COURSE FULL – Retrofitting Suburbia: Policies, Politics, and Designs

Lynn Richards and Deanna Van Buren
Jan 17 and 18 (R,F) / 9:00-5:00pm
Jane Jacobs, in Death and Life of Great American Cities, said, “The semi-suburbanized and suburbanized messes we create … become despised by their own inhabitants tomorrow. These thin dispersions lack any reasonable degree of innate vitality, staying power, or inherent usefulness as settlements. Few of them, and these only the most expensive as a rule, hold their attraction much longer than a generation; then they begin to decay…” There exists today thousands of properties in first and second ring suburbs that sit abandoned or under utilized, each contributing to a neighborhood’s decline. These properties are often quite large; have existing structures, such as shopping malls, that could be repurposed; and are served by existing infrastructure, e.g., roads, water, sewer, and transit. Increasingly, there is growing demand to redevelop these properties as residents and local governments seeks economic value and vitality associated with placemaking. Combine this trend with higher oil prices, increased traffic congestion, and economically restrained economies, repairing our suburban fabric will be a planning and development priority over the next several decades. Join us in this two-day class to learn design and policy strategies that local governments are seeking to facilitate and incentivize redevelopment of their suburban properties.
This two-day course will examine:
•The different types of suburban properties, e.g., mall, strip mall, parking lot, big box store, that are prime targets for redevelopment
•Possible indicators for properties that are prime for redevelopment
•Land development policies and regulations that can facilitate or incentivize redevelopment, including economic development strategies
•Design strategies for incremental and wholesale redevelopment
•Hands on sketch design of one property
Class participants will work in teams of four students. Each team will be responsible for developing a possible redevelopment scenario, include redesigning the site, identifying new proposed structures and their underlying use, proposing street and transportation changes, and identifying policies and land development regulations that the local government could change to incentivize redevelopment.
By the end of the class, students will understand: (1) the range of suburban retrofit options, (2) suggested criteria to identify the most promising properties, (3) local policies and strategies that support retrofit projects, and (4) sketch design concepts to help stakeholders begin to reimagine the property.
Scale rule, 24 x 36 trace, colored pencils and markers
Laptops, 3-D sketch freeware software will be needed for each team
Some readings will be on the reserve at the library