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DSchoon

New Urbanism

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I'm interested in hearing people's opinions on the philosophy/concept of "new urbanism." In particular, I had thought it meant a return to village mainstreets and mixed uses, with the emphasis on shopping where you live, and not as much living where you shop.

I say this because it is being applied consistently to lifestyle centers and similar shopping mall type developments. If Orchard Park is new urbanism, than it would seem that the Grandville mall must also be, with all the apartments that have been built on the property. I'd argue this is the antithesis of urbanism.

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Did Orchard Park ever claim to be following New Urbanism?

And from what I know about Orchard Park, I would not put it in the same category as Rivertown Crossings, an indoor shopping mall where the nearby residential was not designed to be integrated or coordinated with the retail. Also, if you look at the site plans there is a "town center" district/area in Orchard Park that is mixed use with office and residential above retail.

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I see New Urbanism around here in two different categories. First, there is suburban new urbanism, where we see a "traditional" neighborhood built in a cornfield. It functions exactly like any other suburban development, requiring cars to get there, and many of these are single-use. Then there is urban new-urbanism, where a developer builds a traditional neighborhood or mixed use project in an urbanized area, and it results in a very positive addition to the city since it respects the existing street layout, and maintains or even increases the density.

Both models feature denser developments, better architecture, and more emphasis toward the pedestrian. Both are an increase over boring, garage-dominated slice-n-dice subdivisions. But their functions in the community/region are very different.

New urbanist projects in the suburbs are a step up, but do little or nothing to curtail suburban sprawl.

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New Urbanism is a lot more than just mixed uses and street grids. The best way to think of new urbanism is imagine about how/things things were constructed before 1910. One of the big things about New Urbanism is less dependence on cars, and more emphasis on pedestrian interaction and having transportation opportunities such as light rail or street cars within

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Maybe to separate places like the Orchard Park, which is basically a shopping mall sans roof, from New Urbanism principals, some of which is found in the city's planning tool box, "New Urbanism" should be relabeled "Urban Revival". Isn't that the goal of New Urbanism, to revive much of the old school urban fabric and thinking lost to suburban and 60's urban renewal mindsets? As for Orchard Park and places like it, "Lifstyle Center" describe them to a tee. Not to sound negative. But they are just prefabricated experiences designed by the developer much like the shopping mall.

New Urbanism is a lot more than just mixed uses and street grids. The best way to think of new urbanism is imagine about how/things things were constructed before 1910. One of the big things about New Urbanism is less dependence on cars, and more emphasis on pedestrian interaction and having transportation opportunities such as light rail or street cars within

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Maybe to separate places like the Orchard Park, which is basically a shopping mall sans roof, from New Urbanism principals, some of which is found in the city's planning tool box, "New Urbanism" should be relabeled "Urban Revival". Isn't that the goal of New Urbanism, to revive much of the old school urban fabric and thinking lost to suburban and 60's urban renewal mindsets? As for Orchard Park and places like it, "Lifstyle Center" describe them to a tee. Not to sound negative. But they are just prefabricated experiences designed by the developer much like the shopping mall.

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I have been a proponent of NU for a long time because of its ability to deal with multiple scales of the built environment, from the region, to the neighborhood, to the block. Conceptually it is a wonderful thing, if you can get over many of the stylistic issues, but the question of whether it has been warped is worth exploring and can be looked at in two ways.

We have experienced a large transition in greenfield development that has led to a warped New Urbanism. This has included developments with sidewalks, small lots, well defined parks, front porches, narrow street sections, street trees and of course traditionally styled homes. These developments many times miss some important features as they do not connect to anything else, lack any diversity of housing (both typologically and economically), do not provide a mix of uses (primarily housing developments with maybe a clubhouse) and sometimes create architecture which is not quite right or severely overstyled.

While many would say that these kind of developments are compromising the movement, others would say that acceptance of the tenants of NU is beginning to permeate the mainstream, and that everything can not happen at once. These types of developments are just an evolutionary step. I am not sure either way.

There has been work done on a certification of NU, whether it be through a system like LEED or through a grading system created by Laurence Aurbach. Both offer potential, but also cloud the picture.

Read the charter of the New Urbanism and ask yourself, if anything built locally has achieved it.

