Tag Archives: Press

Planning Naked | March 2015

Planning Naked | March 2015
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Observations on the March 2015 issue of Planning Magazine.

1.  The absence of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) in this month’s op-ed, “Developing Partnerships”, by  APA Executive Director James M. Drinan, JD is a conspicuous omission.

2.  Informative “Legal Lessons” column by former New Jersey Supreme Court judge, Peter Buchsbaum, on brevity in land use law: 1) speak plain English; 2) avoid invective (e.g. abusive or “purple prose”) language; 3) be concise; 4) the record is king (i.e. proof); and, 5) planning is visual (e.g. show, don’t tell). Judges “want facts and reasoned arguments” (pp. 11).

3.  Excellent article on “Putting Berlin Back Together” by Katherine Burgess, AICP with informative maps of spatial information and research & design-oriented approaches in planning policy in the city after re-unification. The article provides a stark contrast to the predecessor articles in this issue on immigration (‘more resources”) and super TIFs (“capture state taxes”), which, once you drill down, are really about feeding on the public purse.

4.  Which is immediately followed by an article romancing Sea Ranch, California, “From Romance to Reality” by Christine Kreyling, celebrating the “sublime” supposed environmental sensitivity of a prototypical far-flung mid-twentieth century “utopia” sprawl development with “an average density of one dwelling unit per acre” composed of a 10-mile long maze of cul-de-sacs two hours north of San Francisco along the coastal highway.

5.  APA apparently doesn’t like gambling much judging by “When Casinos Are Too Much of a Good Thing” by Jake Blumgart, unless it’s gambling with the public’s money, of course. The benefits of casinos are “uncertain and uneven” but can you name any business or industry where the benefits are certain and even?

6.   “Recycling to the Max: Earthship structures cause conundrums for planning departments” by Kristen Pope is a perfect example of a 1st world problem where the industry is ahead of a profession too focused enforcing the rules instead of creating solutions. “Planning departments may have to develop guidelines as various situations arise” as “other communities do not have clear standards for Earthship building” (pp. 46). Jeez.

7.  “Golden age of street design” by Reid Ewing in the Research You Can Use section is short and sweet. This should have been given priority over the Sea Ranch, California article.

8.  Kimberly Burton’s Viewpoint article, “Planning from Scratch” on travel etiquette on Ghana’s streets is an implicit endorsement of the shared space concept for streets.

Planning Naked is an article with observations and comments about a recent issue of Planning: The Magazine of the American Planning Association.

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10 Blogs We’re Reading… well, keeping an eye on

10 Blogs We’re Reading… well, keeping an eye on…
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

We say ‘reading’ but really it is ‘periodically checking in on’ because there is way too much content to keep up with everything on the web. We have over 30 newspapers and online journals from the United States and Europe alone bookmarked for daily review! The Outlaw Urbanist is backlogged over a year with interesting news articles we have saved for re-posting on the blog. We are only now (very slowly) beginning to diligently work our way through this backlog. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit these blogs (in no particular order).

1.  Clusterfuck Nation by James Howard Kunstler
Now archived on www.kunstler.com but still worth a periodic visit. He is on Twitter but not much so you can follow @Jhkunstler.

2.  The Original Green and StudioSky Blog by Steve Mouzon
Mouzon is on Twitter a lot but his feed ebs and flows, you can follow .

3.  The Power of the Network by Tim Stonor (Twitter: @Tim_Stonor)

4.  The Pure Hands by Dr. Nick “Sheep” and Professor Ruth Dalton
You can follow Sheep on Twitter and Ruth . He is on Twitter more often than her.

5.  Tiny House Blog by Kent Griswold (Twitter @kentgriswold)

6.  Failed Architecture by Michiel van Iersel et al out of Amsterdam (Twitter @FailedArch)

7.  Spatial Disjunctures by David Jeevendrampillai
(UCL Research Student whose blog has gone quiet for over a year but we hope returns soon)

8.  Urban Formation or Mapping Urban Form and Society by Dr. Laura Vaughan
Professor of Urban Form and Society at UCL, whose blog has also gone quiet for six months… we’re all very busy these days. Laura tends to be on Twitter more than most and she often actively engages in interesting discussions via her feed @urban_formation.

9.  Moser Design Group by R. Eric Moser (Twitter @Moserdesign)

10.  Urbanism Speakeasy by Andy Boenau
We’re not sure if this qualifies as a blog since it is a podcast series… perhaps an audio blog. Andy is a active participant on Twitter .

PoorRichardv2_FrCoverPurchase your copy of Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners (Volume 2) today!

Available in print from Amazon, CreateSpace, and other online retailers.

Available on iBooks from the Apple iTunes Store and Kindle in the Kindle Store.


