Over the past decade, even as there has been a growing fascination with the benefits of charrettes as a tool for planning and public engagement, there has been a constant complaint that charrettes are too expensive. This complaint has become more common and more urgent in recent years, with shrinking budgets and tightening competition among firms for a smaller pool of available work. Lean Urbanism has introduced a new set of concerns about the costs of the process. It is particularly difficult to fit a charrette into the budget of a project when the goal is to “make small possible.” But Lean Urbanism isn’t just about streamlining the planning process. In the simplest terms, it is about reducing the time and resources invested in planning and dedicating them instead to getting things done, in more manageable increments, with less top-down intervention or public investment, creating more opportunities for individual action, with smaller increments of investment.
The mission of the Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program at Woodbury University’s School of Architecture is to change the role of architect from consultant to entrepreneur and to empower architects in a profession where they are rapidly losing their traditional role as leaders of project teams. Students graduate with the skills to be not simply consultants, but also builders and real estate developers. MRED graduates are establishing a new localized culture of building and an architectural vernacular that speaks to San Diego’s context, place, and time. The built results have created a quiet storm of new housing and commerce that both fit nicely within and raise the design bar in San Diego’s more urban neighborhoods. These new projects and architect-builders are creating a buzz, drawing attention from funders and others wanting to build upon their budding success, and establishing a new responsibility through raised expectations. The MRED program is creating a group of young architect-developers who can determine their own fates, design, and places while contributing to a better urban environment.
The 27 principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism were formulated by a broad cross-section of thinkers, practitioners and officials who recognized some of the shortcomings of post-WWII development, planning and design on the continuity and coherence of American cities. The Charter reflects a durable and broadly agreed upon standard of regional and urban livability, sustainability and civility.
The built environment accounts for approximately half the energy use and carbon footprint of the United States. Lean Buildings reduce energy flows by tapping basic natural heating and cooling techniques and renewable energy sources in ways that are region-specific and climate-sensitive. Seven defensive and offensive strategies — from use of local and recycled materials to heavy insulation, from building orientation and passive solar systems to dense urban configurations — address the reduction of material and energy consumption in the U.S and similar climates. Issues of energy quantity and quality, energy codes and metrics, as well as building size and configuration, are also discussed.
Owning a small piece of your neighborhood can be good for you and good for your city. Owners of small buildings benefit by generating income and building wealth, as the immigrants to New England who bought and rented out “triple-deckers.” Small building ownership faces challenges, mostly due to lack of economies of scale. However, every asset class has inherent challenges, so budget for them and focus on the benefits.
Detroit is rapidly transforming into its next incarnation. The challenges that the city has experienced in past decades are being addressed, as demands for enhancements from the current and new population increase. Changes will be efficient out of necessity, and will likely reestablish an already distinctive urban environment, based on its history, inhabitants and physical form. The potential for Lean applications in Detroit directly relates to the capacity of its existing infrastructure and the quality of its underutilized built environment. Through a reexamination of extensive opportunities, Lean, effective solutions will arise and lead to a successful new Detroit.
As a comprehensive method for transforming car-dependent environments into walkable, diverse communities, Sprawl Repair includes small-scale and inexpensive interventions. Sprawl Repair works at multiple scales, from the region to the neighborhood and the building, and utilizes a variety of tools that are cost-effective, incremental, and can be quickly implemented. This paper will demonstrate how a mall, the most promising contender for Sprawl Repair, can be retrofitted in small, efficient steps, creating much-needed, cheap space for incubating new businesses and artisan uses, as well as providing affordable student housing.
At a time when we are re-connecting with our urban roots, a return to Small Town America may be the perfect anecdote for recouping a vast amount of discarded national wealth in infrastructure, natural resources and historic architecture while simultaneously building community in a Lean way, with Lean tools and tactics. Our rural and suburban landscape is home to a network of more than 25,000 small urban gems boasting hidden assets and opportunities — places that may be the best locations to pioneer trends in Lean living, entrepreneurial business and building.