Last modified: Friday, December 6, 2013
- in-class, during the last regular class session (Tuesday, December 10).
- The exam starts promptly at 9:10 am and ends at 10:30 am. We will design the exam to be reasonably completed within 45-60 minutes, allowing you to extra time to proof-read and review your answers.
- Closed-book/closed-note (i.e., do not bring books, notes, laptops, etc. to class). You will write the answers to the exam on the exam copy itself (no need for blue books). You will only need to bring pens or pencils.
EXTRA OFFICE HOURS [revised]: In addition to my online office hours, I will be available in my office on these dates/times:
- Friday, Dec 6, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
- Monday, Dec. 9, 10:30 am - 12:00 noon; 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
- Tuesday, Dec. 10, 8:00 am - 9:00 am
Feel free to come by individually or as a group for an informal discussion. No need to sign up -- just stop by anytime during those times.
The exam will likely be a combination of some of the following elements:
- short answer (e.g., compare and contrast two ideas/terms in 1-2 paragraphs)
- short essay (e.g., 1-2 hand-written pages)
- matching ideas & arguments to schools/styles of planning (e.g., incrementalism; strategic planning; New Urbanism; communicative action; advocacy planning; etc.)
- matching major planning movements, events, ideas to their historical period (e.g., know the general time sequence of such events as: the Columbia Exposition vs. the Burnham Plan of Chicago; or the era of Robert Moses' major projects vs. Jane Jacobs' publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities; etc.). Do see the planning history timeline for reference. (You certainly do NOT need to memorize all those dates; instead, focus on the major events, etc. that we have read about and discussed.)
Here are some useful terms to know by the end of the semester.
Note regarding this study guide: This is NOT a complete list of terms, ideas, and questions that may be
on the exam, though it should provide a fairly good idea of what to expect.
Terms and Concepts
URBAN AND ECONOMIC PROCESSES, PLANNING THEORY CONCEPTS
property contradiction (Foglesong)
scale economies & agglomeration economies
tragedy of the commons
gentrification (see Neil Smith)
procedural vs. substantive planning theory
the public interest
"community without propinquity" (Webber)
efficiency vs. innovation
spatial division of labor
STYLES OF PLANNING
"rational model" of planning
communicative action planning
TYPOLOGIES OF CITIES AND URBANIZATION
suburb (and the difference between inner-ring and outer-ring)
MOVEMENTS AND PROTOTYPES
City Beautiful Movement (Burnham, etc.)
Garden City (Ebenezer Howard)
Radiant City (Le Corbusier)
Broadacres (Frank Lloyd Wright)
the Regional Planning Association of America
New Urbanism (and the Congress of New Urbanism)
A FEW NAMES:
Frank Lloyd Wright
Levitt brothers (Levittown)
(more names: covered less in course readings/requirements but nevertheless notable in planning/design history):
Frederick Law Olmsted
Andres Duany (New Urbanist architect)
A FEW PLACES (often prototypes of plans, movements, etc.):
the "White City" (1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago)
Letchworth (1903) and Welwyn (1920), UK
Radburn, NJ (1928)
Tennessee Valley Authority (1933)
Greenbelt, MD (as an example of the 1930s Resettlement Administration new towns)
Levittown, NY (the best known of several post-war Levittowns on the East Coast) (built 1947-51)
new capitals: Brasilia (1960), Chandigarh (1950s-60s), etc.
Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project (St. Louis)
(built ca. 1954-6; demolished 1972-6)
Seaside, FL (1981)
Celebration, FL (1996)
EVENTS/PLANS (see also the planning history timeline), such as:
The World's Columbian Exposition (1893) in Chicago
McMillan Plan for Washington, DC (ca. 1902)
the Plan of Chicago (1909)
Le Corbusier's "Plan Voisin" for Paris (1925)
U.S. Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956
Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961)
A few questions to consider. Please note that
some of these questions below are far broader than one can easily answer
in a short essay, so that the actual exam questions will be more
- What is the chronological sequence of major eras/movements of US urban planning (e.g., City Beautiful, Garden Cities, housing reform, City Efficient, New Deal-Era planning, urban renewal and the "urban crisis," etc.). Note: there are usually no clear-cut start and end dates for these movements (and they can overlap or run simultaneously); but do have a general sense of their timing in history.
