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Duany: Detroit is 1st 21st Century City

Posted to on Friday, September 20, 2013

INTRO: Mayors and managers from dozens of Michigan cities are meeting today and tomorrow at the Marriott Hotel in the Ren Cen. Experts are talking about how to navigate municipal bankruptcy. The event is put on by The Michigan Municipal League. Michigan Now’s Chris McCarus reports.

The lawyers and the bankers are here too. But Andres Duany is not interested in them. Duany is an architect who’s designed hundreds of model cities including Seaside, Florida and Kentlands, Maryland. He helped create the New Urbanism movement 30 years ago. He says his generation was able to plan cities right because they had the money. But when the banking and housing crash hit in 2008, it revealed many cities were broke like Detroit. So Detroit is what he calls the true 21st century city that will be a model for others.

“It’s in worse condition than most but this is a clear example of what’s happening in other cities invisibly. I think these young people that are getting things done here under the very light hand of government… I think it’s a great lesson for everybody.

“Elsewhere the bureaucracy has become so out of control. And here you come to Detroit and they don’t have the money to run a bureaucracy. So basically the kids are coming and taking over, doing things they can’t do anywhere else.

“Detroit is like fresh snow. It’s fresh and you can get things done. The most that would happen is an inspector would come over and say: kids don’t hurt yourself.”

Duany is speaking today and tomorrow at the Michigan Municipal League conference in Detroit.

Bio of Andres Duany written from MML conference:
Andres Duany is an architect whose work focuses on the planning of communities. He and his wife, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, founded their practice Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company in 1980, at the time of their design of Seaside, which began an ongoing debate on the alternatives to suburban sprawl. Since then, DPZ, their planning practice, has completed well over two hundred downtown and new town plans. They have particular expertise in writing codes. This work has generally been received with awards and publication. Their firm currently has six partners and employs about 30 persons dedicated to both practice and research.
Andres and Elizabeth were founding members of the Congress for the New Urbanism. They teach Traditional Town Planning at the University of Miami, where Elizabeth is dean of the School of Architecture. Andres has co-authored three widely distributed books. The most recent is “The Smart Growth Manual” which describes the problems of American cities and proposes techniques that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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