Placemaking & the Project for Public Spaces

PPS-diagrams-KWA Focus

We edited this excellent diagram by the folks at the Project for Public Spaces to highlight qualities we consider most relevant and important to us as placemaking-focused architects (image: PPS)

It’s no secret that we at Kronberg Wall are big on placemaking. We strive to create designs that are conscious of their context and respond sensitively to their surroundings. We also believe that great places, while largely defined by their buildings, are not solely the result of good architecture. Great public places, ones that encourage interactions between people as well as between people and their environment, happen when a collection of disciplines work together. With that being said, it is important to note that ‘bad architecture,’ meaning buildings that are not context-sensitive, can be a huge impediment to placemaking, killing any potential a site might have.

Read more

Build a Better Burb Reflections

BBB Intro

Galina Tachieva speaks on suburban renewal tactics at the recent CNU Sprawl Retrofit Council in Miami (image: EK)

I had the privilege to sit in at CNU’s recent Sprawl Retrofit Council in Miami.  Sprawl retrofit isn’t something that KWA typically gravitates towards, but CNU is expanding its focus on this important topic, and we are proud to be part of that effort.

Read more

JAZZ MARKET ON THE COVER OF RETROFIT MAG

131014934500050000_Retrofit_MarApril2016

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!

Iberville-offsites-Kronberg-Wall-Architects-Fulcrum-award-7011

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

MAIN STREET RENOVATION

Frogger 2

Urban redevelopment is our bread and butter at KWA, and we’ve come to understand that attempting to renovate a building built 50-100 years ago is full of challenges. Zoning requirements based on suburban development – but applied to urban areas as well – place tough restrictions and requirements on land use, parking requirements, and setbacks.  Financing small mixed-use projects can be challenging even to those with deep pockets due to unanticipated obstacles. And if you manage to make it through all those hoops, our current building codes throw up a range of additional hurdles. We often see folks manage to overcome a range of challenges only to get bogged down in figuring out how to meet new building code requirements without breaking their budget. As we’ve navigated these obstacles ourselves we’ve developed a clear understanding of what to expect and how to best get through or around a lot of these issues. We recently put together a roadmap to help folks work through the code hurdles for a typical, two-story main street type building. Follow the link below to find the downloadable presentation file.

MAIN STREET REDEVELOPMENT

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

ICYMI: Eric Kronberg Interview in Curbed Atlanta

unnamed-1

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.

Small builder/developer bootcamp

Missing Middle 2

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.

Read more

LISTEN: Eric Kronberg Interviewed on Atlanta’s Business

Newstalk 1160 Logo

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

The Pope Agrees: Parking is Killing our Cities

ELC Adjacent 01 Reconfiguring a dormant four-way stop to create active public space

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

PLACEMAKING v. PARKING (PART 2)
NEW ORLEANS AND ATLANTA

On-Street Parking

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.

[Check out PART 1 in this series.]

Read more

PLACEMAKING v. PARKING (PART 1)
PERCEPTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS

Universal Joint - Oakhurst, Atlanta, GA

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.

Read more

JAZZ MARKET – TIME LAPSE

We are proud to present the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market.

An amazingly special thanks to:

IRVIN MAYFIELD’S EXPANDING WORLD

Irvin Mayfield, Photo by Elsa Hahne, offBEAT Magazine, April 2015

photo by Elsa Hahne
story by Jennifer Odell – offBEAT magazine

Past a two-story wall of windows, up a wide set of wooden stairs, and set back from the concert stage at Irvin Mayfield’s newly christened New Orleans Jazz Market sits a room the trumpet player identifies as his office. There’s no desk in this office. No computer, no phone and no trumpet—just two places to sit and a chessboard. This is fitting enough, given the amount of strategizing that went into transforming an old Gator’s discount store into what Mayfield hopes will become a shining new beacon for jazz…
[Read the full post at offBEAT.com]
Read more

LET’S TALK ABOUT PARKING (PART 2)

Atlanta Parking Part 2

How does a neighborhood node like Candler Park manage to function with such a greatly reduced amount of parking below the legal requirements?  How does the world not end there from a daily influx of cars?  Several reasons.  First, by being compact and situated in the middle of the neighborhood, it is easily walkable and bikable to many who live in the surrounding blocks.  Good sidewalk connectivity is part of this.  This reduces the amount of people that have to drive to the location.  There is also the ability to park once and visit multiple stores.  If our family chooses to drive instead of walk, we often park, have dinner, walk next door for a cup of hot chocolate for one daughter, and across the street for an ice cream cone for the other daughter.  While only using one parking space.

[Check out PART 1 in this series.]

Read more

LET’S TALK ABOUT PARKING (PART 1)

lets talk about parking part 1

As a firm that solves redevelopment challenges on a daily basis, we have had time to reflect on one of the repeated biggest redevelopment hurdles we face in Atlanta- on site parking requirements.  What’s the big deal with requiring parking you may ask?  Everything.  Our goal for Atlanta is to have it be chock full of thriving, walkable, car-optional neighborhoods ideally connected by some form of transit- bike, light rail, MARTA, or bus.  The single biggest roadblock we encounter when aiming to make this happen is a very simple and insidious zoning requirement that says every site should provide adequate parking for its use on its own property.  Here is the thing, if you want to have a vibrant, walkable neighborhood center, it needs to have significantly less parking provided than zoning currently requires, there has to be some form of shared parking, and in some places, that shared parking should have some cost based upon the market demand.

Read more

PRESERVATION MATTERS #MyNojoIs

New Orleans Jazz Market_Existing Conditions

You know that an architecture trend is starting when Rem Koolhaas is talking about it. He is turning away from cities now and  focusing on preservation and the countryside, even though our focus is not the countryside just yet, we couldn’t agree more with Mr. Koolhaas about Preservation and it seems like Architectural Record is on the same boat, their February 2015 issue was all about renovation, restoration and adaptation.

Our New Orleans Jazz Market, home of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) has been honored with a 2015 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by the Louisiana Landmarks Society that recognizes projects completed in Orleans Parish (outside of the French Quarter) that represent outstanding examples of restoration or rehabilitation of historic buildings.

Read more

Happy Jazzy Holidays from Kronberg Wall

my jazz is-02

images by brandt photography 

We have had a wonderful year at Kronberg Wall and we would like to share the joy. The New Orleans Jazz Market, home of New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) is opening in January. We are proud to be part of this project because it embodies the core principles of our firm, an adaptive reuse project in an urban infill site that is empowering people and translating New Orleans culture into design, but we did not do it alone and we would like give a shout out to our team of consultants.

Read more

WE WON A NATIONAL TRUST AWARD!

Ceremony2

 

We are truly honored to be the recipients of the National Trust/ HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation with Redmellon for our efforts restoring 46 blighted homes in New Orleans’ Treme and 7th Ward neighborhoods. This project provides low-income housing for historically under-served areas of the city, creating innovative solutions for sensible rehabilitation and social change.

Read more

CONSCIOUS URBAN PLACEMAKING: NEW ORLEANS

MAP

We believe in cities and we believe in neighborhoods that preserve their past and maintain their culture. New Orleans is at the stage of development where a conscious urban infill approach is essential in both preserving and promoting its neighborhood cultures. More than 200,000 residents have returned to the city after Katrina and have struggled with re-establishing their communities. Nonetheless, New Orleans is a resilient city. Architectural Record named New Orleans as one of their In-Demand Cities in their October issue.

Read more

Let's Make Our Cities Better Places