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Opticos in Action: Plan Downtown Oakland

This week, Opticos is in the middle of a 10 day charrette process in Oakland, California as part of a dynamite team led by Dover Kohl. We kicked off the program on Monday with a hands-on design workshop, and are currently in the midst of the Open Design Studio portion of the charrette through Tuesday. The program includes a walking tour and open house on Saturday, and a presentation of work-in-progress next Wednesday.

The Plan Downtown Oakland project seeks to address a wide variety of needs in the city, from improved transit development to maintaining affordable housing in this increasingly popular area. The charrette process seeks public input and collaboration to make sure that the design and planning team creates solutions that benefit and serve the community.

Fri, Nov 6th 2015 4:24pm
'Great Falls, Great Food, Great Stories' links downtown to national park

Visitors often park their cars, take in views of old mill buildings and a dramatic waterfall that made it all possible, take a picture of a statue of Alexander Hamilton, and leave without checking out the downtown and its restaurants.

Fri, Nov 6th 2015 12:01pm
Seaside Small Developers Boot Camp

The Seaside Academic Village will be the backdrop for John Anderson, Monte Anderson, David Kim and Bruce Tolar for a weekend workshop on the basics to small scale development. The workshop will open Friday evening, continue with a full day Saturday and continue with a half day Sunday, January 29-31. This weekend workshop will provide technical skills and resources to navigate development financing, zoning and entitlement, site selection and building design in order assemble your own small scale real estate deal. The workshop will also address issues surrounding becoming developer, including making a transition from your day job (or not), risk management, quality of life and basic business setup and contracting methods.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own projects or test case studies and provide an open office hours forum with experts to discuss real project challenges.

Mon, Nov 2nd 2015 6:23pm
Chris Crowley Lecture, Reception, Bike Tour - November 21-22, 2015

To kick off the Seaside Institute’s aging in place program, Chris Crowley will speak about the fundamental science that is the basis for the Revolution in Aging at a lecture on Saturday, November 21 at 3:00 p.m. in Seaside’s Assembly Hall. He will go on to discuss the basic things that people need to do to join the Revolution.  He will also talk about the social side of the Next Third (of your life) and give advice about putting in place programs and activities that can make retirement (or moving into a new kind of “work”) fun and interesting, instead of the weird combination of terrifying and dull we all worry about. There’s some useful talk about your “limbic” or emotional  brain  (you have one and it has remarkable and surprising control over your life and health). And then some talk about the importance of “connection and commitment” in the Next Third, including your approach to diet and health.

Mon, Nov 2nd 2015 4:28pm
Porchfest: Your guide to a community-building good time

For one afternoon, porches throughout the community become makeshift stages, yards become venues, and people from within and beyond wander the streets, chatting, taking in music, and basically reacquainting themselves with what it means to be neighbors.

Tue, Oct 27th 2015 9:07am
Hands-on Design Workshop for “Plan Downtown Oakland"

Your involvement in the creation of Plan Downtown Oakland is needed!  Attend this design workshop to share your ideas about the future of Downtown.  Join the Hands-on Design Workshop & Charrette Kick-off on Mon. Oct. 19! The City of Oakland is preparing both a Specific Plan for the Downtown Oakland area and an Environmental Impact Report.  The objective of the Specific Plan is to provide sound policy guidance on Downtown development linking land use, transportation, economic development, public spaces, cultural arts, and social equity. The Specific Plan is the city’s effort to comprehensively assess our downtown to ensure continued growth and revitalization. 

Fri, Oct 16th 2015 3:59pm
Thoughts on Seaside at 35

Vision, tradition, creativity, adaptation and yes, time, converge and contribute to the community's many successes—but failures are also evident.

Wed, Sep 23rd 2015 8:02am
What we need to learn from Katrina
Cities are immensely complex self-organizing systems, not mere top-down designs—but they do need top-down interventions in strategic places. Unfortunately, we still have inadequate models and tools.
Wed, Sep 2nd 2015 10:32am
Porchfest season swings coast to coast

Porchfest is a free music event where people sign up to play on their front porches, lawns, or stoops on a given afternoon. 

Mon, Aug 17th 2015 9:25am
Progress depends on more 'infrastructure of community'

Healthy places need two physical characteristics: The architecture of community and the infrastructure of community. Here's why the infrastructure is so important.

Thu, Jul 30th 2015 12:53pm
Seaside Institute Offers Architectural Photography and Composition Workshop

Registration is now open for Steven Brooke's architectural photography class in Seaside, Florida. The dynamic 5-day workshop combines the history of architectural depiction and composition with an accessible approach to the technical demands of photographing architecture, landscape, and interiors. The workshop is suitable for students of all ability levels and backgrounds - from professional architects and real estate professionals to travelers for whom architecture and design is a passion.

