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Peter Calthorpe Is Still Fighting Sprawl—With Software

In an interview, the leading New Urbanist Peter Calthorpe discusses autonomous rapid transit, Buckminster Fuller, NIMBYism, and his new urban-planning software.
Peter Calthorpe
Peter CalthorpeUrbanFootprint

The architect and urban designer Peter Calthorpe was an advocate of transit-oriented development (TOD) and smart growth long before those concepts were buzzwords. In fact, as one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism and the author of the first TOD guidelines (as well as numerous influential books), Calthorpe has done as much as anyone to re-focus American urbanism on walkable, dense, sustainable, transit-rich environments.

Now, in an attempt to spread this knowledge even more widely, Calthorpe has released a new urban-planning software, UrbanFootprint, which will soon be available to virtually every city and government agency in California. (The company behind the software, which is co-led by Calthorpe and Joe DiStefano, is separate from the planning firm Calthorpe Associates.) Calthorpe compares UrbanFootprint to Sim City because it allows non-experts to model the impacts of different urban planning scenarios, such as zoning changes and road reconfigurations. He hopes it will help planners, politicians, and citizens’ groups communicate the benefits of the kind of urban environments he has spent his career advocating for and creating.