We spend a lot of time talking about the specifics of placemaking – parking regulations, zoning ordinances, code clauses – but these are all pieces of a bigger picture. We find that before diving into the details, it is critical to understand the macro concepts behind placemaking. If you’re interested in creating great urban places, grab some popcorn (or a turkey sandwich) and take a look the videos below, the first of which are from our friends at Strong Towns, who do an excellent job of summing up these big ideas behind successful placemaking endeavors.
The City of Atlanta has engaged consultants to tackle a re-writing of our zoning ordinance. This is a highly political process for any city. Most current zoning ordinances are a combination of good intentions producing bad outcomes for most places, and Atlanta’s ordinance is no exception. It is important to think about positive examples of places that we love, and work backwards to allow those places to be legally built without special hurdles. It is also important to be aware that there are a range of these seemingly innocent under the hood items that result in bad outcomes for our neighborhoods. In an effort of transparency and sharing information, we’ve put together this blog post to outline our current thinking on a range of issues. This will be somewhat policy heavy, so you’ve been warned.
In a profile published last week by Curbed Atlanta, KWA’s Eric Kronberg discussed where he got his start as a designer, his thoughts on the creation of enjoyable urban spaces, and how he sees Atlanta’s urban evolution. Great read for anyone concerned about Atlanta’s design future, adaptive reuse architecture, or the development of walkable, bikeable, affordable and enjoyable urban spaces. You can find the article on the Curbed Atlanta site here.
Reflections on the Small Developer Bootcamp continued…as seen by Elizabeth Ward.
Architects all know the phrase “form follows function.” It is burned into our brains at a young age: the modernist principle shunning aesthetics for aesthetics’ sake and praising the simplicity of functionality. The term was coined by famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, who is credited with the development of the skyscraper. But the form of the skyscraper was not merely following function; these tall buildings were shaped by a host of outside forces, including significant economic growth following the Civil War, increasingly intense demands on urban land and the advent of new technologies.
But what exactly does “form follow finance,” a term we heard repeatedly at the Bootcamp, really mean? Form has always followed finance, in some capacity, but the legal and financial regulations of the 20thcentury have led to finance actually dictating our built environment.
On October 14th, more than one hundred architects, engineers, developers, and community leaders gathered at the Center for Civic Innovation in downtown Atlanta for the Small Developer’s Bootcamp, hosted by the Atlanta Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the Georgia Conservancy, and Kronberg Wall Architects. This diverse group of individuals was on hand to hear two small-scale development experts – R. John Anderson and Jim Kumon – discuss the practicalities of development that fall within the “missing middle” spectrum: buildings in between the single family home and the looming apartment multiplex. Throughout the day-long workshop, topics ranged from efficient floor plans and building design to loan types and financial negotiation tactics.
The room was full of seasoned developers and designers well-versed in the vocabulary and methods of real estate development, but also present were a large number of newcomers for whom the Bootcamp was a whiplash introduction to the development world.
Three of those newcomers just starting their careers as professional designers at Kronberg Wall – Eric Bethany, Sanaa Shaikh, and Elizabeth Ward – took some time to reflect on the concepts and ideas from the Bootcamp that resonated most with them.
Read more for Eric Bethany’s thoughts on the demystification of the development process – check back later this week for more reflections.