Place-making Models

UACDC is focused on shaping urban design approaches to “wicked” problems―a class of problems characterized by social complexity that span disciplines and knowledge bases, and for which solutions reveal a problem’s full dimension. We have formulated eight place-building models that engage socio-environmental development challenges in watershed urbanism, low impact development, transit oriented development, big box urbanism, context-sensitive street design, the five American urbanisms, arboreal urbanism, and agricultural urbanism. They collectively yield a new ecology of the city necessary to address the greatest ongoing challenge to planning and design: design within human-dominated ecosystems.

Since most ecosystems are no longer “naturally” determined (e.g., soil, atmospheric, and riparian systems) independent of the transformative inputs from human technology, design must reconcile ecological and urban forces to achieve a sustainable energy future. While our place-building models are oxymoronic―purposefully combining seemingly opposed interests―they triangulate efforts in design, policy, and code development to facilitate learning networks among public stakeholders. We use design processes to build shared understanding and overcome obstacles to new models of development.

UACDC often works within contexts of constrained resources, so our work is dedicated to enhancing prosperity through development of new public realms in which solutions aim to be as elegant as the problems. A new prosperity, based on a triple bottom line that concurrently enhances environmental, social, and economic systems, will only come through design solutions that seek to do more. Solutions which link wealth production mechanisms to development which combines urban and ecological services….design that delivers new forms of capital and livability standards.

Agricultural Urbanism

The foodshed is envisioned as an ecological municipal utility, featuring green infrastructure, public growscapes, and urban spaces dedicated to food processing, distribution, and consumption.

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Arboreal Urbanism

Ecologists consider trees to be the most successful life forms on Earth. Could planning begin with the tree as an irreducible landscape unit to create larger urban and regional frameworks?

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Big Box Urbanism

Big box retail is a logistical expression of space. To recover social possibilities, a transect of edge effects and frontages connecting public right-of-ways, parking, and store frontages is introduced.

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Context-Sensitive Streets

Context-sensitive streets propose a shared infrastructure of non-traffic services, integrating pedestrian amenities, stormwater treatment gardens, and building frontages, with traffic throughways.

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Five American Urbanisms

Legacy American cities manifest five urban morphologies, each with distinct planning and economic opportunities. Coordinating this pattern ecology is critical to a locality's ongoing viability.

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Low Impact Development

The first hour of urban stormwater runoff is more polluted than raw sewage. Through soft engineering, water management can become a utility that functions as an ecological and urban asset rather than a liability.

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Transit-Oriented Development

The quality of life in a city is determined by its transportation system. TOD advances new cultures of mobility, urbanism, commerce, and environmentalism.

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Watershed Urbanism

Healthy streams deliver 17 critical ecological services. Watershed urbanism offers an ecologically-based development model for integrating land development and riparian systems.

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