Sunday, June 17, 2012

Coffee Talk 5: Density and its Benefits

The old JCC Building at
35th and 86th.

Coffee Talk 5: Density and its Benefits
Thursday, June 21st, 7-8:30PM

Temple Beth Shalom (6800 35th Ave NE)

For some along 35th Ave NE, the thought of a 4-story, mixed-use building at the intersection of NE 86th Street, created anxiety. This isn't uncommon for predominantly residential neighborhoods, like those along 35th Ave NE. In fact, some came together to oppose the project despite the property's Neighborhood Commercial-40 (NC40) zoning which allows this scale of development. Years on, the Jasper Apartment building is nearly complete (certificate of occupancy expected in July) and the first mixed-use residential building along 35th Ave NE (in Ravenna/Bryant or Wedgwood) is now a part of the landscape.

New Jasper Apartments at
35th and 86th.
On Thursday, June 21st, Catherine Benotto with Weber Thompson Architects will discuss the benefits to communities that comes from increased density. Increased residents by way of greater density provides tangible benefits that the community has identified as important values. Its important for us as a community to recognize these benefits and their roots if we are to take the fear of the "D word" away. This isn't to say that there aren't real trade offs that come along with land use planning and increased density, which will be discussed during Coffee Talk 7, but there are many benefits as well.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the final two Coffee Talks after this:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What Makes Great 'Place' and Streetscape? A Review of Coffee Talk 4.

Brice Maryman of SvR Design
What creates those great, vibrant 'places' where people congregate, socialize, and feel welcomed?  Turns out...a lot of things.

In the latest of our ongoing Coffee Talk series, we were led on an visual tour by Brice Maryman with SvR Design as he shared various design concepts and conditions that lead to great place making.  Creating that sense of place is an important step in establishing a well used commercial corridor that attracts shoppers and businesses while being desirable to walk through.

The conditions necessary for great places differ depending upon the community.  For those that came to the latest Coffee Talk, lots of characteristics were identified of great places and not-so-great places.  Here's what we came up with:

  • Places to sit
  • People converge, interact, and create happenstance community
  • Place for commerce
  • There's a reason to be there (a draw)
  • There are center and edge spaces
  • Approachable and inclusive to everyone
  • Evokes emotion and meaning
  • It communicates shared experiences and community
  • Sense of familiarity and stirs memories
  • Appropriate scale
  • A void space ties together destinations
  • Dynamic, interactive, and fun
  • Becomes symbolic or iconic
  • Becomes a focal point

What are the elements of not-so-good places?
  • Uncomprehensible
  • Undefined edges
  • Lacks focal point
  • Featureless
  • Barriers to entry
  • Not an appropriate scale
  • Monochromatic and boring
  • Exclusive
  • Sense of fake-ness
In addition to this visual tour of place making, Brice discussed recent projects his firm has completed that incorporate place making into streetscape design.  You can read Valarie's perspective of the latest Coffee Talk here.

As always, we've got the Coffee Talk in true-to-form poor quality for all to watch and relive the magic of the night.  Note that the location of the upcoming Coffee Talks may be changing due to scheduling conflicts at Messiah Lutheran on Thursday nights.