Planning for progress

Hope rising from devastation

The April 27 tornado ravaged the Birmingham neighborhood of Pratt City (pictured above) and emptied out this historic, working-class community that was originally tied to mining and steel production in the area. Today and over the weekend, a national team of design, economic development, and planning consultants joins up with residents, local professionals, and Auburn architecture students, in an intensive “charrette” process to formulate initial recommendations for the rebuilding of the neighborhood. The American Institute of Architects Communities by Design program is sponsoring the event. I will be participating and hope to share some results next week.

Holistic planning in downtown Montgomery yields dividends

Another exciting event on the urban planning front, this time in Montogmery: their local Hampstead Institute is sponsoring the Congress for the New Urbanism’s annual Council meeting next week. Montgomery has aggressively implemented “new urbanist” principles recommended in their recent downtown master plan with some encouraging results (Alley Station is pictured above).

Having national and international designers in Birmingham and Montgomery engaged with local citizens and professionals bodes well for our future. We need to be more accepting of fresh, outside ideas which, when meshed with local expertise, can provide the best collaborative solutions we need to move our cities forward.

[thanks to alabamaema for the Pratt City pic; euby1 for the Alley Station pic]

3 responses to “Planning for progress

  1. As a Montgomery native and ten-year Birmingham resident, I must say it both pleasing and disappointing whenever I return to downtown Montgomery. BBQ, a ballgame, and maybe a little barhopping? Without ever getting in a car? In downtown Montgomery? Definitely not the town I left. The disappointing part, of course, is that they are, in many ways, beating us! Especially in terms of municipal support. I hope the new stadium and continued development around Railroad Park will continue to drive development downtown.
    Can’t have my old home beating my new one.

    • On the one hand it’s good for Alabama for any of its major cities to be moving forward with progressive urban plans. On the other hand, it just doesn’t feel right to you–and many of us–that Montgomery, a much smaller metro with much less economic clout, less cosmopolitan infrastructure, is managing to get some things right while we still struggle. Part of our issue is our urban fabric is much larger, and we haven’t done a good job of strategically investing resources. We often prefer to spread them equally, which makes political sense, but ends up diluting impact. The business community has also been more estranged up here than Montgomery or Huntsville, wary of city investments rather than participating. But I still have hope.

  2. Pingback: Higher public standards | Bhamarchitect's Blog

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