- For Jane Jacobs, what are the main components that lead to urban diversity? What are the key points in Jane Jacob's critique of planning
and where does it fall short of providing a new model of intervention? Is she accurate in lumping together three schools of planning thought as "Radiant
Garden City Beautiful?"
- For June Manning Thomas, what are the three stages of planning education's approach to issues of race and ethnicity?
- Identify the key assumptions and differences between the main styles of planning: comprehensive, incremental, advocacy, strategic, equity, communicative-action.
Be able to compare and contrast a range of related terms/ideas/concepts/models, such as:
- Variation: Comprehensive planning has been alternately endorsed and
rejected by planners. Define comprehensive planning and briefly discuss
its development in the history of planning and planning theory. Is
it still the dominant approach to planning?
- Variation: Some authors (e.g., Forester, Healey, Innes) have promoted
communicative-action as a new paradigm to replace the antiquated rational-scientific
model of planning. Explain the supposed shortcomings of the old planning
paradigm, and the promise of communicative-based planning. Do you agree?
Explain (briefly) what Lindblom means when he advocates
for "successive limited comparisons" as a planning approach. Is this
really a form of planning, or is it a rejection of planning?
Fishman states (in Urban Utopias): " Le Corbusier
and Frank Lloyd Wright were both intensely concerned with the preservation
of the family in an industrial society, but here as elsewhere they adopted
diametrically opposite strategies." How did these visions differ?
What does Fishman mean when he describes the city plans
of Howard, Wright and Le Corbusier as "social thought in 3 dimensions."
Fishman asserts that in providing "manifestoes for an urban
revolution" Wright, Howard, and Le Corbusier set out a classical triad and
vocabulary of basic forms that can be used to define the whole range of choices
available to the planner. How would you characterize the key elements
or "dominant values" represented by each of these visions?
What are the most important features differentiating America's
current experience of suburbia with that of the immediate post war period?
What key themes for the future of America and its cities
gained expression in the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.
Can planning theory, now or in the past, be said to have
a dominant paradigm? a) Trace the history of planning theory from the beginning
of the century in terms of what paradigms were widely adopted. b) Relate these
paradigms to the socio-political context in which planning was operating.
c) During the time when comprehensive rationality (or the rational model)
was particularly influential, is it accurate to say that it constituted a
dominant paradigm? d) What is the current situation?
Planners have traditionally been able to define themselves
professionally and politically based on where they draw the line between
proper government activities and private interests. However, this may be increasingly
complicated in an era of blurred public-private boundaries , of public-private
partnerships, of quasi-private public authorities (such as port authorities),
and of non-profits (the "third sector"). In addition, planning graduates
increasing work in all three sectors, rather than just for local government.
Explain how the relationship of planners to the public-private boundaries
has changed in recent years. What political, economic and/or cultural
factors have shaped this changing relationship?
City and regional planning is a recent, interdisciplinary
field that draws heavily from other disciplines. Outline what you think
are the basic intellectual origins of the field. That is, from what
other fields does planning borrow its theories, its political beliefs and/or
its tools of analysis? Does this mix make for a powerful synergy, or
instead (as some have argued) simply create a confusing hodgepodge lacking
a coherent set of tools or best practices? (Do not hesitate to be critical
of planning where appropriate.) Finally, in which direction should
planning head in the future (e.g., more towards economics, architecture,
public policy, business, etc.)?
Planning theory can be divided into two general areas:
substantive planning theory and procedural planning theory. Elaborate
on this distinction, and give examples of each. Are there connections
between the two, or are these really two quite distinctive sets of theories?
- "market failure" vs. property contradiction
- divergent arguments for and against public planning
- New Urbanism vs. the Garden City Movement
- communicative action planning vs. advocacy planning
- Dolores Hayden's three models of home: haven vs. industrial vs. neighborhood
- Jane Jacobs' view of "diversity" vs. June Manning Thomas' view of "diversity"
- tragedy of the commons vs. prisoner's dilemma
- Susan Moller Okin's view of "feminism" vs. "multiculturalism"
- procedural vs. substantive planning theory
- global cities vs. megacities
- Steven Hayward's "sensible environmentalism" vs. Peter Marcuse's "sustainability is not enough"
- Fishman's three historical stages of suburbia.
