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The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream

The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream

by Peter Calthorpe. Princeton Architectural Press, 1993. Paperback. 175 pages. $24.95.


A model transit-oriented development from The Next American Metropolis

Peter Calthorpe’s latest book is a guide for planners and designers of communities. It begins with a series of essays outlining all the problems with neighborhoods and towns being built today. His discussions of the “crisis of place” and the mentality that makes all housing either “low-density unaffordable or high-density undesirable,” are convincing arguments for the need to rethink how we build housing.

Modeled after A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander et al., the book’s main part, entitled “Guidelines,” is broken up into a series of short patterns for community design. The guiding principle throughout is that residents shouldn’t be dependent on cars to get around. To this end Calthorpe offers a sequence of design models he calls “transit-oriented development.” These models vary according to density and proximity to an urban core, but they all center around the rail station or bus stop. Commercial areas, residential areas, public spaces, services, and circulation patterns are all designed to provide maximum access within a reasonable walking distance.

The Next American Metropolis ends with a series of case studies from Calthorpe’s own work. These include designs for the redevelopment of whole regions, layouts for new towns and neighborhoods, and designs for the area around transit stations. The color plates in this section work well to illustrate how the principles outlined in the earlier sections are modified and adapted to circumstances. On the whole, the book offers convincing evidence that there are feasible alternatives to conventional suburban sprawl. It’s worth looking at, whether you design towns or just like to think about them.



Published September 1, 1993

(1993, September 1). The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream. Retrieved from

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