Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Groves Award

Ana Gelabert-Sanchez and Manny Diaz are the inaugural recipients of the Groves Award to recognize outstanding leadership and vision in the promotion of transect-based planning. Gelabert-Sanchez, as the former planning director of the City of Miami, and Diaz, as the former mayor, are credited with shepherding the landmark Miami 21 zoning code from conception to implementation.

The Center for Applied Transect Studies created the Groves Award to recognize such leaders. The award is named in honor of Ken Groves, the late planning director of the City of Montgomery, Alabama, where he led the adoption and use of transect-based land development to create better communities. As a result of his leadership, Montgomery began its journey back to prominence and sustainability.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Public Official as Change Agent

Remembering Ken Groves
Urbanism enthusiasts often ask me to name a single factor that propels implementation the farthest, the fastest. I’m convinced it’s the presence of a special breed of public official in local government, one that thinks like an entrepreneur and likes making plans happen instead of just going through the motions.

I’ve met a few and worked for some of them. Sometimes it’s a mayor, or a city manager, a redevelopment director, or a public works official. But more often than not, when we find one of these rare people, he or she is the planning director.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jamestown Mall Area Plan Presented to the Community

On Thursday, May 26, 2011, the Jamestown Mall Draft Plan was presented to a group of more than 200 citizens and County officials. The Plan, which details strategies for transitioning the site of the ailing Mall, was created during a community-based planning process.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Architectural Details: New England

Few doubt the overwhelming importance that architecture plays when it comes to placemaking. Vernacular architecture gives a place identity and continues patterns of building which have been around for centuries, if not millennia. What evokes a building’s place of origin is more often than not a particular combination of features assembled in just the right manner. A single detail or configuration alone is seldom so place-specific that it instantly tells us where we are.

Having grown up in New England, I began to think of examples of such details which occur almost exclusively in the region and which single-handedly would tell me that I was home. I can honestly say that there are few, despite the architecture as whole being quite easy to pick out. To make the task a bit more challenging, I decided that the tradition must still be alive today in order to count.

Following are a few such configurations and details which exclusively dot the New England landscape. I’ll share some others in subsequent posts. I found the details themselves weren’t nearly as interesting as how they came about in the first place and why they are confined to a particular locality. Climate and availability of materials (i.e. cost) are overwhelmingly the driving forces.

"Witch Window" (Central Vermont)

CNU 19

The Congress for the New Urbanism is hosting its 19th annual Congress in Madison Wisconsin, June 1-4. Drawing on the close relationship Madison has with its agricultural neighbors, CNU 19 will build on the theme of “Growing Local”.

Victor Dover serves as CNU board chair and has been involved with the planning of the Congress. He will be participating in the following events: Friday Morning Plenary and The New Urbanism and the Bicycle: A Dialogue

Additionally, Andrew Zitofsky will be helping present the NU 202 session SmartCode Calibration SWAT Team (Sustainability With Applied Transect), and Jason King will be speaking during the awards session Today's Best Form-Based Codes.

NRDC Releases Guide for LEED for Neighborhood Development

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released A Citizen's Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development. The document is a hands-on introduction developed for local environmental groups, smart growth organizations, neighborhood residents and just about anyone interested in making our communities better and greener.

LEED-ND was developed by a partnership of Congress for New Urbanism (CNU), the NRDC, and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Victor Dover was a member of the LEED-ND core committee and Dover-Kohl worked on determining many of the criteria within the rating system.

View the Guide

Visit NRDC.org for more information on LEED-ND

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

City of El Paso Allows Homes to Face Major Streets

The City Council approved an ordinance that allows homes to face arterial roads. Additionally, stone walls are no longer required along the perimeter of new subdivisions. Other recently adopted ordinances will make arterial roadways more pedestrian-friendly with increased planting strips, on-street parking, and narrower travel lanes. City neighborhoods will present a new, more welcoming image while providing a safer pedestrian environment by allowing the natural surveillance of “eyes-on-the-street.” This change to City policy was recommended during the Plan El Paso charrettes led by Dover, Kohl & Partners.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amtrak Urbanism

Three years ago, my parents moved from their long-time home in Jupiter to Clearwater Beach on the west coast of Florida. While we were sorry to see them leave their old house and friends, it was easy to fall in love with the relaxed atmosphere and retro charm of my parents’ beachy new hometown. We soon realized that the only downside to Clearwater was getting there.

