The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream

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Island Press, Mar 18, 2010 - Architecture - 232 pages
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Americans are voting with their feet to abandon strip malls and suburban sprawl, embracing instead a new type of community where they can live, work, shop, and play within easy walking distance. In The Option of Urbanism visionary developer and strategist Christopher B. Leinberger explains why government policies have tilted the playing field toward one form of development over the last sixty years: the drivable suburb. Rooted in the driving forces of the economy—car manufacturing and the oil industry—this type of growth has fostered the decline of community, contributed to urban decay, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and contributed to the rise in obesity and asthma.

Highlighting both the challenges and the opportunities for this type of development, The Option of Urbanism shows how the American Dream is shifting to include cities as well as suburbs and how the financial and real estate communities need to respond to build communities that are more environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable.


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Leinberger makes a case for providing a walkable urban alternative to today's oversupplied suburban option. His arguments have helped me understand how the suburban lifestyle came to be as well as the path-dependent future we are building as a result of it. I was not very knowledgeable about the real estate forces and ignorant on how much of an impact they leave on our built environment. It was quite insightful to read a developer's take on planning.  


Futurama and the 20thCentury American Dream
The Rise of Drivable SubUrbia
The Standard Real Estate Product Types Why Every Place Looks Like Every Place Else
Consequences of Drivable SubUrban Growth
The Market Rediscovers Walkable Urbanism
Defining Walkable Urbanism Why More Is Better
Unintended Consequences of Walkable Urbanism
Achieving the Next American Dream Leveling the Playing Field and Implementing Walkable Urbanism

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About the author (2010)

Christopher B. Leinberger is a developer, professor, consultant, and author whose work has focused on making progressive development profitable. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and is director of the Graduate Real Estate Program at the University of Michigan. He is a founding partner of Arcadia Land Company, a progressive real estate development firm, and has written award-winning articles for publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal.

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