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Urban Designer and Author Julie Campoli Speaks at CAP Lecture Series

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October 18, 2016

As part of the Fall 2016 College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) lecture series, urban designer and author Julie Campoli spoke at a brown bag lunch event and an evening lecture—each which drew several dozen attendees—during her day-long visit to the college.

Campoli, who owns Burlington, Vermont-based practice, Terra Firma Urban Design, is author or co-author of three books addressing the urban form and its changing landscape, including her most recent title, Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form, which explores sustainable transportation in the built environment through use of photographs, montages, maps and diagrams of North American neighborhoods. In addition to her writing and work as a consultant through her design firm—which specializes in town design, land use analysis and site planning for affordable housing—Campoli conducts lectures and workshops throughout the United States on walkability, density, housing, sustainable transportation and green infrastructure.

Campoli’s afternoon lecture, Solvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved by Walking, explored how changes in transportation speed over the past century—such as through the evolution of the carriage, train, and finally, the automobile—has altered the urban landscape and its form. As a result, Campoli argues for a resurgence in walking as a primary mode of transportation, so as to lead to more humane cities and a higher quality of life

During her talk, Campoli noted two significant challenges to our health and built environment—the fact that people are no longer moving, and that they are separated from one another. At best, Campoli labels walking in our cities’ built environments as inconvenient; at worst, it can be dangerous. As a result, Campoli discussed how urban designers and planners have the opportunity to promote increased physical and social connection by retrofitting places to be denser and more compact. By redefining a place’s physical boundaries, and placing less focus on the needs of the automobile as it relates to land use and transportation decisions, Campoli advocates for attending to the needs of people who travel on foot. By doing so, our cities have occasion to serve as catalysts for increased social encounters that lead to a greater sense of happiness.

Campoli’s evening lecture, There Will Be Cupcakes: Gentrification and Displacement in Walkable Places, looked at how placing restored value in many of our inner-city neighborhoods via place-making and public investments has led to improved physical form and connectivity, but has also ushered in higher property values and the threat of cultural and economic displacement. Campoli asked some difficult questions—including how a neighborhood can be transformed while remaining home to its original residents, and how cities can address the growing need for increased affordable housing—by using the revitalization of Columbus, Ohio as a case study.

While answers to these questions are not easy to come by, Campoli examined several strategies to promote “development without displacement,” including strengthening the existing community through advocacy and representation; actively protecting a city’s most vulnerable citizens; protecting and preserving affordable housing; and enacting an inclusive planning process, including inclusionary zoning practices that require a certain percentage of housing units be kept at affordable rates.

For more information on Julie Campoli and her work, visit http://www.juliecampoli.com/.

Photo credit: http://www.juliecampoli.com/