- Ed Glaeser's (or Paul Krugman's) emphasis on the contemporary economic advantages of cities vs. Mel Webber's emphasis on "community without propinquity" and the "non-place urban realm"
Note: All of the course materials and readings (from the entire semester) might be covered on the exam. What is the relative importance of each topic/reading? You can use the coverage in the "required" readings -- and the coverage in class lectures -- as a rough indicator of the material's importance.
from the Fall 2012 Final Exam Preparation on-line Discussion (student questions and instructor answers):
UP540: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS about course materials: topics, concepts, authors, ideas, dates, etc.
Please list any questions -- big or small - you have about the course materials (topics & terms). (Your answers will also be useful for Ian as he prepares for his Friday and Monday review sessions.)
Questions about the course materials / Topics & Terms to Cover:
- What do we need to know about the McMillan Plan? [We didn’t cover too much on the plan, so I don’t expect you to know too much. that said, it’s an important moment in the history both of planning and of Washington’s planning...] 1902 plan for Washington DC. See it as an expression of the City Beautiful movement, merging with a growing nationalist sense of the United States’ prominence in the world -- and its motivation to have its sleepy, somewhat underdeveloped capital city reflect this growing national profile. Focused on park planning-- especially the redesign of the Mall, with prominent civic buildings on the perimeter, and the relocation of the train station. Named after Senator McMillan -- from Michigan! [SC] link to the plan (google books) • comparison of L’Enfant and McMillan Plans (from the US NPS).
- Can we review the major players in the Regional Planning Association of America (Stein, MacKaye, Mumford)? Wright and Stein -- designed Radburn, NJ (garden city). Mumford: the most prominent and prolific member (his The City in History is a classic). MacKaye: forester, conservationist: perhaps best known as the creator of the Appalachian Trail (envisioned in 1921; completed in 1937; one of the trail’s function was to provide a way to experience the regions of the eastern US). Other members included Catherine Bauer (Wurster), who was a famous housing advocate -- and later taught planning at Berkeley. Overall, the RPAA (ca. 1923 - 1933) was a small group, but an influential one that helped shape a vision of American regional planning, and “regionalism”. They were also excellent writers, and had a good sense of public engagement. [SC]
- What are the main differences between equity and advocacy planning? a good question, and one hard to answer, since the two share many characteristics. See advocacy planning as coming out of 1960s progressive politics of the civil rights movement, anti-war era, etc. Equity planning comes out of the austere, conservative 1980s era of R. Reagan. Many planners who embraced Davidoff in the 1960s would later embrace Krumholz’s ideas in the 1980s. You might also compare them in terms of working inside or outside the government system; in their respective levels of combativeness; etc. Some would see equity planning as the child of advocacy planning, or at least its successor. When you read Davidoff vs. Krumholz, you see in both a commitment to social justice and the needs of the poor and underrepresented; you also see a somewhat differing views of how conflict and disagreement are addressed. [SC]
- Can we review sensible environmentalism? * comes from “A sensible environmentalism,” Steven F Hayward, Public Interest; Spring 2003. “Sensible environmentalism” is not a standard, universal term, but rather (as far as I can tell) a phrase Hayward uses to assert a legitimate version of sustainability -- but also to criticize what he sees as other, less sensible versions (especially those who embrace the “gloom-and-doom” “limits to growth” views.). He also emphasizes the importance of “substitutability” (a key idea from economics): an upbeat assumption that society will, in the future, take advantage of technological improvements to substitute new resources (and ways of extracting and using resources) when existing resource stocks are depleted. Overall, an article that seeks a vision of sustainability that is compatible with economic growth, free enterprise and technological progress. I assigned the article not because it is well-known (I am not sure it is), but rather to provide a counterexample to the frequent argument of sustainability ≈ anti-growth, steady-state economics, anti-free markets, etc. Worthwhile comparing Hayward’s view to Marcuse’s, etc. [SC]
- For places like Letchworth, Welwyn, Radburn, Seaside, Celebration, etc. is there anything in particular we should know about them or is it just important to understand the movement they were associated with? Yes, these places are often cited as examples (sometimes prototypes) of movements (or styles, etc.). Letchworth, Welwyn and Radburn are, understandably, well-known examples of translating Howard’s garden city ideas into actual communities -- some of course adhered more closely to the original model than others (e.g., Radburn didn’t strive to incorporate all of Howard’s ideas, such as an agricultural greenbelt). Seaside is one of many New Urbanist communities: why does it have an unusually high profile? It was one of the first (ca 1981) and was designed by prominent advocates of New Urbanism (Duany & Plater-Zyberk), and perhaps because has such a colorful, visually