Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Are 'new urbanist' communities still sprawl?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Illinois as of 1/1/09
    Posts
    192

    Are 'new urbanist' communities still sprawl?

    Hello, after looking at an article about Kyle, Texas from Planetizen.com, I looked at the map of the new urbanist community. When looking at other NU communities like Seaside FL, its clear that there are still elements of the suburban road hierarchy present. If people really wanted NU and traditional layouts why do they still plan for broad avenues that have no buildings fronting them and the streets aren't really in a grid pattern. I'd like to see a real traditional NU neighborhood that doesn't abut a large highway. Something like Manhattan or San Francisco. What are your thoughts on this? Here is the example I was looking at:

    Plum Creek, TX Masterplan
    Last edited by mendelman; 15 Jan 2009 at 10:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2007
    Location
    SC
    Posts
    133
    The strict grid pattern is something that is fairly unique to the united states in general and to the midwest in particular. Older east coast cities and most old cities in europe, latin america, etc. are not on a strict grid. There are design theories that advocate curvilinear streets, t-stops, and "terminating vistas".

    As far as NU developments happening along highways/interstates - that's just a reality of the development world. That happens to be where land is available, affordable, and where people are willing to live becasue it makes for an easy commute. There have been some smaller scale NU type infill projects in Charleston, SC. However, in most cities, the only place you can build and entire NU neighborhood is on the fringe, next to a highway. In a developed city you'd be lucky to get 1 or 2 blocks, which is hardly enough to constitute a neighborhood.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,953
    I can't imagine many planners would disagree with your assessment. Plum Creek appears to be very little different from most golf course developments, at least from the image you posted.

    I really noted the issue you raise with lots backing up to streets when I was living in Colorado. Once out of the subdivision, it was like driving through a canyon - four lane streets with wide terraces bordered by a solid fence wall. It was one of the most depressing landscapes imaginable. As a result, I typically go through an exercise related to this when doing greenfield neighborhood plans. I present different solutions to designing uses along the busier streets. These may include commercial development, multi-family of different densities, one- and two-family units fronting on the street with alley access, a frontage road type of network with the terrace used for greenspace or stormwater, or the typical backage lots. Invariably, this causes people to think about the issue and they always view the backage lots least favorably.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    409
    The strict grid only works where there is limited topographic change, or things like rivers, etc. Adding NU communities to small towns etc on a fixed guideway transit route may be the best way to curb sprawl.

  5. #5
    A lot depends on where these are located. It can also be that some places call themselves new urbanist when they really aren't.

  6. #6
    Dan Staley's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Front Range, CO
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    Hello, after looking at an article about Kyle, Texas from Planetizen.com, I looked at the map of the new urbanist community. When looking at other NU communities like Seaside FL, its clear that there are still elements of the suburban road hierarchy present. If people really wanted NU and traditional layouts why do they still plan for broad avenues that have no buildings fronting them and the streets aren't really in a grid pattern. I'd like to see a real traditional NU neighborhood that doesn't abut a large highway. Something like Manhattan or San Francisco. What are your thoughts on this? Here is the example I was looking at:

    Plum Creek, TX Masterplan
    NU in a vacuum is not sprawl. Often, on the ground, NU developments can appear to contribute to sprawl, esp if they are on greenfields.

    The issue with hierarchical roads is IMHO a function of the availability (or lack of) transit. I agree with Cardinal wrt design adjacent to arterials/collectors, as I live near some of these depressing canyons - when I go for a ride I'll pedal extra to avoid riding on these roads, as they are not only depressing but more dangerous as drivers treat them as raceways. But I don't think you need a strict grid (or tilted grid, e.g. Cheyenne, Edmonton and other cold cities) as long as you have adequate connectivity and lower tortuosity for non-motorized. It is important to create places that are interesting and non-cookie cuttered, and IMHO NU is a good way to get there.
    Last edited by mendelman; 15 Jan 2009 at 10:55 AM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Illinois as of 1/1/09
    Posts
    192
    Why don't we stop building these roads. If we are going to build higher-capacity roads why don't we put buildings on them instead of building racetracks, as you say? Think of Market Street in San Fran, Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis, Michigan Ave in Chicago - why can't our NU communities create these? Why does everything have to be inside a bubble surrounded by broad avenues?

    Also, about those walls along roads - worst invention ever

  8. #8
    Dan Staley's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Front Range, CO
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    why can't our NU communities create these? Why does everything have to be inside a bubble surrounded by broad avenues?

    Also, about those walls along roads - worst invention ever
    These communities would have to redo their road standards. Or grant variances to let what you describe happen. That is: paradigm shift. Will it happen? I hope so.

  9. #9
    Dan Staley's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Front Range, CO
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally posted by Dan Staley View post
    NU in a vacuum is not sprawl. ...

