why we need master street plans

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Post on 07-Jul-2015




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I want to start off with this photo, and I want you to keep it in mind as we go throughthis presentation.This is the American Museum of Natural History, around 79th Street in Manhattan.-Notice the right of ways being established.- This is a telling feature of what the master street plan is all about.- This image will become more clear as we go on- But what is a master street plan, and why do we need it?2 3. - This is the Commissioners plan for NYs Manhattan Island, the most famous andcertainly the largest master street plan in history-The early 1800s, New York was confined to the southern tip of the island- leaders at the time were pushing for growth of the City, and hired commissioners tocreate this plan-- It was a plan of that established every street we now know in Manhattan,stretching from around where Houston St and Broadway Street intersect all the wayto Washington heights in the northern tip-- This plan for the streets then allowed developers to subdivide and build on theirland according to the plan-- but it happened slowly over 100 years as growth slowly crept north on the island but continued to follow the plan-- the only major difference today is Central Park not found in the original plan-- so heres what development in new york looked like according to this plan3 4. -Here you can see how streets were laid out as the development reached those areas- These streets were as I said laid down according to the plan, creating the blockspaces in between where private interests could then build to their needs- the public realm was already established no need for planners or engineers toconsider the street network at the time of development4 5. -Now we see development filling in the blocks-This was piecemeal blocks were filled in as needed-- but each block was equal they could be built on just as any other-And they were interconnected building on your lot you knew you were alreadyplugged into a larger urban whole or that it would soon be filled in around you-And the grid block that was established by the master street plan meant that any useand building type could establish itself homes, apartment buildings, businesses,offices, churches all could plug themselves into the same infrastructure5 6. So what does the master street plan really allow?-It is the large scale the macro level of streets being laid out to define where thepublic realm is from the get go. It created a top-down order which ensures the cityforms a cohesive whole- and then on the small scale, in the blocks that are created from those streets, youhave that real organic urbanism building itself up-- as jane jacobs so wonderfully pointed out at the end of the Death and Life, there isa complex organized order that healthy urban places embody,-thats what was allowed to happen in between these blocks thanks to the masterstreet plan6 7. This diagram illustrates this conceptThe lighter blue is the public realm which was preconceived via plan, and constructedas needed when development reached itThe darker blue is the private realm, which was forced inside the blocks created bythe master street plan, and builders could decide what and how to build within theseareas7 8. Heres a US Army survey from around 1890. You can see this in action-The west side of central park was still very much an emerging part of the city-Some of the streets have been laid out, and some of the blocks are beginning to fillin-- and this again would take another few decades to fully be developed, over 100years since the plan was created-The plan really focused where development was to go and created this largerconnected urban whole that i keep talking about8 9. And of course today you can see how new york has benefited from the master streetplan- The master street plan doesnt mean more people or businesses will move to youcity there are so many other factors involved with that but it helps organizegrowth into a meangful pattern- But new york wasnt the only north american city that used the master street plan9 10. Heres San Francisco, with similar gridded blocks laid across the peninsula creatingthe same interwoven, connected city10 11. Montreal, too had a master street plan that guided the development of the city for aportion of timeYou can see in this image how business and retail have been drawn to the majorthoroughfares, leaving the streets in between that connect them to quieterresidential developmentBut its still interconnected11 12. And my city, Toronto, even has a form of the master street plan albeit much lessorganized- But the same principles are in place with interconnected streets forming the healthyblock structure12 13. And heres what those places look like on the ground thriving retail high streetsregularly intersected by through cross streets13 14. These are thriving places because they are part of whole, not pockets of individualdevelopment14 15. Every block is connected to every other block, and development can thrive withinthem because it is part of this fabric of togetherness15 16. And master street plans dont always need to be grids, although grids help because ofthe lower costs associated with building on square parcelsWashington DCs master street plan formed the wonderful neighbourhoods we seethere today, and all part of connected streets and blocks16 17. So here is what the master street plan is really all about, and why we need it if wetruly want to create successful thriving urban places that truly embody the principlesof New Urbanism.And as a reminder of what cities look like without the master street plan17 18. Development occurs on each individual land holding, with new streets creatingaccording to their own individual plansThere is no connection, pockets of development are insular18 19. Arterial roads are traffic thru-ways only, instead of acting as the magnets for peopleand businesses and the connecters between neighbourhoodsAnd of course there will never be any intensification or evolutionary growth as theconnected street and block of the master street plan allowsThese are static entities of single uses and single building types19 20. Even new urbanist developments are prone to this here is an example in calgaryIts cut off from the rest of the city and other neighbourhoods because its hasindividually established its street and block pattern internal to itself20 21. And Torontos Cornell new urbanist community ahs the same problem. This isdevelopment in isoltation21 22. And just so you can see what this looks like on the ground, heres Cornell via googlestreet view. Buildings are pretty, but there isnt much else going on.22 23. And finally, to compare apples to apples heres a relatively new Canadian suburbandevelopmentNo master street plan, no real higher level organization23 24. And here at the same scale is that example from Montreal. Same uses and buildingtypes, but organized into a whole.An urban order of public space defining a self-emergent order of private space.Interconnected streets forming a tapestry of blocks that catalyze one another.The ability to grow and and evolve as the needs of the city changes24 25. And so this is why it is truly important, if we wish to build the kinds of cities andcommunities that new urbanism stands for, that we start thinking about how we canbring back the master street plan and better organize our cities as they continue togrow25 26. And there is a legal ability to do this. In the US, the Standard City Planning Enablingact will allow you, alongside your zoning code, to create a master street plan for howyour city will grow and develop.My colleague Paul Knight has researched the legal basis for this, and you can readmore about the actual implementation aspect of all this at his website26 27. 27