So Close and Yet So Far
First we tried driving. Clearwater is about a 5-hour drive from Miami, which is a long trek for a weekend visit. The quickest route is to take I-75 across the Everglades at the southern tip of Florida, and then continue up the west coast past Tampa. This route is flat, straight, and mind-numbingly boring. The danger of falling asleep behind the wheel is only countered by the frustrating congestion of Miami and Tampa, or the terror of the mid-afternoon thunderstorms, with their blinding rain, intense thunder and lightning, and gusts of wind that cause cars to veer off the road. After these drives we would collapse exhausted at home, completely useless for the rest of the day. With the added insult of $4/gallon gas, my husband and I were ready to try something new. We considered flying from Miami to Tampa, but were still not convinced. The flights are expensive, they require advance planning, afternoon thunderstorms are still problematic, and we both are jaded by the long waits and frequent delays at the airport. We also do not relish being treated like cattle in the security lines and on the cramped airplane. We had all but given up hope for a pleasant transportation mode.

Amtrak to the Rescue
Last year I was delighted to find out that we had been completely ignorant of a third transportation option – rail. Who knew that Amtrak operates a daily Miami-Tampa route?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spring Hill, AL Dedicates the Village Pocket Park

The Village of Spring Hill dedicated the Village Pocket Park on Monday, May 16, 2011. This mini-park is designed in keeping with the rich history of Spring Hill. It complements the mission of The Village of Spring Hill, Inc. to make the Village a neighborhood center by improving the pedestrian aesthetic and commercial amenities of the area. The land for the pocket park was donated by Regions Bank and is located next to Private Collections on Old Shell Road. The park was designed for all seasons and will include cherry blossoms in the spring, berries in the winter, and rosemary for an herbal scent. Drake Elms are the new street trees added to widened sidewalk helping protect the park and pedestrians from traffic on Old Shell Road. The park features five new park benches of the same design that has been used in Spring Hill since 1866.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lee County Form-Based Code Wins Dreihaus Award

The Compact Communities Form-Based Code for Lee County, Florida was one of two codes chosen for the 2011 Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust Form-Based Code Award. In selecting the code for the award the jurors described the project’s approach as “groundbreaking” for its use of pre-approved FBC communities. With the development of every new community vast areas of the rural region would be preserved. Under full utilization of the program the new communities could absorb all of the development rights in the 150 square mile region in a pattern that is walkable, mixed-use, and transit-ready.

The code will be presented by Jason King of Dover, Kohl & Partners and Bill Spikowski of Spikowski Planning Associates at the 19th Congress for the New Urbanism in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, June 3rd. The code is part of the Prospects for Lee County planning project which has received awards from the FL APA, 1,000 Friends of Florida, and a Charter Award from CNU.

Friday, May 13, 2011

James Dougherty, Dover-Kohl’s Director of Design, attended a four-day intensive figure drawing and sculpting workshop in Sarasota, Florida

The workshop was hosted by The Southern Atelier and was taught by renowned visiting instructor Robert Liberace. During the workshop, each participant spent mornings on the step-by-step creation of an ecorche (anatomical) sculpture in order to learn about the interconnected forms and structure of the human body. Afternoons were spent drawing these forms from models and learning to arrange them into compelling compositions.

The current revival of traditional town planning has strong parallels to the revival of figurative art. Principles of composition and design frequently overlap in the arts, and study of a less familiar art form can often provide fresh insight and inspiration.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

El Paso Approves SmartCode Rezoning

The 450-acre former ASARCO site was rezoned to SmartCode transect zones at the City Council meeting on Tuesday. This was the first rezoning to SmartCode in the City since the adoption of the optional form-based code. Several more sites are expected to follow. The approval lays the regulatory groundwork for the east portion of the former ASARCO tract to become a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a trail system along preserved arroyos. The west portion of the site is planned as a multi-use commercial and office regional center with areas for clean light-industrial uses, and destinations such as an amusement park or racetrack. Both sites are scheduled for environmental remediation prior to the addition of uses. SmartCode requires streets that are safe and comfortable for pedestrians, ample public spaces, walkable block sizes, urban format buildings, and a mix of housing types and uses. The rezoning is a major implementation action step in the Connecting El Paso Plan which was approved in January.

