Sprawl Repair – one building, one street, one city at a time.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Can we heal our sprawling communities through retrofit, repair and redevelopment? This working group will review new ideas in sprawl retrofit design, regulation, and implementation to achieve healthier communities. Attendees will discuss approaches to incremental sprawl repair, corridor retrofits, regional strategies and financial approaches building on work completed during the March Retreat in Miami. The session will start with four speed presentations selected through a competition process. Following the speed presentations, initiative members will report on a series of practical Toolkits, newly formed partnerships and an overall strategic plan and next steps for the upcoming year.
No Other Choice But Repair
The reconstruction of sprawl is inevitable. To continue building greenfield sprawl will be disastrous. To abandon existing sprawl will not be possible either, as the expanse of sprawl represents a vast investment of money, infrastructure, time, human energy, and dreams. The only valid option is to repair sprawl by finding ways to reuse and reorganize as much of it as possible into complete, livable, robust communities. However, sprawl repair will not be the instant and total overhaul of communities as promoted so destructively in American cities half a century ago. Sprawl repair will be the incremental and opportunistic improvement of our suburban landscapes and will happen first in places where economic potential, political will, and community vision converge.
Why do we need sprawl repair? Exurban is too expensive to build and not sustainable environmentally.
Must rethink the model for health and well-being. We’ve been deprived of the simple and natural activity of walking due to the way we have built our communities. We’ve built in a grand scale since the introduction of the car, but we need to build on a human scale.
More urban environments are being sought by younger generations. (a recurring theme)
Think of long-term – how will the next generation benefit?
Higher density desired by younger actually performs better – more in municipal taxes, environmentally, well-being
Most foreclosures in the exurbs. Affordability is wiped out by the long commute.
Wall Street is using walkscore.com as an underwriting tool.
Streets and thoroughfares have a social function, and we have forgotten this.
Arterials to be adapted when go they through certain areas. Fast traffic kills real estate. (Harping on it, but think CR 535 through Lakeside Village). Repair slowly. Start with landscaping and expand sidewalk.
It’s no secret that America’s sprawling, car-dependent exurbs were Ground Zero for the economic meltdown. These “drive ’til you qualify” communities were built on risky decisions and over-leveraged debt—buyers betting that the price of gasoline for commuting wouldn’t go up too much, or that they’d be able to sell their pricey McMansions before their artificially low mortgages reset. Millions of homeowners lost that bet, and the entire world paid the economic price.
But we haven’t gotten rid of the danger. In fact, the worst might be yet to come. Energy costs continue to skyrocket, making travel and heating exorbitant. New research suggests sprawl is hurting our health. For example, rates of obesity in unwalkable suburbs are near epidemic levels. And local municipalities that tried to grow their tax base through sprawl may soon be overwhelmed by the extra costs of maintenance.
Sprawl: the uncontrolled spread of urban development into neighboring regions. Explore this multifaceted concept with June Williamson, author of Retrofitting Suburbia, as she moderates a discussion on the history, development, and future of sprawl with panelists Rachel Heiman, an urban anthropologist at the New School specializing in the comforts and anxieties of the American middle class; Galina Tachieva, an urban planner and author of The Sprawl Repair Manual; and Christoph Gielen, a photographer exploring sprawl and the intersection of art and environmental politics through photographic aerial studies of infrastructure.
Sprawl is a pattern of growth characterized by an abundance of congested highways, strip shopping centers, big boxes, office parks, and gated cul-de-sac subdivisions—all separated from each other in isolated, single-use pods. This land-use pattern is typically found in suburban areas, but also affects our cities, and is central to our wasteful use of water, energy, land, and time spent in traffic. Sprawl has been linked to increased air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of open space and natural habitat, and the exponential increase in new infrastructure costs. Social problems related to the lack of diversity have been attributed to sprawl, and health problems such as obesity to its auto-dependence.
In contrast, complete communities have a mix of uses and are walkable, with many of a person’s daily need—shops, offices, transit, civic and recreational places—within a short distance of home. They are compact, so they consume less open space and enable multiple modes of transportation, including bicycles, cars, and mass transit. A wide variety of building types provides options to residents and businesses, encouraging diversity in population. This mix of uses, public spaces, transportation, and population makes complete communities economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.
Sprawl repair transforms failing or potentially failing single-use and car-dominated developments into complete communities that have better economic, social, and environmental performance.
The objective of the sprawl repair strategy is to build communities based on the neighborhood unit, similar to the traditional fabric that was established in cities and suburbs prior to World War II. The primary tactic of sprawl repair is to insert needed elements — buildings, density, public space, additional connections — to complete and diversify the mono-cultural agglomerations of sprawl: residential subdivisions, strip shopping centers, office parks, suburban campuses, malls, and edge cities. By systematically modifying the reparable areas (turning subdivisions into walkable neighborhoods and shopping centers and malls into town centers) and leaving to devolution those that are irreparable (abandonment or conversion to park, agricultural, or natural land), portions of sprawl can be reorganized into complete communities.
