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Thread: Do these types of developments have different names?

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Do these types of developments have different names?

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...273.45,,0,2.03

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...2,43.6,,0,3.81

    The roads are the same width yet the first picture feels more safe and homey. Do these types of developments have different names? I think sometimes I get caught up in the urban (big buildings) vs. suburban (strip malls) without thinking about the in-between. How would you classify each type of development?
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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I would probably say "Downtown Fringe" for the second and "City Streetcar Suburban" for the first.

    I think the difference is that you have a scene with shorter, but still urban buildings/activity with people outside and more sunlight getting to the street level. The second is a former fringe area of Downtown that was likely a warehouse/factory district inthe past and has transitioned into a loft res/office district, but many you're not getting as much sunlight to the street level and there are no people out.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The image from St. Paul: probably a streetcar suburb, depending on what the adjacent residential area is like.

    The image from Minneapolis: looks like an urban warehouse district.
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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I would say the same as Mendelman. The first seems like classic streetcar suburb. At the time of development, this was probably an outlying area that has since become part of the city and is a central commercial hub for the surrounding neighborhoods. You can probably even see where the rail lines ran if you look for clues in the pavement.

    The second looks like a warehouse/office district for perhaps light industry - like M said - probably on the edges of the central downtown area. Garment district, mattress factory type places.
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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I would classify both of those as "urban" - whether the first one was originally a streetcar suburb or just a neighborhood commercial center outside of downtown makes no difference to me. I would absolutely love to live in either type of environment, but alas, both are way more urban than anything anywhere near where I live. The closest urban environments like those (in scale and not within a mile of a CBD) is probably in New Orleans and/or Kansas City.

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Do these have formal names that people would recognize? TOD, New Urbanist, etc. have names and people know what it means? Do these have specific names?
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    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    Do these have formal names that people would recognize? TOD, New Urbanist, etc. have names and people know what it means? Do these have specific names?
    Well, it depends. From a planning perspective, it'd probably be some variation of "urban". The Real Estate leasing market won't care how it's designed - just it's square footage, build quality, amenities, and location. I'm not sure how urban designers would describe it.

    In New Urbanist lingo, as inspired by SmartCode transects, the first photo would most likely be considerd "T4: General Urban" and the second photo would most likely be a "T5 Urban Center", but these descriptions would vary based on synoptic surveys of vernacular development patterns of the regions they're located it.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    Do these have formal names that people would recognize? TOD, New Urbanist, etc. have names and people know what it means? Do these have specific names?
    Well, I would still stick with my original terms, but you could also use the most applicable New Urbanist transect labels, which would be likely T5 for the first and T6 for the second.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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

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  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I think you are likely to confuse people if you start using terms like New Urbanist or TOD for these examples because, to me, that would imply they are a more recent construction (even though I can see infill in some of those places that is newer, the developer was really just trying to fit in with existing styles, not establish a new area according to a set of design principles). Yes, New Urbanism attempts to revive many older effective design approaches, but in the past, this name was not used.

    The St. Paul example is definitely mixed-use and was likely always that way - the store owner living upstairs and running his/her enterprise or renting the retail space to a third party and collecting the rent. Streetcar Suburbs, which is a term I think most urban designers will recognize (or at least they should), is really just an older form of TOD. In some cases, commercial land in an area a municipality was planning to run a streetcar line to was offered at a reduced price to developers. It was felt that the combo of a commercial sector and a transit stop would inspire additional residential development in adjacent streets. Classic TOD. Maybe even TOD Olde School. It was a rather successful model of urban/suburban expansion for quite a while.

    The other example looks to me like it was originally just warehouse/office space (by office, I mean offices for the light industrial activities taking place in that building). Later I am guessing the first floor retail was created. What happens upstairs there now? If its apartments, that's another mixed-use example, but not TOD as there was probably never any kind of transit run in the area historically. You could call it adaptive reuse since its using solid building stock reinterpreted for an other-than-original use rather than being razed.

    Does that help at all?
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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    I think Chester Liebs would call the first view a "taxpayer strip," what he defined as "long corridors, walled in by one- or two-story commercial blocks, plied by cars and trolleys, and punctuated by hundreds of signs . . ." The buildings on these "taxpayer strips" were placed there (in theory) to pay the taxes on the land while the owners waited for more intensive and profitable development to radiate out from the urban core. It is interesting to me that, if this was the theory behind this type of development, there are so many of these strips still in existence.

    The second is harder, because I see that as "urban." I gew up in Boston, and a street lined with 5+ story brick buildings looks like home. But, as Dan said, it really looks like a warehouse district. If you prefer, adaptive reuse.