Further, how many have visited the national examples of NU, like Seaside or Kentlands? What are your thoughts and impressions? Have they succeeded? For me they have always felt like something was missing, like they were a bit fake. Maybe that is because they have not had 50+ years to age. I have yet to visit anything built either nationally or locally that I could live in.

There are some really good examples, at a smaller scale in Pasadena, done by Moule and Polyzoides. Mission Meridian is really quite good. There are also some decent infill projects in Minneapolis, where they have deviated from the style issues and been very successful.

The best example that I have ever seen, although I have not visited it, is Poundbury in the UK. Designed by Leon Krier for the Prince of Wales. I would say there is nothing in the U.S. even remotely close to this, except of course, real traditional urbanism. But strides are being made.

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As I understand it, the main goal of new urbanism is to combat sprawl.

So, then, can any greenfield development can be considered "new urbanism." Isn't sprawl sprawl, no matter what the form?

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I may beat GRTP to this, but here are the first two paragraphs of the CHARTER of the Congress of New Urbanism:

The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society's built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy. emphasis mine

New urbanism is not necessarily to combat sprawl.

GRTP, the one community I've seen pictures of that I really like is the Kentlands, probably because I'm drawn to colonial architecture. It seems like many of these NU communities are pricing all the regular joes out of them though, which seems to go against the social dysfunction that NU tries to combat.

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As I understand it, the main goal of new urbanism is to combat sprawl.

So, then, can any greenfield development can be considered "new urbanism." Isn't sprawl sprawl, no matter what the form?

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I may beat GRTP to this, but here are the first two paragraphs of the CHARTER of the Congress of New Urbanism:

The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society's built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge.

We stand for the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy. emphasis mine

New urbanism is not necessarily to combat sprawl.

GRTP, the one community I've seen pictures of that I really like is the Kentlands, probably because I'm drawn to colonial architecture. It seems like many of these NU communities are pricing all the regular joes out of them though, which seems to go against the social dysfunction that NU tries to combat.

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...

There is a new development that I drove by a while back just north of 44th street in Kentwood, just east of Breton, which looks and smells like the new urbanism, but somehow doesn

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GRTP, the one community I've seen pictures of that I really like is the Kentlands, probably because I'm drawn to colonial architecture. It seems like many of these NU communities are pricing all the regular joes out of them though, which seems to go against the social dysfunction that NU tries to combat.

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Bailey's Grove, if I remember the heralded coments and awards from several MAPA meetings back.

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There is a new development that I drove by a while back just north of 44th street in Kentwood, just east of Breton, which looks and smells like the new urbanism, but somehow doesn’t seem to work. I can’t put my finger on it though. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

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Could this be the one at 44th & Schaffer? I see signs everywhere calling itself "The Most Unique Community in Kentwood" and saw on an earlier sat. image that it has a roundabout in there. I haven't seen any of the development inside, only the signs and that roundabout in the middle of a giant field.

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I liked the look of the Single Family.. it's not sometihng you see built much anymore, but then everything else just went to mcmansion hell. Doesn't look like there's anything new urbanist about it, either.

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I'm currently living in a 'new urban' townhouse development in an inner ring suburb of Fort Lauderdale, FL that was built on a site that was formerly a trailer park, on the city's main commercial street. It has about 60 units in a total of 12 biuldings. 2 of the buildings contain live/work units that are built out to the sidewalk. I think the developer imagined that the 'store front' spaces would be used as offices for insurance agents, realtors, etc., but there is now also a gelato shop and a soon-to-be-opened sushi place. Other under-utilized properties in the neighborhood are now bring redeveloped with 3 to 4 storey condo buildings with retail on the first floor.

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I think one problem with "new urbanism" is not its principles so much as it is its architecture. Some of it is done rather tastefully but I've also seen a lot of stuff that is downright cartoonish. There definitely needs to be a larger effort to design and build actual authentic buildings, instead of just building the same old standard, modern building with a "urban" facade. If there is no attempt to keep it authenticate and meanigful that its going to end up just being replicated over and over in the same cookie cutter format as what happened during the post-war suburban boom and urban renewal. I don't want to drive through Grand Rapids and see a "Celebration Village" at every major intersection.

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