Redesigning the suburbs

New town and master-planned suburbs of the 1960s and 1970s

Authored by: Lisa Benton-Short

The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138290235
eBook ISBN: 9781315266442
Adobe ISBN:


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Since the 1940s, the United States made the transition from a predominately urban society to a predominately suburban one. Most Americans now live in suburbs. Although critics often characterize the suburbs as bland, homogenous, and racially and socio-economically exclusive, as the other essays in this collection have demonstrated, a closer examination of suburbanization shows a more varied and diverse experience than conventional wisdom might hold. This diversity comes from numerous attempts to rethink, redesign, and reform suburbs, so it is more accurate to see the suburbs as a continual process of evolution, influenced by new design ideas and resulting in different spatial forms. In this chapter, I document one effort to redesign the suburbs – the rise of the master-planned communities, often referred to as “new towns,” in the 1960s and 1970s. This movement was one of the earliest reactions “against” the typical post-World War II suburban development. First, I will set the intellectual context for master-planned communities by contrasting the early suburbs. Second, I will document the concept and underlying principles of master-planned communities, exploring several model communities that represented an important shift in architecture and planning in the United States. Third, I will focus on Mission Viejo, California, as a case study of a master-planned suburb, and how this community was marketed and sold to thousands of new residents.

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