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Reforming Suburbia

The Planned Communities of Irvine, Columbia, and The Woodlands

Ann Forsyth (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 394 pages
ISBN: 9780520241664
March 2005
$39.95, £30.00
Other Formats Available:
The "new community" movement of the 1960s and 1970s attempted a grand experiment in housing. It inspired the construction of innovative communities that were designed to counter suburbia's cultural conformity, social isolation, ugliness, and environmental problems. This richly documented book examines the results of those experiments in three of the most successful new communities: Irvine Ranch in Southern California, Columbia in Maryland, and The Woodlands in the suburbs of Houston, Texas.

Based on new research and interviews with developers, designers, and residents, Ann Forsyth traces the evolution, the successes, and the shortcomings of these experiments in urban innovation. Where they succeeded, in areas such as community identity and open space preservation, they provide support for current "smart growth" proposals. Where they did not, in areas such as housing affordability and transportation choices, they offer important insights for today's planners, designers, developers, civic leaders, and others interested in incorporating new forms of development into their designs.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables

1. The New Community Experiment
2. The Irvine Ranch
3. Columbia
4. The Woodlands
5. Organizing the Metropolis
6. Alternatives to Sprawl?
7. New Town Planning and the Paradoxes of Private Innovation

Appendix A. Ahwahnee Principles, Charter of the New Urbanism, and EPA Smart Growth Principles
Appendix B. Census Data for Irvine, Columbia, and The Woodlands, 1980–2000
Appendix C. Study Methods
Appendix D. Criticisms and Benefits of Suburban Growth with Evaluation of Case Study New Communities
Appendix E. Densities of Typical Residential Villages in Irvine and The Woodlands
Ann Forsyth is Professor and Dayton Hudson Chair of Urban Design at the University of Minnesota and the author of Constructing Suburbs: Competing Voices in a Debate over Urban Growth (1999).
"Reforming Suburbia is a fascinating book. Forsyth examines the planned new towns of Columbia, Irvine, and The Woodlands through dozens of interviews with developers, designers, and residents as well as extensive archival research. She tackles complex public and private investments and asks how negotiations proceeded between government and real estate developers, all the while keeping an eye on the issues of race, gender, environmental sustainability, and marketing. This is required reading for anyone interested in the practice of American urban development."—Dolores Hayden, author of Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000

"Ann Forsyth significantly enriches the fields of planning and architectural history with her thorough analysis of the social, ecological, and economic successes and shortcomings of these three prominent new communities. She offers valuable insights and wonderfully captures the idealistic spirit of the late 1960s and early 1970s."—Frederick Steiner, author of Human Ecology

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