One subject that I constantly worry about is the design of parking garages. These are the elephants in the room in any urban redevelopment, since the dirty secret of modern planning is that you can make the streets and the buildings look like no one drives anymore, but in reality we all still do, and must. "Come see our pretty main street, and by the way there is an enormous ugly parking garage on the next block." This is not so much an issue in Toronto, where it has become acceptable among developers to suffer the cost of building underground parking, or in New York, where there is no parking period, but it has huge ramifications on the rest of North America. Look behind the office buildings in Glendale, or Jersey City or countless other places and recoil in horror.
The correct approach is to try to design a better parking garage. Architects used to consider it beneath themselves to even try, so they left it to the engineers. Modern education and training of engineers has segregated their profession from any concept of architecture, so they were ill-equipped to come up with anything attractive. And the clients, of course, would refuse to pay for it if they had. Things have finally changed, as noticed in this NY Times article
. There are even discussion forums
on the topic. This can only mean good things for urban design everywhere.