Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hands-on Planning for the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods

On Saturday June 25, over 150 members of the Arlington Community participated in a hands-on design session as part of the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan charrette. Many ideas were expressed, including desires to maintain affordable housing, improving walkability, and incorporating quality public spaces. The Dover-Kohl team will present drawings and visualizations of in-progress concepts Thursday, June 30 at 7pm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Coming City: Representative Beto O’Rourke Leaves the El Paso Council with Development on a New Course

The coming City of El Paso will be different in many ways from the present City. And the coming City will arrive not as a new settlement on a distant plain, but in the form of infill development on passed-over tracts within the City, or as contiguous development extending the fabric of the city, with new neighborhoods and centers that are complete, compact, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly, and connected by transit. The pioneering spirit of the American West has turned back toward town, in the case of several massive infill projects facilitated by a City Council that O’Rourke helped lead. And new outward growth will be compact enough to develop in increments offering a range of daily needs within walking distance of one another. The new course for development may not affect all projects in El Paso but to the credit of O’Rourke and others it includes a significant portion.

When asked by the El Paso Times (6/22/11) if the City’s smart growth effort will halt when O’Rourke leaves office after six years as a City Representative, he said, “We've already won that fight. There's 10 to 15 years worth of smart growth development that's in place. I don't know how you reverse that." Over eight square miles of new development designed under the City’s SmartCode, a form-based code, has either been approved, received substantial tax incentives with zoning approval expected before the end of the year, or is required by ordinance on publicly-owned lands. In total this is an area twice the size of downtown El Paso.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Value of Simplicity

Throughout history our most-loved buildings have been simple structures that were beautifully put together and finished with simple human-scaled details that delight the senses. Memorable places have always been created through the arrangement of these simple structures into complete, connected, walkable communities.

As these communities grew into successful economic powerhouses, their architecture also evolved to create rich, elaborate details that exhibited the strength of the city. This culminated with the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where graduates from the school of architecture went on to produce exuberant buildings and details.

El Paso Transit Provider Wins National Recognition

El Paso's Sun Metro has been named the most Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year for all agencies in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Sun Metro will receive an award for their efficiency, effectiveness, ridership, and transit planning. Jane Shang credits the award in part to Sun Metro’s partnership with Dover, Kohl & Partners through the Connecting El Paso and El Paso Comprehensive Plan projects. “It was a team effort,” says Shang. Dover-Kohl assisted Sun Metro in planning its Bus Rapid Transit System which is expected to begin service in 2012 and add one new line every two years until the major transportation routes through the City are serviced via BRT. Parking facilities, transit stations, and street retrofits have been constructed and more are underway. Dover Kohl is assisting with the design of transit stations at the former Northgate Mall complex and at the East Side Transit Terminal as well as with changes to land use and zoning regulations to create transit oriented development around all of the City’s proposed stations.

For more information about Plan El Paso visit www.PlanElPaso.org

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hammond, Louisiana Allows Accessory Dwelling Units

The City of Hammond approved an ordinance allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on single-family residential lots in the City as recommended during the Hammond Comprehensive Master Plan planning process. Backyard apartments in ADUs placed atop the garage or as separate outbuildings add affordable housing inconspicuously to single-family home areas. ADUs create places for extended families and can provide rental income. The City of Hammond Comprehensive Master Plan process was led by Dover Kohl and the plan was approved by the city in June 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DKP at CNU 19: Growing Local: "The Best Congress Yet"

CNU 19 concluded two weeks ago and many felt it was the best congress they’ve attended. Madison itself was a star of the event: the John Nolen plan that undergrids the City, the imprint of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the continued commitments to walkability, bikeability, farmland preservation, eating local, farmland preservation, and midwestern neighborliness.   At the congress itself, on the shore of Lake Monona, Professor William Cronon and author Ed Glaeser joined the best live dialogue available on improving America through planning and design.  Here are a few aspects of CNU 19 that the Dover-Kohl team has been talking about:

A City for Cycling 
Myriad bike lanes, paths, and trails, coupled with ample racks throughout the City and its bike-friendly drivers, make Madison one of the country’s most bikeable cities.  Madison is home to a large university adjacent to a lively downtown, so many of Madison's residents choose to get around, year round, on two wheels rather than four.  In addition to superb facilities for resident cyclists, Madison is also rolling out its new B-Cycle bike rental program.  B-Cycle is a bike share provider operating around the world. People who do not own bikes can rent a B-Cycle for as little as 30 minutes from stands located throughout the city and can return them at any other rack.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Montgomery, AL Issues a Request for Development Proposals for Maxwell Boulevard

The City of Montgomery has released a Request for Development Proposals for City-owned property on Maxwell Boulevard that overlooks the Alabama River and Downtown Montgomery. The unparalleled long views of the Alabama River and pristine, undeveloped flood plain across the river makes these parcels among the most interesting opportunities anywhere in the region and, for that matter, the entire state. The site sits across from Overlook Park, which is scheduled to receive improvements, and the Downtown Farm, and is conveniently located adjacent to Interstate 65 which provides easy access and visibility to this area. Best of all, these parcels are located just blocks from Montgomery’s exciting entertainment district, Riverwalk Stadium, convention center, performing arts center, and numerous other cultural and entertainment destinations.