    I think the problem is that Duany et al., to further their firm's business goals, have "named" certain types of development, so now we are expected to be able to name all types of development. Like they say, when you name it you own it, and since no-one needs or wants to own existing historic development patterns, they are not well-named. If someone were to start a "Congress for the Old Urbanism" then maybe we would get some more terms to play with.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    I think Chester Liebs would call the first view a "taxpayer strip," what he defined as "long corridors, walled in by one- or two-story commercial blocks, plied by cars and trolleys, and punctuated by hundreds of signs . . ."
    Good call. Liebs' book is called Main street to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture Indeed, he was my Cultural Landscapes professor and that's where I got all the Streetcar Suburb info from! A Taxpayer Strip is a form of Streetcar Suburb ("taxpayers" were actually the buildings and referred to as such because they would build just enough to pay the taxes on the land until demand was high enough to invest in more development)
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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JimPlans View post
    I think the problem is that Duany et al., to further their firm's business goals, have "named" certain types of development, so now we are expected to be able to name all types of development. Like they say, when you name it you own it, and since no-one needs or wants to own existing historic development patterns, they are not well-named. If someone were to start a "Congress for the Old Urbanism" then maybe we would get some more terms to play with.
    Exactly. If you are trying to explain it to people, it just makes it worse.

    'Streetcar suburb' is something clear that reg'lur folks can grasp, [rant] but all these other jargony names and that horrid T5 cr*p just makes people cringe, IME. Ugh. Stop using it. [/rant]

    In my presentations (all to non-planners), I outline the jargon so they are familiar with it, and I have the same slide I use all the time that sums up the jargon with a caption: "...[jargon is] a return to development patterns found prior to WWII". My audiences seem to get it and we move on to the meat.

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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...273.45,,0,2.03

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...2,43.6,,0,3.81

    The roads are the same width yet the first picture feels more safe and homey. Do these types of developments have different names? I think sometimes I get caught up in the urban (big buildings) vs. suburban (strip malls) without thinking about the in-between. How would you classify each type of development?
    While building scale is important, photo 1 looks more homey because the street scape is considerably softer, phot 2 is pretty harsh
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    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I would say the same as Mendelman. The first seems like classic streetcar suburb. At the time of development, this was probably an outlying area that has since become part of the city and is a central commercial hub for the surrounding neighborhoods. You can probably even see where the rail lines ran if you look for clues in the pavement.
    Agreed with you two. Streetcar Commercial, or even just generic Neighborhood Commercial Development would work. I have used the latter when planning or even drafting code. I realize it's a rather generic name but it seems most urban dwellers seem to understand the form it's describing.

    The second looks like a warehouse/office district for perhaps light industry - like M said - probably on the edges of the central downtown area. Garment district, mattress factory type places.
    Perhaps Neighborhood Industrial? It can be difficult to convey the idea of residential, commercial, and light industrial uses sharing the same street, much less the form that development takes, with a simple title.

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    The roads are the same width yet the first picture feels more safe and homey.
    I get the same feeling. And I think that has to do with the fact that it's a two-way street. The second one is a three-lane one-way.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Streetscape in urban developments

    From the perpsective of our constituents, I think both read as urban places. I wouldn't use any transect jargon to describe them.

    To me the differences in the two are simple. As has been pointed out, one has two lanes of traffic shown driving toward us aggressively, while the visually preferred choice has only three lanes of traffic altogether. Street trees make all the difference to me in the second photo, as well as the wider sidewalk. In the first photo, the sidewalk on the left side is hidden from view.

    However, all of this could be photographic illusion. If we really went there, we know that the construction plywood and the orange cones won't be on the first street segment forever, but I'll be you that they impacted our collective judgment about which was the more attractive streetscape. As described previously, the lack of any pedestrian in the second photo probably influences us too.

    Neither is wonderful, mind you. But at least they are relatively intact, without large gaps between buildings.

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Would you rather live in a high rise neighborhood or a low-rise neighborhood such as row-houses or converted homes?
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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    Would you rather live in a high rise neighborhood or a low-rise neighborhood such as row-houses or converted homes?
    I would never live in a high-rise neighborhood. I lived in one of three apartments in a rowhouse in Troy, NY, for a couple of years, and that was a good experience as I had the first floor and access to the backyard and a parking space. I need green space as I'm a farmer at heart.

  19. #19
    I live in an area that looks very similar to the Minneapolis photo. Its a collection of industrial buildings, some housing, some ground floor retail. It's not for everyone but the unis in my area are in high demand.

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