Transit Oriented Development Needs More than Just Location

Public Square WestwoodAt the apex of Interstate 93, Interstate 95 and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, a new project is underway touting its focus on Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The term garners support (and rightly so) from designers and planners for its methodology of building denser communities around existing mass transit corridors as an alternative to sprawl. The site for University Station in Westwood, Massachusetts has all of the key components for a successful TOD project.

However, as the project has developed its direction has become a better example of how design and planning choices can compromise even the best of existing site conditions. Despite the fact that close proximity to transit corridors is the most important component of TOD, it is not enough to guarantee success. Location alone will not ensure a vibrant community geared towards transit. A look at the project pulls out some clear examples how development next to transit can go out of its way to orient itself towards something else. Continue reading

Sobering Fact: Plenty of Asbestos Still Sold in the US

loose sbestos insulationMost people that have conducted maintenance on a home or apartment in the last two decades have probably bumped into asbestos. Asbestos is a fibrous material whose strength and resistance to fire and decay made it a popular choice for numerous products in the first half of the 20th century including floor tile, adhesives and building insulation. Continue reading

Drifting in a Cloud of Amenities

indoor pool amenityMost architects care to believe that people will recognize a well-designed space when they see it and that the nuances of a successful design process will be ascribed value in the eyes of potential occupants. However, what seems to be increasingly often, there are extra features and accoutrements that are added to the package outside of the inherent quality of the living space in order to sweeten the deal for payors and entice them to cough up that little extra something. These property amenities are emerging as an interesting barometer for how our culture is ascribing value.

But of all of the glitzy add-ons to high-end real estate, how many of them are really adding that much when it comes to quality of life? How many of them are simply just wasteful pieces of program included for no other reason than an expectation that they represent an image of exclusivity– regardless of whether or not they are used once the project is actually occupied? Continue reading

Green Buildings: 300 Lafayette Street

CF Lafeyette Rendering SidewalkOur culture’s current efforts in sustainability can usually be divided into one of two groups. The first group is trying to add efficiency and/or decrease the negative impact of the way that we do things now. Given its inherent benefit of requiring minimal change to the way people are already operating, this method is unsurprisingly popular. Examples include hybrid cars, LED light bulbs or printer paper with recycled content. These products help mitigate the negative repercussions of our current lifestyle.

The second group is changing a paradigm, archetype or cultural norm in order to operate in a more sustainable way—challenging the baseline to redefine the standard rather than tweaking an existing solution. Examples of this direction would be more in the vein of transit-oriented-development, designing spaces around more natural light or entirely paperless offices. One could argue that the first train of thought is looking for a better answer, where the second one is challenging the underlying question. Do we need to universally rely on automobiles? Do we need so much artificial illumination? Do we need to print things? Continue reading

Buckeyes Banning LEED

Ohio LEED Ban USGBCThe Ohio State Senate has been prompting media chatter by its support of Senate Concurrent Resolution 25, which would ban the use of the United States Green Building Council’s LEED v4 building rating system on state funded projects. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 841 other followers