January 20, 2010 at 12:11 pm #171660Trace OneParticipant
Tax and economic structures affect growth patterns enormously..Look at the highway subsidies for the past forty years – yet Amtrak’s little budget just clings on to life..Look at the ease of getting mortgages – our entire economy melted down in small part because of that..In Germany, you don’t own a house, you rent..Look at how in America, renters get no deal at all, while house mortgages all figure in to bringing your taxes down..And finally look at how contractors work..It is all borrowed bucks, their businesses run on..Future bucks..
I agree Pattern is important..I cannot see how we can keep encouraging the car culture, however, and not connect it to national fatness..My mom used to walk for 45 minutes to get to the public pool..Can you imagine a kid doing that today.
but I agree, also, I don’t know what the answer is ..Planning is one of the most thankless and underpaid and stressful jobs in america..January 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm #171659
I like to think that I grew up in an anomolous situation as a kid.
In Maine, I still walked two miles home from school when I missed the bus (detention). In high school, no one had cars until they were getting ready for college or had a full time job and then we still walked all over the city to get anywhere..miles of walking. When I skateboarded we’d skate all over the city and take busses and cabs otherwise.
In Portland, Maine everything was tight enough to get around without a car and it was actually enjoyable to walk places. Portland, as small as it may seem ius truly an urban city in a small town package. See most New England cities and towns..(http://www.portlandmaine.com/)
I think the key is the organic pattern and overall fabric pf the city. There is a lot of articulation in both architectural character and urban pattern from neighborhood to neighborhood, punctuated or ‘striated’ by lots of ‘leftover’ wild space like veins through the core. The public spaces/parks take a lot of influence from the Olmsted style in that theyre rambling and wild feeling with great destinations, micro zones and vistas while backwaters, brooks, drainages and gulleys make informal pathways between neighborhoods, also separating each area.
As far as character I think the greatest thing the New England towns have going for them is the layers of urban tissues, whether at the street level (layers of asphalt and granite cobble) or at the city level (colliding urban patterns and natural terrain) which make these places so interseting and ‘cozy.’ I think this is the essence of NU, though I agree wholeheartedly that iit is difficult, if not impossibe as well as passe to attempt to re-create and organic form in the middle of a farm in Iowa, for example. Though I think from a planning standpoint the pattern and relationships are headed in the right direction as an alternatiove or ‘retrofit’ to sprawl.
I believe you that planning is a thankless and underpaid job. Most of what I’m doing now is planning at the site scale-to that is what I meant it is difficult to control ‘where a project goes..’ It’s only the pattern or fabric I can affect in that sense. I see the current or long range planner for a municipality as doing their best to make sure the house gets built on a strong foundation while master planners, LA’s and architects are building the framing, putting up the drywall, arguing over window treatments, meanwhile there is no foundation..January 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm #171658Jill Bellenger, ASLA | LEED GAParticipant
I’ve been to Stapleton, got family that lives there very happily, and agree with what some of you are saying about these neighborhoods being great in some ways but being their own arch-nemesis’ as well. We just happened to be there for one of the farmer’s markets, and had brunch at Udi’s, had a lovely time. But in order to get from my brother-in-law’s house on one end of the neighborhood, we had to drive to get to all these places.
And if you’re working in downtown Denver, it’s not exactly a car-free ride in either. Disjointed? Absolutely.
I did however appreciate the easy, breezy landscaping with lots of native (I hope) grasses and not closing off your homes to neighbors, that type of thing. It felt quite safe and family-friendly.
Personally, as I’ve been doing a lof articles about the new LEED for Neighborhood Development projects as well as researching NU, I very much appreciate the projects that focus on integrating themselves in an already dense part of town and not middle-of-nowhere suburbs that totally defeat the purpose.
An alternative to Stapleton in the Denver area that is in the LEED-ND pilot program and a much better example of integrated neighborhoods (bonus: includes affordable housing) is here: http://benedictparkplace.com/. Very cool.January 21, 2010 at 1:04 am #171657
The problem with a lot of infill and TOD is that it becomes entirely unaffordable for those who need it most-people who dont own cars or cant afford to drive an hour to work and get groceries, and etc..
Some of the rowhomes built alon commons park are going for upward of a million dollars and the metro apts near union station are close to $2k a month.January 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm #171656Rico FlorParticipant
Hello Trace One.
Interestingly, in my three or so years here in the UAE (where Dubai is), I haven’t seen any reference in planning documents to NU. More interestingly, might be lip service for now but a lot of local and federal laws (espcially in Abu Dhabi) are hell bent on going green. So much so that any consultant in the UAE groans whenever their project gets scrutinized by the AD Planning Commission. They’ve put in place a project rating system called Estidama which is somewhat like a mixture of LEED and BREAM.
My only gripe so far is that there aren’t that much outfits or nurseries here that has caught on and have ventured production of local plant materials. Myriads of salt and desert tolerants, but there’s a lot more local flora available. Maybe in a few years, we’d get a better pallet now that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are seriously looking at green roof tech as part of their development standards.
Let’s give Dubai – currently the built environment whipping boy – a chance.
