Thinking Outside of the Zoning Box

Yesterday we lectured at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CMU. Bea presented a new class on the opportunities that arise when we don’t consider Zoning as the destination of our design efforts, but rather the starting point.

The lecture began with a 2019 article published on Bloomberg titled “Why America’s New Apartment Buildings All look the same” and some building techniques considerations.

Then, Bea presented a history of Zoning in the United States, starting with New York City’s first city-wide Zoning of 1916. Bea presented many ways to get creative within the allowable Zoning envelope while still complying with it, by exploring semi-public and semi-private portions of buildings.

She also discussed the dangers of thinking that we have only two extreme choices when we design in a dense way: either going very cheap, and designing the minimum required by code, or going very expensive, with customized elements and unique features. Bea focused on how we can optimize the allowable envelope rather than maximizing it.

She also explored how Architects can provide strong urban experiences by fostering “place-attachment” and by giving people more interesting and compelling architecture. She focused on the perks of pedestrian-friendly urban environments, which are people-centered and not car-oriented. She quoted a “Redfin” research paper showing the premium people are willing to pay to live in walkable communities in every major American city!

The truth is: in the end, every building is a “box”. Good architecture makes you forget about that fact and allows you to focus instead on how YOU feel unique within a thoughtful environment designed around YOUR needs.

Casa Battlo in Barcelona, by Antoni Gaudi

Fisher ARCHitecture designs are “Thoughtful + Progressive + Contextual”. And we LECTURE about it! If you have an audience that might be interested in sustainable and energy efficient architecture, in adaptive reuse and preservation, or in healthy interiors, we can give a presentation on those topics – and more.

We look forward to meeting you!

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