striking architecture and color palette (that lends itself to both being promoted as a model -- and subject to criticism). Celebration (ca. 1996) got a lot of attention because it was built by Disney (and is near Disneyworld in Florida) and because Disney also hired many famous architects to design individual buildings (e.g., Graves, Stern, Pelli, etc.). It’s an example of a master planned community (what some would call a “new town”) and debatable whether it is “new urbanist” or something else (or a hybrid). The post-modern critics were already pre-occupied with talking about the “Disney-fication” of the world (akin to the shopping malling of design; see, e.g., Michael Sorkin), so a new community built by Disney was sure to be (unfairly?) attacked as low-hanging fruit (sorry to mix metaphors there). The social theorist Andrew Ross wrote a fascinating book about the place (see also his Atlantic article). [see also this extensive NY Times article by Michael Pollan). So: to (finally) answer your question: Yes, do know the movement associated with the place, and a few simple points of why that place reflects that movement/school of thought/design (and/or why it deviates from that model). This also applies to the other places we have discussed, such as Brasilia, Levittown, etc. [SC]
- What's the differences between garden cities and garden suburb? And Letchworth vs. Radburn. I recommend reviewing Ch 4 ("The City in the Garden") in Peter Hall's Cities of Tomorrow. Peter Hall draws a sharp, crucial distinction between the garden city and the garden suburb(though others may blur or interchange the two terms, so watch out for some writers lumping the two together). Howard's idea of the garden city is a complete city, essentially self-contained with the full range of housing, commerce and industry -- connected to the larger central city via railroad for trade, etc., but providing both residence and employment for its population. The garden suburb, by contrast, lacks this full range of land uses. With little industrial employment, etc., its residents were more reliant on commuting to the central city. (As such, it is a "bedroom community" -- with the "garden" referring more superficially to landscaping, rather than Howard's more profound use of the term "garden" to indicate greenbelt, agriculture, and a clear separation and alternative to the big city.) Of course, both the garden city and the garden suburb represented highly appealing alternatives to living in the smoke-filled, congested central cities. Hall picks up on this in his comparison of Letchworth and Hampstead: "For it [Hempstead]was self-consciously not a garden city but a garden suburb; it had no industry, and was openly dependent on commuting from adjacent tube station, which opened just as it was being planned" (Hall, 1996: 101). [note: the page numbers in other editions may vary]
Hall's chapter also discusses both Letchworth and Radburn. I wouldn't worry about the minute details of each of these places, but a short answer is: Radburn had no substantive agricultural greenbelt (the most prominent green feature is the central green spine between the rows of houses). Nor did it have a critical mass of industrial employment, but rather is well-integrated into the larger commuting landscape of suburban northern New Jersey. Radburn is perhaps best known for its use of large blocks (superblocks, though not on the Corbusier design), cul-de-sacs, separation of pedestrians and roadway, and other fine-grained designs). It didn't embody the grander communal features from Howard's original ideas. [SC]
- Can you distill the main points in Lewis Mumford’s “What Is a City?” This essay ("What is a City?" Architectural Record, Vol. 82, No.5, November 1937, pp. 59-62.) is a short and rich summary of Mumford’s ideas about the rich social function of cities, the need for limits to urban growth, and a call for regional balance between city and countryside (including garden cities). more detail on each point (likely TOO much detail, but here goes):
*the city is not just an economic place, but also a social place (and we will make bad plans and designs if we retain this narrow view of the city's function): "MOST OF OUR housing and city planning has been handicapped because those who have undertaken the work have had no clear notion of the social functions of the city." (59) "The city is a related collection of primary groups and purposive associations: the first like family and neighborhood, are common to all communities, while the second are especially characteristic of city life." (59) Further down, he writes: "social facts are primary, and the physical organization of a city, its industries and its markets, its lines of communication and traffic, must be subservient to its social needs.” (60)
* more broadly, the city is a rich, complex expression of human activities beyond the economic: "The city in its complete sense, then, is a geographic plexus, an economic organization, an institutional process, a theater of social action, and an esthetic symbol of collective unity. The city fosters art and is art; the city creates the theater and is the theater." (59)