To identify the proper targets for repair, it is essential to understand the form and structure of sprawl in the American built environment. Sprawl and suburbia are not synonymous. There are three generations of suburbia that vary in form as related to urbanity and walkability: pre-war suburbs, post-war suburbs, and late 20th-century exurbs. Pre-war suburbs are often complete communities developed along railroad and streetcar corridors; they are compact, walkable, and have a mix of uses. The latter two types abandoned the pedestrian-centered neighborhood structure in favor of auto-centric dispersion and can be considered sprawl. Sprawl repair concentrates on these two tiers of suburbs.
Host Steve Mouzon (The Original Green) interviews Galina Tachieva (The Sprawl Repair Manual) at CNU 19 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Sponsored by Notre Dame School of Architecture and Produced by First+Main Media, creators of the American Makeover series.
Galina Tachieva is an expert on urban redevelopment, sprawl retrofit, sustainable planning and form-based codes. As a partner at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, Architects and Town Planners (DPZ), Tachieva directs and manages the design and implementation of projects in the United States and around the world. She is the author of the Sprawl Repair Manual, published October, 2010 by Island Press. She is the primary author of the Sprawl Repair Module, a special application to the SmartCode, which enables the transformation of sprawl types into community patterns. Galina is one of the leaders of the CNU Sprawl Retrofit Initiative, a founding member of the Congress for European Urbanism, a member of the Transect Codes Council, a board member of the New Urban Guild Foundation, and is certified by the US Green Building Council as a LEED-accredited professional.
Galina Tachieva: There is a difference between suburbs and sprawl. Older suburbs were walkable.
Municipal tax revenues INPROVE in new, denser development and commercial sectors.
Dan argues for more supporting data. Yes, such data and research may help win arguments for better connectivity, better urbanism, and even finding investment and financing. However, the current economic condition is so dire, unpredictable, and very different from other times’ that even if we have the research in hand, it may not be relevant. Today’s predicament of our sprawling suburbs requires fast, even risky response, not necessarily rooted in proven data — more of the type of small-scale actions with limited scope that June discusses, since by their very nature these actions often have much quicker and more telling outcomes than do more ambitious approaches and timelines.
Showing how, through history, urbanism has supported economic recovery (or did it?) can be helpful, but many of the techniques and tools we need to employ today to repair and retrofit sprawl will be brave and new, and may have no data to support their use. New Urbanism was built on the basis of past evidence – but evidence clearly available to anyone who looked for it, through their experiences – not through an abstract analysis.
We will be inventing ways to do things and even new markets, similarly to the first steps that New Urbanism took. Our innovations will include: how to deal with failing residential subdivisions with multiple foreclosures and deserted properties; how to implement micro-repairs by introducing small but effective amenity packages; and how to create downtowns of modest proportions without financial backing and big investors.
June asks, can suburban retrofitting be taken seriously, as architecture? I would say that suburban retrofitting will not be about architecture at all; it will be about economic survival. Entering a post-recession decade, obviously without fanfare, we will need not only to repair the physical fabric of sprawl but also to generate a new economic framework.
This will require new types of creativity, discovering niche markets and banking more on uniqueness than on omnipresence. Suburbia is already people-diverse, a collection of “ethno-burbs,” and it can support a new “artisan” economy that already is burgeoning in distressed cities and their inner-ring neighborhoods. This phenomenon of economic uncertainty and transition is similar to Eastern Europe in the early ‘90’s, when scarcity inspired a new informal grassroots economy.
Today’s American suburbs have an overabundance of everything — infrastructure, national chains, big boxes, fast-food drive-throughs — but when overabundance starts to fail, high quantity becomes a liability. Re-using and adapting the existing suburban types to incubate new possibilities will help gradually complete the rest of sprawl’s incomplete fabric and make it more livable and sustainable in the long run.
In today’s difficulty economy, three published new urbanist practitioners look at how to get projects going — in the suburbs or elsewhere.
On June 1, at CNU 19 in Madison, Wisconsin, an in-depth “202” session will feature a discussion of innovative sprawl retrofit solutions by Dan Slone, June Williamson, and Galina Tachieva. The published works of these three include Retrofitting Suburbia, the Sprawl Repair Manual, and A Legal Guide to Urban and Sustainable Development.
Columbus is a city pursuing its potential – revitalizing its downtown, infilling the edges, attracting businesses, students and young professionals. But can the city and its metropolitan region grow in a manner that is viable for the long-term? The best chance – and opportunity – is to create new choices within existing communities by making them more walkable, livable, and diverse. Quality of life of residents will improve and will make the city, the region and the state competitive for the future. Galina Tachieva, author of the Sprawl Repair Manual will present an innovative toolbox for redeveloping and updating aging suburban patterns through regional, community and micro-scale strategies based on high-quality place-making and sustainable infrastructure. These holistic solutions can bolster the economy, the environment and the community.
