Posted on April 1, 2013

Invited speaker at the National Conference of the American Planning Association, Chicago, April 15, 2013 [a talk, intended as a provocation to planning].

Excerpt: Planning has unlearned to envision possibilities as it shifted emphasis towards bureaucratic policymaking, statistical measuring, and public poling. Understanding itself increasingly as a service provider and problem solver, it lost track of its initial visionary potential. But, maybe not all is lost. Planning could gain escape velocity by taking stock of Chicago’s productive history of urbanism, which John Wellborn Root (of Burnham & Root) described around 1890 as follows: ”In America we are free of artistic tradition. Our freedom begets license, it is true. We do shocking things, we produce works of architecture [planning] … irredeemably bad; we try crude experiments that result in disaster. Yet somehow in this mass of ungoverned energies lies the principle of life.” …