Shelley Poticha, CNU Executive Director, recently attended a meeting co-sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Farmland Trust, and the National Growth Management Leadership Project in Washington, D.C. Representatives of more than 30 groups gathered to discuss individual efforts to combat sprawl, ways to collaborate, and challenges to communicating with citizens, public officials and the private sector.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) met in October to promote walkable neighborhoods and encourage multimodal transportation investments. CNU was represented, along with the Local Government Commission, Surface Transportation Policy Project, EPA, APA, ULI, and other groups. A recent CDC study found that more than 600,000 people die each year due to lack of physical activity. The prescription: a national effort to promote walking and bicycling as part of daily activities.
Smart growth” may be hard to define, but professionals active in the field of New Urbanism and allied disciplines recognize it when they see it. America is seeing a great deal of growth, but not much of it could be called “smart” in the eyes of new urbanists, environmentalists, and mass transit and land preservation advocates. Growth could be “smarter” if a series of policy changes and educational efforts were implemented, according to participants in a focus group held in Washington, D.C. on September 18, sponsored by the Urban and Economic Development Division of the U.S.
Common Place: Toward Neighborhood and Regional Design By Douglas S. Kelbaugh, University of Washington Press, 1997. Softcover, 334 pp., $35. Common Place: Toward Neighborhood and Regional Design should be used as a work book — a treatise to be underlined, highlighted and noted. If your library is relatively neat, you may need two copies of this book; one for its technical merits as a work book, the other for your reception room so that others can see the light.
The New Urbanism certainly has strong implications for planners, architects, traffic engineers, developers and the entire real estate industry. But its political ramifications are relatively unexplored. That may change, according to a column in the November issue of George magazine, the oh-so-trendy publication founded by John F. Kennedy Jr.
Author Naomi Wolf contends that American citizens, particular baby boomers, have a deep-rooted longing for interconnected neighborhoods of the type promoted by New Urbanism.
Hope 6 projects are planned to replace public housing towers with neighborhoods by using principles of the New Urbanism in many cities around the nation. A few projects are built or under construction, and the early results are promising (see photo). In an interview in the August, 1997, issue of Architecture, U.S. Department of Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Andrew Cuomo offered a strong endorsement of the New Urbanism. “We stress the new urbanist principles because we have seen that they work,” he says.
After much controversy, the Town of Port Royal, South Carolina, approved a Traditional Town Code based on a master plan by Dover, Kohl & Partners of South Miami, Florida. The mandatory code applies to a 245-acre, largely historic central part of town. Drawing on “the rich history of Low Country urban design and architecture,” the code essentially calls for intimate streets with build-to lines and main street commercial and civic development. “The new code emphasizes what you can do, instead of what you can’t,” according to a paper by John Perry, town manager, and Victor Dover, architect.
A comprehensive plan created for Cherokee County, Georgia, located 20 miles north of Atlanta, calls for growth to be channeled into hamlets, villages and neighborhoods. The plan, which uses overlay zoning to create the traditional mixed-use centers, was based on a Visual Preference Survey conducted by A. Nelessen Associates of Princeton, New Jersey. When presented with images of potential development, residents overwhelmingly preferred traditional village and main street forms over suburban counterparts.
The Triangle Transit Authority, which serves the fast-growing Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, is planning a $228 million, 34-mile, 16-station rail commuter line. The project will use state-of-the-art, self-propelled, diesel trains capable of traveling on existing freight tracks.
The Citizen Planner Institute, based in Miami, Florida, offers workshops to help citizens acquire basic town and street design principles. The institute also trains public officials, developers and design professionals. Directed by urban planner and developer Harrison Bright Rue, on-site seminars cost $1,000 (single person, one day) to $15,000. Contact: (305) 538-0966.
I’On, a traditional neighborhood development (TND) in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (in the last issue, I’On was incorrectly identified as being in North Carolina), now has a journal. The inaugural issue of Civitas: the I’On Journal, was printed in conjunction with the project’s groundbreaking in August. In September, I’On cleared what may be its last major legal hurdle. A judge ruled against a
public referendum, petitioned by citizens, on the project. Contact: (803) 577-0656.
A glance at any local newsstand confirms that consumers are becoming more aware of the trend toward traditional neighborhood developments (TNDs). Southern Living, the nation’s largest regional magazine, and Better Homes and Gardens both include articles on TNDs in their September, 1997, issues. A similar article appeared in Home magazine in June.
Disney’s town of Celebration near Orlando is appearing nearly everywhere in the media -- much like Seaside, Florida, a few years back.
Report recommends shared street lanes, but lacks hard numbers Practitioners of New Urbanism have been waiting years for an officially sanctioned, authoritative document endorsing the kind of narrow streets appropriate for neotraditional projects.
Nothing is more important to success or failure of new urbanist projects than street design. The street is the first part of the public realm encountered when leaving the private realm. With poorly designed streets, it’s difficult to imagine residents of traditional neighborhood developments (TNDs) choosing to walk. And without pedestrians, one might as well build a pod.
There are many aspects to good streetscape design, including building placement and architecture, sidewalks, planting strips, and the overall street network.
I went to Berlin to see what it was like to be in city undergoing serious reconstruction. We don’t have anything like that here in the States, but it’s reassuring to see that somebody in the western world believes in the future of cities.
There is a map on the wall of a bookshop on the Friedrichstrasse (formerly East Berlin, very near the site of that Cold War oddity, Checkpoint Charlie) that shows all the World War Two bomb damage in blue ink. The total destruction is dark blue and partial destruction light blue. The whole center of Berlin on this map is blue.
My adventure in Celebration began just over a year ago, and I don’t think my family’s life will every be the same. What started as a personal exploration of living in a neotraditional community to gain insight into the concept has now become a permanent living arrangement.
In June, 1997, my family was one of the first to move into the yet to be completed Town of Celebration. I am employed as the assistant director of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission in my home town of Tampa, 65 miles from Celebration.
A new awards program aims to identify the best in environmental design research and practice. Sponsored by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) and the journal Places, the program will include two categories of awards. “Design research” awards will recognize projects that investigate the relationship between physical form and human behavior or experience.