Part of what makes Seaside and its ilk so successful is their attention to detail. And by detail I don’t mean what one observant designer called “frosting”– banners, lamposts, and fountains.
A more structural approach to designing a space or place begins with elements that are obvious in plan view–terminated views, street grids, and a central square. That initial street grid is punctuated by a square, then further embroidered with paths and smaller spaces.
But even those public spaces and paths are treated with varying levels of complexity. The formal public lawn is neatly mown and edged, but other spaces are more casual.
The path in front of your house is paved and raked, the one behind a barefoot … Continue reading
This year, Seaside is 30 years old and whatever you think of Andres Duany and the Congress for New Urbanism, any observer of urbanism must admit that Seaside has changed the vocabulary.
The pattern of main street, grid streets, mixed facades, and public space is part of every Federal Realty project and appears on our own Ellsworth Street.
Along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Seaside neighbors Rosemary Beach, Alys Beach, and the Watercolor resort have picked up the vocabulary and created a sense of place, community, and style along the coast road, 30A.
Duany etal have identified a fundamental human pleasure in strolling a certain type of built space, and have, most importantly, made that space marketable. From Seaside to Kentlands, … Continue reading
Food trucks are an urban trend that is hard to keep up with. Do they compete with or complement stationary businesses? Are they sufficiently regulated for health, safety, and welfare? Are they unsightly or exciting?
Well, they’ve morphed again. Real Food Farm trucks in Baltimore are bringing fresh produce to neighborhoods, and sometimes even to your door. On the one hand, it’s a service with a bit of social engineering–bringing good food to people who need it and connecting farmers to new markets.
But it is also an update of a Baltimore tradition of street peddlers, known as A-rabbers. Once again, the new urbanism updates the old urbanism.
by Scott Whipple
At Wednesday’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting, the HPC completed their review of the calendar year 2010 historic preservation tax credit applications, recommending approval of a total of 59 applications. The projects represent nearly $1 million invested, much of which went directly into Montgomery County’s economy in the form of maintenance to and rehabilitation of historic properties designated in the County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation. And the credits put $98,344 back in the pockets of county property owners.
A study of the Maryland rehab tax credit program, prepared by the Abell Foundation in 2009, called historic preservation tax credits a “community revitalization engine.” The Abell report found that the state program stimulated investment, created jobs, and improved economies. In … Continue reading
Scientific American’s special issue on cities covers nearly every urban topic you can think of, from the not so lost aromas of New York’s Fulton Fish Market to the history of the toilet and its influence on the growth of cities. From China to Saudi Arabia, from street markets to solar energy, the issue examines technological and social aspects of urban settlements.
Closer to home, one article asks “Can Suburbs be Designed to Do Away with the Car,” using King Farm in Rockville as an example of the challenges inmaking suburbs and suburbanites transit-friendly. There are plenty of reader comments with the usual claims of elitism and happiness; see where your ideas fall.
Planners in Montgomery County are working to determine how to best accommodate bicyclists as the county continues to grow. They’ve created a tool known as a “heat map” to figure out the best places to invest in bike infrastructure.
With limited funds, planners have to prioritize bike infrastructure, just like other types of infrastructure. This tool should help planners figure out which projects will have the biggest impact.
As expected, the primary bicycle hot spots are in the more urban communities in the downcounty area. Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Friendship Heights top the list of areas with high cycling demand.
Wheaton, White Flint, and Rockville also have high demand for cycling infrastructure.
The map was developed by measuring proximity … Continue reading
It may be, according to a new report from CEOs for Cities that measures home value in walkable and less walkable communties.
The data in Walking the Walk is based on Walk Score, a website that measures the walkability of any given address by counting how many destinations (parks, library, stores) are within walking distance.
(I would quibble this approach only to note that my house is close to a hardware store, sushi shop (!), and a national park, but with few sidewalks leading to them, walkability is limited.)
Nonetheless, using data from ZipRealty in 15 major markets, they found home values were between $700 to $3,000 higher than is less walkable neighborhoods.
So it seems a sidewalk and a place to walk can increase not … Continue reading
The Gazette reports this week that Shared Bikes Could Come to Bethesda. Cities around the world and around the country are finding that bike share programs add a new level of livability and possibly contribute to reducing traffic congestion.
While it could be fun to just bike around Bethesda, the proposed bike station could be the start of a bike share network throughout the County. Why not pick up a bike in Bethesda and pedal down to Friendship Heights or Silver Spring. I can imagine small fleets of biking scientists pedaling from Bethesda to NIH.
Bike sharing could also be the start of thinking about suburban transportation in a broader way. It doesn’t have to be solely about congestion. Some congestion is inevitable, … Continue reading
Reusing an old movie theater is one of historic preservation’s toughest challenges. Often they are large downtown spaces that have been made obsolete by suburban multiplexes that can out-compete with free parking and lots of screens.
But every once in a while, they manage to survive, sometimes through re-use. The MacArthur Theater in the District’s Palisades neighborhood has lost a good deal of its romance, but at least the streetfront landmark survives, if only as a CVS drugstore.
I spent many hours in Brookline Massachusetts’ Coolidge Corner Theater, sureptitously unwrapping bagels and cream cheese while gorging myself on Frank Capra, Bette Davis, and Cary Grant. Even in this era of Netflix couch potatoes, that theater survives with membership and vigorous … Continue reading
Excerpts from David Korten’s “Living Buildings, Living Economies, and a Living Future” from Yes! online, May 18, 2011:
“Integrating multi-purpose buildings into a larger multi-building neighborhood or district system adds opportunities to develop public green spaces, community gardens, edible landscaping, and small-scale poultry and livestock production, as well as natural wetlands and living machine water purification to continuously recycle nutrients, water, and energy.
Integrative projects also create opportunities to balance the utility loads of businesses, which generally have greater energy needs during the day, and residences, which have greater needs during nonbusiness hours. Bringing residences, employment, shopping, and recreation together in close proximity minimizes transportation requirements and facilitates the sharing of autos, bicycles, appliances, and tools, and community connections … Continue reading