"Andres Duany is heading a team of more than 100 new urban experts - architects, planners, transportation specialists - from across the nation who hope to show South Mississippi one possible vision for the future in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," SunHerald.com of Biloxi reports. Duany, one of the founders of the New Urbanism movement - and co-author of one of my all-time favorite books on planning, Suburban Nation - says the Congress of New Urbanism will be sending teams of planners to many damaged communities, where residents can decide if they want to incorporate tents of smart growth when they rebuild.
Obviously, no one wants to have their community destroyed in order to get better planning and design. However, in the wake of the vast damage from Hurricane Katrina, area residents will have a chance to decide whether they want a new vision for their towns, or to try to rebuild as it was.
My guess is that many communities won't want the full New Urbanist concept of higher density, mixed-use development. However, if they take some of the ideas to ensure walkability and sense of place instead of sprawl, they'll benefit from the planners' work.