Peter Calthorpe (born 1949) is a San Francisco–based architect, urban designer and urban planner. He is a founding member of the Congress for New Urbanism, a Chicago-based advocacy group formed in 1992 that promotes sustainable building practices. For his works on redefining the models of urban and suburban growth in America Calthorpe has been named one of twenty-five ‘innovators on the cutting edge’ by Newsweek magazine.[1]

Peter Calthorpe
Calthorpe in 2011
Born1949 (age 74–75)
EducationB.A. Antioch College, Yale School of Architecture
SpouseJean Driscoll
FamilyDiana Calthorpe (sister)
Jonathan F. P. Rose (brother-in-law)
Rachel Rose (niece)

Early life


Calthorpe was born in London and raised in Palo Alto, California.[2] He attended the Yale School of Architecture.



In 1986, he, along with Sim Van der Ryn, published Sustainable Communities.[3] In the early 1990s, he developed the concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) highlighted in The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream.[4]

He has taught at U.C. Berkeley, the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, and the University of North Carolina.[citation needed]

In 1989, he proposed the Pedestrian Pocket, an up to 110 acres (45 ha) pedestrian-friendly, transit-linked, mixed-use urban area with a park at its centre. The Pedestrian Pocket mixes low-rise, high-density housing, commercial and retail uses. The concept had several similarities with Ebenezer Howard's Garden City and aimed to be an alternative to low-density residential suburban developments.[5]

As an expert on urban planning, Peter Calthorpe, is frequently cited in various reputable mass media including New York Times,[6] The Guardian,[7] National Geographic,[8] Newsweek,[9] Grist,[10] Metropolismag,[11] The Advocate[12] and others.

In 2006, Calthorpe won the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.[13]

In his 2017 TED Talk, Calthorpe addressed the necessity of efficient use of space and resources in the context of climate change and identified urban sprawl an urgent trend that requires immediate attention.[14]

In 2018, Calthorpe launched urban-planning software UrbanFootprint that should help fight sprawl allowing non-experts to model the impacts of different urban planning scenarios.[15]

Among the most recent Calthorpe concerns are autonomous cars as a potential reason for increased urban congestion and suburban sprawl. Unlike the advocates of self-driving cars who believe that they will lead to fewer cars and faster commutes, Calthorpe believes that the convenience of autonomous transport will only encourage more car trips.[16] He suggests an alternative plan to avoid congestion – autonomous rapid transit – fleets of self-driving vans in reserved lanes on main arteries.[17]

Personal life and family


He is married to Jean Driscoll.[18] He has three children: Lucia, Jacob, and Asa.[18]

His sister Diana Calthorpe is married to real estate developer Jonathan F. P. Rose.[19] His niece is artist Rachel Rose.


  • Calthorpe, Peter and Sim Van der Ryn (1986). Sustainable Communities: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs and Towns. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. ISBN 0-87156-629-X
  • Calthorpe, Peter: The Pedestrian pocket, in Doug, Kelbaugh (ed.) Pedestrian Pocket Book, 1989
  • Calthorpe, Peter: The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream, Princeton Architectural Press, 1993
  • Calthorpe, Peter and Fulton, William: The Regional City, Island Press, 2001
  • Calthorpe, Peter: Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, Island Press, 2010


  1. ^ Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 62.
  2. ^ "FOCUS; A Transit-Oriented Approach to Suburbia". The New York Times. November 10, 1991.
  3. ^ Van Der Ryn, Sim; Calthorpe, Peter (1986). Sustainable Communities: A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns. Sierra Club Books. ISBN 9780871568007.
  4. ^ "Does China's Urbanization Spell Doom or Salvation? Peter Calthorpe Weighs In..." ArchDaily. 2013-08-02. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  5. ^ Le Gates, R.; Strout, F. (eds.). "The City Reader" (PDF).
  6. ^ Badger, Emily (2017-09-04). "Is Houston Still a Model City? Its Supporters Aren't Backing Down". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  7. ^ Pogash, Carol (2019-03-27). "House-hunting in Silicon Valley: tech's newly rich fuel a spectacle of excess". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  8. ^ "To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars". Magazine. 2019-03-14. Archived from the original on March 14, 2019. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  9. ^ EDT, Newsweek Staff On 5/14/95 at 8:00 PM (1995-05-14). "15 Ways To Fix The Suburbs". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-11-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Peter Calthorpe on why urbanism is the cheapest, smartest way to fight climate change". Grist. 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  11. ^ "The Real Problem With China's Ghost Towns". Metropolis. 2013-09-01. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  12. ^ BOONE, TIMOTHY (20 June 2018). "Late planner John Fregonese remembered for ideas that re-envisioned, shape Baton Rouge's city design". The Advocate. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  13. ^ Franke, Leigh (2006-08-03). "2006 J.C. Nichols Prize Winner—Peter Calthorpe". ULI Americas. Archived from the original on 2019-12-31. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  14. ^ "This Is How Architecture Can Curb Climate Change". Architectural Digest. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  15. ^ Florida, Richard (17 April 2018). "'I Don't Think Technology and the City Are at Odds'". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  16. ^ Markoff, John (2018-10-27). "Urban Planning Guru Says Driverless Cars Won't Fix Congestion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  17. ^ Markoff, John (2018-10-28). "Driverless cars won't help traffic congestion, he says". SFGate. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  18. ^ a b Calthorpe, Peter; Fulton, William (April 10, 2013). The Regional City. Island Press. pp. xii. ISBN 9781597266215.
  19. ^ Franke, Leigh (August 3, 2006). "C. Nichols Prize Winner—Peter Calthorpe". Urban Land Institute. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2015.