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Rural by Design


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Table of Contents

Foreword: Broadly Defining 'Rural'


Part One: The Character of Towns

1. The Common Qualities of Traditional Towns

2. Changes in the Pattern

3. Future Prospects: Choosing Among Alternative Patterns

4. The Aesthetics of Form in Community Planning

5. Sustainability, Best Practices, and Visionary Planning

6. Vision Plans, Downzoning, and Municipal Balkanization

Part Two: Design Approaches

7. Form-Based Coding and Standards for Performance and Design

8. Blending New Urbanism With Greenway Planning and Conservation Design

Part Three: Implementation Techniques

9. Broadening Housing Choices

10. Strengthening Town Centers

11. Transforming Gateways and Highway Corridors

Part Four: Designing Man-Made Infrastructure

12. Designing Better Streets

13. Low-Impact Development: A Greener Approach to Stormwater

14. Sewage Treatment Alternatives

Part Five: Protecting the Natural Infrastructure

15. Greenways: A Healthy Community Builder

16. Protecting and Restoring the Green Infrastructure Network

17. Retaining Farmland and Farmers

18. Transfer of Development Rights in Small Communities

19. Designing Subdivisions to Save Land

Part Six: Case Examples

20. In-Town Residential Examples

21. Rural Residential Examples

22. Large-Scale Mixed Use Examples

23. Downtown Commercial and Mixed Use Examples

24. Commercial Corridor Mixed Use Examples

25. Greenways and Greenway Development Examples



About the Author

About the Author

Randall Arendt is a senior advisor at the Natural Lands Trust in Media, Pennsylvania, and the former director of planning and research at the Center for Rural Massachusetts, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


The new second edition of Rural by Design is much, much more than an updating of the original, seminal volume. Arendt has expanded the book considerably and covers many recent trends in urban planning and design. While it still emphasizes the rural context, it covers many topics relevant to urban and suburban areas. What makes this new work especially valuable is that it includes thoughtful discussion about the practical challenges facing communities in implementing strategies to become more livable and sustainable. It is easy to read, has many photographs and illustrations, and includes numerous case studies from a wide range of contexts. This is a book that should become a standard reference for every planner -- Paul Zykofsky, AICP, Associate Director, Local Government Commission, Sacramento, California If you liked the first Rural by Design as much as I did, you will like the second edition even more. Randall Arendt has gone well beyond the typical update to this classic planning text book. He has made it highly relevant and useful to practicing planners by a more broadly defined notion of 'rural' that will help planners, developers, policy makers, and citizens to improve the quality of our 'urbanizing' suburbs, and to make better land-use and development decisions for rapidly growing communities. If you are a planning student, practicing planner, or land-use policymaker, I highly encourage you to consult this volume, as it is a planner's treasure chest. I find it incredibly inspiring and applicable to contemporary practice. -- Fred Merrill, FAICP, Principal, Sasaki Associates, Watertown, Massachusetts This updated version of the 20-year-old classic is a how-to guide to creating walkable towns in rural and urbanizing suburban North America, bursting with examples, many not yet built when the original book was written. It also shows how metropolitan residents can have a connection to nature that is so crucial for human settlements no matter the density. We are witnessing the end of sprawl, and this book provides the blueprint for how it is being replaced by environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically successful ways of building the country. -- Christopher B. Leinberger, George Washington University School of Business, Professor In this update to his classic book, Randall continues to shape rural planning by integrating current discussions of town centers, sustainability, biophilia, and green infrastructure into his timeless advice for maintaining rural character, creating a detailed reference guide that everyone involved in planning the towns and open spaces of the American countryside should have at their side. Though full of case studies and supporting facts, this edition is organized to give quick, easy access to the practical tools needed to create great places. -- Daniel K. Slone, Congress for the New Urbanism and the Resilient Design Institute, national land-use and sustainability lawyer Rural by Design: Planning for Town and Country (second edition) is a valuable resource for anyone interested in how to promote and protect small-town quality of life through proactive community design strategies. Arendt's new edition is a comprehensive, extremely readable, and practical resource for staff as well as local leaders and community partners. His inclusion of critical lessons learned over the past 20 years, illustrated case examples, and new emphasis on greenways as a recurring theme in town planning are especially helpful in education and advocacy work. -- Sherry Barrett, Upstate Forever, Sustainable Communities Program Associate What a delight to find not just a new edition to a great foundational work but a total modernization and sharing of the most current capture of town form and planning history. Standing on Arendt's shoulders to inform your next work, or to just broaden your knowledge or plan of action in your community, is just one of many benefits to be drawn from this deep well. -- Dan Burden, Blue Zones, Director of Innovation and Implementation Randall Arendt has done it again! The second edition of Rural by Design focuses on newly emerging trends evident in rural Hunterdon County, New Jersey, such as focusing development in town centers, broadening housing choice, and creating greenways. The reemergence of historic town centers, the desire for increased connectivity, and a defined vision for a sustainable future are all highlighted within the pages and photographs of this book. The new Rural by Design will, no doubt, become a standard for all planning professionals. -- Sue Dziamara, AICP, Director of Planning Rural by Design, Second Edition comprehensively links different areas of planning practice in a new and unique way. Most importantly, Randall Arendt connects form-based placemaking, creating vibrant, and walkable human habitats with the preservation and enhancement of natural and cultural landscapes. He also squarely faces the political, economic, and practical obstacles that confront both robust urbanism and effective land preservation. By weaving together diverse strands of planning practice, this magnificently illustrated book shows how to improve our human habitat while preserving the fragile ecological systems on which we all depend. -- Joel Russell, Form-Based Codes Institute, Director The second edition of Rural by Design is worth the 20 years necessary for its update. This book is a tremendous resource explaining the issues associated with successful land conversion and the absolute importance of design as the fundamental component of the preservation of place. Arendt's latest work is thorough and well researched. It provides planners with the critical tools necessary to actually create great places, especially at the rural and suburban end of the transect, by explaining the best of historic town-building principles and updating them with the latest in current practice. This is a must -have book for every planner's library. The concepts are transferable and clear, and the rationale is directly on point and understandable to all audiences. -- Rick Bernhardt, Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Planning Department, Executive Director, FAICP Rural by Design represents a lifetime of experience and wisdom. Randall Arendt is a passionate proponent of the value of good design for planning more humane and healthy communities. His grasp of the history of planning new communities - and his deep personal involvement in making numerous plans across the United States - inform Rural byDesign. This expanded edition includes considerable new information, notably concerning sustainability. Arendt's clear and informative writing make Rural by Design an invaluable resource for practitioners, educators, and students in planning, landscape architecture, architecture, civil engineering, law, and real estate. -- Frederick Steiner, University of Texas at Austin, Dean, School of Architecture If you have an interest in planning as a form or a function, this book will be educational, entertaining, and evocative. In this edition, [author Randall] Arendt has successfully pulled together many diverse areas of planning practice and, most importantly, he communicates their value and their impacts in a vibrant and highly readable manner. As I read the text and browsed the clear illustrations, I was struck by how useful the information is to rural and urban alike. This book is a great tool for new urbanists, small-town enthusiasts, and those who want to preserve and enhance the open space we all need. -- Christopher G. Parker, City of Dover, New Hampshire, Assistant City Manager, AICP The new edition of Rural by Design is part reference manual, part guidebook and part inspiration. It should be on the shelf of every planner, developer, and citizen interested in better land development. This book proves that small towns can grow without losing the attributes that make them unique and valuable. We have choices for how we grow. Randall Arendt's new book tells us what they are and how to achieve them. -- Ed McMahon, Senior Resident Fellow, The Urban Land Institute

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