As landscape architects and planners, we are often called upon to create or improve a “sense of place” or community for a project.  According to, this is often desired in new-urbanism developments which…

“…promote the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities.”

Based on the popularity of places like Seaside, Stapleton and Old York Village this “sense of community” is desirable to many families across age groups, ethnicities and income levels in the US and around the globe.

Some of the leaders of the movement are Calthorpe, Duany, Krier and more recently Zuckerberg.  Yes, Zuckerberg, as in Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook.  This may be the first time he is included in this conversation, but he is undeniably creating a hugely successful virtual community which is expanding and evolving as we speak.

So how does this onset of the virtual community affect our profession?  The astounding growth and popularity of virtual communities makes me wonder if the physical community we are designing today is going to be dramatically different tomorrow.  How will the community of the future look?  Should we as experts in the field join the movement and start to design virtual communities to prevent virtual sprawl?

These are more hypothetical questions than anything else and I don’t foresee a simple answer right now.  However, if you have any suggestions on how to proceed with this new movement please leave a comment.


  1. Nathan – This is an interesting post as I know that this new movement is coming at us faster than we can imagine. The virtual community is fundamentally changing the way that we connect with one another and will undoubtedly change the ways in which we live and work and travel and play. And that’s exciting and stimulating and will impact our profession in ways that we’ve yet to understand. Perhaps this is a sign of my age, but I wonder if the design of our physical communities won’t become even more important providing people with places to enliven our senses of smell and touch, to help us slow down and remove ourselves from the constant stimulation provided by the virtual community, and to actually connect with people in a physical way beyond a picture on a screen. There’s something about actually feeling the world and thankfully that may always create a place for landscape architects.

  2. I agree, I’m not sure if anybody really knows how the virtual community will all evolve. Hopefully it will have the capability to offer a richer experience and be less about number of friends and followers. Its bound to be interesting to watch and participate in.

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