What Community Design Means to You

Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments - 2012 Residential Design Award of Excellence Winner image: Bruce Damonte

Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments – 2012 Residential Design Award of Excellence Winner
image: Bruce Damonte

Starting in August, we’ve asked ASLA members to comment on their interest and involvement in the practice area of Housing and Community Design. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, the survey is still open. Your feedback will help steer the direction of ASLA’s Housing and Community Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) going forward.

Here are a few highlights from the responses so far:

What aspects of housing and community design interest you most?

Urban outdoor space relative to housing of different densities and types. The use of shared open space and community gathering areas to unify mixed income, mixed housing type communities.

Redesign of streetscapes, open areas & mixed use corridors in the urban core & inner ring suburbs. Re-use of historic warehouses and buildings for housing or mixed use. Infill that blends with the existing historic fabric of a neighborhood or corridor. Incorporating wildlife habitat plantings.

How to connect with clients and form ideas for designs.

Human-centered design.

Innovations that affect behavior, ecology and affordability.

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Housing and Community Design, Reimagined

Building on the momentum of a great general session on equitable communities at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting and a burgeoning interest in environmental justice, it is time to take a critical look at ASLA’s Housing and Community Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) in order to reimagine and reinvigorate it for 2015 and beyond.

With more than 300 members, the PPN should be an active, dynamic group that contributes to the PPN programs in place that allow members to connect with one another and share information—including The Field blog, Online Learning presentations, and a LinkedIn group. In the past few years, however, the activity level for the Housing and Community Design PPN has fallen and the group has lacked the guidance of an engaged PPN chair, co-chairs, or larger leadership team to create greater interest and energy for the network.

We need to hear from you about what you want to see from the PPN and how you would like to get involved. Does the group need a new name and/or a refined mission to provide a better sense of focus? How can this PPN better reflect the work you do and provide the resources you need?

Please complete this quick survey to provide us with much-needed feedback.

We look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions concerning the Housing and Community Design PPN, let us know.

Transforming the suburbs

Sprawling housing in Edmonton, Canadaimage: yotung.wordpress.com/

Sprawling housing in Edmonton, Canada
image: yotung.wordpress.com/

If you haven’t been paying attention, there is a bit of a housing boom happening right now.  For the past few years during the real estate slump we have been hearing about something called “the new normal”.  The new normal was supposed to mean smaller homes, multigenerational housing products, budget conscious buyers, abandonment of the ex-urbs.  However the latest housing boom is very, well, normal.  The suburbs are booming with large homes on large lots intended for single family occupancy.  It appears that if buyers can get a loan, they are going big again.  It is difficult to know how long this boom will continue and if it will again be met by a bust, but the question is: how can we, the designers of residential environments, better challenge the conventions of homebuilding industry this time around?

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East Hills community in Pittsburgh

East Hills community in Pittsburgh
image: Jim Schafer

There is an enormous body of evidence to support the fact that exercise, fresh air, and contact with nature are important to one’s health and well-being. Those of us who have experienced the joys of playing in streams, hiking forest trails and collecting fireflies need no statistics to understand the benefits of spending time outdoors. Yet these experiences are foreign concepts for many people in urban neighborhoods, where green space is scarce and the world beyond their walls is riddled with real and perceived dangers.

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What “Urbanism” is most appropriate for landscape architects?

Ladera Ranch in Orange County California

Ladera Ranch in Orange County California
image: Kristian Kelley

Hypotheses are plenty when the discussion turns to urban or suburban design, the segment of landscape architecture we find ourselves engaged in.  Every decade, it seems, is met with a new notion that promises to transform development patterns into utopia.

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Reconnect Urban Communities and Environmental Systems

Floodplain at Allegheny Riverfront Park

Floodplain at Allegheny Riverfront Park
image: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

In recent years, authors and educators have identified a growing gap between urban culture and the natural processes that sustain it.  The internet and other technologies provide instantaneous access to once-elusive environmental processes, eliminating the need for natural exploration.

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New Urbanism vs. Landscape Urbanism

Vickery Master Plan

Vickery Master Plan
image: Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates

A “street” fight has begun between proponents of New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism. New Urbanism is a movement known for promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and sustainable communities as an alternative to suburban sprawl. Landscape urbanism focuses on landscape as the organizing element for urban space. As someone who is both a new urbanist and a landscape architect, I feel the need to come to the aid of New Urbanism.

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