No. 554 . 28 March 2012 
ArchitectureWeek

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Urban Design Associates created a master plan for the new Faubourg Lafitte housing development in New Orleans, Louisiana, with the active participation of Lafitte residents. The original 1940s-era Lafitte housing project was demolished in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Image: Urban Design Associates

New Urbanism Now

by ArchitectureWeek

In terms of ecological and cultural sustainability, only a rarified echelon matches the spectrum of excellence in a recent mixed-use redevelopment project in downtown Berkeley, California.

The project replaced a surface parking lot in a core urban area with two curvilinear buildings: a 97-unit affordable-apartment building and a LEED Platinum-certified office and conference facility for environmental and social-justice organizations, with retail shops at street level and public parking underground — sited together across the street from the University of California, Berkeley campus and within walking distance of numerous transit connections.

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Architect Daniel Solomon led the design team for the LEED Platinum-certified David Brower Center, an office building that, together with the adjacent Oxford Plaza mixed-use apartment building, occupies a one-acre (0.4-hectare) site across from UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California. Photo: © Tim Griffith Extra Large Image

The David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza apartments have just been recognized by the Congress for the New Urbanism in its 2012 Charter Awards.

The awards program honors architecture, landscape, and urban design projects that demonstrate "excellence in fulfilling and advancing the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism, which defines the essential qualities of walkable, sustainable places from the scale of the region down to the block and building."

The significance of evaluating the quality of placemaking across this range of scales can hardly be overstated. As we discussed in On Travel and the Built Environment, even a sterling carbon-neutral building, erected in a high-VMT location away from the metropolitan core, can induce a significant increase in the overall carbon footprint related to its use. The human health implications of walkable versus auto-centered environments are comparably important.

The Congress for the New Urbanism has been taking these issues head-on since 1993. Guided by the CNU charter, engaged design professionals work to address problems such as sprawl, demographic separations, loss of community, and environmental degradation, through restoration of existing urban centers, reconfiguration of suburbs into true neighborhoods, and preservation of both natural environments and built heritage.

David Brower Center, Berkeley, CalforniaSafeway No. 2912, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MassachusettsSCAD Museum of Art, Savanna, Georgia | Lafitte Housing, New Orleans, LouisianaWyvernwood Mixed-Use, Los Angeles, CaliforniaVerkykerskop Farming Town, South AfricaVision for Berrien Springs, Michigan | Town Center, Mount Rainier, MarylandAnd more...   >>>

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