Case Studies and Success Stories

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New Urbanism

New Urbanism is an urban planning and design movement that promotes walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods with diverse housing options, pedestrian-friendly streets, and accessible public spaces. As New Urbanist principles have been applied in communities across the country, many inspiring case studies and success stories have emerged. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most notable and instructive examples.

New Town, St. Charles, MO – New Urbanism in the Suburbs

Image via Flickr: Tidewater Muse

Located in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, Missouri, New Town is a prominent example of New Urbanist development in a suburban context. Built on farmland starting in the mid-1990s, New Town pioneered the “new urbanist town center” concept.

New Town merges residential neighborhoods with a walkable mixed-use downtown district. The downtown features pedestrian-oriented shopping and dining options rarely found in suburbs, creating a vibrant, inviting public realm. Yet many typical suburban single-family homes and lawns fill the surrounding blocks.

This fusion of urban and suburban elements, connected by landscaped walking trails, has proven popular with residents. New Town demonstrated that New Urbanism can re-shape suburbs to become more complete, connected communities. The development has won numerous awards and influenced subsequent suburban NU projects nationally.

Seaside, Florida – The First New Urbanist Town

Image via Flickr: Jr P

Regarded as the first true New Urbanist development, Seaside was built on the Florida Panhandle beginning in 1981. Conceived by architects Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Seaside was designed from scratch based on New Urbanist priorities like walkability, human-scale streets, and a vibrant mix of uses and housing types.

Nearly 40 years later, Seaside is hailed as one of the most successful New Urbanist communities. Its iconic pastel cottages, inviting porches, pedestrian lanes, and lively town center have made it a beloved vacation destination. Seaside proved New Urbanist principles could be translated into a charming, thriving places. It set the stage for many subsequent NU developments.

Mueller, Austin, TX – New Urbanism Revitalizes Dead Space

Image via Flicker: Peter French

Mueller is a prime example of how New Urbanism can transform problematic urban areas into inclusive, sustainable neighborhoods. A former airport site just 3 miles from downtown Austin, Mueller lay vacant for years after the airport closed in 1999. The city decided to redevelop it using NU principles.

Today Mueller houses over 17,000 residents in diverse housing types, along with retail, offices, schools, parks and more.

There’s a focus on local businesses, green building, renewable energy, rehabilitated natural habitats, and multimodal transit. Mueller shows how New Urbanism can turn wasted space into a flourishing community.

Habersham, Beaufort, SC – New Urbanism in a Historical Context

via wikipedia: James Habersham

Located in picturesque coastal South Carolina, Habersham is a New Urbanist development known for harmoniously blending with its historical surroundings. Habersham contains a diverse mix of residential and commercial buildings, from single-family homes to offices and shops.

What makes it unique is that these structures are designed in the regional antebellum architectural style. Narrow streets, classical details, and wraparound porches evoke 19th century Southern towns. But the community is adapted to modern living with carefully integrated shared greens, pedestrian paths, and accessibility enhancements throughout. Habersham demonstrates how New Urbanism can respect a location’s heritage while updating it for contemporary users.

Arenal Sound, Nicaragua – New Urbanism for Healthier Living

Arenal Sound is an ambitious New Urbanist project taking shape on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. Envisioned as a model healthy community promoting active lifestyles and social wellbeing, Arenal Sound combines residential areas, nature reserves, farms, and civic facilities.

Diverse neighborhoods are connected by bike paths to encourage non-motorized transit. Streets are designed to be walker-friendly with traffic calming features. A system of parks and open spaces makes nature and recreation easily accessible. As a LEED for Neighborhood Development project, sustainability is also a major focus. Arenal Sound shows how intentional urban planning centered on wellness principles can create vibrant, livable communities.

The success of these and many other New Urbanist places demonstrates the strength of NU principles. When thoughtfully applied, they can transform neighborhoods into human-scaled, welcoming environments that benefit residents and visitors alike. The continued growth of New Urbanism points towards more flourishing, engaging communities in the future.


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