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Environmental Sciences | Designing Suburban Futures - New Models from Build a Better Burb

Designing Suburban Futures

New Models from Build a Better Burb

Williamson, June

2013, XXII, 138 p.


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  • Well-known author of leading book in this subject area
  • Beautiful four-color book design to showcase the case studies
  • Suburban retrofit put in contemporary context of increasing resilience of urban regions

Suburbs deserve a better, more resilient future. June Williamson shows that suburbs aren't destined to remain filled with strip malls and excess parking lots; they can be reinvigorated through inventive design. Drawing on award-winning design ideas for revitalizing Long Island, she offers valuable models not only for U.S. suburbs, but also those emerging elsewhere with global urbanization.

Williamson argues that suburbia has historically been a site of great experimentation and is currently primed for exciting changes. Today, dead malls, aging office parks, and blighted apartment complexes are being retrofitted into walkable, sustainable communities. Williamson shows how to expand this trend, highlighting promising design strategies and tactics.

She provides a broad vision of suburban reform based on the best schemes submitted in Long Island's highly successful "Build a Better Burb" competition. Many of the design ideas and plans operate at a regional scale, tackling systems such as transit, aquifer protection, and power generation. While some seek to fundamentally transform development patterns, others work with existing infrastructure to create mixed-use, shared networks.

Designing Suburban Futures
offers concrete but visionary strategies to take the sprawl out of suburbia, creating a vibrant, new suburban form. It will be especially useful for urban designers, architects, landscape architects, land use planners, local policymakers and NGOs, citizen activists, students of urban design, planning, architecture, and landscape architecture.

Content Level » Lower undergraduate

Keywords » Bourgeois utopias - Broadacre City - Retrofitting suburbia - Suburban sprawl - Urban design

Related subjects » Ecology - Environmental Sciences - Geography

Table of contents 


Ellen Dunham-Jones


Context for Change

Design Culture Responds to Sprawl: 1960s to 2010s

Better Suburban Futures

Build a Better Burb 2010: Instructions and Commentary

Winning and Noteworthy Competition Schemes

Sited in the Setback: Increasing Density in Levittown

Upcycling 2.0


Building C-Burbia

SUBHUB Transit System

Long Division

LIRR: Long Island Radically Rezoned

Noteworthy Competition Schemes


Epilogue: New Roles for Architecture and Urban Design. A conversation with Kazys Varnelis

Selected Bibliography



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