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Charlier Associates at CNU XV

Philadelphia hosted the fifteenth gathering of the Congress for the New Urbanism from May 17-20, 2007. Themed “New Urbanism and the Old City,” the conference offered a variety of activities, sessions and networking opportunities for attendees. Select highlights of the Congress from a transportation perspective include:

Day 1:
Terri Musser of Charlier Associates was one of 130 people participating in Urban Labs in the Francisville neighborhood – a unique community located on the former vineyards of William Penn. Today, the neighborhood possesses a unique network of streets, many of which are rotated 45 degrees off of the traditional city grid in alignment with the sun’s rays that nourished the original vineyards. However, the community has not experienced reinvestment typical of surrounding neighborhoods and is proactively planning how to end a cycle of decline and neglect to create a distinct urban place rich in Jazz history and community life.

Lab participants spent the morning learning about issues impacting the neighborhood, conducting a site tour, and having a BBQ lunch with area residents. We kicked into charrette mode in the afternoon, with small groups working to identify and map the Transect onto neighborhood blocks, calibrate the SmartCode to reflect local conditions, and develop concept plans for the neighborhood based upon 1/8-mile play sheds, a 1/2-mile transit shed and a 1/4-mile linear pedestrian shed along Ridge Avenue – the neighborhood’s former commercial center turned traffic artery.

Day 2:
The opening day of the Congress offered courses in New Urbanism 101 and in-depth studies into select topics through a series of “New Urbanism 202s.” Transportation sessions were offered on multi-way boulevards and the new CNU/ITE streets manual. CAI staff focused on the broader applications of transportation solutions by participating in advanced sessions on Implementing Form-Based Codes and incorporating the New Urbanism in to Comprehensive Plans.

Day 3:
Events included a full selection of concurrent sessions with a mid-day break for the 2007 Charter Awards Luncheon. An afternoon discussion entitled “Beyond the Blue: What’s Next for CNU, ITE and the Project for Transportation Reform?” resulted in CNU members identifying the following five area to focus on during revisions to the manual Context Sensitive Solutions in Designing Major Urban Thoroughfares for Walkable Communities:
Peter Calthorpe led the Friday evening plenary with a vision for a fuller engagement of New urbanism at the regional scale.

Day 4: The Morning Plenary recapped highlights of the past year, including the CNU Transportation Summit hosted by Charlier Associates in Boulder in November 2007, and presented a new Strategic Plan for the organization for 2007 – 2012. Transportation must continue to be a key issue to tackle in establishing New urbanism at the regional scale, and in reforming national policies, standards and professional practice.

Other transportation highlights of Day #4 included an entertaining discussion of hands-on realities in dealing with emergency responder’s responses to skinny streets by John Anderson of New Urban Builders, and a packed and overflowing room wanting to hear about the often overlooked topic of “Stormwater for Urbanists.” As a result of LID (Low Impact Development or Light Imprint Development), the interactive salons included working with the Charlotte office of DPZ to draft a matrix of 60 BMPs appropriate for use across various Transect zones. And lunch was spent with fellow members of the Project for Transportation Reform strategizing how to move forward with upcoming initiatives on transportation networks, connectivity and multi-modalism.

Both architecture and infrastructure reinvestment are needed in the Francisville neighborhood of Philadelphia. The neighborhood, like much of the City of Philadelphia, possesses skinny streets and strong urban fabric, which CNU Lab participants calibrated according to the new draft SmartCode 9.0. Multimodalism is present across the street network of Center City.
© 2007 Charlier Associates, Inc. | 2919 Valmont Road #206 Boulder, Colorado 80301 | Phone: 303.543.7277 |