The Community Design Center of Rochester (CDCR) is a non-profit organization of design professionals promoting healthy, sustainable communities by encouraging quality design of the built environment and thoughtful use of built and natural resources. We do this by providing technical assistance and access to educational and training opportunities that increase awareness about the built environment, the impact of design and the importance of good urban planning. By actively engaging through partnerships in city and regional initiatives that include guiding communities in creating vision plans and encouraging community involvement in planning and developing processes, CDCR plays a critical role as an advocate for good design in the Greater Rochester Region.
Articles, Events, Thoughts and Resources on Sprawl Repair
Cataloged by Galina Tachieva
The Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index provides a comprehensive view of affordability that includes both the cost of housing and the cost of transportation at the neighborhood level.
DPZ Partners’ Galina Tachieva and Codina Partners’ Ana-Marie Codina Barlick will discuss how form-based codes and other planning and design tools can help Florida communities repurpose and revitalize their most auto-dependent zones into walkable and vibrant mixed-use nodes.
An International Conference on Urban Design
The ideal thing would be to have a good American
suburb adjacent to a very concentrated Italian
town, then you’d have the best of both worlds.
For the last half century, urban design has been devoted to the reappraisal and the regeneration of the existing city, considered in its traditional form as a dense, compact fabric. Research, design methodology and implementation in this vein have been significant from both a qualitative and a quantitative point of view.
During virtually the same period, however, the urban fringe – the light city or “ville légère” – was instead notoriously neglected as a subject unworthy of serious urban debate. This situation has arisen despite the fact that the lower-density zone, between the urban core or the dense periphery and the proper agricultural land has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in the landscape, affecting people around the globe. Different national and geographical contexts have resulted in a variety of configurations and organizations: from the formal suburbia, typical of the Anglo-Saxon metropolises, to the favelas and other illegal settlements in developing countries, to the semi-spontaneous, semi-illegal perimeter, mostly of onefamily houses of the Italian “città diffusa”. Until fairly recently, all have shared a common fate of being deliberately ignored or simply overlooked as having insufficient value or only marginal impact on the discipline or profession.
Main stream studies and criticism have supported a negative attitude towards low density settlements, considered costly, environmentally unfriendly and generally non-sustainable. Recent studies, however, have successfully critiqued this conventional wisdom and in so doing have propelled the debate between city vs. suburbs to new and promising levels of discourse.
Whatever the specific parameters of this argument may be, however, two circumstances cannot be overlooked. First, there is widespread pressure for urban sprawl due to powerful cultural, economic, social, anthropological factors. Second, official policies have tended to deny the underlying causes, which have generated this phenomenon rather than proactively addressing them. The urgent challenge will be, it seems obvious, is to offer solutions that are able to positively guide the making of low-density landscapes while addressing the same set of needs and desires, which made them attractive in the first place.
Most importantly, the conference organizers believe, the ville légère, suburbia, middle landscape, città diffusa, campagna abitata, arcadia, along with all the varieties that exist already have a relevant role in the morphology and in the functioning of metropolitan areas as well as in the ordinary lives of millions of people. In most cases, however, their performance is unsatisfactory both in concept and application. The complexity of the problem on the one hand and the unexpected opportunities on the other has typically been underestimated. Rather than adopting mere prohibitionist policies, it is proposed that contemporary urbanistics should study and implement regenerating actions through critical design efforts.
Today, several important contributions converging from different research and practice areas are beginning to emerge: descriptive and evaluation studies on sprawl; transect and other typo-morphological research and projects; sprawl repair and retrofit classification and case studies; densification and morphological and functional redevelopment; studies on lowdensity and garden city design; studies on lean urbanism. This is an ambitious and wide range of potential contributions, not too wide or ambitious, however, if one considers their profound relevance to urbanistics.
Ideally a more inclusive and comprehensive idea of urban design could offer to the “suburb” something comparable to the disciplinary production it has been providing to the “concentrated town”. Then you would actually have the best of both worlds.
PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.
Chapter 12: Occupy sprawl, One Cul-de-Sac at a Time
Sprawl should be repaired but it will happen incrementally, slowly, at a micro scale, one element at a time. There is a need to challenge outdated regulations, bringing more flexibility, adaptability, and enterprise to subdivisions and cul-de-sacs. Galina Tachieva p. 241
Rob Steuteville discusses the sprawl repair situation, concerns for the viability of repair actions, and the necessity of repairing sprawl.
Drivable suburbia, or sprawl, also is not just one, big, lumpy “thing.” It’s fine to use the basic term as a starting point, but it’s important to also see the nuance that is found in the typical suburban environment.
