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Sprawl of Death

“People say Intelligent Design, we must teach Intelligent Design. Look at the human body, is that intelligent? You have a waste processing plant next to a recreation area.�

-Robin Williams in the Man of the Year

First off being completely free of the constraints of “architecture school� is a wonderful thought in itself. But I digress; one of the biggest problems that I see and would love to have a hand in change is Urban Sprawl. Urban Sprawl eats up more natural environment faster then Pac-Man does the dots, cherries, or Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Not only does it gobble up the land that surrounds it, it brings more and more problems with it that also harm our environment. We have also lost our individuality in a sense and at the same time sociability with our neighbors, all due to sprawl.

I strongly believe that America had it right in the beginning when our big cities, towns, etc. were all nice and compact and if you needed anything you could walk there. These “walking cities� had none of the problems with the environment that we do today. However these cities didn’t last long at all. Once inventions in technology occurred so did new ways of transportation which allowed for people to move further out of the now growing industrial cities that were dirty and noisy. The only thing is that is caused another problem too. The ways of transportation cost money and only the upper class and wealthier people could afford it. So the wealthy moved out of the city to set of there houses with gardens and green land all around them while those who could not afford the transportation stayed in the bustling city. Transportation not only started sprawl but also started segregation of the classes.
As the years rolled on there become better, faster and cheaper ways of transportation; which lead to more and more people wanting to get out of the city and find their own piece of land to live on and breathe the fresh air and be surrounded by green. This was the American Dream; to have your own house out of the bustling cities in these newly forming suburbs where you could raise your family. The perfect life for the perfect family just like “Leave it to Beaver�.
Everyone in the neighborhood new each other and are friendly and so on and so on. Life was just frickin peachy! Or so that’s what they wanted everyone to believe. I myself look at this suburb living and sprawl as a loss of our personal identities, a loss of our sociability with people in our neighborhood, and to tell you the truth suburbs look like shit in my opinion. The are more like a bad rash on the earth’s skin that wont go away and keep popping up here and there and growing bigger and bigger. Suburbs became a disease more like an STD that just kept getting past all around the U.S.
This picture shows the start of our destruction of our natural environment and everything else I keep stating. I look at this and think about how transportation and roads control where we live. Everyone is hungry to live where they have nothing but forest, fields, or any kind of wilderness in their backyard. I bet they do have that and enjoy that for a year or two before another development sets up shop right in their backyard. The domino effect just keeps going and more and more natural environment gets eaten up.
Also sprawl affects each person both personally and socially. Now-a-days people commute long hours to go to their job and back home. When they get home they pull in to their garage shut the door and go into their house. In the morning they hop in their car and back out of the garage and head to work. All I have to say is what the hell happened to social interaction with our neighbors!?!? There is no coming home from work and getting out of your car and saying “Hi� to your neighbors or taking the time to chit chat with them like there used to be. Also as you drive through these suburbs how in the heck can you tell which house is yours? They all look the same to me besides the on one house the garage might be on the right while your neighbors is on the left and the color might be different. Other than that there is no personalizing of your house like their used to be. Suburbs aren’t set up that way; they are a part of the industrialized/ manufactured way of life. It’s all about quantity these days and not quality.

So how can I make any difference or aid in slowing this “Sprawl of Death�? It really wouldn’t matter the location of where I went because this sprawl is happening all of the U.S. I would love to help with urban planning and use architecture to help bring people back to the cities and stop this sprawling. To take old warehouse districts that are abandoned and other abandoned areas of a city and use those to build new residential buildings and lofts and parks. Also you have to make sure that you have businesses around these areas so people can walk to get things they need or have access to public transportation. Some bigger cities are already changing their ways and are bringing people back to the city and they are stopping sprawl in a variety of ways. One example is Seattle and how they are trying to develop parks and green areas to draw people back into the city. Phoenix is designing and building new housing and parks in areas that used to be run down. Boulder, Colorado uses a different approach to stopping sprawl called greenbelt. This is where the government buys land around a city and designated it to be undeveloped and left wild. This stops the city from sprawling out further and it can also act as a buffer from another city that may be sprawling in their direction. These are things that I want to do to have a positive impact on our environment. I’m not trying to be Captain Planet or anything I’m just trying to help slow and maybe even stop the ugly rash we have spread all over the U.S.


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