Friday, October 5, 2012

Walkability Schmalkability: Cognitive Dissonance of Simulation and Simulacra

Don't always believe what you hear or read (even this!).  I don't even know how I came across this article about a supposedly new urbanist-y new development in Illinois, but it couldn't be a better possible example of when terms like walkability, livability, sustainability, etc. become completely disembodied from any real meaning, and in turn, become marketese, empty vague vessels for you, the consumer, to fill with whatever happy thoughts you might.

For example:


The idea, he explained, is about “a sense of place, diversity and connectivity.”
“People need to be able to walk out their door, walk to the park, walk to their neighbors, walk to the shops, without having the need to get in their car every time they need to go somewhere,” he said.

Behold:

Fremont Commons developmen t

Hmmm. That looks suspiciously like a diamond freeway interchange.  Not looking good so far for that promise of walkability...



Hmmm again.  That looks like a conventional suburban development.  I count one (1) strip center, thirteen pad sites (13), one (1) cul-de-sac, no (0) access between the residential and retail, and zero (0) homes that actually front on the waterfront park/lake thing, essentially privatizing it.  Might as well put a golf course in there and throw a gate around it and call it a day.

Oh, and this is from a firm in Texas.