8 FEATURES THAT MAKE PARSONS ALLEY WORK

We hear that the City of Duluth is enjoying the ongoing revitalization of their historic downtown, which includes KWA’s work at Parsons Alley (recent recipient of a 2017 ULI Development of Excellence Award and CNU Charter Award). Like a lot of Atlanta suburbs, Duluth is experiencing rapid growth. The City recognized a need to grow and strengthen their core downtown to be an amenity for residents and to establish Duluth as a Place with its own identity – not just another suburb of Atlanta.
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WATCH KWA’S NEW VIDEO ON BICYCLING AND PLACEMAKING!

 

 

For this installment in our Placemaking video series, we teamed up with some of Atlanta’s foremost cycling advocates and experts to discuss how investing in cycling infrastructure helps to create great places. Thanks to Breck Prewitt of Ground Game Media for the great work!

 

Interview: Incremental Development with John Anderson and Eric Kronberg

At Kronberg Wall, we view incremental development as a key path to equitable and meaningful neighborhood revitalization. Robert Stueteville of the CNU Public Square blog recently spoke with KWA’s Eric Kronberg and John Anderson of the Incremental Development Alliance about how they define incremental development and why they feel it should play a central role in the ongoing conversation on neighborhood development. Read the full interview – and many other great posts – at the CNU Public Square blog.

CNU 24 Wrapup

A busy summer has us going full tilt at KWA HQ in Reynoldstown, but we did want to take a moment to recall last month’s Congress of the New Urbanism in Detroit. The very talented individuals at Placemakers did a knock out job summarizing the event on their blog. Click here to see their post – whether you were there or not, an important read for those who care about the development of functional and healthy urban environments. Thanks to Placemakers for the great post and to all CNU 24 speakers! We can’t wait for Seattle.

KWA Residential Renovation Featured in Kitchen & Bath Business

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Kitchen and Bath Business featured a recent KWA residential renovation project in their May/June 2016 issue. Located in Decatur, the project entailed the renewal of the kitchen of the main house and the design of an accessory dwelling unit on the property complete with full kitchen and bathroom. Click here to read more. Thanks to Carrie Whitney of Pennhouse Productions for the great writeup and Fredrik Brauer for the excellent photography!

KWA Welcomes the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to Bearden Temple AME Church!

ABC_Logo_Horizontal-01We are very excited to announce that the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will soon be our downstairs neighbors in the decommissioned Bearden Temple AME Church in Reynoldstown! As reported by the Saporta Report, the ABC outgrew its current space in Cabbagetown and has been seeking a larger office to house their growing staff. We couldn’t be more excited to share the building with an organization that also champions the use of alternative means of transportation and the improvement of Atlanta’s non-auto transportation infrastructure. Learn more about the building here, and be sure to keep an eye out for future KWA and ABC events!

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Zoning Codes 101: Form-Based Codes

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Walkable neighborhoods with diverse uses like this one in Newport, Rhode Island are impossible to cultivate under typical zoning codes; form-based codes and the Existing Building Code help to combat sprawl by preserving historic nodes and removing suburban development limitations like parking requirements (image credit: Center for Applied Transect Studies)

This is a continuation of a previous post on the Transect which you may find helpful to read before this one.

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JAZZ MARKET ON THE COVER OF RETROFIT MAG

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The Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market was featured on the cover of the March-April issue of Retrofit Magazine! The issue features a great article by Retrofit staff writer Christina Koch that describes many of the challenges faced and overcome over the course of the project. As a firm with strong New Orleans roots, we at KWA are very proud of our role in making the Jazz Market a reality. Read more

KWA Wins Southface Fulcrum Award!

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Laura Daniel of KWA was on hand to accept the award, which is made from Forest Free wood from within the perimeter of Atlanta.

