chapter  4
16 Pages

Reimagining the suburbs, beginning to build

Chapter 4 explains the interaction between the “what” and the “when” in the driving question “Why New Urbanism now?” It analyzes how members of the New Urbanist movement engaged with the cultural, professional, and financial context of the 1980s and 1990s as a set of opportunities and constraints in relation to their efforts to establish and expand the movement. It does so from an interior perspective, from a point of view that understands the movement as an intentional actor, revealing how the movement’s leaders understood their interventions. By locating the emergence of a novel approach to producing the built environment in its social-historic context, this story sheds light on how specific spaces emerge in interaction with the dynamics of their moment. The story of “Why New Urbanism now?” is a story about the active and interactive relationship between the political, economic, cultural, and professional context and a collective effort to alter that context. Or put slightly differently, how did the emergence of the New Urbanism described in Chapter 3 work within the constraints and opportunities inherent in the moment to emerge as one answer to the question of how to do suburban development differently?