Joseph Schilling Coauthors American Planning Association Guide for Cities in Transition

Joseph Schilling, Associate Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech and Alan Mallach, Senior Fellow Brookings Institution, have coauthored Cities in Transition: A Guide for Practicing Planners, published by the American Planning Association (APA).

Schilling and Mallach view cities in transition through a typology that includes older industrial, shrinking cities, fast growing cities, declining first tier suburbs, and small but growing gateway cities. All these cities – large and small, east and west – face similar challenges including urban sprawl, loss of population, urban decline, and high rates of poverty and crime. While these challenges are often concentrated in poor neighborhoods, they are now spreading to more stable neighborhoods due in part to the country’s overall economic downturn, the authors suggest.

Cities in Transition offers practicing planners and community leaders step-by-step guidance for reviving cities in transition by highlighting an array of place-based strategies for addressing different dimensions of urban distress. The authors recommend workable, scalable strategies for revitalizing cities and inner-ring suburbs by tackling vacant properties issues and rebuilding local government and civic capacity. Case studies from cities in the Rust Belt, the Sun Belt, and abroad, offer policy makers concrete examples of urban recovery at work.

The authors highlight the planner’s role in making transitional cities stronger, healthier, and more resilient. “Planners in distressed cities should reflect on the past, assess the present, and realign resources. It’s important for planners to break old habits and think critically about the city’s slower growth trajectory,” Schilling said.

Cities in Transition, part of the Metropolitan Institute’s larger Vacant Property Research Initiative, is a joint project with the American Planning Association and received support from the Ford Foundation’s metropolitan program.