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Friday, April 21, 2017

Anti-terrorist urban design

As terrorist attacks continue to happen, most recently in Paris, we need think more creatively about how we respond to such attacks and what they mean for our cities. This piece in the magazine, World Finance, contains an interview with MDC Director, Thomas Fisher, about how urban design can offer some important anti-terrorism strategies.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Importance of Street Trees

This piece in Minneapolis's Star Tribune on the proper planting and care of street trees is part of a larger effort at the MDC on creating healthy communities, in which environmental, social, economic, and human health are inseparable and essential. Here is the link to the article:

Monday, December 5, 2016

skyways and streets

MDC Director wrote the following letter published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on December 5, 2016 in response to an editorial written about Eric Dayton's efforts to get people out of the downtown skyways and into the streets:

They are but one reason walkers opt against using street level

The point to make about Minneapolis’s skyways is not whether they are good or bad; they are, as the Star Tribune Editorial Board says, here to stay (“Find ways to improve skyways, streetscapes,” Nov. 28). The real issue is why Minneapolis has so many unpleasant streets. While the new Nicollet Mall, now under construction, will draw people out of the skyways, few other downtown streets ever will as long as they remain devoted to moving a maximum number of vehicles as fast as possible. We might learn from central Barcelona, Spain, in which through-traffic gets routed around “superblocks,” where the streets in multiblock areas provide vehicle access only to parking ramps, freeing up nearly 60 percent of the public right of way for pedestrians. Great cities have great streets, and if we want to be the former, we need more of the latter.

Tom Fisher, St. Paul

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Design Thinking Approach to Infrastructure

MDC Director, Thomas Fisher, was interviewed by Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns about the work that the MDC is doing to bring fresh ideas to our thinking about 21st century infrastructure. The podcast of the interview is available at:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

An Education in GeoDesign

The journal LAND has a special issue on GeoDesign that is worth reading. And while you are there, check out this essay by MDC Director Thomas Fisher entitled "An Education in GeoDesign."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Defeating Terrorism Through Design

The urban design implications of terrorism are enormous and are only now getting attention. This piece for the online public affairs journal, The Conversation, builds on the Chapter 9 in Designing our Way to a Better World to explore this topic and relate it to the on-demand economy emerging around the world. Here is a link to the full article:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Designing our Way to a Better World

The disruptions we see happening around the world - political disruptions like Brexit in the UK or the Sanders and Trump phenomena in the U.S.; social disruptions like the rise of random terrorist acts in cities or the protests against excessive violence in our streets; or environmental disruptions like the increasing intensity of storms or the increase in the number of people fleeing drought - are all indicative of political, social, and economic systems no longer functioning as they should. In my new book, just out from the University of Minnesota Press, entitled Designing our Way to a Better World, I talk about how design thinking and design methods can help us create better functioning systems with better outcomes for us all. Here is a link to the book: