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June 9, 2011 - Urban Design and Planning

Field trip to Daybreak in South Jordan, Utah

Urban design encompasses such a broad scope of disciplines that it's hard to capture in a simple definition. Here's an attempt by
  • Urban design is about making connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. Urban design draws together the many strands of place-making, environmental stewardship, social equity and economic viability into the creation of places with distinct beauty and identity. Urban design is derived from but transcends planning and transportation policy, architectural design, development economics, engineering and landscape. It draws these and other strands together creating a vision for an area and then deploying the resources and skills needed to bring the vision to life. Okay. For another illustration, see these 14 categories on, a resource catch-all for urban designers. It leads you to think, "What ISN'T urban design?"

Since you can't seem to swing a cat without hitting a topic that relates to urban design, where do we focus? Let's start with our field trip. Daybreak is a community that would not exist without the Kennecott mine. Daybreak is built on land that was originally purchased by Kennecott so they would have somewhere to deposit the tailings from their operations. That land could have sat dormant, been sold, or been repurposed. Kennecott chose to repurpose, and they built a city. Since Daybreak was a reaction to a need, rather than an idea conceived out of pure creative vision, one might say that Daybreak is a very lovely byproduct of the mining industry.

The concept of repurposing space is big in urban design (i.e. retrofitting, rebuilding, redesigning), so let's focus there.

1) Daybreak - a presentation with more information about how Daybreak came about. This presentation is old (from when Daybreak was first being built), but it has some good information and photos. Note that on pages 8, 10, 16, and 18, if you pass your cursor over the bottom of the image a menu will appear. You can click the icon that looks like a speaker and you will get a short, narrated slideshow. (The full presentation only has 18 pages, so if you click past the 18 pages, you'll see a page titled "CONSTRUCTION," which means you're into a new, unrelated presentation).

2) New Orleans after Katrina and East Germany after WWII by Jeffrey Deifendorf- This is a very interesting article from the Journal of Urban Design comparing the rebuilding efforts of New Orleans after Katrina with those of East Germany after WWII.

3) Retrofitting Suburbia - A TED talk by Ellen Dunham-Jones. Ms. Dunham-Jones talks about new ideas for failing malls, big-box stores, parking lots, etc. in the suburbs.

We can meet as a group in Salt Lake and carpool, and pick up some folks on the way from I-15 out to Daybreak. Leave a comment here or respond to Carri's email if you want to coordinate logistics.