TED lecturer Ellen Dunham-Jones, an architecture and urban design professor at Georgia Tech, thinks that a major trend for the next 50 years should be “retrofitting suburbia,” she argues. Underutilized areas are wasting space in many suburbs. Dunham-Jones says these frequently include “dying malls,” half empty parking lots, and underperforming strip malls and big box stores. Instead of continuing to eat up more and more green space on the edges of town, she suggests plenty of ways to redesign or redevelop existing suburban communities.
“What do you do with a dead mall or parking lot?” she asks and answers in her lecture. She gives a lot of solid examples of retrofits that have benefited suburban dwellers across the U.S. Art spaces, nursing homes, universities, office spaces, churches, libraries, upscale grocers, and green spaces have all given such spaces a second life. Some of the examples of success stories she talks about actually created brand new main streets and urbanized hubs.
As with many TED lectures, Dunham-Jones’ ideas have traveled via internet to all corners of the globe. Young writer Rashiq Fataar, who started social media website Future Cape Town to encourage 21st-century ready initiatives in Cape Town, South Africa, credits Dunham-Jones in his piece “4 Principles for Re-Designing the Suburbs for the Future.” This post is another interesting read with practical suggestions that can apply to any place, anywhere.
Jennifer Eberbach is a journalist in Ann Arbor, MI. Visit her at www.jenthewriter.info, or contact her at email@example.com