Posted by: Larry Sims
As cities continue to implement creative redevelopment plans that would revitalize the business community while simultaneously encouraging migration back to urban lifestyles, one of the more aggressive and interesting programs is the Atlanta BeltLine – hailed as a national model. In November 2005, the Atlanta City Council approved a plan that would lead to a 22-mile loop of parks, paths and transit linking 45 neighborhoods in intown Atlanta. Opponents of the plan argued the proposal leaves out low-income families and focuses too much on development. However, the 25-year, $2.1 billion program could spur economic development by linking affluent sectors with struggling, isolated neighborhoods south of the city.
The Atlanta BeltLine concept is to implement a combined system of trails and transit that will connect Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods and economic development centers with existing and planned Atlanta BeltLine parks, existing transit networks like MARTA and major regional activity centers and attractions, such as Piedmont Hospital and Zoo Atlanta. The transit and trail systems will complement investments in parks, streetscapes, and other infrastructure projects to create a smarter framework for new denser development in the city. In most cases, the transit and trail system will follow the Atlanta BeltLine Corridor.
Trails: The Atlanta BeltLine will create more than 33 miles of multi-use trails within and around the railroad corridor. The trails will be multi-use – for walkers, joggers, bikers, roller-bladers, and people with disabilities. This trail system will include the core 22-miles that follow the railroad segments plus spur segments to link together more neighborhoods and the existing parks and trails surrounding the Atlanta BeltLine. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s partner in trail construction is the PATH Foundation, an organization with over 20 years of experience building multi-use trails throughout Georgia. Continue Reading →
Posted by: Larry Sims
It seems fitting that we kick-off our new neighborhood design blog with a discussion on form-based codes. Form-based codes have been used for centuries (e.g., the planning of cities in ancient China and Roman town planning), but were summarily dismissed in the U.S. during the turn of the century by the adoption of zoning ordinances. Considering the continual depopulation and decay of our urban neighborhoods and increased urban sprawl, is it then important that we, collectively, discuss solutions? Most recently the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) entered the fray by releasing the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System (LEED ND) that integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design.
Perhaps it may be best to analyze the information on form-based codes presented here by, first, offering arguments contesting New Urbanism. Lolita Buckner Inniss, Associate Professor of Law, Cleveland-Marshall School of Law, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio gave a presentation on October 18, 2008 at the Twelfth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights titled The Façade of New Urbanism& the Form-Based Code. A few of her more salient talking points critiquing both New Urbanism and form-based codes: Continue Reading →
Posted by: Larry Sims
Normally, this article would be rotated in and out of the Current News & Events section. However, given the growing focus on urbanism, urban redevelopment and form-based codes, events such as the tragic occurrence in Brattleboro, Vermont need to remain with us as reminders whenever we perform our duties as responsible professionals.
Can “pedestrian friendly” mixed-use communities, where people want to live where they can work and play with streetscapes that invite them to walk instead of drive, present logistical problems for fire and EMS response teams? Should fire engineering consultancy be considered on certain projects where large, open spaces often impose a serious threat in case of fire, due to the rapid spread of smoke and fire?
From BuildingGreen Sounds Off:
Making the right choices about where and how to build is a big responsibility, and every choice, it seems, involves tradeoffs. Sustainable design, by definition, plans for the long term. Most of the time, it works great–but some outcomes are out of our hands.
Brattleboro, Vermont is still in shock over the sudden and complete loss of one of its Main Street buildings early yesterday morning, apparently because of an electrical fire. Brooks House, a former hotel with a distinctive mansard roof, was built in 1871 on the ashes of an even older building also destroyed by fire. It was listed on the National Historic Register, but its historic status means nothing compared with its significance to our town. This is like a cigarette burn on the bodice of a silk gown. Continue Reading →