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K-State Today

September 13, 2011



APDesign's Ekdahl lecturer to tell us what we ‘really want’

By Emily Vietti

Dr. Arthur "Chris" Nelson

Arthur “Chris” Nelson, Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners pre-eminent planning scholar and former Kansas State faculty member, will present the fall 2011 APDesign Ekdahl Lecture.

The lecture, “What Americans Really Want: How Demographic, Economic, And Financial Forces Are Reshaping Americans’ Housing, Neighborhood, And Community Preferences,” will take place at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, in the Little Theater at the K-State Student Union. The lecture is free and open to the public.  

Nelson is the presidential professor of city and metropolitan planning in the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah, where he is also director of the Metropolitan Research Center, adjunct professor of finance in the David Eccles School of Business, and director of the master of real estate development Program. 

For the past 30 years, Nelson has conducted pioneering research in smart growth, public facility finance, economic development and metropolitan development patterns. He is the author of more than 20 books and 300 other scholarly and professional publications. The Journal of Planning Education and Research ranks him in the top 10 of most-cited planning academicians. Island Press recently named him editor of its forthcoming book series in Metropolitan Planning + Design.

Nelson’s current work focuses on how demographic economic forces along with shifts in housing preferences will reshape America’s metropolitan areas for the rest of this century.

His lecture will center on how America became a “suburban” nation after World War II, principally by meeting the needs of the Baby Boomers. The “American Dream” was to own a home on a large lot in the suburbs. But now, the American Dream is plural; people want more out of their neighborhoods and communities than in the past. This presentation will review how changing demographics, economics and financing are changing Americans’ preferences for housing, neighborhoods and communities. It also will synthesize several national housing preference surveys to show that what Americans want now is very different from what they wanted just a generation ago. The presentation will show the mismatch between what Americans want and what they have, and summarize options to close the gap.

Nelson has served as an editor, associate editor or member of the governing board of the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Community Development and Journal of Planning Literature.

Numerous federal agencies have sponsored Nelson’s research such as the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Deptartment of Commerce, U.S. Deptartment of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Other sponsors include the Brookings Institution, Urban Land Institute, American Planning Association and National Association of Realtors. 

Founded more than 35 years ago as a memorial honoring Topeka architect and K-State alumnus Oscar Ekdahl, the Ekdahl Lectures bring practitioners, teachers, critics, theorists and artists to the campus for interaction with students, faculty and alumni. The Ekdahl Lecture series is characterized by concern about issues affecting the quality of the physical environment and the leadership roles played by the speakers. The purpose of the series is to inform and challenge as well as to reinforce and complement the educational programs of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design.