Cheers!January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm #171655Rico FlorParticipant
Duany hates larkies? And to think that I liked his idea and spunk….January 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm #171654
So I heard..who knows..January 22, 2010 at 2:49 am #171653
First, you oughta ask IF we hate New Urbanism, not WHY. And your news on Duany is erroneous. His brother Douglas is a landscape architect, and they get along quite famously. It was Douglas, as a matter of fact, that sparked Andrés’ conception of the Transect. His objection isn’t landscape architecture in general, but rather the attempt to turn everything into a rural scene. Let the city be a city, and let the country be a country. Our urbanity confusion has led us to try to make the city be country (landscaped berms on Main Street) and to make the country be city, which is the spearhead of the impetus for sprawl. The result is a thoroughly unsatisfying result at all settings, because nothing is what it should be, and this condition is unsustainable.January 22, 2010 at 2:59 am #171652BoilerplaterParticipant
Hmm. Is it that LAs are catching on to the fact that if more land is developed along New Urbanist dictum then there will be less land to design “landscaping” for? Really, most of them don’t have extensive planted areas, the space in front of homes is narrow, backyards are small. That makes for less work for the LA, so one position to take is that of discrediting NU. NU communities don’t usually have the grandiose entry monumentation and guard shelters typical of a lot of new developments, yet another task that was taken from the LA. Of course that is just one way of looking at it. Concentrating that development might make more land area available for large parks. I recall reading in Suburban Nation about their disdain for curvilinear streets and landscape forms, both hallmarks of landscape architects. That is the only real swipe at LAs I’ve come across in the NU literature. Did you know his brother is a LA? He did the landscape designs for many of the earliest homes and public spaces at Seaside. You can read about it in the book on Seaside.
I think they make a lot of good points, especially regarding transportation and sprawl. One of the reasons I got into LA was because I took a good look at the suburban mess I saw around me and realized I didn’t like what I saw and wanted to do something about it. I saw the places that they were holding up as models and decided I liked those places and wanted more new development to be like that.
Personally, having worked with some self-styled “New Urbanists” I wish they could be less uptight, less zealous, less anal, allowing for a little more kookiness in the designs, a little more roughness around the edges. Not every street has to terminate with a phallic symbol! Choosing colored mortar over plain doesn’t make that much of a difference!January 22, 2010 at 3:05 am #171651
“I think the planning priciples of NU are generally good ideas as ONE answer to suburban sprawl”
What other answers are there that have moved beyond theory to having been proven in practice? Not saying there aren’t any; I’m just not aware of them.
“As far as people driving to shop and dine in a nu community- I dont think that was really the designers intention in most cases”
Probably correct. NU mixed use is usually conceived to first serve the neighborhood they’re located in. But because they’re categorically cooler than the surrounding sprawl commercial by several levels of magnitude, they typically draw customers from several miles around. But in most cases, these same people were previously driving many miles further to find cool places. So total VMT is dramatically reduced, even though they don’t walk.
“Again, I dont necessarily think NU is THE answer. I dont think I’m that naive.”
One thing to consider: NU has a long history of pragmatism, which means that it engulfs every good idea it runs across. Look at the NU 15 years ago vs. now, and you’ll see what I mean. Celebration, for example, was a mistake we had to make to know how many things we needed to learn. Current NU thought has moved far beyond that.
“Where are the ‘landscape urbanists?'”
One of the most important new initiatives is the creation of nourishable places. Here’s my take on them: http://bit.ly/1Tl6FE ‘Landscape urbanists’ ought to OWN this issue. Agricultural urbanism depends upon romancing the garden. Why should an edible landscape not be every bit as beautiful as an ornamental one? It’s just a different palette of materials. Landscape architects who continue to abdicate the greater responsibilities of their profession by continuing to do “foundation decoration” are as reprehensible as the architects who continue to abdicate the greater responsibilities of their profession by continuing to slather their boxes with “architectural image goo.” http://bit.ly/69h4GF And FWIW, I’m guilty of both offenses in my past… but hopefully not in the future.January 22, 2010 at 3:10 am #171650
Part of the problem of affordability is the lack of real diversity of unit types and sizes. I laid out the principles of Katrina Cottages on the Saturday after the hurricane with Duany, and the biggest impediment we’ve had to date has been based purely on their square footage. I live in a 747 square foot condo on South Beach. A house that size would be illegal in most American cities. If everything has to be big, then it’s much less likely to be affordable. Look at the shocking richness of unit types and sizes in the old cities, then look at the poverty of unit type & size diversity today.January 22, 2010 at 3:24 am #171649
See below. Not true. Not only is his own brother a landscape architect, but his Charlotte office is putting out some really cool stuff in their Light Imprint initiative that every LA needs to take a look at, IMO: http://bit.ly/8XFflPJanuary 22, 2010 at 3:28 am #171648
Celebration is a mistake NU had to make to realize how bad it was. We try lots of stuff. Things that work, we incorporate. Things that don’t, we discard. But you gotta try it to find out for sure. Celebration got stuff famously wrong in well-executed fashion. Stapleton had good intentions, but bad execution. There’s far better stuff than either of those now. This is an evolving situation… please critique the more recent stuff if you want to help move these ideas forward.January 22, 2010 at 3:32 am #171647
Today is a makeshift solution. Tomorrow is better. Here’s what I mean by that: today (or at least until the meltdown) there was gonna be development on the perimeter no matter what. It’s far better, IMO, to do it in a way that sets the stage for a lower-energy future where you can’t drive everywhere than to do it in standard sprawl pattern so you have to drive wherever you go. Can people still buy in a greenfield TND today, and drive into the city for work? Yes. And unless you’re in a totalitarian state, there’s not a good way to stop that. But in an energy-starved future, outlying NU lives because you can make a living where you’re living, while outlying suburbia dies because you can’t. It’s the difference between life and death tomorrow, even though it’s only a good aspiration today.January 22, 2010 at 3:34 am #171646
Nick, there are many NU infill projects… they just don’t get the press the greenfields do because infill projects have to address so many existing conditions that they’re necessarily less iconic in almost all cases. But if you count the total number of NU projects, a shockingly high number are infill.
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