There is no shortage of punditry about the pandemic and its impact on cities, their density, form, and structure. The last several months have demonstrated both the value of empirical research, personal stories, and the need to balance them carefully. While we completed our pending book, Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character, in April, we also resolved to avoid never-ending amendments to accommodate post-COVID reportage for three reasons:

  • Much learning exists from past pandemics and similar disaster response.
  • The pandemic has accelerated many ongoing trends in urban design and commerce (e.g. compact communities, online retail, and other climate-wise solutions) that are already well-documented.
  • Many smart people are already dedicating considered effort to meaningfully respond to the work-in-progress we now encounter every day.

In a sense, I’ve been tracking resources that I might have cited if the pandemic had been our distinct focus, or had reflected prominently at the outset of our research. In the alternative, I’d like to recommend the following, which–at least to me–are thoughtful, non-sensational bits of reading on relevant sub-topics and foci, most of which have not yet reached the level of Twitterati proclamations:

Jordi Honey-Rosés et al., “The Impact of COVID-19 on Public Space: A Review of the Emerging Questions.”

Elek Pafka, “As coronavirus forces us to keep our distance, city density matters less than internal density.”

ISOCARP, “POST COVID-19 URBANISM: A challenge to all city and regional planners“.

Michele Acuto, “COVID-19: Lessons for an Urban(izing) World.”

Silvia Tavares and Nicholas Stevens, “Cities will endure, but urban design must adapt to coronavirus risks and fear.”

This list is a start, as there are many efforts underway. Let’s not attempt to “own” messages and ideas that should be the basis of dialogues, not monologues, or competitive reporting. Exclusivity is not what’s needed when safety, science, economy, and equality each deserve their due, all at once.

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