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Poor Richard Review | Planning Magazine | February 2014

“Poor Richard” Review | Planning Magazine
February 2014

Poor Richard, An Almanac for Architects and Planners by Mark David Major was reviewed by the American Planning Association’s regular Book Reviewer, Harold Henderson, in the February 2014 issue (“A thought a day”, page 51) of Planning Magazine.

Read an excerpt below:


The author seems to be following both Benjamin Franklin and Ambrose Bierce, and those are big shoes to fill. Not all the epigrams reach their mark, but the successful ones make it worthwhile. (Week 33, Day 5: “As obese the governed so shall be the entity that governs them.”)

Download a PDF of the full review here.

Poor Richard, An Almanac for Architects and Planners by Mark David Major  (Forum Books, 136 pages, black and white illustrations)

Available in print from Amazon, CreateSpace, and other online retailers.

Available in digital format from the Apple iTunes Store.

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New Media for Designers and Builders with Steve Mouzon | Urbanism Speakeasy

Steve Mouzon was recently a guest on the Urbanism Speakeasy podcast with Andy Boreau.

Excerpt below:

“OK, maybe I’m overemphasizing Steve’s point. We talk about what Steve calls “the era of the company” and “the age of the idea”. Steve thinks we’re moving into the age of the idea. That suggests individual thought and creativity is more important than an assembly line or factory mentality. If you’re a design professional, you know the factory mentality all too well. Professional planners and designers still predominantly live in an extinct era. See what you think about Steve’s prophecy of things to come.”

Listen to the podcast here: New media for designers and builders with Steve Mouzon | Urbanism Speakeasy.

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Genius of ‘Poor Richard’ Laughs Our Way to Great Cities

Genius of ‘Poor Richard’ Laughs Our Way to Great Cities

“You have to out-think the box before you can think outside of it.” – Poor Richard

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – Architect, urban planner and entrepreneur Mark David Major has seen a lot over 20 years of professional experience in academia and the public and private sector spanning the United States, Europe and other parts of the world. And much of it is bad… or worse. Major was born and raised in the Tower Grove neighborhood of St. Louis and attended Collinsville High School. He is a graduate of Clemson University in South Carolina and the University of London in the United Kingdom with Bachelors, a Masters, and PhD in Architecture.

Frustrated with the sprawling state of our cities and complicity of professionals charged with shepherding them, he decided to do something when he established The Outlaw Urbanist, a blog dedicated to architecture, urban design and planning issues. Then he began posting on Twitter, to date, more than 600 proverbs and witticisms to help professionals and laymen better understand what makes a great city, great architecture and good practice. The result is a series of sometimes biting, sometimes obscure, but always insightful proverbs using Benjamin Franklin’s 18th century Poor Richard pen name (“A penny saved is a penny earned”). Major admits the Poor Richard moniker is a homage to the wisdom of one of the America’s most famous Founding Fathers but also a subtle dig at American urban studies theorist, Richard Florida, who was recently named the World’s Most Influential Thinker in a published ranking by MIT Technology Review. Major points out, crucially, MIT’s ranking was based on the frequency of online social media mentions and not the content of those mentions. “Too often, we confuse talking with thinking,” said Major, “and we’re too thankful for half-wrong measures when it comes to our cities and architecture because we hope they are also half-right. The results are seldom satisfying.”

Major’s Twitter postings generated such a positive response that he collected together the first 366 proverbs in Poor Richard, An Almanac for Architects and Planners, first published in Spring 2013 but now available in digital format in Apple iBooks. The book contains a witticism for each day of the year plus one for years “in a state of leaping.” Major has continued writing and posting proverbs on Twitter. He plans to publish a follow-up book, Poor Richard, Another Almanac for Architects and Planners in 2014.

Drawing inspiration from Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and many others, Major crafts anew a series of general rules of thumb for anyone interested in the architecture, urban design and planning of our cities. The result is a stunning book marked as much by its breadth and depth as the brevity of its words on the subject. According to leading New Urbanist architect Julia Starr Sanford, in her Foreword to Major’s Poor Richard, the book represents “genius, extraordinary wit, passion for good design and mastery of the history of planning (in a) hilariously righteous epitome of 21st century sense and sensibility.” The unmistakable message of Major’s Poor Richard is we can do better for our cities, we must do better for our cities, and, before the 20th century, we did do better for our cities.

“Thomas Jefferson gave Americans the regular grid. A committee of roadway engineers gave us suburban sprawl. Always walk with giants, never ride in the clown car.” – Poor Richard

Poor Richard, An Almanac for Architects and Planners is a 136-page book with black and white illustrations published by Forum Books, available in print from Amazon, CreateSpace, and other online retailers and digital format from the Apple iTunes Store. Visit the author’s architecture, urban design and planning blog The Outlaw Urbanist for more information.

This article originally appeared on www.stltoday.com.

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