Sprawl retrofit: Sustainable urban form in unsustainable places

Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


This paper makes a contribution to the suburban retrofit/sprawl repair literature by suggesting a method that planners can use to evaluate the potential of some places to be catalysts for an improvedömore sustainableöurban form. The strategy is aimed at evaluating and then promoting sustainable urban form in unsustainable places. The method puts sprawl retrofit projects into a larger planning framework, suggesting ways to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of places in relative terms, taking into account how different kinds of nodesöfrom light rail stops to parking lotsö varying with respect to sustainable urban form characteristics. Overlaying data on accessibility, density, diversity, and connectivity reveals areas with varying levels of sustainable urban form. Intervention in potential retrofit locations consists of neighborhood and site-scale design, including suggestions for code reform, intensification of land use around nodes, public investment in civic space, traffic calming, and incentives for private development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)952-978
Number of pages27
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science


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