*primary vs. secondary relationships in a city: Mumford seems to reflect the then-popular distinction (described earlier by the German sociologists Tönnies and Simmel, and later by the Chicago School, e.g., Wirth, etc.) between the primary/direct relationships of smaller communities (Gemeinschaft) and the secondary/indirect relationships of big cities (Gesellschaft): "The city is a related collection of primary groups and purposive associations: the first like family and neighborhood, are common to all communities, while the second are especially characteristic of city life."  "One may describe the city, in its social aspect, as a special framework directed toward the creation of differentiated opportunities for a common life and a significant collective drama. As indirect forms of association, with the aid of signs and symbols and specialized organizations, supplement direct face-to-face intercourse, the personalities of the citizens themselves become many-faceted..." (59-60)
*limits to city size: one should not let cities grow unbounded (either in population or in land area): "There is an optimum numerical size, beyond which each further increment of inhabitants creates difficulties out of all proportion to the benefits. There is also an optimum area of expansion, beyond which further urban growth tends to paralyze rather than to further important social relationships." (60-1) and later: "Limitations on size, density, and area are absolutely necessary to effective social intercourse; and they are therefore the most important instruments of rational economic and civic planning." (61)
* Relatedly, one sees here echoes of Howard and Geddes in Mumford's regionalist view of achieving a regional balance between city and countryside by having a polycentric (polynucleated) region (rather than a dominant central city surrounded by subservient suburbs and rural villages): "In such a network no single center will, like the metropolis of old, become the focal point of all regional advantages: on the contrary, the whole region becomes open for settlement." (62) [and he goes on to praise Wright and Stein's design for Radburn as in this spirit]
* He concludes with an argument for conscious planning to achieve this new type of polynucleated region: "Instead of trusting to the mere massing of population to produce the necessary social concentration and social drama, we must now seek these results through deliberate local nucleation and a finer regional articulation." (62) [SC]
- Building off of question #6, would a technoburb be closer to a garden city because jobs and industries are moving closer to residents in the suburbs? Would technoburbs be similar to new towns, or would they not be because they are not master planned?
Interesting question. there are two elements here: (1) the land use mix of a community (and whether it is just residential or also includes commercial and industry?); and (2) the type of planning (e.g., master planning). I’ll focus mostly on #1.
Re (1): Yes, I do see that similarity between garden cities and technoburbs: both contain employment centers and not just residential districts -- and thus both differ from "bedroom" community suburbs. That said, the ownership structure, lack of an agricultural greenbelt, etc. of a technoburb are markedly different from Howard's idea of a garden city. Also: though technoburbs may have housing, shopping and employment, they tend to be rather open systems: many people in one "technoburb" will drive to many other places within the region (e.g., other technoburbs, edge cities, the central city) for jobs, recreation, shopping, etc. That for many planners is the conundrum of mixed-use planning: the (New Urbanist) hope is that people would all live, shop, and work in their own walkable mixed-use community, but they still regularly get in their cars and drive all around the region (both for work and non-work trips).
Re (2): I agree: technoburbs are not necessarily "planned" in the same master-plan style as garden cities (though some areas/components of these technoburbs may be heavily planned, these planning is likely done by many different public and private groups, not just one.)
I find it useful to remember the difference between the start of the 20th century (the era of Howard, Geddes and Mumford) and today: a century ago, the concern was overcrowded, over-powerful central cities, and the need for decongestion (e.g., Mumford’s regional balance) to counteract these centripetal forces. Now (in many regions, esp. SE Michigan), the concern is about struggling central cities with strong centrifugal forces of suburbanization (pushing out past the inner-ring into outer-ring exurbia).. (It’s also useful to remember that the “garden city” was a model of a better city, whereas the “technoburb” is the name created by an urban historian to describe a phenomenon.)
This passage from Fishman's Bourgeois Utopias is a useful summary of his “technoburb” idea:
"Kenneth Jackson in his definitive history of American suburbanization, Crabgrass Frontier, interprets post-World War II peripheral development as "the suburbanization of the United States," the culmination of the nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century suburban tradition. I see this development as something very different, the end of suburbia in its traditional sense and the creation of a new kind of decentralized city.
Without anyone planning or foreseeing it, the simultaneous movement of housing, industry, and commercial development to the outskirts has created perimeter cities that are functionally independent of the urban core. In complete contrast to the residential or industrial suburbs of the past, these new cities contain along their superhighways all the specialized functions of a great metropolis - industry, shopping malls, hospitals, universities, cultural centers, and parks. With its highways and advanced communications technology, the new perimeter city can generate urban diversity without urban concentration.