Sprawl Repair can be defined as transforming fragmented, isolated, and car-dependent development into “complete communities.
Sprawl remains the prevailing growth pattern across the United States even though experts in planning, economics and environmental issues have long denounced it as wasteful, inefficient, and unsustainable. Sprawl is a principal cause of lost open space and natural habitat as well as increases in air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure costs, and even obesity. It also plays a primary role in the housing meltdown plaguing the nation. This begs the question: is it possible to repair our sprawling suburbs and create more livable, robust, and eco-sensitive communities where they do not exist?
Galina Tachieva is an expert on sustainable planning, urban redevelopment, sprawl repair, and form-based codes. As a partner and Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, Architects and Town Planners (DPZ), Tachieva directs and manages the design and implementation of projects in the US and around the world. Galina is also the author of the Sprawl Repair Manual, an award-winning publication and the first of its kind to focus on the retrofit of auto-centric suburban places into complete, walkable communities. Hailing from Bulgaria, where she received her degree in architecture, Galina later completed her master’s in urban design at the University of Miami, Florida. She is certified AICP, LEED-AP, and is a CNU Fellow.
Once New Jersey’s model of economic development, large office and retail suburban centers are increasingly underutilized and causing a drain on the local economies. Local leaders find it difficult to create consensus and a shared vision for development, in part due to antiquated land use practices. PlanSmart NJ’s 4th Annual Regional Planning Summit, Stranded Real Estate Assets: Changing Economy, Changing Land Use will bring together experts in planning, redevelopment, and infrastructure to reveal the magnitude of the problem and explore methods to break through common barriers to transform New Jersey’s suburbs into resilient and livable communities where people can live, work, and play.
11:50 – 12:50 pm: Keynote Speaker: Galina Tachieva, AICP – PRESENTATION
Galina Tachieva, author of Sprawl Repair Manual will describe how suburban corporate office parks and retail centers can be repurposed and redesigned to function better in the regional context. She will demonstrate how bold actions can lead to more resilient and equitable communities.
Planned Densification is a process for implementation of locally-appropriate levels of density over time, in key locations, allowing market supply and demand to coevolve. Density is increasingly desired by municipalities and urban betterment programs–but it is becoming harder to accomplish. Does density belong everywhere? No. It is best designed into key locations, such as near large transportation investments and other infrastructure investments wherein density increases ROA and ROI. Indeed, density in these key locations can sustain lower density elsewhere in a municipality.
RPA’s community design work focuses on promoting sustainable and equitable development patterns by directing as much of the region’s growth as possible to established villages, towns and cities.
RPA works with individual communities throughout the region to demonstrate how both public investment and private development can help them achieve their local objectives for community development and quality of life. The community design program engages this challenge in several ways: by creating vision plans and land use regulations for individual communities, through training programs that build local capacity and by providing resources such as model codes and guidelines. In addition, we have developed an extensive Community Design Manual that aids civic groups and residents in shaping their communities in the absence of professional planning staff.
In recent years, RPA has developed growth and sustainability plans for Bridgeport, Conn., Somerville N.J., and Orange County, N.Y.
The University of Utah estimates that 2.8 million acres of parking lots and other greyfield areas are ripe for redevelopment, and 1.1 million acres are available in underutilized shopping areas, such as strip malls and vacant storefronts (Dunham Jones and Williamson 2009). Transforming these landscapes will be a 21st-century planning and development priority in the United States.
In June, 2014, ARC, joined by community and tactical urbanism partners, created a temporary Lifelong Community on two-blocks of Atlanta’s historic Sweet Auburn Avenue. Over a period of three days, The “Sweet Auburn Living Beyond Expectations” project demonstrated many of the elements that help create a Lifelong Community.
The city that had long been the poster child of sprawl is putting its gears in reverse. With a new light rail line and a plan to make the city’s core denser and more desirable, it’s on the path to success.
As a comprehensive method for transforming car-dependent environments into walkable, diverse communities, Sprawl Repair includes small-scale and inexpensive interventions. Sprawl Repair works at multiple scales, from the region to the neighborhood and the building, and utilizes a variety of tools that are cost-effective, incremental, and can be quickly implemented. This paper will demonstrate how a mall, the most promising contender for Sprawl Repair, can be retrofitted in small, efficient steps, creating much-needed, cheap space for incubating new businesses and artisan uses, as well as providing affordable student housing.
