November 21 2013

New and Improved: A Book Review for Charter of the New Urbanism, 2nd Edition

It might have been 14 years, but we have a Charter Book back in print again. The Congress for the New Urbanism has updated the classic book, long out of print, based on the CNU Charter that was signed in 1996. The Charter itself remains unchanged; this edition of the book simply advances the original principles into a contemporary context. With a renewed focus on sustainability and the ways our understanding of the built environment have changed, this book is a must-have in any professional office.

Charter of The New Urbanism Second Edition Book Cover

The Charter of the New Urbanism highlights each Charter principle and offers practical examples, explanations, and case studies that show how these concepts can be implemented in today’s regions, cities, and communities. These valuable case studies make this an indispensable resource for any design professional. Sixty-three authors, including world-class planners, architects and other professionals, describe strategies that range from large-scale regions to blocks, streets and buildings.

Individual authors elaborate on every Charter principle, giving each the depth of understanding it deserves. Victor Dover, for example, expands on the 23rd Charter principle as he refers to the historic significance of a street: “A street was not just a conduit for moving cars and trolleys through, but also a place in its own right for socializing, entertainment, commerce and civic expression.”

“Why a 2nd edition?” you may ask. A lot has changed since the original Charter book was written in the mid-90s. The updated version accounts for some of the most recent developments in planning practice including the urban-to-rural transect, form-based codes, Light Imprint community design, retrofitting suburbia, the Canons of Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism, and the popular Tactical Urbanism movement – none of which were terms when the first edition was published. The all-new diagrams, renderings, and photographs (including a few from yours truly) that accompany essays and case studies throughout the book add another layer of understanding and bring the book up-to-date.

MiMo Streetscape Featured Image

Which of the Charter principles do you think is the most important for improving our cities and towns?

The Charter of the New Urbanism, 2nd Edition is available from McGraw Hill in soft cover. The Grid is giving away 3 FREE copies of the book. Follow the link to Rafflecopter Giveaway to enter for a chance to win your free copy. Best of luck and happy reading!

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Jennifer Garcia

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and principles of the New Urbanism as a Town Planner at Dover, Kohl & Partners. Based on careful research, she designs each project within the context of the local architectural language, distinct culture, and regional settlement patterns. She proudly holds a Master of Architecture from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Traveling has taught her to immerse herself into each place’s history, culture, traditions, and how they contribute to the range of urbanism and local vernacular. She also enjoys blogging as a local transit advocate for Transit Miami. Her daily bicycle commutes reinforce her belief in nurturing a living urbanism with livable streets.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 21st, 2013 at 10:29 am and is filed under Book Review, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


3 Responses to “New and Improved: A Book Review for Charter of the New Urbanism, 2nd Edition”

  1. Rosabella Says:

    One of the issues that I really hope this book addresses is the fact that the old model that New Urbanism presents itself as an alternative to (mid-century suburbia, emphasis on the private car and highways, segregated zoning), itself developed as a response to the problems brought on by “traditional” urbanism. Let’s be honest, the principles of New Urbanism work when cities have good sanitation, health systems, decent housing, the streets are multi-layered, decent public transportation, and pollution controls (no factories spewing dark smoke into the air and polluting the water).

  2. Christine Says:


    Great point about the current model being a response to the problems of old density. I see a lot of relentless criticism for the isolation of suburbia and its use of resources, but privacy and peace (+ a sense of ownership) is a benefit that may be lost on those that have never experienced city life (many at this point).

    And Jennifer: very cool that your photographs are included in the book! How did you manage that??? :)

  3. Jennifer Garcia Says:

    A valid point Rosabella! And that is exactly what’s “new” about New Urbanism. In fact, there’s a full essay at the start the book about what’s new in New Urbanism. The article explains that good urbanism requires a comprehensive understanding of how all the systems of the built environment work together. And that’s what the New Urbanists are trying to accomplish: A careful analysis and implementation of all systems and details that combine together to create successful cities and towns.
    Christine, this also includes the idea that there should be a full range of housing types from the most urban to the most rural, allowing each person to choose the environment that best fits their needs and lifestyle. I think that one of the biggest problems with suburbia right now is that there is an oversupply of large lot single family houses that, while certainly have many benefits, are not equipped to meet the needs of baby boomers that are retiring and millenials that are looking for a different environment.
    And it was easier than you would think to get my images in the book, I just responded at the right time when they were putting the second edition together :)

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