Glimpsing America’s Suburban Future

Sequel to SuburbiaMIT Press has published an interesting new book on suburban planning and design entitled A Sequel to Suburbia: Glimpses of America’s Post-Suburban Future. Penned by  Nicholas A. Phelps, a professor of urban and regional development at University College London, the book includes a lengthy case-study on Schaumburg IL as well as on two other paradigmatic suburbs: downtown Kendall, Florida near Miami; and Tysons (formerly Tysons Corner) near Alexandria, Virginia.

The book’s highlighting of Schaumburg as “a regional capital for Chicago’s northwest suburbs” is of particular interest to the authors and readers of Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future blog, and further establishes Schaumburg’s relevance in the scholarly literature on suburban planning and sustainable development.

See this informative review by Kevin Sloan on The Nature of Cities blog, and check out the book’s website here, from which the following is quoted.

In the years after World War II, a distinctly American model for suburban development emerged. The expansive rings of outer suburbs that formed around major cities were decentralized and automobile oriented, an embodiment of America’s postwar mass-production, mass-consumption economy. But alternate models for suburbia, including “transit-oriented development,” “smart growth,” and “New Urbanism,” have inspired critiques of suburbanization and experiments in post-suburban ways of living. In Sequel to Suburbia, Nicholas Phelps considers the possible post-suburban future, offering historical and theoretical context as well as case studies of transforming communities.

Phelps first locates these outer suburban rings within wider metropolitan spaces, describes the suburbs as a “spatial fix” for the postwar capitalist economy, and examines the political and governmental obstacles to reworking suburban space. He then presents three glimpses of post-suburban America, looking at Kendall-Dadeland (in Miami-Dade County, Florida), Tysons Corner (in Fairfax County, Virginia), and Schaumburg, Illinois (near Chicago). He shows Kendall-Dadeland to be an isolated New Urbanism success; describes the re-planning of Tysons Corner to include a retrofitted central downtown area; and examines Schaumburg’s position as a regional capital for Chicago’s northwest suburbs. As these cases show, the reworking of suburban space and the accompanying political process will not be left to a small group of architects, planners, and politicians. Post-suburban politics will have to command the approval of the residents of suburbia.

2015. ISBN: 9780262029834. MIT Press. 248 pages.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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