Urban Design

Studio 360

American Icons: The Disney Parks

Friday, November 28, 2014

Walt Disney didn't just want a theme park — he wanted to create a scale model of a uniquely American utopia. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

25 Years in 25 Days (2009): NYC's Parks and Pathways Re-Imagined

Monday, October 27, 2014

Since the first section of Chelsea's High Line Park opened in 2009, it has become an icon of abandoned urban space reclaimed and repurposed.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Does City Living Make Us Happy?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Charles Montgomery explores the intersection between urban design and the science of happiness, and looks at some of the world’s most dynamic cities—from Bogotá to medieval Tuscan hill towns to modern-day New York City.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Happy Cities?; Shahan Mufti on His Family and the History of Islam; Fun Home; Photography and the War in Vietnam

Monday, November 04, 2013

On today’s show: we’ll explore whether densely populated cities are be better—or worse—for happiness, and what urban design has done to improve communities around the world. Shahan Mufti can trace his family’s roots back to the inner circle of the prophet Muhammed, and he describes the relationship between Islamic law and religion. Director Sam Gold, composer Jeanine Tesori, and lyricist Lisa Kron talk about their new musical, Fun Home, adapted from a bestselling graphic novel. Pete Hamill and Santiago Lyon and Hal Buell of the Associated Press discuss the role of photojournalism in reporting the war in Vietnam.

Studio 360

American Icons: The Disney Parks

Friday, October 18, 2013

Generations of Americans have grown up with Walt Disney shaping our imaginations. We’ll tour Disneyland with its art director, a second-generation Imagineer, who explains why even the trash cans are magic. In Florida, urban planner Andres Duany shows how a theme park helped reimagine city life; Tom Hanks, the first person to play Walt Disney on screen, and futurist Cory Doctorow explain how Disney made them kids for life.

Bonus Track: Cory Doctorow on the Disney theme parks

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The Leonard Lopate Show

On the Waterfront

Friday, June 28, 2013

Justin Davidson, New York magazine’s architecture and classical music critic, discusses the New York City waterfront and Mayor Bloomberg’s resiliency plan. He The looks at the history of the city’s relationship to the waterfront, and argues that we should double down on developing it rather than retreat. Davidson's article "Liquid City" is in the July 1 issue of New York.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Payphones Repurposed

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rachel Haot, chief digital officer for the City of New York, discusses the six designs for reinvented payphones and how you can vote for your favorite.

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The Takeaway

Rethinking Urban Design in Hurricane Sandy's Wake

Friday, November 02, 2012

It’s easy to forget that Manhattan is an island, and that New York City is a coastal zone, but the truth is that climate change experts had long predicted that rising sea levels and a storm of Sandy's magnitude would produce massive flooding throughout the city. Alan Weisman, author of "The World Without Us," explains how to rethink New York's environment to make conditions for sustainable moving forward.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Urban Development in the Bloomberg Years

Monday, October 15, 2012

Justin DavidsonNew York magazine’s architecture critic, looks at the ways development has changed the city’s character during the Bloomberg years. We’ll take calls on how neighborhoods have changed through new zoning, historic districts, and new construction in the last decade. 

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Krulwich Wonders: Odd Things Happen When You Chop Up Cities And Stack Them Sideways

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Robert takes a look at a series of dissected cities, and finds himself falling for the charmingly crooked bits and pieces of one in particular.

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The Takeaway

Gated Communities, Civility and Crime

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Among Florida cities, Sanford has a remarkable amount of green space. As WMFE reporter Matthew Peddie noted for WNYC’s Transportation Nation blog, Sanford has spent more than $20 million in the last two decades creating more than 30 parks and green spaces. However, Sanford is also notable for being home to numerous gated communities — like The Retreat at Twin Lakes, the neighborhood where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked back from 7-Eleven.

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Transportation Nation

How Public Space, Urban Planning and Public Parks Play a Role in the Trayvon Martin Case

Monday, April 02, 2012

Protesters in Fort Mellon Park (photo by Matthew Peddie)

(Sanford, Florida) Demonstrations in support of Trayvon Martin are filling parks and streets in Sanford.

The green spaces in the central Florida city usually attract residents from around the area for a bit of recreation, but now they’re functioning as a stage for civic expression.

Sanford has more than 30 parks, many of them on the aptly named Park Avenue. Planners view the city’s linked green spaces and walkable streets as an inspiration for a back-to-basics approach to urban revitalization.

In the last two decades, more than $20 million has been poured into the renewal of streets and parks, and it's something visitors notice.

Downtown Sanford (photo by Matthew Peddie)

Even Reverend Al Sharpton took a moment at a rally to praise the city.

“In the days that I’ve been down and back, Sanford is a beautiful city," he said. "It’s on the side of the water, has great potential for tourism."

Sharpton went on to lambast city officials for not pushing for the arrest of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, saying the reputation of Sanford was not worth risking for his sake.