Sun, Jun 21st 2015 11:01pm
Hightstown Downtown Waterfront Experience

Downtown Hightstown is hosting a brainstorming session on ways to create a "downtown waterfront experience" unique to the region. The workshop on May 26 will discuss ideas for creating a more walkable community, better uses for underutilized properties, and intergrating Peddie Lake into the new plan. LRK is currently providing planning services to Downtown Hightstown and will be coordinating the community meeting.

Wed, Jun 17th 2015 9:52pm
Plugged in or wireless, Americans grow more isolated

Restoring the civic commons is key to making progress on many challenges, according to a new report.

Wed, Jun 10th 2015 2:09pm
Responsible tourism

How to preserve the goose that lays the golden egg

Thu, May 28th 2015 9:33am
UMSoA to Propel Neighborhood Revitalization with $650,000 from Knight Foundation

The University of Miami School of Architecture today announced a plan to bring “third places” – community spaces, marketplaces, incubators and training centers – into two underserved Miami neighborhoods with $650,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Third Place Project will create spaces that provide resources and support to entrepreneurs, creatives and civic leaders in these neighborhoods, as a way to foster their ideas and break down barriers. It will also help transform these neighborhoods and create opportunities for local businesses, by establishing inexpensive spaces for startups and hubs for arts, culture and entertainment.

Fri, May 8th 2015 3:15pm
New index examines livability

AARP has launched a Livability Index, which is the most comprehensive attempt at measuring quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the US. It is useful and problematic.

Wed, May 6th 2015 11:58am
Seaside Writers Conference

The Seaside Institute is teaming up with other non-profit organizations in Seaside to sponsor the Seaside Writers Conference from May 11-17. The Seaside Writers Conference is an annual gathering of creative writers from all the nation, and features award-winning writers in poetry and fiction and screenwriting who will offer a full week of intensive writing workshops, on day seminars, school outreach programs, and social events. A limited number of affordable places to stay are available for registrants in the Seaside Academic Village.

Sun, Apr 19th 2015 10:12pm
Bringing new life to Old Town

Old Town Burleson, Texas, has many opportunities for placemaking and new pedestrian-oriented development that could enhance the identity of the suburb 10 miles south of Fort Worth, according to a new urban team led by Mithun|Solomon.

Wed, Apr 15th 2015 8:06am
Anchor a revitalization with an arts plaza

Torti Gallas and Partners led a CNU "Legacy Charrette" team that recommended streetscape improvements and other pedestrian enhancements throughout the Six Points Urban Village.

Fri, Apr 3rd 2015 8:03am
Upcoming programs at the Seaside Institute

The Seaside Institute is offering a series of Arts & Architecture related
classes this spring. Architectural Photography with Steven Brooke, Plein
Air painting with Kathie Odom and an intensive drawing class with Brian
Bomeisler. A limited number of affordable places to stay are available for
registrants in the Seaside Academic Village.

Wed, Mar 18th 2015 7:02pm
We’re all complicit in change. So now what?

Once we acknowledge our own culpability in inevitable change, the more we can work together to address it — towards the greatest possible benefit for the most people.

Thu, Mar 5th 2015 1:57pm
Suburbs of survival, and the Democracy of placemaking

"Sustainable placemaking concepts must not be limited to downtown areas. There are clear health and economic benefits from building services into suburban neighborhoods."

Tue, Feb 3rd 2015 4:35pm
A new village wins Community of the Year
The Village of Providence, a remarkable project that was named the National Association of Homebuilders' Community of the Year for 2014, also launched my career in New Urbanism.
Sat, Jan 24th 2015 10:27am
Concluding UDO Draft Released: All set for commission consideration

In 2010, Decatur, Georgia completed a 10-year update to its Strategic Plan
which defined a community-based vision for its future and provided steps for the
City to take to achieve it. During the planning process, discussion often focused on
growth and development in context of a desire for the community to be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainability. As the City and its consultants looked at how to promote these ideas, it became clear that the regulations that guided growth in the City were often at odds with the Plan. To align their regulations with the Strategic Plan in a progressive, user-friendly format, the City retained a team led by TSW to prepare a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) combining zoning, subdivision, environmental, and other regulations into a legally sound and enforceable document.

Mon, Jan 12th 2015 5:33pm
A Season to Give Something Back

As a Certified B Corporation, Opticos is committed to a triple bottom line that includes sustainable business, accountability, transparency, and meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance. As part of our B Corp goals, Opticos sets aside a portion of money on an annual basis to give to a charity or group of charities that are important to us.

Tue, Dec 30th 2014 4:17pm


Plugged in or wireless, Americans grow more isolated

Restoring the civic commons is key to making progress on many challenges, according to a new report.

Wed, Jun 10th 2015 2:09pm
New index examines livability

AARP has launched a Livability Index, which is the most comprehensive attempt at measuring quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the US. It is useful and problematic.

Wed, May 6th 2015 11:58am
Jane Jacobs was right

Older and smaller buildings and a wide range in building age offer real economic and social benefits for neighborhoods and urban centers, according to a study. 

Sat, Dec 20th 2014 11:11am