The Regional City: Values and Ethics in Contemporary Urbanism

Fairness. Efficiency. Equality. Access. Choice. Entrepreneurship. Diversity. Vitality. Competitiveness. Self-sufficiency. Kindness. Democracy. Stewardship. Citizens hold these and many other values in contemporary American communities. Values help civic society form its governance, define goals and aspirations and draw distinctions between \”urban\” and \”suburban,\” \”outer\” and \”inner.\” In November 2003 Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding county of Jefferson dramatically voted to join together to form the Regional City of Louisville. With this radical redefinition of boundaries Louisville became the 16th largest city in the country and simultaneously collapsed the boundaries of many distinct communities into a single political entity. From a design perspective, the governmental consolidation of the region creates opportunities at once obvious, such as creation of a comprehensive park system, and less obvious, such as metropolitan-wide marketing of surplus government properties and brownfields. However, because civic societies typically avoid value terms in their briefs for planning and design programs and projects, interpreting the values of a community and incorporating them in the design process becomes an imprecise and difficult objective for the effective design professional. Using a research seminar format, faculty members will work with a team of students and Loeb Fellows to develop a wide-ranging study of specific sites in Louisville, an assessment of community values, and recommendations that capitalize on the new regional structure.