Urban Design Reclaimed

Tools, Techniques, and Strategies for Planners

By Emily Talen

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There are two kinds of urban design: the kind that shapes skylines and the kind that shapes communities. For the past several decades, planners — who are trained to think about how communities function — have ceded their role in urban design to architects-who are trained to think about how buildings look.

In Urban Design Reclaimed, Emily Talen challenges planners to reengage in u...

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Page Count
Date Published
April 15, 2009
APA Planners Press

About the Authors

Emily Talen

Table of Contents

List of Tables


Group 1: The Bigger Picture
Exercise 1: Neighborhoods
Exercise 2: Transects
Exercise 3: Connections

Group 2: Basics
Exercise 4: Centers
Exercise 5: Edges Exercise 6: Mix Exercise 7: Proximity

Group 3: Recurrent Issues
Exercise 8: Density
Exercise 9: Parking
Exercise 10: Traffic




"Ideas are nice. Implementation is nicer. Talen succeeds in taking theory to the streets (and culs-de-sac) with her focused and inspired toolkit."

—Allison Arieff
"By Design" Columnist,
New York Times

"Bravo to Emily Talen for producing an introductory, hands-on guide to prepare planners to plan again! Her series of well-organized case-based exercises in new urbanist analytical and design techniques focus attention on the basic steps of proactive, community-based physical planning. Simple graphic tools provide highly useful up-to-date methods for layering data and informing local decision-making. While architects may bristle at Talen's characterization of their urban design efforts as primarily formalist, they too would do well to heed her critique and learn from her thickened approach to placemaking."

—Ellen Dunham-Jones
Director of Architecture Program, College of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology