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The Pedestrian Pocket Book: A New Suburban Design Strategy

Peter Calthorpe, Doug Kelbaugh (ed.), et al

Rallying architects and planners around an effort to urbanize the suburbs, the authors of The Pedestrian Pocket Book develop a cohesive vision for the foundation of change.  The Pedestrian Pocket, “a simple cluster of housing, retail space and offices within a quarter-mile walking radius of a transit system,” answers the rapid privatization, depersonalization and fragmentation of suburbia with a model that relies upon mass transit, higher density development and quality public space.  The result is a mid-use town that offers its heterogeneous population true pedestrian accessibility and a sense of place. 

The Pedestrian Pocket Book documents a one-week design workshop, involving eight architects and sixty students, which explored this model.  Teams lead by Peter Calthorpe and Doug Kelbaugh, Harrison Fraker and Daniel Solomon, Mark Mack and Don Prowler, and David Sellers and Bob Small sought solutions to the residential, commercial and “back-office” development of a ninety-acre site in Auburn, Washington.  The written commentary provides an overview of the Pedestrian Pocket concept and the four proposals produced in the charrette, and is illustrated with the project designs.  

The Pedestrian Pocket Book is a search for nothing less than a new American dream – one that restores public life in our communities.  It reminds us that architects can be idealists too, and are capable of helping instigate reconsiderations of how we live our lives.

“A very sophisticated concept…that differs in significant ways from other schemes for reordering suburbs.”
-Thomas Fisher, Progressive Architecture