At HomeTown, a 300-acre new urban development being built by Arcadia Realty in North Richland Hills, Texas, the Walker Creek Elementary School has been designed so that it forms a street wall and helps define an important corner in what will be a mixed-use town center. In keeping with the design standards of HomeTown and a charrette led by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, the school’s classrooms occupy two-story structures that border the sidewalks and are close to the streets.
On a Saturday afternoon in late December former Senator John Edwards announced his candidacy for President of the United States before a crowd of 5,000 people gathered on the one-acre green at Southern Village, a new urbanist neighborhood in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In doing so, Edwards bypassed arenas, large auditoriums, and historic public spaces in the region. The event illustrates, says Southern Village developer D.R. Bryan, how the creators of new urbanist public greens and squares can never imagine all the uses they will serve.
To meet a pressing need for inexpensive classroom space, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system in North Carolina is going to experiment with a schoolhouse prototype based on Katrina Cottages. A group at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, led by Tom Low, director of the firm’s Charlotte office, is designing a prototype 25-by-80-foot “Learning Cottage” that would contain two classrooms.
How to handle rainwater in ways that accentuate placemaking
In times past, engineers often integrated elements of civic art, architecture, and history into a city’s parkways, bridges, and other public necessities. In doing so, they enhanced the character of the urban environment. Today, when engineering often deals with the environment, there is an opportunity once again to serve civic purposes — by handling rainwater well.
Joanna Lombard, a professor of architecture at the University of Miami, has worked with students and others on how to apply New Urbanism’s principles to medical districts in Miami and Memphis, and now she is providing ideas for the Bon Secours Richmond Health System, which operates four hospitals in metropolitan Richmond, Virginia.
Strong population growth in and around Charlotte is stretching the ability of school districts to accommodate waves of students. “Neighborhoods in this region are growing so fast that new schools are over capacity before construction has even started,” says architect Tom Low, director of the Duany Plater-Zyberk office in Charlotte and one of the leaders of the group forming a Carolinas chapter of the CNU. With school design and school policy growing as important issues there, CNU played a leading role in a couple September events that provided good ideas and valuable civic leadership.
New urban development must make case at state high court.
I’On, a lauded traditional neighborhood development (TND) in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, faces continued opposition from town officials. The latest hurdle for the 243-acre, 759-unit development is the town’s refusal to categorize a Montessori school as a civic use. A circuit judge has ruled that the proposed 292-student school is appropriate for the civic site, yet the town is appealing to the state Supreme Court.
The benefits promised by New Urbanism spring directly from its emphasis on walking as the main way of moving through the world. Where places are made genuinely walkable, private vehicle mileage likely will be reduced and public transit will certainly be more viable. The convenience and interest of living at higher densities will more than make up for any annoyances.