We’re happy to announce that KWA was recently selected as a recipient of a 2016 Fulcrum Award from Atlanta-based environmental advocacy and consultant group Southface! The Iberville Offsites in New Orleans were identified as a project that promotes Southface’s vision of a regenerative economy, responsible resource use, social equity and a healthy built environment for all. Read more

Atlanta Zoning Maps

1929 Atlanta Zoning Map

Thanks to Caleb Racicot from TSW and Kyle Kessler from the Center for Civic Innovation we now have access to digital versions of several original Atlanta zoning maps. While working hard on our Atlanta Zoning rewrite, Caleb had a chance to spend some time analyzing an original copy of our 1929 Atlanta zoning map. He took the time to photograph and stitch it all together so there is a high resolution version available for sharing.

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ZONING CODES 101: THE TRANSECT

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Dallas, TX: can you identify the transect zones visible in this picture? image: wikipedia

If you’ve ever driven fifty or miles in any direction away from downtown Atlanta, then you’ve experienced firsthand the central concept behind the form-based codes devised and promoted by the New Urbanist school of planning: the Transect. The concept is so central to New Urbanism that it’s rarely discussed in detail at meetings and in presentations, preventing the uninitiated from reaching a critical level of understanding. Let’s take a moment to dive into the Transect so you can do more than nod your head and smile at the next CNU meeting.

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SEE KWA’S DESIGNS FOR DULUTH’S DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT

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Site plan and perspective drawings showing several new buildings designed by Kronberg Wall Architects for the redevelopment of downtown Duluth, Georgia.

Located in Gwinett County, Duluth is a popular developed suburb of Atlanta with a diverse population of around 30,000. KWA, working with local developers Vantage Realty Partners and Fabric Developers, recently completed exterior designs for a multi-building redevelopment of Duluth’s downtown area. The project, which includes two 60-year old granite buildings, aims to incorporate twelve new commercial tenant spaces into Duluth’s existing downtown commercial district. Special attention was paid to site elements designed to promote walkability and enhance pedestrian experience.

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WATCH: PECHA KUCHA @ KWA

Back in October we hosted the opening night of the Small Developer Bootcamp here at KWA HQ in Reyndoldstown. Highlighting the evening were rapid-fire Pecha Kucha presentations from small developers and urban thinkers including Atlanta CNU President Geoff Koski, KWA’s own Eric Kronberg, and Johnny Sanphilllippo of the Granola Shotgun blog. We highly recommend taking a few moments to watch these short presentations. To make things easier, we’ve listed the start times of each speech below. Thanks to our friend Breck Prewitt at Ground Game Media for recording the event.

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Popcorn Time: Placemaking 101

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.

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Big Picture Zoning Thoughts

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.

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ICYMI: Eric Kronberg Interview in Curbed Atlanta

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Eric Kronberg (left) and Adam Wall of Kronberg Wall architects during the open house event celebrating the opening of KWA’s new office in a renovated church in Reynoldstown.

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.

Big Reflections on Small Development

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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.

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Small builder/developer bootcamp

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While these photos include buildings probably dating from the 1920s, we are not necessarily promoting a historic style. Moreso that apartments built in the 1960s are usually so amazingly ugly, and that zoning laws from that general time period made buildings like these illegal in most communities from that point forward.

I’ve been spending a lot of time mulling on both the small developer/builder Facebook group and the upcoming small builder/developer bootcamp coming to Atlanta. Part of the conundrum I have been trying to get my head around is this: what is a reasonable combination of experience, scale, and location that fits a small developer? We work primarily in Atlanta, with most of our clients being seasoned developers. We tackle really messy, hard projects, and we see countless ways that a newbie can get put through the buzzsaw, and quickly. However, we are seeing that there are folks involved in the industry – architects that design these projects, residential and commercial property brokers, and builders – that have experience with some, but not all, of the pieces needed to do their own deal.

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In Praise of the Existing Building Code

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KWA recently helped convert this historic church rectory into an extension for the Ecole Bilingue in New Orleans. Without the flexibility afforded by the IEBC, updating this century-old building would have been far too costly for the school.

