Cities and the Common Good
Can modern well-designed cities actually contribute to the common good?
Architect John Norquist lays out the case for compact, well-connected cities as a setting for economic growth, advancement of education, enrichment of culture, and environmental sustainability. High-density development, known as urbanism, is an important tool in combating sprawl and climate change and is key to achieving the critical mass that makes vital, walkable communities possible.
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About John Norquist
John Norquist, president of the Congress for the New Urbanism and former mayor of Milwaukee, lays out the case for compact, well-connected cities as a setting for economic growth, advancement of education, enrichment of culture, and environmental sustainability. High-density development, known as urbanism, is an important tool in combating sprawl and climate change and is key to achieving the critical mass that makes vital, walkable communities possible.
John Norquist is president and CEO of The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and former mayor of Milwaukee. The CNU is the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities, and healthier living conditions. For nearly 20 years, CNU members have used the principles in CNU’s charter to promote the hallmarks of New Urbanism, including compact, walkable neighborhood blocks, and a range of housing choices to serve people of diverse ages and income levels. Norquist‘s work promoting New Urbanism as an alternative to sprawl and an antidote to sprawl’s social and environmental problems draws on his experience as big-city mayor and prominent participant in national discussions on urban design and school reform.
Norquist was the mayor of Milwaukee from 1988-2004. Under his leadership, Milwaukee experienced a decline in poverty, saw a boom in new downtown housing, and became a leading center of education and welfare reform. He oversaw a revision of the city’s zoning code and reoriented development around walkable streets and public amenities such as the city’s 3.1-mile Riverwalk. Named a Governing magazine Public Official of the Year during his tenure as mayor, he also received widespread recognition for championing the removal of a .8 mile stretch of elevated freeway, clearing the way for an anticipated $250 million in infill development in the heart of Milwaukee.
At CNU he has joined local activists in numerous cities as a key champion of plans to replace freeways with boulevards. A leader in national discussions of urban design and educational issues, Norquist is the author of The Wealth of Cities, and has taught courses in urban policy and urban planning at the University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and at Marquette University.
Norquist served in the Army Reserves from 1971 to 1977 and earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He represented Milwaukee’s south and west sides in the Wisconsin Legislature. He chaired the National League of Cities Task Force on Federal Policy and Family Poverty and served on the Amtrak Reform Council.