Principles of New Urbanism

Next year I plan on studying Urban Planning in Graduate School, and I’ve applied to the University of Virginia (UVA), the University of North Carolina (UNC), Clemson University, and Virginia Tech. My interest in urban planning began two years ago when I conducted several urban planning projects in my Geographic Information Systems (GIS) classes (watershed evaluations, flood zone planning, site selection for construction, etc). Since then I’ve been scouring the Internet for literature, reading books, and browsing local newspapers to better understand the complexity of this dynamic field. So before I review any more developments I want to discuss some of the key principles of urban design.

– Daily needs (shopping, services, schools, recreation) within a 5 to 10 minute walk from home and work
– Nodes / public meeting places (parks, squares, plazas) within a 2.5 minute walk of home
– 5 minute walk = .25 miles & 2.5 minute walk = .125 miles
– Pedestrian Friendly Design: buildings close to the street, front porches, tree cover, street parking, hidden parking lots (behind buildings or underground), garages in rear lanes, narrow roads

– Interconnected grid pattern for streets: disperses and slows traffic; increases walkability; reduces the number and length of automobile trips; saves energy; and makes trips pleasant and interesting
– More than one way to travel to another location (multiple routes and modes of transportation)
– Neighborhoods are connected to other neighborhoods
– Public transit is provided whenever possible

– Homes, shops, offices, apartments, recreation, and institutional uses in the same area/region

Diverse Housing:
– Range of housing types, sizes, and price close together
– Affordable housing is designed to look like market-rate housing
– Affordable housing is not clustered together

High Quality Architecture and Community Design:
– Design emphasizes aesthetics, human comfort, and a sense of place
– Community buildings and public meeting places placed in prominent locations and used as landmarks
– Retail buildings front the sidewalk directly with no setback
– Residential lots have parking access via rear lanes and garages not facing the street
– Houses have simple fronts and are pleasing to look at
– Heights of buildings do not vary drastically from building to building
– Architecture is consistent with other neighborhoods, houses, and buildings in the area

Increased Density:
– Residences, shops, and employments are close together to conserve space, encourage walking, reduce infrastructure costs
– Close neighbors develop social interactions, make the streets lively, and watch over each other to increase security
-Offices, apartments, shops located in mixed-use buildings

Traditional Neighborhood Structure:
– The neighborhood has a distinct center and edge
– Commercial activity and housing density increases the neighborhood center
– Neighborhood center has a square/park/green

Sustainability and Environmental Quality:
– Significant environmental features are kept and celebrated
– Preserves trees
– Plan works with the topography so that grading is not needed


  1. kelly

    you should check this out…

    tate introduced this to our modern architecture class

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