Di ritorno dal workshop sulle periferie romane “Ritorno alla città”, organizzato dal Comune di Roma, una prima impressione, rimandando considerazioni più articolate a dopo la conclusione dell’incontro del 2 dicembre.
Oggi, sotto la guida del responsabile del Dipartimento del Dipartimento per la riqualificazione delle periferie di Roma, prof. arch. Francesco Coccia, sono intervenuti, Lèon Krier, Paolo Portoghesi, Marco Romano, Franco Purini, Galina Tachieva, Cristiano Rosponi e Nikos Salìngaros, chi presentando lo studio di una o più aree, chi, come Galina Tachieva, dello studo DPZ (Duany, Plater-Zyberk) illustrando il suo libro, Sprawl Repair Manual, una sorta di “libretto d’istruzioni” su come intervenire per riparare ai guasti dello sprawl negli USA, con una casistica ampia e varia di situazioni e soluzioni.
Le parole chiave, i tags, si direbbe nel gergo di Internet, dettate dagli organizzatori erano: densificazione, microchirurgia urbanistica, pedonalità, centralità alle periferie, e sono state espresse in maniera molto diversa da ciascuno degli intervenuti, sia come livello di approfondimento, sia come qualità delle presentazioni, sia come scelta della scala di intervento; da Lèon Krier che ha affrontato tutta la gamma possibile, da quella territoriale della rete infrastrutturale fino allo studio abbastanza dettagliato degli isolati e delle tipologie edilizie, a quello quasi esclusivamente architettonico di Portoghesi e Purini; ma in tutti, ad eccezione di Purini, almeno così a me è sembrato, c’è stata la consapevolezza che una pagina sembra essersi finalmente chiusa, quella del gesto architettonico totalmente estraneo al contesto e al tessuto esistente, della zonizzazione selvaggia, della segregazione della periferia, e un’altra se ne sta aprendo, quella in cui la città deve essere interpretata come un unico organismo e, in quanto tale, non possono esservi parti sane e parti malate.
I tags che escono invece dalle varie soluzioni sono: la strada, come protagonista assoluta del processo di risanamento, intesa come vera e propria arteria vitale che consenta il massimo di permeabilità, di relazioni e di comunicazione tra le varie parti; e poi l’isolato, studiato in modi diversi e con diversi rapporti tra pubblico e privato; le piazze come luoghi speciali e nodali risultanti dalle connessioni stradali e non come spazi astratti collocati casualmente secondo la volontà del progettista piuttosto che seguendo la “vena” della rete stradale.
Esprimendo un giudizio sintetico e necessariamente affrettato, oggi ho colto molto realismo e un atteggiamento di grande attenzione alla lettura di tutte le aree già fortemente urbanizzate oggetto di studio.
Una volta tanto l’abusato termine riqualificazione ha trovato un riscontro nei progetti e, guarda caso, proprio l’unica volta che non compare mai nei manifesti dell’incontro.
Una volta tanto non c’è stata la rappresentazione logora del pensiero unico, ma posizioni diverse si sono potute confrontare.
E oggi sarà la volta di Peter Calthorpe, Lucien Kroll, Francesco Cellini e altri.
A margine una nota sul luogo dell’incontro, l’Ara Pacis. Mi domando chi abbia avuto la geniale idea di realizzare quella barriera bianca che separa completamente chiese e Mausoleo di Augusto dal fiume per quattro stanzette in più.
Possibile che a Roma non ci fosse un altro posto dove fare una sala conferenze e uno spazio mostra?
Sprawl is malfunctioning. It has underperformed for decades, but its collapse has become obvious with the recent mortgage meltdown and economic crisis, and its abundance magnifies the problems of its failure.
Let us be clear that sprawl and suburbia are not synonymous. There are many first-generation suburbs, most of them built before WWII, that function well, primarily because they are compact, walkable, and have a mix of uses. Sprawl, on the other hand, is characterized by auto-dependence and separation of uses. It is typically found in suburban areas, but it also affects the urban parts of our cities and towns.
The Sprawl Repair Manual presents a comprehensive methodology for transforming sprawl developments into human-scale, sustainable communities. In this richly illustrated book, Galina Tachieva draws on more than two decades of experience to provide a step-by-step process of design, regulatory, and implementation techniques for reurbanizing and rebalancing suburbia.
Her solutions will inspire and equip anyone looking to reimagine suburban development.
The Sprawl Repair Manual is so far the only complete physical planning manual for handling the impending transformation of suburbia into vital human communities. It is not only hugely instructive but formidably inspirational.
—Leon Krier, Master Planner of Prince Charles’ Poundbury Project in Dorset, UK and author of The Architecture of Community