But what about habitable space? Landscape Urbanism would, I think, hold Radburn, NJ, up as the exemplar, the community to be emulated.
|Radburn, NJ. Credit: The Urbanerds|
Just the same with Landscape Urbanism. Waldheim denies that he's defending the suburbs, but if one looks at their loftiest living-space ideals, and the history of those ideals, there can be no doubt that a Landscape Urbanist mentality will lead us right back into traditional suburbia. Waldheim may be a new Ebenezer Howard, and James Corner Frederick Law Olmsted, but it was the catch-22 Mumford noted: without careful planning, landscape planning devolves into something else, something much worse.
This isn't to say that Radburn is a bad sort of place--but with the resources needed to get Radburn right, a certain rarity value is needed--and with that rarity value, expense. The lowest common denominator of the Levittowns and their progeny is unsustainable. A handful of Radburns can be--but that's the key--a handful. There are not enough resources available in this country, or even on this earth, to sustainably house the United States' population in a way befitting Landscape Urbanism's Radburn ambitions; to do it quickly would involve a coarsening of design that would be indistinguishable from Levittown and benefit no one.
* Pretty as Central Park, Prospect Park, the Emerald Necklace, and other assorted Olmsted parks are, they are extremely unsophisticated in light of today's landscape design techniques. They discount the natural "lay of the land" in their settings and are instead highly engineered green sculptures. Indeed, the weaving of ecology in has been one of landscape design's most stunning successes over the past century.
** Also, Radburn is a rail-oriented design. The town focus is the train station, and the main retail strip is centered on it.