in Density

Form-Base Miami

Density is a central factor in creating the experience of urban intensity, but it is not the element that makes it pleasurable. Density offers access to many choices, but the ease of use is what makes it enjoyable. Many factors may point to a place of interest but the use of numeric measures alone written to regulate height and mass with floor area and open space ratios are without the elements needed. To describe or judge a success or failure is established in part, by Mami21. Given the change in global conditions this is a place to watch.

Jobs and population per acre are common measures of density, while design components such as the ratio of building mass to open space only frames the possibility of a quality experience.  Places from low- to high-density tie to individual place finding or marketing algorithms that provide for a sense of position that reflects a personal value that can be within a community such as Miami.

The images in patchwork nation illustrate the U.S. in 12 community types by using demographic, political and socioeconomic data.  What is not shown is how a census block group of any major urban center will easily replicate the image of the nation by county.  That the nation has these social densities as similarly as a city is encouraging. What the nation is missing is the intensity of the city as an intentionally diverse place.

Density and community land use formulas tend to see a house always being a house or an office complex limited to business, but in an intensely used urban environment, these initial functions yield many new, often unexpected uses.  Density provides the opportunity for a critical mass of interaction, but it works best when combined with an open-ended set of form elements to produce the desire for development intensity that in turn, leads to a sense of confidence about dynamically changing sets of land uses.

A region with 100 jobs and 200 residents per acre may identify a comparatively dense area in the region and signify a transit-oriented mixed-use center. Using this measure, the development intensity tier includes the number of time intervals that link to other transit-oriented centers. These areas might have lower residential/job densities jobs per acre or higher.  Each signifies an edge where the intensity accelerates or declines.  The density itself only remains significant as an intensifying agent within a traditional street grid, height and scale ratios. Areas operating without this constraint tend to yield grey zones, lost landscapes and forgotten trends. Growth without constraint is what kills them.  The death is rapid and it shames the residential community into which it was injected.

Form-Based Growth

Before heading off to University of Utah, Arthur “Chris” Nelson, was in the Urban Affairs and Planning program at Virginia Tech’s Washington-Alexandria Center.  His research indicated a doubling of the entire built environment in the Greater Washington, D.C. region could occur by 2030.  The concept of exponential growth is intoxicating in mega regions such as the northeast, but the rate of Greenfield development is by all accounts unsustainable, and that policy measures to focus (if not force) this energy into the existing built environment requires implementation.  Without new restraints, the a majority of the job growth will occur outside of the urban core areas, resulting in nothing more than a vast enlargement of the current inner city design process over much larger section of the metropolitan region.  Conclusions from this analysis demand a new regime of land use and building controls authored on a regional basis and of necessity across state lines. One mega-region is contained with the Florida whose development concerns turned to a form basis.

The purpose of a “form-based code” is to yield to human creative purposes with a greater trust in performance measures and regulations affecting access to natural light, clean air, lack of noise, and other events or qualities that affect the quality of life.  When Miami 21 was passed in October 2009, the introduction of the “transect” idea may change everything in land use management.  It is a boundary line around a land area for ecological measurements.  Injecting this idea in to land use and development decisions is not only protective of life, it contributes to the development contextual development events and conversion.  Although the code was involved in the transition of the West Side Highway in Manhattan into a street near waterfront parkland speaks to this purpose.  Today it is not exactly the Camps-Elysee, but there are aspirations and this potential is now far greater than that offered by former existence as a limited access, elevated super-highway.

The principles of form-based code limit building heights based on the street grids.  Yet as a constraint it recognizes and support traditional neighborhood resilience.  These communities offer a vibrant series of mixed-use centers that accommodate growth and increased urban intensity. With multiple forms of public mass transit this intensity also contributes to the growth of other mixed-use urban centers or edge cities and employment centers throughout the region

Interested in comments from Raleigh, Cabarrus County, Charlotte and Denver

Link for exploration fun: Flamingo Park, Miami Beach, FL  Towers on a barrier beach – what could possibly go wrong or be better? I’m looking for to cite a study of falling RE and condo prices.

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  1. Would it reasonable to apply the Miami rules to Las Vegas? The new 64 acre “city” by MG developers could work. Also add files on the density of the Manhattan site at Columbus Circle — it includes Lincoln Center