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Friday, November 30, 2007

 

Kentlands: A Model of New Urbanism

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/01/AR2007110102849.html


Kentlands community, located near Gaithersburg, Maryland, is one of the best known examples of a new urbanism community. It incorporates many elements aimed at perpetuating community, socializing, borrowing sugar form neighbors, and etc. Examples include: many sidewalks, dense housing, garages tucked in behind the residence, and large open spaces for various public use. Kentlands has been around since 1988 so it has become the perfect proving grounds for the desired effects of new urbanism. The article author, Katherine Salant, interviewed just six residents before coming to the conclusion that the proximity planning of new urbanism does in fact manifest community. This opinion is shared by Joongsub Kim, an architecture professor at Lawrence Technical University, who has lived in and studied Kentlands and another nearby conventional subdivision for 10 years now. Kim claims to be reserved in nature but asserts that "When you walk down the street, you see all the activity and you feel like you want to be a part of it." Kim attributes this social utopia to proximity. The streets are narrow to bring houses together; some porches are only six feet away from the sidewalk and the parking garage alley ways behind houses provide good places for kids to play and adults to socialize when they’re parking their car.

It appears that in the long run new urbanism community planning has worked for Kentlands. The proximity will in fact bring community as reported by Salant and Kim but is this really a breakthrough? Is this something people never knew? I could have told you that fact after the first semester in the dorms my freshman year. The question that remains relates to individual preference. What does the consumer want? New urbanism might manifest community but is that what most people want? I suggest that time will tell. Shining examples of its success like Kentlands might prove new urbanism to be effective but whether or not it truly is the way people want to live will be shown in the long run as the trend continues or fizzles out.


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