Is Neighborhood Planning the New City Planning? A Conversation Between Peter Eisenman and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

Bettery Magazine: Q&A Series. Is neighborhood planning the new ? asks P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S

As part of its Question and Answer Series, Bettery Magazine joined Peter Eisenman and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S to discuss the development of cities on an urban scale and the recent diversion of this development into the small scale of individual neighborhoods. What follows is a discussion that essentially describes the urban condition as a constant dialogue between scale and function.

There is an unstoppable element of spontaneous development that is a result of the city’s imposing forces as the scale of the individual and the immediate community.  Running concurrently with these developments are municipalities’ own agendas that may start off as heavy-handed, but eventually become molded by the will of affected neighborhoods.  This dynamic nature of cities and their functionality is what makes their nature unique and in constant flux.  In response to Eisenman’s question: “Is neighborhood planning the new city planning?”, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S addresses the balance of these two scales of development and discusses the four morphological states that city development could take.

Join us after the break for more.

Between the different authorities that exist in the city government, there are scales of public development that are built around community interest.  These levels survive by communicating with one another, challenging one another, and relating the public good of one community’s interests against that of a municipality. P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S acknowledges the degrees of influence and authority that is ever-present in the development of a city.  Neighborhood activism and community boards hold sway in the way that pockets of the city develop.  They petition for development – a bike lane, a bus stop, a park – and they protest unsolicited development – building busy roads or big-box stores.  But just as these groups have their small and diverse needs and functions, they petition to the same centralized authority.

This, as described by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, is where the development of infrastructure belongs.  Whether this is transportation, cultural, educational, water, power, and communication infrastructures, it creates the field that connects the diverse neighborhoods and ensures communication between the elements of the city. The centralization of these systems allows for the distribution of elements, as shaped by community interests and activism.

As these centralized functions develop, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S notes that the identity – the physical and intangible boundaries of neighborhoods as defined by place, culture, class or any combination of these elements – is fluid and dynamic.  These boundaries are constantly shifting, challenging the physical space that they occupy and questioning the rigid physical landscape that is built to define them.

This conversation between Eisenman and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S encourages a continued assessment of what “city planning” entails and the exchange between different scales of interest, in consideration of where the physical space of these interests overlaps.  Take a look at the whole discussion here.

via Bettery Magazine

Cite: Vinnitskaya, Irina. "Is Neighborhood Planning the New City Planning? A Conversation Between Peter Eisenman and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S" 29 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>