Development near transit stations is often compact and intense, but it offers another critical opportunity -- placemaking. Civic places and parks can give a transit-oriented neighborhood identity and fulfill an important need in compact, urban neighborhoods. It can also raise values all around. After residents in Silver Spring, Maryland, called for more open space, Montgomery County, Maryland, planners wrote guidelines. A developer of a 27-acre project a short distance from the Metro stop has followed through (see image above). The redevelopment of a suburban superblock was designed around a series of public spaces by Bing Thom Architects and Sasaki Associates. The public spaces will add to the distinct urban center of Downtown Silver Spring. Read the detailed report in the current print issue of Better! Cities & Towns.
With parking now consuming as much as 30 percent of precious urban land in some American cities, it’s no wonder that parking has become one of the leading hot-button issues in planning and urban design. Rethinking A Lot enters the parking fray with MIT Professor Eran Ben-Joseph tackling the issue of ubiquitous and banal surface parking lots. Ben-Joseph believes that these lots are ripe for design interventions with the potential to make parking lots a significant civic element like plazas and parks, writes planner and Cornell lecturer David West in his review for the January-February 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. Ben-Joseph's book focuses narrowly on better design for surface parking, but does not delve into wider discussions of parking mandates and whether we need so much parking in the first place. The publisher is MIT Press.
“Never before have we seen such crowds downtown,” says Jason Caudle, deputy city manager, of the 30,000 people who attended a Holloween and Harvest festival on the new downtown boulevard in Lancaster, California. The nine-block project, costing $11.5 million, has so far attracted $130 million in private investment and generated $273 million in economic output, according to an article in the January-February 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. The street is designed with a Spanish "ramblas," which puts the public space at the center of the street, an unusual design that has worked well for this Southern California city.
The photo above is phase 2 — mixed-use buildings and a church tower — nearing completion in Cayalá, a new town in the suburbs of Guatemala City, Guatemala. I have to assure readers that the photo is real. The town looks like it is built for the ages and the streetscape — designed so that all of the pavement is to be shared by vehicles and pedestrians — hides modern below-ground parking. We reported in detail on phase 1 of this project in the March issue of BCT. The mixed-use buildings in phase 2 are designed by Estudio Urbano (Pedro Godoy and Maria Sanchez), the Guatemala-based Town Architects of Cayalá, with Richard Economakis of the University of Notre Dame, in collaboration with architect Leon Krier. The Campanile (tower) is by Godoy & Sánchez, the first stage of the town's church by the same firm. The developer of the project is Grupo Cayalá, who are based in Guatemala. Click on headline for more photos.