Jeff Speck

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Jeff Speck
ResidenceBrookline, Massachusetts[1]
Alma mater
Suburban Nation
The Smart Growth Manual
Walkable City
WebsiteOfficial website

Jeff Speck is an American city planner, writer, and lecturer who is the principal at the urban design and consultancy firm, Speck & Associates. He has authored or co-authored several books on urban planning, including his 2012 book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. He is an advocate for New Urbanism and more "walkable" cities and has given TED Talks on the subjects.

Early life and education[edit]

Speck grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts. He earned a BA from Williams College where he graduated magna cum laude in 1985.[2][3] After graduating from Williams, Speck would go on to attend Syracuse University where he earned an MFA in Art History. He then attended Harvard University, earning a Master of Architecture.[3]


Speck began his urban design career at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (now DPZ Partners) where, over the course of 10 years, he became the Director of Town Planning.[4][5] While at DPZ, Speck co-authored (with Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk) a book entitled, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.[6] Published in 2000, the book details the effects of urban sprawl on cities and offers a plan for improved urban redevelopment.[7][8]

From 2003 to 2007, Speck was the Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).[9][10] While there, he oversaw the Mayors' Institute on City Design and created the Governors' Institute on Community Design. After leaving the NEA, Speck started his own urban design consultancy firm, Speck & Associates, which was originally based in Washington, D.C.[11] As part of the business, Speck has created master plans and waterfront plans for a variety of cities including, Lowell, Massachusetts; Memphis, Tennessee; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Tampa, Florida.[12][13] In 2008, Speck completed construction on his family's house in Washington, D.C. The three-story building sits on a flatiron lot and measures about 500 square feet per floor. It was profiled in The Washington Post Magazine soon after its completion.[14]

In 2009, Speck co-authored The Smart Growth Manual with Andrés Duany and Mike Lydon. The book offers a wide variety of New Urbanist planning principles and techniques.[15] In 2012, Speck released his book, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time.[16] The book is split into two parts, with the first part detailing Speck's "General Theory of Walkability." The second part provides Speck's ten-step process toward attaining walkability in cities.[17][18] Walkable City was the best-selling city-planning book of 2013 and 2014.[4] Speck gave two TED Talks on the subject in 2013[1][19] and has given numerous lectures on the topic since.[4][20]

In 2015, Speck's firm was hired by businessman, Jeff Vinik, to design and plan the $1-billion redevelopment of downtown Tampa.[11][13] By that time, Speck had also relocated his family and business (Speck & Associates) to Brookline, Massachusetts.[1][12]


Year Title Original publisher ISBN Notes
2000 Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream North Point Press ISBN 9780865477506 Co-authored with Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
2009 The Smart Growth Manual McGraw-Hill Education ISBN 9780071376754 Co-authored with Andrés Duany and Mike Lydon
2012 Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time Farrar, Straus and Giroux ISBN 9780865477728 Best-selling city-planning book of 2013 and 2014.[4]
2018 Walkable City Rule: 101 Steps to Making Better Places Island Press ISBN 9781610918985


  1. ^ a b c Hallett, Vicky (26 September 2014). "House hunting with Jeff Speck, urbanist and author of 'Walkable City'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Jeff Speck, Class of 1985". Williams College. 17 September 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b "WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS; Alice Ostino, Jeff Speck". The New York Times. 9 April 2006. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Our future depends on walkable communities". The News-Press. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  5. ^ Green, Jared (2012). "Interview with Jeff Speck, Hon. ASLA". American Society of Landscape Architects. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  6. ^ Steuteville, Robert (1 January 2000). "Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company announces coming books". Public Square. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  7. ^ Schmitt, Angie (19 December 2012). "Author Jeff Speck on Walkability and the One Mistake That Can Wreck a City". Streets Blog. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  8. ^ Ulin, David L. (7 December 2012). "Jeff Speck's 'Walkable City' a recipe for vibrant street life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  9. ^ Popova, Maria (15 November 2012). "The Pedestrian Is a Fragile Species". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Jeff Speck, AICP, CNU-A, LEED-AP, Honorary ASLA". Harvard University. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  11. ^ a b Thalji, Jamal (17 March 2005). "Jeff Vinik hires urban planners to start designing $1 billion downtown Tampa project". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  12. ^ a b Hendrickson, Dyke (5 June 2017). "Waterfront West meeting set for tonight". The Daily News of Newburyport. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  13. ^ a b Dawson, Anastasia (29 June 2015). "Vinik's planner, Jeff Speck, has vision for walkable Tampa". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  14. ^ Hales, Linda (21 September 2008). "Meet one of the most unique homes in Washington D.C." The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  15. ^ Gruber, Frank (18 March 2010). "Half a Bridge: A Review of The Smart Growth Manual by Andres Duany and Jeff Speck with Mike Lydon". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  16. ^ Williams, Monica (13 December 2012). "How American Cities Can Thrive Again". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  17. ^ Horan, Richard (19 November 2012). "Walkable City". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  18. ^ Moyer, Justin (22 February 2013). "'Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time' by Jeff Speck". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  19. ^ Spendlove, Tom (February 18, 2017). "Designing and Building a More Walkable City". Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Get to know your CivicCon speakers". Pensacola News Journal. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2014.