Writing and conversing about the urban experience has made one thing clear. Short of the word “urbanism” and its modified variants, there is no one English word which holistically captures the qualities of livable cites or the associated metrics that many commentators tout and exemplify.
Portland’s Jason King supports this point in his wonderful article,”[Fill in the Blank] Urbanism,” which I noted in March. King’s article profiled the range of paired terms which modify the basic urbanism premise–and asked readers to name a favorite.
Others have described the inadequacy of commonly used catchwords. Writing in the Washington Post, on May 8, architect Roger Lewis called for terms far more descriptive than “transit-oriented development” (TOD) to describe the qualities of walkable cities, calling for “multimodal TOD’s”.
Similarly, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Green Lab Director, Liz Dunn, working with Walk Score’s Matt Lerner, have advocated for a Jane Jacobs-based comprehensive metric, the Jane Score, to more completely measure urban diversity and “granularity” and supplement the increasingly recognized Walk Score tool.
With such ever-expanding and thoughtful efforts to diversify the measures applicable to a renewed, compact, walkable, and multimodal urban fabric, it would help to have one word to describe the phenomenon.
I suggest that we are talking about recalibrating urbandwidth around the world.
(This article appears in slightly different form in seattlepi.com on July 21, here. Thanks also to Planetizen for incorporating the original form of this article under the headline “For Lack of a Better Term,” here.)