NWReporter logo
Serving More Than 25,000 Real Estate Professionals in the

August 2013

Urbanism Without Effort

By NWREporter

August 2013

With all of today's buzzwords, such as pop-up, insurgent, green, and transit-oriented, the author of a new book suggests we lose sight of the fact that the most enduring, vibrant aspects of city life aren't engineered by professionals. Before we can create vibrant, sustainable urban areas, we need to understand what happens naturally when people congregate in cities, says Charles R. (Chuck) Wolfe, author of Urbanism Without Effort.

Described as a "strikingly illustrated, lively and uncomplicated read," the book explores what happens naturally when people congregate in cities - "innate, unprompted interactions of urban dwellers with each other and their surrounding urban and physical environment." The author, a Seattle land use and environmental attorney and board member at Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northwest District Council, explores underlying rationales for urban policy, planning and regulation from a historical perspective.

Through photographs and vignettes, Wolfe maintains that good urban places can never be created by merely copying what works elsewhere. Instead, he explains how imported principles can be carefully adapted to fit a new context with impressive results.

Wolfe believes city dwellers invariably celebrate environments where and when they can co-exist safety and in a mutually supportive way. He also contends such celebration - and successful community - is most interesting when it occurs in a mutually supportive way.

In his law practice, Wolfe counsels clients on ways to achieve successful redevelopment of infill properties under federal, state, and local regulatory regimes.  He is also an affiliate associate professor in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington. Wolfe writes for several publications including The Huffington Post, Grist, The Atlantic, seattlepi.com, and Crosscut.

Urbanism Without Effort (www.urbanismwithouteffort.com) is an electronic-only book from the Island Press Essentials program.

The Urban Land Institute is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.