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Old 04-01-2014, 09:14 PM
Location: East coast
613 posts, read 894,448 times
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In the discussion over how American cities want to do "new urbanism", often looking to Old World examples, or even examples nearby like Canadian cities, people often debate whether or not stuff will work because of "American exceptionalism" and such a difference in the way American cities differ from others.

Generally, do urban planners look at examples from other countries for inspiration or models, or is it generally considered too difficult to transfer policies and planning strategies from outside the country (because of political or cultural reasons)? After all, US cities themselves differ so much in variation in style that they could overlap with those of overseas cities. Policies from world cities might work for one American city but not another (eg. New York city, but not say Phoenix could be influenced by policies that could work in Japan or vice versa). Likewise, I wouldn't be surprised if world cities also took or drew inspiration from American cities at some point (American cities were once among the biggest and most vibrant in the world in the 20th century after all: NYC, Chicago, and Philly ranked in the top 10 biggest cities of 1900).
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:47 PM
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Sure they do, but plenty of examples are available from historic American prototypes. American city planning was a pretty well developed science in the 1920s when it was short-circuited and changed dramatically by the primacy of the automobile.

Part of the purpose of urban design is to respond to site-specific issues--weather, terrain, economics, demographics. That's why you plan--to respond to conditions, instead of trying the same thing in different circumstances and wondering why you got a different result.
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Old 04-01-2014, 10:38 PM
Location: Denver
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Of course they do. They go overseas and study certain cities and large and small scale projects. It's a shame it's still necessary to need to travel to gain insight on how to grow cities when we have templates in every old downtown across the country.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:08 AM
Location: South Beach and DT Raleigh
11,810 posts, read 18,835,055 times
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Well, let's hope so! Decisions should never be made in a vacuum.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:51 AM
2,388 posts, read 2,960,217 times
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I think it's mostly the opposite.

I mean, a lot of Americans might go to the Netherlands to study bike infrastructure or to Spain to study high speed rail or to China to study their tunnel boring techniques but I think it's that - mostly about studying infrastructure, implementation and low-cost ways of doing things.

But when it comes to studying planning, cities, the public realm, etc there are a lot of American planners, architects and engineers who are just as influential and foreign programs pay a lot of attention to specific periods in US planning like "the City Beautiful Movement" or the "urban renewal" of the 50s and 60s. I did my masters overseas and places like New York, LA, Savannah, Chicago, Portland, SF, etc. loom large in a lot of planning texts.
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