Galina Tachieva, AICP, is delivering the keynote speech at the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s 2014 Annual Dinner. In her speech, she will detail her work in planning, urban design and new urbanism, and she will reference information contained in her book, “The Sprawl Repair Manual.” The book is a veritable toolkit for planners explaining practices for creating more livable communities. This event offers planners a chance to hear about strategies for tackling sprawl with examples that are proven to work. Galina Tachieva brings more than two decades of planning knowhow and practical experience to the event. The presentation offers information that will enhance a planner’s ability to do his or her job by relaying best practices and professional advice. Attendees will learn what works and what doesn’t when they’re facing projects in areas with dispersed development. They’ll hear how to turn these sprawl-filled areas into livable, vibrant communities that contain residential, commercial and recreation areas accessible for transit, bicycling and walking. The keynote speech is scheduled to be an hour in duration.
Imported, Exported and Perhaps Repaired – American Sprawl Around The Globe
When encountering American-style sprawl around the World, I’m often compelled to ask the question, “Why are you repeating our mistakes?”. The explanation I most frequently hear is, “If it worked for America, it will work for us”. As the photographs in this book suggest, it is questionable for anyone, whether in the US or any other country, to choose a form of development that ignores local climate, local culture, and local building traditions to create places that have no identifiable character and don’t even present real places in the US, much less other countries. Galina Tachieva p. 104
Is your local grocery store within walking distance…and is there a sidewalk for you to trek there safely? Does your neighborhood boast high-performing green buildings, parks and green space? Do bikes, pedestrians and vehicles play nicely together on the road? LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) was engineered to inspire and help create better, more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods. It looks beyond the scale of buildings to consider entire communities. Why? Because sprawl is a scary thing. Here’s the antidote.
Cities and towns across the country are embracing smart growth as a better solution to meet the needs of their growing populations. Smart growth principles accommodate growth and development while saving open space, revitalizing neighborhoods and helping cool the planet. Just look at this vision of how smart growth concepts could help give a lifeless street new vitality in the town of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Speck, coauthor of Suburban Nation (2000), believes America has a problem—actually, lots of problems—that can be solved by improving walkability in our cities. Public health, sustainability, and even the lagging economy, he argues, can be boosted by making cities more friendly for pedestrians. Drawing on his background as a city planner and architectural designer, Speck lays out a 10-step plan for changing the way we build and think about our public spaces. The steps are wide-ranging, from planting more trees and narrowing roads to investing in well-planned public transit systems and designing visually interesting buildings. Speck is at times blunt and doesn’t mince words about the roadblocks to walkability: “Traffic studies are bullshit.” But he makes a clear and convincing case for the benefits of revitalizing our public spaces in favor of foot traffic. Walkable City, in addition to being full of information about city planning and progress, is a remarkably readable book and moves along quickly because of Speck’s spirited writing and no-holds-barred attitude. An engaging book with a powerful message and achievable goals. –Sarah Hunter –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In a span of 50 years, the city morphed from a sleepy burg with fewer than 34,000 residents to a rambling string of trailer parks, subdivisions and strip malls with 13 times the 1960 population.
Galina Tachieva wrote an essay for Robert Harding Pittman’s book Anonymization, just published in Europe and in the US. With a forward by Bill McKibben, the book is a photographic critique of the globalization of sprawl. Galina’s essay presents some optimistic ideas on how to deal with this phenomenon by reusing and repairing the already built.
What meaning are we to take from Christoph Gielen’s photographs of sprawl? Tract homes and supporting infrastructure are visually enticing from his 10,000-foot view, appearing as intricate, maze like patters. But on the ground, the relentless schemata of wide streets and lawns produce a host of problems. Galina Tachieva p. 49
While I greatly respect the views of the city officials who think otherwise, their position in favor of a more traditional, inward-facing mall are not in sync with well established community development best-practices.
James Howard Kunstler, writer and expert, and Galina Tachieva, partner and Director of Town Planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, discussed “A short history of the future” in Stockholm.
Human settlements are resilient and successional in nature. They change, going through cycles of regression, deterioration and advancement. Even the most cosmopolitan cities started as meager hamlets on crossroads, but then grew and matured, while regenerating their physical environment multiple times throughout their histories. Today’s image of American urbanism is inseparable from the image of sprawl: endless, soulless, wasteful, but most importantly, malfunctioning. This predicament may signal a pivotal point, as has happened in previous civilizations, when quantitative and qualitative changes converge and the paradigm shifts towards better human habitats.
In 1963 Constantinos Doxiadis published the book Architecture in Transition. No mere contemplation on architecture, the book boldly called for a transition from traditional urbanism to new settlement patterns that would accommodate the car, its movement, and its speed. Doxiadis recognized the contrast between human-scaled and automobile-scaled development.