Learn more at PlanElPaso.org

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dover Kohl and Chael Cooper Participate in ThinkBike Miami Workshop

On Monday, May 2nd, and Tuesday, May 3rd, Marice Chael and Megan McLaughlin participated in ThinkBike Miami, a hands-on bicycle planning workshop hosted by the Royal Netherlands embassy in Washington. The workshop brought bicycle planning experts from the Netherlands to work with local planners, engineers, designers, and bike advocates to create a roadmap for making Miami more bike-friendly. Groups represented at the event included Miami-Dade MPO, the City of Miami, FDOT, planning and engineering consultants, and bicycle advocates. The group designed bike routes to connect Midtown Miami to Downtown, and the Health District to the Venetian Causeway and Downtown. The exchange of ideas was extremely productive and a number of potential projects were brainstormed over the two days. At the end of the event, Jeff Cohen with Miami-Dade County Public Works announced that the County would take many of the schematic plans and street sections produced and begin designing them in more detail.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gardening by the square foot

Source: http://awwca.ca
At our office, huddling over midday lunch is not uncommon. What smells so good in here? What is that? Wait, you grew it in your GARDEN!?  For those of us who prefer an urban lifestyle with no backyard, fresh produce doesn’t seem attainable. The reality is quite different! It’s amazing the amount of food that can be produced in tiny spaces.

The "monster" pineapple plant
The last apartment I lived in had a fairly large patio with full sunlight that scorched anything I put out there. I experimented several times, but had only one survivor – a pineapple plant (which took on a life of its own) but bore the most amazing fruit I have ever tasted. When I moved to my home, I started getting the itch to garden on a larger scale. Almost a year later I've got a decent little vegetable, fruit, and herb garden in little pots and containers in my patio. I’ve experimented with scotch bonnet peppers, passion fruit, garlic chives, basil, mint (almost exclusively for cocktails), tomatoes, carrots, arugula, lettuce, squash, and beets in small containers and pots.

I have to admit, I'm a Caribbean girl, and gardening is not unfamiliar to me. We had potted herbs growing at home among large almond and mango trees, and an estate where larger crops were grown, harvested and the excess sold to nearby restaurants and hotels. Watching plants nurtured from seed to deliciously prepared on a plate is both fascinating and rewarding. It really does make you appreciate the course nature has laid out to nourish us, and it feels good to be eating more local – it  can't get much more local than your own backyard! Whether you live on a rural farm in the Redlands or in a tiny South Beach apartment, growing your own fresh produce should not scare you!

CNU 19 Session: SmartCode Calibration SWAT Team (Sustainability With Applied Transect)

At CNU 19: Growing Local in Madison, WI, Andrew Zitofsky of Dover, Kohl & Partners, along with Susan Henderson of PlaceMakers and Judith Bell of DPZ will be leading the NU 202 course: SmartCode Calibration SWAT Team. The course will be an interactive workshop focused on how to calibrate transect zones through detailed on-the-ground documentation and analysis. Susan has created a new Synoptic Survey App for iPhone and Bento, and will be demonstrating it during the workshop. Synoptic survey forms will also be used to record the Madison T-Zones.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lee County Leaders Help Defeat Mining Regulations in House Bill

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners and their partners in the Florida legislature succeeded in removing language regarding mining from House Bill 991. The language would have preempted local ability to plan the siting of mining. Dover-Kohl and Spikowski Planning Associates led a multi-disciplinary team in Lee County to create a plan to facilitate the extraction of rock in appropriate locations while keeping the water supply of the County which is also located in the area safe. The plan included form-based coding for settlements within the roughly 150 square mile Density Reduction/ Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) area. The project team included Kevin Erwin, Consulting Ecologist; DHI Water and Environment; Hall Planning and Engineering; Dan Cary; David Douglas Associates; SDI Engineering; and Berger Singerman.