Urban designer Peter Calthorpe on how smart growth can ease our carbon footprint, make living more affordable
About Peter Calthorpe
Peter Calthorpe has been named one of 25 “innovators on the cutting edge” by Newsweek Magazine for his work redefining the models of urban and suburban growth in America. Throughout his long and honored career in urban design, planning, and architecture, he has been a pioneer of innovative approaches to urban revitalization, suburban growth, and regional planning.
In the 1986 he, along with Sim Van der Ryn, published Sustainable Communities, a book that inspired several generations of new thinking in environmental design and helped launch ‘sustainability’ as a defining goal of many ecological efforts. In the early 90’s he developed the concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) highlighted in The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream, an idea that is now the foundation of many national policies and best planning practices. Around the same time he became a founder of the Congress for New Urbanism and was its first board president, helping launch a movement that has helped to transform planning and development in the USA.
In 2001 he published The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl with Bill Fulton, explaining how regional-scale planning and design can integrate urban revitalization and suburban renewal into a coherent vision of metropolitan growth. His seminal regional plans for Portland, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and post-hurricane Southern Louisiana created a more interactive approach to environmental design at the Metropolitan scale. His book Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change documents new work and analysis relating patterns of development to energy and carbon consumption, along with other environmental, social and economic impacts. Recently he led a groundbreaking state-wide urban design effort, Vision California, to inform the implementation of the state’s Climate Change legislation.
Mr. Calthorpe has lectured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. He has taught at U.C. Berkeley, the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, and the University of North Carolina. Over the years he has received numerous honors and awards, including appointment to the President’s Council for Sustainable Development. During the Clinton presidency, Mr. Calthorpe provided direction for HUD’s Empowerment Zone and Consolidated Planning Programs as well as the Hope VI program to rebuild some of the country’s worst public housing projects.
After studying at Yale’s Graduate School of Architecture, he joined the Farrallones Institute as Director of Design. Beginning private practice in 1978, with the firm of Van der Ryn, Calthorpe and Partners, his work ranged from large community plans to energy efficient residential and commercial buildings. His architecture, planning, and research from this period established his leadership in passive solar design, producing three National HUD awards. Since forming Calthorpe Associates in 1983, his work expanded to include major projects in urban, new town, and suburban settings within the United States and abroad. Internationally his work in Europe, Asia and the Middle East has demonstrated that community design with a focus on environmental sustainability and human scale can be adapted throughout the globe.
Through design, innovation, publications, and realized projects, Peter Calthorpe’s 30 year practice has helped solidify a national trend towards the key principles of New Urbanism: that successful places – whether neighborhoods, villages, or urban centers – must be diverse in use and user, human scaled, and environmentally sustainable. In recognition of this broad body of work, he was awarded ULI’s prestigious “J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development” in 2006.