffectively address the environmental and economic impacts will prevail. Local land use is subdivided and unable to handle regional issues, such as jobs, housing, transit, traffic, and air quality. Furthermore, Calthorpe deems current land use controls as outdated, responding to outdated conditions with outdated strategies.

Also, at the federal level, policies and investments redirect growth unconsciously while failing to integrate the problems. Ineffective land use patterns are difficult to change and present an adaptive problem, which requires behavioral changes. Calthorpe points to the need for a powerful political coalition to address these land use patterns. In fact, Calthorpe sees the possibility for the problems facing the American metropolis sparking an alliance between environmentalists, developers, and urban advocates.

Such strong political alliances are seen in Portland, Oregon, which Calthorpe commends on its Urban Growth Boundary and zoning that supports a transit system. Margaret Weir in her chapter on coalition building in Reflections on Regionalism also notes Portland as effectively utilizing coalitions to form a regional government.

The private domain directs meropolis suburb. However, this lifestyle is only open to a decreasing portion of the population. Growth that moves away from the isolated suburb and towards denser, affordable, mixed use communities can be beneficial to segments of the population such as working parents, children, and the elderly.

Thus, Calthorpe calls for experimentation between the two ends of this spectrum: Following this exploration of rhetorical and practical underpinnings of his growth strategy, Calthorpe moves into specific guidelines for designing growth. The guidelines are formed by three principles: Calthorpe acknowledges that in many locations transit will not be constructed until development begins. The disconnect between land use planning and transportation has been pointed out in the highway system by authors such as Cliff Ellis and Genevieve Giuliano.

TODs pull in a regional perspective by focusing on transit, which differentiates it from strategies that focus on structuring individual communities and neighborhoods. TODs can be developed throughout a metropolitan region in a variety of sites, such as mstropolis sites in urbanizing areas, sites with possibilities for redevelopment or reuse, and in new urban growth areas.

New Towns should anerican be considered if infill and new growth areas could not handle new growth. As Calthorpe previously pointed out, the fragmented planning at local, state, and federal level results in an imbalanced planning for jobs, housing, infrastructure, the environment, etc. Thus, it is only with effective regional revisions that sprawl can be avoided.

The Specific Area Plan should speed up and reduce costs of the development process. The Specific Area Plan ensures coordination between all property owners and other parties involved, which minimizes fragmentation. The distribution of TODs throughout an area should maximize access to their core commercial areas without relying entirely on arterials to bring in through traffic. TODs should be placed far enough away te avoid direct competition and ensure efficient transit station spacing.

The regional form also depends on environmental constraints, as major natural resources should be preserved metroolis enhanced.

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Calthorpe calls for an Urban Growth Boundary to ensure the TOD will have enough area for growth without harming the environment. The transit line should be designed to maximize the number of TODs, serve existing commercial and residential areas, and provide access to redevelopable and infill sites, which can be developed into TODs later.

For transit to succeed, it must be accessible. Calthorpe defines calthodpe as net key aspect of the TOD, which echoes his previous notion of the pedestrian as being central to growth. The size of a TOD depends on its street connections, as well as topography and other intervening factors. The two most important components of the Americn, transit and the pedestrian, are intertwined, as transit cannot exist without the pedestrian.


Local streets, on the other hand, should be designed for travel speeds of 15 mph and minimize through traffic while still providing access to local destinations. Calthorpe differentiates enxt multiple types of TODs, which illustrates that they are able to function at various scales and conditions.

An urban TOD is located directly on the trunk line transit network and is suitable for job-generation and high-intesnity uses, as well as moderate to high-density housing. A neighborhood TOD is located on a bus line close to a trunk line transit stop and is suitable for moderate density residential, service, retail, entertainment, civic, and recreational uses.

Thus, different TODs can take on different characteristics and functions, depending on the context of their site. Calthorpe suggests aerican appropriate mix of land uses and densities be cleared in a community engagement or site-specific planning process. Core commercial areas provide a destination that makes transit attractive. Additionally, all TODs calfhorpe include a variety of housing types in their residential areas. Public uses will depend on the type and size of the TOD.

Calthorpe points out the importance of not permitting commercial uses that are similar to those within the core commercial area.

Calthorpe states that uses that rely on cars or trucks or have low employment potentials are not appropriate within the TOD or Secondary Area, so that rural residential, industrial uses, and travel complexes should be located outside. These uses would not support the transit system or economy of the core commercial area or Secondary Area. Calthorpe provides concrete, practical design details, which are often lacking from other texts related to planning.

The Next American Metropolis combines philosophical and theoretical groundwork, as well as the actual how-to. In fact, it is interesting to note that although he shaped these ideas over 20 years ago, they have not manifested themselves in contemporary growth and design practices.

Instead of limiting Suburbia, suburbs have continued to grow and much talk today revolves around retrofitting instead of developing new patterns of growth.

His analyses of the present situation, as well as his suggestions are both thorough and approachable. In reality, transit continues to rest on the backburner for many netx. Calthorpe does not really address how to motivate regions to invest more in transit. Furthermore, the Secondary Areas around the TOD could be potential problem areas, as Calthorpe does not provide a size or growth limit for them.

He notes that single-family metroplis holds a large share of the real estate market, so that demand for it is high. Calthorpe does not really address how to make medium to high-density housing more appealing to the general public.

As discussed in class, Americans calthogpe the tendency to spread out as much as possible and do not prefer apartment-style living. While the benefits of TODs may be sound reduced sprawl, less environmental impact, more affordable housing, stimulating local economiesit is important to note that this type of growth is not appealing to all sectors of the population.

In fact, Calthorpe mostly points out benefits for working class families, the elderly, and children. Swanstrom turns to an effective regional government to protect these values and improve the livelihood of the less fortunate sectors of the population. However, changing americaj status quo becomes a difficult process considering that those in power are those that are content with the status quo.

It is further hindered by cqlthorpe overwhelming focus on the economy, over the environment and equity. Furthermore, Calthorpe assumes the existence of an effective regional government, which is a rare occurrence in America.