Lux + Civitas

Cities are humanity's greatest invention, generating cultural and economy that would, otherwise, be impossible. At their best, they provide simultaneous equity and diversity, and reduce civilization's overall negative impact on the environment. Cities are defined by constant change, limited geography, and people finding ways to live and work congenially together. Because of these factors, individual interests may be at odds with what is best for the most people.  For urban progress to occur, balance between the two must be sought, and citizens must find an alternative to both universal veto power, and mob rule.  

Civitas is the latin word for not only a group of individual citizens, but the social contract that binds them together. It reflects an understanding that we have not only individual rights, but responsibilities to one another. Lux, the word for light, reflects an acknowledgement that facts are not enough, "truth" can , and 

As population, property values, and economic activity increase, previous uses of that limited real estate can come into conflict with each other. On our streets, which constitute the majority of the public realm in neighborhoods like Old City, that means economic growth can inadvertently lead to congestion and unpleasant or unsafe traffic conditions that ultimately risk choking off opportunity. During these times, it is the responsibility of people to come together, both as business districts and municipal government, to make informed decisions about how we can better utilize streets, and what infrastructure changes are necessary to help change behavior and generate those results. Rather than protecting individual interests, what design does the most good for the most people?America spent the better part of the 20th Century reacting to the 19th Century industrial city by experimenting on the human landscape with Modernism - essentially the belief that all aspects of life could be deconstructed, specialized, and mechanized, and that people are just cogs in the wheel of progress.  The result was a built environment designed around cars, highways, corporations, and global economic forces, ultimately 

The time for experimentation has passed; 

Listen to the People

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Aenean eu justo sed elit dignissim aliquam. Mauris egestas at nibh nec finibus.

Test: Does it Scale Up?

Immanuel Kant proposed that the ethics of individual choices be assessed by the "categorical imperative;" in other words, an individual choice is only ethical if it can scale up to being universally applied.  

Kant's proposal can be usefully applied when solving urban challenges: while any one decision may be completely acceptable on an individual basis, what happens when greater and greater numbers of people behave in a similar manner? The more a behavior can scale up, the more appropriate it is for an urban environment.

Design to People

People are rational actors, who cannot necessarily be expected to consider Kantian ethics or broader social consequences of their actions. Too often, entrepreneurs, public officials, and design professionals aspire to behavioral outcomes (step into this shop, ride that bus, rent this apartment, walk around that neighborhood) without adequeatly considering the needs and preferences of the targeted end-user. 

By "designing to people" rather than wishing them to conform to your expectations, you can generate the outcomes you pursue.

Applying this philosophy to urban placemaking... we're reminded that 

Human scale for cities that think big.