News Brief

Solving Sprawl: Models of Smart Growth in Communities Across America

by F. Kaid Benfield, Jutka Terris and Nancy Vorsanger; foreword by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening. Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, 2001. Paperback, 212 pages, $20.00.

It’s easy to get depressed reading about sprawl. Dozens of books paint a bleak picture of the impact of automobiles and sprawl on our environment and well-being.

Solving Sprawlis different. It is an uplifting, highly readable book that leaves one optimistic about our ability to find real solutions to sprawl. The book tells the stories of 35 communities—from single buildings to entire town centers—each demonstrating more responsible alternatives to the automobile-based development patterns that have dominated the American landscape since the mid-1900s.

The communities described in the book are organized into three chapters. The first two, “Smart Cities” and “Smart Suburbs,” profile projects or communities in urban and suburban locales—though the distinction between these seems fairly arbitrary. The third chapter, “Smart Conservation,” looks at ten conservation efforts that are helping preserve open space.

Many of the projects and town centers profiled here are well known in green building and smart growth circles. Included are Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Mashpee Commons on Cape Cod, Denver Dry Goods in Colorado, Pulaski Station in Chicago, Second Street Studios in Santa Fe, Southside Park Cohousing in Sacramento, Orenco Station in Oregon, the Reston Town Center in Virginia, and Village Green in Los Angeles. Others projects may surprise readers—such as a Rutland, Vermont Wal-Mart.

The conservation projects profiled range from preservation of the Antietam Civil War Battlefield in Maryland to Boulder, Colorado’s growth-control strategies and Montgomery County, Maryland’s largest-in-the-nation farmland protection initiatives.

Interspersed throughout the book are “Snapshot” sidebars addressing specific issues relating to smart growth initiatives, affordable housing, and the environment.


Published May 1, 2002

(2002, May 1). Solving Sprawl: Models of Smart Growth in Communities Across America. Retrieved from

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