The Case for Shared Green Spaces

By Kaid Benfield
Published: January 14, 2013
theatlanticcities.com

A group of civic and architectural partners in Little Rock has developed a great concept for improving a declining neighborhood, incrementally increasing density, and applying advanced measures for storm water control at the same time. All this in a single-family, affordable infill development with first-rate design. No wonder it has won a slew of awards, including a 2013 national honor award from the American Institute of Architects for regional and urban design.

The project employs the “pocket neighborhood” concept championed by architect Ross Chapin – reducing the footprint of a group of smaller, single-family homes by sharing gardens and amenities that would occupy more land if duplicated for each individual house.  Chapin, who has worked mainly in the Pacific Northwest, gives his projects high-quality building materials and beautiful design features that respect their neighborhood settings. I’ve been a fan since before I knew the concept had a name, when I ran across his pioneering and lovely Third Street Cottages in Langley, Washington. I love incremental approaches to increasing density, in part because they seldom require major lifestyle changes and in part because their relatively harmonious design improvements can be somewhat easier to sell to suspicious neighbors inclined to distrust change.

Read the rest of the article here

Advertisements

Enticing visitors downtown…and then incarcerating them.

Published: July 24, 2012
American Dirt

As much as street-level engagement for large projects in city centers should, by this point, seem like a foregone conclusion, it continues to amaze how many big ticket items—in cities of widely varying size—either engage in terpsichorean negotiations around it or neglect it completely.  When developers confront a zoning ordinance or design guideline that insists on activating the sidewalks with retail, commercial, residential, or offices, they might challenge the requirement through a number of arguments: the development itself is too small, the street is not prominent enough, the economy for retail is particularly soft.  If the public-sector approving agency for the development fears that the proposal will collapse without kowtowing to the developer’s demands, chances are likely it will pass, therefore lacking that street-level engagement otherwise mandated by code.

Read the rest of the article here


Designing Buildings that Evolve with the City

By Carolyn Flower
Published: July 24, 2012
Sustainable Cities Collective

Resilient cities need infrastructure that lasts and planning teams that are willing to step up to the plate. Designing structures that can sustain decades of use requires forethought beyond the basic combination of blocks, steel and glass. Just like sidewalks and street corners, city buildings have the power to connect people to one another. Buildings are shelters from unpredictable weather, places where people can have a good time or sit quietly and think. Buildings can also serve as checkpoints or another step in someone’s journey from point A to B.

Developing cities that thrive through the ebb and flow of time are not simply about creating infrastructure that can persist, but about designing buildings that evolve as cities evolve. Sustainable design transforms as cities develop visions for furthering connections among neighborhoods and city sectors. Design features such as energy efficiency, water conservation, and heat reduction that better regulates a building’s temperature are significant elements that replenish a city’s vitality through buildings that are capable of adapting to a city’s needs. Infrastructure that is greater than the sum of its parts also requires infrastructure that functions according to the changing needs of residents.

Read the rest of the article here


Making Cities Sing

By Richard Florida
Published: July 5, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

Arts spending alone can’t stimulate economic growth. But a community’s aesthetic assets — its architecture and public spaces, its musical, theatrical, and artistic communities and institutions — are among its most priceless resources.

Read the rest of the article here


NYC’s Rooftop Farming Boom Continues With World’s Largest in The Bronx

By Stephen Del Percio
Published: June 14, 2012
Sustainable Cities Collective

Thanks in part to Zone Green, the world’s largest rooftop farm could soon grace the top of one of New York City’s largest food distribution centers. Yesterday, the City’s Economic Development Corporation released an RFP for a 200,000-square-foot rooftop farm at 600 Food Center Drive in the Hunts Point section of The Bronx. Once harvested, the farm’s bounty would be distributed from the City’s 329-acre Food Distribution Center at 600 Food Center Drive – one of New York City’s largest. Built in 1969, the facility is currently occupied by Sultana Distribution and Citarella.

Read the rest of the article here


The Most Amazing Tall Buildings of the Year


The Hottest Trends in Urban Housing

By Kaid Benfield
Published: April 4, 2012
theatlanticcities.com

I was privileged to participate along with some very smart urban thinkers in a recent program on the resilience of cities. The subject of the Great Recession came up, and I volunteered that the persistent economic slump had hurt both good and bad development. But I offered that it had hurt bad development (land-consuming, totally automobile-dependent subdivisions on the suburban edge) more than good, given that new, speculative development in sprawling outer locations had virtually ground to a halt.

Read the rest of the article here