New Urbanism's Role in Rebuilding New Orleans

What New Orleans can learn from Denver.

"A year after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, San Franciscans had moved out of emergency camps in parks and playgrounds and were rebuilding their homes. Progress in New Orleans has been slower...

Levees and flood control infrastructure must be built by public agencies, but urban neighborhoods, as Jane Jacobs pointed out long ago, work best when created piecemeal by private households and entrepreneurs. So, a decentralized approach is definitely a good idea...

A successfully rebuilt New Orleansâ€"whoever plans itâ€"is likely to be a similar mix, of edgy and traditional, of downtown plate glass and neighborhood picket fences."

Full Story: How To Rebuild New Orleans

Comments

Comments

...or from a voice of The Simpsons

Satirist Harry Shearer has in his weekly radio show and frequent blog postings shamed mainstream media in the depth of attention to
post-Katrina recovery and redevelopment issues:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harry-shearer/

http://www.harryshearer.com/leshow/

Need To Infure Entrepreneurship

I will soon be actively involved in planning the success of a New Orleans neighborhood commercial district. The New Urbanist approach, a proven model, will most likely be the predominant model for the built environment--which is fine with me given the model's committment to sustainability. I can't say for sure that the New Urbanist model will be employed--that's not my role--but it does seem to have a foothold post-Katrina. Andres Duany, a force unto himself can get things done--and that is a precious commodity.

Yet neighborhood commerical districts must no be subjected to the "TOWN CENTERING" approach used in so many projects. GAPS and Banana Republics we have, Restoration Hardware--plenty, Barnes and Noble--ubiqutous. We need local flavor in a city known for it.

We need to plan for locally owned, independent, neighborhood businesses. Through my organization THE DOWNTOWN ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROJECT downtownproject.com we asssist downtowns and commercial districts in attracting, training, and nurturing entrepreneurs.

This is what New Orlean needs --not just in the well known commercial corridors, but in the smaller neighborhood commercial districts as well. Especially in those smaller districts. We plan to play our part. Follow the progress on DAPRIXBLOG.com

Charles D'Aprix
The Downtown Entrepreneurship Project
downtownproject.com

Jacobs + New Urbanism?

The use of Jacobs to promote a new urbanist scheme seems to me a bit against everything that she actually stood for. She advocated for a necessary mix of old and new, different uses, different sizes and different scales co-existing together to create an organically 'living' city.

New Urbanism on the other hand is just another (albeit sometimes successful) method of top down planning. Every single piece of development is planned out, from facades to uses, often with single developers building the whole thing. Additionally it requires large tracts of land, which doesn't mesh well with organic and natural development processes. Whether or not NU principles will work or not in New Orleans, lets at least be straight forward about what it means and what it will create.

Jacobs + New Urbanism is close.

[Jacobs] advocated for a necessary mix of old and new, different uses, different sizes and different scales co-existing together to create an organically 'living' city.

Just like NU developments ('ceptin' for the 'old' part).

New Urbanism on the other hand is just another (albeit sometimes successful) method of top down planning

'ceptin' when it isn't, like when it uses the design guidelines developed by the community, like when the public meetings' comments are incorporated, like when...

often with single developers building the whole thing.

IME the platters sell to builders who then build the houses. Perhaps your experience is different and you can share enough examples to show 'often'.

Additionally it requires large tracts of land, which doesn't mesh well with organic and natural development processes.

Except when the development is on a smaller tract, such as infill.

Best,

D

J + NU: Organic?

Community-developed design guidelines are very different from top-down planning, but they're far from organic -- and aren't such guidelines often shaped by the more vocal ones rather than by the community?

Maybe single developers don't build the entire thing, but perhaps four or five builders do, right? Again, far from organic, in which hundreds, thousands of individuals build structures for themselves (although that's relatively rare these days).

And even infill is often not very "organic" when multiacre sites become big, unimaginative, monotonous developments.

[Jacobs] advocated for

[Jacobs] advocated for a necessary mix of old and new, different uses, different sizes and different scales co-existing together to create an organically 'living' city.

Just like NU developments ('ceptin' for the 'old' part).

Excepting the "old" part of the equation is kind of like excepting the jelly from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich - you're still just left with one thing. Also, the 'town center' portion of a NU development does not an organic use make. Putting the stores in the designated 'mall area' is akin to putting a strip mall off to the side of a subdevelopment.

The reaon that shades of age in buildings are so important in city life is that it allows for differences not only contextually but in rents and therefore uses of buildings in the same area. A luxury tower can exist right next to a set of 100 year old brownstones, which provides diversity of use and diversity of population. Try finding a real diversity of population in a NU development.

New Urbanism on the other hand is just another (albeit sometimes successful) method of top down planning

'ceptin' when it isn't, like when it uses the design guidelines developed by the community, like when the public meetings' comments are incorporated, like when...

'ceptin when it is. The lead firm still dictates (with whatever level of community involvement that they actually intend on using) what goes in place. If the community staunchly wanted garden style apartments of 1/4 acre zoned houses, i'd find it safe to say that wouldn't be what they would get.

often with single developers building the whole thing.

IME the platters sell to builders who then build the houses. Perhaps your experience is different and you can share enough examples to show 'often'.

Different builders that are locked into the same 'approved' set of architectural guidelines doesn't really yield any meaningful variation. You still get a place that 'feels' like its been conceived by a single entity, because in large part it has.

NU developments certainly look pretty, but to me they seem as vapid and empty as a Disney Ride..

Additionally it requires large tracts of land, which doesn't mesh well with organic and natural development processes.

Except when the development is on a smaller tract, such as infill.

And except when it does - because even the smallest of NU developments require some assemblage of land to build their 'diverse' set of buildings. Its not something that happens building by building and block by block, thats for certain.

J + NU -- Not Close But As Close As You Can Get

Most points that Perryair makes are valid, but are a result of the way development is done today. As a supporter of New Urbanism and an admirer of Jacobs, I think the New Urbanists are coming as close as they can to what Jacobs wanted, given that they generally have no choice but to work for big developers.

Eg, they do create neighborhoods with a mix of land uses, but they obviously cannot create neighborhoods with a mix of new and old buildings when they are working for developers who are building entire neighborhoods at once. The same is true of most points that Perryair makes.

I agree with Perryair in disliking architectural guidelines. But note that New Urbanists emphasize that there are two types of guidelines, urban design guidelines and architectural guidelines.

Urban design guidelines include requiring stores to be built facing the sidewalk rather than having parking lots in front of them, and similar requirements that create the sort of traditional walkable neighborood that Jacobs admired. Before the New Urbanists came, this sort of walkable neighborhood had not been built for decades.

Architectural guidelines create the sort of uniform style that Perryair dislikes -- and that I also dislike.

New Urbanists say that it is necessary to use urban design guidelines but optional to use architectural guidelines. You have to give them credit for building the sort of walkable neighborhoods that Jacobs liked, rather than building the strip malls that were standard development practice before the New Urbanists came.

Charles Siegel

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