New Urbanism

Mcallister Village: Walkable, Adorable, Affordable

The Mcallister Village concept is to create a neighborhood of small starter homes a short walk from coffee shops, restaurants and the future downtown Crozet. The site is designed to push the parking to the outside, create courtyard entries to all the houses, open up a shared central green with a shared pavilion, and be enhanced with perimeter walking trails. This idea was inspired by The Boiceville Cottages in Brooktondale, NY not far from Ithaca, NY

The houses will be compact one bedrooms with lofts attached to compact lofted two bedroom or three bedroom houses. The one bedroom houses fit somewhere in-between apartments and single family detached houses in the market; a segment largely ignored for decades due to outdated zoning codes. The houses utilize a versatile lofted design to provide more storage and living area for singles, couples and young families. The construction details are simple and elegant; reducing cost, increasing thermal efficiency and maximizing space.

The proposal asks to either fix the blatant mathematical errors in the R-2 zoning code or rezone the property to PRD (Planned Residential Development) from R-2 to allow for our creative redesign. The total amount of families would be the same as by-right, but the by-right attached accessory units (adus) would be expressed as more desirable attached one bedroom cottages that can be bought or rented separately:

This project is currently shelved unless a forward thinking developer wants to take on securing the property and going through the county rezoning process. Contact us for more information

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999 Rio: Mixed Use Pocket Neighborhood

This interesting little mixed use project is located on a busy arterial road on one edge and a much quieter neighborhood street on another. The plan is to build a small office building along the arterial road with a residential pocket neighborhood along the neighborhood street. More information on the project can be found here.

Shimp Engineering came up with the site design for the developer, Gallifrey Enterprises. We were tapped to help the surrounding neighbors and local leaders get a better understanding of how the project would feel on the corner. We built a really quick set of renderings, designed an inexpensive but attractive office building, and were able to provide design feedback from the visualization. With the renderings in hand, the project received approval from the County in 2020.

The parking requirements for the site are quite large, causing it to take up a lot of the site. The affects of this amount of parking were toned down by tucking the parking behind the buildings and providing as many trees on the site as possible

The pocket neighborhood features a dozen houses around a shared greenspace which is hoping to attract life with its shared pavilion for outdoor gatherings and kids playground. The parking is in the remote parking areas so that the greenspace stays free of automobiles.

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Bamboo Grove Approved!

Bamboo grove was approved last week by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, which means that the project is moving forward. We get to build a little pocket neighborhood in walking distance to downtown Crozet!

Thank you so much to Nicole and Justin from Gallifrey who filled in the gaps of my development  knowledge to make the rezoning process as smooth as it can be. County staff and officials have all been great to work with; I’m proud of how much care they put into their complex job of city building.

Special thanks to everyone who offered encouragement and advice through all of the project’s many different iterations, especially our wonderful neighbors. I’ve received so much positive feedback on the designs from the community and neighbors; I hope that this project becomes a beacon for how to create small scale, affordable, community focused, walkable places to live that fit in with and strengthen the surrounding neighborhoods.

Part of my philosophy is to make it easier for this type of neighborhood to be built in the area, so please feel free to contact me about questions, ideas or dream projects. Here is the slide deck from the Board of Supervisor’s meeting

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Small Wonder: Neighborhood Concept Blooms in Bamboo Grove

Lisa Martin wrote a wonderful story in the Crozet Gazette about the little neighborhood we’re trying to build and how it came to be.

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Bamboo Grove Crozet Neighborhood Meeting

Thank you so much to everyone who came to the first neighborhood meeting on February 12th for our little Bamboo Grove pocket neighborhood! Your encouragement and great questions made it an educational and fun experience. I wish that we had more time to talk, but as always if you have any other questions or comments please contact us.

Here are the presentation slides that framed our discussion:

CCAC Presentation Slides

Categories: Announcements, Architecture, Communities, Design, Education, Energy Efficiency, New Urbanism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bamboo Grove Pocket Neighborhood

Bamboo Grove is a miniature neighborhood with six compact, affordable and energy efficient houses is designed for an acre of land a few blocks from downtown Crozet. Shared green space between the houses anchors the neighboorhood together while walking trails and sidewalks connect it to nature and the surrounding community. Common landscaped areas, patio, bicycle parking and mail area will be located between the vehicles and the houses to encourage the informal interaction so essential to build a feeling of belonging to a community.

This type of housing is often referred to as a “Cottage Court”, “Bungalow Court”, or “Pocket Neighborhood” and provides a housing choice that is desirable, affordable and very rare in the current housing stock. All the houses will have a compact design which will help them fit in well with the surrounding neighborhood and will make them more affordable than almost every new house being constructed in the surrounding Crozet area.

The area next to the stream running through the property will be dedicated for Public use as a part of the proposed future greenway trail system that is shown in the Crozet Master Plan.

Rain gardens, native surface landscaping and other green infrastructure techniques will be used as much as possible to manage stormwater from hard surfaces on the site and from the areas draining through it. The site lies next to a small stream, so careful design will be used to filter and slow down the water travelling through the site as much as possible with tools that work with the existing environmental features. The existing topography will be respected and used to enhance the character of the neighborhood. For more details go to the project page:

Charlottesville Tomorrow did a little article on our little project!

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Prairie Queen Missing Middle Neighborhood

Reintroducing the 4 and 6 unit apartment building and placing them in a new neighborhood is a great concept for building housing with the character of lovely turn of the century streetcar neighborhoods with the realities of the modern mega-financing world.

This is a great model to create vibrant, community fostering, walkable places instead of soulless apartment buildings. Thoughtful design goes a really long way.

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Putting a friendly face on Gentle Density

Attached housing is a really smart way to increase density and provide affordable, small housing in walkable neighborhoods, but it is illegal in most places. Duplexes don’t have to be ugly! This is a gallery of lovely examples where attached housing not only fit well into an existing neighborhood, but is also really attractive. Help normalize and re-legalize missing middle housing by adding your pictures to and sharing galleries like these!

Put a Friendly Face on Gentle Density

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Required Reading: Walkable City

Written in an entertaining style, Jeff Speck’s Walkable City brings urban planning concepts to a place that anyone can understand. This book takes the concepts of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities and draws upon loads of independent research to show how street design directly affects a place. You don’t have to be a designer to understand this book, which makes it a great introduction to the way that your city works (or doesn’t) for citizens and planners alike. Everyone should feel like their city gets better every day, and this books gives you the tools to understand some of the interconnected concepts of making a livable and vibrant city or town.

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Required Reading: A Pattern Language

I can’t say enough about this book. When I first read A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander it completely changed my outlook about what the built environment should strive for. The introductory book The Timeless Way of Building highlights the fact that humans are emotional creatures and that architecture should recognize this and be built to enhance the lives of the people that inhabit the places created. “A Pattern Language” takes that fuzzy concept of happiness, comfort and wholeness and details how to achieve it in the built environment with a scope that no book before or since has replicated. This books should be required reading for every architect, urban planner, engineer, and social activist.

 

Categories: Architecture, Communities, Design, New Urbanism, Resilience | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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