    But I don't think you need a strict grid (or tilted grid, e.g. Cheyenne, Edmonton and other cold cities) as long as you have adequate connectivity and lower tortuosity for non-motorized. It is important to create places that are interesting and non-cookie cuttered, and IMHO NU is a good way to get there.
    What is the world coming to? I'm playing devils advocate with myself:


    “Using our model of rat behavior, it takes just a few minutes for city planners to test whether a new plan will work. It’s a way to avoid disasters and massive expense.” He expects that the choices the rats make will eventually be optimized and plugged into a computer tool.

    …“We put rats in relatively large areas with objects and routes resembling those in Manhattan,” explains Prof. Eilam. The rats, he found, do the same things humans do: They establish a grid system to orient themselves. Using the grid, the rats covered a vast amount of territory, “seeing the sights” quickly. In contrast, rats in an irregular plan resembling New Orleans’ failed to move far from where they started and didn’t cover much territory, despite travelling the same distances as the “Manhattan rats.
    Maybe this is part of the new green job economy: planners as rat monitors.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,303

    Ah.....

    Why doesn't anyone ever suggest that a true "New Urbanist" development requires an Urban environment in the first place? Seems kinda basic to me.....When I think about the new urbanist communities (dozens of them) being proposed in exurban areas around Phoenix (Buckeye), I still think sprawl. A new urbanist suburb is still a suburb and still sprawl. A true new urbanist development in an exurban area would be called a new city/town and would be a stand alone community. New Urbanist development in exurban parts of South Florida is another example.

    I like new urban designs when implemented within an existing urban area and sold as a return to urban neighborhood glory A modified "New Suburbanist" example would be the place Brocktoon and Mrs. Brocktoon gave me a tour of in Gilbert last year. It was residential with an adjacent field for local crop production and very limited commercial to inlcude restaurant, nursery and coffee house. This not only felt right, but in my opinion fit into the existing suburban environs of Gilbert. At least it felt more genuine that a lot of the "New Urbanist" exurban sprawl I've seen and visited

    Maybe Brocktoon has a link to it?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,558
    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Why doesn't anyone ever suggest that a true "New Urbanist" development requires an Urban environment in the first place? Seems kinda basic to me.....When I think about the new urbanist communities (dozens of them) being proposed in exurban areas around Phoenix (Buckeye), I still think sprawl. A new urbanist suburb is still a suburb and still sprawl. A true new urbanist development in an exurban area would be called a new city/town and would be a stand alone community. New Urbanist development in exurban parts of South Florida is another example.

    I like new urban designs when implemented within an existing urban area and sold as a return to urban neighborhood glory A modified "New Suburbanist" example would be the place Brocktoon and Mrs. Brocktoon gave me a tour of in Gilbert last year. It was residential with an adjacent field for local crop production and very limited commercial to inlcude restaurant, nursery and coffee house. This not only felt right, but in my opinion fit into the existing suburban environs of Gilbert. At least it felt more genuine that a lot of the "New Urbanist" exurban sprawl I've seen and visited

    Maybe Brocktoon has a link to it?
    Ask and ye shall receive:

    http://www.agritopia.com/


    One could argue that having all the open space as grass is a new urbanist faux pas since the development is located in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  12. #12
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,203
    Hey there. With all the talk of sustainable development and the environment of late, why are *we* still building in the middle of the desert?

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    7,303

    Hmmm....

    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    Hey there. With all the talk of sustainable development and the environment of late, why are *we* still building in the middle of the desert?
    Path of least resistance maybe.....lack of political will power, lack of tax revenue sharing to disuade "not so smart" development in unincorporated areas or rural areas, lack of regional (to include rural areas) smart growth planning efforts. Urban and core areas need to setup a program to pay rural areas to be good neighbors and stay rural, while at the same time promoting stand alone compact development of existing towns and communities within the same rural areas. Rural areas need to realize the importance of being rural and not spending all of their time chasing the all mighty growth and development at all costs to the natural and physical environment (done understandably because of budget issues and tax base problems). This would involve the State stepping in and telling big urban counties to subsidize smart growth of their neighbors, inlcuding not just revenue sharing, but technical assistance during the planning process (new regulations and code assistance).

    The fiefdom system promotes a winner and looser system....cities need to realize and accept they are part of a County and State and look outside their borders for once I wonder if this is one reason why everyone likes Vermont so much?

    I could go on all day......
    Skilled Adoxographer

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,558
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    Hey there. With all the talk of sustainable development and the environment of late, why are *we* still building in the middle of the desert?
    Argotopia was actually built in the middle of a farm field... but the main reason that we are still building in the desert is supply and demand.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  15. #15
    I would say its they dont build in the middle of the desert because of supply and demand - there is little demand for building in the middle of nowhere, just look at the housing crisis, it began in the exurbs.

    They build in the middle of nowhere because they can: cities and counties let them build there, people sell their land to get money, banks lend money.

