City Planner & Urban Designer
Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who advocates internationally for smart growth and sustainable design. As Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007, he presided over the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created a new initiative, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. Prior to his federal appointment, Speck spent ten years as Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., the founders of the New Urbanism movement, where he directed or managed more than forty of the firm’s projects. Since 2007, he has led Speck & Associates LLC, a boutique planning firm that specializes in making downtowns more walkable.
Speck is a contributing editor to Metropolis Magazine and serves on the Sustainability Task Force of the US. Department of Homeland Security. With Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, he is the co-author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream, which The Wall Street Journal calls “the urbanist’s bible.” His recent book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time – which The Christian Science Monitor called “timely and important, a delightful, insightful, irreverent work” – was the best-selling planning/design book of 2013.
Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. He has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. The very idea of a modern metropolis evokes visions of bustling sidewalks, vital mass transit, and a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly urban core. But in the typical American city, the car is still king, and downtown is a place that’s easy to drive to but often not worth arriving at.
Making walkability happen is relatively easy and cheap; seeing exactly what needs to be done is the trick. In Walkable City, Speck reveals the invisible workings of the city, how simple decisions have cascading effects, and how we can all make the right choices for our communities.
Bursting with sharp observations and real-world examples, giving key insight into what urban planners actually do and how places can and do change, Walkable City lays out a practical, necessary, and eminently achievable vision of how to make our normal American cities great again.