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Planning & Urban Design Principles for Non-Planners


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Much of the development that has occurred in Wisconsin and around the nation over the past 60 years has created a feeling of sameness from community to community.  Our development pattern has separated uses from one another and catered to cars at the expense of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit.  The New Urbanism promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant mixed-use communities built with integrated housing, employment, shops, and schools.  It is a revival of the lost art of "placemaking" to raise our quality of life and standard of living by creating neighborhoods, not just subdivisions, and building main streets, not just shopping malls. 

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Planning & Urban Design Principles for Non-Planners

  1. 1. Planning & Urban Design Principles for Non-Planners Based on “The Charter of the New Urbanism” Ben Zellers, AICP, CNU-A
  2. 2. The New Urbanism • Look towards successful past design to inform new development patterns. Cars Live Here People Live Here
  3. 3. The New Urbanism • Look towards successful past design to inform new development patterns.
  4. 4. The New Urbanism • Look towards successful past design to inform new development patterns.
  5. 5. The Transect From
  6. 6. The Transect From
  7. 7. The Charter of The New Urbanism • • 27 planning, design, and development principles broken down in to 3 categories: – The region: Metropolis, city, and town – The neighborhood, the district, and the corridor – The block, the street, and the building
  8. 8. The Region • Development patterns should not blur or eradicate the edges of the metropolis.
  9. 9. The Region • Direct investment to smart growth priority areas.
  10. 10. The Region • Most codes outlaw construction of compact, diverse, walkable cities and villages. • Make good design legal. – Too many downtowns are illegal. – Requiring over provision of parking. – Zoning doesn’t match pre-existing lot/site conditions. – Minimum lot size too big. – Jumping through hoops for mixed-use development.
  11. 11. The Region • Reject road planning and projections that ignore induced traffic. • Induced traffic = new road capacity absorbed by drivers who previously avoided congested roads. • “Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening a belt.”
  12. 12. The Region • Beltline in Madison/Monona “Old” Beltline: 4 lanes; 45 mph speed limit; many curb cuts; stoplights “New” Beltline – opened in 1988: 6 lanes; 55 mph speed limit; freeway; free-flow interchange with I-39/90
  13. 13. The Region 125,000 115,000 105,000 95,000 85,000 75,000 65,000 55,000 45,000 35,000 1988: 6-lane bypass opens 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Data from WisDOT; CARPC 54,685 69,850 111,000 78,890 1984: EIS 44,700 54,500 27% 41%
  14. 14. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Plan in increments of complete neighborhoods. • Neighborhoods should be compact, pedestrian-friendly, and mixed-use. • Many activities of daily living should occur within walking distance to allow independence for those who do not drive, especially the elderly and young. • Retain & protect major natural features; have a variety of public places.
  15. 15. The five-minute walk Park
  16. 16. School The five-minute walk Park Wetlands & Park Preserve School Senior Housing Grocery, Bank, Etc. View Preserved for Public
  17. 17. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • An interconnected network of streets with small block sizes should be designed to encourage walking, reduce the number and length of automobile trips, and conserve energy.
  18. 18. 4,140’ (~3/4 mi) 450’ (~2/25 mi)
  19. 19. 7 miles!
  20. 20. Neighborhood, District, Corridor From Annualized per-capita life cycle costs
  21. 21. From
  22. 22. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Have a broad range of housing types and price levels in a neighborhood.
  23. 23. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Concentrations of civic, institutional, and commercial activity should be embedded in neighborhoods and districts, not isolated in remote, single-use complexes. Schools should be sized and located to enable children to walk or bicycle to them.
  24. 24. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • The downtown Hotel Office Retail Post Office City Hall Library Senior Center Fire Dept. EMS Church Church Brewery Housing Housing Bank Farmer’s Market (summer)
  25. 25. Village Village High School 1.4 miles 1.7 miles No sidewalks or trails . . . Pupil Transportation Budget: $633,000 1969: 41 percent of children either walked or biked to school 2001: 13 percent
  26. 26. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Economic health and harmonious evolution of neighborhoods, districts, and corridors can be improved through graphic urban design codes that serve as predictable guides for change. • Consider form-based zoning, especially for mixed-use areas like downtowns.