  16. #16
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,267
    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    Hello, after looking at an article about Kyle, Texas from Planetizen.com, I looked at the map of the new urbanist community. When looking at other NU communities like Seaside FL, its clear that there are still elements of the suburban road hierarchy present. If people really wanted NU and traditional layouts why do they still plan for broad avenues that have no buildings fronting them and the streets aren't really in a grid pattern. I'd like to see a real traditional NU neighborhood that doesn't abut a large highway. Something like Manhattan or San Francisco. What are your thoughts on this?
    I don't see a problem with a functional street hierarchy. The "suburban-ness" of a street network, I believe, depends more on width of pavements and speeds of the roads opposed to a system of local, collector and arterial streets. Take a look at the Hausmann boulevard system in Paris, France (created in the middle of the 19th century). There is a clear hierarchy of streets with many of the main boulevard rights-of-way in excess of 200 feet wide, but I would be hard pressed to see someone say central Paris is not urban.

    As for Grid vs grid vs grid (if you understand me), a straightup rectilinear grid like post 1811 Commissioner's Manhattan or much of Chicago is quite rigid, inflexible, and actually consumes a proportionally higher amount of land for street pavement. A modified grid as shown the Plum Creek example is well suited for more urban, pedestrian oriented schemes, absent the actual orientation of the buildings within the land plan. And I agree that blank wall, back-turned building layouts to arterial is horrendous. But that may be out of the control of the developer.

    And, really, the reality is that real estate development today requires access to regional arterials and that makes sense even from a historical perspective. You say "be more like Manhattan and San Francisco, but those cities were settled adjacent to the regional (actually global) arterials of there time - ocean ports.

    I also agree that greenfield sites are more easily defined under sprawl, unless connected to a heavily public transit corridor and can be a more self contained entity - here's a thread about new towns in the UK. Specifically, Tornagrain in Scotland - Masterplan and Regional context. This is a greenfield site for sure, but I would be less hesitant to label is sprawl, because it will have commuter rail access to a the larger cities in the regional, is compact is design, and does skirt the side of a regional highway, but also creates a "local" branch into the town center thus providing access, but limiting the impacts of the regional through traffic through diversion.

    As you are probably aware broad brush statements about "what's right" in urban planning is appropriate.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  17. #17
    Dan Staley's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Front Range, CO
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post

    With all the talk of sustainable development and the environment of late, why are *we* still building in the middle of the desert?
    Because its all talk. If we were actually serious about it these wouldn't be going in.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2009
    Location
    louisville, ky
    Posts
    285
    new urbanist communities that are built on the edge of existing development are sprawl, good intentioned or otherwise. the entire concept of 'make a new town' is flawed from the outset imo. the conditions they describe and strive for are good conditions and have a lot of precedent, however the towns they attempt to emulate grew organically as time and conditions dictated. they also grew from a populace that had no other mode of transport than to walk, or possibly ride a horse or cart; therefore everything was easily accessible to the local inhabitants.

    just because you build a new town or city aht follows new urbanist guidelines doesnt meant people will walk or work in it. there is a new urbanist town just outside of louisville, and lots of people commute from there to their office downtown everyday, just like people commute to it for work everyday.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,558
    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I would say its they dont build in the middle of the desert because of supply and demand - there is little demand for building in the middle of nowhere, just look at the housing crisis, it began in the exurbs.
    Most of those homes are occupied. The problem was speculators buying 10 houses at a time and flipping them. If this activity was removed their would still have been the demand to build the homes.

    They build in the middle of nowhere because they can: cities and counties let them build there, people sell their land to get money, banks lend money.
    Its called capitalism. It is the underpinning of our society. I know you might find this hard to believe but people like progress and not everyone wants to live in a dense development or close to the city center. In your neck of the woods that explains most of Connecticut.

    In AZ many of the new housing developments were farms. The Phoenix metro area has more water now than it did 10 years ago.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Its called capitalism. .
    Isn't that what I said?

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Hollidaysburg, PA
    Posts
    10
    I think there are plenty of "new urbanist" communities that are inaccessable without an automobile, and therefore can be considered sprawl. Just because there are dense lots, architectural standards, narrow street widths, sidewalks, mixed use, etc, doesn't mean it's not sprawl. Of course, there are many new urbanist developments that are not sprawl, but I think the term is frequently misapplied.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847

    Are 'new urbanist' communities still sprawl?

    The issue here is that it depends on what you mean by sprawl? I know that sounds silly, but this is a word that, even with several written, working, definitions in the literature and numerous comp plans, still does not have a general consensus regarding its functional meaning.

    So, to answer this question, you must A) first define what you mean by sprawl, and then B) see if the characteristics of the definition match those of the new urbanist community in question.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  23. #23
    Dan Staley's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Front Range, CO
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally posted by H View post

    So, to answer this question, you must A) first define what you mean by sprawl, and then B) see if the characteristics of the definition match those of the new urbanist community in question.
    We must also define whether the "NU" development is hype by a developer.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 0
    Last post: 29 Jan 2012, 4:11 AM
  2. Replies: 18
    Last post: 12 Sep 2011, 7:30 PM
  3. Replies: 8
    Last post: 04 Jan 2011, 4:53 PM
  4. Urbanist Hello from Seattle
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 19 Aug 2010, 9:38 AM
  5. New Urbanist Egotism
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 20
    Last post: 24 Apr 2005, 6:58 PM