We are very big fans of the International Existing Building Code. This is a very special code that allows for flexibility in renovating and reusing existing buildings. One major challenge with any new code is that existing buildings often don’t meet new requirements. Retrofitting existing buildings to meet these new requirements is generally a more expensive process than constructing a new building. The unfortunate outcome of this process is that useful existing buildings are frequently left fallow and blighted because it is not worth the brain damage and added cost to bring the building up to current codes. Think about that for a minute: these are buildings (often historic) with tremendous intrinsic value that have been standing and functioning for over a hundred years, but are technically unusable according to current building codes.

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KWA Back at Work in New Orleans

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We are really excited to be digging into another Iberville Offsite Rehabilitation redevelopment.  For those that aren’t familiar with this, it is a historic, affordable, accessible, sustainable housing redevelopment in the Treme and Seventh Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our last IOR series was awarded a National Trust Award for the best historic and affordable housing project in the nation for 2014 and the CNU Grand Prize Award for 2015.

Our client, Redmellon Redevelopment, put together a great video on the process, which you can see here.

CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS OF THE KWA OFFICE IN REYNOLDSTOWN

 

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It’s been over a month since we moved into our new office in Reynoldstown, and we’re now comfortably settled in. The very talented Fredrik Brauer stopped by to shoot some photos after the move-in chaos calmed down, and we’re excited to share the results with you below! A big thank you to Fredrik for the photos – we recommend that you take a moment to view more of his work on his website.

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LISTEN: Eric Kronberg Interviewed on Atlanta’s Business

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Over the weekend Eric Kronberg sat down with Jeff Davis, host of 1160 AM’s Atlanta’s Business, to discuss how parking regulations effect endeavors in placemaking by making it more difficult to foster walkability, bikeability, and affordability. For those who didn’t hear the original broadcast, the interview is available here.

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Read: Richard Willson, “Case against Minimum Parking Requirements”

In a recent post, we referenced Richard Willson’s book Parking Reform Made Easy, specifically the second chapter, “Case against Minimum Parking Requirements.” We have yet to find a more complete summary of the detrimental effects of legally-mandated parking, an issue that we and many other architects and planners believe is central to the pursuit of creating more enjoyable and sustainable urban environments. Willson and Island Press were kind enough to grant us permission to share this chapter, in the hopes that access to these ideas might increase understanding of how parking requirements undermine nearly every positive aspect of urban space. We encourage you to read Willson’s book in its entirety; it can be found at http://www.islandpress.org/parking-reform-made-easy.

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Wylie Street Open House Was a Huge Success!

 

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Our new office on Wylie street is nothing if not versatile: before we make it our official new home, we turned this historic church on Wylie Street into a music and party venue! Kronberg Wall spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon with friends, family, and our new Reynoldstown neighbors, with food from Oakhurst Market, a jump castle courtesy of Jump N Partei, music from Cadillac Jones and Sleep the Owls, and bike racks from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for those who arrived on two wheels. It was great to put our new space to use and make friends in the community that we’re excited to be joining very soon! Thanks to all those who helped to make the party happen!

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The Pope Agrees: Parking is Killing our Cities

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We talk about parking a lot, which is a bit weird for architects. Most visitors to this blog would expect to find posts about awesome curtain wall design, or maybe some cool cantilevered something or other. If we were focused on bright, shiny objects, that might make sense; however, we care more about helping to strengthen communities and neighborhoods—and intelligent parking is key to a functional community. Honestly, we don’t see a lot of communities that suffer from a lack of abundance of bright, shiny objects. What we do notice is a range of old and underutilized buildings, crappy parking lots, poor streetscape design resulting from past road widenings, and bad infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. We respond by designing resourceful, often gritty buildings that engage the street and add to the value of the community. We view each project as a chance to repair the damaged link between people and the urban environment they build for themselves.

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First Steps in Commercial Redevelopment:
Baseline Site Study

ELC4_Site PlanWhen meeting with new clients, we are often asked what the first step is in our design process.  We are typically called on to investigate repurposing old buildings in urban environments.  For the vast majority of these projects, our initial task is a baseline site study.  This study is an examination of a site to determine several key items: how much space is required for streetscape (sidewalks, street trees, street furniture), how much parking can fit, and how the building engages the site and street.

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