Author: Martin Zimmerman

Martin Zimmerman writes from Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a frequent contributor to Urban Land on a range of smart growth, urban place-making and multi-modal transportation topics. His work has also appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, APA Planning, Urban Ecology, Landscape Architecture and Preservation magazines. He currently directs the City Wise Studio USA. He can be reached at

Articles by Martin Zimmerman

  • In Print: The City That Never Was
    Published on February 01, 2017 in Planning & Design
    Mark Twain once observed that “there are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can.” Author Christopher Marcinkoski, on the other hand—a faculty member in landscape architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania—takes the opposite tack in this, his first book: “speculative expansion of settlement will continue in perpetuity, and any suggestion otherwise should be met with the utmost suspicion.”
  • In Print: Handbook of Biophilic City Planning and Design
    Published on January 30, 2017 in Sustainability
    The term biophilia was coined by psychiatrist Eric Fromm during the 1960s and later championed by esteemed biologist E.O. Wilson (1984) in his evocative book by the same name. Author Tim Beatley is a relatively recent convert to the biophilia hypothesis, having previously garnered well-deserved repute for promoting the cause of sustainable cities as an antidote to the specter of climate change.
  • In Print: Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation
    Published on September 12, 2016 in Infrastructure
    Journalist Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of 14 books. In Door to Door he takes on another complex, resource-intensive topic: the mammoth transportation systems that make it possible (and often frighteningly impossible) for Americans to drive 344 million miles in an hour and move $55 billion worth of goods per day.
  • In Print: Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World
    Published on August 15, 2016 in Planning & Design
    This is a book that educates, entertains, and astonishes. It is an effort that progresses along multiple paths of utopian impulse, while at the same time gushing forth with a bravado of egocentric, architectural hubris.
  • In Print: Conservation for Cities: How to Plan and Build Natural Infrastructure
    Published on March 14, 2016 in Infrastructure
    Robert McDonald writes from Washington, D.C., where he is a senior scientist for sustainable land use at the Nature Conservancy. In this modest and succinct primer, he explains with an engaging informality ways to deal with many of the standard environmental shortcomings affecting U.S. cities, whether caused by the forces of nature or by human misuse.
  • In Print: The End of Automobile Dependence: How Cities Are Moving Beyond Car-Based Planning
    Published on March 03, 2016 in Infrastructure
    Amid the ongoing debates over climate change, considerations of “peak auto” have eclipsed those of “peak oil” in recent years. In this cautiously optimistic book, the former notion is updated and aligned within a set of long-term strategies necessary to achieve a low-carbon green economy.
  • Bike Sharing Pedals Toward a Fourth Global Generation
    Published on February 19, 2016 in Economy, Market & Trends
    Last year marked a 12 percent year-over-year increase in the total number of bicycles in sharing schemes around the world. China announced 60 new launches last year alone, also claiming the two largest fleets—78,000 bikes in Hangzhou and 40,000 in Beijing. Database expert Russell Meddin’s January 2016 tally counted 1.27 million total two-wheelers in almost 1,000 cities worldwide, roughly double the numbers recorded just five years ago.
  • In Print: Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation
    Published on November 25, 2015 in Planning & Design
    In this probing analysis, based largely on contrasts between the United States and Europe, planning scholar Sonia Hirt offers new and refreshing insights into zoning’s fault lines and asks why, despite recurring attempts at reform, it has yet to overcome the challenges outlined a century or more ago.
  • In Print: Rail and the City: Shrinking Our Carbon Footprint While Reimagining Public Space
    Published on August 05, 2015 in Infrastructure
    Author Roxanne Warren is an architect, an urban designer, and a staunch transit advocate, writing from her office in New York City, by most measures the most complex transit metropolis in the United States.
  • In Print: Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Actions for Long-term Change
    Published on July 24, 2015 in Economy, Market & Trends
    This is a much-anticipated book, and the basic message is an important one: small-scale actions play an essential role in ensuring that cities—and especially the street frontage or building blocks within them—are responsive to genuine but unmet needs
  • In Print: Public Produce: Cultivating Our Parks, Plazas, and Streets for Healthier Cities
    Published on July 13, 2015 in Sustainability
    This brief tome, a revised edition of a book by the same title published in 2009, trumpets the cause of edible cities with new examples of the growing international movement bent on ensuring the basic human right to a healthy daily diet, while also returning to food sources that are both local and affordable.
