Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: A new idea on a completed site plan

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Sugar Land, TX
    Posts
    6

    A new idea on a completed site plan

    I don't consider myself a professional planner although. as an architect I offer planning services. My experience has been limited to small projects and balancing building areas with parking and landscape requirements to reach that balance to delight the developer and to get the project through planning. This site did make it through the planning commission and the plat was recorded. However, having recently passed my LEED Green Associate accreditation, I have a different "take" on this project.

    Briefly described, the site contains three identical two-story "Professional Office Buildings," a bank pad and ground surface parking. What I started to sketch was three story office buildings of equal area to the two-story buildings. Then I blocked out a multi-leveled parking garage in lieu of surface parking. What this concept achieves is a smaller footprint! I ended up with a lot more open space. That's what I wanted to do, but no developer would buy this scheme!

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    11,188
    Paying for a parking garage is never going to be an easy sell. Unless you are in a dense urban area where land is at a premium, three separate office buildings, with each able to see their parking lots, will sell much sooner.

    Unfortunately, developers look only at the bottom line - what is it going to cost me, who can I attract. Not the impact of their development on the environment, or the impact on the community.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Sugar Land, TX
    Posts
    6
    You summed it up perfectly (unfortunately).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    4,323
    The other thing that gets kicked around but nixed from site planning often times because of additional cost is underground (under the parking field, usually) storm-water detention. I hate it when all of the landscaping on a project is just giant detention ponds...realize why it happens and everything, I just hate it.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    11,188
    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    The other thing that gets kicked around but nixed from site planning often times because of additional cost is underground (under the parking field, usually) storm-water detention. I hate it when all of the landscaping on a project is just giant detention ponds...realize why it happens and everything, I just hate it.
    I know it is Off-topic but...
    This is going to change soon. With more requirements for quality of water (unlike the archaic rules of just quantity of water) people will find creative solutions to the problems of water detention/retention. I think we will see more vegetated swales and integrated rain gardens as soon as developers realize that these mostly count towards landscaping requirements and by removing the large ponds, they can fit in more parking or building s.f.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    I think the problem is that you're still trying to create an outdated office park. Where's the mix of uses or the enhanced value that comes from walkability? Do all the employees have to get in their cars to come to work or to go out for lunch? Is the bank on some sort of island?

    LEED certification doesn't really help if cars are still the principal way people are accessing and using a site.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Sugar Land, TX
    Posts
    6

    Study required beyond my area of expertise

    Start with the initial property boundary for larger two-story footprints with surface parking. This would establish a base cost for the infrastructure including retention/detention. Assume the boundary area meets the planning commission's minimum requirements for area, parking, open space ratios.

    As an alternative, KEEP the same property area but substitute smaller three-story footprints and a parking garage. The cost of infrastructure would be less than the base cost and perhaps there would be no need for rentention/detention. Furthermore, the increased cost of a parking structure might be offset by the other cost reductions. That's synergy!

    The buildings would be clustered so they are in close proximity to the parking garage.

    The possible cost of retaining water for irrigation and flushing toilets might be offset by the cost of potable water use over some period of time - perhapes ten years?

    I wish I had the ability to run the engineering and cost calculation numbers. Why does everything always come down to math?

    The other objection to overcome would be to convince the developer to consider the operating costs over some effective period of time to offset some of the initial costs.
    Last edited by mrdavie; 28 Jul 2010 at 7:01 PM. Reason: obsessed with punctuation

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Sugar Land, TX
    Posts
    6

    Never mind

    I think never mind. I just started conceptualizing a 500 car parking garage. That's big and a lot more money to build than to pave paradise.
    Last edited by mrdavie; 28 Jul 2010 at 7:39 PM. Reason: spelling

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    I'd consider putting some of the parking on the roofs.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    Depending on the Transect Zone, you could design surface parking so that it becomes a garden with permeable gravel and ornamental plantings or a piazza with good spatial definition, an appealing public square, and active uses along the perimeter. Also, consider creating a naturalistic park that features a dense forest of tall trees, like sycamores, eucalyptuses, and redwoods, interspersed among all the parking spaces.

    I'd also try to shift more of the parking to new angled spaces on the public right-of-way, and I'd add linear parking lots that look like slip roads along a boulevard. I'd also push for better transportation beyond the standard-size, single-occupancy private vehicle so that jitneys, car-pools, and van-pools take-up the slack. With enough creativity, you may be able to achieve your goal.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    One has to be careful using LEEDS for a client. It almost always will cost the client more without benefitting him. And many times the client does not know the extra cost involved, because it is not spelled out or calculated for him.