  27. 27. • Better to show people what you do want than tell them what you don’t want.
  28. 28. Neighborhood, District, Corridor • Sidewalks are not the only ingredient for making a place walkable. Pedestrian routes must be: – Useful – aspects of daily life located close at hand. – Interesting – sidewalk lined with unique buildings – Comfortable – buildings create “outdoor living rooms” – Safe – peds have a fighting chance against autos. From: The Walkable City, by Jeff Speck
  29. 29. Block, Street, Building • Design complete streets: streets are for pedestrians, bicyclists, and autos. • Streets should be safe for all modes of transport. – Autos travel at the speed the street is designed for, not at the posted speed limit. – Pedestrian fatalities at speeds of 36-45 mph are 22 TIMES HIGHER than when cars are at ≤20mph.
  30. 30. 3280 Feet 315 Feet
  31. 31. Block, Street, and Building • Georgia pedestrian charged with vehicular homicide in the death of her 4-year old son because they were j-walking when hit by a drunk driver who left the scene. • Crossed street at bus stop instead of walking 2/3 mi to cross at a crosswalk. • Could have done more prison time than the driver.
  32. 32. Block, Street, and Building • Development must adequately accommodate automobiles; it should do so in ways that respect the pedestrian and the form of public space. • Streets and squares should be safe, comfortable, and interesting to the pedestrian.
  33. 33. • NO SIDEWALKS, no parks, no schools, no mix of uses . . .
  34. 34. Kudos on the sidewalks and crosswalks, but . . . School
  35. 35. NO! On street parking: essential for businesses. Well-managed street parking can generate tens of thousands of retail sales per stall; ideal to manage parking to maintain 15% stall vacancy.
  36. 36. Block, Street, Building • Preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes affirm the continuity and evolution of urban society. • Or: do everything you can to preserve your historic buildings – that’s what makes your community unique.
  37. 37. Downtown block area: 1.7 acres Assessed value: $3.87 million Value per acre: $2.3 million Big box parcel area: 5.8 acres Assessed value: $2.1 million Value per acre: $362,000 More than 6 times as valuable per acre! Newer! Even when compared to a brand new big box store with freeway access in a bigger city, the downtown block at right is more than 2x as valuable per acre.
  38. 38. Block, Street, Building • A primary task of all urban architecture and landscape design is the physical definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use. • The revitalization of urban places depends on safety and security. The design of streets and buildings should reinforce safe environments, but not at the expense of accessibility and openness.
  39. 39. Block, Street, Building • Architecture and landscape design should grow from local climate, topography, history, and building practice. • All buildings should provide their inhabitants with a clear sense of location, weather, and time. Natural methods of heating and cooling can be more resource-efficent than mechanical systems.
  40. 40. (before)
  41. 41. Raingarden terrace LED Streetlights Pervious pavers Terrace trees Benches & trash receptacles Bike racks Building sun shades; many windows facing street (after)
  42. 42. • Surface parking • Very little greenspace • Green roof • Solar panels • Increased greenspace
  43. 43. Block, Street, Building • Don’t be afraid to require good design.
  44. 44. Block, Street, Building • Fire safety vs. life safety. – Fire departments love wide streets – they feel it allows them to handle fires better. – Wide streets cause speeding, no matter the posted speed limit. – Speeding causes more severe driver and pedestrian injuries and increases fatalities from crashes. • Best to have narrower streets that connect.
  45. 45. Block, Street, Building • Allow alleys. Alleys: – Prevent garages from dominating the streetscape. – Reduce pedestrian/bike conflicts with cars by reducing driveways/curb cuts. – Allow for narrower lots. – Provide a place for transformers, meters, communications boxes, trash pickup, etc.
  46. 46. Conclusion • Good design should be, at a minimum, allowed; hopefully encouraged; ideally required. • Many zoning practices from the 1950s and 60s, which remain in place today, mandate bad design. • Bad zoning and other bad government regulations have led to many of the problems communities are facing today.
  47. 47. Conclusion • Market has responded to government regulations and provided vast tracts of isolated large-lot single-family homes; it’s time to make “traditional” neighbor-hoods legal again and give people a choice in where they can live. • Good urban design and sound planning is a matter of public health.
  48. 48. Recommended Reading . . . 1. Suburban Nation, by Andres Duany, Elisabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck 2. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
  49. 49. Questions? Ben Zellers, AICP, CNU-A Vierbicher 999 Fourier Drive, #201 Madison, WI 53717 (608) 821-3967