To distinguish the new perimeter city from the traditional suburban bedroom community, I propose to identify it by the neologism "technoburb." For the real basis of the new city is the invisible web of advanced technology and telecommunications that has been substituted for the face-to-face contact and physical movement of older cities. Inevitably, the technoburb has become the favored location for those technologically advanced industries which have made the new city possible. If, as Fernand Braudel has said, the city is a transformer, intensifying the pace of change, then the American transformer has moved from the urban core to the perimeter.
If the technoburb has lost its dependence on the older urban cores, it now exists in a multicentered region defined by superhighways, the growth corridors of which could extend more than a hundred miles. These regions, which (if the reader will pardon another neologism) I call techno-cities, mean the end of the whirlpool effect that had drawn people to great cities and their suburbs. Instead, urban functions disperse across a decentralized landscape that is neither urban nor rural nor suburban in the traditional sense. With the rise of the technoburb, the history of suburbia comes to an end."
- What should we know about physical determinism and also pluralism?
Physical determinism - the assumption that physical forms (e.g., the shape and form of the built environment) determine social outcomes. The term is often used as a criticism or warning: i.e., don't assume that there is a one-to-one direct relationship between the physical form of a city and its social dynamics. By extension, don't assume that one can directly change or fix social problems through reconfiguring the built environment. That said, most of us are in the field of planning (or architecture, etc.) because we do think there is some connection between the physical and the social (albeit complex, and often indirect). If there were NO link between the physical and the social, then the role of planning and architecture would arguably be very limited. So, a wiser path might be: avoid the most crude and naive versions of physical determinism, but then figure out where the physical does shape the social, and focus your efforts there.
Herbert Gans, in an influential critique of Jane Jacobs ("Urban Vitality and the Fallacy of Physical Determinism," in Gans, People and Plans. New York: Basic Books, 1968; pp. 25-33), uses the term as a way of saying: perhaps Jacobs has misplaced much of the blame for urban renewal and the lack of urban vitality:
"Her argument is built on three fundamental assumptions: that people desire diversity; that diversity is ultimately what makes cities live and that the lack of it makes them die; and that buildings, streets, and the planning principles on which they are based shape human behavior. The first two of these assumptions are not entirely supported by the facts of the areas she describes. The last assumption, which she shares with the planners whom she attacks, might be called the physical fallacy, and it leads her to ignore the social, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to vitality or dullness. It also blinds her to less visible kinds of neighborhood vitality and to the true causes of the city's problems."
OED: “3. Polit. A theory or system of devolution and autonomy for organizations and individuals in preference to monolithic state power. Also: (advocacy of) a political system within which many parties or organizations have access to power. 4. The presence or tolerance of a diversity of ethnic or cultural groups within a society or state; (the advocacy of) toleration or acceptance of the coexistence of differing views, values, cultures, etc."
The theme of pluralism runs through many of the readings (Davidoff, Jacobs, Iris Marion Young, Leonie Sandercock, etc.). Davidoff argues for pluralism (with many voices, and many divergent and competing interests) as an alternative to a monolithic version of planning (with a forced, singular "public interest"). One can see variations on the idea of pluralism in discussions about diversity, multiculturalism, communicative action, etc.
- How is Habermas important?
Jürgen Habermas (born in Germany, 1929) is one of the most influential of philosophers/public intellectuals of the postwar era. (If this were a philosophy course, we would read his original writings, and see him as part of the famous “Frankfurt School” of social research, along with Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, etc.). For planning his relevance is primarily in the influence of his ideas about democracy and communicative action on the rise of communicative action/collaborative planning. We read a piece by John Forester (who teaches planning at Cornell), who has used the ideas of Habermas to explore the role of communication, deliberation and public participation to create a more egalitarian, democratic planning. Planners are attracted to his ideas of the “ideal speech situation” and “inter-subjectivity” (discussion between subjects to come to a sense of understanding and truth) as ways that discussion/debate between different individuals and interest groups can collectively shape planning outcomes. (And critics of Habermas have attacked the “ideal speech situation” as naively assuming an even distribution of power and access.). This is why Bent Flyvbjerg and Tim Richardson (in "Planning and Foucault: In Search of the Dark Side of Planning Theory") were critical of Habermas, and instead turned to Foucault. for more, see, for example, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Who is Albert Speer?
