Daniel Church (C’11) rethinks the city

By Emily Sherwood

Contributing Writer

This article first appeared in Sustain Sewanee:

Sewanee graduate Daniel Church recently came back to his alma mater to give a talk about “rethinking the modern metropolis in the age of climate change.” Church is currently working on finishing his last year at Berkley, where he is studying city and regional planning and urban design. He’s passionate about working on elements of urban design that can make cities more sustainable.

Church sees the most negative environmental impact branching from our current “auto-oriented city designs”. Current cities have huge spaces dedicated to parking lots and roadways with lots of wasted space that all encourage driving. He proposes that highways be replaced by slower moving city streets with broad sidewalks that encourage walking and biking as opposed to driving, which would limit carbon emissions in cities.

Church also showed a picture of parking garages with a park on top that would limit the sprawl of parking lots and provide an element of nature for cities. The goal of these city changes is to try to get people to drive less, which would limit the amount of carbon emissions and also cut down on automotive runoff. Church recognizes that people have to have some way to get to and from work every day. He talked to Sewanee students about the importance of smart public transportation. Church informed his audience that, currently, some systems of public transit really don’t travel to places where people want to go. He showed an example of a building compound that is a train station, apartment building and a few stores all put together. This is a very efficient building because it’s public transportation that actually leads to somewhere people want to go, so they’re more likely to utilize it in their day to day lives. Church also emphasized the current social stigma of riding buses. He suggested that, in order to raise the number of people riding buses, cities start to improve the quality of busses so more people want to use them. The talk was inspirational to the students who came out to see Church talk about his innovative ideas about urban design. His clear passion and focused intent make him a great role model for students interested in following similar career paths.