brokenclay.org/journal

New Urbanism

Via Rolling Rains: Eleanor Smith of Concrete Change has some excellent observations on the shortcomings of New Urbanism in an article in the Ragged Edge.

Prospect here in Longmont is an example of New Urbanism. While I applaud breaking out of the cookie cutter developer mold, and rethinking the relationship of the house with its environs, and I’m all for the funky use of color and materials, I was unable to put my finger on what disturbed me about the town. The article mentions the prevelance of above grade entrances and narrow hallways and doorways; other characteristics of Prospect include very narrow sidewalks and detached garages or carports with no accessible route to house or street.

Katja

4 Comments

  1. Richard Masoner

    Are the accessibility deficiencies cited in Ragged Edge any different between “New Urban” and standard suburban homes? All entries into my home in east Longmont are above grade with no accessible route from garage into the home.

    Narrow sidewalks are done to decrease building setback from the street, which has a proven traffic calming effect. Prospect is the *only* neighborhood in Longmont which doesn’t generate complaints about speeding traffic. Because traffic moves at a reasonable human pace, wheeling or walking down the road works just fine in Prospect.

    Prospect incorporates some New Urban ideals, but they do so on new (vs infill) development, and there’s not much in the way of community access to real commercial development. Prospect has two yoga businesses and a chiropracter, but if I want to buy some bread and milk I have to cross Pike, Southmoore and Ken Pratt to the nearest grocery store.

    Reply
  2. Katja (Post author)

    Other people are much more intelligent on the subject of urban planning than I am, but while you are correct that most houses are above grade and unvisitable, it’s a pity that a community so very designed from the ground up to be people- rather than vehicle-centric does not aggressively and consciously address visitability.

    And perhaps Prospect is more visitable than I’m aware of. As a non-resident, I have driven through Prospect numerous times and have come away with the impression that it would not be particularly convenient for me to park and stroll about the neighborhood and patronize the businesses.

    NB: Visitability: having an at-grade or zero-step entrance to the home approachable by an accessible route such as a sidewalk, and doors (one exterior and all interior) that are at least 2 feet, 10 inches wide to allow 32 inches of clear passage space (Visitability Improves Accessibility for All, Housing Research Foundation News, Issue 41 May/June 2000).

    Reply
  3. Patricia Tryon

    Prospect looks like one of those Disney “communities”.

    And I think you’ll look pretty long and hard for an accessible entrance. I’d like to see what it will look like in 10 – 25 years.

    Reply
  4. Katja (Post author)

    The way Reston (a famous New Town development of the early sixties) looks now?

    Reply

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