Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

Andres Duany, Author, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Joint Author, Jeff Speck, Joint Author
Andres Duany, Author, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Joint Author, Jeff Speck, Joint Author North Point Press $35 (290p) ISBN 978-0-86547-557-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-86547-606-6
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-3211-0
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Like ""an architectural version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, our main streets and neighborhoods have been replaced by alien substitutes, similar but not the same,"" state Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Speck in this bold and damning critique. The authors, who lead a firm that has designed more than 200 new neighborhoods and community revitalization plans, challenge nearly half a century of widely accepted planning and building practices that have produced sprawling subdivisions, shopping centers and office parks connected by new highways. These practices, they contend, have not only destroyed the traditional concept of the neighborhood, but eroded such vital social values as equality, citizenship and personal safety. Further, they charge that current suburban developments are not only economically and environmentally ""unsustainable,"" but ""not functional"" because they isolate and place undue burdens on at-home mothers, children, teens and the elderly. Adapting the precepts that famed urbanologist Jane Jacobs used to critique unhealthy city planning, Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Speck call for a revolution in suburban design that emphasizes neighborhoods in which homes, schools, commercial and municipal buildings would be integrated in pedestrian-accessible, safe and friendly settings. While occasionally presenting unsupported claims--such as that gated communities (of which there are now more than 20,000 in the U.S.) deprive children of gaining ""a sense of empathy"" in a diverse society--their visionary book holds out hope that we can create ""places that are as valuable as the nature they displaced."" (Mar.)
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