German architect who became (in)famous as the chief architect under Hitler and the Nazis. Designed several prominent Nazi buildings. Had ambitious plans for the reconstruction of Berlin to represent the grand aspirations of the Nazi “1000 year empire” -- most of these plans were never realized, as the German nation turned its attention and resources from nation-building to warfare and armaments production in the late 1930s. He mostly came up in UP540 through Peter Hall’s chapter on “The City of Monuments”. We didn’t cover much about Speer, but it’s worthwhile to know his role as the chief Nazi architect.
- What is the importance of the U.S. Federal-Aid Highway Act (1956)?
It was a landmark effort to build a nation-wide network of interstate highways. It involved massive amounts of money (and concrete/asphalt), and was seen as a crucial element of the rise of postwar automobility (which in turn was linked to suburbanization and the growing use of freight truck traffic). Significantly, the federal government paid for most of the costs, and was a model of federal-state partnerships in infrastructure building. Can been seen as part of a larger postwar effort to integrate the various American regions together in a single network. It was also known as the “National Interstate and Defense Highways Act,” and the military benefits (real or rhetorical) of having an integrated network of interstate highways (during the Cold War) was part of its marketing (and the US President at the time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a WWII general/hero). Indeed, the system was later renamed the "Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways." More info: “Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating the Interstate System” (alt link).
- It appears that communicative action planning is an important aspect of the strategic planning process. Is this a correct assessment, and if so, how are the two distinct from one another?
Interesting question -- I hadn’t thought about the connections between the two. [That said, in the classroom we treat the various styles of planning (comprehensive, incremental, advocacy, equity, strategic, communicative action) as pure types, while in the field, planners naturally combine and blur the boundaries. (I.e., these are useful analytical categories for understanding, but may be less distinct categories for practice.) ]
Is communicative action a necessary part of strategic planning? I don’t think so: it could be a useful part, but I also see many situations where the streamlined, top-down efforts of strategic planning collide with the deliberative, process-oriented, participatory nature of communicative action. Be sure to differentiate between communication as two-way deliberation/citizen participation/empowerment (what we usually think of when we talk about communicative action, a la Healey, Innes, Forester, etc.) and communication as instead one-way communicating/marketing the benefits of a strategic plan.
Can elaborate on your question so I can give a better answer?
- Can you elaborate on Webber’s “community without propinquity” and the property contradiction?
Mel Webber (who taught transportation planning at Berkeley for many years) observed what he saw was a fundamental change in the role of place in society: where communities were once bounded by place (fixed in place), we now live in a highly mobile society where our relationships/networks/social ties are no longer always (or even mostly) physically nearby. Hence the idea: “community without propinquity” (physical proximity).
In this contemporary era of social media, internet, etc., this idea may seem commonplace -- but Mel was writing in the early 1960s. The piece we read by Webber, “The Post City Age,” addresses this growing divide between what we once thought of as cities and the new “post city” age. For the modern citizen, “how little of his attention and energy he devotes to the concerns of place-defined communities.” He “lives in a life-space that is not defined by territory and deals with problems that are not local in nature. For him, the city is but a convenient setting for the conduct of his professional work: it is not the basis for the social communities that he cares most about.” 
(Note: there are interesting similarities between Mel Webber’s view of these new social networks and Fishman’s description of the “technoburb” -- see #10 above.)
the property contradiction comes from the article by Richard Foglesong (a short excerpt from his book, Planning the Capitalist City). It is the contradiction between the social character of land and its private ownership and control: capitalism both needs planning, but also threatens planning. This contradiction does not invariably lead to collapse, but at least to tension and political conflict. (and one could argue that one role of planners is to manage this contradiction).
Why does capital (i.e., businesses, firms) have an interest in socializing the control of land? (1) to cope with the externality problems of land as a commodity; (2) housing, etc. for the reproduction of labor power. (3) to build infrastructure used by capital as a means of production. (4) coordinate efficient spatial circulation of infrastructure (i.e., transportation). Yet capital also restricts the social control of land.
Overall, the concept of the contradiction is useful because it gets us beyond the overly simplistic sense that the private sector always resists government intrusion, regulation, planning. Instead, businesses both resist and want government involvement in the private sector. (One sees this in the housing market, in infrastructure, in redevelopment projects, zoning, etc.) This is why I assigned Foglesong’s writing in the session on arguments for & against planning -- because he helps us understand why individuals and organizations can seemingly be pro- and contra-planning at the same time.