    One may be within budget, but the project costs more than it should. He probably doesn't realize that, if he is happy that his project is in budget. It is possible that you could have produced a project that was under his budget, and he could have used the savings more profitably for his business (including employee pay).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,456
    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    One has to be careful using LEEDS for a client. It almost always will cost the client more without benefitting him. And many times the client does not know the extra cost involved, because it is not spelled out or calculated for him.
    LEED is a croc of crap. The added material costs is probably 10-15% at best, depending on what additional "green" features you add. Obviously the bigger ticket items such as insulation, HVAC, stormwater design will lower utility costs in the long term, but of course developers never think in the long term. The real hidden cost of LEED is the documentation portion. Document this, that, send in this, test that, re-test that. What do you get in the end? A silly little plauqe.

    If states would just take California's leading in adopting a Building Code similar to California's 2011 Green Building Code, it can help put the marketing racket of USGBC's LEED out of business and obtain the true benefits of helping reduce the carbon footprint of the built enviornment.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,456
    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Depending on the Transect Zone, you could design surface parking so that it becomes a garden with permeable gravel and ornamental plantings or a piazza with good spatial definition, an appealing public square, and active uses along the perimeter. Also, consider creating a naturalistic park that features a dense forest of tall trees, like sycamores, eucalyptuses, and redwoods, interspersed among all the parking spaces.

    I'd also try to shift more of the parking to new angled spaces on the public right-of-way, and I'd add linear parking lots that look like slip roads along a boulevard. I'd also push for better transportation beyond the standard-size, single-occupancy private vehicle so that jitneys, car-pools, and van-pools take-up the slack. With enough creativity, you may be able to achieve your goal.
    And what bank would fund this?
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,952
    I don't know how developers of business parks typically deal with utilities, but I know for residential mutli-family development, developers often don't give a rat's a$$ about improving efficiency because they simply pass that cost on to the renters. That makes opting in to something like LEED a hard sell for many projects. Its all about the bottom line and if extra construction costs simply means those leasing have smaller bills, then its not really worth it to the developer.

    I agree with CPSURaf that these green elements need to be part of the building code and not some optional buy-in program like LEED. The principles are good, but these things just need to be phased into all building codes such that its simply how we build and not some neat idea someone can choose to take part in.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    And what bank would fund this?
    The question is whether or not one can find hidden value through a different approach.

    It's the flip side of the question about lowering costs for office tenants and the derived demand among them for LEED certification.

    The demand may be there, but finding it may require overcoming market friction among the developers, landlords, and tenants, as well as the end users.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2009
    Location
    County of Orange
    Posts
    134
    .

    First you suggest a parking structure, and then the review board suggests part of it be below-grade to reduce its apparent massing, and then you realize you have a permanent dewatering problem for that part below-grade, and then you abandon the project...

    .

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,456
    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    The question is whether or not one can find hidden value through a different approach.
    that's the rub dude. No bank will finance a "hidden value approach". The finance what will make money, hence why i say force it through a building code.

    Look, i like your moxy PI, it's good to think grand and big, but change is not a rapid thing in our industry. It is like a slow roast. Not all square answers fit in a circle peg. It's not like i am an old planner, i am a "newbie". I have just learned where to pick my battles since I have worked on both sides of the counter with both developers and municipalities.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    611
    My background is in economics, so I always am looking at aligning incentives with desirable outcomes.

    While changing the building code is great, I think more people than ever before are leaving their silos to look at the urban form in a much more sophisticated way and are seeing the very real value that exists in a model that is not as dependent on automobiles.

    What happens to all of the users of these buildings when gas prices rise to five, six, or seven dollars a gallon? The entire paradigm is based on a madness by which we assume that owning and using automobiles will always be cheap.

    Terraced parking is only going to make sense, ultimately, where transit and/or walkability exist or where land is otherwise able to command a premium. So, to create walkability, can this complex include residential and other retail? Can an entire economic ecosystem be contained by this property and by the surrounding neighborhood? What adjacent land uses exist today? What kinds of thoroughfares and public spaces exist? Is the underlying zoning Euclidean? Are the parking requirements out of whack? And, does the city require asinine setbacks? Perhaps, this is the wrong site for a commercial building, which should, almost necessarily, be both mixed-use and walkable.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    4,323
    And you're absolutely right about every one of those considerations - and the muni planner in that area should already be way on top of all of it and hopefully is. It's just that the question of this original post was a different "take" on how he'd laid out a site that a client had already determined he wanted a bank and office building on. He's not really in control of any of these other considerations...though somebody is and hopefully they're up for it as you would be. Like raf said, you're a tiger and should be proud because you are very articulate and well thought-through. So, - nothin but love.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Administration / review / process Site plan expirations
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 05 May 2011, 8:46 AM
  2. Administration / review / process Site plan amendments
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 26 Apr 2011, 9:23 AM