  • In Print: Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade
    Published on May 12, 2014 in Sustainability
    This book is a fascinating and entertaining account of a global industry that few people acknowledge and even fewer comprehend, and it is hard to imagine anyone with better qualifications than Adam Minter to explain how it works and assess where it is taking us.
  • Keeping an Urban Authenticity Alive: Vancouver’s Granville Island
    Published on February 05, 2014 in Planning & Design
    In the 1970s, Ron Basford, a Canadian Cabinet minister and loyal Vancouverite seized on the idea of converting Granville Island into a special place.
  • In Print: The Rules That Shape Urban Form
    Published on January 07, 2014 in Planning & Design
    This report on the tedious but highly relevant topic of zoning trends is primarily the product of lead author Donald Elliott, a nationally recognized planner and attorney. Elliott’s previous publications include two highly readable books, A Better Way to Zone and The Citizen’s Guide to Planning.
  • In Print: Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form
    Published on June 25, 2013 in Infrastructure
    In her new book, urban designer Julie Campoli judiciously weaves photography, text, and mapping to define the essential characteristics of 12 compact, low-carbon prototypes in central city locations. Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form communicates with ease on several levels for the benefit of a broad reading audience.
  • In Print: Sustainable Transportation Planning
    Published on April 19, 2013 in Infrastructure
    Jeffrey Tumlin's book Sustainable Transportation Planning attempts to grasp in shorthand form the big picture—one that integrates motor vehicles with bicycling, transit, parking, car sharing, transit-oriented design of stations, and other considerations.
  • In Print: The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City
    Published on February 27, 2013 in Economy, Market & Trends
    This remarkably perceptive book, written by Alan Ehrenhalt, a former executive editor of Governing magazine, not only validates a grand diagram that has been reshaping and re­­arranging metropolitan areas from downtowns to the exurbs, but it successfully delivers the reader to an unfolding real-life scenography.
  • In Print: Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi
    Published on February 20, 2013 in Economy, Market & Trends
    Authored by the cohost of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep, this story is an account of his firsthand experience reporting on the daily tremors in modern-day Karachi.
  • Around the World on Two Wheels
    Published on September 12, 2012 in Infrastructure
    Bike sharing in the United States may not yet be as popular as in Europe or China, but two-wheelers are making tracks in high-cost cities.
  • In Print: The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World
    Published on June 01, 2012 in Sustainability
    Paul Gilding, former director of Greenpeace International and currently an environmental consultant based in his home country, Australia, has been at the forefront of global environmental activism for more than four decades. Gilding’s intel­lectual foundation rests largely on such seminal findings as those in the 1972 book Limits to Growth: A Report to the Club of Rome, which is generally heralded as the most scientifically rigorous environmental treatise of its era.
  • Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History Is Reshaping Our World
    Published on October 12, 2011 in Sustainability
    Veteran British journalist Doug Saunders, in his thought-provoking, painstakingly researched, and gripping book Arrival City, examines the receptor communities for those fleeing the crushing subsistence of a farm economy, which are stereotyped as dead-end zones with no prospect of change or upward mobility. Read a review of the book, and find out why Saunders believes this view of such places is wrong.
  • Proactive in Print – Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis
    Published on September 08, 2011 in Default Category
  • In Print: Jan Gehl
    Published on July 20, 2011 in Public Spaces
    Because of the continued appeal of his unfettered approach to pedestrian-based design, Copenhagen architect and urban designer Jan Gehl has become something of an international celebrity. Read reviews of two of his books, Life Between Buildings, more or less a reprint of his first text published in Danish in 1971, and Cities for People, a Planetizen top ten selection from 2010.
  • Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities
    Published on May 02, 2011 in Public Spaces
    In Urban Green, author Peter Harnick asks fundamental questions about which kinds of parks to build, how much to build, for whom to build, and where the parks should go. Read what he considers essential in order for park advocates to move “to the point where a mayor’s traditional directive to a park superintendent—‘do more with less’—is replaced with the liberating permission to ‘do more with more.’”
  • Vancouver: Going for the Green
    Published on March 01, 2010 in Infrastructure
    While the transportation component of Vancouver’s Winter Olympics is being watched closely by planners of the 2012 summer Olympics in London, Vancouverites saw the event also as an opportunity to reframe the city’s long-range transport picture, particularly in the context of a greener future.