Bring Industrial Uses Back to the Urban Core: Job-Oriented Development at The Congress for the New Urbanism’s CNU21
Jennifer Griffin, a Visiting Assistant Research Professor of Notre Dame, opened the session by discussing the “workshop neighborhood.” She argued that various light- and medium-industrial uses also have a place in neighborhoods- that those uses, too, deserve to be walkable and part of mixed use neighborhoods.
She said that urban industry has economic, social, and environmental advantages due to the variety of job types, housing types, and income levels, they encourage. Deliveries wouldn’t need to travel very far if the warehouse or manufacturer were in the urban core, thus pollution is diminished. These light- and medium-industrial uses can also encourage a greater sense of community through annual events, giving the business an opportunity to showing off or even share their labor.
Jennifer said that the physical building types industrial buildings require are easily adaptable and changeable over time if the industrial uses cease and another use is needed on the parcel. She claimed that modern light- and medium-industrial ventures are much cleaner and require a smaller footprint, and that the stigma of past industry continues to harm the push for mixing industrial uses into neighborhoods.
She claimed that direct sales to end users are more likely if the manufacturer is in the urban core, that industrial businesses are more willing to move into blighted areas, thus helping revitalization, and that industrial uses contribute to active street life.
Later, she mentioned that she did not believe that chemical and petroleum industries were appropriate for placement next to homes, but that food distribution and 3D printing are perfect examples for urban industry uses that would work well.
John Griffin, also a Visiting Assistant Research Professor of Notre Dame, said that oftentimes, industry is the leader of sprawl. He said that he and Jennifer are not advocating that industry be unregulated, but that the regulation change to maintain nearby property values if industry becomes a part of a normal mixed use neighborhoods. He argued that there are certain sites that are well-suited for industry and can help their communities.
He said that industry can serve as a buffer for residential and commercial parcels by being placed between the quiet area and a highway or rail line/yard. Center block industry, or placing an industrial building in the middle of a large block that is surrounded by taller residential and commercial building, can be particularly good for grocery stores.
John argued that industry can be beautiful.
Nathaniel Hood, an Urban and Transportation Planner at Streets.MN, argued that entertainment districts are actually quite detrimental to new urbanism.
He said that too many cities and neighborhoods are advertising themselves as a “lifestyle center” with the motto, “‘Eat, shop, drink, play,’ blah blah blah.”
Hood argues that, “We have surrendered our best urbanism to entertainment.” He said that with a limited supply of historical buildings, typically in the downtown core, we shouldn’t put just one use there. Usually, bars and other tavern-like restaurants reside in the first floor of historical buildings in the downtown core. However, this creates a city that doesn’t attract visitors during the day, and a flood of people at night. He argues that downtowns and historical buildings need to have a thorough mix of commercial uses, “not just place to get drunk.”
Mike Huston, an independent architect and urban designer, described his theory of a “Form-O-Stat,” a tool for calibrating form-based codes. He disregarded the assumption that form-based codes are an “all-or-nothing” solution, stating that it’s a balance instead. The “Form-O-Stat” has ten settings:
0- Conventional Zoning, or no form-based code at all
1- Build up to the Street
2- Site Design Standards
3- Entry Oriented toward the Street, Huston said that this is the minimum effort to be considered a form-based code
4- Building Frontage Type, which Huston said is good urbanism, but not a good sense of place
5- Roof Form and Projections
6- Solid and Void Ratios, or FAR ratios
7- Facade Articulation
8- Building Materials
9- Special requirements that don’t include aesthetics, like greenspace minimums, and garden requirements
10- Architectural Details, like Style & Historic Preservation Efforts
Huston mentioned that there may be differences between each individual zoning area, or even block, within a community. He said that this process makes communities feel as though they own the project, and thus their community, more.
Bruce Donnelly, an independent urban planner, focused on the sort of software planners should be using to organize their ideas and plans. He said that we do not need anything highly specialized or expensive. He discounted tree mapping, as shown below, for its limitations.
He encouraged the audience to use “The Brain,” or any other relational database. Donnelly also mentioned that timeline software that fiction and novel writers use can also be helpful if you switch out some of the labels.
Bill Lennertz, a cofounder of National Charrette Institute, briefly discussed charrettes. He said that charrettes work best with at least three “feedback loops,” or public review sessions. Any less than that, and you may be sacrificing some quality. He said that the budgets for the 7-day charrettes of the past aren’t there anymore, so three- or even two- feedback loops must suffice in most cases.
Michael Mehaffy, Executive Director at the Sustasis Foundation, briefly reinforced the presence of the “Pattern Language.” He described it as, “A web way of thinking and a web way of acting,” and as a network of relationships.
How would you feel living next to s light- or medium-industrial building like a brewery, grocery store, or 3D printing business?
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