Quotes and Notes from the NCSU College of Design Urban Design Conference 2011(#ncsuudc2011)

First of all, I want to congratulate the NC State University College of Design, the City of Raleigh Planning Department and all the sponsors for putting on a sharp, timely and powerful conference. I also want to thank those sponsors who were able to keep the student rates of attendance low. Also enjoyed meeting almost all of the speakers and a few attendees. Let’s keep in touch!

The North Carolina State University College of Design, in conjunction with the City of Raleigh Planning Department gathered a conference of urban  leaders and students of all stripes  focused on the theme Sustainable Suburbs-ReImagining the Inner Ring in Downtown Raleigh on Saturday February 12. Through host Marvin Malecha, Dean of the College of Design, and moderator Mary Newsom, associate editor at the Charlotte Observer and author of the Naked City blog on urban development, design and policy, attendees learned suburban solutions from the following speakers/panelists:

  • William “Bill” Hudnut- The Fork in the Road Facing First Tier Suburbs
  • Patrick Condon- Seven Simple Urban Design Rules to Save the Planet
  • Ellen Dunham-Jones Retrofitting Suburbs
  • John Knott- Sustainably Restoring the Health of Our Cities
  • James Rojas- Latino Urbanism: Transforming the Suburbs
  • Patrick Phillips- Not Your Father’s Housing Market: Observations Following the Crisis and What it Means for Sustainable Suburbs
  • Everyone, with Mitchell Silver- The Suburban Challenge, Beyond Design

Every presentation agreed that we need to begin retrofitting suburbs, and incorporating diversity, better transportation options, financial stability and homes that reflect character of people and neighborhoods they are in. In addition, several speakers and attendees were past, present and future presidents/national board members of the main professional organizations for designers and planners. This wealth of leadership and knowledge, along with the presence of elected officials and other decision-makers made this conference stand out as a practical, inspirational resource, not just an ideas fest. Here are some of the best quotes of the day:

  • “We cannot ignore the suburbs…they can be sustainable”- Marvin Malecha
  • “[this is] the century of the suburb”- Mary Newsom
  • Green is green, not Red or Blue [politics]- Bill Hudnut
  • “1st tier suburbs are fork in road, metropolitan pivot point”-Bill Hudnut
  • Density doesn’t need to look dense- Patrick Condon
  • Elderly Boomers are Yeepies-youthful, energetic,elderly people into anything- Ellen Dunham-Jones
  • [I am] in the human habitat and community development business- not the development business- John Knott
  • Core of city problems is the ignorance of history of the area, especially low/middle income areas.-John Knott
  • Upwardly mobile immigrant households will be a new market for McMansions-Patrick Phillips
  • NC State University is putting eight dollars back into economy for every dollar it puts in- Marvin Malecha

Additional conversation focused on the need for collaboration between professional groups(planners, architects, academics, etc.), a special need for more city and county managers, as well as elected officials in the room and a special challenge to the students, especially those under 30. Also, Rojas’s presentation spoke for itself, pictures telling the story of how a culture outside of the mainstream approached the suburban landscape and story.

I also like to note that this site is a manifestation of the challenge to people under 30, to do what I can to re-design the world. I may not be a technical design person, but I know I can tell the story. To anyone reading this who was attending today, let us continue this challenge together.