Sprawl in Chicagoland: Can We Stop It? Should We?

May 8, 2012

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Robert Bruegmann
When new subdivisions and shopping centers shoot up on what once was open farmland, is that evidence of economic boom or suburban sprawl? Opportunity for young families, or disaster for aging cities? Great news for the car industry, or terrible news for the environment?
 
Architectural historian, author, and educator Robert Bruegmann explores questions like these, and their broader implications, in his presentation “Sprawl in Chicagoland: Can We Stop It? Should We?”
 
Professor emeritus of art history, architecture and urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Bruegmann is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago 18801918 (1997), Sprawl: A Compact History (2005), and, most recently, The Architecture of Harry Weese (2010).
 
In his controversial book Sprawl: A Compact History, Bruegmann finds inspiration and opportunity in subdivisions and in spread-out development. The view contrasts with the one argued over the last few decades by advocates of “smart growth” and New Urbanism, which promotes denser, more walkable neighborhoods and communities. 
 
Sprawl “works because it satisfies a lot of needs. When people have been able to afford it, people move out of cities,” Bruegmann said in an interview with the Boston Globe. “We now have tens of millions of people who can do what only a small minority once could do.”
 
Elmhurst College is a leading liberal arts college located eight miles west of Chicago. The College’s mission is to prepare its students for meaningful and ethical work in a multicultural, global society. Approximately 3,400 full- and part-time students are enrolled in its 22 undergraduate academic departments and nine graduate degree programs.
 
Recorded Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at Elmhurst College.