I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a young, hopeful person who has decided to run for city council. This candidate has focused on issues of inclusion and equity as cornerstone principles. While I fully support these principles in the abstract, I want to know immediately what specific policies would be rolled out to promote these goals. I treasure these opportunities to change minds and dismantle perceptions and expectations. It also gives me a chance to work through theories bouncing around in my head in real time as well.
KWA is back at it in New Orleans, with the latest Iberville Offsite Rehabilitation development underway. If you’re unfamiliar with the project, check out this previous post and this video for some background information.
The hard-at-work lady in the before and after photographs (yours truly) went from sweaty summer as-built visits in 2015 to mild winter construction administration visits in 2016/2017 (shout out to global warming). In the time period between these visits, the IOR team has dedicated their various skills to the rehabilitation of 16 historic single family homes in the Treme neighborhood into 30 new affordable housing units. The transformation that has taken place in these houses over the past year and a half is tremendous, and we are so excited to see them become homes very soon. We are very proud to be doing this important work in New Orleans, and we can’t wait to see these houses finished later this year!
UPDATE: We’ve uploaded the presentations given at the April CNU T3 for anyone to view. Click here to view and download the presentations.
KWA was excited to host another successful CNU Atlanta event last Thursday night. This month’s T3 topic focused on “Streets Designed for Placemaking & Safety.”
This is a post on reflections and lessons learned, and an effort to provide insight and guidance to the Reynoldstown community as they negotiate with Jeff Fuqua on the rezoning of the Leggett and Platt site. It is also a chance for me to collect and organize my thoughts on one of the most transformative urban redevelopment projects in my neighborhood (Edgewood) fifteen years in.
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.
I enjoyed a very wet drive dropping my daughters off at school this morning. The ground was already fully saturated before the current rainstorm, so there was significant runoff in the streets and creeks on the East side of Atlanta and South Decatur. One road was impassible from an overflowing creek, others just very, very wet. All of this lead me to mull on our current stormwater policies in for Atlanta and Decatur.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
As an office based in Atlanta, we’ve often daydreamed about what we could build, if only we weren’t so preoccupied with parking requirements. Recently, work in New Orleans gave us the opportunity, to reflect on the nature of parking in Atlanta. The New Orleans Jazz Market is the conversion of an historic 11,000 SF urban market into a purpose-built Jazz performance hall. Originally built in 1849 as a market, the building went through a major renovation at the turn of the last century. It was eventually sold to private owners after World War II, who proceeded to overhaul the facades in a gauche 1960s style. In 2013, when we were brought on to convert the building. It stood as an empty, beaten down, blighted building, most recently serving as a retail store. The newly renovated building now serves as a cultural anchor for the neighborhood.
There are significant differences in the built environment of our neighborhoods planned before World War II, and those developed after. Before the war, and the Great Depression, neighborhoods were designed to focus on walkability — sidewalks, smaller streets, and on-street parking were the norm. After the war, planners were confronted with the twin challenges of the increasingly prevalent automobile, and new zoning ordinances which eschewed earlier priorities and had a significant negative impact on the quality of walkable communities. Today, there has been a shift in desires and priorities towards redeveloping more historic neighborhoods. Still, zoning requirements have a tremendous impact on the viability and adaptability of these neighborhoods.
Current zoning takes the approach of requiring each landowner to provide enough parking within their parcel to satisfy the parking needs of any buildings on that land. Every parcel must be self-sufficient. Zoning mandated parking requirements, often poorly conceived, are like a cancer in otherwise healthy neighborhoods. Parking occupies a significant amount of space, increases development costs, and kills walkability by forcing buildings, separated by parking lots, to be spread across greater areas. The more distance between important neighborhood destinations, the less walkable the neighborhood becomes. This trend forces more people to drive, setting in motion the self-sustaining cycle of off street parking.
Kronberg Wall is in search of a bright and dynamic professional; we are looking for a team member who combines talent, experience and interest in urban placemaking to redefine what’s possible through the power of design.
For more details visit our LinkedIn post or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Riding your bike to work, using MARTA and/or being passionate about making awesome communities is not required but highly recommended.