Urbanism author calls Windsor an 'urban wasteland'

One of thousands of architects, planners and urban thinkers meeting in Detroit this week to talk about urbanism has some harsh words for Windsor.

'We are living in environments that are punishing us'

James Howard Kunstler, an author focusing on urbanism spoke in Windsor Thursday. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

Is Windsor, Ont. an urban wasteland? One American author specializing in urban geography thinks so.

"Windsor at the moment is a kind of a wasteland," James Howard Kunstler told CBC News. "Forget about the fact the streets are all four lanes, they're too wide and the cars are going too fast, that's one thing. But the buildings themselves are so amazingly ugly, it's like somebody came in and beat the city with an ugly stick."

Kunstler has written two books on urban decay and renewal, Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency. He was speaking in Windsor as part of the Congress of New Urbanism taking place in Detroit during an event focusing on Windsor.

Kunstler is one of thousands of architects, planners and urban thinkers meeting in Detroit this week to talk about the most pressing issues in cities around the world.

He said his goal is to get North American cities to start looking more like European ones where streets are walkable, there is ample green space and buildings are aesthetically pleasing.

"We're a long way from there because we threw a lot of our stuff away," he said. "We've got a long way to come back still."

"We're living in environments that are punishing us, the immersive ugliness of North American cities can be described as entropy made visible. It's a condition that drives you towards death and stasis," he said. "That's what people feel when they go down these miserable boulevards filled with miserable buildings, we need to do better."