While sprawl remains the dominant growth pattern in the U.S., many people are leaving the suburbs for more walkable areas. Some are getting fed up with the costs of commuting (in both time and money). Others are looking to live in places with character or community.
As an increasing number of people want an urban lifestyle, the question of what to do with the suburbs remains. It would be unwise and unsustainable to simply abandon them. In addition, even the most optimistic urbanist realizes that not everybody can, nor wants to, live downtown. At the same time, they want a more livable option that what current exists.
Instead of starting from scratch and creating an ideal new urbanist development, retrofit urbanism is a hybrid form of urbanism that acknowledges these realities. It looks to incrementally change existing suburban forms to encourage multi-modal transportation, including transit, walking and cycling. in addition it includes a cultural shift towards an increased sense of community and “interconnectivity. The goal is to transform auto-reliant neighborhoods into vibrant, people-oriented communities.
Retrofit urbanism is not as sexy as building a new urbanist utopia from scratch or building a mega development in the urban core. it does, however, represent a more effective way to meet increasing demands for the urban lifestyle and mitigate the worst effects of auto-dominated sprawl.