The Strong Towns Podcast

Absolution and the Changing American City

June 21, 2018

This is our third dispatch from the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), which took place in Savannah, Georgia in May. Chuck Marohn attended CNU and hosted a series of in-depth podcast conversations about some of the most pressing topics for cities today, with leaders, thinkers, and activists in a whole range of fields. Now we're bringing those podcasts to your ears throughout the summer.

In this episode, David Rau, a New York-city based architect and Steve Mouzon, an architect and author of The Original Green, discuss the past, present and future of American architecture. They contemplate what it means for a new generation to reject or forgive the design choices of previous generations, particularly in light of recent conversations about the removal of Confederate monuments in American cities.

Questions discussed in this podcast include:

  • What are the key differences between traditional architecture and modern architecture?
  • Is a willingness to accept or reject changes as humans wired into our DNA? Are liberals more interested in moving forward and conservatives more interested in keeping this as they are?
  • How does the concept of absolution apply to current conversations about new urbanism? What does the process of absolution look like?
  • How can we be fair judges of city builders in the past while still maintaining a critical eye toward their failings? As city builders today, how would we want to be judged by future generations?
  • Is our ability to absolve people and places of the past correlated with the level of power we have or have not gained today?
  • What makes a place "lovable?"