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    New Urbanism Now

    David Brower Center, Berkeley, CalforniaSafeway No. 2912, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MassachusettsSCAD Museum of Art, Savanna, Georgia | Lafitte Housing, New Orleans, LouisianaWyvernwood Mixed-Use, Los Angeles, CaliforniaVerkykerskop Farming Town, South AfricaVision for Berrien Springs, Michigan | Town Center, Mount Rainier, MarylandAnd more...

     
    Town Center • Mount Rainier, Maryland

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    Designed by Cunningham Quill Architects, the new master plan for the town center of Mount Rainier, Maryland, includes design standards and guidelines that support the conversion of Rhode Island Avenue into a multimodal boulevard accommodating cars, light rail, bicycles, and pedestrians.
    Image: Courtesy Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Extra Large Image

    The City of Mount Rainier, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., has approved a 15-year plan that provides a framework for reinventing its historic downtown. The "Mount Rainier Mixed-Use Town Center Development Plan" by Cunningham Quill Architects encompasses approximately 12 acres (five hectares) directly adjacent to the District of Columbia.

    In 1897, a streetcar station was built in Mount Rainier at the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and 34th Street, and for the next 50 years, the city developed into a compact, mixed-use neighborhood and a vibrant commercial node. It became home to retail stores, several cultural institutions, and a historic residential neighborhood.

    But like many other first-generation D.C. suburbs, Mount Rainier suffered a dramatic population decline from the 1950s to the '70s, accompanied by disinvestment in civic-oriented architecture. In 1958, the historic streetcar system was replaced with a bus system, and the downtown retail core was undermined by competing single-use strip malls developed in adjacent suburbs in the '70s and '80s.

    The new plan builds upon the city's historic mix of uses and proposes compatible uses to enhance economic and cultural development. It also introduces elements that help create an identifiable place along Rhode Island Avenue, an often nondescript regional corridor into D.C.

    That road is re-envisioned as a multiuse urban boulevard, where future development can be concentrated and destination retail tenants can receive exposure. Along upper 34th Street, an existing cultural and neighborhood hub, the plan envisions facade improvements and additional neighborhood-serving retail tenants. The new design for these two roadways expands connectivity options for pedestrians and cyclists, and anticipates the future reintroduction of the D.C. streetcar.

    At the site of a current bus turnaround in front of city hall and the library, the plan proposes creating a green space to serve as a new civic center. The project also uses a fine-grained approach to preserving buildings and inserting new structures, promoting a sensitive blend of historic buildings, infill, and urban infrastructure.

    ArchWeek Image
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    This aerial photo highlights the area of Mount Rainier covered by the plan, including portions of 34th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, up to the edge of Washington, D.C.
    Image: Courtesy CNU Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    This sketch shows changes to the streetscape that the master plan could bring about at the intersection of Rhode Island and 34th, including the new civic green space.
    Image: Courtesy CNU Extra Large Image

     
    More CNU Awards

    Four strong projects received honorable mentions in the 2012 CNU Charter Awards:

    Melrose Commons, Bronx, New York, by Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC

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    Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC worked with the Nos Quedamos community organization to craft a revitalization plan for a portion of the Melrose neighborhood in the Bronx, New York City. Adopted 18 years ago, the Melrose Commons plan and ongoing infill development recently received Stage II LEED-ND Silver certification under the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program.
    Photo: Courtesy Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Site plan drawing for the Melrose Commons development. Magnusson Architecture and Planning has designed a series of new buildings and continues to work in the neighborhood.
    Image: Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC Extra Large Image

    "Bridge Street Corridor Study," Dublin, Ohio, by Goody Clancy

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    Goody Clancy conducted the "Bridge Street Corridor Study" in Dublin, Ohio.
    Image: Courtesy CNU Extra Large Image

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    Annotated aerial rendering of the implementation strategy for the Bridge Street Corridor Study.
    Image: Courtesy CNU Extra Large Image

    "Fayetteville 2030: Transit City Scenario," Fayetteville, Arkansas, by University of Arkansas Community Design Center (also the recipient of a 2012 AIA Institute Honor Award for regional and urban design)

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    The University of Arkansas Community Design Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, designed the "Fayetteville 2030: Transit City Scenario" project.
    Image: University of Arkansas Community Design Center Extra Large Image

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    Annotated 3D aerial rendering of the university's Fayetteville 2030 project.
    Image: University of Arkansas Community Design Center Extra Large Image

    "Revive Cincinnati: Neighborhoods of the Lower Mill Creek Valley," Cincinnati, Ohio, by Urban Design Associates

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    Urban Design Associates conducted the "Revive Cincinnati: Neighborhoods of the Lower Mill Creek Valley" study in Cincinnati, Ohio.
    Image: Urban Design Associates Extra Large Image

     

    The Congress for the New Urbanism announced its 2012 Charter Awards on March 7, 2012, and will formally present the awards during its 20th annual Congress, in West Palm Beach, Florida, May 9 to 12, 2012.

    The jury for the 2012 CNU Charter Awards was chaired by Douglas Kelbaugh (CNU Board Member), professor of architecture and urban planning and former dean, Taubman College, University of Michigan, and also included June Williamson, professor of architecture, City College of New York, and coauthor of Retrofitting Suburbia; Kit McCullough, lecturer, Taubman College, University of Michigan; Marcy McInnelly (CNU Board Member), president, Urbsworks; Bonnie Fisher, landscape architect and principal, ROMA Design Group; Boris Dramov, president, ROMA Design Group; M. David Lee, partner, Stull and Lee, and adjunct professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design; John Knott, president and cofounder, Noisette Company, LLC; Jonathan Barnett, professor of practice in city and regional planning and director of Urban Design Program, University of Pennsylvania.

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