Compactness vs. Sprawl

Authored by: Reid Ewing , Keith Bartholomew , Arthur C. Nelson

Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  January  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415553643
eBook ISBN: 9780203844434
Adobe ISBN: 9781136920097


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In 1997, the Journal of the American Planning Association published a pair of point-counterpoint articles now listed by the American Planning Association as “classics” in the urban planning literature. In the first article, “Are Compact Cities Desirable?” Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson argued in favor of urban sprawl as a benign response to consumer preferences. In the counterpoint article, “Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?” the lead author of this chapter argued for compact cities as an alternative to sprawl. Gordon and Richardson, and Ewing disagreed about nearly everything: the characteristics, causes, and costs of sprawl, and the cures for any costs associated with sprawl.

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