Criteria of Rebuilding
In order to represent the greatest range of American cities, we selected projects and strategies that fit the following criteria:
- Projects located in the city’s downtown.1.
- Projects that are contemporary and substantially complete. While many projects in the book may have been conceptualized or initiated by as far back as the mid to late 1990s, for the purposes of our research, substantial components of the plan must have been realized by the time of publication even if they continue to be adapted by the forces that initially shaped them.
- Projects that utilize a diverse range of planning tools and mechanisms for implementation.
- Projects demonstrating a range of design innovation. We strived to avoid advancing a singular design aesthetic, highlighting instead the plurality of the design cultures at work today.
- Projects that catalyze further redevelopment or transformation. Admittedly, it is difficult to fully define a project’s influence, and impact varies greatly depending on where they lie and for whom projects are intended.
In addition to the above criteria, we also sought to ensure the projects reflected:
- A geographic distribution across the United States. We intentionally selected cities representing different regions and climates. In no way do we want to suggest that this list is complete. On the contrary, we will be forever haunted by great cities we have not been able to include in this compendium (Pittsburgh! Chicago! Boston! Los Angeles! Miami!).
- A range of scales and economies. It was important to highlight cities sharing common trajectories, such as legacy cities that may be shrinking or economically stagnant (City, 2013), growth cities that are “booming” and global cities engaged in the transnational economic network (Sassen, 1991).
- Compelling stories of how the projects were achieved. Rebuilding does not just represent our own viewpoints or the designers’ perspectives. The inclusion of “perspectives” behind each case provides intimate—and multiple— lenses to tell the stories of that project, its city and constituents and their co-evolutions (Erlich & Raven, 1964). We sought to call attention to the routine as well as the idiosyncratic details behind each project. Taken as a whole, the spectrum of cases exposes both achievements and pitfalls implicit in rebuilding cities. We sought to show the range of insights into the ways in which urban actors capitalize, defuse, deflect or avoid complexities.
- A diversity of urban design and planning firms. Like the cities themselves, the project designers are intentionally diverse, representing both large and small practices and falling under (or blending across) diverse disciplinary categories spanning architecture, landscape architecture, landscape urbanism, urban design, development, building construction, economic development and municipal planning.
- A full spectrum of urban design action. Urban design is a relatively young design discipline, conceived as a hybrid practice to blend capabilities of planning with formal considerations of architecture (Krieger, 2009). How one defines urban design varies even today, but general assumptions hold that the discipline involves conceptualizing permanent constructions or landscape systems incorporating multiple buildings, blocks or spaces with connections to infrastructural systems. We sought projects for this book that either embodied or challenged this traditional notion of urban design.
1.In some cases, such as San Antonio, St. Louis or Portland, the project area is not located directly in the downtown business core, but rather the general downtown area.