Land use and zoning laws have been a trending topic in recent years, gaining significant public attention across the United States. People are beginning to rethink the ways that our cities have been planned, seeking ways to improve their quality of life- and it often stems from codes and policies that dictate what can be built and where. Zoning that is too restrictive often makes it difficult for developers to build necessary projects such as multi-family housing. But when zoning is too loose, it creates neighborhoods that aren’t walkable and don’t have a strong sense of community.
Zoning: The Latest Architecture and News
Zoning Laws and Their Impact on Urban Planning in the United States
The Invention of Public Space Shows the City as a Product of Negotiation
In this week's reprint from the Architect's Newspaper, author Karen Kubey, an urbanist specializing in housing and health questions if the invention of Public Space is "Invented Or Agreed Upon?" Basing her ideas on a book by Mariana Mogilevich, The Invention of Public Space, the article asks if public spaces are a product of negotiation in the city.
New York City Promises Affordability Through Rezoning But Delivers Gentrification
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Dozens of neighborhoods in New York City have been upzoned based on contrived, and even false claims made by the city, which promised more diversity, affordable housing, minimum displacement, and other worthy goals. None of those projections materialized, but this is never acknowledged. Worse, the upzoning created the opposite conditions: less diversity, fewer affordable units, and whiter, wealthier neighborhoods. This, too, is never acknowledged. But the damage is done—and developers are having their way—following the new zoning. Then it’s onto the next neighborhood, with the same approach. Roberta Brandes Gratz explores in her article city planning and city promises in New Tork City, disclosing zoning regulations that lead to the opposite of what they preach.
It’s Time to End the Reign of Single-Family House Zoning
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Practicing architects live and die by zoning regulations. We begin routine projects by reading ordinances and calling local officials to reassure clients that their desired outcomes will be possible under current land-use laws. If we’re lucky, the project will be built without troublesome variances and hearings before stony-faced zoning boards. Increasingly, however, what seemed straightforward and responsible 15 years ago is today considered controversial enough to merit a public hearing, and perhaps the assistance of high-priced attorneys. Often, the issue is protecting the “rights” of nearby homeowners, who see their property values threatened by any new development.
In New York City, When Form Follows Finance the Sky's The Limit
The hyperreal renderings predicting New York City’s skyline in 2018 are coming to life as the city’s wealth physically manifests into the next generation of skyscrapers. Just like millennials and their ability to kill whole industries singlehandedly, we are still fixated on the supertalls: how tall, how expensive, how record-breaking? Obsession with this typology centers around their excessive, bourgeois nature, but – at least among architects – rarely has much regard for the processes which enable the phenomenon.
Minneapolis to Become First Major U.S. City to End Single-Family Zoning
Minneapolis will become the first major U.S. city to end single-family home zoning. City Council passed Minneapolis 2040, a plan to permit three-family homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods. This significant zoning change will also allow high-density buildings along transit corridors and abolish parking minimums for all new construction. Hoping to combat high housing costs, segregation and sprawl, the plan is set to become a precedent for cities across the United States.
Architecture without Architects: The Cut-Paste Typology Taking Over America
This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "When Buildings Are Shaped More by Code than by Architects."
Architects are often driven by forces which are stronger than aesthetics or even client whims and desires. To some extent we’re captive to the tools and materials we use, and the legal limitations placed on us as architects. Today a new code definition has changed one type of building in all of the ways architects usually control.
Why Is Car Parking So Ubiquitous in the US? This Video Explains Everything
The next time you're cursing the price of a city parking meter, think instead about the high cost of free, off-street parking in terms of the urban environment. Urbanists these days agree that cities are at their best when they are walkable—designed for people instead of cars—but the reasons for the car-centric design of cities in the US are complex. In this video, Will Chilton and Paul Mackie of Mobility Lab describe all the problems inherent with parking in US cities and how it got to be this way: namely, off-street parking requirements, or mandatory parking minimums.
Most people know that US cities are dominated by parking, with roughly 8 parking spots per car throughout the country, but this video will give you all the information you need to win any debate about the impacts of mandatory off-street parking. Describe with confidence why cities love mandatory minimums for developers, extoll the virtues of correctly-priced parking meters, and impress your friends and colleagues with your knowledge of the other ways you pay every day for "free" parking.
Thom Mayne Completes Research on Houston’s Urban Future
Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne has completed a three-semester–long study of Houston’s future, given its current sprawling urban conditions and rapid growth. The project, conducted alongside 21 University of Houston students and faculty members Matt Johnson, Peter Zweig, and Jason Logan, focused on ways of addressing the problems that arise from Houston’s historical lack of zoning in conjunction with the largely unregulated growth of industry and capitalism. These approaches include reinventing the current energy infrastructure, changing real estate and density, and leveraging the lack of zoning to generate new ideas.
Zoning New York Scavenger Hunt
Open House New York and the Museum of the City of New York invite you to celebrate the centennial anniversary of New York City's 1916 Zoning Resolution with a citywide scavenger hunt to uncover how the invisible forces of zoning have shaped the city around us, from the dramatic setbacks of Jazz Age skyscrapers to the vast open plazas of mid-century Modernism.
The New York City Cantilever: If You Can’t Go Up, Go Out
New York City’s notoriously space-hungry real estate market is converting the cantilever – perhaps made most famous in Frank Lloyd Wright’s floating Fallingwater residence of 1935 – from a mere move of architectural acrobatics to a profit-generating design feature. Driven by a “more is more” mantra, developers and architects are using cantilevers to extend the reach of a building, creating unique vistas and extended floor space in a market in which both are priced at sky-high premiums.
NYC's Midtown East: Rezoning and Streetscaping
New York City's Midtown East will be facing a rezoning in the near future, bringing a dozen office towers into the already crowded neighborhood. To help the Bloomberg Administration address the issues that may arise with this move, the city has hired sustainable real estate development firm, Jonathan Rose Co.; Dutch Urban Planning firm, Gehl Architects; and the global civil engineering firm, Skanska. The different firms will be working to develop the streetscape to be known as the East Midtown Public Realm Vision Plan which is scheduled for release later this year.
The Danger of the Zoning-Free Approach
Despite the romantic notion about cities that develop organically have a rich diversity of form and function, we cannot overlook the deadly side effects of negligent city planning. As Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star points out, last month's tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas is a grim reminder that planning has a time and place and its ultimate utility resides in the initiative to protect residents and make for healthier communities. The tangle of bureaucracy associated with planning, zoning and land use regulations can give any architect or developer a massive headache. In some cases, the laws are so restricting that diverging from bulk regulations becomes very limiting.
Where Does Zoning Fit Into Our Future City Planning?
Let’s dump the word “zoning,” as in zoning ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term, an obsolete characterization of how we plan and shape growth. - Roger K. Lewis
Zoning, just over a century old concept, is already becoming an outdated system by which the government regulates development and growth. Exceptions and loopholes within current zoning legislation prove that city planning is pushing a zoning transformation to reflect the goals and needs of city building today and in the future. To determine how zoning and land use need to change we must first assess the intentions of future city building. Planners and architects, legislators and community activists have already begun establishing guidelines and ordinances that approach the goals of sustainability and liveability. The AIA has established Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and has made a commitment to the Decade of Design: Global Solutions Challenge. NYC has come up with Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design and its Zone Green initiative in regards to updating its zoning resolution. Philadelphia has augmented its zoning to include urban farms and community gardens. It is safe to assume that many other cities will follow this precedent.