SMALL HOUSES NEED LOVE TOO

Small House

A major part of maintaining and promoting healthy communities is finding ways to maximize the existing housing stock. Many neighborhoods in Atlanta have an abundance of post-WWII housing. These houses tend to be small, and efficient. Often they have two bedrooms and only a single bathroom. There is nothing inherently wrong with this layout, but progress demands that the housing stock be upgraded to keep up with contemporary society. We have helped many families brainstorm how to re-configure these houses over the years. One couple wanted to stay in their neighborhood and start a family, another owner wanted to expand so that he and his partner could stay in a neighborhood they love, while increasing their overall level of comfort.

Recently, some close friends approached us about downsizing. They no longer need their 5 bedroom house in Decatur. They cashed out and purchased one of these post-war houses. It’s an admirable exercise in “right-sizing,” as they try to determine the best way to alter their new home to fit their family of four.

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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.]

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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.

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JAZZ MARKET – TIME LAPSE

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

An amazingly special thanks to:

NONPROFITS: DESIGNING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Non Profits 5

As communities change and evolve, gentrification becomes a challenge and we have found that committing our resources in the service of public interest is an effective method for balancing historically under-served neighborhoods. We work closely with non-profits in order to translate their mission and identify and solve their practical problems through design. We create spaces that encourage interaction and that allow members to act and participate, empowering diverse communities.

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Let's Make Our Cities Better Places