Design Alone Will Not Make a Community

Design alone does not create a successful community according to author Sidney Brower in his new book Neighbors & Neighborhoods: Elements of Successful Community Design. Brower writes that communities are created through both physical and social components, what he calls community-generating properties. He cautions that while design may give the "appearance" of a community, just because it looks like a community does not mean it functions as a community. Through Brower's observations and eye for detail, he identifies the elements that make for successful communities and will alter the reader's perception of communities.

Brower profiles nearly 20 developments that illustrate the elements that contribute to a successful community, including Celebration, Florida, 1996; Columbia, Maryland, 1967; Lake Claire Cohousing, Atlanta, 1977; Levittown, Long Island, New York, 1947; Mariemont, Ohio, 1922; and Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1912.

Meet the Author

Sidney Brower is a professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland. He previously worked as an architect in Cape Town, South Africa, and as a planner for the City of Baltimore before joining the faculty at the University of Maryland. He has been a visiting scholar to Peking University, in Beijing, China, visiting faculty member at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a guest lecturer at the State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sidney Brower


Design alone does not create successful communities. Listen to Sidney Brower, author of Neighbors & Neighborhoods: Elements of Successful Community Design, discuss the connection between community design and the ability of residents to come together as a community.

Neighbors & Neighborhoods in the News

Neighbors & Neighborhoods: Element of a Successful Community Design (Review)
November 20, 2011 

Advance Praise

"What a refreshing book! Brower takes us on a thoughtful, multidisciplinary tour of once-planned American communities: from counterculture to company towns, from HOPE VI to Disney, and from the familiar to the peculiar. His eye for telling detail and his quiet observations lead to keen insights about community categorization and what makes for successful communities — be they tight-knit, fragile, transitory, or privacy worshiping. He blends sociology and design in a way that is reminiscent of Kevin Lynch's seminal Image of the City. You will not look at (or plan for) communities quite the same now."
— John Shapiro, Chair, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, Pratt Institute.