Founded in the 1870s, Sanford was conceived as a transportation hub, where steam ships disembarked and rail lines carried freight and passengers to the far reaches of Florida.

Orlando leaped ahead as central Florida's commercial hub in the 20th century, but Sanford’s economic development director Nicholas Mcray says transportation is again starting to play an important part in the city’s growth.

“We have connections to Interstate 4 and State Road 417, so we are a hub for that exchange," he says. "We have an international airport which also services 40 domestic destinations. The passenger count last year was north of a million and on target for 2 million this year. So we are coming full circle.”

Mcray says the arrival of the SunRail commuter line will also give the city a lift.

“The development opportunities around Sanford SunRail station, I guess you could say the sky’s the limit," he says. "There’s a lot of green space still left around there for transit-oriented design.”

Bruce Stephenson, the director of the Masters of Planning and Civic Urbanism program at Rollins College in Orlando, says the division of public and private space also plays a part in the Martin case.

(photo by Mark Simpson)

He says parks were originally conceived as places where people of different ethnicity, class and religious background could mingle in a natural setting. “The supposition is that being in that environment would enhance stability," he explained.

Stephenson is following the Sanford protests closely: he sees this moment as a case of good urban planning helping to shape people’s behavior. “The telling experience is that we’ve seen amazingly well behaved people in an engaging atmosphere in the public spaces.”

He contrasts the protests with the violent act that got them started. “The shooting was in a private space that was gated, guarded, and I think there’s a lesson to be drawn in what happens when we shut ourselves off from other citizens.”

Paul Harris, the chair of psychology at Rollins College, is an expert in the links between physical settings and human response. He says there are neighborhoods, not always gated, where residents don’t see their home territory ending at the house.

“They see it extending out into the yard, the street. And in that case you’re going to have people more zealously protecting those spaces.”

Harris thinks it’s a stretch to attribute the peaceful nature of the protests to the design of the parks and streets where they’re being held.

“Frankly, I think the issues that are going on are so charged that the impact of the environment is probably minute,” he says.

However, Bruce Stephenson says there are some bigger urban design lessons to be learned from Sanford.  He says some of the poorer neighborhoods reflect the downtrodden history of the city's African American residents. Yet Sanford's revamped downtown and public parks have been a resounding success.

Historic Goldsboro (photo by Matthew Peddie)

“A key concept is connectivity. That’s the test for the nation: can we connect white and black neighborhoods in an equitable manner?” Stephenson says the crowning achievement of Sanford's redevelopment is Riverwalk, a park running alongside Lake Monroe which attracts people from every background, to fish, run and relax.

“What’s important about that space is that it’s connected and linear, it runs along the water. Its whole concept is to move people and connect people. Those are the steps in creating community, and Sanford has made tremendous leaps, but there is an historical legacy to overcome.”

Stephenson says the city would do well to redouble its efforts in revitalizing its streets and parks.

Nicholas Mcray is proud of what Sanford has done to improve its cityscape. He believes the 40 percent growth in population in the last decade is a testament to the charm of the city.

“We’re an open, welcoming community. We have quality of life amenities that frankly most other communities are envious of and we think that will be shining through once all of the cameras leave.”

The parks will still be there after the crowds go home, and Sanford has plans to continue its improvement program, including a $7 million extension of the popular Riverwalk promenade.  Construction could start as early as this fall.

"A nation united can never be conquered" Sanford Veterans Memorial Park (photo by Matthew Peddie)



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The Brian Lehrer Show

LoLo: Imagining New New York

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The head of the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia UniversityVishaan Chakrabarti, talks about their idea for connecting Lower Manhattan to Governor's Island, and other big ideas for NYC.

Comments [61]

The Brian Lehrer Show

The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Professor of Urban Development at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), a principal with Happold Consulting, and author of The Heights: Anatomy of a Skyscraper, Kate Ascher discusses her new book about tall buildings and density.

Comments [14]

The Leonard Lopate Show

High Line Park

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Joshua David and Robert Hammond talk about how they collaborated with their neighbors, elected officials, artists, local business owners, and leaders of burgeoning movements in horticulture and landscape architecture to create the High Line. The park is now celebrated worldwide as a model for creatively designed, socially vibrant, ecologically sound public space, and they tell the story of it’s creation in High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky.

Comments [7]


Artists Reimagine Development in Long Island City

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Urban farming systems, a waterfront promenade, a community kitchen and biodiesel trucks that double as artist studios. Those are some of the ideas behind a new show opening at The Noguchi Museum on Thursday, called "Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City."

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Re-Imagining NYC at the Urban Design Week Festival

Monday, September 12, 2011

Could ziplines crossing the East River or a new concept for the MTA be in New York City's future? The Institute of Urban Design's first-ever Urban Design Week Festival says, "Perhaps."



Field Trip: Roosevelt Island Tramway

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Roosevelt Island Tramway is not just for tourists. But this spring it will be closed for maintenence - so take a field trip before it's too late.