The City of Montgomery acquired these parcels in 2010 and, in February 2011, conducted a Master Plan charrette focused specifically on this area. This charrette, led by Dover, Kohl & Partners, developed a block scale master plan for this prominent site and built upon the previous Downtown Master Plan that Dover-Kohl conducted in September 2006 that also included this area. The parcels lie within the jurisdiction of the Downtown SmartCode zoning adopted in 2007.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan Charrette, June 24 - 30, 2011

Dover-Kohl is currently preparing for the upcoming Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan charrette. The Plan is the next step in the Land Use & Housing Study and is a part of the Columbia Pike Initiative. The Dover-Kohl team also worked on the Columbia Pike Revitalization District Form-Based Code adopted in 2003.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trees: Your Guide to Great Neighborhoods

When visiting a city for the first time, most people resort to guidebooks or the internet to find points of interest and activities.  Being a lover of great urbanism, I take a slightly different approach than most.  My interests lie in finding great neighborhoods, so I locate the city on Google Earth and I look for the areas that boast the densest tree cover.  I have a theory that some of the most interesting neighborhoods are the ones that appear to be the greenest when viewed from above.  This does not necessarily mean that you will find the best architecture in these places, although you often do.  In many cases, the character of the buildings is quite subdued; the trees are what add a layer of complexity to the scene.  These places also tend to have a historic designation associated with them, whether they are locally or nationally registered. 

City of El Paso Requires Street Trees and Landscaping for Pedestrians

New requirements approved by the City of El Paso require the installation and maintenance of street trees in all thoroughfare planting strips, as well as parking lot landscaping, and landscape buffers for auto-oriented development. New landscaped areas must include drought-tolerant, desert-appropriate plantings. The ordinance is different from conventional buffer ordinances in that it exempts urban format buildings with shallow setbacks, continuous street frontage, and storefront windows. The ordinance recognizes that street-oriented urban format buildings with awnings or arcades can provide a more interesting and comfortable streetscape to the pedestrian than vegetative buffers.

Landscaping: Previous Code
  • 7.5% of property must be landscaped
  • Trees optional between curb and sidewalk
  • Frontage landscape buffer: 1 tree for every 50 feet within first 20 feet of property
  • Required for every 1,000-square-feet in landscaped areas: 1 tree; 20 5-gallon shrubs; 10 1-gallon groundcover plants.

Landscaping: New Regulations
  • 15% of property must be landscaped
  • Trees required every 30 feet between curb and sidewalk
  • Frontage landscape buffer: 10 foot area with landscaping and 1 tree for every 30 feet within first 20 feet of property
  • Required for every 1,000-square-feet in landscaped areas: 2 trees; 40 5-gallon plant material; 20 1-gallon plant material.
  • Only 10 percent of required landscaping can be palms
  • Exempts urban format buildings from front and side buffer requirements

The Plan El Paso project is still underway and the Comprehensive Plan document is being written, yet City leadership is moving ahead with initiatives described in the plan.

For more information about Plan El Paso visit www.PlanElPaso.org

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jamestown Mall Featured in NRDC Blog Post

The National Resource Defense Council's Smart Growth Program Director Kaid Benfield has posted a piece on his blog about Jamestown Mall's redevelopment efforts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

City of Bradenton, FL Adopts Form-Based Code

This morning, the Bradenton City Council voted to adopt a new form-based code that will guide the future of development in downtown. The code includes designs for pedestrian-friendly, multi-modal thoroughfares, architectural standards that promote climate-responsive, authentic buildings, landscape standards that encourage habitat creation and local food production, and sustainability articles on diverse topics such as dark-sky lighting, renewable energy generation, and low-impact stormwater design. The code was written by Dover-Kohl and adopted in just nine months, with the assistance of Hall Planning & Engineering, Inc. and Karin Murphy Planning & Consulting, Inc.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

City of Hammond, LA Unanimously Adopts Comprehensive Plan

After a charrette in December of 2009 and over 18 Steering Committee meetings led by planning staff in the interest of maximum public participation, the plan was adopted unanimously by the Planning Commission. In the state of Louisiana the Planning Commission is the approval body for a Comprehensive Plan. The plan for the growing City is a model of smart growth, context-sensitive transportation planning, and civic art.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Living in Ruins

1945. Havana, Cuba. The City is in full bloom. The port, filled with ships from all over the world, offers the island a taste of the upcoming fashions, the latest technological advances of the automotive industry, and exquisite jewelry, among many other fine things. New neighborhoods – El Vedado, among others-- are expanding to accommodate the fast growing population. Streets are filled with Spanish Colonial, Republican Neoclassical and American Beaux Arts architecture of all scales that share one common element, allowing them to fit flawlessly together, thereby forming part of a greater urban identity. Shops from all over the world fill the buildings. Theaters bustle with crowds anxious to see international celebrities Edith Piaf, Nat King Cole and others. Tropicana’s jungle showgirls dance atop the tree canopies. And a magnificent promenade, built by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Malecon, highlights the water’s edge, providing an unforgettable welcoming view to those that come to the island daily.
“Esos eran los tiempos …” [“Those were the times…”], something my grandmother always tells me.