SPRING 2009 ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING LECTURE
Robert F. Melvin, AICP/PP
Looked at the dynamics that are changing the way we think about what makes a community sustainable and the way the field of landscape architecture, planning and urban design are adding to the discussion.
The last 50 years were an experiment in an old way of doing things. The results were sprawl and bad design, road widening and increased congestion, homogenous landuse and cookie-cutter neighborhoods. Bob Melvin says that experiment is over.
As an example he looked at retail space. In 1990, communities in the US had about 19 sq ft of retail space per person. In 2005 it was up to 38. THat is a 100% increase in 15 years. IN EUrope it is less than 10 sq. ft. and some studies say that communities cannot support more than 25 sq. ft. per person.
Other issues like quality of life and carbon footprints and public health issues are also in play. In NJ, 59% of adults are either overweight or obese.
New communities will be different. So many buildings were built for single uses, when mixed use contributes more to the community and is a more flexible feature. Eating locally is a key - but it requires a substantive change in the food supply chain and on the agricultural landscape. We need to ensure that out public spaces are well designed and vibrant, if they are going to be sustainable. It will take a full complement of tools from rain gardens to solar power to make these urban places successful.
As a case study he presented his form's recent work in a newsworthy project in Woolwich, NJ (mapped) and showed examples of TDR and sustainable design can be implemented in a neotraditional design environment. Another example, in Newark applied similar principles to the urban landscape.
Integration is the future of planning and design.
When one of the questions asked how we can make our least pleasant urban landscapes more livable, he suggested that Society Hill in Philly was just as bad in 1964. (He suggested that we watch the YouTube videos, but I can't din them. Anyone?) But what does it mean for Bucks County?